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'66 or '73 in 45 Colt


Rip Snorter

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Well, it isn't costing as much to get back into SASS as it did to get going the first time, kept a lot of the stuff.  Got rid of my '97, can't recall what I got for it, replaced it with the CZ Coach.  Got rid of a Rossi '92 in 45 Colt, can't recall what I got for that either.  So far, no luck finding either a '66 or '73 in 45 Colt locally, and though I have an FFL friend, I'd rather buy Locally if I can.  The question may be academic depending on what I can find and afford.  I'll likely sell of some more odds and ends. Don't know just which classifications I may end up shooting in (No Frontiersman at this point in time, so  my thought is getting either of those two will give me maximum flexibility.  Which is better? Are there watch outs or is a lot of it it just personal taste.  Inquiring minds want to know! ;)

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If you buy either make sure it is made by Uberti or Winchester (very good quality coming out of Japan). I personally like the ‘73 because of the lever safety, I know I should correct my timing but that is easier said than done and an out of battery discharge isn’t fun.

 

 Randy 

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I have both, love them both the 66 is a little heavier than the 73, internals are exactly the same.  Both devour black powder without a hiccup. I use my 66 for monthly matches and the 63 for big matches since it is a little lighter and easier to clean 

RAFE 

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Just now, Rafe Conager SASS #56958 said:

I have both, love them both the 66 is a little heavier than the 73, internals are exactly the same.  Both devour black powder without a hiccup. I use my 66 for monthly matches and the 63 for big matches since it is a little lighter and easier to clean 

RAFE 

Thank you! Have to get my feet on the ground again and run a bunch of matches before I even think about going to the Dark Side.;)

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I found my '73 in 45 Colt online. There's nothing local. As much as I'd like to share the local love, they just don't carry anything here CAS related. It's all black rifles. My '73 is a Uberti and it's flawless. Extremely tight and clunky out of the box, but should loosen up. Might need to find someone to work on it.

20220114_140703.jpg

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i shoot both with smokeless in 45colt , my LGS ordered the 66 for me and had the 73 show up on a day i stopped by , i also have the 60 and a 92 but prefer the 66/73 so i think you are headed right direction , if you have a local gunsmith you like and trust have him order one in for you , 

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1 minute ago, Rafe Conager SASS #56958 said:

My next rifle is going to  be an 1860 henry!

I think I have to work up to that -  have had several '92s and a Marlin 38-55.  I think the tube in the Henry is a little intimidating.  And a stick like the old shotguns for SASS?  You never know, though! One of the others first, I think! 

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i get that thinking , i had a little trouble remembering that follower was coming down while shooting a match , never got around to the dowel thing , 

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2 minutes ago, Rafe Conager SASS #56958 said:

Been shooting my 73 for 18+ and my 66 for the last 8, I'm due a new toy 

Yup! I know how that goes.  If i'd kept the '97 and the '92 I'd probably still have bought at least one new long gun.:D

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The '73 was an improved version of the '66.

 

Personally, I prefer the '73 for those improvements.

 

The '73 has side plates that can be removed without taking out the screw that the lever and lifter arm pivot on.

The '73 ladle (loading gate) isn't as prone to breakage.

The '73 has a slightly improved stock angle, your cheek can actually weld against the stock.

 

The '66 is way cooler looking, I love shinny, so the brass receiver is nice. 

 

There are other features, but those are the ones that make a difference to me. 

 

I started with a '66, and I still have it. I've since added four '73s, one in 357, one in 44-40 and two in 45 Colt. 

 

Another consideration that may be something to consider is that a '66 will be chambered in 38 Special only, whereas a '73 will handle both 38 Special and 357 Magnum. The brass receiver makes the rifle a bit weaker, brass vs steel.

 

And ditto to the comments above on the ones made by Winchester in Japan. On the downside is that short stroke kits are brand specific. On the plus, the Miroku comes with a bit shorter stroke than a Uberti out of the box. The Uberti and Miroku are not the same inside, some pieces, like the firing pin are of a different design.

 

Features i want in a rifle; a crescent shaped butt plate that sticks to the shoulder better than the shotgun style. I also like the ladder sight as it has a bigger V than the other sights and it is dovetailed a bit further rearward. 

 

I've bought many of mine used, but I'd advise against that unless you are intimately familiar with the inner working of these beasts. And, do not run these out of the box. There are parts in them that require polishing and greasing, separate from slicking up mods. 

 

If the spring that rides on the lever wears the lever too much, the lever has to be replaced, or professionally repaired. Ditto for the spring that rides on the lifter arm. The springs are way easier to install and tighten on a '73, zen is required to assemble a '66, IMO.

 

 44-40 will run cleaner than a 45 Colt, about the same as a 38/357. Most of my '66/'73s are chambered large from the factory, I suppose to make extracting spent cartridges easier. I've had to choose an appropriate die to make all my ammo fit my rifle and both my handguns.

 

Welcome back to the game.

 

BB

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18 minutes ago, "Big Boston" said:

The '73 was an improved version of the '66.

 

Personally, I prefer the '73 for those improvements.

 

The '73 has side plates that can be removed without taking out the screw that the lever and lifter arm pivot on.

The '73 ladle (loading gate) isn't as prone to breakage.

The '73 has a slightly improved stock angle, your cheek can actually weld against the stock.

 

The '66 is way cooler looking, I love shinny, so the brass receiver is nice. 

 

There are other features, but those are the ones that make a difference to me. 

 

I started with a '66, and I still have it. I've since added four '73s, one in 357, one in 44-40 and two in 45 Colt. 

 

Another consideration that may be something to consider is that a '66 will be chambered in 38 Special only, whereas a '73 will handle both 38 Special and 357 Magnum. The brass receiver makes the rifle a bit weaker, brass vs steel.

 

And ditto to the comments above on the ones made by Winchester in Japan. On the downside is that short stroke kits are brand specific. On the plus, the Miroku comes with a bit shorter stroke than a Uberti out of the box. The Uberti and Miroku are not the same inside, some pieces, like the firing pin are of a different design.

 

Features i want in a rifle; a crescent shaped butt plate that sticks to the shoulder better than the shotgun style. I also like the ladder sight as it has a bigger V than the other sights and it is dovetailed a bit further rearward. 

 

I've bought many of mine used, but I'd advise against that unless you are intimately familiar with the inner working of these beasts. And, do not run these out of the box. There are parts in them that require polishing and greasing, separate from slicking up mods. 

 

If the spring that rides on the lever wears the lever too much, the lever has to be replaced, or professionally repaired. Ditto for the spring that rides on the lifter arm. The springs are way easier to install and tighten on a '73, zen is required to assemble a '66, IMO.

 

 44-40 will run cleaner than a 45 Colt, about the same as a 38/357. Most of my '66/'73s are chambered large from the factory, I suppose to make extracting spent cartridges easier. I've had to choose an appropriate die to make all my ammo fit my rifle and both my handguns.

 

Welcome back to the game.

 

BB

Many thanks for your time and effort in supplying specific details.  Very useful and helpful.  Rip

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20 hours ago, Randy Saint Eagle, SASS # 64903 said:

If you buy either make sure it is made by Uberti or Winchester (very good quality coming out of Japan). I personally like the ‘73 because of the lever safety, I know I should correct my timing but that is easier said than done and an out of battery discharge isn’t fun.

 

 Randy 

I pushed the wrong button on the like function and meant to say thanks.  (Smart phone buttons are tiny.)

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When I started this game (1985), the 1892 Winchester and Marlin 1894 were the rifles to have... The Marlin in .38/.357 was susceptible to the dreaded "Marlin Jam", the Rossi version of the 1892 was prone to stove-piping.  The '66 & '73 were mainly the favored arms of those that preferred the look of toggle links and their fit in the cowboy era time frame.   The '66 & '73 had much longer lever strokes from the factory.   The fix for the Marlin was timing... for the Rossi it was reducing springs, mainly the ejector spring and smoothing out the catch on the carrier.  But... as people were starting to overcome these issues, the short stroked mods for the toggle links were becoming more prevalent;  with the result being that the toggle link action became the "go-fast" rifle in competition.  There's nothing been developed to shorten the stroke for the 1892, and the Marlin is expensive and frankly, solely the purview of experts.

 

I started out with a .38 Rossi that I'd worked until it was butter smooth, more like an original Winchester than a Rossi!  So smooth in fact, that my wife took it over and successfully competed with it for whole decade she competed.  After she took it over, I had a friend offer me a '73 in 45 Colt.  Since my pistol was also a 45 Colt, it was a no-brainer.  While the Marlin is the easiest to strip and clean, the 1892 the most difficult, the '73 fits in-between.  It's the easiest to slick up with springs and a short stroke kit. 

 

While the 45 Colt is often maligned as a rifle cartridge, with careful loading, selective bullet choices. and use of clean powders available, it's a very competitive system.  I can load black powder and shoot an entire 3-day match without cleaning;  with smokeless, I've gone more than a year without a tear down...  I have two '73, a '60 and another '60 on order.  The '60 and '66 are the more difficult to tear down of the toggle links, but still not as onerous as the 1892!  I'm converting all of them to shoot the Cowboy45Special cartridge (a 45ACP length cartridge with a 45 Colt rim).  While for the past 35 years I've shot my '73 without benefit of a short stroke, it's in the works now!  (Just didn't seem smart to go to the C45S without the short stroke)!  

 

Whichever becomes your choice, good luck and most importantly, have fun!

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Howdy

 

As has been stated, the 1873 Winchester was an improvement over the 1866 Winchester. The 1866 model was chambered for the same 44 Henry Rimfire cartridge as the Henry rifle. The frame looked like brass, but it was actually made of gun metal, a type of bronze. The 1873 had an iron frame because the 44-40 cartridge that was designed for it was more powerful than the old Henry cartridge. Not too many years into production the frame of the 1873 started being made from steel.

 

Yes, just one screw to remove to pop off the side plates of the 1873. This photo of my Uberti 1873 has two arrows pointing to the lever safety. This is not a modern lawyer added feature, it became part of the 1873 Winchesters a few years into production because Winchester realized that an out of battery discharge with the more powerful 44-40 cartridge could be a disaster. In this photo, the front part of the lever safety is blocking the trigger. When the lever closes, it pushes the rear part of the lever safety up, which in turn raises the front part, freeing the trigger to move back and fire a cartridge.

 

poBKGEGrj

 

 

 

 

I never much cared for 'brass' frames, so for me the 1873 was a no brainer. Of course I shoot 44-40 in most of my CAS rifles, and because the brass is so thin at the case mouth, 44-40 brass obturates to fill the chamber so well that almost no fouling gets into the mechanism anyway. So the quick dismounting of the side plates turned out not to be a big deal anyway. If I was shooting 45 Colt, with Black Powder ammo, it might be a different story.

 

 

This photo of an original 38-40 Winchester Model 1873 that left the factory in 1887 shows the lever safety behind the trigger.

 

pn8xqHhkj

 

 

 

 

The side plates on my 44-40 Uberti replica Iron Frame 1860 Henry are a real pain to remove. The plates are dovetailed into the frame. The lever screw has to be removed and the plates driven out with a soft faced hammer. The edges of the plates are razor sharp, so I have to keep band aides handy. But like I said Black Powder 44-40 brass swells so nicely to fill the chambers that almost no fouling gets in the mechanism anyway. I cannot remember the last time I took off the side plates on my Henry.

 

pndELtx0j

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Consider buying a "race ready" new 1866 or 1873 Uberti from one of the top cowboy gunsmiths.  They will have new tuned guns ready to go much more reasonably priced than buying a rifle yourself and then sending it off for an action job.  My current competition rifles are built by a close friend/gunsmith, but my first race rifle was built years ago by Cody Conagher.  I still own that rifle and it served me well.  Others will chime in and give you the contact info for other top smiths that sell race ready rifles.

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The .44-40 is a better round to keep fouling to a minimum that’s for sure.  I’ve got 3 rifles all chambered in .45c; an Uberti model 1860 Ironframe; an Uberti model 1873; and a Marlin 1894.  The ‘60 is a heavy beast, and I shoot it with my left hand tight to the receiver so I don’t have to do the “Henry Hop”, it was short stroked and once you get used to the hand position it’s a fun gun.  The ‘73 is a factory short stroke model, it’s much lighter and I think you’d do well with a ‘73 since parts are readily available.  Lastly is the Marlin, it’s the easiest of the bunch to clean, the weight is between the other two, I’ve never had the jamb issue, but it does spray the spent brass all over and with the prices and availability of brass it might be something to consider.  I shoot full load APP in all 3 and since I started annealing I’ve stopped probably 95% of the blow back.  So now I only have to do a deep cleaning 2 times a year (shooting 2-3x/month).  If you’re set on a .45c either find a very clean powder, prepare to deep clean more often or anneal the cases.  Wishing you the best of luck, it’s a lot to consider and like most of us $$ will always be something to consider.  If you’re not in a rush keep an eye on the for sales, lots of good pards selling stuff. 

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11 hours ago, Driftwood Johnson, SASS #38283 said:

Howdy

 

As has been stated, the 1873 Winchester was an improvement over the 1866 Winchester. The 1866 model was chambered for the same 44 Henry Rimfire cartridge as the Henry rifle. The frame looked like brass, but it was actually made of gun metal, a type of bronze. The 1873 had an iron frame because the 44-40 cartridge that was designed for it was more powerful than the old Henry cartridge. Not too many years into production the frame of the 1873 started being made from steel.

 

Yes, just one screw to remove to pop off the side plates of the 1873. This photo of my Uberti 1873 has two arrows pointing to the lever safety. This is not a modern lawyer added feature, it became part of the 1873 Winchesters a few years into production because Winchester realized that an out of battery discharge with the more powerful 44-40 cartridge could be a disaster. In this photo, the front part of the lever safety is blocking the trigger. When the lever closes, it pushes the rear part of the lever safety up, which in turn raises the front part, freeing the trigger to move back and fire a cartridge.

 

poBKGEGrj

 

 

 

 

I never much cared for 'brass' frames, so for me the 1873 was a no brainer. Of course I shoot 44-40 in most of my CAS rifles, and because the brass is so thin at the case mouth, 44-40 brass obturates to fill the chamber so well that almost no fouling gets into the mechanism anyway. So the quick dismounting of the side plates turned out not to be a big deal anyway. If I was shooting 45 Colt, with Black Powder ammo, it might be a different story.

 

 

This photo of an original 38-40 Winchester Model 1873 that left the factory in 1887 shows the lever safety behind the trigger.

 

pn8xqHhkj

 

 

 

 

The side plates on my 44-40 Uberti replica Iron Frame 1860 Henry are a real pain to remove. The plates are dovetailed into the frame. The lever screw has to be removed and the plates driven out with a soft faced hammer. The edges of the plates are razor sharp, so I have to keep band aides handy. But like I said Black Powder 44-40 brass swells so nicely to fill the chambers that almost no fouling gets in the mechanism anyway. I cannot remember the last time I took off the side plates on my Henry.

 

pndELtx0j

Thank you kindly for all the information and the photos.  Ivery much appreciate your efforts! Rip

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2 hours ago, TN Mongo, SASS #61450 said:

Consider buying a "race ready" new 1866 or 1873 Uberti from one of the top cowboy gunsmiths.  They will have new tuned guns ready to go much more reasonably priced than buying a rifle yourself and then sending it off for an action job.  My current competition rifles are built by a close friend/gunsmith, but my first race rifle was built years ago by Cody Conagher.  I still own that rifle and it served me well.  Others will chime in and give you the contact info for other top smiths that sell race ready rifles.

It is all about the money.  Based on the stiffness and stoutness of the CZ Coachgun I got recently, certainly something to think about.  I'm really surprised at all of the new SASS type guns that have to be "fixed" without even going to to gaming extremes.  I worked up a couple of used 1911s for IPSC, and had a couple of used single actions tuned, but can't recall a new in the box firearm I've bought before this new shotgun that wasn't good to go. Strange days!  thanks for the suggestion!

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2 hours ago, Tequila Shooter said:

The .44-40 is a better round to keep fouling to a minimum that’s for sure.  I’ve got 3 rifles all chambered in .45c; an Uberti model 1860 Ironframe; an Uberti model 1873; and a Marlin 1894.  The ‘60 is a heavy beast, and I shoot it with my left hand tight to the receiver so I don’t have to do the “Henry Hop”, it was short stroked and once you get used to the hand position it’s a fun gun.  The ‘73 is a factory short stroke model, it’s much lighter and I think you’d do well with a ‘73 since parts are readily available.  Lastly is the Marlin, it’s the easiest of the bunch to clean, the weight is between the other two, I’ve never had the jamb issue, but it does spray the spent brass all over and with the prices and availability of brass it might be something to consider.  I shoot full load APP in all 3 and since I started annealing I’ve stopped probably 95% of the blow back.  So now I only have to do a deep cleaning 2 times a year (shooting 2-3x/month).  If you’re set on a .45c either find a very clean powder, prepare to deep clean more often or anneal the cases.  Wishing you the best of luck, it’s a lot to consider and like most of us $$ will always be something to consider.  If you’re not in a rush keep an eye on the for sales, lots of good pards selling stuff. 

I haven't had fouling problems in the past, but it is always possible.  I'm pretty set on shooting 45 to start, can work up to a couple of other calibers in future, but 44-40 would require me to buy two pistols and a rifle.  Can't tell you why, but loading 44-40 years ago was considerably more of a problem than 38-40.  I will be shooting smokeless to start.  From what I've been reading there are some "new to me" powders worth trying (if I can find some) Thanks for your suggestions.

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On 2/18/2022 at 8:30 PM, Rafe Conager SASS #56958 said:

My next rifle is going to  be an 1860 henry!

 

For the last 10 years or so, I've gone into various stores and either looked at or held a Henry and just never pulled the trigger on buying one. I don't know why but I've always wanted one. I love my '73, but I'll probably grab a '60 at some point too. 

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20 minutes ago, Primus Palus said:

 

For the last 10 years or so, I've gone into various stores and either looked at or held a Henry and just never pulled the trigger on buying one. I don't know why but I've always wanted one. I love my '73, but I'll probably grab a '60 at some point too. 

I had an Elephant gun at one point with no plan to ever shoot an elephant. Just something I irrationally wanted to try.  The recoil wasn't all that bad 'course I was younger and tougher.

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I have both the Taylor - Uberti Yellow Boy and the 73 and I shoot both of them, they are both 24 inch barrel so I bought another 73 in the saddle version so 18” barrel.

Before I started CAS, I was collecting the replicas in a chronological manner starting from 1866 so I had the 1866 , 1873, 1886 , and still back ordered on the 1892 take down version and now I need a 1860 Henry :P as well.

 

I shoot 45 LC in my rifles so all of them are 45LC no plans to move to any other caliber for shooting , the revolvers shoot 45 Cowboy which I recently transitioned to have light loads for recoil management but still have the cases filled with powder to a certain length.

For the shotgun I decided to practice on 1897 and shooting the same. It’s a great platform. I have a double barrel Baikal from Johnny Meadows as a backup but I love the 1897 platform and I am getting a backup for my IAC 1897.

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It is regrettable that there really isn't a currently available rifle that will allow you to be competitive right out of the box.

 

Many moons ago, one could purchase a new Marlin 1894 at a reasonable price that ran well.  Some ran 92's (like me), but they were sensitive to bullet shape and OAL.  A few gunsmiths were making a comfortable living tuning Uberti 66 and 73s.

 

We are all hoping that Ruger starts producing the 1894 again.  Today, it's pretty much a given that, if you want to be competitive, you buy a new Uberti 73, or 66, (normally stiff as a board) and send it to a cowboy gunsmith or buy one of the short stroke kits readily available and tune the rifle yourself.

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As far as out of the box or modified goes, this has been my experience...

1865 Spencer.  (56-50)  After converting the original rimfire breachblock with a centerfire one, I have found that it usually works as it is supposed to.  This is not a fast gun by any means, and sometimes you need to flick out the spent round, but it never fails to properly feed a new one.   Plus, there is something about hearing a Civil War era veteran actually speak.

Uberti Henry Replica.  (.44-40)  As far as I know, it is stock.   Works great with no problems.

 

Uberti 66 Replica.   (.44-40)  A previous owner overdid an action job on it.   The hammer fell so slowly that it would often not set off the primers, and the lever safety, (a feature not on the originals, but on the early Navy Arms replicas.)  had been removed.   Took it to Happy Trails and asked him to return it to "more or less factory" specs.  I am sure it is a lit smoother than a factory gun, but it does work properly now.

 

Winchester 73.   (.32-20)  As it left New Haven, way back when.  Works just fine.   Fun story, at a shoot in Michigan once, someone who had never held a real 73 asked if he could see it and work the action.   I said sure.  He was so used to slicked up short stroked modern replicas that he thought the action was frozen and he could not work the lever.   I showed him that there was nothing wrong with it.

Winchester 92  (.32-20)  Unmodified from when it left Ne Haven.  Works fine.

 

Winchester 92.  Original barrel (.38-40) swapped for one in .44 Magnum and a John Wayne loop installed.   Fun, and works just fine.

Armi San Marco 92.   (.45 Colt)  HORRIBLE out of the box.    First gun I ever had an action job done to because I had no choice.   Works fine now.   AVOID if you come across one.

 

Chiappa 92  (.44 Magnum)  Mare's leg configuration.   Excellent out of the box.  As a preference, I am replacing the goofy looking D shaped lever with a "Rio Bravo" style one.

 

Rossi 92.  Pre Safety model.  (.44 Magnum)  Not bad out of the box, but after getting the ASM fixed and then getting 2 real Winchesters, I discovered it was kinda clunky.   Sent it to Happy Trails, and now it's great.

 

AWA Lighting.   Unmodified.   (.45 Colt)  Works great.  My favorite main match rifle

 

AWA Lightning.   Unmodified.  (.44-40)  Works great.   After loving the above so much, I got this one.

 

Colt Lighting.  (.32-20)  Advertised as having been "lovingly restored with an expert action job."  Worked just fine as an empty gun, but had a tendency to not properly cycle from the magazine.   Replaced the old worn out magazine spring, and now it works just fine.

Colt Lightning.  (.44-40)  Seems very smooth.  Was issued to Costa Rican army in 1880's  Looking for bayonet!   Not fired it yet.

Uberti Burgess.  (.45 Colt)   Unmodified.  Seems to have an incredibly smooth action.  Cycled some snap caps, and it worked fine, but have not fired it yet.

So that's all I can tell you about out of the box guns for our game.   And these are MY experiences.   The experiences of others may be different.

 

 

Assessment:   Uberties (Henry, 66 and by theorized extension, the 73) seem to usable out of the box, but I would not be surprised if most felt at least some work was needed.  

 

For 92s, the Rossi is ok, but not perfect.  Armi San Marco is terrible. If I really wanted a new 92, I'd buy a Chiappa, good to go from the box.

 

Of course, an original Winchester 73 or 92 will not disappoint you.

 

For Lightnings, always a controversial topic, I would recommend the AWA.   Used only as they are out of business.  I have no experience with other makers than Colt.  Which has been hit and miss, but fixable for me. 

Can't really comment on the Burgess yet.   We shall see.

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