05 April 2024

Rossi Tuffy Survival Rifle - The Poly Tuffy in 45 Colt and 410. The Rifle version of the Brawler

From the Rossi website

.45 Colt from a rifle has interested me for a while, especially as a cartridge for situations where you can't get good ammunition but can piece together something that works for taking of medium and smaller game.

Sometime ago, Rossi announced the Brawler pistol. It's an inexpensive single shot, break action with a rifled barrel that can shoot .45 Colt but the chamber is long enough to handle .410 bore shells. The Brawler is interesting as it can handle both these things but can be found for a very attainable price. If you know where to look, the Brawler can be had for under $250. Since I've seen it, I've wondered if the device is accurate with .45 Colt. I'm not particularly interested in the .410 chamber but it's useful. 

I started looking into loading .45 Colt with black powder and BP substitutes like Triple Seven or Pyrodex a while back to see how useful they would be for hunting whitetail. I found a few videos and anecdotal forum posts. For Triple Seven, the YouTube video posted on Everything Black Powder tested compressed charge loads from a Marlin 1894 rifle with a 24 inch barrel and a 250 something grain bullet. He got around 1400 fps. That's pretty good. Someone else tested full charge black powder loads from another 24 inch barrel rifle and got 1200 fps from that rifle. Triple Seven is known for being pretty potent. Both should have been 40 grain loads based on claims from each tester.

I had started considering picking up a Rossi R92 in .45 Colt to load these sorts of cartridges, along with smokeless powder loads but the cost, while not much, does present a barrier. I had started looking for a more budget-minded rifle but hadn't found anything until I found the Tuffy Survival Rifle. While $600 street price for the R92 isn't a bad option, the TSR can be had for under $300. This is a much easier price to stomach for a person on a tight budget.

Here's what I'm thinking. For under $400, can we build out a rifle and can take whitetail and small game? For whitetail, how accurate is the .45 Colt part of the gun? For the small game hunting, how are the patterns from the 3 inch and 2.5 inch .410 shells? Well, I can't tell you with out buying the rifle and doing the experiments needed but here's what I'm thinking.

First, I'll look over the .45 Colt part. The black powder loads at 1200 fps, assuming the 16 inch barrel can get there, would be a stretch to achieve a 100 yard zero based on what I ran from a calculator. I got that peak arc would be right at 3 inches up. If we assume a cast bullet, we should be able to get some expansion with a 250 grain hollow point but I suspect we'd be asking a bit much from the alloy at shorter ranges. I reran the numbers for the Triple Seven charge at 1400 fps and the 225 gr cast HP from GT Bullets and the trajectory looked better. The velocities at 100 yards seemed much more deer friendly. 

Where you'd be better off to get the R92 would be the hotter, smokeless powder loads similar to what the Ruger Blackhawk handles. For legal reasons, Rossi won't suggest using them but that's up to you. I don't think the TSR would be able to handle the hotter .45 Colt loads. I suspect the standard level loads would enough for what I have in mind.

The next part of the question is accuracy. I can't answer that but even if the accuracy is mediocre, say 6 inch groups at 100 yards, that could still take a deer in shorter ranges. Have fun zeroing that though. There's a few things that worry me from the accuracy point. The .410 capable chamber might negatively impact accuracy. Second is the choke. My understanding is that there are two chokes included. The first is for the .45 Colt and the other is the .410. I suspect the .45 Colt "choke" is just a tube that's opened enough for the bullet to pass through without anything touching the bullet. 

If the answers to all my concerns are that this rifle is useful and that you could take a whitetail deer with .45 Colt even out to 100 yards and the patterns on the .410 are tight enough for rabbit and squirrel hunting then I'd say the Rossi Tuffy Survival Rifle is a huge win for folks wanting a truck gun or packable rifle. The stock as 4 cartridge holders on each side. That could let a person have 4 rounds of suitable .45 Colt and 4 rounds of good .410 shells. 

An image of a hunter with this rifle and being able to bag a squirrel while heading back in from a deer hunt appeals to me. That said, I started looking over the WMA lands here in Georgia. After looking it over, some of the public hunting locations won't let you hunt small game while on a deer hunt. It could mean a quota hunt but thankfully, not all of the lands are like that. 

I haven't figured out if this idea is worth pursuing over any other projects in the .45 Colt family but I hope you find some of the above interesting or useful. 

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