September 24, 2010
There was a time when the gun columns of outdoor magazines cautioned shooters against any Spanish-made copies of S&W revolvers, going so far as to say never, ever fire such a gun for fear of suffering serious injury or even death.
There was a time when the gun columns of outdoor magazines cautioned shooters against any Spanish-made copies of S&W revolvers, going so far as to say never, ever fire such a gun for fear of suffering serious injury or even death. Among shooters, this tended to translate into a bias against guns from any Spanish--or similar--speaking country.
There was some truth in this broad-brush prejudice because various foreign arms manufacturers were behind the curve in obtaining and using state-of-the-art equipment, along with the quality control necessary to produce a serviceable gun.
Well, as the saying goes, that was then and this is now, and arms manufacture has come a very long way. Case in point, Rossi.
Since 1997 Rossi guns have been made by Taurus, and they're solid, decently made and finished revolvers that will well serve anyone who needs a handgun for personal protection.
Recently I was sent Rossi's Model 9710 to test, a blued steel revolver with four-inch barrel, with a capacity of six rounds of .357 Magnum or .38 Special. It has a serrated and pinned ramped front sight, along with a very bright red insert. The S&W-type adjustable square-notch rear sight has a white outline around the notch. Both sights sit on a longitudinally grooved rib, which blends into the grooved body of the rear sight.
The rubber grips absorb recoil well. The overall grip shape is quite similar to that of a square-butt J-frame S&W revolver but is somewhat larger. The cylinder latch is of Taurus design and easy to operate, thanks to its checkered, rearward-facing dished surface.
The checkered hammer spur is slightly wider than the hammer body for easy manipulation, and the firing pin is mounted on the hammer, which also contains the patented Taurus security system. This is a simple integral key lock (two keys are supplied) that, when engaged, both prohibits the hammer from being cocked and prevents the trigger from being pulled.
The trigger is smooth faced, with rear edges nicely rounded. The bluing is a nice deep dark blue, suffering only from uneven metal polishing.
The barrel has a full-length underlug which, combined with the rubber grips, serves to tame recoil. The underlug also protects the extractor rod. The cylinder locks up in two places--at the rear with a cylinder-mounted, spring-loaded plunger and up front with a ball detent lock in the crane yoke.
Internally, the Rossi lock works are S&W-based, with coil springs used for the trigger return spring and the mainspring. Close inspection shows that very little if any handwork is done to the surfaces of these parts.
The cylinder ratchet is rough, but the cylinder indexes properly. To me, it is obvious the gun has been made with handwork minimized to meet a price-point goal.
When I first dry fired the gun, I found the double action, while heavy (14 pounds), good enough to do both fast and accurate defensive shooting.
The single-action pull was also heavy (five pounds), and it had a glitch. This showed up when shooting as a false release. When first pressing the trigger, the hammer felt as though it was going to release but then abruptly stopped, letting go only after more pressure was applied.
I had a problem overcoming this because the glitch was inconsistent, so I found myself jerking the trigger when it occurred. Once I learned this (after about 30 rounds), I was able to manage the trigger and shoot decent groups.
My best was five shots into 1.25-inch at 20 yards, using Remington .357 Magnum 125-grain Golden Saber ammunition. Although I didn't generate an accuracy chart, all groups from the different ammo types fell under four inches, certainly adequate for defense purposes.
Shooting double action I had no problems, and using a mixed bag of ammo--an assortment of .38 Special and .357 loads--I was able to get five-shot groups of two to four inches.
Later, when chronographing, I obtained mixed results on 25 yard targets, ranging from poor to excellent five-shot groups. I discovered that the fluorescent red front sight insert is too good. When the sunlight hit it just right I couldn't make out a sharp outline of the front sight. An application of black Magic Marker quickly cured this.
Moving closer to the backstop, I then fired a few cylinders of magnum and .38 Special factory ammo, shooting double action in random bursts. The gun worked just fine. I was also pleasantly surprised at how well the combination of full-length barrel underlug and the well-contoured rubber grips allowed quick follow-up shots, since muzzle rise was not severe.
Worth mentioning is the lack of gas and bullet fragments coming out sideways from between the cylinder and barrel interface upon firing. Also, the cylinder indexed properly with fast double-action firing and empty cases were easy to extract, important qualities in a sidearm for self-defense.
I also found my HKS K-frame S&W speedloaders work with the Rossi. (They work even better if you use .38 Special ammo; less of the loader body is pushed against the rubber grips.)
The 9710 is handy. It's easy to grab and fire from a DeSantis holster made for an N frame. It fills the needs and wants of a large group of handgun buyers looking for a reasonably priced, accurate, reliable revolver chambered for an effective self-defense cartridge. Best yet, Rossi now offers a lifetime warranty.