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Building a Lever-Action Takedown Rifle
by Roy Seifert

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Disclaimer:  This article is for entertainment only and is not to be used in lieu of a qualified gunsmith.  Please defer all firearms work to a qualified gunsmith.  Any loads mentioned in this article are my loads for my guns and have been carefully worked up using established guidelines and special tools.  The author assumes no responsibility or liability for use of these loads, or use or misuse of this article.  Please note that I am not a professional gunsmith, just a shooting enthusiast and hobbyist, as well as a tinkerer.  This article explains work that I performed to my guns without the assistance of a qualified gunsmith.  Some procedures described in this article require special tools and cannot/should not be performed without them.

Warning:  Disassembling and tinkering with your firearm may void the warranty.  I claim no responsibility for use or misuse of this article.  Again, this article is for entertainment purposes only!

Tools and firearms are the trademark/service mark or registered trademark of their respective manufacturers.  All tools were purchased from Brownells unless otherwise indicated.

When I started Cowboy Action Shooting™ in 2000, my first lever-action rifle was a Rossi ’92 SRC in .45 Colt.  I believe SRC stands for Saddle Ring Carbine, but my rifle didn’t come with a saddle ring.  Because so many other shooters in our club had the same rifle I added the beads and feather to the front sling swivel so I could tell which one was mine when lined up in the rifle rack. 

The Rossi ‘92 SRC is a modern copy of the Winchester model 1892 lever-action rifle; the iconic rifle used in many western movies and TV series.  My rifle didn’t have the receiver-mounted safety or rebounding hammer; it was built as John M. Browning had originally intended.  I used this rifle in cowboy matches for years, but retired it in favor of a Marlin 1894 Cowboy in .45 Colt.  The stock on my rifle is pretty beat up from years of banging around in gun carts and range racks, but I never could part with it because I like the nostalgia and action of the rifle.  Now it’s time to have some fun and improve my gunsmithing skills by converting it into a takedown rifle.

I found two articles on the Internet on how to perform this conversion:;f=3;t=19176;hl=takedown

Both are based on the article A Takedown Rifle found in The NRA Gunsmithing Guide – Updated which I used as my primary guide for this project.[i]  Unfortunately, all the articles left out some steps which I had to improvise along with way.

Conversion Plan
To convert this rifle into a takedown rifle I performed the following steps, some of which were not required for the conversion, but were changes I wanted to make to the rifle:

1.      Fabricate a new front barrel-band with integral dovetail (not required for the conversion)

2.      Install a front sight with green fiber optic rod (not required for the conversion)

3.      *Fabricate a longer magazine tube plug

4.      *Fabricate a takedown button

5.      Mill the button hole in the magazine tube and front barrel-band

6.      Clean the magazine tube (not required for the conversion)

7.      Crimp the end of the magazine tube so the follower will not come out when taking apart the rifle

8.      *Fabricate a longer follower (not required for the conversion)

9.      Mill two notches in the magazine tube for the two barrel-band screws so it can move forward

10.  Completely disassemble the rifle and unscrew the barrel from the receiver

11.  Mill the front of the receiver flat and polish

12.  *Turn down a step on the barrel behind the threads

13.  Fabricate a spacer plate

14.  Press the spacer plate onto the barrel

15.  *Face off the rear of the spacer plate so it sits flush against the receiver

16.  Fit the spacer plate to the receiver

17.  Modify the fore end so it will fit on the barrel and spacer plate

18.  Install a large loop lever (not required for the conversion)

19.  Finish the aluminum parts (not required for the conversion)

20.  Refinish the wood (not required for the conversion)

21.  Install a tang peep sight (not required for the conversion)



*The steps above marked with an asterisk required the use of a lathe.  I purchased a Grizzly G0765 7” x 14” bench-top lathe which, with some modifications, worked very well for this project.  Purchasing my bench top mill/drill back in 2002 got me started into real gunsmithing, and the lathe will further improve my knowledge, skills and capabilities.  I purchased a few books on how to use a lathe to help me learn, and found some great “how-to” videos on You Tube:

Front Barrel-Band


The original front sight was an integral part of the front barrel-band and was narrow.  I wanted to install a green fiber-optic front sight, and quickly change out front sights which is why I decided to fabricate a new front barrel-band. 


I carefully measured the diameter of the barrel and the magazine tube holes in the original barrel-band, and measured the distance between the bottom of the barrel and top of the magazine tube at the location of the original barrel-band.  I increased the diameter of the magazine tube hole so the magazine tube wouldn’t bind when the mounting screw was tightened; it must be able to move forward.  I used CorelDraw 12 to produce the initial design for the new front barrel-band, then exported the drawing to BobCAD CAM v20 to produce the G-code for my bench-top CNC mill.


I fabricated the new front barrel-band out of 3/4” 6061-T6 aluminum.  I then milled a 3/8” wide x 0.100” deep x 65-degree dovetail for the new sight using a 65-degree dovetail cutter I purchased from Brownells #080-621-305.  The dovetail cutter was only 0.300 wide, so I opened up the dovetail by moving my milling machine table 0.037” on either side of center, then finished with a 65-degree dovetail file I purchased from Brownells #080-648-165 so the sight would move freely.  I drilled and tapped a 6-32 hole for a set screw in the front of the barrel-band to hold the front sight in place.  A drop of Loctite blue prevents the screw from coming loose.  By loosening the set screw, I can easily change sights.

I drilled a center hole with a #43 drill bit through both sides to accept a long, 4-40 hex-head screw.  I tapped one side with a 4-40 tap, and drilled the other side larger with a #32 drill bit.  I then used a 1/4” square end milling bit to mill a countersink so the hex head would set flush with the side.  This screw mounts the barrel-band to the rifle.  I used my Dremel tool and a cutoff wheel to cut the end of the screw so it wouldn’t protrude from the side of the band, then polished and cold-blued the cut end.

Front Sight


I ordered a Williams Fire Sight 312M fiber optic front sight from MidwayUSA #865025.  This sight has a base width of 0.340” which was the dimension I used for the top of the barrel-band, and length of 3/4” which fit the new barrel-band perfectly.  This sight came with a red rod, which I hate because for me, red tends to blend in with the background and disappear.  Many years ago, I ordered both red and green 1/16” fiber optic rods from Oakridge Hobbies.  Although the package said 1/16”, they actually measured 0.060” which was the same size as the rod that came with the Williams Fire Sight. 


I used a razor blade to cut through the red rod in the sight and removed each piece.  I cut a piece of green rod 13/16” long and held one end close to a flame, not in the flame.  This created a ball of plastic at the end.  I inserted the end into the sight and cut the opposite end 1/16” away from the sight.  I held the balled end of the rod against the sight with my finger and held the straight end close to a flame, again not in the flame, which created a plastic ball on the opposite end.  The two balls hold the rod in place.  I didn’t want to touch the flame to the plastic rod because this would burn the rod and crystalize the plastic which reduces its light transmission capability.

Cowboy Action Shooting™ rules do not allow fiber optic sights so I also ordered a Williams 312M beaded front sight from #358804.  If I want to use or loan my rifle for a cowboy match I just switch out the sights.  By the way, these sights came with a tapered dovetail.  I used the 65-degree dovetail file to slightly straighten the taper so the sight would fit in the dovetail in the barrel-band.

The original front sight measured 0.400” from the top of the barrel.  The Williams 312M sights measure 0.312” from the bottom of the dovetail, but the sight itself measures 0.212”; the depth of the dovetail measures 0.100”.  The new sights now sit 0.409” above the barrel (0.197” barrel-band plus 0.212” sight).  To maintain the same sight height, I would have needed a 0.303” front sight, but the Williams sights only came in 0.290” or 0.312” heights.  I decided to go higher because I plan to install a Marbles tang peep sight which I can adjust for the increased height of the sight.  Also, some of my heavier loads shoot high so I needed the taller front sight.  It’s usually easier to adjust a sight higher than lower.

Magazine Tube Plug


Before doing any lathe work on the rifle barrel, I wanted to get some practice to develop my skills.  I had some 7/8” round aluminum bar stock I had purchased from which I used to fabricate the new magazine plug to the above dimensions.  These were based on the measurements for my rifle with the new front barrel-band in place.  The 6-40 threaded hole at the front of the plug is for the plug screw that holds the plug in the magazine tube.  The original screw protruded into a hole drilled into the barrel to prevent the magazine tube from moving or rotating, but this will no longer be needed because of the takedown button.  The original screw had a 6-48 thread, but I didn’t have a 6-48 tap, so I used 6-40 instead.

The 1/4” hole at the other end of the plug is for the takedown button.  This button protrudes from a hole in the magazine tube and sets in a notch milled in the rear of the front barrel-band and has two functions; one, it prevents the magazine tube from rotating and moving forward when the rifle is assembled, and two, when pressed it allows the magazine tube to move forward for disassembly.

Even though I did a lot of research on how to run a lathe, because I had never used one before, my first magazine tube plug was a throw-away, which I expected.  As I got close to the diameters I needed for my part, I neglected to measure so they were undersized.  The second plug I produced was very accurate because as I got close to the diameter I needed, I measured frequently and adjusted my lathe to cut accordingly.


I inserted the new plug into the end of the magazine tube and marked the location of the screw hole with a felt-tip pen.  I chucked the plug into the rotary axis of my bench-top CNC mill and located the center of the plug.  I used a 3/32” square end milling bit to plunge-mill half-way through the plug at the location of the plug screw.  I rotated the rotary axis 180-degress and plunge-milled through the other side of the plug.  I then milled a countersink for the screw head 0.200” wide by 0.055” deep.

I used a #33 drill bit to ream out the hole, then tapped the hole with a 6-40 tap.  I didn’t tap completely through the hole because I wanted to leave some metal for the narrow end of the screw.


I fabricated a new magazine plug screw from a 6-40 x 1-inch fillister head screw.  I used my Dremel tool with a cutoff wheel to cut the screw, then used my lathe to remove the threads from the last 1/3 of the screw and reduce the diameter of the head.  I polished and cold-blued the exposed areas of the screw.


To modify the screw, I fabricated a screw holder out of a piece of scrap 7/8” aluminum rod.  I used a #33 drill bit to drill a hole through the center of the scrap, then milled a 1/4” hole half-way through.  I tapped a 6-40 hole in the remaining half.  I used this holder when I cut the end of the screw, then chucked it into the lathe to remove the threads.  I turned the screw around in the holder and used the lathe to turn down the head so it would fit in the magazine tube.

I milled a 1/16” wide slot 0.080” deep and 1/2” long in the front face of the plug.  This is for a screw-driver blade to facilitate removal of the plug so I can clean the magazine tube.

Takedown Button


I turned the takedown button from a piece of 1/4” aluminum rod, which actually measured 0.243”.  I plunge-milled a 1/8” hole in the end, then opened it up with a #24 drill bit to accept a 0.125” OD x 5/8” spring from Brownells spring kit #69 #025-069-000.  I made the front part of the button 0.002” smaller than 3/16” so I could use a 3/16” square end milling bit for the button hole in the magazine tube and front barrel-band. 

Milling the Button Hole

I removed the magazine tube from the rifle and installed the new magazine tube plug.  I wrapped a piece of tape around the plug so it would fit tightly in the tube.  I installed the new barrel-band onto the magazine tube and tightened the band screw so the barrel-band and plug would not move.  I mounted the band into my machinist vise, and centered a 3/16” square-end bit so it would mill a half-circle on the bottom-rear of the barrel-band.  I plunge-milled the button hole in the front barrel-band and magazine tube with a 3/16” square end bit and made sure I plunged at least 2/3 through the plug. 


I removed the plug from the magazine tube, and finished milling the button hole to 0.250” x 0.530” deep.  I inserted the button and spring into the button hole and found that the front wouldn’t sit flush with the plug.  I removed 2 coils from the spring and now it fit.


Above is a photo of the completed plug and new screw next to a .45 Colt cartridge.  You can see that the longer plug will reduce the magazine tube capacity by one round, but I can still load 10 + 1 making it suitable for cowboy shooting.


I lubricated the button with a little synthetic grease, inserted it into the hole in the plug, then inserted the plug into the magazine tube until the button popped through the button hole in the magazine tube.  Everything fit perfectly.

Cleaning the Magazine Tube
When I removed the magazine tube to perform this work, I discovered that it and the magazine spring were beginning to rust.  I took some 000 steel-wool and gun oil and ran it over the spring and through the magazine tube to remove the rust, then left both with a thin coat of oil to prevent further rusting.  I also cleaned leftover soot in the receiver-end of the magazine tube and follower.  This came from shooting light, target loads that didn’t completely seal the chamber. 

After shooting a rifle or shotgun that has a magazine tube, part of my cleaning routine is to also clean and oil the magazine tube and spring to prevent rust from forming.  When I purchased my Winchester ’97 shotgun the magazine tube spring was rusted through in two places, and the magazine tube itself had some heavy pitting due to rust from years of neglect (refer to my article Modifying a Winchester 97 for Competition).

Crimping the Magazine Tube
The receiver end of the magazine tube must be crimped so the follower doesn’t fall out and jam the rifle when being disassembled.  Only one of the Internet articles described how to do this, and the NRA guide had no suggestion, so I came up with my own idea.


I thought the best way to accomplish this was to stake dimples in the magazine tube.  Using my new lathe, I made an anvil out of 7/8” aluminum rod.  The anvil had three steps; the inner widest step was the same diameter as the outside of the magazine tube, the center step was the same diameter as the inside of the magazine tube and prevented the tube from crushing when I performed the staking, and the outer-most, narrowest step allowed me to remove the anvil from the magazine tube.  The anvil fit into the end of the magazine tube and had four grooves, one for each dimple.  I milled the four grooves to the same depth as the narrowest step.  These grooves allowed me to remove the anvil after staking.


I marked the magazine tube 1/8” from the end.  I placed the anvil into the end of the magazine tube and used a prick punch to punch a dimple on the line at the location of each groove.  I was surprised just how soft this metal was and how easy it was to punch.  After punching the four dimples I had to use a rod to push the anvil out of the magazine tube.


The anvil prevented the magazine tube from being crushed or bent during the staking process, so the tube fit back into the receiver with no problems.  The four dimples now hold the follower in place for disassembly.

Longer Follower


The original follower now set 1/8” deeper in the magazine tube.  Although this didn’t seem to affect function when I tested the rifle with dummy rounds, I wanted the follower to push a cartridge completely out of the magazine tube, so I turned a new follower that was 1/8” longer than the original.  (Man, I’m having fun with my new lathe!)

I again used a piece of 7/8” aluminum rod and turned the new follower to the same diameters as the original.  The inside diameter of the original follower measured 0.455”.  I drilled out the center with a 29/64” drill bit which measured 0.453”.  This slightly smaller diameter didn’t seem to make much difference; the magazine spring fit with just a small amount of friction allowing me to remove the follower just by pulling on the spring.  I used a file to put a slight taper on the front of the follower like the original.  The front of the new follower now extends slightly out of the magazine tube as the original follower did.  I tested the rifle with dummy cartridges and they fed with no problems.

Milling Takedown Notches in the Magazine Tube


Normally, the magazine tube is held in place by the two barrel-band screws, and the magazine tube plug screw.  To allow the magazine tube to move forward for disassembly I cut the new magazine tube plug screw short so it wouldn’t touch the barrel.  The barrel-band screws mate with two notches cut in the barrel and magazine tube; the notches prevent the tube from moving.  Because I wanted the magazine tube to move forward, I needed to extend the notches just in the magazine tube.  I did not want to extend the notches in the barrel because I didn’t want the barrel-bands to move.


I found that I only had to move the magazine tube one-inch forward for the follower to clear the receiver.  I set the magazine tube in the machinist vise and used a 1/8” milling bit to mill a one-inch notch 0.030” deep.  I repositioned the tube to mill the other notch to the same dimensions.  I was careful not to tighten the vise too much because I didn’t want to crush or distort the fragile tube.


Once both notches were milled I cold-blued the exposed metal and coated them with oil.  The notch looks rough in the above photo because I didn’t polish the metal after milling.  I reassembled the rifle, tightened down both barrel-band screws, and tested the magazine tube.  When I pressed the button, I could pull the magazine tube forward; sweet success!

Rifle Disassembly


I had no problems disassembling the rifle since I had done it before, but this was the first time I had removed the barrel from the receiver.  I fabricated an aluminum bushing for my barrel vise so I could unscrew the barrel.  I placed two marks on the barrel 1-inch apart.  The barrel measured 0.820” and 0.771” at the marks.  Using my barrel taper calculator, the barrel taper was 1.403-degrees.  I have several bushings for different rifles and handguns so I stamped the model on the receiver-end of the bushing.

I put masking tape on the receiver so the receiver wrench wouldn’t mar the bluing, and installed the receiver wrench.  Because the receiver was square and flat I didn’t have to purchase a special wrench.  I sprinkled rosin I purchased from Brownells #083-016-100 on the inside of the bushing and inside the barrel vise and installed the bushing onto the barrel.  I mounted the barrel vise in a well-supported bench vise and removed the barrel.  To get the extra leverage I needed to unscrew the barrel, I used a 24-inch piece of steel pipe on the handle of the receiver wrench.

Milling the Front of the Receiver
To get the spacer plate to fit flush against the face of the receiver I had to remove the lip that the fore end set in.  I cut two pieces of 1 x 2 wood, 3 1/2” long to serve as spacers for the receiver.  The sides of the receiver are not perfectly flat; there are two flares at the front and rear for the butt stock and fore end.


I mounted the receiver in my machinist vise using the 1 x 2 spacers.  I used a 1/2” milling bit to remove the lip 0.010” at a time.  You can see in the above photo where I’ve started to mill the lip and left a ledge in the untouched portion.

I milled the lip until there were just a few thousandths left, then used a flat bastard file to draw file the rest.  I was careful to keep my file flat so I would keep the face of the receive flat.


I polished the face with 400-grit wet/dry sand paper wrapped around the flat file, then cold-blued the exposed metal.  The above photo shows the result.  By the way, I’m using Brownells Oxpho-Blue Crème #082-124-004 for all my cold bluing.

Turning Down a Step on the Barrel
Because the bed of my lathe is a little less than 17-inches, my 20-inch rifle barrel would not fit, therefore I had to install it through the bore of the headstock.  The headstock has a 3MT (Morse taper) which allows material up to 0.780” in diameter through the bore.  My lathe came with a 3-jaw scroll chuck, which means the jaws open and close together with the chuck key.  Unfortunately, the center hole of this chuck is only 5/8-inches, which is not enough for the ‘92 rifle barrel.


I purchased a 5-inch, 4-jaw, independent chuck with adapter plate from Little Machine Shop #2346.  The adapter plate allowed me to mount this large chuck on my small mill.  This is an independent chuck which means each jaw works independently from the others, i.e. each jaw is adjusted individually with the chuck key.  The scroll chuck is ok if I want to fabricate something from scratch where I don’t care about runout, but the 4-jaw chuck can be adjusted to eliminate runout, which is important when working on the rifle barrel.  The bore of this chuck is 1.180” which is larger than the bore of the headstock, so it should be ok for a tapered rifle barrel.


Long work pieces, like a rifle barrel, need to be supported at a minimum of two points to prevent it from wobbling.  I didn’t want to use the steady rest that came with the lathe because it didn’t have bearings and I didn’t want to leave a mark on the barrel.  I fabricated a mandrel which fit into the chamber of the barrel.  In the rear of the mandrel I drilled a 60-degree hole using a center drill for my live center in the tailstock. 


I fabricated another bushing that fit onto the barrel 9-inches from the chamber out of 3/4“ aluminum.  The barrel measured 0.690” and 0.684” at that point.  Again, using my barrel taper calculator, the taper came out to 0.229-degrees.  With the bushing on the barrel and in the 4-jaw chuck, and the mandrel in the tailstock of the lathe, the barrel was now supported at two points by the chuck and the tailstock.


I turned down a step in the barrel that measured 1/2” wide by 0.8155” in diameter.  I’m using 1/2” aluminum bar stock to fabricate the spacer plate.  In the above photo, the step does not look centered on the barrel.  This is because the barrel had a flat spot on the bottom so it wouldn’t interfere with the magazine tube.

Fabricating a Spacer Plate


I traced around the face of the receiver, then scanned the tracing into CorelDraw 12 to create a line drawing of the outline.  I carefully measured the receiver holes and placed them accordingly in the outline drawing.  I made the barrel hole 0.814” in diameter so it can be pressed onto the barrel flat.  The magazine tube hole I made 0.655” in diameter.  The two holes on each side are for 10-32 hex-head cap screws.  These screws hold the fore end in place, and provide adjustment if the spacer plate becomes loose over time.  The NRA article recommended using 1/4-20 screws, but I thought they would be too large so I used 10-32 screws instead.


I exported the line drawing to BobCAD-CAM v20, and from that I created the G-code for my CNC mill.  I milled the spacer plate out of 1/2” 6061-T6 aluminum bar stock.  Before cutting out the plate, I marked the center at the top of the plate.  This helped me align the extractor groove in the barrel to the top of the plate.

Pressing the Spacer Plate onto the Barrel


I heated the spacer plate with a propane torch and pressed the plate onto the barrel using the barrel bushing I used to remove the barrel from the receiver.  Once the plate was heated, I placed the bushing on top of the plate and used a rubber mallet to strike the bushing and press the plate onto the barrel.  Each time I heated the plate I was able to press it about 1/8”.  After four cycles of heating and pressing the plate was seated onto the barrel.

After the plate was seated I noticed the mark at the top of the plate was not centered over the extractor groove in the barrel.  I again heated the plate with a propane torch and used the mallet to rotate the plate on the barrel until the extractor groove was centered on the mark in the plate.

Facing Off the Plate


The plate was thicker than the step on the barrel, which meant the barrel could not rotate into the proper position.  To get the barrel to rotate to the proper position I needed to remove metal from the remaining barrel shoulder and the rear of the plate.


I set the barrel in the lathe as I did before and removed a small amount of metal from the rear of the spacer plate.  I moved the tailstock out of the way and screwed on the receiver to test for fit.  I performed this remove metal and fit procedure many times until the plate fit snuggly and was properly aligned on the receiver.

Fitting the Spacer Plate
I wanted the spacer plate to fit flush with the edge of the receiver.  With the spacer plate properly aligned, I marked the rear face with a blue marker and traced around the edge of the receiver with a scribe.  This left a mark in the blue which corresponded to the outline of the receiver face.


I put tape on the barrel threads and on the barrel in front of the spacer plate.  I used a flat bastard mill file to file the edge of the spacer plate down to the line.  I had to clean my file after 3 or 4 strokes to prevent the teeth from becoming full and gouging the soft aluminum.  After the spacer plate was filed I used 400-grit wet/dry sand paper to “shoe-shine” around the outside edge until it was polished smooth.

Modifying the Fore End


I cut the end of the fore end with my miter saw, then used my belt sander to trim the end until it fit.  I positioned the fore end onto the rifle, then used a #21 drill bit to drill through the adjusting screw holes in the spacer plate into the fore end. 


After I drilled the holes in the fore end, I tapped the adjustment holes in the spacer plate with a 10-32 tap.  I tapped the holes after drilling the fore end because I didn’t want to damage the threads when drilling the holes.  I installed two 10-32 x 7/8” stainless steel hex-head screws into the spacer plate.  As the screws mated with the fore end they tapped threads into the wood.  The fore end is now nice and tight with these screws in place.

Installing a Large Loop Lever
My rifle originally came with a large loop lever which I found difficult to operate quickly for cowboy shooting.  I replaced it with a standard lever which I could operate much more quickly, but now I wanted to put the large loop lever back on the rifle.


I used a punch to remove the friction stud stop pin (47) from the lever, which allowed me to remove the friction stud (45) and friction stud spring (46) from the lever.  I installed these parts into the large loop lever, then installed the lever into the receiver.

The secret to using the large loop lever is to push your hand forward so the loop rides along the front edge of your hand which opens the action.  Then close the action by pressing the loop towards the butt stock as normal.

Finishing the Aluminum Parts


I didn’t want the bright aluminum parts to show, so I blacked the aluminum with Birchwood Casey Aluminum Black.  This product works like cold-bluing for aluminum.  I cleaned the parts with acetone, then applied the aluminum black with a cotton swab.  I let the solution set for 60-seconds, then rinsed it off with cold water.  After the part was dry I sprayed it with two coats a high gloss clear coat to protect the finish.  It doesn’t look like blued steel, but it does look nice.

Refinishing the Wood
The butt stock and fore end had some sort of dark stain which covered the beauty of the walnut.  I used Bix paste stripper to remove the old finish from the wood.  I applied 4 coats of the stripper, then washed the wood with water and scrubbed with a Scotch-Brite scouring pad.

After the wood was dry I steamed out the dents using an iron and a wet towel.  This not only raised the dents, but it also raised the grain.  I used 400-grit wet/dry sand paper to smooth the wood and remove the “feathers” that were raised by the steaming process.


I allowed the wood to completely dry overnight, then applied three coats of Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil.  I allowed the wood to dry for 6 hours between each coat.  Tru-Oil is my favorite finish because it’s easy to apply, and if the wood gets scratched or damaged, it’s easy to repair and apply another coat.  The butt stock is some sort of dark, “tiger” walnut.  As you can see in the above photo, you can now see the beautiful grain and patterns in the wood.

I have never been able to use a complete bottle of Tru-Oil because once the bottle is opened and air gets in, it dries out.  I found a product called Bloxygen on that prevents finishes like Tru-Oil from skinning over or drying out.  After I apply a coat of Tru-Oil, I spray some Bloxygen into the bottle before closing the lid.  Bloxygen works so well that I have been using the same 8-ounce bottle of Tru-Oil for years without having it dry out.

Installing a Tang Peep Sight
I won’t go into the details of installing a tang peep sight to this rifle because I have already written an article (refer to my article Adding a Tang Peep Sight to a Lever-Action Rifle).  However, the Rossi rifles use different tang screws depending on when and where they were manufactured.  My particular rifle requires a 10-32 x 1 3/4” tang screw to mount the peep sight.  I purchased a Marbles tang peep sight for a Rossi ’92 from #140573.  This sight also fits a Winchester ’94. 

Apparently, the newer Rossi ’92 rifles require a M5-8 metric tang screw, which is the screw provided in Marbles screw set 995002.  This is the screw set Marbles says will fit the Rossi.  My older Rossi required a 10-32 x 1.75 tang screw so a quick call to Marbles and they sent me the correct screw.

Conversion Completed


At this point the conversion is complete.  I replaced the sling swivels on the magazine tube and butt stock with sling swivel studs and quick-detach sling swivels which are very convenient and easy to remove a sling from this take-down rifle.

To disassemble the rifle, I open the action, press the button behind the front barrel band, pull the magazine tube forward, and unscrew the barrel.  To reassemble the rifle, I open the action, screw the barrel onto the receiver until the spacer plate is snug and aligned properly, press the takedown button, and push the magazine tube in place until the button locks in the notch behind the front barrel band.

After watching the Wild West Guns (WWG) TV series Wild West Alaska and seeing their Copilot rifle, which is nothing more than a converted Marlin, I wondered if I could do the same conversion.  My philosophy is if someone else can do it, I can learn how to do it myself.  The Copilot does not have interrupted threads on the barrel and receiver, which means you attach or detach the barrel with multiple turns.  I decided to do the same with my rifle to reduce machining time.  My Rossi ’92 requires 11 turns to disassemble/assemble the rifle. 

To maintain the full magazine capacity of the original rifle, WWG replaces the magazine plug screw with a thumb screw.  I personally don’t like that blob of metal hanging down below the rifle; I think it detracts from the clean lines and look of the original rifle, which is why I like the button plug.  As mentioned before, this reduced the capacity of my rifle from 11+1 to 10+1, but that is acceptable and I can still use the rifle for cowboy shooting.

.45 Colt, or “Long Colt”, has always been my caliber of choice for Cowboy Action Shooting™ and field use.  Modern reloading manuals provide recipes for more powerful loads approaching or exceeding the .44 magnum suitable for use in Ruger or Contender firearms.  Some ammunition manufacturers are also producing heavier loads in .45 Colt.  The ’92 action is also strong enough to handle these loads, which makes this takedown conversion the perfect backpack companion.

The WWG Copilot sells for $3,277 at the time of this writing.  Chiappa Firearms of Italy is building a series of ’92 takedown rifles which are imported by Taylor’s and Company.  At the time I wrote this article, their prices started at $1,363 up to $1,483 depending on what you wanted.  A quick search of shows Rossi ’92 rifles are available from $300 to $600+.  I think I paid $410 for my rifle new, plus about $200 in upgrades for this project, the right tools, some time and elbow grease and I have a neat takedown rifle.  This was not only a fun project, but I learned new skills with my new lathe. 

My rifle did not have the same dimensions as the Winchester ’94 rifle used in the NRA article; my rifle was a bit smaller.  If I was to perform this conversion on a different lever-action rifle I would have to perform all the measurements over again to ensure everything would fit.

I decided not to refinish the rifle since I thought the bluing already looked nice.  However, I didn’t think the painted aluminum matched the blued finish, so I decided to re-make all the parts in cold-rolled steel so I could blue them to match the rifle.  I considered my aluminum parts as practice, and made a few changes when I made the parts in steel.  I purchased the steel I needed from, which is my source for the steel, aluminum and brass that I use for my projects.


As I completed each part, I polished it with 400-grit wet/dry sand paper then degreased it with acetone.  For small parts and touch-up I used Brownells Oxpho-Blue Creme #082-124-004 to cold-blue the parts.  I prefer the creme because it sticks to the part.  I heated the part in a small toaster oven to 120-degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes, then applied the Oxpho-Blue.  I wiped it off after 60-seconds, then buffed with #000 steel wool.  After 3 or 4 applications, the parts took on a deep blue-black color that closely matched the original bluing on the rifle.

For larger parts such as the magazine tube plug and barrel-band, I polished and prepared the part as before, then heated the part in a small toaster oven to 120-degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes.  I poured some Van’s Instant Gun Blue into a plastic bowl and completely immersed the part.  After the part turned black, I removed it from the solution, wiped off the excess bluing, then buffed with #000 steel wool.

For the steel spacer plate, I polished and prepared the metal.  I plugged the chamber of the barrel with a rubber stopper, and blued the plate with Brownells Dicropan IM #082-008-032.  This is a rust-bluing process and requires much time and many applications, refer to my article Refinishing a .45 ACP Conversion Cylinder with Brownells Dicropan IM®.

The other change I made was to drill and tap the top of the front barrel-band to accept an 8-40 x 0.130 set screw I purchased from Brownells #080-534-002.  I drilled a corresponding indent in the barrel, but was careful not to drill completely through the barrel into the bore.  This set screw sets below the bottom of the front sight dovetail which still allows me to change sights.  It prevents the front barrel-band from rotating on the barrel, which I accidentally discovered would happen with the aluminum barrel-band.

There’s nothing like the look of blue steel and walnut.  I’m glad I didn’t try to refinish the rifle with any spray-on finishes, and the new steel parts closely match the original factory bluing.  Next, I think I’ll try to convert a Marlin Guide Gun in .45-70 to a takedown rifle.  That should be an interesting project.

[i] Pete Dickey, “A Takedown Rifle,” The NRA Gunsmithing Guide – Updated 1982, 273 - 276


   © Copyright 2017 Roy Seifert.