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Converting a Rossi 62SAC to Shoot .22 Short, Long, and Long Rifle Cartridges
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.

Introduction
A few years ago I purchased a Rossi 62 SAC gallery gun.  This is a pump-action rifle that shoots .22 long rifle (LR) cartridges only.  This rifle is patterned after the Winchester 62A that was designed to fire .22 short, long, and long rifle cartridges.  As a teenager I spent many an hour, and many a dollar at the county fair shooting gallery shooting .22 shorts out of these rifles, which is why I think I bought it in the first place; out of nostalgia. 

I wanted to know what the difference was between the Rossi that only fed .22 LR cartridges, and the original Winchester that fired .22 short, long and long rifle cartridges.  In my gunsmith library I have the excellent National Rifle Association (NRA) firearms assembly books.  By the way, if you are reading this article and are a firearms collector and/or shooter, you should be a member of the NRA.  No other organization will protect your shooting and gun-ownership rights like the NRA…enough said.  Since the Rossi is a copy of the Winchester , I looked up the Winchester 62A.  I also found an article on the Internet titled Working The Rossi Gallery Rifle, from American Gunsmith's Book of the Rifle by Butch Thomson that explained how this little rifle worked, and how to correct problems.

In the above sectional diagram[1], item #9 the “cartridge stop” was the piece missing from the Rossi.  In the Winchester , when a cartridge is fed from the magazine tube under spring tension, the rim hits the rear of the cartridge stop causing the front to pivot up to block the next cartridge from feeding onto the carrier.  This piece was designed to pivot regardless of the length of the cartridge hitting it.

The Rossi carrier had the hole for the pivot pin, and the center of the carrier was milled to accept the cartridge stop, but the front of the carrier was solid.  It would have been slotted to accept the bottom of the stop.  The carrier itself was long enough to allow .22 LR cartridges to feed.  If a shorter cartridge entered the carrier, the following round was partially fed onto the carrier from the magazine tube.  This was because there was nothing to stop that following cartridge from feeding.  When the carrier was attempted to be raised, the partially fed cartridge would get jammed between the front of the carrier and the receiver, thereby stopping the action.  So, can I get the Rossi to feed .22 short, long, and long rifle cartridges by installing the cartridge stop into the carrier?

Numrich Gun Parts Corporation was the first place I checked for parts.  I thought if I could replace the Rossi carrier with a Winchester carrier assembly that might be the best solution.  Unfortunately, they were sold out of the carrier assembly, but I was able to purchase just the cartridge stop and pin.  So, I had to mill the Rossi carrier and fit the cartridge stop.

Apparently the earlier Rossi model was designed to shoot .22 short, long, and long rifle and had this part, but it was so problematic that the later models did not.  According to Butch Thomson’s article most of the problems related to the cartridge stop were caused by poor fitting, which could be remedied by proper fit and polishing.

Disassembly
To get to the carrier I completely disassembled the rifle.  I removed the butt stock by first removing the tang screw and pulling the butt stock off of the receiver.  Next I loosened the takedown screw and split the receiver.  I cocked the hammer and put a small pin through the hammer strut retaining hole, then pulled the trigger.  The pin prevented the hammer from falling which relieved any spring tension from the hammer.  I carefully removed the retaining pin from the takedown screw.  This pin actually slid out fairly easily, then I removed the takedown screw.  Finally I removed the disassembly bushing and the hammer and carrier came out of the receiver.

Carrier

I removed the carrier lever spring screw and spring.  I would have removed the carrier lever as well but I couldn’t remove the pin.  As you can see from the above photo, the center of the carrier is slotted for the cartridge stop and the hole for the pivot pin has been drilled.  However, the front of the carrier is solid.  I had to extend the slot in order to install the cartridge stop.  Notice the narrow, flat piece extending from the front and below the carrier.  This piece is an integral part of the casting, not a separate piece.  Its purpose is to prevent cartridges from feeding from the magazine tube when the carrier is in the raised position.  When I milled the slot extension, I had to make sure I left enough of this piece so other cartridges would not feed.  

I set the cartridge stop on the outside of the carrier and used a drill bit to align the holes.  This showed me just how deep I needed to mill the slot.

The slot measured 3/32” so I used that size square end mill bit to extend the slot.  I found I also had to remove a small amount of metal from the rear of the protruding edge, and use a 1/4” bit to deepen the carrier so the cartridge stop would rotate.

After milling I removed burrs and flashing with jeweler’s files and installed the cartridge stop in the carrier.  To ensure the pin didn’t fall out I used a prick punch and punched the center of the pin while it was in place.  This expands the end and makes it tight in the hole.  I lubricated all parts and reassembled the rifle.  To my surprise, it fed .22 short and long rifle cartridges without a hitch.  However, it doesn’t seem to feed mixed cartridge lengths reliably.  That’s alright since I probably won’t be mixing different length cartridges anyway.

Muzzle

No, the above photo is not an optical illusion.  That’s exactly how the muzzle looked.  I couldn’t tell if the bore was drilled off center, or if it was just a poor muzzle crown.  Because the end of the muzzle was not square accuracy could be adversely affected.  I never fired this rifle for accuracy, but it seemed to do alright against soda cans at 15 yards, so accuracy was at least as good as “minute of pop can”.  To enhance accuracy I re-crowned the muzzle.

A professional gunsmith uses a lathe to cut a new crown, but I don’t have a lathe.  I used a 79-degree crown cutter I purchased from Brownells to cut the crown by hand.  This cutter makes an 11-degree recessed target crown, but I used a 1/2-inch diameter cutter – smaller than the diameter of the barrel – so I wouldn’t cut out to the edge of the barrel.  I installed the .22 pilot, handle, and a 1/2-inch stop collar onto the cutter.  The stop collar made the final cut smooth, rather than uneven with chatter marks.  In the photo above the stop collar is set back to show the cutting teeth.  I adjusted the collar so it was almost flush with the front of the cutter.

I lubricated the pilot and cutting teeth with cutting oil and turned the cutter clockwise.  I turned the cutter only in one direction; otherwise I could break the teeth.  I cleaned chips off of the cutter and muzzle and lubricated the cutter frequently.  The above photo shows just how unevenly the muzzle crown was originally cut.  Notice the high spot that was cut first.

I cut until the stop collar touched the front of the barrel.  You can see the nice, clean muzzle in the above photo.  It turned out that the bore was not off-center; instead the crown was just poorly cut.

Finally, I blued the exposed crown with cold blue to prevent the metal from corroding.  I degreased the crown with acetone, plugged the bore, then immersed the muzzle in Van’s Instant Gun Blue for about 5 minutes.  I wiped off the excess bluing solution, then treated the metal with gun oil to stop the bluing process.  The above photo shows the result. 

Summary
So why would I even want this rifle to feed .22 short, long, and long rifle cartridges in the first place?  First of all was the gunsmithing challenge to see if I could do the conversion, and second was to increase the flexibility of this rifle.  This project was more than just replacing parts; it involved true gunsmithing.  I may never shoot shorts or longs out of this rifle, but again, it was the challenge of the project.



[1] National Rifle Association of America , Firearms Assembly, The NRA Guide to Rifles and Shotguns Revised and Expanded, 2003. p279

 

 

 
   © Copyright 2010 Roy Seifert.