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Chiappa Winchester 1892

John Northmore casts his critical eye over a reproduction of the Winchester 1892 lever-action rifle as offered by Chiappa of Italy

I think regular readers will know by now that my favourite lever-action rifles are the Winchester 1873 and 1876. Not perhaps the most advanced designs as both can trace their parentage back to the Volcanic and Henry guns of the 1860s. But to my eyes gorgeous and technically Winchester’s last, in-house design.

After that the legendary John Moses Browning stepped in and gave them the big 1886, which was the first Winchester to show twin rising lug locking at the rear of the action and an improved shell lifter system. In truth the 76 which was just a big 1873 was nothing more than a stop gap design to give them a large cartridge rifle, until the 86 took over. However, this gun was not in the popular pistol calibres of the 1873 – 44-40 WCF, 45 Colt etc and 6-years later JMB gave them the 1892.

Best ever?

Many people feel the 92 was the pinnacle of Winchester’s lever-action rifles, even over the later 1894 and certainly the modern AE versions, which suffered badly from a weak ejector design. Though using mainly pistol calibres the action is long and strong enough to take rounds like the 30-30 too.

In terms of classic reproductions it’s Uberti’s Henry, Winchester 66, 73 and 76 that are the most popular. I have only seen two examples of the 92; one I believe was from Armi Sport and the other the Brazilian Rossi Puma. Chiappa have really gone to town on this model as they offer a number of versions from 16” carbines to 24” rifles in both solid and take-down configurations. Plus engraved and chromed options too. They also make a John Wayne style, Rio Bravo carbine with the big loop (saddle ring) lever, plus the cut-down, Mare’s Leg. This shows a 12” barrel and abbreviated butt and is UK legal as it’s 24” overall, though what good it is remains to be seen.

What I have here is the newest example chambered in 44 Magnum, which attests to the strength of the 1892 action as the Uberti guns can handle 357 Mag and 45 Colt but currently are not cut for this big magnum.

Classic styling

The rifle shows a blued, 24”, octagonal barrel with a full length magazine tube that connects/stabilises by a ring as opposed to a full band, which I think looks a lot cleaner. The straight-hand stock is walnut and both pieces match pretty well. The action, operating lever, trigger, crescent butt plate and forend cap are all colour case-hardened. Overall fit and finish is good with decent wood to metal joining. Sights are the familiar, semi-buckhorn elevator wedge at the rear and a medium width blade up front in a dovetail for coarse windage.

Loading is through a sprung gate on the right of the receiver to a capacity of 10-rounds. The action is open-topped and empty cases are ejected straight up and back. There is no safety catch as is to be expected, but the design uses a half cock notch on the hammer (pull back one click) to keep it from contacting the rear of the firing pin. Operation is smooth and easy with none of the graunchy feel and mandatory running in time of the Rossi Puma.

Decent calibre choice

Apart from 44 Magnum calibre choice covers 38 Special, 38/40 Win, 357 Magnum, 44/40 WCF and 45 Colt. For range and western-type shooting 38Spl/357 Mag is more than enough and easy off the shelf ammo too. Frankly unless you fancy a short range hunting lever-action 44 Mag is wasted, as it’s a bit over the top.

I used Magtech 44 Mag through the 1892 and the rifle shot very well indeed. At 100-yards supported off the bench you can keep it all inside a 4” circle. With more precise sights that could probably be improved too! Recoil was a little noticeable; not perhaps helped by the slim, steel crescent butt plate that does pinch in the shoulder a little.

Niche but welcome

Feed and function were fine with a reasonably smooth and easy action stroke that you did not have to force to chamber etc. Though apparently accurate in terms of dimensions; I found the size of the loading gate a bit small and my fingers and thumb got sore after filling a few magazines. But overall this is a good reproduction of the Winchester 1892 and one that some western and classic shooting fans will doubtless welcome as it adds yet another model for consideration.

Earlier on I mentioned the trouble the current Winchester 94AE rifles have with ejection. Given the 94 was based on the 92 the two ejectors are like chalk and cheese. On the latter there’s a big and strong plunger that makes up part of the breech face, which pops out as the bolt comes to rest to kick out the empty. The AE uses a flat, slotted plate that sits under the bolt and after not much use this bends as it has no inherent strength. It’s hard to believe that the general good design has been down-graded so much over the years…

Price-wise nothing is cheap these days, I recall paying £400 for my Uberti 1873, 30” Sporter when I competed in British Western Shooting Society (BWSS) competitions back in the mid 90s. Today a comparable 24” version costs around £1000. The Chiappa 1892 comes in at £895, so is still quite expensive. However like most classic guns it’s a specialised item; so if you are looking for one then I feel you are more prepared to pay the going rate.

The importers Western Shooting Supplies also bring in Sharps variants and the Chiappa catalogue shows the Armi Sport Spencer rifle and carbine in the more sensible calibres of 44/40 WCF and 45 Colt as well as the original 56/50 and ersatz 45 Schofield offerings. I am not sure if they are going to bother with this unusual lever-action but it would be nice to have a play…

We Reckon:
• Nice repro of the 1892 Winchester
• Gives more choice to classis and Western shooters
• Very much a niche market product

Technical Specifications
Name Chiappa Winchester 1892
Calibre 44 Magnum (on test)
Capacity 10+1
Stock walnut
Finish blue/colour case-hardened
Barrel 24” octagonal
Length 42”
Weight 6.6 lbs
Price £896

All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates

Gun Mart Shooters Forum - Get Involved in the Discussion!
User Comments
  • Very interesting review .I would like to see a comparison set of reviews between the various makes of modern repro's in rifles of this type.
    Graham

    Comment by: Graham Gibbs     Posted on: 06 Jul 2010 at 07:14 PM

  • Nice to see this kind of review in a world dominated by plastic, black and synthetic, sure is damn expensive though, it's a shame, as I really like lever guns but am not really prepared to pay that much for a "fun gun" or something that might be used for a bit of hunting....

    tell ya what though.... this'd make an excellent running fox rifle, ride the combine, so that the bullets don't ricochet....., just as the 1892 in .45-70 would be good for boar.....

    what was the trigger like though? that really is the main issue with me with any gun, gotta have a good trigger...

    Cheers
    DB

    Comment by: D Brewer     Posted on: 21 Jul 2010 at 04:37 PM

  • also I think an improvement, at least for shooting it, would be replacing the rear sight with a skinner aperture sight, I reckon that'd make the world of difference in the "shootability" stakes

    Comment by: D Brewer     Posted on: 21 Jul 2010 at 04:39 PM

  • I have one of these, and the quality is top rate, smooth action and accurate. The company is small, but give a very personal service, with the owner actuality knowing what he is talking about, and that is nice for a change when it comes to lever guns

    Comment by: Lisa M     Posted on: 15 Oct 2010 at 06:44 PM

  • i have just purchased the chiappa puma 1892 carbine stainless steel .357 mag. I have found a fault in this model in that the magazine follower between the stock and magazine dislodges and comes forward upon recoil.I also believe that the hammer and loading gate should be made of stainless steel instead of blue such as the rossi puma

    Comment by: Steve Atsidakos     Posted on: 27 Jan 2011 at 08:39 AM

  • We suggest you take it up with the maufacturers, as we have not tested this version so cannot comment.

    Comment by: peter moore     Posted on: 31 Jan 2011 at 11:17 AM

  • That Chiappa Puma, must be an older rifle as they do no list that rifle in the range? Any more info?

    Comment by: Ed     Posted on: 03 Feb 2011 at 10:07 PM

  • I have a chiappa lever
    I can only load 5 rounds in the mag,
    There is a restriction in the mag, how do i remove this.
    Regards richard

    Comment by: Richard donkin     Posted on: 16 Nov 2011 at 07:50 AM

  • I have an Armi San Marco 1892 in .45 Colt. Reading your article and studying the photo's it appears exactly the same, even down to the excellent colour case hardening. Any info on whether Chiappa sold ASM's under their banner would be helpful.

    Comment by: Alan Jones     Posted on: 09 Oct 2012 at 09:02 PM

  • I think that the majority of guns were made by Armi Sport and chances are brought in by other Italian companies. Much the same way you see Uberti reveolvers and lever-actions in the USA under many local names.

    Comment by: PC moore     Posted on: 10 Oct 2012 at 10:05 AM

  • They are not the same rifle. At that time the furniture and the case hardening of the receivers was out sourced to another company that I know finished a number of manufactures firearms. Armi Sports have always made their barrels in house and having seen the two products up close can safely say that the Armi San Marco barrels are of a lower quality than the Armi Sports (Chiappa). Armi San Marco tended to buy parts in from other companies for assembly a bit like Chaparral (no longer trading), whereas Armi Sports are a true manufacture of arms.

    Comment by: Edward     Posted on: 10 Oct 2012 at 11:44 AM

  • Thanks Pete and Edward. It appears that both opinions conflict with each other but I am grateful for the responses nonetheless. I have heard other conflicting reports regarding quality of this make, but I suppose the proof is in the pudding so to speak. It prints groups (20 rounds) in the sub 2 inch mark at 25 metres with standard open sights so for a half blind geriatric like me that'll do for me.

    Comment by: Alan Jones     Posted on: 10 Oct 2012 at 03:35 PM

  • Hi All.
    I own the 92 rifle featured in this artical i brought it from Eward. I have shot this
    rifle for over two years now on fox big and small deer with no problems at all. This is a top notch rifle very accurate and deadly with good knock down
    power for woodland hunting. All my ammo is home loads 200 xtp to 240xtp
    Hornady bullets. I Would definately reccommend it great gun.

    Comment by: Dave Ross     Posted on: 14 Jul 2014 at 07:00 PM

  • Thanks Dave glad the rifle is still giving you good service.

    Comment by: Edward     Posted on: 14 Jul 2014 at 07:56 PM

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Chiappa Winchester 1892
Chiappa Winchester 1892
Chiappa Winchester 1892
Chiappa Winchester 1892
Chiappa Winchester 1892
Chiappa Winchester 1892
Chiappa Winchester 1892
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