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Rossi Model 851 revolver.

* The latest offering from Interarms of Alexandria, Virginia, importers and distributors of firearms from throughout the world, is the Rossi Model 851 revolver.

Manufactured by Rossi in Brazil, the 851 is a stainless steel double-action revolver chambered for the .38 Special cartridge. My test gun has a 4-inch barrel, but a 3-inch model is also available. The barrel sports an integral ventilated rib, and a solid piece below the barrel that adds weight, enhances the revolver's appearance and affords a shroud for the ejector rod. The revolver weighs 1 pound 15 ounces and is 9 inches long overall.

The exterior finish on the Model 851 is very good, with few tool marks and these only in the most inconspicuous places. The fit of the side plate, located on the right side, is excellent. The trigger is .310-inch wide, and its front surface is grooved. The checkered hammer spur is .395-inch wide.

To contrast with the stainless steel, the oversized target stocks are made of wood that appears to be walnut and are machine checkered. However, the top of the diamonds of the checkering are very flat, so the checkering serves no purpose other than decoration.

For sights, the Rossi Model 851 sports a stainless steel, ramped, tapered blade up front, .115-inch wide and fit with a red insert. The rear sight is adjustable for windage and elevation. The rear blade features a square notch that is .125-inch wide and .070-inch deep. Like the front sight, the entire rear unit is stainless steel, left its natural color. Under certain light conditions the sight can glare, causing the shooter difficulty in obtaining a good sight picture.

Internally, the Rossi is a copy of Smith & Wesson revolvers; the only difference is the shape of the coil mainspring strut and the manner in which the strut nestles in the frame. The internal workmanship on the Model 851 appears to be very good and results in smooth action movement. The trigger pull, too, is very good. On my test revolver the single-action pull weight is 3-1/2 pounds and there is no creep. The double-action pull is 10 pounds.

The Model 851 has a 6-shot cylinder, and the rear of the chambers are not counterbored for the rims of the cartridges. The cylinder is fluted and measures 1.455 inches in diameter. The walls between each chamber are .070-inch thick, while the outside chamber walls are .080-inch thick. The bolt cuts in the cylinder are located over the center of each chamber, thus diminishing the effective thickness of the outer chamber walls.

To unlatch the cylinder so it can be swung out to the left side for loading and unloading, you push forward on the thumbpiece located on the left side of the frame behind the recoil shield. This disengages the centerpin. When swung to the side, all of the cases in the chambers can be ejected simultaneously by a single rearward thrust of the ejector rod. The ejector rod throw is long, 1.035 inches, and satisfactorily removes all of the fired cases.

While the Rossi Model 851 appears hefty, it is a small frame .38 Special. A tag attached to the triggerguart warns against the use of handloads, +P or jacketed bullet ammo in this revolver. I can understand the +P warning, and the bit about handloads is a common stance taken by most manufacturers these days and rightfully ignored by most shooters. But, I can't see what the use of jacketed bullets has to do with anything. As long as the pressure is within industry standards for non +P loads, whether the bullets are lead or jacketed should have nothing to do with an arm's performance.

I tried four different kinds of ammo in the Rossi Model 851--Federal 158-grain SWC, Norma 148-grain lead wadcutter, CCI 148-grain hollow base wadcutter and Winchester 110-grain Silvertip. Using a hand-held rest over sandbags, I fired each brand for group at 25 yards. My groups ran from 2-1/2 and 3-1/2 inches, depending on the ammo being used. This isn't spectacular for a .38 Special revolver, but remember that the Model 851 isn't a target revolver. It's a 4-inch barreled, small-frame gun intended for defense and utility.

The Rossi Model 851 appears to be a well-made revolver--a cut above the Rossi handguns I've tested in the past. It performed perfectly during my range tests, and I think it compares favorably to other small-frame, stainless steel revolvers in its price class. The Model 851 is presently available wherever Rossi revolvers are sold and retails for $204.
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Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Milek, Bob
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Date:Jul 1, 1985
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