Project Stainless Rossi .357 ¯Lever Scout¯ SBR
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Thread: Project Stainless Rossi .357 ¯Lever Scout¯ SBR



  1. #1
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    Project Stainless Rossi .357 “Lever Scout” SBR

    Well the purists will probably hate this but last year I bought a new Rossi 92 lever action for the sole purpose of legally converting it to a SBR, or short barrel rifle for those that are not into NFA stuff. I got the idea after seeing other lever action SBRs including those made by Grizzly Custom, the Chiappa Alaskan Scout and several Rossi Ranch Hands and Henry Mare’s Legs that people had converted using ATF Form 1 applications. This is intended primarily for plinking with a suppressor so from the beginning I knew that I wanted to use a .357 for my project since it is easy to tame when using subsonic .38 special ammo.

    For months I deliberated the host gun and initially planned to use a JM stamped Marlin 1894C due to its fast 1:16 twist rate. This would have been ideal to stabilize heavier bullets but was eventually rejected due to cost. The Henry Big Boy was also eliminated from consideration because of the goofy loading tube that would interfere with using a silencer. I also considered using a Rossi Ranch Hand since it looks like an easy conversion, but others have done that before and I wanted something a little different.

    In the end I decided to go with a Rossi 16” stainless carbine as the basis for my project since my other lever guns are stainless and because it will pair well with a natural titanium and stainless suppressor. For a detailed review of the gun as purchased see this link: https://www.marlinowners.com/forum/ro...57-magnum.html. After I bought the gun I found that Rossi actually sells a stainless 12” version in New Zealand. Granted it only comes in .44 magnum and is unavailable in the United States but this is initially what I had in mind for my build:


    Prior to submitting paperwork to the ATF, my son and I took the gun to the range a few times to check for function. After all, there would be no sense in converting the gun if it didn’t work correctly. Using a variety of handloads with Lee TL358-158-SWC bullets, the little carbine proved to be reliable in feeding .357 and .38 special ammo but, most importantly, it was able to stabilize my subsonic loads out to 100 yards. Once satisfied, I finished my Form 1 application and sent it to the ATF, thus beginning the LONG wait...
    Last edited by kingstrider; 06-30-2017 at 06:12 PM.

    Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape.

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    Preliminary Machine Work
    In the interim, I decided to thread the barrel 1/2x28 to use a suppressor while waiting for my stamp to come back. Although I am not a gunsmith or machinist, I happen to own an old South Bend 9” metal lathe that I rebuilt last year as shown here: https://www.marlinowners.com/forum/do...e-rebuild.html. Unfortunately the spindle bore on my machine is too small to pass the barrel through so I took the gun apart and sent the barreled action to Class 3 Machining for threading, along with my 1895GS which was cut and threaded to 16” for use with my SilencerCo Hybrid.


    In order to actually see over the suppressor, I decided to ditch the factory irons and go with a set of XS #WI-0012-5 ghost ring sights which are designed for the Winchester 94 Trapper. Although the rear sight will mount behind the locking lugs on the Rossi 92, it hangs off the back of the receiver and looks funny. I wound up modifying the rear sight base on my milling machine so it would partially fit over the locking lugs by about 1/8” then drilled and tapped the receiver to accept the 6-48 screws. This required removal of the bolt safety but I plan to plug this later when I take the gun apart again to chop the barrel.











    Last edited by kingstrider; 02-28-2018 at 09:46 AM.
    bandit1250, moofy07, Vooch and 9 others like this.

    Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape.

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    Optics
    With preliminary machine work completed, I turned my task to reassembly of the rifle and took a photo showing all the parts and subassemblies. The only problem I encountered was finding the front sight was loose in the dovetail. This was fixed by peening the bottom of the front sight with a punch then drifting it into place.



    Although most of my shooting will be using the ghost ring sights, I wanted to mount a scope rail for use with an optic if desired. Unfortunately, the factory Rossi scope rail was briefly discontinued but as luck would have it, another MO member graciously gave me an extra scope mount (thanks Chipper!). This was installed using the factory drilled and tapped holes which were hidden under the original buckhorn sight.


    Since starting this project I also wound up with a couple of optics at no cost, the first of which is a Burris Fastfire III that I got for free as part of a rebate after buying a prism sight for use on one of my AR15s last year. The second is a Burris 2.75 Scout Scope and quick release rings that came with a Marlin 336SS that another MO told me about a few months ago (thanks bandit1250!). I later sold the Marlin for what I had in it but kept the scope and rings so they were basically free too. Depending on mood, I can swap either optic or remove it altogether as needed.


    Last edited by kingstrider; 08-03-2017 at 11:26 AM.
    bandit1250, moofy07, Vooch and 8 others like this.

    Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape.

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    Suppressor Construction
    Last year I submitted multiple Form 1 applications to build several suppressors including one for a 9mm that I didn’t even own yet. After starting this project I knew the .357 Lever Scout would be the perfect host for my 9mm can so designed it with this in mind. After waiting 236 long days, my application was approved and I was finally able to begin construction.

    With stamp in hand, I ordered the necessary components including a titanium tube, end cap and spacer material, along stainless steel radials and a spring housing assembly. To keep things simple, my initial plan was to use a 1/2x28 booster piston as a direct thread mount by replacing the spring with a fixed sleeve turned on the lathe. Prior to starting work I sent the tube to Tarheel State Firearms for engraving.


    The baffles and end cap were machined on the lathe using sequential stub or machine screw drills followed with a finishing reamer. To prevent baffle strikes, I wound up going .420 on the baffles and .430 on the end cap. The baffles were then clipped on the milling machine using 3/16” ball end and 1/4” flat end mills using a double hybrid clip or DHC as it is called on the Form 1 forum.







    To minimize stability issues with the end cap, I removed the tunnel by hollowing it out from the inside using a rounded carbide bit on the lathe. Finally, titanium spacer material was cut and trimmed to length until everything fit together correctly.





    Finished, the can weighs in at a hefty 16.8 oz, though the stainless spring housing assembly accounts for nearly a third of this weight. This is on the heavy end for a pistol but again I designed it for the rifle and am really happy with how it turned out. Once I get the barrel extender and piston sleeve fabricated I’ll post some video clips on the Rossi so stay tuned...



    For fun here is a video using my CZ 75B Ω with Federal 124 grain FMJ ammo. This is a supersonic load but is all I had that day, will have to work up some subsonic loads for the gun.
    Last edited by kingstrider; 08-03-2017 at 11:45 AM.

    Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape.

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    Suppressor Construction, Revisited
    Since my original plan was to use the booster piston with a fixed barrel spacer, I came up with a stainless 1/2x28 female to 1/2x28 male adaptor to extend the barrel and avoid shortening the magazine tube. After further deliberation, however, I decided to abandon using direct thread and ordered a custom 3-lug mount and an accessory adaptor instead. The mount was trimmed on the lathe until the timing was right before drilling a small recess for the magazine tube retention screw. Finally, this was installed using some Rocksett to keep it in in place.






    With the 3-lug adaptor in place, the suppressor weighs in at 15.4 oz and can be installed or removed in seconds by pushing in and twisting 120 degrees. Converting it to use with a pistol is as easy as removing the 3-lug adaptor and putting the piston adaptor back in. Also shown is a custom end cap wrench I picked up from SPC.




    Fully assembled, the rifle currently measures 34.75” or 42.25” with the suppressor in place. Although the gun handles well, I am looking forward to getting the second stamp so I can make it even shorter and lighter. Regardless I am happy with the XS sights which are perfect for this application and are plenty tall enough to see over the can.




    Here is an updated video of my buddy shooting some 38 special reloads using plain base Lee TL358-158-SWC bullets and Unique powder. This is a +P load intended for a J-frame S&W but is hearing safe in the gun and a ton of fun to shoot.
    Last edited by kingstrider; 08-03-2017 at 11:59 AM.

    Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape.

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    Conversion to SBR
    After waiting over a year for approval I was finally able to move forward with the actual build. I had initially planned to cut and thread the barrel myself but decided against it and sent it back to Class 3 Machining instead. This was cut and threaded to 10” in addition to milling a new dovetail for the front sight. I also sent the bolt to Steve Young at Steve’s Gunz who plugged the hole where the safety was before grinding off the stamped red “F” and green “S” letters.


    With the parts back in hand, I began final machine work by timing the 3-lug adaptor and shortening the magazine tube on the lathe. I also decided to ditch the front barrel band and to rely on the intimate fit between the forearm and rear barrel band screw to hold the magazine tube in position. The original metric screw was too short so I retapped the magazine plug for a longer Marlin screw using a 6-40 tap. This fits into a small blind hole that was drilled into the bottom of the barrel.











    With the machine work completed, I worked on the exterior metal surfaces using fine sandpaper and Scocthbrite pads to remove any scratches as well as tone down the polished factory finish. The end result a little more subdued and mimics the brushed finish typical of stainless Marlin lever actions. Other than a slight color mismatch and a tiny area of porosity on the bolt, the stainless plug is almost invisible to the naked eye.



    The forearm tenon was also shortened about ¾” using a trim saw then sanded flush before stripping the factory finish. The stocks were stained using red-brown analine dye then refinished with several coats of pure tung oil. This was later top coated with Watco Danish oil finish. I still need to rub some paste wax and to buff the stocks but am happy with the color.







    The last major step was to send the barreled receiver to THSF for laser engraving. In addition to the required manufacturer’s info, I had the receiver engraved using one of my own designs from a previous project. To prevent any damage to the screw threads during the engraving process, I placed some sacrificial screws held in place with nuts. Turnaround took less than a week and as always the work is top-notch. In the interim I made a new stainless follower using the plastic original as a guide.





    Last edited by kingstrider; 04-04-2018 at 04:48 PM.

    Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape.

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    Final assembly
    With all of the major work completed, I turned my attention to final assembly and slicking up the action. Other than minor polishing of the internal parts, the biggest improvement was the addition of a trigger spring shim that was fabricated from some scrap brass. This alone reduced the trigger pull from about 6 lbs to just under 3 lbs. The scope base was also milled to accept picatinny type accessories, specifically an American Defense quick release mount for my Burris Fastfire 3.








    After a year and a half of planning and several weeks worth of work, I was finally able to finish the gun and to call it complete. Due to the shortened magazine tube it only holds 5+1 rounds of 357 magnum ammo but is a very compact package with an overall length of only 28.5”. With the suppressor in place the gun measures 36” and is about the same length as my Marlin 1895GS and 1894CSS.













    In addition to the gun, I have been working on dedicated heavy .38 special subsonic loads, or as I call them "38SS".. For this I’m using a couple of molds, the first of which is a Lee 6-cavity copy of the Lyman 358430 that was part of a group buy on another forum. The other one is a Lee C358-200-RF 6-cavity mold that was modified to make plain base bullets by milling off the gas check shank.







    As for accuracy, the gun was never a target rifle but can easily break clays at 100 yards using the ghost ring sights. The heavy 38SS loads are stable to that distance but I don’t know how they behave at longer ranges since I don’t have a place to shoot further. Hotter .357 magnum ammo is more accurate though I don’t make a habit of shooting it through the can due to risk of baffle erosion.

    Although I built the gun primarily for plinking, I would have no reservations using it in a pinch for medium sized game with full house .357 magnum loads at reasonable distances. In the end I have a cool toy that allowed me to stretch my legs in the shop and to develop some new machine skills. At this point I’m already planning a couple of Marlin SBRs but that is another story for a future time…
    Last edited by kingstrider; 04-08-2018 at 11:05 AM.

    Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape.

  9. #8
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    Nice rifle, nice write up and excellent work. It is good to see so much work done in the stages shown.
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    What Moofy said....and great photography. Love these projects!
    kingstrider, moofy07 and Owen49 like this.
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    Outstanding!
    Looking forward to your progress!

    Vooch
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