New from Rossi is a single shot handgun with a nine-inch barrel and big bore. The Brawler is a big gun, suited to its name. Lately I’ve had the chance to shoot one. This is such an unusual gun that I had no good or bad expectations as I began to get familiar. I was pleasantly surprised at its quality and the enjoyment derived from shooting it.
The single action Brawler is chambered in .45 Long Colt/.410. Its break-open action is frame-wide with a pushbuton release located just behind and to the right of the hammer. Opening and closing the action is, at least for me, a two-handed operation. It’s not difficult, but the system is weighty, with its bulky 39.8 ounces balanced pretty well between the barrel/receiver and grip when it’s in the unhinged position.
The Brawler was very balanced and surprisingly pleasant to shoot.
Contributing to the aggressive, tank-like appearance of the Brawler is a Picatinny rail that’s plenty long for most any pistol optic from a red dot to a magnifying scope. The channel of the rail serves as the rear sight for iron-sight shooting. A prominent fixed iron front sight, with the same blued finish as the rest of the gun, is high enough to co-witness with a red dot sight.
Front fixed sight on the Brawler, but it is set up for a red dot and would be nice with one.
On the backside, the Brawler features a pimpled rubber grip that provides a very secure hold. Though the grip appears, and is, a fistful to hang onto, its angle is well-suited to many shooters’ hands. The distance from the rear of the grip to the trigger isn’t perceptibly longer than that of most any duty-size striker gun. My medium hands have no trouble reaching the trigger.
The Brawler’s unapologetic looks include a royal blue stripe, about 0.75 inches wide, that runs down the length of the grip on the back. Unboxing the gun at my crowded local gun store offered plenty of chances to collect numerous opinions on this feature, which I didn’t need to try for. The four staff/customers who handled the Brawler on unboxing all remarked similarly on it. Agreement was 4/4 that it could do without the blue stripe. But a Brawler doesn’t apologize for being different, and I actually like that the grip is yet another thing that stands out as unique on this gun.
Stippled Grip with Odd Blue Stripe
Testing was done with iron sights with American Tactical’s excellent 2.5-inch, #9 shot, 0.5-ounce .410 Target Load and Hornady’s Leverevolution 255 grain FTX in .45 Long Colt. I fired five rounds of each from seven yards, in addition to some playing-around rounds at 10 yards, including several fired by three students and friends present during firing. Accuracy tests that entail only one model of ammunition have limited value, but for what it’s worth, the Leverevolution made a connected vertical string of five holes, though I felt I’d held the front sight in the same place each time. I used a white background target to make spotting the aiming point easier. If the Brawler were to be mine permanently, I’d put a bit of red paint on the front sight to help it stand out against the Pic rail rear sight and black targets. American Tactical Target Loads placed about 85% of pellets inside the center mass zone of a human-shape target, spraying the rest evenly around outside the silhouette. When I backed off to 10 yards, about 60% of the shot sprayed outside the silhouette.
Both pistol and shotgun rounds seat fully into the chamber. Extraction must be done by hand but is easy running .410, but there is rather remarkable mechanical extraction with .45 LC. When the action is opened assertively, the brass flies up, than rearward in an approximate 10 foot arc. This doesn’t happen, at least it didn’t to me, if it’s opened with an unfired round.
Sharing the gun with friends yielded an interesting comparison of views on what it’s like to shoot. Without fail, the Brawler draws curiosity and desire to get hands on the gun. For myself, I was pleasantly surprised that recoil is on the tame side but stiffer with shotshells. One user with a less-than-firm support hand grip felt the shotshells produced a lot of recoil. Thanks to the pebbled grip, no one felt unsure about security of grip, though we were shooting on a hot and humid afternoon. Certainly if we’d had three-inch shells on hand, more recoil could be expected.
Shooting the Brawler is a ton of fun, and it certainly is an interesting conversation piece!
Rossi’s Brawler is a one-of-a-kind novelty gun that gets attention, can make target practice lots of fun and can earn its keep as a varmint gun, especially with a properly zeroed red dot and operator who’s prepared to make the first shot count. It feels as solid and consistent as a boulder and I don’t foresee any quality or reliability issues creeping in. At $239.99, it’s affordable entertainment that should last a long, long time.
Specifications: The Brawler
Caliber: 45 LC/410 Magnum (2.5 and 3.0 inch)
Action: Single Action Only, Break-Open
Front Sight: Fixed
Rear Sight: Open Pic Rail
Barrel: 9 inches, alloy steel, finished in matte black
Overall Length: 14 inches
Overall Height: 5.9 inches
Overall Width: 1.3 inches
Twist Rate: 1 in 24 inches
Frame: Polymer with matte black finish
Safety: Thumb-operated transfer bar
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eve Flanigan is a defensive shooting and lifestyle student, practitioner, and instructor based in the American Southwest. Flanigan holds numerous NRA Instructor certifications and is licensed to instruct New Mexico’s intensive Concealed Carry course. She regularly designs, conducts, and co-teaches classes on concealed carry, introduction to pistol, defensive pistol, basic rifle, last-ditch medical, and use of force for civilian students. Flanigan enjoys competing in run-and-gun biathlons that include carbine and pistol.