The Rio Bravo 22LR from Rossi circles the wagon on summer rimfire fun

by Rob Reaser

Yes, I live in the country and am mighty glad of it. One of the benefits of rural living is the ability to plink around with my .22s whenever the spirit moves me. And during the summer, the spirit moves me quite a bit. There’s just something about being able to quietly slide open my office window, ease a rifle barrel through the opening, and drop a groundhog for the pot.

If you get the chance to make that your lifestyle, I highly recommend it.

Of course, groundhogging isn’t the only justification for grabbing a .22LR. Sometimes there are tin cans causing a ruckus in the backyard, and they must be dealt with in a most swift and severe manner. Other times, steel plates stare back at me, daring me to draw. And let’s not forget crows menacing the corn patch.

No doubt, you can find your own reasons for pulling out the rimfires when the days are long. Maybe you just want one handy in the truck or tucked in the side-by-side’s overhead rack. Whatever the case, summer is made for rimfires, and with the season upon us, we wanted to give you a heads up on a feisty little lever action from Rossi USA that checks all the boxes for utility and fun—the Rio Bravo 22LR.

Rossi introduced the Rio Bravo around this time last year. It’s a tidy little carbine chambered in .22 LR and based on the company’s popular R92 lever-action rifles. Those would be the pistol-caliber rifles largely responsible for putting the Rossi brand on the map. Having the same classic lever-gun styling as the R92 models, the Rio Bravo is appropriately named for those who take a fancy to all things with an Old West flair.

With its 18-inch barrel, 5.5 pounds overall weight, and no-frills operation, the Rio Bravo is the ideal summer companion piece, whether your aim is to engage varmints or targets.

The Rio Bravo is offered in two models. The traditional-looking version features German beechwood furniture in an elegant satin finish and with “old-school” open sights. The other touts a conventional black polymer stock and forearm with a hooded fiber-optic front sight and an adjustable fiber-optic rear.

Pick your poison. I get enough black gun action reviewing personal defense firearms, so the wood stock gets my vote for this kick-around platform.

If you haven’t done it for a while (and some of you, depending on your age, may have never done it), shooting a rifle with open sights is a refreshing change when your target is usually viewed through glass. The Rio Bravo hews to the early-style rifle sight with its buckhorn profile. Elevation adjustment simply requires lifting the sight blade and moving the serrated elevation ramp fore or aft.

The front sight holds its own charm with its prominent brass bead. It’s a nostalgic touch that serves a purpose in low light or when your target is lurking in the shadows. Windage is adjusted, with some difficulty, by drifting the sight left or right in its dovetail slot with a brass punch and hammer.

Should you feel the need for an optic, this rifle stands ready. The receiver cover features a rail milled across the top to accommodate a scope mount.

The Rio Bravo uses a standard three-position hammer: down, half-cock/safety, and cocked. Additionally, a crossbolt safety moves left and right to engage/disengage the safety. Straightforward stuff and easy enough for beginners to master.

Cocking, cartridge ejection, and charging are done, of course, by throwing the lever down and back. For a rifle priced in the mid-$300s, I was surprised at the close tolerances of the system. I detected no excess play, and noted the exceptional smoothness of the action overall.

Another area of exquisite performance is the trigger. Creep is practically non-existent. The break is surprisingly crisp, and the pull is easy. Ten pulls on the Lyman trigger scale netted an average of 3 lbs. 14.0 oz. Not too hard, not too light.

The Rio Bravo utilizes the expected top-feed magazine tube with a 15-round capacity.

To load the magazine, simply raise the inner tube and drop the cartridges in the outer tube, bullet toward the muzzle.

Lever guns are enjoying a renaissance of sorts in hunting and shooting enthusiast circles. Their reliability is a proven quantity and their go-anywhere, utilitarian nature lends them to just about any activity. In rimfire chambers, they are particularly diverse, serving the needs of fast-action steel shooters, small-game and varmint hunters, paper punchers and, naturally, tin can hunters. If you’ve been considering a .22LR carbine for some summer fun, make sure you give the Rossi Rio Bravo a close look.

Rossi Rio Bravo 22LR Specifications (wood)

  • Caliber: .22LR
  • Capacity: 15 rounds
  • Action Type: lever
  • Barrel Length: 18 in.
  • Finish: polished black
  • Safety: cross-bolt
  • Sights: adjustable buckhorn
  • Stock/Forearm: German beechwood or black polymer
  • Weight: 5.5 lbs.
  • MSRP: $367.08

Shoot On Editor-in-Chief Rob Reaser is a lifelong outdoorsman, former magazine editor, columnist, and contributing editor to numerous national publications in the automotive and outdoor segments. He has also authored and co-authored several DIY gun building books. His shooting and hunting passions cover everything from traditional archery and big-game bowhunting to the latest in handguns, rifles, and reloading. Rob has a troublesome habit of pulling guns and things apart to see how they work; occasionally, he manages to get them back together...

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