Gun Review – The Rossi Brawler

by Vern Evans
Rossi Brawler

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Cheap, silly guns will always be my favorite firearms genre. Sure, sometimes they don’t work all that well, and other times they aren’t all that useful. When they work, they tend to be a fun way to turn money into noise. One of the latest to cross my path was the $200 Rossi Brawler. Taurus owns Rossi, and Taurus is the master of the .410 handgun. The new Rossi Brawler is just that, a .45 colt/.410 handgun. Rossi took their single-shot rifle design and shrunk it into a pistol-sized platform.

Inside the Rossi Brawler

This big single-shot pistol sports a 9-inch barrel, primarily a 6-inch barrel with a 3-inch chamber. The Brawler can chamber 3-inch .410 loads, 2.5-inch .410 loads and of course .45 Colt. The presence of rifling in the barrel and lack of a stock makes this a pistol, and while it can fire shotshells, it’s not subject to the NFA.

The sights are simple. Travis Pike Photo

Despite its affordable price tag, the Rossi Brawler boasts some unexpected features that piqued my interest. The most notable surprise was the inclusion of an ejector, a feature not commonly found in firearms of this price range.

The Brawler is a single shot pistol that chambers .45 Colt and .410. Travis Pike Photo

As soon as I hit the barrel release and pop the barrel open, the shell flies over my shoulder. Be careful where you’re pointing at the rear of the gun as you might catch a shell to the face.

The grip is quite nice. Travis Pike Photo

The rubberized grip is massive and nicely designed. The weapon features a cross-bolt safety device that locks the hammer. Up top, the gun has a long rail that allows you to mount an optic and have enough room for other goodies, like a sidesaddle or light. Maybe a laser just because it’s fun. At the rear portion of the rail sits a rear sight. It’s hidden in most pictures, and I was surprised to find it.

What’s the Point?

Right off the bat, this is a weird, cheap little gun whose purpose can be as simple as it’s fun to shoot. Owning a gun just because it is weird is reason enough. This is America. (Not valid in all states of America.) However, you can certainly find a practical purpose for the Brawler. My first thought was it’d make a good yard gun.

The gun has an ejector that tosses rounds out of the gun. Travis Pike Photo

I live in a rural area where I’m the invader amongst a kingdom of venomous snakes, feral hogs and other creatures that see my colonization as an insult to their freedom. The Brawler chambers both .45 Colt and .410, making it versatile for various dangerous critters. A good .45 Colt will deter hogs, coyotes and larger beasts, while a blast of .410 BB will dismantle snakes when needed.

The same features that make it a good yard gun will make it a niche hunting weapon. It can potentially dispatch small to medium game with the right load choice. Although, I’d stick to small game hunting. Rabbits and squirrels will shudder in fear!

It’s not a self-defense option, but has its uses. Travis Pike Photo

There is an argument that the Brawler should be made a survival firearm. It’s small and light but has a versatile load option. It’s cheap and can be tossed in a pack and forgotten about. Let me wrap some part of it in paracord and find a place to mount a fishing rod, and we will be off to the races.

The Brawler At the Range

None of the above matters unless the gun works, so let’s check that. The most important question to answer is how does the gun pattern and how is the accuracy of a .45 Colt. I loaded up some Remington buckshot, Federal No.5 Game shot and BB shot from ATI.

Recoil is certainly stiff, which is expected in a small single-shot gun design. Travis Pike Photo

I patterned each round and found their patterns lacking. A problem these rifled .410 have is the rifling playing with the pattern, which creates what shotgunners call the donut of death. The patterns string out in a circle, but leave your point of aim clear of impact. The buckshot was patterned wide enough to be absolutely useless. The birdshot loads delivered that donut of death we see with the Taurus Judge guns.

Look at that donut of death when shooting buckshot, caused by the rifling for the .45 Colt loads. Travis Pike Photo

I swapped to the Federal .410 handgun buckshot loads, the Hornady Critical Defense and the Winchester PDX .410. These three are made for rifled barrels and performed a whole heckuva lot better.

This was at five yards with a buckshot load designed to travel through rifled barrels. It did much better. Travis Pike Photo

The Critical Defense Load was the tightest pattern but only offered three projectiles. The Federal .410 handgun was a winner with four 000 pellets that produced a tight and useable pattern. The PDX disks landed where I wanted them, but the BB shot backing them went everywhere. I wish Winchester made a BB-free version of this load.

The Critical Defense load worked the best. Travis Pike Photo

With .45 Colt, the accuracy was so-so. At 25 yards, the group was the size of my hand. I could probably clean that group up with a red dot, but I used the gun as it came. The accuracy certainly isn’t fantastic, but it’s useable and what can be expected for this type of design.

Ride the Lightning

A lightweight gun with a 3-inch .410 round has a bit of recoil. The rubberized grip does a fantastic job of absorbing recoil and keeping pain out of the equation. We get a gun that jumps a bit and roars a lot, but we aren’t exactly going for fast follow-up shots. Rossi blessed the gun with good ergonomics. Everything is reachable and easy to engage, and the ejection is a nice touch.

Do you have a use for the Brawler? Travis Pike Photo

The Brawler’s downside is the need for expensive ammo if you ever want it to be effective at anything. You need handgun-specific .410 loads to get any kind of respectable or useable pattern. Federal makes a few, and so does Hornady and Winchester. That’s a big downside, in my opinion. Even with its issues, I had fun with the Brawler, and at this price point, it seems like a great option for some 3D-print experiments.

Brawler Specifications 
Barrel Length – 9 in.
Overall Length – 14 in.
Weight – 36.8 oz.
Height – 5.9 oz.
Caliber – .45 Colt/.410
MSRP – $258

Ratings (Out of Five Stars)

Accuracy – 2.5 out of 5
The fact I have to use specialized .410 loads to achieve any kind of accuracy is a big downside to me. If most commercially available ammo doesn’t work well with the gun, then I can’t give it a high rating based on specialty ammo. But specialty ammo did get the job done just fine.

Ergonomics – 4 out of 5
The grip is solid, and the controls are placed for easy access. The gun feels somewhat unbalanced and front-heavy, and the recoil can feel quite stiff.

Reliability – 5 out of 5
The gun always went bang. I fired 100 rounds of .410 and 50 rounds of .45 Colt. It’s not a torture test, but it took plenty of time through a single shot.

Overall – 3.5 out of 5
The Brawler is a fun gun. It’s neat, odd and interesting. It’s surprisingly well planned out and well made, but the accuracy department pulls down the gun’s score.

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