A Year With The Puma 92 by Lyndon Combs
I know this statement is very well known by many outdoorsmen. It is a quote from one of the greatest outdoorsman in American history. His reference to a lever-action Winchester as “His big medicine” is also well known. Teddy Roosevelt influenced many modern hunters. Including me.
When I sat down to type this article, and I was struggling with a way to began about a lever action rifle with a great deal of power, and these words came to mind, they fit so well with this gun and the idea of hunting for me. A hunter must walk silent in the woods, and carrying enough stick to do the job. This is the reason I first started looking at the Puma 92 in .454 Casull. A stick with as much punch as the .454 Casull cartridge is definitely big medicine for just about anything in the wilds of eastern Kentucky. As you can see in the picture the country is nothing but mountains, and I needed a gun that was fast, light, and chambered in a cartridge that would hit with a great deal of authority in close quarters. I think Teddy would approve of the idea behind the Puma 92, but he might not like everything about the Puma 92.
I am going to write this article in several sections, because the little carbine proved itself not only to be an accurate, and deadly little carbine, but it also proved to have some problems. Due to these problems my work with the rifle has started and stopped throughout the process of getting to know the Puma 92, and this is why the article will be broke into separate sections. I regret having to do the article in this fashion, but it is the best way to tell the story.
I need a bigger, but not too big of a stick.
I first started thinking about a gun like this when doing some testing on bolt-action rifles, and working up an article on my last Deer hunt. This is nothing new for me, I often study my trips in to the field to learn from mistakes I might have made, and after my last hunting trip I had to face four truths. The bulk of the bolt actions to me were too much trouble. In the area I hunt the steep inclines and rough brush are hard to traverse with a large scoped bolt gun due to a bad back and leg. A fact for me that I kept coming back to, and that is all too real for me. I have to face the fact after my last hunting season that in the thick brush in the areas I sometimes hunt they scream for more mass.
The third truth I face is the close range many shots will be taken, this is a fact that is nothing new to me, and the population of Bobcat, and other animals (like pot growers, and meth labs) that could cause me harm, I needed more punch.
My last truth, I usually grabbed one of my Lever action rifles when going into the hills of eastern Kentucky this is a fact I always come back to in the end when thinking of a new gun, the fast follow up shot ability of a Lever gun is always a plus over a bolt gun. This is why I own more lever guns than any other type. I own a small lever gun similar to what I had in mind for my next Lever gun a Winchester Trapper in .357 magnum, but I wanted one with a great deal more knock down than the .357 had to offer. These truths boil down to the realization that I needed more punch in a light compact rifle for the chest high brush.
My first thought turned to a .45-70, but the bulky feel of these guns didn’t fit into my idea of a sleek little carbine any better than a scoped bolt gun. I turned my attention to pistol cartridges. The rifles they are chambered in are usually small and light in weight, not to mention recoil, but did anyone make one with a great deal of punch without costing a fortune.
I found what I thought might be the answer when I came across a web site for Legacy International. They had a gun that might fit my needs of a big stick, in an easy to pack light carbine.
The rifle was the Puma 92, a Winchester 1892 clone chambered in .454 Casull. I had read many things about the cartridge, but had never tried it out. Reading the articles about the .454 Casull revealed it is a very versatile round, and I had made the decision to someday own a gun in that caliber, so this just may be the gun to try the cartridge. I decided to look into the Puma to do some research on the gun. I found articles on several web sites, and they made the gun sound like just the ticket for my needs. The combination of the .454 Casull cartridge, and the John Browning designed 1892 might just be the ticket for the brush busting beast I wanted.
Wow I won a gun!
Yes that’s right I won the gun. You see I had been visiting a forum at the time I was researching this gun, and during this time they decided to give a gun away. The prize was a new Remington Bolt gun. I didn’t really pay much attention to the contest due to the fact I didn’t need another bolt gun, but I did like the forum so I posted every day to add to the community. This evidently was a good thing for me as well as the forum. I won the gun, and the best part was the owner of the forum knowing that I was interested in the Puma 92 offered to give one of the Pumas instead of the Remington. Of course I jumped at it. To get the gun I wanted without me putting out a dime. Hell Yes!!! I took it.
It took about a week or so to get the gun. When I took the gun out of it’s box I was immediately concerned with the lack of packing to protect the rifle in the box. The sights of the gun next caught my eye. They really light up, and my bad eyes could really lock on to the glowing dots. I really like the HI VIZ sights. The ability to load the gun two separate ways is a big feature. If you are not familiar with the gun it can be loaded through a hole in the magazine tube like many 22 rifles, or through the more traditional method of a loading gate in the side of the receiver.
I don’t know how many times I have needed to unload a lever action, and had to sit, and work the lever until the gun was empty. The magazine cap takes care of this problem. Just unscrew the cap, and the rounds will roll out of the magazine. A much safer way to unload the gun than working the lever until the magazine of the gun was empty.
The finish on the metal was really good. A nice deep polished blue, but other aspects of the gun really took away from the sights, and other good work done on the rifle. The fit of the wood was really off, and the finish was dark and ugly. It reminded me of cheap paneling. This was a let down when you look at the work put into the rest of the gun to slap a piece of crap stock on the thing is just wrong. I decided to buy a box of shells at the gun shop, and go bust some caps. The only kinds of ammunition they had in stock were Magtech .250-grain soft points. Beggars can’t be choosers. I bought the ammo, and headed for the range to bust some caps- see how it shot. The area I shoot is only five minutes away from the gun shop I picked the gun up at, but when you have new gun it can seem like your driving across town. I couldn’t wait to see just how much smack this stick can produce.
To be continued.
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My stainless version came with a slightly figured hardwood stock. Very nice for the price. If you want a knock-out looking stock you can try to find a .454 Browning Lever Action. Good luck! It will cost as much as four Pumas and who wants to bring a collectors item in the woods? When you consider weight, power, functionality and price there is nothing to compare the M92 to.
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I recently purchased a Puma 925/09. But it looks so good I hesitate to fir a round through it. I am collecting a few extra boxes of 454 Casull to make it SHOUT.
DEC IN NY state recently opened deer season in the southern tier to rifles. I anticipate it will do the job in the brushy country. I have been told that it will also handle the .45. Have you heard anything different?
I bought a used stainless steel legacy model 92 in 454 Casull. the action is smoother than my Winchester model 94AE in 30-30 caliber. The wood has a dull hand rubbbed oil finish and does not reflect the sun like the finish on my Winchester. The loading gate is easier to depress and slide cartridges into the magazine than my Winchester. Unloading the Legacy model 92 has the big safer advantage of a screw top magazine tube that lets you unload without having to chamber a cartridge, the cartidges easily slide out of a large port when opened. This particular rifle has a more refined safety that other model 92 Puma’s I’ve handled. The colored high visability sights are a easy to see and use 3 Dot system. Because this carbine is so light 5 1/2 lbs. empty I believe it’s a gun you would fine easy to carry in your hand all day. The stainless steel will handle the moisture rust issues much better than my Winchester and add to peace of mind in less than ideal conditions.
Ihave 2 Puma 92’s in 454. one scoped and one peep site. Both are excellent. They both shoot the 260 partition from Nosler extremely well as well as the 240 from Hornady.