Back a couple of years ago, I was excited when I heard that Rossi would be introducing a .410 version of their chopped down Ranch Hand pistol, which is a sorta copy of the Mare's Leg (Mare's Laig) pistol Steve McQueen popularized in Wanted: Dead or Alive.
Whilst you can shoot CCI Shotshells in the three calibers that the Ranch Hand is currently chambered in (.45 Colt, .44 Magnum and .357 Magnum), it's not the same as a 2.5" .410 shell.
You can go to the 2011 New products page for the Rossi Trail Judge and see the gun that never made it into production. Various speculation is around the internet, but one of the most believeable is in this thread here.
Basically as the thread above says, the gun was not chambered in .45 Colt and .410 like the Governor, Thompson Contender, Judge and other guns chambering both rounds. Rather, the product info says it is in .410 caliber. I'm no expert on Federal Firearms Laws, but I do know a few, and this is not legal advice, but since the Trail Judge only chambered and fired the .410, it's a short barreled shotgun.
The thread above has that theory, and although I don't know for sure it sounds reasonable. The thread further expounds that the reason Rossi didn't make it a dual chambering was because case length differs between .410 and .45 Colt which doesn't matter in a revolver with a long enough case length but matters in the tube feeding mag and maybe action of a lever action gun.
According to some theories, which could be correct, a lever action gun can load and action either a .45 Colt or a .410, but not both, if I understand that correctly. Which brings to mind the statement on Wild West Guns website about their ALASKAN COPILOT, which when chambered in their wildcat 457 WWMagnum/45-70 calibers, will also chamber and fire .410 shotshells. It says that on their FAQ page that:
13. Can you shoot the 45/70 in your 457 Magnum guns?Yes.
You can also fire a 2½" .410 shotshell.
So I don't know if that means chamber AND eject AND load or merely that you could chamber one individual round at a time, and hopefully eject that round. If anyone has experience with this or knows the answer I'd be very curious as I think the Copilot is a fantastic firearm.
So maybe since the .45-70 and the 457 WWMagnum is such a much longer case than the .45 Colt, that the .410 will feed and load and chamber in the former but not the latter. As the guy said in Reddick, these are the things we need to know.
I understand the law is quite strict on things like short barreled shotguns, which differ from a dual caliber gun like a .45 Colt/.410. Guns that only chamber smoothbore ammo need to have 18" barrels. Obviously there is some issue with a lever action rifle feeding both as far as Rossi is concerned, because they are making the .410 lever action in a full size gun with a 20" barrel. Interesting that it doesn't feed .45 Colt as well. Likewise, there is no indication in their 2012 product information that the new .45-70 lever actions will chamber .410 either.
I did read on one forum that one could take the metal shotshells in .410 made by Fiocchi and somehow cut down the length so that they were the same as the .45 Colt length to get them to feed and load in a .45 Long Colt rifle. More effort than I'm willing to spend.
I guess CCI shotshells will have to do for any lever action pistol shotshell shooting.
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