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Friday, May 25, 2012

Gun Review: Rossi Model 25 Princess .22LR Revolver

As a gun collector, I am constantly on the lookout for interesting, unusual, and uncommon pieces.  Now, do not get me wrong, I enjoy shooting, and therefor I put a premium on reliability and accuracy, but I also very much am interested in the history of guns as well, and I love firearms that are more than just your run-of-the-mill, everyone-has-one models.  Such as my Remington 878 Automaster, which I covered in a previous post...  it may not be worth a great deal in monetary value, but to me, it is valuable as a piece of Remington history, and thus of firearms history.  The same can be said of my military surplus rifles:  somewhere, sometime, someone trusted his life - and possibly his nation's survival - on these rifles.  Each arsenal repair, each little ding in the wood stocks, is part of a story, and I find that fascinating.
The Model 25 presentation case

Recently, I came into possession of another little piece of history.  And I do mean little.  It is the Rossi Model 25, a petite revolver chambered in .22LR.  Known as the "Princess," this tiny little pistol is quite beautiful with its bright nickel-finish.  The left side of the barrel is stamped "AMADEO ROSSI & CIA/SAO LAOPOLDO R.S." while the right sideplate is stamped "MADE IN BRAZIL" with the Rossi trademark and the importer marking "FIREARMS INT'L CORP/WASHINGTON, D.C."  The right side of the barrel is stamped ".22 L.R."  The serial number is stamped on the frame below the grip.

Just barely six and a half inches long, with a barrel length of two inches, the Princess is smaller than a grown man's hand (a 3-inch barrel version was also manufactured, designated the Model 13).  Despite its diminutive size, however, the Model 25 has a swing-out seven-shot cylinder with a manual ejector rod.  It is a single-action / double-action revolver, and while the trigger is quite stiff (I would estimate it at around fifteen pounds), it is smooth with no slop.  The brown plastic grips have some black marbling throughout, and they sport a round medallion (a la S&W) bearing the Rossi logo.  Actually, these are some of the nicer grips I have seen on Rossi revolvers.  The grip is very short, and leaves little room for a big hand...  this gun was definitely made with ladies in mind.

The Rossi Princess
Shown with a quarter for perspective

The frames of the Princess revolvers are die-cast of Zamak (or Zamac), sometimes disparagingly referred to as "pot metal."  Zamak is a zinc-aluminum-magnesium-copper alloy, which is actually quite strong, certainly for the frame of a .22LR revolver (Hi-Point Firearms uses Zamak for the slides on their centerfire pistols and carbines).  This results in quite a light weight pistol.

The Rossi Model 25 is a copy of the third model Smith & Wesson "Ladysmith," an M-frame revolver manufactured during the first two decades of the 20th century. The M-frame was the smallest hand-ejector frame made, and was used for the .22 Long, and was discontinued in the early 1920s.  Rossi, a Brazilian gun manufacturer (now a member of the Taurus family of firearms companies), resurrected this revolver concept, manufacturing the Model 25 for 28 years from the 50s through the mid-80s, with nearly a million of the little revolvers sold.  However, because of U.S. gun laws, primarily the 1968 Gun Control Act, relatively few Model 25s were imported into this country, all of them between the years 1965 through 1969.  It is getting more difficult to find these guns, especially in good condition.

Surprising amount of firepower for such a diminutive gun
Rossi, like its parent corporation Taurus, has a lot of detractors and, to be quite honest, not without good reason.  For a period of time during the 1980s, both companies suffered from poor quality control, turning out a large number of guns that had problems.  It does not take long for such inattention to sour consumers to a product line, especially when the primary purpose for many of these products is personal defense.  However, the early guns manufactured by both Rossi and Taurus were of quite good quality (and I understand that both companies are doing much better recently, trying to address the QC issues).  The Princess is just such a gun.  The internal parts are well-made, the cylinder lock-up is tight with no play.  The timing on the cylinder is spot-on as well, with no chamber misalignment.  It is simply a nice, tight little revolver, especially when it is compared to a lot of the other inexpensive revolvers that were being imported around the same time (Rohms, for example, which were notorious for being poor-quality).  Not too shabby for a gun that originally sold new for between $35 and $40 at your local Ace Hardware (recently these revolvers have sold for as much as $250 - $350 on GunBroker and other sites...  I call that a good return on an investment!).

One thing I have noticed, however, is that when shooting .22LR cartridges, you can get a bit of powder-flash coming from between the cylinder and the forcing cone (no lead shavings like that old Rohm used to shower me with, though).  This does not happen with .22 Shorts or .22 Longs, and I have to wonder if it is due to the newer hypervelocity .22LR cartridges being so much more powerful than the .22LR cartridges of the mid-Sixties.  I will try some sub-sonic loads soon to see if that makes a difference.  Accuracy with various loads has been quite good for a short barreled revolver.  This one is definitely a keeper.

If you have a Rossi Model 13 or 25, and have any more information on this gun, please leave a comment below.  Let me know what ammunition your Princess likes, and how well it is holding up.  There is not a lot out there on these revolvers (thanks to Ed Buffaloe at for a great write-up, and the various gun fora from which I have gleaned some nuggets of wisdom), so anything you might have to add would be appreciated.

For more information on Rossi:


  1. Just had one of these in my hand. It has been hiding in the drawer of a friend for over 17 yrs. It is in the original felt lined box and looks as if it was just brought home from the store. My friend (75 yrs old) was wondering if it was "Any Good". As to history, unfortunately, there was no paperwork in the box. So, I couldn't say when it was purchased or made other than it has the exact markings described in this article. It was purchased by her late husband sometime before his death and that was 17 yrs ago. She brought it over to begin learning gun safety and how to fire it. She wants to get a carrier's permit and keep it in her purse. I suspect the trigger pull is a bit stiff for her, but she was able to "Dry Fire" in both single and double action. Once this weeks classes are over it's on to the firing line.... I think she'll be ready! Thanks for the article now I have some info to pass along tomorrow..

    1. Thanks for the comment! I have had the best results thus far with CCI .22 Longs. They seem to be accurate, and do not have the back-blast that the .22LR cartridges have had. If you can find them, you might start your friend out on Aquila Colibri or Super-Colibri... they are super quiet, no recoil at all, and can help a new shooter learn the basics without the "spook factor" of the loud report of standard loads. Good shooting!

  2. Nice review, hard to find information on these.


    1. Thank you for the comment! Yes, the Princess is quite light. According to the company, the Rossi Model 25 weighs 12oz, but it feels a tad heavier than my Kel-Tec PF-9, which weighs 12.7oz empty, so I would think it would be closer to 14 or 15oz.

    2. nice review i have the model m70 with wood handles import is interarms alexandra virginia no one can tell me anything about it,mint cond.but every gunsmith wants to buy it my dad bought it when we came back from nam and gave it to me when i was 15 had it ever since shoots very well nice clean trigger ,likes the lighting bolts if anyone has any info on it please email me at thanks so much for the research on them iam thinking they are pretty rare i have turned down 700.00 for it.because my dad give it to me 28 years ago and i can hit a 10 inch target with it at 80 yards thanks so much for everyones efforts

  3. Traded on one today at a gun show. It is the three inch version. It is very tight and looks almost brand new. I would rate it at 99% overall. I was amazed to learn that the youngest it could be is 44 years old. It looks brand new, there are no powder burns on the cylinder. Found a 1968 ad on Ebay that shows retail of $38.25. This looks like a keeper.

  4. I have my Mother-n-laws. I have shot it and got the flash back so I stuck it in the drawer and forgot about it. My wife has her CWP, so I think I will try it with shorts to see how it works. Where the barrel starts appears to be beat up or out of round. Could this be from firing the 22LR's. Think I will take it to my gunsmith first.

    1. It sounds like your forcing cone may be damaged. If so, that can definitely cause lead spatter and flash back. This can be caused by a lot of different things, such as the timing being off (causing the bullet to strike the forcing cone edge, rather than passing through the cone), damaging the cone while cleaning (raking the cone with the side of the cleaning rod), flipping the cylinder closed instead of closing it properly (can allow the gun to be fired with a misaligned cylinder), etc. Definitely have it checked out if you have any question about it.

  5. I have one of these little guns. My father bought it for $25 about 50 years ago. Through the years the right side grip was broken and is missing. I thought I found a source for one but the old fellow that runs the internet store says he can't fulfill my order right not so I am still looking for a grip. My father said he thought it needed a firing pin but I have not confirmed that yet as I haven't fired it. It's a bit difficult to get the cylinder to rotate out of the frame. I have to pull on the releasing pin and push the cylinder forward in order to get the cylinder out. I don't know if this is normal or particular to mine.