Freedom Arms, I can say without fear of contradiction, makes the
finest factory revolvers available today. In fact, it can be said that Freedom
Arms makes the finest factory revolvers ever made. From the immaculate
fit and finish, to the precision line-boring of the cylinder, to the perfect timing, to the absolute
bank-vault lockup, everything about their revolvers screams QUALITY.
Sure, they are not cheap, but if you compare them to their only competition -
fully custom revolvers available from some of the world's finest gun makers
and costing thousands of dollars - the Freedom Arms products are a bargain.
Plus, Freedom Arms revolvers tend to hold their value very well, even better
than most custom guns, because they wear amazingly well; you will not batter
them loose with heavy loads over an extended period of time. I personally know
of Freedom Arms guns that have had literally hundreds of thousands of heavy
loads run through them for commercial load development; they still lock-up as
tightly as a new gun, and still exhibit Freedom Arms' legendary accuracy.
Freedom Arms makes their guns not just for us, but for our grandkids.
Freedom Arms introduced their Model
97 as a smaller alternative to their original large-framed revolver (now
called the Model 83). The Model 83 is available in calibers ranging from .22
Long Rifle to high-performance calibers such as .454 Casull, .475
Linebaugh and .500 Wyoming Express; the
smaller-framed Model 97 is available in calibers ranging from .17 HMR, .22
Long Rifle, .32 Magnum & .357 Magnum (as
six-shot revolvers), through .41 Magnum, .44 Special and .45 Colt (as five-shot
revolvers). The Model 97 is every bit Freedom Arms, with the same exemplary
level of fit & finish as can be seen in its larger-framed sister.
I am privileged to own examples of the finest work
available from our custom revolversmiths, and some Freedom Arms revolvers as
well. As fine as all my other revolvers may be, there is one revolver in
particular that stays with me in the field, and gets shot and handled, more than
any other: my short-barreled Freedom Arms Model 1997 in .45 Colt. My
Model 97 .45 sports a 3-1/2" barrel,
round-butted grip frame, and fixed sights with Freedom's
replaceable drift-adjustable front blade. This is truly, as John Taffin
would say, a Perfect Packin' Pistol. I have even been told by retired lawmen who
have shot it that, despite being a Single Action, it would make a
wonderfully-balanced fighting revolver. The balance, the feel in the hand, the
lighter weight, and the grip frame's ability to tame the recoil of heavy loads
all combine to make my Model 97, at least to me...PERFECT.
The only flaw I have been able to find in the design
of the FA 97 relates only to the 3-1/2-barrelled version, and it is admittedly a
minor one: because of the shortened ejector rod, the ejector rod and housing
must be removed before the cylinder can be removed for cleaning or maintenance.
The base pin simply will not pull out far enough before contacting the ejector
rod head to allow the cylinder's removal. So before the cylinder can be removed,
the base pin locking screw must be loosened; then the ejector housing screw;
then finally the ejector rod housing, ejector rod, and spring must be removed.
Although this is a minor design flaw, it can be quite annoying at the
bench, and can be disastrous in the field; anyone who has ever lost a spring or
screw in the field knows how aggravating it can be, and how impossible it can be
to find such small parts on the ground.
Handling a 3-1/2" Cimarron Thunderer that belongs to my friend Jared
Schmidt got me to thinking about a possible solution: the Thunderer design
simply has the ejector rod housing's cam cut offset to the outside just enough
to allow the ejector rod head to bypass the base pin. Not only does this allow
the base pin to be easily removed, but it also allows for a longer ejector
stroke for more positive case extraction. I thought something similar to this
solution would work well for my Model 97, but figured that a
design change in the ejector housing slot location would require
either a change in the entire Freedom Arms line, or would be an
expensive custom modification requiring a new ejector housing
specially milled for the short-barreled revolvers.
At last year's Shootist
Holiday, I was visiting with Freedom Arms honcho and brother
Shootist, Bob Baker, and I mentioned my ideas for this
improvement to the Model 97. Bob asked to see the revolver, and
I happened to have it with me, as I usually do when I go on a
shooting trip. Bob studied the revolver for a while, and I could
almost see the wheels turning. Bob asked if I would mind if he
took my Model 97 back to the factory with him and tried some
things, and I was only too happy to oblige.
a couple of weeks later my Model 97 returned, and Bob had once
again showed the quiet genius that has made Freedom Arms the
makers of the world's finest revolvers, and has recently seen
Bob awarded the "Innovator of the Year" award from the
Shootists for the Freedom Arms single-shot
Bob's solution is superbly
simple and effective, basically involving the milling of a
semicircular cut in the ejector rod head. This allows the
ejector rod head to bypass the base pin entirely, thus allowing
the base pin room to clear the ejector rod head once the ejector
rod is pulled back far enough to cam over. This simple
modification also allows for a much longer ejector stroke,
giving ample room to remove empty cases; in fact, during
actual use I have found that the ejector stroke is now long
enough that a smart thrust will completely eject all but the
most stubborn cases entirely.
has now been implemented to the 3-1/2" Model 97 revolvers,
and new revolvers are now being shipped with this modification.
Existing 3-1/2" Model 97s, as well as 4" Model 83s,
can be retrofit for very little cost. If you have a
short-barreled Freedom Arms revolver that you'd like to have
modified in this manner, please note that the entire gun need
not be sent back; only the ejector rod needs to be sent, so you
can send back the ejector rod only or the entire ejector
assembly if you prefer. This will save you a great deal of money
on shipping, as the parts can be sent through the U.S. Mail for
a very small cost. Contact Freedom Arms at (307) 883-2468 for
Once again, Bob Baker
and Freedom Arms have risen to the challenge, and improved upon