its introduction about two years ago, the .17 Hornady Magnum
Rimfire cartridge has achieved outstanding acceptance from
shooters and hunters. I cannot remember another cartridge which
has become as popular as quickly as the .17 HMR. I have tested
several rifles and handguns chambered for the little magnum, and
each has exhibited very good accuracy. The .17 HMR is most
commonly compared to the popular .22 Magnum, a cartridge which
has been around since 1959. While the .22 has a heavier bullet,
the little seventeen beats the velocity of the former cartridge
by a large margin. The seventeen magnum also has a flatter
trajectory, and is less affected by the wind. I believe that it
is safe to say that the .17 HMR is a rousing success, and will
be with us for a long time.
great success story is that of Freedom Arms, a
manufacturer of quality handguns based in Freedom, Wyoming.
Freedom Arms makes what are arguably the finest production
revolvers in the world. We have tested a few Freedom revolvers,
and have found each to be a superbly executed and very accurate
Arms is now preparing to produce their great little Model 1997
(commonly referred to as the Model 97) chambered for the .17 HMR
cartridge. As I have reviewed three other model 97 revolvers
earlier, I have come to have a great respect for the accuracy of
the small-framed handgun. The model 97 is, like all Freedom
guns, a beautiful example of hand-fitted precision. Available in
several other chamberings, the compact Model 97 is perfectly
sized to the little .17 HMR cartridge. Freedom is planning to
offer the .17 in barrel lengths of five and one-half, seven and
one-half, and ten inches.
sample Model 97 received for testing has a slightly tapered
ten-inch barrel, measuring .705 inch at the frame and .675 inch
at the muzzle, where it wears a recessed target crown. It is
supplied with an excellent adjustable rear sight, coupled with
an interchangeable front. The entire revolver is finished in a
satin stainless, except for the blued sights and laminated grip
panels. The six-shot cylinder has a diameter of 1.575 inches,
and a length of 1.625 inches, which is plenty long for the .17
HMR cartridge. The Model 97 action has a hammer-mounted transfer
bar safety that allows the cylinder to be safely carried with a
full load of six cartridges. Alignment of the chambers
with the ejection rod was perfect for easy ejection of the spent
cases. The rimfire Model 97 has dual firing pins for
reliable ignition. Timing of the cylinder with the bolt was
excellent, with the latter dropping into the lead of the
cylinder notch, and lockup was precise and tight. As I have come
to expect on a Premier Grade Freedom, fit and finish was
perfect, which is an adjective that can seldom be used to
describe the fit and finish on a gun these days. The trigger
pull measured a crisp two-and three-quarters pounds.
accuracy testing, I requested one of the excellent Lovell scope
mounts from Freedom Arms. The Lovell is machined to precisely
fit into the recess atop the frame for the rear sight. I mounted
a Charles Daly two-power scope in the Lovell mount. I had ammo
available from Hornady and CCI, and set up targets at fifty and
one hundred yards, which I think is appropriate for a hunting
revolver. I usually test handguns at twenty-five yards, but
longer ranges are better suited for a scoped revolver built for
hunting small pests and vermin, as is this Model 97.
conditions were cold and breezy, but as can be seen in the
accompanying photos, the accuracy of this handgun is amazing.
One inch groups from a rimfire rifle using factory ammo would be
excellent. This Freedom Arms revolver shot groups measuring less
than half of that, and would most likely group even tighter with
a better shooter pulling the trigger. The Model 97 would
consistently group three shots into less than one-half inch at
one hundred yards using a good rest. Velocity was measured
at a distance of ten feet from the muzzle, using a PACT
chronograph. The velocity of the Hornady ammo was 2296
feet-per-second, and the CCI ammunition clocked 2238
feet-per-second. These are the highest velocities that I
have recorded from a .17 caliber handgun, and is not far behind
the velocities obtained from a twenty-two inch barreled bolt
for the .17 HMR Model 97 had not yet been set at the time of
this writing, but it should be close to the price of their .22
caliber revolvers. Check out the full line of Freedom Arms
products at: www.freedomarms.com
you are looking for a revolver chambered for the .17 HMR, and
want the best built and most accurate, this is your baby.
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