Freedoms Arms worth the price?


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iScream
October 17, 2010, 10:37 PM
Hey Guys,

I haven't bought a gun since the beginning of the year so I'm going to treat myself to something a little nicer. I really like the looks of the Freedom arms revolvers and I'm thinking of a model 97 in 357. Do any of you guys actually own one?

I know they're supposed to be very accurate but are they actually durable? I plan to shoot the thing if I get it and I'd like to know it will last a long time, even with 5 - 8 thousand rounds of 38 a year through it.

Any advice?

Thanks,
Chris

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Tequila Mockingbird
October 18, 2010, 12:19 AM
I have one...

In my opinion, you won't find a better made revolver. Fit and finish are superb, as is accuracy. They're definitely intended to be shooters, not collectors items. I don't put 5000 rounds a year through mine, but I don't see why you couldn't. I haven't heard of anyone who's actually worn out a Freedom Arms revolver.

Are they worth the price? Well, you're paying for what is essentially a hand-fitted custom revolver. They're probably about three times the price of a Ruger Blackhawk, and a good Blackhawk will shoot almost as accurately. But once you've handled and fired a Freedom Arms revolver, I think you'll agree that a Blackhawk, as good as it is, just isn't in the same league as an FA. I don't think you'll be disappointed if you decide to spring for a Freedom Arms revolver. In fact, you may decide you need more than one...:D

LightningMan
October 18, 2010, 12:31 AM
Hello, Just last week I was at Cabellas and they had in their special gun room a Freedom Arms revolver .454 Casull w/7 1/2" barrel. I asked the clerk whom I know if I could handle (drool over it) it, of course he said. Anyway all I can say is "awesome". Workmenship is fantastic, never had I felt a cylinder lock up like a vault when that hammer is pulled back to full cock, and the trigger was as crisp as they come. IMO they are worth the money, now I just need to come up with a couple grand. LM

CraigC
October 18, 2010, 02:10 AM
Freedoms Arms worth the price?
Only you can answer that question. Some folks think they are just exhorbitantly priced and couldn't possibly be worth what they're asking. Others, including myself, consider them to be the finest revolvers in existence and a bargain considering what you get. And what you get is a single action revolver that is made as precisely as possible, while maintaining a certain level of affordability. They are also arguably the strongest and most durable sixguns on the market so blast away.

ArchAngelCD
October 18, 2010, 03:43 AM
If I had the money I would buy a Freedom Arms revolver immediately. They are the most accurate revolvers I know of. I'm guessing the fact they are line bored has something to do with it. Like said above, you are buying a had fitted custom revolver. I will buy one some day and it will be in .45 Colt.

huntershooter
October 18, 2010, 06:58 AM
Subjective question.
Worth it to me. The tightest, best shooting handgun I own.
Here's my 97 in .45 Colt, I have the .45 ACP cylinder but have never shot it...


http://i1043.photobucket.com/albums/b434/huntershooter/resized%20handguns/resize%20hog%20guns/hogguns012.jpg

http://i1043.photobucket.com/albums/b434/huntershooter/resized%20handguns/resize%20hog%20guns/hogguns014.jpg

Old Fuff
October 18, 2010, 10:13 AM
First of all they are built like a tank.

Second, they are the most accurate production revolver that's available because the chambers are line-bored to insure they are absolutely concentric with the bore.

Line boring means that each chamber is individually drilled while the cylinder is locked in the frame. Other production revolvers cylinders are drilled while the cylinder is clamped in a machine. If there is the slightest misalignment between the slot in the cylinder and the chamber, that chamber will not be concentric with the barrel. Other makes of revolvers usually allow a little "wiggle" in the cylinder when a chamber is locked so that when fired the bullet can self align with the bore.

If you want the very best, Freedom Arms revolvers are well worth the money.

tuckerdog1
October 18, 2010, 10:42 AM
I have a Model 83 in 454, and a Model 353 ( which is a Model 83 in 357 ). Fantastic guns. I've never regretted spending the money.

Here is a link to an older article that may attest to their strength. It's written about the 353 ( a Model 83 ), and not the model 97. But I suspect a 97 will outlast you, no matter how many rounds ( especially 38s ) you put through it.

http://www.sixguns.com/tests/tt353.htm

Tuckerdog1

kolob10
October 18, 2010, 10:51 AM
Absolutely worth the price. They will last a lifetime, superbly accurate, and nice to look at also. I have a couple and have had no problems whatsoever. I have owned two others and they too were great weapons. I'm waiting on a good deal on a 22/22mag model 97 and I will own 3 FA revolvers. Save up your pennies and make the plunge. Good shooting

Jim Watson
October 18, 2010, 11:35 AM
In spite of the fact that the 97 has a transfer bar action and the 83 has a "safety bar" that apparently engages in the quarter cock position, FA still sternly warns you to Never carry a round under the hammer, as though it were a conventional SAA. This leaves you with a four-shooter in any caliber larger than .357.

Are they just playing lawyer games or is their action less safe than say a NM Ruger's?

CraigC
October 18, 2010, 12:05 PM
They are playing lawyer games because they have been sued over the stupidity of others and lost.

Walkalong
October 18, 2010, 01:12 PM
They are superbly made, if that is the question.

Buck Snort
October 18, 2010, 03:58 PM
If I had kids I'm sure my two Model 83s would get passed down for several generations. They're built like a bank vault.

Ultima-Ratio
October 18, 2010, 07:22 PM
Buy a pair of Rugers and used the change to buy ammo!

JellyJar
October 18, 2010, 09:53 PM
If you pull back the hammer of a model 83 after engaging the safety bar is there anyway to make the weapon fire without pulling the trigger?

With or without a round under the hammer.

Prosser
October 18, 2010, 10:09 PM
Chris:
I own 2 FA 83's , and sold a 252, that's a target 22 lr.

I think they are worth 1000-1500 dollars. That's about what the used market is for em. 97's are harder to find, have a better safety then the 83's.

Other people make their barrels, and frames,so your accuracy is dependent on barrel quality, and Bob Baker's test crew.

The question becomes can you find a BFR for 500-1000 bucks, which is perhaps as strong, if not stronger, and uses standard ruger parts or an FA, depends on area.
People sell FA's in my area. The only BFR I've ever been able to find used in this area was 1000 dollars, more then a new one.:confused:

The BFR short frame guns are still a bit more on the size of the 83 not the 97.

My issues with the FA is one, a 5 pound trigger on a 2500 dollar gun, that then requires 100 bucks for a trigger job, to get it to 3 pounds. Might be different with the 97's, but ask.

Also, Bob Baker tends to treat his guns like an over protective father, so, if you have ANY discussion, be very diplomatic, or he might react like you spit on his 7 year old.

FA support is supposed to be second to none. That said, I doubt I'll ever use it, since both my guns started as FA's, and have been converted by Jack Huntington Advanced gunsmithing. 454 to .475, and, .475 to .500 JRH.

They are 17-4, frame cylinder, and I think, most parts.

As for durable: Don't know about the 97's. 83's have been shot with very heavy 454 loads, for very long times. The forcing cone might errode, or the barrel, but Baker backs his guns, and usually those things are taken care of free.
17-4 is REALLY strong. I can't imagine .357 even scratching it.

5-8 thousand rounds of .38, and I don't think you'll even take the finish off the forcing cone in 20 years.

Bob Baker is not one of my favorite people, but I respect the product he puts out.

iScream
October 18, 2010, 10:36 PM
Thanks everybody. I'm trying to decide between a new revolver from FA or a custom 1911. I reload 38 Special and I really like the idea of shooting the same loads as I do with my S&W 686 P.

I do have a 1911 but it's chambered in 9mm (STI Trojan). It almost seems wrong to not have a proper 1911 in 45 though.

If I get the revolver, I'm thinking I want the 7.5 inch barrel. I agree with the statement about paying an extra $100 for the lighter trigger on a gun in this price range but I'll probably go ahead with it. Otherwise I'm sure I'll always wish I had done so.

I don't really know what the difference is between the model 83 and 97. Are there differences beyond what has been mentioned so far in this thread?

-Chris

Jim Watson
October 18, 2010, 10:43 PM
The 97 is considerably smaller.

Geno
October 18, 2010, 10:44 PM
Yes, they are made with a fit and finish seen on few revolvers. I had the .454 Casull. The recoil was extreme for me; I should have purchased a .44 Mag instead.

Geno

iScream
October 18, 2010, 10:51 PM
The 97 is considerably smaller.

OK. Somehow I missed that fact looking on their site. I prefer a pretty heavy gun at the range so maybe the 83 is actually what I'm looking for.

-Chris

Prosser
October 19, 2010, 03:08 AM
The 97 is 80% of the 83 IIRC. My 83's average 3- 3.2 pounds loaded.
The 97's are about 36 oz unloaded, for a 45 colt, and loaded probably what, 42 oz?

I'd get my hands on one and try it. I find the standard grips on the 83 too small for me, and needed custom grips by Jack Huntington, fitted to my large hand size.

Shooting .357, even with a 40 oz gun, should be a piece of cake.

As for a choice between that and a custom 1911, I'd shop, and shop, until I found either a FA used between 1000-1500, or, I'd have a look at the
Dan Wesson/CZ 1911's. At 1000 bucks I should have bought one. At 1300, they are now a poor man's Ed Brown.

Also Wilsons can be had in the same price range.

In defense of FA pricing, they have been pretty much the same for a very long time, IIRC. I can't say that about custom 1911's, since they have inflated faster in price then Michelle Obama.

FA's are tested at the factory for accuracy, and only a few bad ones get out.
My guess is the gunwriters get the cream of the crop, since everyone writes the same boring thing:

"This is the most accurate revolver I have ever shot."

Should be if it's the cream of the crop from FA.
If in a bigger caliber, BFR's are in the hunt value wise, and, maybe better then either Ruger or FA. Still kicking myself I didn't have a couple thousand dollars around when CDNN had a 500 dollar a gun special on BFR revolvers.

Prosser
October 19, 2010, 03:19 AM
Found this link to a John Taffin book. GREAT stuff. Chapter 25 is on point:

http://books.google.com/books?id=HzW3nn6LTycC&pg=PA163&lpg=PA163&dq=Freedom+Arms+97+specs&source=bl&ots=fk-cSRdM3a&sig=MXg9LLBfhRa_GO8jM45lDetqIuc&hl=en&ei=yTK9TPWiLYOosAP9o9XVDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CCoQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=Freedom%20Arms%2097%20specs&f=false

ArchAngelCD
October 19, 2010, 05:48 AM
I had the .454 Casull. The recoil was extreme for me; I should have purchased a .44 Mag instead.
Geno,
You can fire .45 Colt ammo in that .454 Casull much in the way you can fire .38 Special ammo in a .357 Magnum revolver. Firing .45 Colt ammo in a .454 Casull is a real pleasure for practice. Give it a try if you already haven't done so...

Prosser
October 19, 2010, 03:18 PM
ArchAngelCD:

Bob Baker insists that's not safe, and, that you should get another, .45 Colt cylinder.
See if I can explain this in short.
.44 mag works at 40k, and has much more cylinder metal. Usually proofs, meaning what is required to blow the cylinder, at about 100K. Safety margin is 150%.
.454 operates near 60k, hence horrible, sudden recoil, with cylinder proofing/going at 90k: safety margin is 50%.

Now in a .44 mag, the little build up created by shooting the .44 special in it would create a little ring. If you get the .44 mag in, the little build up ring causes the bullet
to be held in place longer, since it creates extra pressure where the bullet is seated.
No big deal in the .44, far less in the .357 magnum. So, even if you don't do a great job of cleaning no problem.

FA's are made to far tighter tolerances then you can get, even with a custom, fantastic gunsmith, unless he remakes the entire gun. That goes for the cylinder, as well.
So, in the 454, you have very tight chambers. Now that little ring becomes a big deal.
If you shoot 45 colt in it, then manage to chamber .454, you have a little pressure ring build up that will hold the bullet in place longer. With average loads of around 50-55k,
and now you have the ring holding the bullet in place longer, you have the potential for a very high pressure spike,blowing a cylinder.

Even 17-4 stainless will blow, given such a situation.

John Linebaugh found this out when he, and Dick Casull started messing around with heavy loaded .45 Colt, like .454 level .45 Colt, in Ruger frames with 17-4 cylinders.

Linebaugh's solution was a tight cylinder, and, you could load the new .45 Colt brass
to .454 pressure levels, without fear of blowing the cylinder. Frame might stretch, top strap cut, forcing cones errode, but his cylinders would hold at .454 pressures.

I was just looking at the H110 loads we used to use back then. 360 grain bullet, with 27.5 grains of H110. That's nearly 4 grains over the max load Hodgdon lists now.

Heck, we used to take a .45 Colt case, put as much H 110 as we could in it, and put 230 grain ball ammo on top of that, super hard cast, for practice. Looking at the loading tables, this was probably going near 2100 fps, though I barely believe that while typing it. If felt light in recoil compared to the heavy bullets, and had a HUGE blast and was really loud. FUN!

The gun I/we used was based on a Seville, had a custom barrel, and handmade cylinder, in 17-4 by JL.
Looked like this:
http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f99/Socrates28/seville%207%202006/SevilleCodyonbarrelcopy-1.jpg
http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f99/Socrates28/seville%207%202006/Sevillecopy-1.jpg

This was the development stage of such stuff.
http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f99/Socrates28/seville%207%202006/Seville18xxs2copy-2.jpg

This is what the gun looked like after Jack Huntington put custom grips on it, a beautiful blue job, and fixed a 20 year old problem, the gun going out of time.

You see every time you pulled a trigger on a heavy load, the gun would jump out of time, and, you'd have to use your finger to rotate the cylinder back into alignment. The answer was deeper cuts in the cylinder.

Did make for some exciting stories from Ross Seyfried about hunting cape buffalo with the sister gun to mine.

tuckerdog1
October 19, 2010, 03:58 PM
In 357, the 97 is a 6 shot and the 83 is a 5 shot. Subtract 1 each if you keep an empty under the hammer, as advised.

Tuckerdog1

iScream
October 19, 2010, 10:11 PM
In 357, the 97 is a 6 shot and the 83 is a 5 shot. Subtract 1 each if you keep an empty under the hammer, as advised.

This may actually end up being the deal breaker for me. Not the empty chamber thing since I won't ever have it loaded unless I'm about to shoot it. The five shot cylinder may actually turn me away from it. I like to shoot a lot when I go to the range and where I shoot right now you have to walk up in front of the loading bench to shoot. Only having five shots each time would get to be a major pain. It's already a bit of a pain with my 7 shot 686 but I think I'm going to order a couple speed loaders to deal with that. Obviously not an option for a SA only gun though.

-Chris

CraigC
October 20, 2010, 12:46 AM
Maybe you should get the 1911 instead. :rolleyes:

Prosser
October 20, 2010, 02:58 AM
one hole with 5 shots is better then 20, that look like a shotgun pattern.

jyo
October 20, 2010, 05:24 PM
At this time, I own two Model 83s in .454---one 4 3/4" (with two extra cylinders, .45 Colt and .45 ACP) and the other 6 1/2" both are the high-grade models. These are simply the finist production revolvers made. The reason to own these fine "revolving pistols" (Sam Colt) is to have the very best of something without breaking your budget (try to own the best car-motorcycle-watch etc and see what that costs) and you get to use them at the same time! Buy your .357 Model 97 and enjoy it the rest of your life. Good luck with this!

iScream
October 20, 2010, 10:11 PM
Maybe you should get the 1911 instead. :rolleyes:
Maybe so. I'll drive myself nuts over it for the next month until my birthday gets here and my wife kicks in a few bucks. Then I'll just go buy an AR15.

:scrutiny:

-Chris

higene
October 21, 2010, 01:29 AM
I had a model 97 in 44 Special. It was an elegant and very well made gun. Bear in mind that they are very similar to a Ruger blackhawk. I shot everything I could think of handloading for this pistol. All of the Keith, Taffin and Pierce top end loads. The gun did it all. I traded it for a Model 83 454 'cause I gots to know. A model 97 is an elegant, accurate, and well built gun. Fun to shoot with top end loads (44 Special at 1300 fps) it ain't. I will probably do all right in 357 but a model 83 is a full pound heavier.

I think you will love a 357 model 97. Remember, if you decide to sell it, it may take someone else as long as it took you to save up the money and decide to buy it.

iScream
October 21, 2010, 11:04 PM
I had a model 97 in 44 Special. It was an elegant and very well made gun. Bear in mind that they are very similar to a Ruger blackhawk. I shot everything I could think of handloading for this pistol. All of the Keith, Taffin and Pierce top end loads. The gun did it all. I traded it for a Model 83 454 'cause I gots to know. A model 97 is an elegant, accurate, and well built gun. Fun to shoot with top end loads (44 Special at 1300 fps) it ain't. I will probably do all right in 357 but a model 83 is a full pound heavier.

I think you will love a 357 model 97. Remember, if you decide to sell it, it may take someone else as long as it took you to save up the money and decide to buy it.
I may still go with the 97. Who knows at this point. It's probably between that and a Les Baer at this point. A S&W Performance Center 357 Mag is on my radar to some degree as well.

-Chris

mgkdrgn
October 22, 2010, 10:27 PM
I had one come through here as a consignment piece. Very very nice gun! And ... it sold -very- quickly.

PO2Hammer
October 23, 2010, 12:42 PM
I've had my 4.25" Model 97 .357 for quite a few years, must be almost ten.
Worth the money for sure. Since SA's are slower to load and unload than DA revo's, doesn't sound like the high speed, high volume gun you're looking for.

iScream
October 23, 2010, 01:59 PM
Worth the money for sure. Since SA's are slower to load and unload than DA revo's, doesn't sound like the high speed, high volume gun you're looking for.
The more I think about it, the more I think this may be true. I really want one of these, and I expect to get one at some point, but I think it might annoy me too much right now. When I used to shoot at Quail Creek range in Dallas it would have been fine since everyone stood behind the bench to fire. At the range where I'm a member now you have to walk up anywhere from 5 to 10 yards to shoot. That's because people are shooting at different distances from the targets and you obviously have to coordinate so everyone is side by side.

I might try out the 25 yard line before I decide since that part of the range is setup more like Quail Creek. I kind of like 15 yards though.

-Chris

Prosser
October 23, 2010, 08:28 PM
I sold a FA 83 252 because I got a very good offer, needed the money, and the final straw was the match grade chambers pretty much required cleaning about every two cylinder fulls. In retrospect, I should have just had the cylinder opened up a little. The guy I sold it to got it shooting 1/4" at 50 yards. I can't see well enough to shoot that well, at that distance;-(

Leaky Waders
January 3, 2011, 11:26 AM
Can someone who has one explain to me the difference btween the 83 and 97 safety mechanims?

Also, are the guns basically the Ruger design with a plow handle and closer tolerances? Or something else?

Lastly, I see a couple of people mention the BFR in this thread - are they a good revolver? Or a gimmick? I've never gandled one but they look like they should be called RBFR...a really big etc etc.

wad
January 3, 2011, 07:43 PM
I am a fan of Freedom Arms revolvers :D I think the choice of weather to get a model 83 or 97 should be on what fits your hand better. for me, the model 97 is a little too small and the 83 is just right.

In the picture below, front to back:
Model 97 Premier Grade - .357 Magnum
Model 83 Premier Grade - .454 Casull
Model 252 Varmint Class - .22LR & .22WMR
Model 353 Field Grade - .357 Magnum

http://i957.photobucket.com/albums/ae60/wdelack/4-Freedom.jpg

Models 252, 353, 454, 555 and 757 all have the same frame and feature designs as the model 83. At some point in the past FA renamed them to model 83 and just put the caliber markings on the barrel.

Edit: there is a discussion forum dedicated to Freedom Arms revolvers over at Graybeard Outdoors: http://www.go2gbo.com/forums/index.php/board,164.0.html

Hunt480
January 4, 2011, 07:09 PM
WAD,
that is a fine collection. I have been contemplating a FA in 44mag for a few years now and I to have wandered if they are worth the price. Obviously you are positive they are worth the price.

Bill B.
January 4, 2011, 08:26 PM
A little more input from another forum I found interesting:

http://shootersforum.com/showthread.htm?t=48916

eldon519
January 4, 2011, 09:05 PM
Not to hijack, but I noticed a number of you have gone with the brass bead express front sight. Is it accurate enough (small enough bead) for target work? I've been thinking about getting myself an FA, and I like a small bead that is still precise, but some of the larger speed-oriented beads don't do it for me.

Coal Dragger
January 4, 2011, 10:21 PM
If it helps any you could try it and if you didn't like it replace it with a standard blade. The FA front sights are interchangeable and are available in different heights and styles.

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