GUNS Magazine Compromise Part 8: Freedom Arms M97

take it to the street

It’s a sixgun for good times. For plinking with the kids and grandkids, hiking in the mountains and forests of Idaho, scavenging at close range and, if the opportunity arises, shooting down a deer at point-blank range. Very close range. Huge numbers of game, such as coyotes, deer, and black bears, were taken with the .44 Special and .45 Colt loadings, including the old stock black powder loading. The Freedom Arms Model 97 is comfortable with this type of load, namely a 255 grain bullet at 800 to 1000 fps.

From the start of my six shots with the Model 97, I opted to retain its easy packing qualities. I settled on the 5 ½” barrel with adjustable sights and black Micarta grips on the .44 Special and .45 Colt versions. The special Model 97 .44 cylinder can also handle .44 Russian and .44 Colt loads. The .45 Colt version is made even more versatile with the addition of a .45 ACP cylinder allowing a range of target and defensive loads to be used. With its interchangeable foresight system on models with adjustable sights, if necessary, the height of the front blade can be easily changed when going from a sheathed hollow point 185 grains .45 ACP to 260 grains hard cast .45 Colt charges.

I’m not one of those who prefers a light pull on the trigger of a sixgun or a shotgun. The Model 97 trigger came from the factory with a trigger job measuring 3.5 lbs. on my RCBS Premium Trigger Pull Scale. That’s about right for a single-action sixgun. The action is smooth and the cylinder locks tightly with almost no perceptible movement of the cylinder either back and forth or side to side. The barrel/cylinder gap is almost imperceptible and the entire sixgun is tightly fitted. Exactly what we expect from Freedom Arms.

I’ve been searching for the Perfect Packin’ gun most of my shooting life. For me, at least, it is the quest and not the achievement of the goal that gives the most pleasure. As I get older, I particularly lean towards the lighter sixguns. When traveling through the desert, sagebrush, foothills, forest or mountains, the Model 97 is a comforting insurance policy. It’s certainly very easy to call it a Perfect Packin’ gun.

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