It has been almost twenty years since John
Linebaugh developed the .475 Linebaugh cartridge. His
experimentation has led shooters to levels of revolver power
that, until that time, had been limited to pushing smaller and
lighter bullets of .44 and .45 caliber to faster velocities.
Linebaugh understood that greater power meant deeper
penetration with heavier bullets, and that the best way to get
bullets heavier was to increase diameter. The .475 was never
intended to be a ".475 Swift", pushing lightweight
bullets to rifle-like velocities. With properly constructed
bullets weighing between 350 and 425 grains pushed to muzzle
velocities of between 1000 and 1400 feet per second, the .475
Linebaugh will penetrate deeply enough to take any game animal
on Earth. The .475 is not the best platform to push light
hollowpoint bullets for varmint hunting. A .357, .41, or .44
magnum is a better choice for that type of hunting. The .475
is a whole different ball game. Its forte lies in its ability
to pack a heavy punch in an easily packable sidearm; a sidearm
that is light enough to have on your side anytime that you
might need maximum stopping power. Whether you need a handy
firearm while hunting or fishing in big bear country, or for
working large cattle, the .475 is ideal to fit in a compact
When first introduced, and for several years
thereafter, the .475 was a wildcat cartridge. Cases were
easily made from .45/70 rifle cases, cut off to about 1.41
inches, and loaded as normal. Today, quality factory
ammunition is readily available from Buffalo Bore, Grizzly
Cartridge Co., and Hornady. New empty cases are
available from Buffalo Bore and Hornady, and are of the finest
quality. I used Buffalo Bore cases exclusively for all
handloads tested. These cases are made for Buffalo Bore by Starline,
but are available only through Buffalo Bore. The best powders
for heavy loads in the .475 are H110, WW296, H4227, and Lil’Gun.
Perhaps the best handgun made to harness the
.475’s power in a compact package is the Freedom Arms
Model 83, which is the subject of this article. As our readers
know, we have tested several Freedom Arms revolvers, and
published the evaluations here on Gunblast. There is nothing
significantly different about this particular Freedom gun,
except the caliber. As I have found with the other several
Freedom revolvers that I have fired, this one is strong,
reliable, and very accurate. It is the best fitted and
finished production revolver on the planet. Its performance is
exceptional. About the only difference between this Freedom
and the others that I have tested, aside from the chambering,
is the express style sights. They are very quick to pick up on
target, and are great for hunting, but I prefer a Patridge
style for target work. For a handgun chambered for such a
powerful cartridge, the Model 83 is relatively light and
compact, weighing only 47.8 ounces unloaded. However,
even though the .475 has substantial recoil, the shape of the
Freedom grip handles it well, and it is not painful to shoot.
As can be seen in the photo, the .475 Freedom 83 is very
accurate, placing five shots into three-eighths of an inch at
twenty-five yards from a steady rest. The crisp trigger
pull helped in shooting good groups, measuring three pounds
and two ounces. Most of the accuracy testing was done using my
handloads of a Cast
Performance 370 grain flat point bullet at a speed of
just over 1050 feet per second. Heavily loaded factory ammo
from Buffalo Bore and Grizzly was also very accurate, but
harder to shoot comfortably from a bench rest. With the
heaviest loads, it is best to fire them offhand, and just ride
with the recoil.
You can tell from the pictures better than I
can explain, that this Freedom .475 is a beautiful, compact,
and handy revolver. This is one of the most tightly fitted
revolvers that I have ever seen, even from Freedom Arms. My
.001" feeler gauge would not fit between the barrel and
cylinder, yet no binding at all was experienced during the
extensive testing. All ammunition tested functioned
perfectly in the Model 83. Fired cases, even from the heaviest
loads, extracted easily from the chambers. Factory ammo from
Grizzly, Hornady, and Buffalo Bore performed as advertised.
Velocities listed on their respective boxes were within a few
feet per second of those recorded from the four and
three-quarter inch barrel of the Model 83, and all loads
tested were, as expected, very accurate as well. With these
three different sources, new factory ammo can be had using
premium quality hard cast bullets with velocities from about
950 feet per second (fps), all the way up to 425 grain bullets
loaded to over 1300 fps, along with a couple of jacketed
hollowpoint loadings. The selection is great, especially for
such a specialized, high performance handgun cartridge.
The .475 Linebaugh is, for now at least,
probably the best chambering available for the most power in
such a compact package. It is an excellent compromise between
the velocity of the .454 Casull and the bullet weight and
diameter of the .500 Linebaugh. The .475 is also shorter than
the .500 S&W and .50 Beowulf, allowing it to be chambered
in the superb Freedom Arms revolver. The .475 Linebaugh also
seems to be an inherently accurate cartridge. The .Freedom
Arms Model 83 chambered for the .475 Linebaugh is arguably the
perfect combination for serious handgun hunters who pursue the
largest and most dangerous game on Earth, or for those who
simply have a desire to own the very best.
Check out the Freedom Arms revolvers online
For more information on the ready availability
of quality .475 Linebaugh brass, bullets, and ammunition,
check out these websites:
The Freedom Arms Model 83, while not
inexpensive by any means, is an excellent value in a premium
revolver, costing much less than a customized Ruger or Seville
of near the same quality. In fact, my photographer, brother,
and illustrious webmaster, Boge, fell in love with this
fine little gun, and decided to purchase it for himself. We
can offer no higher recommendation than that.
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Click pictures for a larger version.
The Freedom Arms Model 83 Premier Grade revolver in .475
Author tests the FA .475 at the NRA Whittington Center
in Raton, NM.
Recoil of the FA .475, while not for the faint-hearted,
is very manageable thanks to the Freedom Arms grip design.
Test gun featured Freedom Arms' "Express"
sights, consisting of an interchangeable brass bead front
sight along with a fully-adjustable shallow V-notch rear
Like all Freedom Arms offerings, the Model 83 Premier
Grade .475 exhibits impeccable craftsmanship in every respect.
Tolerances are incredibly tight, and function is flawless.
The Freedom Arms .475 offers potent firepower in a handy
package, and carries very comfortably in a well-designed
holster such as this crossdraw unit available from Freedom
Until recently the .475 Linebaugh was purely a wildcat
cartridge, but top-quality factory loads for the .475
Linebaugh are now available from Buffalo Bore, Hornady, and
Grizzly Cartridge Company.
For the handloaders, new empty cases are available from
Buffalo Bore and Hornady.
A good selection of bullets are also available for
handloading the .475 Linebaugh. Left to right: Cast
Performance 370-grain, Cast Performance 375-grain, Hornady
400-grain XTP, Cast Performance 410-grain, and Cast
The .475 Linebaugh performs superbly with heavy cast
bullets, such as the excellent Cast Performance offerings.
Left to right: 370-grain, 375-grain, 410-grain, and 425-grain.
For the deepest penetration on the largest and most
dangerous game, Kelye Schlepp of Belt
Mountain Enterprises offers heavy brass
bonded-lead-core bullets. These premium bullets are
lathe-turned to the closest tolerances, and offer maximum
penetration and weight retention.
As we have come to expect from Freedom Arms revolvers,
the Model 83 in .475 Linebaugh proved to be extremely
While the Freedom Arms Model 83 Premier Grade is rather
expensive compared to run-of-the-mill factory revolvers, such
a comparison is like comparing a Ferrari to a Toyota; when
more properly compared to the finest custom revolvers
available, the Freedom Arms products are indeed a bargain. For
shooters desiring maximum power in the minimum package and the
finest in a hunting revolver, Jeff and Boge highly recommend
this powerful, accurate, rugged and beautiful machine.