For a few weeks
now, I have been shooting a remarkable little sixgun from Freedom
Arms that has turned out to be a very interesting project.
In October of this year, I reviewed here the Freedom
Arms Model 97 chambered for the .45 Colt cartridge, so I
won’t rehash all of the details of the Model 97 again. For
that information, I will refer you to the previous article.
In this article, I
will deal with the particulars of the .22 Rimfire Model 97.
Freedom Arms has for several years chambered their outstanding
Model 83 for the .22 Long Rifle and .22 Magnum, and the Model 97
is built to the same superb standards, but on a smaller and
lighter frame. The Model 97 is handier and more packable than
its predecessor, and it also has Freedom’s hammer-mounted
transfer bar safety system, which prevents the revolver from
firing if dropped upon its hammer.
The .22 caliber
Model 97 sent to me for testing is a very handsome and
well-fitted revolver. It wears Freedom’s beautiful laminated
wood grip panels and is made primarily of stainless steel. The
rimfire Model 97 is built just as tight and strong as the larger
caliber guns, with perfect wood-to-metal and metal-to-metal fit.
No other factory builds its guns to the tolerances that Freedom
Arms does. The gun pictured here wears a seven and one-half inch
barrel, but Freedom will supply this gun in just about any
length desired. The 7-½ inch barrel is a good compromise
between portability and velocity, and balances very well.
The model 97
tested was provided with an excellent set of adjustable sights
that are durable and easy to see, but for accuracy testing, I
mounted a scope sight for more precision with my aging eyes.
Freedom Arms supplied the Lovell scope mount pictured here, and
it is the best revolver scope mount that I have ever used.
Anyone who is contemplating mounting a scope sight on their
Freedom revolver should try one of these. It replaces the rear
sight, and is an exact, precise fit into the sight recess milled
into the top strap of the frame.
As expected, the
trigger pull on the test gun was very crisp, and released at
slightly over three pounds.
The Model 97 was
shipped with the standard .22 Long Rifle cylinder, along with an
optional .22 Magnum cylinder and a .22 Long Rifle Match
cylinder. The chambers in the Match cylinder are tighter than
those of the standard cylinder. The theory behind this is
that the cartridge is held tighter and more precisely in each
chamber, resulting in greater accuracy.
Accuracy is what a
.22 revolver should be about. I have several .22 rimfire
revolvers. Some are very accurate, while others are not as
accurate. The accurate revolvers are a joy to shoot and carry
hunting, while inaccurate handguns are reserved for plinking.
Accurate guns are more exciting, and this Model 97, like other
Freedom revolvers, looked to be both right out of the box.
To test the
accuracy potential of the Model 97, I assembled a variety of .22
rimfire ammunition and proceeded to the shooting bench. I say
the "potential" accuracy of the revolver because I
make no claims to being an exceptional shot, and therefore a
better shooter could probably obtain tighter groups. After the
results that I did achieve with this revolver, I would love to
test it in a machine rest. Shooting this sixgun with several
different brands and types of ammunition proved to me that this
little baby is a tack driver! As can be seen in the photographs,
the 25 yard groups were downright amazing! Several brands of
Long Rifle and Magnum ammo shot into less than ¼ of an inch at
25 yards, with a couple of groups being barely over 1/8 of an
inch. With a better shooter, I truly believe that this Model 97
would shoot into the same dern hole time after time. At 25
yards, I could not tell any difference between the
accuracy of the standard cylinder and the match cylinder. All of
the 25 yard groups pictured here were fired with the standard
cylinder, except of course the PMC Predator group fired
with the .22 Magnum cylinder. That particular group measured
just ¼ of an inch. That is amazing accuracy from a .22 Magnum.
The worst performer in the Model 97 was Remington Yellow
Jacket ammunition, which still grouped into 13/16 of an inch at
25 yards. Again, outstanding accuracy. Groups at 100 yards
opened up somewhat, due in part to a strong gusty crosswind. The
air was cold and the wind was whipping the 50 and 100 yard flags
without mercy. Still, groups of less than one inch were common
with the Long Rifle Match cylinder, and almost as good with the
standard Long Rifle cylinder. Groups of less than two inches
were obtained with the magnum cylinder, but again, the wind was
playing with the accuracy somewhat.
In conclusion, I
can state without hesitation that this Freedom Arms Model 97 is
the most accurate handgun that I have ever touched to this date.
Also, the gun performed without a hitch during all accuracy
testing and informal plinking. It is a .22 revolver of the
finest order; a factory custom with superb match-grade accuracy.
Check out the
Model 97 .22 and the excellent Lovell scope mount in Freedom’s
complete catalog, available by going to:
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