Freedom Arms Premier Grade .475 Linebaugh


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

July 16th, 2004




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 package.

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 at:

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.

Jeff Quinn

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The Freedom Arms Model 83 Premier Grade revolver in .475 Linebaugh.



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 sight.



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 Arms.



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 Performance 425-grain.



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 accurate.



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.