Freedom Arms began back in 1978 as a joint venture between Dick Casull, the co-inventor and developer of the .454 Casull revolver hunting cartridge along with Jack Fullmer, and Wayne Baker. The .454 Casull was created using a strengthened and lengthened .45 Colt cartridge case. The case being about a tenth of an inch longer so it won’t chamber in a .45 Colt. The .454 Casull was created back in 1958 in the heyday of American wildcatting, It remained a wildcat cartridge for much of its life and with good reason. In the fifties through into the seventies this cartridge was loaded with duplex and triplex loads to best utilize a fast burning powder for initial bullet acceleration and a slow burning powder to keep pressures up as the bullet moved up the barrel. Suffice to say this sort of activity is not to be attempted by the vast majority of us, the loading techniques to do this safely were obviously specialized and tricky. Let us also be quick to add that it is no longer necessary or desirable to attempt duplex and triplex loading to get the best out of your .454 Casull revolver. Modern powder technology has removed the need for such fancy footwork.
The .454 Casull cartridge operates at pressures in excess of 60,000psi. That means it operates at center-fire high intensity rifle cartridge pressure levels. It is right up there with the top end rifle cartridges such as the .300 Weatherby Magnum and the European 8x68S. When re-loading for the .454 Casull pistol primers must not be used. The .454 Casull requires the use of small rifle primers which with their thicker cup can withstand the pressures generated.
Running as it does at rifle pressures the .454 Casull requires a revolver that is purpose built to withstand these pressures. Prior to the creation of Freedom Arms revolvers for the .454 Casull were custom items, but in 1978 Freedom Arms started business, initially making a mini revolver as they got manufacturing started, moving on to making production .454 Casull revolvers in 1983, hence the revolver is called the Freedom Arms 83.
The Freedom Arms 83 is a single action revolver made in the style of the Colt Single Action Army but built in stainless steel and heavily constructed to withstand the pressures created by the .454 Casull. Tolerances are kept tight and the strongly constructed non-fluted cylinder holds five rounds. The revolver does not have a transfer bar ignition system, the design was kept intentionally simple to ensure reliability and good ignition of the tougher small rifle primers. This means that the revolver can only be safely carried with four chambers loaded and an empty chamber under the hammer. The grips of the Freedom Arms 83 are intentionally kept smooth because this revolver generates a lot more recoil than a .44 Remington Magnum and the shooter will need it to rotate in their hand to absorb some of that recoil force.
The .454 Casull cartridge and the Freedom Arms 83 revolver were the combination that picked up where Inspector Harry Callaghan’s .44 Magnum Smith & Wesson Model 29 left off. It took a while for major manufacturers to pick up on the potential demand for heavy caliber hunting handguns and nowadays we are spoiled for choice.
The Freedom Arms 83 revolver in our pictures is being offered for sale by Rock Island Auction on 23rd March 2017. It comes complete with RCBS re-loading dies, 49 cases, cartridge belt and holster. Condition of the revolver is described by RIA as; “NB – EXCELLENT: near new condition 95% – 98%, used but little, no noticeable marring of wood or metal, bluing near perfect (some wear at muzzle or sharp edges can be expected).”
You will find the sale page for this revolver complete with accessories if you click here.
Expected sale price is in the range of USD$1,000-$1,800.
If you are interested in a new Freedom Arms handgun you can find the home page of Freedom Arms if you click here.
(All pictures courtesy Rock Island Auction).
Jon Branch is the founder and senior editor of Revivaler and has written a significant number of articles for various publications including official Buying Guides for eBay, classic car articles for Hagerty, magazine articles for both the Australian Shooters Journal and the Australian Shooter, and he’s a long time contributor to Silodrome.
Jon has done radio, television, magazine and newspaper interviews on various issues, and has traveled extensively, having lived in Britain, Australia, China and Hong Kong. His travels have taken him to Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan and a number of other countries. He has studied the Japanese sword arts and has a long history of involvement in the shooting sports, which has included authoring submissions to government on various firearms related issues and assisting in the design and establishment of shooting ranges.