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by James F. Swidryk a.k.a. jamesfromjersey Last updated: 2010-12-27 10:14:56
The Freedom Arms .41 Magnum, model 654, is the fifth 5 shot revolver in their M-83 series that I have purchased. I`am not going to tell you its their most accurate caliber because all of their handguns are accurate. To be honest they are more accurate then I will ever be able to shoot them. However, what I am going to tell you is that I've found a medium game handgun that gives me everything needed to cleanly take game to an honest 125 yards without the need to go to a larger caliber.The first reason for this is because of the strength of Freedom Arms M-83 line of single actions.This strength allows .41 Mag handloads, the most notable of which were worked up by John Taffin when he tested the 654 for the FACA Five Shot Journal, that put a 210gr XTP bullet almost on the level of being shot through a 20" carbine. This velocity gives the XTP bullet terminal ballistics that are far above that of standard factory .41 Mag ammunition. I purchased mine with a 10" barrel and even though I`am pushing the 210gr bullet near 1750FPS the felt recoil is less then their .44 Mag shooting a hot 240gr load. This definitely helps a shooter in the accuracy department.
The accuracy of the Freedom Arms revolver is legendary. All one has to do is go to the bragging board or the separate section that's set up for Freedom Arms to see phenomenal groups that our shooters have made using their 5 shot single actions to verify what I've just said. This is due to the way these guns are put together at the factory and as I said before they are more accurate then I`ll be ever able to shoot them. I've enclosed a photo of a 3 shot, 100 yard, group using the pictured scoped handgun that was shooting a 210gr XTP handload that was pushing 1700+FPS. As you can see the three rounds almost made a single caliber hole. Never in my life have I shot group that even came close to this at 100 yards.
As for actual field use with my 654 I can say that I`ve taken a large boar, a black Hawaiian ram, a Red sheep, 2 hybrid Ibex (goats on steroids), a blackbuck, and a large aoudad.All were one shot kills except for the 2nd Ibex when I blew the shot and placed it to far back but thankfully made up for it when I double lunged him at 125yds. I was also impressed with the strength of the 210gr XTP especially when I recovered the bullet that took a large boar. The shot was close, inside 20 yards, and I figured the bullet would have been blown to pieces after hitting the boar on the right shoulder with a broadside shot.Not only did it stay together after penetrating the shoulder but went on to take out the lungs and stop under the skin of the left side losing only 37.7grs.
Some of the best field shooting of my life was recently done at White Elk Ranch in Nebraska with the taking of those two Ibex. My guide, who is a traditional bow hunter, and I waited on a high point over a known feeding area which was a 60 foot cliff overlooking a tight valley where game filtered through at sundown. We sat behind a lone pine tree that covered us from the eyes other Ibex that were moving through the area but out of range. After waiting over four hours the game slowly began to move through the valley below when the two Ibex I was after made their appearance with the first one stopping at a ranged 96yds. I had rolled up my down vest and used it and a small leather sand bag, that I always carry, as a rest. Laying in the prone position I moved my gun out over the edge of the cliff because of the angle of the shot. As soon as the crosshair settled on the shoulder I squeezed the trigger to see the Ibex drop instantly. Without hesitating I swung the barrel up and to the left until it again settled on the side of the second Ibex that stopped at 112yds. I blew this shot hitting him a little to far back at which he ran up a rocky slope and stopped at 125yds.Even though the shot was off I believe the velocity of the handload, allowable in my Freedom Arms 5 shot, caused the XTP to do its job making for extreme terminal performance. I've enclosed a photo of a recovered 210gr XTP that weighed an even 180grs losing 30grs during performance.
Let me finish by telling you there is nothing bad that I can say about this handgun and like all Freedom Arms single actions they are well worth the money which is why this gun is my "Fantastic Freedom Arms 654".
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