Hunting FA M97 357 Magnum

This site has been quiet lately so I thought I'd post something related to handgun hunting.

I've had this Freedom Arms Model 97 357 Magnum 4 1/4" for almost 20 years, and while I liked to carry the gun at deer camp, I never hunted with it because of the short barrel.

So, I sent the gun to FA and asked them to install a 9" barrel which I thought would give a good increase in velocity over the shorter barrel. FA added a TSOB base so I could mount an Ultradot red dot sight.

Load development gave me good hunting and practice loads with the 158 gr XTP shown in the top left target. The next three targets are with the 158 gr Swift Aframe bullet and increasing loads of Accurate #9 powder. I settled on the load in the bottom right target which pushes the Swift bullet to over 1600 fps. Do not try these loads in any revolver other than a Freedom Arms.

I think this combination of longer barrel, red dot sight and Swift bullet will make this M97 s great whitetail gun. I can't wait to take it hunting this fall.


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Looks good. Have to say though. I liked it better with the short barrel. Never been much for long barrel handguns. I know they have a place. I just want something easier to carry. I would love to have a 97 in 45 colt or 44 special.
Thanks. I liked carrying this gun in it's shot barrel version, but the blast from the short barreled 357 was harsh if I had to shoot it without ear protection. A short barreled 44 or 45 is easier on the ears if I have to shoot it without time to put on ear protection. I wear electronic ear muffs continuously while in a deer stand so a sharp report is not a problem there.
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The Ultradot sight on the FA 97 worked great but looked clunky to me. The Leupold Deltapoint Pro makes a much neater package and has a bigger field of view than the UD. I can't wait to take it hunting this fall.


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