Grail Guns


Mark’s Grail Gun is this Freedom Arms Model 83 in .44 Mag. with 10" octagon barrel and Leupold scope.

Occasionally I run across someone discussing their ultimate “Grail” gun. I often wondered what factors other handgunners considered in their criteria. In the American Heritage Dictionary I found a definition of Grail: “the object of a prolonged endeavor.” I guess it would be safe to say we’ve all longed for our own version of a Grail Gun. For some, this may be a highly customized piece, perhaps a family heirloom, maybe even a vintage firearm with a well-known history or rich tradition. We all have our opinion of what a Grail Gun represents. Mine is a pure hunting handgun.

I’ve reached the stage in life where I should be exiting the “acquisition phase” and gravitating more toward the “liquidation chapter.” Why do I keep buying guns? Well, I can’t help myself! I was wanting (notice, I said wanting, not needing) an object of a prolonged endeavor. For me, it would be the hunting handgun of my dreams — a Grail Gun.

A Costly Friend

Talking to my friend Bob Baker of Freedom Arms usually ends up costing me money. This time was no different. I shared with Bob what I had in mind and it all started in the form of a Model 83 in .44 Magnum. The double-four can handle most anything within sane revolver ranges and I had lots of ammo, Redding dies, and a shelf full of reloading components. Regardless of whether it’s whitetail deer on the farm, wild boar, black bear, or just about any other critter I may pursue, the .44 Mag. can get the job done.

Next, I wanted a 10″ barrel with a desire to squeeze out as much velocity as possible. I chose an octagon barrel — just because it’s cool! It weighs a tad bit more than a round barrel version and I wanted the extra weight to help mitigate recoil — but mainly because of cosmetics, to be honest. The barrel would wear an inverted crown. I opted for a sight deletion as I would fit a scope, so the barrel is naked. Freedom Arms offers their Lovell mount for scopes and it holds the optic securely.

A Costly Friend

The Model 83 comes with wine wood grips. Black micarta is an option too but the wine wood grips look just swell. An action job and trigger stop were in order.

I elected a field-grade matte finish. After all, this will be a serious hunting handgun and I didn’t need the pretty, polished finish normally found on Premiere Grade guns.

When I received the revolver, I shipped it to my good friend Ken Kelly of Mag-na-port International and Ken worked his magic with a dual trapezoidal porting. He even jeweled and polished the trigger and hammer. Ken has been customizing my revolvers for many years — when he’s finished, they’re a joy to shoot!

I mounted a Leupold 2.5-8x silver scope Lovell mount to finish the job. Now we have a serious hunting revolver! It goes without saying — the fit and finish of Freedom Arms revolvers are well known. The timing and lock-work are akin to a bank vault.

Any Grail Gun worth its salt has to have custom work, like
Mag-na-port quad-trapezoidal ports and inverted crown.

The Holy Grail

Now it was time to hit the range. It came as no surprise how well this gun shoots — better than I am capable. The dual-trapezoidal ports help reduce muzzle rise and the revolver behaves itself even with magnum loads. The action and trigger are smoother than silk. I’ve put a bunch of rounds downrange and the barrel likes Hornady’s 240-gr. XTP and HSM factory load of Sierra’s 240-gr. JHC bullets. One of my favorite loads so far is with Unique and Sierra’s 240-gr. JHC. At this point, I’ve only shot this revolver out to 100 yards and Hornady’s 240-gr. XTP would take out groundhogs all day long. I still have a lot more testing to do with factory ammo and handloads. You guessed it — I’m having way too much fun.

Hornady is coming out with their new Handgun Hunter lineup and Federal Premium has announced their 300-gr. Solid Core offering. There is much more work to do with handloads including Nosler, Speer Deep Curl and Swift A-Frame bullets. With preparation for several upcoming hunts, including boar and black bear, I’ve got plenty of shooting and testing ahead.

The question comes to mind … Once you get a “Grail” gun, does it remain a “Grail” gun, or do you continue searching for the next one? I’m not sure. I’m just thankful I now have an object of a prolonged endeavor!

Subscribe To American Handgunner

Purchase A PDF Download Of The American Handgunner Sept/Oct 2020 Issue Now!