Rifle First

The .32-20 goes back to the early 1880s when it was first chambered as a rifle cartridge in the Winchester Model 1873 levergun. Colt soon chambered their Single Action Army in .32 WCF, and by the early 1900s it was one of the most popular chamberings in Winchester’s Model 1892 levergun as well as Colt’s Bisley Model along with Smith & Wesson’s relatively new Military & Police. It was one of the premier varmint and small game cartridges of the time period.

Freedom Arms’ Model 97 is named for the year it arrived, 1997. Freedom Arms had been building their large-framed Model 83 since 1983, chambered in big bore cartridges like the .454 and .44 Magnum. In 1997, after several years of testing and research, the Model 97 arrived as a 6-shot .357 Magnum being slightly smaller than a Colt Single Action. Over the ensuing five years it has also been chambered in .22 LR, as well as 5-shot versions in .45 Colt, .44 Special and .41 Magnum. These latter three, especially with adjustable sights and 51/2" barrels are excellent candidates for the coveted title of Perfect Packin’ Pistol. The .357 Magnum and .22 versions with 71/2" barrels are excellent for small game and varmints as well as being totally capable of handling the meanest tin cans that ever roamed the West.

With the coming of the Model 97 in the .32 version I opted for the same 71/2" barrel I have enjoyed so much in .357 Magnum and .22 LR. All the chamberings of the Model 97 are offered with adjustable sights and both 51/2" and 71/2" barrels. Some are also available with a shorter barrel length, to the end of the ejector rod housing, at 41/4". A popular Custom Shop offering is the octagon barrel option, and the larger calibers, .357 Magnum and up, are also available in a fixed-sighted version.