Unique weaponry: Freedom Arms crafts customized firearms
Freedom – In an area where settlers and explorers alike depended on guns for their very survival is the modern day Freedom Arms firearm factory. Inside this Freedom business, workers craft precision firearms for a new generation of adventurers, from handgun enthusiasts to big game hunters.
Founded in 1978 by Wayne Baker and Dick Casull, Freedom Arms is a Wyoming based firearm manufacturing company, known across the country for powerful, precision revolvers. The company is just one of a few manufacturers in the world to offer hand crafted revolvers.
Freedom Arms President Bob Baker is a second-generation manager of the business. His father, Wayne, started Freedom Arms more than 30 years ago, in part to give Star Valley youth employment options beyond traditional production agriculture.
Today, the Freedom Arms factory has 15 employees and sells handguns around the world.
Baker says what sets his company apart from other manufacturers is their dedication to a quality product.
“We focus on quality, not quantity. Freedom Arms revolvers are very refined versions of what you can get from a large manufacturer. We emphasize accuracy, power and durability,” explains Baker. “When a customer’s abilities develop beyond what other guns can handle, that’s when they come to us.”
Freedom Arms specializes in single-action revolvers. The hammer on each revolver must be cocked before it can be shot. Freedom Arms makes revolvers for small rimfire rounds suitable for target shooting up to the larger cartridges designed for killing big game.
A Freedom Arms revolver begins as a block of stainless steel, machined at the factory. Baker says parts are machined in batches, with more complicated parts being made in smaller batches. Once all the batches come together and the all the parts for a model are ready, the revolvers are put together by hand by Freedom Arms employees. Then, the revolver is assembled and tested for accuracy and finally sent to the finishing room to be hand finished.
The finished product has virtually invisible joints and incredible precision. For example, per the company’s standards, grips are fitted so that a feeler gauge less than the thickness of a man’s hair can’t be forced between the grips and the metal frame.
Customers can find a few dozen guns available for immediate purchase on the Freedom Arms website. But most opt to have a revolver custom crafted to their exact wants, specifying caliber, grip material or barrel shape and length. Precision and customization take time, however.
“It takes us anywhere from six to seven months to produce a revolver,” explains Baker. “But our customers are willing to wait to get just what they want.”
Freedom Arms also sells a full line of accessories, including scope mounts, holsters, gun totes, bullets and reloading supplies. The Bear Track case is a protective case designed for Freedom Arms firearms. Like the revolvers, it’s handcrafted directly at the Wyoming facility.
Revolvers start at around $2,000, depending on the model and customization options selected. That’s almost three times the cost of one from a big firearm manufacturer. But if you’re after big game and your life is on the line, the accuracy and power are well worth the price.
“I enjoy the challenge of hunting with a handgun, but you’re also taking a risk,” says big game hunter Todd Grady, an owner of two Freedom Arms pieces. “The accuracy and ballistics of the Freedom Arms product is unmatched by anything else I’ve ever shot.”
The Freedom Arms website displays photos and testimonials from other big game hunters. Baker himself has killed a grizzly bear with his company’s revolver. Moose, mountain lions, wildebeest, water buffalo and even a hippo have all been harvested with the Wyoming product.
Marketing Freedom Arms
Freedom Arms markets revolvers to hunters, competitive shooters and even collectors. Baker says he attends numerous trade shows across the country, but most of their marketing and advertising is done through word of mouth.
“Competitive shooters look to see what the shooters winning the competitions are shooting, then look to buy the same gun. Many times, that’s a Freedom Arms revolver,” says Baker.
In fact, about 80 percent of competitors in the International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association shoot Freedom Arms revolvers, according to Baker.
“Our customers are our best salespeople,” he says. “Positive comments and recommendations from a fellow competitor or hunter sell more guns than a brochure could.”
Advertising for the company has also come from an unexpected source, Wyoming author C.J. Box. Box writes a series of fictional novels about a Wyoming game warden. One of the main characters in the book, Nate Romanowski, carries a .454 Casull, a Freedom Arms revolver.
The .454 Casull is named for Freedom Arms co-founder Dick Casull. It was designed as a more powerful version of the .45 Colt and .44 Remington Magnum, to be used for big game hunting. It, along with the Model 83, is the most popular revolver in the Freedom Arms line.
Baker says he was surprised when customers started commenting about the revolver’s role in the books.
“When I first had someone come up to me and ask about the .454 Casull and the book, I hadn’t read them yet, so I wasn’t sure what he was talking about. We get comments about that revolver from customers, even in Europe,” he notes.
Even former Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal has his own Freedom Arms gun. Make that two famous Wyoming characters that carry the .454 revolver.