Guns and Gear

Gun Test: Freedom Arms model 2008

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By Mark Hampton, American Handgunner

When I first heard about Freedom Arms coming out with a single-shot handgun a couple of years ago, I phoned long-time friend Bob Baker, guru at Freedom Arms. Sure enough, Bob told me Freedom Arms was in the process of manufacturing a single-shot handgun and were soliciting input from shooters and hunters across the country. This company has produced top shelf single-action revolvers for many years and I couldn’t wait to see their new break-open design, single-shot handgun with interchangeable barrel capability. Handgun hunters will never have too many options when it comes to high-quality single-shots.

Currently there are 12 cartridges offered, including .223 Remington, .243 Winchester, .260 Remington, 7BR, 7mm-08, .308 Winchester, .338 Federal, .357 Magnum, .357 Maximum, .375 Winchester, .454 Casull, and the old faithful big game thumper, .45-70 Gov. Other cartridge options will follow but this is a good start for both hunters and shooters alike. I expeditiously put my order in for the .223 and .308, two cartridges I use quite often for varmints, recreational shooting and big game hunting.

Barrel lengths vary depending on caliber. Both .357’s and the .454 Casull come in 10″ and 15″ barrel lengths. Most other cartridge offerings come in 15″ lengths; with the .260 Remington, one of my favorite whitetail deer rounds, at 16″. Stainless barrels are drilled and tapped for Freedom Arms scope mounts although some barrels will be available for silhouette sights.

Customers have the option of non-standard barrel lengths for a few extra bucks. I decided to go this route and ordered both barrels at 17″ inches. No specific reason for doing this except perhaps squeezing a tad bit more velocity. Alright, I just wanted something different. Once fit at the factory, barrels are interchangeable. Now hunters will benefit and enjoy flexibility. For example, you can shoot a specific varmint hunting rig with the .223 and simply change barrels when deer season rolls around to the .243, .260 Remington, 7mm-08 or .308. If you tackle moose, bear, or elk, just change barrels again to the .338 Federal, .375 Winchester, .454 Casull or the .45-70; all on the same frame you have shot throughout the year.


Mark topped the Freedom Armso Model 2008 with a 3×12
Burris scope. Black Hills ammo produced impressive
3-shot groups from 100 yards.


Banging steel out to 300 yards was no problem for the
single-shot FA. Burris scope and Winchester 150 gr.
Ballistic Supreme ammo helped.

Other options for this new handgun include the top slide lever, which I highly recommend, accommodating either left or right handed shooters. This nifty little device makes the break open design extremely easy to operate. The forend is available in blank form if you wish, approximately 6″, along with a bench rest version, 5 ¾”, or the 4″ silhouette option, all are approximately 1½” wide. I chose the bench rest style for riding the sandbags or resting on a backpack if hunting. The forend attaches to a hanger bar which for all practical purposes, free-floats the barrel. Freedom Arms will adjust the out-of-the-box 4 ¼ pound trigger pull to three pounds for $46 bucks.

When the new offering from Freedom Arms arrived on my doorstep I wasn’t quite sure about the overall appearance. It appeared as if the break-open, single-shot RPM XL had been tragically involved in a train wreck with a Freedom Arms revolver. The handgun had a rather unique semblance for sure. Some shooters who have seen this gun make similar comments regarding its appearance. However, to be fair, I remember when the Remington XP-100 first came out. Wow! Talk about revolutionary!

Then I recall when Thompson/Center Arms introduced their Contender. I had the same feeling when I first laid eyes on these handguns. While waiting for tolerable shooting weather, I assembled the .223 barrel to the frame and mounted a Burris 3-12X scope in the T’SOB base and three rings. It was easy to see this was typical Freedom Arms, superb craftsmanship with perfect fit and finish. The user-friendly break-open action was slick and the gun balanced well with the scope mounted. I really liked the comfortable feel of the impregnated hardwood grips. They were aesthetically pleasing too. This gun was really growing on me.

When the weather broke I grabbed a box of Black Hills 50 gr. V-Max ammo and headed to the range. My shooting buddy, John Wayne, that really is his name, wanted to shoot this gun so I thought it might be a good idea to have a witness along. We started at 25 yards, made a few scope adjustments and quickly worked our way out to 100 yards. Both of us were impressed with the easy break-open design and positive extraction of cases.

The positive extractor, employing a solid cam action, is an effective concept and I feel will work flawlessly with both rimmed and rimless cartridges alike. This makes for consistent and easy cartridge removal. We also liked the wide surface area of the trigger blade. With the Burris scope cranked up to 12X, we both shot a .5″, 3-shot group with the Black Hills ammunition. It was no fluke with both of us shooting. This is before proper barrel break-in and the first box of ammo we shot! Now I really begin liking the new Model 2008.

A follow-up trip to the range with three different loads produced similar results. During this range session my .223 barrel particularly favored Winchester’s USA brand in 45 gr. JHP. One 5-shot group was a tad bit over .5″ with all bullet holes touching. I was shocked and impressed! With accuracy like this, I could almost shoot a tick off a squirrel’s butt from 100 yards.


In .223. the Freedom Arms Model 2008 makes for
a dandy varmint hunting handgun.


Freedom Arms Model 2008 in .308 Winchester build on their
revolver-making experience. Top quality workmanship is obvious.



Changing barrels is easy as pie. Take out two screws on the forend and remove. Open the action, and then push the hinge pin out and the barrel slides out of the frame. Attach the .308 Winchester barrel, insert hinge pin, replace forend and you are ready to go. I first mounted a quality Leupold 2.5-8X scope using a Lovell Precision mount. Then, switching to three rings on the T’SOB base, experimented with both options offered. Since all of my other .308 handgun barrels wear muzzle brakes, I also had one installed on the Freedom Arms. With as many different brands of factory ammunition I could get, a range session would be entertaining and informative.

After a few customary adjustments from 25 yards, we then moved out to 100 yards. Shooting quality factory ammunition from Black Hills, such as their 168 gr. BTHP and Gold 168 gr. Hornady A-Max, Federal Premium 150 gr. BT, Nosler Custom 165 gr. BT, Winchester 150 gr. Ballistic Silvertip and Hornady’s 150 gr. SST — along with a couple of handloads — we begin punching paper.

Next, more accuracy way out there

One thing became evident after shooting eight different .308 loads, today’s factory ammunition is simply incredible. No wonder so many hunters gravitate to the .308 Winchester with a multitude of premium hunting ammunition at their disposal. There wouldn’t be a problem taking any of these factory offerings hunting.

After considerable shooting of 3-shot groups, our average was less than 2″. That’s with eight different rounds before barrel break-in. As to be expected, any barrel will normally find a particular load it prefers. This particular .308 barrel seemed to like Winchester’s 150 gr. Ballistic Supreme. Although the second round of testing with a different type of rest saw Black Hills 168 gr. Hornady A-Max group three rounds in a tight cluster of less than .5″. I was pleased with the .308 barrel testing all types of factory ammunition with respectable results. Surprisingly, two handloads I had previously assembled didn’t shoot as well as the factory stuff. Currently, I am loading Sierra 155 gr. HPBT match bullet and can’t wait to see the outcome.


The Freedom Arms single shot in .223 — with Black
Hills ammo — shot rifle-like groups at 100 yards.


Premium ammunition in .308 Winchester can be found most everywhere.


Way Out There

After the paper punching session, the Freedom Arms was then introduced to our farm where steel targets are located at various ranges. Whacking steel two to three hundred yards was no problem. It will not be a surprise to find both hunters and shooters packing the new Model 2008 in the months ahead. This handgun is neat and fun to shoot. And, like any other handgun from Freedom Arms, it is reliable and dependable.

Is there anything additional I would like to see offered from Freedom Arms? Of course! Different barrel configurations would be great, including a full bull offering. A lighter trigger than three pounds would be nice, especially for target shooting and prairie dog encounters. Those black micarta grips and matching black forend would contrast great with the satin stainless steel, pushing the cool factor over the top. I really would like to see an effective muzzle brake offered, especially for some of the heavier calibers. Not to worry, there is no telling what we will see in the future.

Admittedly, I’ve had a love-affair with single-shot handguns for quite some time. Now Freedom Arms comes out with this baby and I’m already feeling the attachment. With several hunts scheduled for fall, this new handgun will be traveling with me to some remote locations. Not to mention hunting whitetail in my backyard. For years, Freedom Arms has manufactured exceptional revolvers. Now their impeccable workmanship lies in the form of a one-shooter. Yes, single-shot aficionados have never had it so good.

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Thanks to American Handgunner for this contribution. Click here to visit them – click here to get American Handgunner delivered to your door for $9.95 a year.