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  #1  
Old 03-19-2010, 03:32 AM
Torf Torf is offline
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Hi end revolver, Freedom Arms or Bowen Custom?




I'm going to get a hi end SA revolver in 44mag. I was just about to order a FA when a member in my shooting club put up a "NIB" Hamilton Bowen custom Ruger Bisley for sale. The Bisley has a 5 shot cylinder, octagon 5,5" barrel and a cross slot rear sight in the topstrap. Any opinions?

Regards,
Torf
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  #2  
Old 03-19-2010, 06:01 AM
MSgt Dotson MSgt Dotson is offline
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The Freedom revolver locks like a cross between a bank vault and a Swiss watch...it would be my choice...
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  #3  
Old 03-19-2010, 06:43 AM
ArtCrafter ArtCrafter is offline
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Bowen vs. Freedom Arms

I might have it wrong, but it sounds like the Bowen setup would make sight adjustment difficult compared to the Premier Grade Freedom Arms (the FA Field Grade rear sight is also relatively difficult to adjust). This would be a major issue for me in a revolver of this caliber and type: I would much prefer a reliable, readily adjustable sight setup. The Freedom Arms Premier Grade M83 with the Adjustable Sight option is so equipped.

Along that line, the Freedom Arms also offers readily interchangable front sight blades. This facilitates zeroing the wide variety of bullet weights available for the 44 Magnum. I believe some Bowen customs also have this feature but many do not.

In addition, the Freedom Arms platform is far stronger. I suppose the Ruger is arguably at least adequate in this regard, but it cannot match the Freedom Arms; the FA M83 will take pressures that would disintegrate a Ruger SBH/Bisley.

Some will probably say the custom Ruger will look better. I would say it depends on exactly what you're looking at and how you see it.

IMO, the main shortcomings of the Freedom Arms are its relatively large size, its trigger, and its sharp edges. The size of the gun is obviously more or less fixed, but the factory offers an action/trigger job option, and the sharp edges can be easily removed.

All things considered, I would probably order a Freedom Arms just the way I wanted it, including the factory action/trigger job.

If I just had to have the Bowen/Ruger instead for some aesthetic reason (or any other), then it would have to come at a substantial discount.

YMMV


ETA: While I do have a FA M83 in 44 Magnum, the only thing I have by Bowen is his book.

Last edited by ArtCrafter; 03-19-2010 at 06:52 AM. Reason: (See ETA)
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  #4  
Old 03-19-2010, 07:59 AM
tcla tcla is offline
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Bowen all the way.
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  #5  
Old 03-19-2010, 08:01 AM
Jim Watson Jim Watson is offline
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Bowen sure does pretty work, doesn't he?
I would be tempted on the Bowen IF the configuration was what I wanted and if the price were attractive. I cannot imagine shooting any load that a 5-shot Ruger conversion would not handle.
But if you can forsee overloading the Ruger, get the FA. And stone the corners, they apparently send them out right off the mills and all the corners are painfully sharp. I guess they call them "crisp."
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  #6  
Old 03-19-2010, 05:54 PM
compact45 compact45 is offline
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I own, hunt with and shoot often 3 Freedom Arms Premier grade 454 casull revolvers. IMO and experince with...Freedom Arms are what I consider to be the best you can buy without going complete custom.
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Last edited by compact45; 03-19-2010 at 05:58 PM.
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  #7  
Old 03-19-2010, 06:01 PM
ArtCrafter ArtCrafter is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Watson View Post
...I cannot imagine shooting any load that a 5-shot Ruger conversion would not handle...
It's a small point to be sure, but Bowen/Ruger 44 Mag conversions are typically 6-shot and use the factory cylinder. The custom 5-shot cylinder is usually only seen in the larger calibers (475, 500, etc.).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Watson View Post
...if you can forsee overloading the Ruger, get the FA...
It isn't necessary to 'overload' the Freedom Arms in order to appreciate its superior strength. It is essentially impossible to shoot the gun loose with standard-pressure loads, something that cannot be said for the Ruger SBH/Bisley platform.
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  #8  
Old 03-19-2010, 11:29 PM
parisite parisite is offline
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Freedom Arms without a doubt.

I'd like to find their double-action equivelent.
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  #9  
Old 03-20-2010, 01:59 AM
ArtCrafter ArtCrafter is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by parisite View Post
Freedom Arms without a doubt.

I'd like to find their double-action equivelent.
Ironically, I think the closest thing DA-wise is probably a custom Ruger Redhawk or SRH, both of which are stronger than the SBH/Bisley.
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  #10  
Old 03-20-2010, 07:47 AM
Jim Watson Jim Watson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArtCrafter View Post
It's a small point to be sure, but Bowen/Ruger 44 Mag conversions are typically 6-shot and use the factory cylinder. The custom 5-shot cylinder is usually only seen in the larger calibers (475, 500, etc.).
Well, I made the rash assumption that the two guns in the OP were directly comparable.

Quote:
It isn't necessary to 'overload' the Freedom Arms in order to appreciate its superior strength. It is essentially impossible to shoot the gun loose with standard-pressure loads, something that cannot be said for the Ruger SBH/Bisley platform.
True; I had a friend who wore out a .45 Ruger with a steady diet of heavy loads. The frame wasn't stretched and Ruger overhauled it for a very moderate price, but it was definitely out of service for a while. And I have seen a very few shaky SBHs in 50 years. But not many.
I understand Mr Bowen beefs up the guns in some respects when he works them over; I don't know how that affects their longevity.
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  #11  
Old 03-20-2010, 09:05 AM
compact45 compact45 is offline
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I never had the pleasure of handling or shooting a Bowen but have heard they are very nice.

My 3 FA 454's get a fair share of hot loads like Corbon 320 & 360 Gr Penetrators and there has been no change to how tight the lock up is (same as new) and the actions move just as smooth as the day they were new
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  #12  
Old 03-21-2010, 10:56 AM
fltbed fltbed is offline
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There is some debate as to which frame is stronger. (FA, RBH, MR-BFR)
I would say if the custom Bowen strikes your fancy, get it. If not, order the FA or one of the other custom offerings from Bowen, Clements or Linebaugh.
Everyone should own at least one “custom” work of art, weather it be a shotgun, rifle, 1911 or SA Revolver.

Jeff
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  #13  
Old 03-22-2010, 11:43 AM
sdgeorge sdgeorge is offline
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IMHO since you thought about it enough to ask the question you will never be satisfied with one or the other... BOTH is the only answer... Decide which you want first and go for it! I have a safe full of FA AND custom Rugers. I want more of both... Just traded for a 10 inch FA 44 mag.... I'll be at the range shooting soon and will post pictures ASAP..
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  #14  
Old 03-24-2010, 08:48 AM
Torf Torf is offline
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Thanks for the input. Std 44mag ammo is all I can handle so strenght is no issue between tha FA and Ruger.

I'm going to negotiate the price on the Bowen. It's a full custom revolver with a $10K(1998) bill.

Last edited by Torf; 03-24-2010 at 08:50 AM.
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  #15  
Old 03-24-2010, 09:22 AM
bdavis385 bdavis385 is offline
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I would look at it like this. The FA is a great gun, but it can be had anytime. But a Bowen, if the price is good, may not come up again. Also understand my bias is guns that have been built by a master over production. I have production, but I'll always part with one if someone wants it bad enough. However, my Heinie guns -- they will be mine until I die and even then I control who they go to. Bottom line, you won't go wrong either way.
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  #16  
Old 03-24-2010, 01:12 PM
Jim Watson Jim Watson is offline
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Quote:
It's a full custom revolver with a $10K(1998) bill.
I know he does nice work and can pile a lot of stuff on one gun but $10K?
Wow!

Have the seller provide pictures, we need to know what that gets you.
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