WLM WLM Spring 2015 - Page 16

WLM | business Dick left high school at the age of 16, but his years there were full of important events. It was during this time that he met a lovely young lady that rocked his world, Jeri. It was love at first sight. It was also during this time that Dick designed and built a sleek .22 Single Action Revolver. Salt Lake City, where Dick took a job at Hunter’s Sporting Goods as a salesperson in firearms. There he met Jack Fulmer, their gunsmith, and they became partners in gun design. Fulmer designed a Jet rifle and Dick designed and built the prototype, all new .454 in 1957. Shortly after leaving school, Dick returned to his father’s automotive shop, where he became friends with Kerm Esckelsen, a body and fender man who would teach Dick the trade and come into his life again later on. “Doing guns on the side kept me going,” Dick explains. Dick also ventured into a whole different direction and took up flying, purchasing a 180 Cessna airplane. To support his new endeavor he became a student in aircraft mechanics and worked for Alta Air Park, where he met up once again with Kerm Esckelsen from his dad’s automotive shop. Destiny seemed to be guiding him back to firearms. Dick had designed the .290 semi-automatic rifle and Esckelsen was very impressed with it. They formed a company called Western Dick and Jeri married in 1951, when Dick was 20, Jeri 19. They decided to “go west” and moved to California for a year. Longing to be back home, they returned to “Precision accuracy, extreme knockdown power, and surprising shootability are just some of the reasons why the .454 Casull is one of our all-time great biggame cartridges.” –Layne Simpson, Shooting Times, 2009 16 Wyoming Lifestyle Magazine | Spring 2015 State Arms in 1965, building approximately 80 guns – quite a find now due to their rarity. After a short time they sold to Rocky Mountain Arms and Dick transferred there. “I had a small .22 short mini-gun already designed,” Dick explained. “{I} had built a proto mold of the little gun. We built a number of guns and it looked promising.” After a short while the company fell on hard times and had to be closed. While at Rocky Mountain Arms Dick met Wayne Baker. “Wayne came to me and said he’d like to continue a company in Wyoming, so we formed a partnership.” The company was named after its hometown of Freedom, Wyoming – and in 1975, Freedom Arms was born. As mentioned previously, Dick had been at work on his .454 prototype since 1957. In 1976, Dick had completed the prototype for the now-famous .454 Casull, but the company believed it to be too difficult to produce without unskilled helped. This directed Freedom Arms to begin production in 1978 with a .22 mini-revolver. It was the world’s smallest handgun at the time and could fit in the palm of the hand – great for the ladies. After sales topping 100,000 firearms, the mini-revolver was discontinued in 1988. Freedom Arms picked up the .454 Casull in the early 1980s. The first production .454 Casull five-shot revolver was built in 1983, naming it aptly Model 83. Quickly becoming known as the finest revolver of its kind (our editor’s father happens to own one!), the gun is still available through Freedom Arms. The world’s most powerful revolver, 2.25 times the