Ruger's Stainless Bisley
by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn


For several years now, big bore revolver shooters have favored the Ruger Bisley for its ability to comfortably handle the heaviest loads available. The combination of the strength of the frame, along with the shape of the grip, trigger, and hammer, enable the Ruger Bisley to digest loads that would destroy a lesser revolver, while mutilating a perfectly good shooting hand in the process. Ruger's Blackhawk has all the strength of the Bisley, but the shape of the grip frame is more punishing to the hand of most shooters, when loaded heavily. 

The ability of the Bisley model to handle heavy recoil without excessive pain has led a few custom gunsmiths to use the gun exclusively for their five-shot big bore conversions. The longer grip frame, smooth curved trigger and lower hammer are, for most shooters, much more comfortable when touching off the heaviest of revolver cartridges. 

The centerfire, large frame Ruger Bisley has always, since its  introduction, been availably in only one barrel length, that being seven and one-half inches. The finish has always been blued chrome-moly steel. The only  choice to make was that of caliber. 

There is nothing wrong with a blued finish on a sixgun, but in some  climates, it doesn't take long for it to turn brown. Many, if not most, Bisleys will have a bit of tarnish on the sides of the hammer after a couple of years. For a working gun in coastal or humid areas, a stainless gun just makes more sense.  Finally, the excellent Ruger Bisley is available, in limited numbers, in  stainless steel. Ruger has produced their Bisley Vaquero in stainless for a few years, but has not, until now, offered the regular Bisley in this  configuration. 

The Bisley Vaquero is a nice gun, but doesn't have the superior adjustable sights that are preferred by most serious shooters and hunters. 

Even better than the stainless material used in this sixgun, in my opinion, is the fact that this new Bisley is fitted with a five and one-half inch barrel. Leaving those extra two inches off of the barrel makes it much more packable in a hip holster than the seven and one-half inch blued gun. 

The new stainless Bisley is available in only one caliber, that being .45  Colt. This is an excellent choice, as the .45 can handle bullets heavy enough for any intended purpose. 

Rumors of the stainless Bisley have been circulating for a couple of months, and I was finally able to obtain one through my local dealer. Upon  opening the package and lifting the lid on the plastic gun case, it was immediately apparent that this was indeed a handsome sixgun. The nicely figured wood stocks and the satin stainless finish complimented each other very well. The sights are, thankfully, blued for a better sight picture. All other metal parts are stainless steel. 

I could find no flaws in the fit and  finish. It has always seemed to me that Ruger has taken extra care with the Bisley models to produce a superior product. The cylinder of the revolver is  unfluted with a well-executed roll engraving encircling the area in front of the bolt notches. The hammer is the low-swept Bisley style with a serrated thumb piece. The trigger is curved to match the rear of the guard and has been, as previously mentioned, polished smooth. As stated earlier, this is one great-looking sixgun. 

Aesthetics, while somewhat important, are not what a great sixgun is about. The proof is in the shooting. I gathered up the new Bisley, along with an old model Blackhawk and a large can of ammunition, for some paper punching and rock busting. I thought it worth the effort to shoot the old Blackhawk along with the new Bisley to compare the difference in felt recoil between Ruger's first .45 and their latest. When shooting normal .45 Colt loads, the recoil characteristics of both guns is very easy on the hand. However, when shooting heavy loads, such as a 335 grain bullet at near magnum velocities, the Bisley grip frame is much easier on my hand than the grip of the old Blackhawk. The Bisley also has the added weight of the stainless steel grip frame, unfluted cylinder, one inch longer barrel, and stainless ejector rod housing helping to tame the recoil of these heavy kicking loads. 

The ability to more comfortably handle recoil is, in my opinion, the main reason to prefer the Bisley over the standard  Blackhawk. I like the feel of the XR-3 and XR-3 RED grip frames better, but upon pulling the trigger on a heavy load, the superiority of the Bisley grip frame is readily apparent. 

The trigger pull on the new Bisley was smooth as it came from the factory. I lightened the weight of the pull a bit by lifting one leg of the trigger return spring from its stud under the grip panel, resulting in a very nice trigger pull without any serious trigger work involved. 

The new Bisley grouped, as expected, in the two and one-half to three inch range at twenty five yards with my standard plinking  ammo, but the best groups were obtained using the excellent Cast Performance 335 grain wide long-nose bullets. These bullets, loaded with a healthy dose of Hodgdon's Li'l Gun powder, produced groups of two inches and under. I have not yet worked at developing special loads for this sixgun, which I believe will produce even better accuracy. 

This new stainless Bisley is, in my opinion, the best Bisley that Ruger has produced to date. It is available in limited numbers and only from one  distributor, that being Accu Sport of Bellafontaine, Ohio. Have your dealer call for price and availability. The guns are selling faster than they can get them in.

This is a sixgun that many shooters have wanted Ruger to produce for a long time. With proper encouragement, perhaps Ruger will make it a  standard catalog item. You can write to Ruger at: Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc., Lacey Place, Southport, CT 06490

Check out the full line of Ruger products here.

This new stainless Ruger Bisley will most likely be the standard test gun  for heavy .45 Colt loads here at We like it. 

Jeff Quinn 


Got something to say about this article? Want to agree (or disagree) with it? Click the following link to go to the GUNBlast Feedback Page.

The Stainless Bisley in .45 Colt, available only from Accu Sport, is a fine addition to Ruger's SA revolver line. Author thinks it is the finest Bisley produced to date.



The Bisley grip frame, shown here with the beautifully figured grips that came with the gun, is the best factory grip ever devised for handling full-power loads in heavy calibers.



The beautiful roll-marked, unfluted cylinder, a signature feature of the Ruger Bisley since its introduction, is reproduced in stainless steel for Ruger's newest Bisley model.



The Stainless Bisley comes equipped with Ruger's now-familiar gray plastic lockable case and a Ruger-branded cable lock.



The Stainless Ruger Bisley is the first target-sighted Bisley offered by Ruger in any barrel length less than 7-1/2". Author thinks the 5-1/2" barrel of the newest Bisley makes a much handier packin' sixgun.



Shown here with six rounds of .45 firepower, the Ruger Stainless Bisley is one handsome, accurate and serious sixgun!



Ruger's first .45, the Old Model Blackhawk, is shown here with Ruger's newest .45, the New Model Stainless Bisley. Ruger's fine tradition of .45 sixguns continues!