Ruger Single-Action Five-Shot Bisley 454 Casull & 480 Ruger Revolvers

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

August 9th, 2015


Click pictures for a larger version.





Chambers are recessed to enclose the cartridge case heads.





Locking base pin assures that the pin stays in place under heavy recoil.





Ruger transfer bar safety allows the cylinder to be fully loaded.





Heavy non-tapered barrel.





Long ejector rod for positive ejection of fired cases.



Firing pin hits are well-centered.





I have been waiting for this gun for a long time. Many of us have. Custom gunsmiths have paid their mortgages for many years by fitting Ruger single action revolvers with five-shot cylinders that are chambered for big-bore cartridges. Ever since Ruger introduced their Super Redhawk 480 many years ago, I have hoped they would chamber their excellent Bisley single-action for that new cartridge. Now, at last, it is here. Ruger did not just fit a five-shot cylinder with a bigger hole, they also beefed up the Bisley a bit to handle the extra recoil generated by the 480 Ruger cartridge, as well as the 454 Casull version of this new revolver. The 454 Casull and 480 Ruger can generate a lot of recoil, and Ruger tweaked a couple of things to assure that the big gun would handle a steady diet of these cartridges.

The five-shot cylinder allows for more steel between chambers, and also places the bolt notches farther from the cylinder walls, compared to a six-shot cylinder. The Ruger Bisley grip is one of the best designs ever to handle heavy recoil without inflicting pain upon the shooter's hand. Ruger uses a relatively heavy, untapered barrel on these five-shot revolvers, and the cylinder base pin is secured with a screw, to assure that it does not jump loose under recoil. Finally, the cartridge case rims are recessed into the chambers, to prevent the loading gate from jumping its position under recoil, which can happen on big-bore single action if a cartridge case is not present to hold it in place. The rear sight is adjustable for both windage and elevation correction, and the front blade is pinned into place, to make installing one of a different height an easy job, if necessary.

The two revolvers shown here are pre-production specimens. About six months ago, Ruger shipped to me the 454 Casull revolver, along with a quantity of ammo, and instructions to "break it if you can". The 480 Ruger revolver followed about two months later, with the same instructions. The 480 stayed secured in my Ransom Rest for about six weeks, and every time I stepped out to the range, I would send a few rounds through it. The Ransom holds a handgun securely, but it does not rotate upon firing as does a shooter's hand. This can be tough on a handgun, but the Ruger held together perfectly. Surprisingly, not even a screw loosened on the revolver.

The Ruger Bisley is built primarily of stainless steel, but the sights are, thankfully, blued steel. The wood grips contrast very well with the satin stainless, and they are fitted pretty well, with just a couple of gaps on one of the revolvers near the top of the grip. The trigger is curved and smooth, and the serrated hammer is low, making the revolver very easy to control. The cylinder can be rotated by just opening the loading gate, and the ejector rod is plenty long enough to fully eject the fired cases. The primer indentations from the firing pin are well centered. The fit of the steel grip frame to the cylinder frame is perfect.

These two new Rugers are Lipsey's exclusives. Jason Cloessner of Lipsey's was with me and a few other single-action fans about three years ago at the Ruger factory in New Hampshire where we discussed the need for a big-bore five-shot Bisley. There were about eight or so of us present, plus Ruger executives and engineers, and among other projects discussed, this one ranked near the top. It was at the very top of my personal list. The people at Ruger really listen to what folks want. There is a link to "Tell the CEO" on Ruger's website, and they listen to their customers, even more than they do to writers. This revolver has been requested by many people over the past few years, and it has finally come to fruition.

Specifications are listed in the chart below. Weight is listed in ounces. Trigger pull is listed as pounds of resistance. Linear measurements are listed in inches. The cylinder length does not include the ratchet nor the integral bushing. Height includes the sights, with the rear set at its medium adjustment.


454 Casull / 45 Colt

480 Ruger

Chambering 454 Casull / 45 Colt 480 Ruger
Overall Length 11.9 inches 11.9 inches
Overall Height 5.69 inches 5.69 inches
Weight Unloaded 50.2 ounces 49 ounces
Barrel Length 6.44 inches 6.44 inches
Cylinder Length 1.78 inches 1.78 inches
Cylinder Diameter 1.725 inches 1.725 inches
Barrel / Cylinder Gap 0.005 inch 0.004 inch
Barrel Diameter 0.783 inch 0.783 inch
Trigger Pull As Delivered 3.25 pounds 3.4 pounds
MSRP as of August 2015 $969.00 US $969.00 US

Shooting the 454 and 480 Bisley revolvers was a pleasure. Some folks think that recoil would be painful, but it is not. Now, shooting these in long sessions can be tiring, as recoil is a cumulative thing, but firing off a few rounds from either revolver draws no blood. For long sessions with big-bore revolvers, I wear a PAST shooting glove, but these revolvers are a lot more pleasant to shoot than some lightweight pocket guns. The Bisley grip allows the shooter to control the weapon, but it also allows the gun to roll naturally in the hand, without hammering the space between the thumb and trigger finger, as do some double-action revolvers.

I tested the two Bisley revolvers for accuracy at twenty-five yards distance with the guns secured into my Ransom Master Series machine rest. The 454 was the more-accurate of the two revolvers, with both 45 Colt and 454 Casull ammunition shooting very well. Five-shot group sizes ranged from a tight one and one-half inch cluster to just under three inches, depending upon the ammunition used. The 480 was also accurate, but did not exhibit the match-grade potential of the 454 Casull. From the 480, group sizes again ranged up to just over three inches, but the best only measured as tight as two and one-half inches. Still very good accuracy, just not as tight as the 454. The barrel of the 480 has a tight spot where it screws into the frame, which can sometimes affect the accuracy of a revolver, but still, it is plenty accurate for its intended purpose, but of these two, the 454 was the more accurate revolver.

I tested for velocity at a distance of twelve feet from the muzzles of these Ruger revolvers, in addition to the many different loads fired for function testing over the course of a couple of months. Velocities are listed in the chart below. Velocities are listed in feet-per-second (fps). LFN is a hard-cast lead flatnose bullet. XTP is a jacketed hollowpoint bullet. JSP is a jacketed softpoint bullet. Velocity readings were taken at an elevation of 541 feet above sea level, with an air temperature of seventy-eight degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity of sixty-nine percent. Bullet weights are listed in grains.

454 Casull

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity
Hornady XTP 300 1707
Grizzly Cartridge Co. LFN 360 1187
Buffalo Bore LFN 360 1435

480 Ruger

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity
Hornady XTP 325 1289
Buffalo Bore LFN 370 1368
Grizzly Cartridge Co. JSP 400 1033
Buffalo Bore LFN 410 1229

Velocities from both revolvers were impressive, especially with the hotter loads. The Buffalo Bore 410 LFN in the 480 is a hammer! Likewise the 360 grain 454 load. For a fast-stepping, flat-shooting whitetail load, the 300 grain Hornady 454 load is hard to beat. The 454 and 480 loads from Grizzly Cartridge have less recoil, yet carry enough power to get most any job done that needs doing with a revolver. As expected, the heavier loads also deliver a lot of recoil, but the Bisley handles it very well, and does not draw blood from the shooter's hand while doing so. I know of no other revolver grip, other than the Freedom Arms, which is as comfortable to shoot with power in this class.

I get a lot of firearms and accessories coming through here to review, and I try my best to give every one of them a fair shake, keeping my personal likes and dislikes out of the discussion as much as possible. However, like everyone else, I have my preferences when it comes to pickup trucks, motorcycles, food, and even guns. Therefore, I enjoy some reviews more than I do others, and this one, I really enjoyed. It is a gun for which I have been waiting a long time, to the extent that my friends at Ruger probably got tired of me asking about it. In my simplistic way of thinking, I tell them, "You have machines. You have people. Just make them!" I am sure it is not as easy as all that, but I do get impatient at times, and am really happy that this gun is now in production.

The question might come up among some shooters asking something like, "What is it good for"? I'm glad you asked. A big-bore revolver such as this is ideal for hunting large game at close to moderate distances. Both the 454 Casull and the 480 Ruger cartridges are capable of taking any game on Earth, and they excel for use against the large bears and wild cattle. The 454 is very versatile, and can also fire 45 Colt ammunition for light practice and whitetail, but can handle heavy bullets which penetrate deeply for the bigger stuff. The 480 Ruger can throw a large chunk of lead for excellent penetration in animals with thick skin and tough bones. The cylinder is plenty long enough to handle bullets in the 500 grain class, or loading lighter weight hollowpoints for softer targets.

Rob Leahy at Simply Rugged Holsters has seen and handled advance copies of these guns, and he has holsters for every need ready to be made to order. I particularly like the trim Cattleman holster with the simple retention strap, but the Sourdough Pancake is more versatile, allowing it to be worn strong-side or crossdraw, or even across the chest with their harness system.

The Bisley Super Blackhawk comes shipped in a hard plastic case with instruction manual and a padlock. Like all Ruger firearms, this Lipsey’s Exclusive Bisley Super Blackhawk is built in the USA.

Check out the extensive line of Ruger firearms and accessories online at

Again, this special edition of the Bisley Super Blackhawk is available only through dealers who order from Lipsey’s. For the location of a dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at

To order quality 45 Colt, 454 Casull, and 480 Ruger ammunition, go to,,,, and

For quality handgun holsters, go to and

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.



Two cartridges which are long overdue to be chambered in a Ruger Single-Action.



Until now, the only way to get a five-shot big-bore Ruger single-action was in a custom conversion, like this "Nimrod" five-shot 500 Linebaugh from Bowen Classic Arms.



480 cylinder is long enough for the heavy 410-grain Buffalo Bore load.



The 454 Casull can fire both 45 Colt and 454 Casull ammunition.



Simply Rugged Cattleman and Sourdough Pancake holsters.