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Tell me about the Ruger Bisley

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by roscoe, Jun 10, 2006.

  1. roscoe

    roscoe Well-Known Member

    I am looking at a Ruger Bisley in .45 Colt (for my father's day present). It has a black round-butted grip that feels a little bit awkward in my hand. I understand that the grip is supposed to help with recoil - are there an downsides?

    Do you have as good a purchase with the Bisly grip? Is the grip actually smaller than the plowhandle style? It seems to crowd my little finger a bit. Why is this primarily seen as a target grip?

    Can you change the grip by replacing the factory grips, or does the frame limit you to the Bisley style?


    Added: this is what it looks like, but case colored:
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2006
  2. timothy75

    timothy75 Well-Known Member

    The grip in the picture is a birdshead grip not a bisley. The birdshead is good for shooters with smaller hands and those that like the look of it. The bisley is a larger grip and does indeed help with recoil managment.
  3. Surefire

    Surefire Well-Known Member

    The birdshead grip in the picture actually seems to MAGNIFY recoil, IMO. Its also not comfortable--I consider the Birdshead grip only useful for show.

    The Bisley grip is a large grip, that allows all fingers to have support (no dangling pinky like on the birdshead or plow grips). The Bisley grip is the most vertical of the Ruger grips. IMO, the Bisley grip is the best grip that Ruger makes for pure ergonomics, comfort, and recoil control.

    Seriously take a look at the Bisley grip.
  4. Smith & Wesson Man

    Smith & Wesson Man Well-Known Member

    I second that! If you couldn't tell by my screen name I am a big smith guy, but those ruger bisleys I can't seem to get enough of them. Within a four month period I have picked up five of them. Two are accusport bisleys, one ruger hunter bisley, one 22lr single six, and one in 357. I don't think you will like that birdshead. That will have one hell of a jump in your hand. At a local Gander Mountain they have four of them in clearance. I love those bisley grips. They take the recoil very well and they just feel really good in my hands. I wish smith would make some single action wheelguns:) I hope this helps and just my two cents.
  5. roscoe

    roscoe Well-Known Member

    OK, got it - I have big hands, so the birdshead is definitely out for me. It is interesting - the guy at the store, and online, those grips were listed as Bisley. It definitely felt small to my hands.

    Thanks for the info!

    Still in the hunt for an old style .45 Colt Vaquero/Bisley with the 5" barrel.
  6. iluvG.R.I.T.S

    iluvG.R.I.T.S Well-Known Member

    Heres a pic of the 2 different grip frames. The grip frame isn't the only differance though. The hammer and trigger of the bisley make it more of a target gun. The bisley in the pic is a 22 and the birds head is a .32
  7. JoeHatley

    JoeHatley Well-Known Member

    Fun guns!! My wife bought me this 5 1/2" several years ago,


    Pretty good shooter too...

  8. critter

    critter Well-Known Member

    I have both a Ruger Bisley in .45 Colt and a Ruger Bisley Hunter (SS) in .44 magnum. They are both really fine shooters and the Bisley does, indeed, aid in handling recoil for heavy calibers and heavy loads. You will be pleased whatever use you decide to make of one of these.
  9. wheelgunslinger

    wheelgunslinger Well-Known Member

    I have big hands handed down to me all the way from Scotland by way of my tobacco farming recent ancestors, and the Bisley is one of the most "comfy" single actions I've shot. I can wrap my hand around the grip without feeling like my nails are digging into my palm- like on most handguns.
    In fact, my favorite handgun of all time is my long gone Bisley in 45 colt. I learned to reload, discovered the big bore sixgun writers Ross Seyfried and John Taffin, and actually learned to really shoot, all with that one wheelgun. And, while I have had a plethora of others since I traded that one away, I still miss it.
    In fact, when I traded it away, I traded my simplicity for a lot of fancy shmancy autos, black rifles, and tactical this and that. :fire:
    I think I'll go get me another one.

    Oh, I was trying to answer your questions. Sorry.

    On the grip question, you can try the factory grips and if they don't work for you have some made for your hand or buy some ready made aftermarket grips. Picking the wood or other material, style, and maker are all part of the fun of owning and shooting a single action well. Plus, you can get involved in, or spectate around, groups like SASS and see how to make a SA dance. And, it'll make you a better shooter.
  10. Surefire

    Surefire Well-Known Member

    My only complaint with the Bisley is lack of choices. Ruger only offers centerfire Bisleys with 7.5" barrels, and only one stainless option (Hunter). Yes, I know about the Accusports but they don't make enough of them to go around. I think if Ruger offers shorter barreled Bisleys in their regular lineup that they will sell well.
  11. JNewell

    JNewell Well-Known Member

    YMMV, but I also find that the birdshead grip is tough with heavy loads. The Bisley is the best (again, YMMV, but lots of shooters agree on that). It's not a huge project to change grip frames on a Ruger. The Super Blackhawk (.44 Magnum) pictured below has had the following mods:

    Bisley grip frame, hammer and trigger
    Belt Mountain base pin w/ Wolff extra power latch spring
    Qualite crescent ejector and cam-cut ejector housing
    Taller front sight
    Self-made cocobolo grips
    ROA hammer spring on round strut

  12. Jim March

    Jim March Well-Known Member

    If a Ruger is a "Bisley" it has a different grip frame, low-slung hammer and deeply curved trigger. Ruger has shipped those parts on both fixed sight ("Bisley Vaqueros" or "BisVaqs") and adjustable sight (regular "Bisley" and the "Bisley Hunter" with the heavy barrel and integrated ring mounts).

    Those three Bisley parts will fit ALL New Model Ruger SAs that originally shipped with a transfer bar safety. I mean *all* - Single Six series, the larger frame and the new mid-sized frame, which so far has not had a factory Bisley edition.

    The Bisley parts are available as a package deal from Brownell's for about $200. You can also mix'n'match, running a different hammer with a Bisley trigger and grip frame fr'instance.

    To fit the Bisley bits on a mid-size (New Vaquero or 50th Anniversary Blackhawk in .357) you'll also need a mainspring and mainspring strut from a standard Blackhawk or Vaquero ("old Vaquero").

    Upshot: you can make "Bisleys" of a type Ruger never shipped, or take any Ruger SA you own now and shoots well and "Bisley-ize" it with parts that seldom need gunsmith tuning to work right.
  13. Surefire

    Surefire Well-Known Member

    I thought about the Bronnel's conversion, but then again it says that gunsmith fitting is recommended and its also another $175 out the door (before gunsmithing fees). From my perspective, it would be a lot easier on the average shooter if Ruger just gave more factory options on the Bisley.
  14. BlkHawk73

    BlkHawk73 Well-Known Member

    They have made plenty of options for me so far. (.41, .44, .45, .45convertable)


    As for them not making enough...it's Acusport, not Ruger requesting the production numberson these stainless models. With the fairly limited advertsing doen for them, They are highly sought after and sell quickly. Surprised ruger hasn't offered them. Perhaps some binding agreement to NOT sell tham as cataloged items was contracted in the Acusport deals - my guess.
  15. roscoe

    roscoe Well-Known Member

    Wow, those are some good looking revolvers. I love unfluted cylinders.

    So let me get this straight - you can not make a Bisley out of, say, a Blackhawk. The Bisley frame is unique, then, and you can not simply change the grip panels on a Blackhawk or older Vaquero, although some other internal parts may be interchangeable.

    My preference is definitely for fixed-sights, but that seems even more difficult to find, as long as I want the revolver to be able to shoot heavy .45 Colt loads.

    If I could just change out the grips on the Birdshead I saw in the shop, for a Bisley grip, that would really simplify things.
  16. Jim March

    Jim March Well-Known Member

    Roscoe, let's get terms straight.

    "Bisley grips" means the grip panels. Bisley grip panels fit Bisley grip frames.

    The Bisley grip frame fits ALL Ruger SA guns made after 1973. In other words the mating between the grip frame and primary frame (that holds the cylinder) is basically universal across Ruger's entire single action post-1973 product line. On any single action patterned closely or even loosely to the Colt SAA the grip frame is a separate piece of metal that connects to the primary frame. On Joe Hatley's gun the primary frame is case-colored (mottled) and the grip frame isn't. The grip frame also contains the triggerguard. Look at JNewell's gun closely and you'll see the lines where the two meet. (Errr...just remembered, the Ruger "Bearcat" is different, it's a sorta-clone of the old Remington SA and uses the same piece of metal for grip frame and primary frame.)

    To really finish out a Bisley conversion you need a Bisley hammer, Bisley trigger, Bisley grip frame, Bisley grips.

    If you're starting from a Bird's Head or any of the most recent Rugers that have a keylock system within the grip frame, you will also need an "old Vaquero length" mainspring and mainspring strut, and the "keeper" if you're starting with a gun that had the keylock.

    Gunsmithing probably isn't going to be necessary. Mechanically the parts will probably all drop in. The grip frame may need minor shaving to make the edge where it meets the primary frame dead smooth...a dremel tool can be used to good effect if you're careful. Stainless steel will be easier to deal with as you can just polish it yourself versus having it re-blued after fitting.

    Now, since the Bird's Head grip frame from Ruger isn't available anymore, you might well be able to sell it once you've done the Bisley convert. I would like to have one eventually for my New Vaquero in 357. Get about $125 for it and the cost of a Bisley conversion drops significantly.

    The Bird's Head grip frame fits some people's hands quite well and is a good choice for moderate power level ammo if it does fit you - mild 357Mag loads, moderate 45LCs, etc. Most people report that it's a poor choice for serious "stomper" ammo but some actually like the birdie for hot loads.


    My personal test for a grip's "feel" is in part all about how the grip positions my forearm bones in line with the barrel when I'm in a one-handed shooting position or a Weaver hold. It all "feels right" to me when my forearm bones line up perfectly in line with the barrel, behind the barrel when seen from above. Bones and barrel end up forming a single line. This puts me in the best position for recoil management. This alignment is a function of grip size, grip shape and trigger reach.

    Part of what I like about the Weaver hold is that this alignment is the same regardless of one-handed or two-handed shooting. In the Iscoceles holds I find that the gun's alignment with my body is radically different from how I would hold the gun one-handed. Thus Weaver holds allow me to transition smoothly from one-hand to two or back to one.
  17. Stainz

    Stainz Well-Known Member

    Carrying the standard for the Bird's Head Grip here!

    First, my hands aren't small. I 'discovered' the Vaquero BHG .45 Colt when the 4.6" SS units hit the closeout market three years ago. I had a 5.5" Bisley SS .45 Colt for years before that - an Accusport distributor's special. I recently traded said Bisley - but my BHG collection grew. I added a .357M version of the original BHG to my collection, but found that it's use just wasn't 'fun'... I wanted a .44 Special. I bought a SS 4.6" Super Blackhawk - and fitted a QPR BHG to it. The Vaquero BHG's got a Bisley hammer, while they all received free-spin pawls. Earlier this year, I added a .32 SSM, also 4.6", BHG to my collection. They all sport black Micarta BHG's - and 4.6" barrels - and SS. Only the SBH has an adjustable sight, sad to say.

    Why do I like the grip? It fits my hand nicely in a one-handed grab. The lowered hammer - a la the Bisley or SBH - really helps with sighting, too. My advice is simple - get the one that you like! Recoil? The BHG rolls in your hand. Sure, the warmer .44 Magnum rounds thump pretty well, but I don't shoot that many - I wanted a .44 Special. The .45 Colt is super with all of my usual range of .45 Colt loads - including a 255gr LSWC over 6.1gr of Titegroup for a fun 850 fps. The 200gr GDJHP Georgia Arms .45 Colt loads hit a comfortable 1160 fps from it, too. Sadly, the wimpy 200gr LRNFP over 5.0 gr Titegroup, a whopping 740 fps, hits coincident POI/POA at 15yd... always a good thing to find with a fixed sight. It is an 'anyone' round, of course.

    Don't let others pressure you... decide on the intended caliber and ammo power level you will generally employ and THEN you decide what 'feel' you like. Sure, the Ruger Bisley allows rapid follow-ups with hot rounds... do you 'need' that? Actually, the Ruger interpretation of both the Bisley and the BHG differs markedly from the original Colt SAA versions, still available in clone version. I really like the BHG - but I am basically a plinker - and, I have S&W 629's for real .44 Magnums - and a 5.5" SS Redhawk for nuclear-level .45 Colts. The BHG's get a lot nore use!

  18. Jim March

    Jim March Well-Known Member

    To clarify part of Stain's post: in 45LC, "mild" means "cowboy loads", lead ammo seldom passing 800fps. "Medium" means the various self defense loads in 45LC, such as the 200gr Speer Gold Dots doing up to 1,100fps. Low to medium-grade 357 will feel similar in terms of recoil.

    "Hot" means wild "Ruger ONLY" 45LC+P stuff that meets or even exceeds 44Mag power levels. Buffalo Bore sells a 325gr monster doing 1,300fps, a true "elk or bear" load. Or moose in a pinch :).

    Per most people's experiences, that latter will be rather nasty with a birdie ("BHG"). But most people don't go there or anywhere close.
  19. Stainz

    Stainz Well-Known Member

    Buffaloe Bore also loads a lower velocity hunting round in .45 Colt - a 300-325gr LWNFP at 900+ fps, designed for the S&W 25/625's - and up to 1,000 pound beasties, which covers pretty much anything you might run into in NA. Of course, I'd run the other way here in AL, if I were to run into a half ton white tail!

    I have shot hundreds of my 900 fps 300gr LSWC homebrew in .44 Magnum from that BHG SBH. Admittedly, it is at the very edge of comfortable with that BHG, as it really rolls - leaves the muzzle pointed skyward. Still, for almost any .45 Colt load I'd want to plink with, that BHG is fine. My wife prefers the Redhawk with it's big traditional original wood grips. People are different. My all-time-favorite to shoot .45 Colt is still my first S&W - a 625 Mountain Gun. I actually jumped at the chance to swap my old 5.5" Bisley for another 625MG (Everyone needs two...). As I said, everyone is different - best thing to do is to 'try' different grips.

  20. wheelgunslinger

    wheelgunslinger Well-Known Member

    Very good posts, gentlemen.

    I might add that if one was inclined to carry a Vaquero concealed, the Bird's Head grip makes that a little easier, as does a shorter barrel.
    If carrying one is not an issue, then go wrap your hands around as many different ones as you can and shoot them. Heck, that's half the fun.

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