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Uberti Bisley vs Ruger?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by mlankton, Nov 24, 2020.

  1. mlankton

    mlankton Member

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    I have a Ruger Blackhawk Bisley in 41 magnum, and it's my single favorite handgun. I find the fit and finish excellent, and it's a substantial sidearm that makes me feel like it'd take anything I loaded for it.

    I like this sidearm so much it makes me want another Bisley. I'm going to keep my eye open for a Super Blackhawk Bisley Hunter in 44, but I wouldn't mind a 357 as well. Currently Ruger only makes a Bisley 357 in Vaquero, and it's a high polish stainless that doesn't appeal to me.

    The below Cimarron does appeal to me though, and they're reasonably priced. Just wanted to pick your brains about the quality of the Uberti six shooters. Would I find the quality on par with what Ruger gives, or would I be disappointed and wished I'd held out for the right Ruger to appear? Thanks for any feedback
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  2. skfullen

    skfullen Member

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    I own both Ruger and Uberti revolvers.
    I prefer to shoot my Uberti's because they are Colt SAA clones (which I also own and shoot).
    Uberti makes a quality revolver based on a 100+ year design. It is made to be carried with an empty chamber under the pin.
    Ruger is stouter, stronger, heavier, modern, and can safely be carried with a full cylinder.
    If you are carrying in the field or where you may need it for protection, I would choose the Ruger (although I have and still carry Colts and clones in such situations on occasion). If you like the SAA platform, go with the Uberti.
    I hope this helps but imagine I've only reiterated what you already knew.
    FWIW, that Cimarron is a great looking revolver!
     
  3. CraigC
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    CraigC Sixgun Nut

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    Uberti makes an excellent sixgun. It's a traditional and somewhat less robust design but fit & finish is better than Ruger. Though I must say I have multiples of each, the Ruger and Colt pattern Bisleys feel completely different. Mostly because the Colt pattern comes up much higher behind the triggerguard.

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  4. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Howdy

    What you have pictured is a replica of the original Colt Bisley design. The grip shape is significantly different than the Ruger version of the Bisley grip.

    This is an original Colt Bisley. It left the factory in 1908. The Uberti replicas are very faithful copies of this design. Notice how far forward the grip sweeps at the bottom.

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    This is the Ruger version of the Bisley grip. Notice it is much more straight up and down than the original Colt Bisley grip.

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    The Bisely Colt was named after the Bisley Range in England, where international shooting competitions took place at the end of the 19th Century and beginning of the 20th Century. For years, S&W Top Break revolvers had been winning most of the trophies. Usually the New Model Number Three, such as this one.

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    In 1894 Colt introduced the Bisely version of their Single Action Army as a target pistol to compete with the S&W designs. This photo shows how different the standard Single Action Army design at the top of the photo was from the Bisley model at the bottom.

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    My experience shooting a traditional Bisely style revolver is that because of the forward sweep of the bottom of the grip, it tends to point slightly down, rather than straight forward. I have always assumed this was because many 19th Century target pistol shooters fired their revolvers with a slightly bent elbow. With a slightly bent elbow, the Bisley points straight forward, rather than slightly down. Most target shooters today shoot with a straight elbow (bullseye style), so the original Bisely grip may tend to point slightly down for them.

    Regarding the quality of Uberti revolvers, in my slightly biased opinion the quality is better than a Ruger. Rugers are mass produced and designed so that an absolute minimum of fitting is required to assemble them. They truly go together with almost no fitting. Take a really close look at your Ruger and you will see there is a slight mismatch of the grip frame to the frame. They are all like that. It is not a big deal, the gun will function fine, but Uberti and Colt grip frames are ground to final shape together so there is no mismatch to the fit of the parts of the grip frame to the frame. Ubertis are pretty much made the old fashioned way, with forged and machined parts, and may need a bit of fitting at final assembly to get everything to work properly.

    Of course, as everyone will tell you, Rugers are built like tanks. Although Ruger's advertising will not state this, most Rugers, with the exception of the New Vaquero, can take 'Ruger Only' loads. An Uberti replica cannot. Then of course, all Rugers have a transfer bar inside, so they are completely safe to carry fully loaded with six rounds in the cylinder. Until recently, Uberti revolvers were not safe to carry fully loaded, they had to be carried with five rounds in the cylinder and the hammer down on an empty chamber, no different than a Colt. This was to prevent an accidental discharge in case the revolver were to fall and land on its hammer.

    More recently, Uberti had incorporated a retractable firing pin in the hammer, that only extends fully when the trigger is pulled. These modern Ubertis are safe to carry fully loaded, but some shooters object to the diversion from the traditional Colt design.

    No idea if the Cimarron you are looking at has the older style firing pin or the new retractable one.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2020
  5. James K2020

    James K2020 Member

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    I have the Ruger Bisley in 357 and it is a tank. Really nicely balanced. Have many Cimarrons and surely their Bisley is a good gun. I tend to like the looks of the Ruger a bit more. The handle is more appealing to me. Made a second set of grips but really like the faux ivory too. They just get a little slick sometimes.

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  6. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    Driftwood beat me to it, the grip on the Colt and traditional-styled Bisley clones feels much different than the grip on the Ruger version.

    I find the Colt grip too curvy, almost needing a classic “olde tyme bent-elbow” stance to work right.

    If you’ll have to order one you may want to try the feel out before putting down a deposit or buying. I can’t hang with the Colt Bisley but I adore the feel of Ruger’s version... and your .41 is a perfect example why :thumbup:.

    Stay safe.
     
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  7. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    I have both Rugers and Uberti revolvers.(no bisleys).
    20190420_175611.jpg the Uberti will last a lifetime, the Ruger will last two.
    I shoot my Uberti El Patron more often than I do the rugers.
     
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  8. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    Have tried them both and I prefer the shape of the Ruger Bisley grip compared to the original Colt version. The Ruger fills my hand better while the Colt feels too slender and a bit too flared at the bottom of the grip. Quality wise I have found the Uberti Single Actions to be nicely built and finished while the Rugers are somewhat more about being on the order of industrial strength and not quite as nicely finished (though I will say my Flattop Blackhawk was definitely put together right)!
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  9. shootstraight57

    shootstraight57 Member

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    Hammer style is great for the thumb and the grip is very comfortable on my Ruger Bisley!
     
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  10. gotboostvr

    gotboostvr Member

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    I've only handled the Ruger version, but I can say I throughly enjoy it.

    Here's my switch 45 Bisley:
    [​IMG]
     
  11. 35 Whelen
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    35 Whelen Contributing Member

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    @CraigC and @Driftwood Johnson both nailed it. The Ruger Bisley grip is not a Bisley grip in the truest sense, but more of a hybrid, similar to the custom grip on Elmer Keith's No. 5 revolver. I also agree with them in that the fit and finish of the Uberti's is much better, not saying the Ruger's aren't decent, just not as refined. As far as strength is concerned, the Uberti's and their cylinder/chamber walls are essentially the same as the Ruger New Vaquero, and as such chambered in .357, one's no stronger than the other. I once owned an older, full-size Blackhawk in .357 and to me, since it was built on the large frame, was a heavy, clunky revolver. The true Bisley grip is definitely different and took some getting used to for me.

    Regarding the safety of the Uberti, as DW mentioned the new Uberti's have the retracting firing pin which makes them safe to carry six loaded, but even the earlier Uberti's have the pivoting hammer block that is actuated when the hammer is pulled back to the safety notch.

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    I think 90% of the owners of the revolvers with these safeties don't realize the safety is there, and about 9.5% of them don't understand how it works or how effective it is.

    I owned a 5 1/2" Uberti Bisley in 45 Colt for a couple of years and like most Uberti's it was an exceptionally accurate revolver. With it I made three of my best shots; a buck and a javelina, both at just shy of 50 yds., and a chronograph at about 10'!

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    Good luck with your decision!

    35W
     
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  12. ontarget

    ontarget Member

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    I hope you got that trophy mounted. I hear those are pretty rare and the tag is not easy to get. LOL.
     
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  13. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Afraid I will have to disagree a little bit with 35 Whelen about the hammer safety in an Uberti single action revolver. The hammer block device he mentions on an Uberti single action revolver equipped with it is very obvious. There is a piece installed under the firing pin that activates it. Easily visible when the hammer is cocked. I had an Uberti that had this device a long time ago, sold it probably close to 20 years ago.

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    Currently I only have one Uberti single action revolver, a Cattleman I bought used also probably around 20 years ago. Notice the lack or the part under the firing pin.

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    In order to get their revolvers imported into the US Uberti had to do something to get around the fact that they would probably discharge if they were dropped on the hammer with a live round under the hammer. The earlier hammer block was delicate and easily damaged. Plus, it added to the complexity of the revolver and probably added increased cost to manufacture. So all the Uberti Single action revolvers imported into the US, at least all the ones I have seen in CAS for around 20 years, had a cylinder pin with two notches in it. Much less expensive to produce than the hammer block. The idea was if the spring loaded latch that secures the cylinder pin in place was latched in the front notch, the rear of the pin would protrude backwards out of the frame and prevent the hammer from falling all the way forward. In order to fire the cylinder pin had to be pulled forward so the rear notch engaged the latch. This pulled the pin forward enough so the hammer could fall all the way. It served to get the revolvers imported into the US, but it was totally impractical as a modern safety device. Who is going to take the time to pull the cylinder pin forward if they need to fire the revolver in a hurry. It could not be done with one hand like most safeties, it required two hands. In addition to that, I can't tell you how many times I have been at a CAS match and a cowboy started clicking away with one of his pistols because he had forgotten to pull the pin forward.

    Most of us either ground off the rear of the pin, so it would not interfere with the hammer, or replaced the pin with an after market one that did not have two notches. I got rid of the silly two notch cylinder pin in this Cattleman a long time ago and replaced it with an after market pin that only has one notch. No worries about the latch being in the wrong notch.

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    Last edited: Nov 25, 2020
  14. StrawHat

    StrawHat Member

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    When Ruger decided to introduce a Bisley, EK’s Number 5 was a big factor in the design of the grip. Keith had his gunsmith use the backstrap from a Bisley Colt and marry it to the fore strap of a standard Model P resulting in what Keith would proclaim to be, the Ultimate revolver. Keith commented favorably on the Ruger design when he handled them.

    Kevin
     
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  15. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    It was a little bit more complicated than that. Gunsmith Harold Croft had heard of Keith's long range handgun shooting skills, and he traveled to Keith's home in Oregon with several revolvers. Croft and Keith then collaborated on making a custom Colt. No. 5 was the fifth in the series. It featured a Bisley style hammer with a widened and extended spur, a longer and wider trigger, and an altered Bisley backstrap.

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  16. StrawHat

    StrawHat Member

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    As I said, Keith worked with his gunsmith to create No. 5. I will have to dig up my copy of “Sixguns” by Keith but I do not believe the backstrap was altered. It might have been, everything else on that revolver was!


    Kevin
     
  17. 35 Whelen
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    35 Whelen Contributing Member

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    I'm not sure Keith would've actually handled a Ruger Bisley since he died early in '84, the same year Ruger introduced their version of the Bisley grip. He had a monthly column in Shooting Times and the last months of his life, the magazine ran "reruns" of his columns, presumably due to his failing health and being confined to a nursing home.

    Regardless, his influence on the Ruger Bisley grip is very evident.

    35W
     
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  18. CraigC
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    CraigC Sixgun Nut

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    I don't own one but have handled TLA #5's and I think they are as distinct from the two versions of the Bisley and the Bisley's are from each other. The #5 feels more like an SAA with a higher backstrap, which is what it is.
     
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  19. 35 Whelen
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    35 Whelen Contributing Member

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    I'm not sure what constitutes "early" where the hammer block is concerned, but I have a Uberti Frisco in front of me that is a 2015 production and has the hammer block. I had a Uberti in 32-20 I bought from Dixie Gun Works that I recently sold, that had the hammer block and if memory serves, it was a 2017 production.

    As far as the fragility of the hammer block system, it appears rather robust to me. If you study the design, there are multiple points of contact that in order for the safety to be compromised, would have fail simultaneously; the block itself, the trigger sear and the trigger screw-

    4FpFIkBl.jpg

    This is a shot of my Frisco. I keep this revolver in my study and it stays loaded with the hammer in the safety position. As you can see in this photo, there is a mark just above the base pin hole made by the hammer block resting on the frame. Looks like a pretty good example of engineering to me as with the block resting on the frame, there is no pressure on the trigger sear, which is probably the weakest link in the system.

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    I can't see anything particularly delicate about this and really can't imagine how it could be defeated or broken.

    35W
     

    Attached Files:

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  20. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    As I said, I have not seen any Uberti revolvers with that style of hammer block in them for quite a while. I had one around 20 years ago, but sold it long ago because it had some quality issues. Not related to the hammer block, separate issues. My opinion of why the mechanism is delicate relates to how thin the metal is down where the hammer block protrudes from the hammer. Sorry, I have not handled one in around close to 20 years, so I am working from memory.

    Just about all the Uberit SAA replicas I have seen in the last twenty years or so at CAS matches lacked that style of hammer block and entered the country with the two position cylinder pin.

    Of course I could be wrong, but that is my experience.
     
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  21. StrawHat

    StrawHat Member

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    I stand corrected. The stroke that eventually felled Keith did not give him much chance to handle any firearms after it hit.

    Kevin
     
  22. Durango Joe

    Durango Joe Member

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    My Uberties are great quality. Not up to USFA quality or newer Colt quality, but very well made.

    I am biased against Rugers. They are generally very heavy for mission. They are so overdesigned for the mission at hand, they carry a lot of extra weight. That is good for recoil but I find the balance and handling of a Uberti to be far better.

    I don't think you can go wrong with either. It is just personal preference.
     
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  23. CraigC
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    CraigC Sixgun Nut

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    They are sometimes heavier than their Colt-type counterpart. Sometimes by design, sometimes as a manufacturing convenience but it's often not for nothing. Ruger's .44Mag's hold up far better than their competition. Building their .45Colt's on the .44Mag frame allows them to operate at double the pressure. Then there are also medium frame alternatives for cartridges like the .44Spl.
     
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  24. wgf

    wgf Member

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    I have had a few guns of each brand. At this time I own an older 4 5/8” 45Colt Cattleman with the old hammer block safety, a 5.5” Bisley .357 New Vaquero and a 5.5” 44Mag Super Blackhawk. I think the the quality is about equal between Uberti and Ruger. I think the Uberti is a little finer finished, the Ruger is more workman like or robust. The Ruger Bisley fits my hand better than the others including New Vaquero and Blackhawk frames. The Bisley New Vaquero has all the features that look best to me. I also think it’s hammer sweep is the most functional.
    Decide which features and look you want, then try out the guns at a store to see if it fits. You won’t go wrong with either brand.
     
  25. Bartojc

    Bartojc Member

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    Before I bought the Blackhawk Bisley in my avatar I fondled a few Uberti's at the LGS. They seem to be well put together and finish seems slightly better than the Ruger. I'm sure they'd make a fine firearm.

    I could never decide between a Vaquero or Uberti SAA clone and the Blackhawk. In the end I settled on the Blackhawk with the thought of hunting with it someday. Well, someday hasn't come yet and I still want something more of a SAA clone. Truth is I'd buy a Uberti in a minute if the price was right.


    -Jeff
     
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