RUGER'S BIG BORE BISLEYS
The Ruger Bisleys have been on the market now for around three years and have proven themselves to be well built, strong, good shooting sixguns. In fact these revolvers seem to be put together with more care than normal. I purchased two Bisleys when they first came out, one in .45 Colt and the other in .41 Magnum. One was purchased locally and the other through a distributor. The barrel/cylinder gaps on them are .002" and .003" respectively. I have since received two test Bisleys from Ruger, a .44 Magnum and a .357 Magnum, and they go .001" and .002".This is exceptional for revolvers in the Bisley price range.
The Bisley has become the choice of two custom gunsmiths, John Linebaugh and Hamilton Bowen , for fitting with five shot .500 cylinders and barrels. The Bisley is chosen for its inherent strength, and comfortable grip frame.
Like so many others, I erroneously reported that the Ruger Bisley grip frame was a copy of the old #5 SA grip made up for Elmer Keith by gunsmith Harold Croft in 1929. I have since handled the original #5 SA and found the grip to be quite a bit smaller than the Ruger Bisley grip. Keith had small hands and the original grip was made accordingly. The Ruger Bisley was inspired by the #5 but it is not a copy of it.
I like these four big bore Bisleys. So much so that I cannot pick one to have John Linebaugh make into a .475 or .500! I will have to purchase a new one and ship it off immediately or probably wind up in the same fix with another one. Thus far Bisleys are available only in 7 1/2" barrels and marks the first time that Ruger has offered both the .41 and .357 Magnums in this barrel length. I would like to see them offered in the packin' pistol lengths of 4 5/8" and 5 1/2", and 10 1/2" for the silhouetters and long range shooters.
The .357 Ruger Bisley is about as comfortable a shooting .357 Magnum as one is likely to encounter. Many sixgunners are bothered by recoil even in .357's and this sixgun will be of tremendous help for them. I see no point in anyone trying to shoot any sixgun that is more powerful than they can handle and if the bottom line is a .357, this one can be loaded heavily and still not bother anyone with excessive recoil. For over thirty years my favorite cast bullet for the .357 Magnum has been the Lyman #358156 gas check designed by Ray Thompson. This is an excellent performer in the .357 Bisley over 15.5 grains of #2400 for 1587 fps. That nearly non-existent barrel/cylinder gap really helps.
Another load that I like in the Ruger .357 Bisley is Lyman's #358627 210 grain Keith GC over 13.5 grains of #2400. This is normally a T/C Contender load and is hot even in the super strong Bisley. Extraction is sticky with velocities at 1519 fps. This is really pushing a .357 revolver, but would be my choice for a cast bullet hunting load.
The .41 Magnum Bisley has become a real favorite as it is only in recent years that I have been shooting the .41. I especially like the way this sixgun shoots at long range using Lyman's #410459 220 grain cast bullet over 19.5 grains of #2400. Velocity is around 1500 fps.
Switching to a heavyweight bullet in the .41, there is really only one choice and it is a good one, SSK's #275.411, which weighs out at 295 grains and coupled with 18.5-19.5 grains of H110 or WW296 does 1300+ fps.
Either of these bullet-load combinations make excellent selections for hunting. While the .41 has never been as popular as its bigger brother, it is a fine cartridge in its own right and I do believe the problems that some have had with mediocre accuracy can be solved by using cast bullets sized to .411".
The Ruger .4l Magnum Bisley is probably the most pleasant of all .41 Magnums to shoot except the mammoth Dan Wesson .41.
Ruger has been making .44's for a long time and they have made a lot of really good .44 sixguns. My favorite has always been the classic .44 Flat-top. The Bisley comes real close to edging out the Flat-top as my choice of the best .44 Magnum. All it would take would be for Ruger to remove the warning stamping on the barrel and finishing everything off with a really top quality blue job.
It is no problem achieving a full 1500 fps with 250 grain cast bullets in the Big Ruger and brass taps out easily . Either the H&G 250 grain Keith or Lyman-Thompson #431244GC are excellent performers in the .44; 21.0 grains of #2400 being a little milder than the normal "standard" load of 22.0 grains but still gives 1400+ fps.
There are a number of excellent heavyweight bullets available that perform well in the Ruger Bisley .44:
|SSK #310.429||22.5 gr. WW296||1444 fps|
|NEI #295.429||24.0 gr. WW680||1322 fps|
|Wilson 300BB||26.0 gr. WW680||1373 fps|
|Wilson 295GC||2l.5 gr. WW296||1451 fps|
For a really pleasant shooting heavyweight, try any of the above bullets at 9.0-10.0 grains of Unique. velocities will be 900-1100 fps depending upon the bullet chosen.
Ruger gave new life to the .45 Colt when it first chambered for the oldest of the big bores nearly twenty years ago. For the first time it was possible to safely load the .45 Colt to 1200 fps or more. When used with common sense, the Ruger Bisley makes a fine heavy duty .45 Colt. I like 21.0 grains of #2400 with a 260 grain cast bullet for around 1300 fps, but my favorite bullet/load combination in the Bisley .45 is NEI's #310.451 over 23.0 grains of WW296 for a little bit more than 1200 fps. Definitely not a .44 Magnum heavyweight load but a respectable load that does not give excessive recoil, and certainly more than adequate for any deer or black bear.
Sierra, Hornady, and Speer all make jacketed hollow points for the .45 Colt at 240, 250, and 260 grain weights respectively. While wasted in the Colt Single Action, they are perfect for the Bisley .45 Colt and will give around 1250 fps when coupled with 25.0 grains of H110 or WW296.
Bill Ruger has been responsible for a number of excellent sixguns; the Bisley is one of the best.