Expanding The Model

After the introduction of the Target Model Bisley there was enough of a demand for a standard Model Bisley for Colt to begin producing a Bisley counterpart to the standard Single Action Army. By this time gunfighters and gunfights were mostly a thing of the past and sixgunners wanted an easy handling revolver. The Bisley Model is nowhere near as fast from leather as the Single Action Army, however it’s much easier to shoot, for most shooters, once it’s nestled into the hand. Its popularity today can be seen in the modified Ruger Bisley grip frame which is used by most custom makers on heavy recoiling sixguns.

Total production of single action Colts from 1873 to 1940 was just under 357,000 units. Of these 44,350 were standard Bisley Models. The four most popular chamberings in the Single Action Army, in order, were .45 Colt, .44-40, .38-40 and .32-20. When we look at the Bisley Model the sign of the times can easily be seen as the order is almost reversed with .32-20 the most popular, followed by .38-40, .45 Colt and .44-40. In all probability as a farm or ranch sixgun the .32-20 was more practical than the .45 Colt. Today the standard Colt SAA is often referred to as the “hogleg”; in actuality this name was first applied to the Bisley because of its unusual grip frame shape.

Two years ago I came into a Bisley Model chambered in .45 Colt with a 43/4" barrel. It was basically what one would call a “beater” with no finish left, markings very faint, and some pitting on the outside, however the upside is it shot relatively well; it just showed its age even more than I do. Born 100 years ago it had definitely been heavily used without being abused. It was worth being brought back to life.