Ruger’s Biggest Bore:
The .480 Ruger Bisley


In 2015, thumb-busters had a bodacious year with Ruger finally releasing a long awaited 5-shot, single-action Bisley.

For years, the big bore single-action sect wished/prayed/threatened Ruger for a factory 5-shot shooter. When Ruger released their 5-shot Super Redhawk in 2001, single-action loyalists took notice. This was the seed single-action fans were looking for.

Big bores are naturals for cast bullets. Tank uses slugs cast from
Lee Precision, MP Molds, and RCBS to name a few. The .480 Ruger
is simply shortened .475 Linebaugh brass (on far right).

New Cartridge

The .480 Ruger cartridge was born in 2003 for the above mentioned 5-shot Super Redhawk. Single-action shooters were licking their chops at the five-hole cylinder, thinking if they can do it for a double-action blaster, why not a single action? The rumor mill speculated a chambering in what else, the .480 Ruger, a .015” shorter version of John Linebaugh’s famous .475 Linebaugh.

Traditional single-action shooters are a patient lot, eventually getting what they wanted … 12 years later. Ruger finally released a 5-shot Bisley.

Ruger’s biggest bore to date, the .480 Ruger leaves a
mighty impressive impression when looking at it.

Double Trouble

Ruger went above and beyond our wildest dreams by releasing not one 5-shot Bisley, but two big bore boomers — the .480 Ruger and .454 Casull. Yowzers!

Now we had fitting 5-shot factory-made knuckle-busters in two tried and true top performers.

Having a source for factory affordable, big bore 5-shot single-actions chambered in two powerful cartridges, in what was a once a custom or semi-custom proposition, was a blessing for working men and women wanting 5-shot shooters in a single-action wheelgun.

Factory fodder can be had from Buffalo Bore and Hornady.

The Influencer

Jason Cloessner, vice president of product development at Lipsey’s, a large Ruger distributor, is why these 5-shot wonders exist. Cloessner has the uncanny ability to persuade and bargain with Ruger, and other manufacturers, to have them tweak their products for special “Lipsey’s Exclusives” — which we all love. It’s fun being different, eh?

The reason Cloessner’s successful is because he’s a true gun guy, like us. He knows what we want before it ever crosses our mind. It’s a simple formula. But he’s responsible for finally persuading Ruger to produce the 5-shot thumb-cockers.

Tank’s Barranti Leather NW Hunter shoulder rig is just
the ticket for carrying his .480 Ruger Bisley when hunting.

Torture Test?

In June 2015, I bumped into Jason Cloessner in Raton, NM and he was grinning ear to ear. He told me there were some pilot guns needing to be shot for a durability test and needed help — but there was a catch involved.

I was to fly down to Baton Rouge, shoot free ammo on prototype pistols, while eating Cajun food for a couple days and flying back home. Sounds like a dream vacation, right? Except Cloessner wanted 5,000 rounds of ammo shot through Ruger’s newest Bisley.

Now, I love shooting but in the two days, my sidekick Doc Barranti and I had to shoot, we only managed 2,500 rounds between us. We’d shoot those guns so hot you needed gloves from burning your hands. The Lipsey’s staff finished out the final rounds.

The guns held up and Lipsey’s received their first order of Ruger 5-shot Bisley’s in .480 Ruger and .454 Casull a few months later. Santa, along with my loving wife, left both Bisley’s under the tree that year. I know, I’m spoiled rotten.

Unique and HS-6 powders will serve you well for .480 Ruger handloads.
Molds from Lee Precision or MP Molds will provide you with quality bullets.


One of the perks from the .480 Ruger torture test was the mounds of spent brass Cloessner divvied up among the hardcore handloaders at Lipsey’s, as well as some for Doc and me.

As far as handloads go, I have two favorites using home-cast bullets from Lee Precision and MP Molds. The Lee is a 400-grain LFN design, and the MP Mold is a 385-grain HP, having dual crimp grooves, for either .480 Ruger, or .475 Linebaugh. Powders include Alliant Unique and Hodgdon HS-6.

The loads are simple, providing satisfying results. Ten grains of Unique with the Lee slug runs at 919 fps, while the MP Mold HP runs 971 fps. These are easy recoiling loads, accurate and will knock down just about anything needing it. The Hodgdon HS-6 load is 14.3 grains, with the Lee bullet going 1,096 Fps, while the MP Mold HP goes 1,162 fps.

Lee Precision also makes a dandy 325-grain wide flat nose gas-checked mold allowing one to shoot lighter bullets. Loaded down, it’s great for range practice. Step it up and it’s a dandy whitetail bullet. Ten grains of Unique gives over 1,000 fps. Want slower speeds? Eight grains run about 900 fps. For a faster load try 14.3 grains of HS-6. It clocks at 1,140 fps.

Lastly, RCBS makes a 400-grain “Keith” style bullet and the same data for the 400-grain Lee slug can be used for it. It scratches the nostalgic itch for a traditional SWC slug when one feels like honoring ol’ Elmer. My cast bullets are powder coated and sized .477” with Lee push-thru sizing dies.

The .480 Ruger gets its roots from the .475 Linebaugh.

The Guns Themselves

Ruger did an exceptional job on these 5-shot Bisleys. The Bisley grip-frame is a favorite for many when shooting heavy recoiling guns. The grip provides you with more to hang onto while dispersing recoil over a wider area of your hand. Recoil seems to come straight back in your hand, rather than flipping up like plow-handled single-actions. It’s a knuckle-saver for sure.

The 6.5” straight taper barrel adds weight for balance, while lessoning felt recoil. The base pin has a locking setscrew to prevent the base pin from launching under recoil. The cylinder is unfluted for good looks and extra weight. I added a custom front sight from Shane Thompson to my gun.

There’s no need to spend a lot of money on bullet
molds with these Lee Precision gems.

Final Synopsis

Ruger hit a homerun making the 5-shot Bisley a factory option to the millions of working men out there by providing us with what was once a custom-built gun. It makes a 5-holed single-action obtainable for those getting a thrill shooting large diameter hunks of lead. Now, Jason Cloessner just needs to persuade Ruger to make a .500 Ruger. Maybe then big bore aficionados will be able to sleep at night … for now.

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