First Favorites — For
A While, Anyway…


Here’s Tank’s Ruger Bisley Hunter resting in a Galco Kodiak chest rig in Idaho.

As always, I had to have one — you know the feeling! I needed the ultimate hunting handgun, one fitting my needs perfectly, and yet having the ability to facilitate any further needs down the road. At least that’s what I told myself, giving more justification to purchase it. The gun of course is the Ruger Bisley Hunter in .45 Colt.

Sit back and let me tell you why…


The .45 Colt is my longstanding favorite. It has history, horsepower, versatility and accuracy. It was the first metallic cartridge loaded in Colt’s SAA. Used by the Cavalry, frontiersman, outlaws and Texas Rangers, the big bore case with the humble lead bullet got’er done.

It has the versatility to be shot accurately at blackpowder velocities of 900 FPS or less, with its 250 grain slug. Or it can be amped up to 1,300 FPS with bullets in excess of 300 grains. That’s a wide range of power a conscientious handloader can pick his poison with.

The Grip

The Bisley grip is conducive to big-bore boomers — revolvers with lots of recoil. While the traditional plow-handle single action has a tendency to roll in your hand during recoil, the Bisley has a tendency to come straight back at you, saving your middle finger knuckle from getting rapped by the trigger guard, as with traditional gun grips.

For me, the grip just feels good in my hand and the sights line up quickly when I bring the gun up to shoot — something important when hunting.

Here’s a MD whitetail taken with the Bisley Hunter.

Ruger Hunter

Anything made by Ruger is built twice as strong as it needs to be. Priced for the workingman, these two characteristics are why Ruger manages to stay on top of the manufacturing heap.

The Ruger Hunter has a 7.5″ ribbed barrel. The thick rib adds weight, helping to dampen recoil, allowing for scope cutouts too, should you choose to scope your shooter. I can still use iron sights, and enjoy doing so, while hunting. I find them quicker to use and don’t notice as much “wobble” with them. While shooting tighter groups is easier with a scope, seeing the “wobble” doesn’t do you much good in the game field.

Ironically, I figure having an easy way of mounting a scope will come in handy for the day when my eyes do deceive me and shooting with “irons” is no longer possible. Settling wobbly crosshairs beats the alternative of not hunting at all with a sixgun, so I appreciate Ruger’s easy method of mounting a scope. Hey, you can always go the “red dot” sight route too.

Lastly, the rib’s forward weight makes it easier holding the gun steady while aiming off-hand.

A PA deer taken with the Bisley.

Personal History Leading To Handguns

I always knew I was going to be a handgun hunter. While not a purist like our own John Taffin, I still cheat, using a rifle on occasion. I can’t help it, but that’s an issue for another day. Over time, I found myself adding more challenges to my hunts, dropping scoped bolt-guns for lever-guns, then to single-shots. Scopes were dropped for “peep” sights, until finally — I got the Ruger Bisley Hunter in .45 Colt.

Here’s Tank’s first handgun kill, made with the Ruger Bisley Hunter.

First Time Success

I made my first handgun kill in Idaho, while hunting with good friend Dick Thompson in 2009. The cow elk never knew what hit her as the 260-grain .45 Keith bullet “zinged” right through both lungs from 121 yards away. Three wobbly steps and she dropped.

Stunned, I gasped, “Holy $hit!” at the performance the humble cast bullet provided! The cow elk wouldn’t have dropped any faster if struck by a Winchester .338 magnum.

I was hooked. A few weeks later in MD, I manage to take a buck and doe opening day with the same rig and box of shells. Over the years, the gun and same box of shells manage to keep taking game, all with one shot. Confidence — dare I say “magic” or “good luck” — seem to fill my mind whenever carrying this rig while hunting.

Whatever you want to call it, it’s good medicine for me.

The Ruger Bisley Hunter now rides in a Barranti Leather NW Hunter chest rig.

Fickle Fanatic

While the .45 Colt Bisley Hunter is still a favorite, other single-actions have been added to the kennel. Curiosity, seduction of a new shooter, or just wanting to try something new are the given reasons. But rest assured, when the chips are down and I need an extra edge to fill my tag with a handgun, the Ruger .45 Colt Bisley Hunter will be what’s strapped on my chest.

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