Turnbull Bisley Blackhawk

A Perfect Storm Of Perfection

By Jeff “Tank” Hoover

Tank had a few aces up his sleeve as these “Keith” loads show their mettle after polishing out
the cylinder throats to .453″. The Barranti Leather Hank Sloan shuck/cartridge slide complements
the gun nicely.

When you get down to it, sixgunners are about as different as a carton of eggs. Sure, we have thicker shells, but the majority of us are throwbacks from simpler times gone by, when things were right. You know what I’m talking about.

Recently, a perfect storm rolled in when Ruger joined forces with Doug Turnbull, to construct a gun as capable of capturing our spirit, as it can set our hearts afire. Just as knife-maker Bill Moran brought back Damascus steel from obscurity, Doug Turnbull revived color casehardening (CCH) in the mid to late 1980s.

Administering his beautiful CCH to the frames of 500 Ruger Bisley single-action revolvers chambered in the renowned .45 Colt, Doug makes them special. This traditional method of heat-treating is no longer needed for today’s guns, but it sure makes them pretty. This time honored process triggers thoughts of the “good old days” when CCH was a necessity to harden steel for functionality, and the beautiful mottled colors were simply a by-product of the process. It brings carbon steel to life with its vibrant colors.

.45 Forever

I’ll admit to having a fascination for the .45 Colt. To my way of thinking, it’s the perfect cartridge, representing everything I love. History, long track record, good manners, versatility, the list is endless. By history, I mean it was the first center-fire cartridge chambered in the Colt SAA when adopted by the US Army in 1873. Long track record? It’s still with us today, filling the needs and niches of many a sixgunner with standout performance after 145 years! Good manners? You bet! The .45 Colt can accurately shoot cast or jacketed bullets between 200 to 350 grains as they crush bone or anything else in its wake, while plowing deep and straight.

Loads tested were HSM 300-gr. jacketed softpoints and Tank’s favorite handload, a 260-gr. “Keith” SWC
crimped over 20 grains of 2400, sparked with a Winchester large pistol primer. That’s a Barranti
cartridge slide holding those “Keith” loads.

Bisley Is Best

I’ve always loved the Ruger Bisley grip-frame. It cradles perfectly in my meaty mitt as I wrap my fingers around the extended curved grip. While shooting stout loads with heavy bullets and powder charges, it distributes perceived recoil straight back; severely lessening the effects of Sir Isaac Newton’s third law of physics to your hand.

Picking up a favorite shooter, blued steel warms us in ways stainless steel never could. Add some CCH and things really heat up! Just suppose by way of magic we were able to mix up all our favorite features into one gun? What would you do? Well, that’s exactly what happened to me! Let me tell you about my perfect storm.

Turnbull’s Shop

While speaking with shop manager Sam Chappell, I learned the .45 Colt Bisley is the 3rd of a Turnbull/Ruger series. The first was the Ruger Mark IV .22, second was the Ruger Super Blackhawk. A 4th special is coming out this year with a 4.25″ full-lug GP100 chambered in .357 Magnum. For you CCH accumulators and collectors, your thirst is being quenched.

The Ruger/Turnbull Bisley, a TALO Distributor exclusive, comes with a 5.5″ barrel with ramped front-sight and adjustable rear-sight. The steel frame is brilliantly CCH as only Doug Turnbull’s team can. His logo is roll-marked under the frame for instant validation of a true Ruger/Turnbull special. Chambered in the historical and versatile .45 Colt, my favorite cartridge, it’s fitting for such a classic looking revolver.

The un-fluted cylinder is void of the traditional roll-mark usually accompanying Ruger Bisleys. The transfer-bar safety allows the safe carry of six cartridges. Handsome wood stocks provide a stylish positive grip.

Case-colored guns make one reminisce about the “good ol’ days” and cast bullets do the same and are
a natural companion. Lyman’s 454424 clear Powder Coated “Keith” is a classic and Tank’s favorite slug!


I did the usual tweaks I administer to all my Ruger Blackhawks, be they Bisley or plow handle. I polish the mainspring strut, removing all seams and rough edges. This allows the mainspring to glide effortlessly as it compresses while cocking your single-action sixgun. Next, I replace the trigger-spring with a 30-ounce Wolff spring. It does wonders for lightening trigger pull. Lastly, I hone out the cylinder throats as mine has the infamous “small throat syndrome” measuring .45″. Relax! It’s an easy fix done with common household tools. All you need is a hand drill, a split rod and some 320-grit emery paper. Later, I’ll do a detailed report on how I do it.

The Ruger/Turnbull Bisley has an MSRP of $1,209. I always say, “What price happiness?” In this case, about $1,209!

For more info: https://americanhandgunner.com/company/turnbull-mfg/

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5 thoughts on “Turnbull Bisley Blackhawk

  1. Larry Koehn

    What a stunning gun! I am a pistol fan and gave my last revolver to my grandson’s wife. This one says spend money here but being retired I probably won’t. I have never owned or reloaded for a 45 Colt. Maybe I should try and buy one.

  2. OldGringo

    What a cool gun! I own one of the Accusport Bisleys, the stainless 5.5, big frame 45 Colt. I load it fairly hot, 1,200 fps with 250 grain Hornadys and my plinking load is a 200 grain at 1,150. I also have the small frame Flat Top. 4 5/8 stainless that will not take the hotter loads, but at 36 ounces a pleasure to carry. I also own a Uberti 45 and a SW Governor. What I do not own is anything Turnbull nor anything in a handgun that is case hardened. Think I will sell a couple out of the safe and buy one of these. As an older guy, walking through the woods, what we call hiking, would be really cool with this gun in perhaps a Mernickle holster. My wife would prolly object as this gun does not really go with Bermuda shorts, but when you get older, you really do not care much. The gun would impress.

  3. Jim L

    I’ve seen a few of Turnbulls work what can you say, Simply Marvelous. A GP 100 by Turnbull later this year. Yes baby I understand we’ve been eating pasta for the last 3 weeks but there coming out with this………

  4. mosby

    love my .45 rugers, but wonder why they continue to have the tight cylinder throats?

  5. Plain Ol Rick

    Heard about it last year, had to have one! I got it for myself for Christmas! Santa did good!!! I own lots of single actions, this one is quickly becoming my favorite. It really is all that it is cracked up to be, and then some. Elmer, Skeeter and John would approve! If you don’t know these names, start reading!!!

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