AmmoLand resident gun nut, Josh Wayner, reviews the Ruger New Model Super Blackhawk Bisley Revolver in 44 Magnum.
U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- It would be fair to say that I’m something of a revolver guy. I have written a pretty healthy amount on the topic and consider myself to be an expert on the subject matter. Now, as you can probably imagine, even those of us that profess to be experts can be taken by surprise on occasion.
I found myself surprised by the amount of power that can be generated by the Ruger New Model Super Blackhawk Bisley Revolver in 44 Magnum.
I’ve shot some extremely powerful guns in the last few years. I’ve enjoyed them as much as one can and have really spent the time learning them for what they are. I truly believe that each gun has its own character and many just take time to master.
This gun, I admit, was hard for me to get control of and use because of a variety reasons that I will explain below.
Ruger New Model Super Blackhawk Bisley Revolver in 44 Magnum
The weapon in this review is a Lipsey’s distributor exclusive and features a 3.75” barrel, a six-shot smooth cylinder, and a black laminate grips. It is, of course, a single action revolver and the hammer must be cocked in order to fire.
The entire weapon is made of stainless steel and it weighs accordingly at a healthy 44 ounces unloaded. This isn’t actually all that heavy by comparison to other similar guns, but it is quite a bit heftier than a Colt SAA. Virtually everything on this gun is thick and heavy, but the weapon itself handles nicely and is pleasantly compact. As part of my review, I trekked a number of miles with the revolver in my Hill People Gear Heavy Recon Kit Bag and can say that it was noticeable, but not terrible. The weapon isn’t too much heavier than a full-size 1911 which makes carry nice.
While we’re talking about weight, I need to get into the general shootability of this gun. I’ve spent quite a bit of time around guns like this, and there seems to be a perfect storm of weight-to-power that is easily exceeded, resulting in extreme discomfort upon pulling the trigger.
This gun can handle ammunition that is rated far and beyond what most others of the same caliber can handle. The thick, robust frame can safely withstand +P+ ammo all day long. I fired the Bisley over an Oehler 35P chronograph five feet from the muzzle on an 80 degree day. Velocity is an average of ten shots.
Shooting the Ruger New Model Super Blackhawk Bisley Revolver:
- HSM 240gr Pro Pistol Hunter——————————-1120fps
- Black Hills 240gr JHP——————————————1256fps
- Buffalo Bore 225gr Lead Free——————————-1408fps
- Buffalo Bore Deer Grenade 240gr +P———————1485fps
- Buffalo Bore 305gr LFN————————————–1273fps
- Buffalo Bore 340gr +P+————————————–1325fps
The most pleasant load out of this gun was hands-down the HSM load. Not only was the gun the most accurate with this ammo, producing 5-shot 25 yard groups in the 2” range with, but it also had the least recoil. You will notice that it is also the slowest. I found that this load was easy to control and was capable of making reliable hits at 50 yards on a 10” plate without extra support.
Now here’s where we get down and dirty with the ‘perfect storm’ I mentioned earlier. This weapon, compared to others in the same caliber, is lighter and smaller with a shorter barrel and sight radius. It lacks the forward weight to prevent muzzle flip under recoil and the grip, although comfortable to hold, transfers what can be described as savage recoil into the web of the hand. The shape of the Bisley grip makes it so that the gun can’t roll in the hand like a traditional SAA does. This, combined with the muzzle flip, makes for a hard day at the range.
I have a great deal of respect for the limits that Buffalo Bore pushes when it comes to their ammunition products. They make some of the most powerful ammo that can safely fire and it really shows at the range. I’m going to come out and say that this particular gun paired with ammunition that is literally at the top end for the caliber is a poor choice. The same loads in a bigger and longer barreled Ruger are far more manageable, but in this Bisley version, it is too much. To fire a 340gr bullet at 1300fps and faster out of a gun that weights little more than a standard 1911 is straight up painful.
The accuracy suffered as a result of the heavy recoil and I was unable to produce groups better than 4” at 25 yards with anything but the HSM load using my traditional range setup. The same loads out of a friend’s scoped hunting revolver shot 4” at 100 yards or better, but that is not the gun I’m reviewing. The combination of features made it so that I had to snug into the bench with supports and really take my time to produce accuracy. I did achieve great results when I did this. Group size shrank by over half on all loads and I was able to one-hole five shots with the HSM load over and over.
I tried several drills with the weapon to include firing one-handed at close range and from my back to simulate firing in self-defense against a bear, which is a primary reason that many people would consider purchasing this gun. I have to say that using full-horsepower loads in this gun makes quick followup shots nearly impossible. Firing one-handed is difficult and aligning the sights under recoil and pressure is extremely difficult. The fact that you have to operate the gun in single action makes it hard to justify as a self-defense gun for the wilderness.
My overall impression of the Ruger New Model Super Blackhawk Bisley wheelgun is that it is a very accurate, well-built and durable piece and, when paired with ammo that isn’t overwhelming, is a joy to shoot and can be an excellent friend for the trails and at a fishing camp where bears are present.
About Josh Wayner:
Josh Wayner has been writing in the gun industry for five years. He is an active competition shooter with 14 medals from Camp Perry. In addition to firearms-related work, Josh enjoys working with animals and researching conservation projects in his home state of Michigan.