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2183 Views 9 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  MT Callahan
I am wondering what would be considered good to excellent accuracy from a Ruger Bisley 45 Colt from benchrest with sandbags and 2x scope. I am a longtime rifleman and am used to working in those terms (groups of less than 1" at 100 yards). With my Ruger which has had some 'smithing I am getting groups ranging from about 0.8" up to 1.5" or so at 25 yards with my light practice load. Again keep in mind that I am shooting from a bench with bags and a 2x scope. With my heavy load I am getting 5" groups at 100 yards. Would these be considered poor, fair, excellent? I hear stories of people shooting clay pigeons at 150 yards. Is this commonly done or only with custom guns made by Linebaugh and Bowen and others of their skill? With my previous Ruger Blackhawk 45 Colt with 0.456" cylinder throats and open sights I could only get 3" groups at 25 yards so clearly this is a big improvement. Should I be content with these kind of groups or is there more work to do in load development/ shooting technique? Thanks, Brian
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Hi Brian,
I am not the one to give advice on 45 colt but I have some experience with a Ruger SBH Hunter with a 2x scope and a Redhawk 7 1/2" with the same 2x scope.  Both handguns are in 44 mag.  Do you by any chance own Marshall's book? It gives lots of details on proper bullet size, fire lapping and all that.  Those are real biggies in making the bullets go to the same place on the target.  You can also search this (and the previous) forum for lots of details.

You asked what is possible with a factory standard gun.  I will assume proper bullet fit and firelapping.  I am not a handgun target shooter and just do not like scopes in the field, but I was able to get good accuracy.  My best groups with the Redhawk & 2x scope ran about 3" at 100 yard from a benchrest.  With the SBH Hunter I was never able to get my best load under 4 1/2" @ 100 yard until, out of desperation, I cleaned the barrel until it squeeked and shined.  Suddendly the groups fell to 2" @ 100 yards.  I never noticed such a difference with the Redhawk.  Personally I believe both guns were shooting better than that but I simply could not shoot any better.  By the way, this was also the result of a lot of practice and learning to become super calm before shooting.  

I'm sure others can give you more specific info specifically to 45 colt, but these were my experiences.  Hope it is of some help.

God bless.................  Bill M
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Brian.....I have to slide in here on this one. You should decide just what you want to do with a handgun, first of all. You will see some great handgun shooters on this forum shooting [email protected] 100 yards that are better than we could do with a rifle 40 years ago. Yet we killed as much game then as now. If your forte is seeing just how small a group you can shoot with a handgun, then by all means keep developing loads and tinkering. However, if you want hunting accuracy...Take a 9" paper plate and staple in the a 1"x1".
If you can put all your shots into that plate at 100 yards......go hunting! If we are hunters, we spend too much time chasing tiny groups instead of hunting. We don't use scopes on our handguns down here in the swamps and hammocks, Our shooting sometimes is fast and furious at some big hogs, sometimes at feet instead of yards. Sight acquisition is foremost. If I was in open country or in a tree stand and could put all my shots in that 9" paper plate @ 100 yards....I'd go hunting. I have deep admiration for these fellows that are getting the tiny groups with those handguns, but I still pose the question...How much accuracy is needed for your purpose.
Best Regards from The Hammock....James
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James Gates, your point is well taken. I am not wanting to shoot prairie dogs at 200 yards with my 45 Colt. The problem with being satisfied with 5" groups at 100 yards with a 2x scope from the bench with sandbags is that once I take the scope off and start shooting from field positions I wonder if I will be able to keep all shots in the vitals. The question is this: is this gun and heavy load capable of better accuracy than I am getting. If so then the problem is me and it would behoove me to figure out what I am doing wrong. If someone more experienced shot this gun and load and got consistent groups of under 3" at 100 yards then it would indicate that I have some fundamentals still to work on in shooting technique. Obviously noone can tell me what my gun and load are capable of but I was curious to know what experienced people are finding with their Rugers. Brian C.

I've held off answering your post just to see what other input we would get on your post.  The answers are both good and to the point.

What you say is true, no one but you can tell for sure what that gun, and YOU are capable of doing.

I would say that a scoped well tuned gun like yours should be able to put your shots into 4" at 100 yards.  You notice I said the gun, not considering human error.

I once had a Ruger Super Blackhawk Hunter (should have never sold it!) with a 2.5x scope, that had been firelapped to perfection, a fine trigger job, spring kit and replacement base pin.  After much load tuning, tinkering and fussing, I finally managed to get a 3" group out of it one day when everything was working right, and I was in my best shooting form.  Prior to that, 4.5"-5" was all I could ever wring out of that gun off of sandbags and benchrested.  Still, that is less than quarter minute of whitetail accuracy, and I accepted it!

One day an acquaintance of mine who had been shooting the handgun metallic silhouette game for many years ask to shoot that same gun.   He fired six rounds to get the feel of the gun, the trigger and how it behaved, then he proceeded to put 12 consecutive shots into a group under 2"!  The difference?  Simply the shooter.   He had excellent control of his handguns!  That became a lesson to me that day!

Often times it isn't the limitations of our equipment... but the human factor required to make that equipment operate!   Operator error!  Bottom line.

Sure, there are guns that just absolutely will not shoot.  There too as often as not, it is simply a matter of not spending enough time matching the load to the gun.  Once the load is matched to the gun, the gun optimized by lapping, trigger job, etc, I'm convinced that most of today's firearms are capable of outshooting the human element we interject as shooters.

I'll be doing a tech note soon on the critical nature of load development for individual guns.  (what works superbly in one gun may be a complete dog in another) This will be aimed at revolvers specifically.

All this hasn't been written to assault, or insult one's shooting skills, only to point out that our equipment is very likely capable of better performance that our human ability to take advantage of it!  There is no substitute for practice and experience, and although light loads are fun, and imminently practical for many applications, if you are going to be shooting heavy loads for hunting, then those heavy loads are what you need to hone your skills with as well.  You need to know how you react to those loads, and how you manage them.

Sounds like you've got a winner of a revolver all the way around!  What Mr. Gates says about hunting accuracy is abolutely right... if at a hundred yards you can get all your rounds, consistently into a vital sized target, go hunting!  Yes we strive for perfection... but the Lord didn't make us perfect!  There's nothing wrong with striving for excellence in all we do, just don't stress out when we don't always make it to perfection!

God Bless,

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I have  right now four guns that are all stock and with the right load they all shoot at 1" or less at 25 yds. My Super Redhawk in .454 has shot a few different groups at 25 yds that were under an inch, My 629 with a 4" barrel will shoot a 255gr WFNPB over 21.0gr of 2400 right at 1 1/8" at 25 yds. My 25-5 in .45 Colt with a 4" barrel won't seem to shoot any cast lead bullets worth a darn except the Laser Cast 255gr SWC over 8.5gr of Bullseye. Then it procedes to put 5 rounds in 3/4". My Ruger Vaquero in .45 will place that same load at 1" and that is with the 4 5/8" barrel. Now all this has taken some time in developing but the wait has been worth it. Now to answer your question, your gun could shoot like this or it may not, maybe you just haven't found the sweet spot for it yet, or like Marshall said it may not shoot any better than what it is. Most Ruger's will shoot 1 1/2" groups with the right load all day long. I know all mine will. Keep practicing, keep good load notes and always keep searching for that sweet spot.

God Bless

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You mention taking the scope off and getting ready to hunt from that point. Are you using the scope as a tool to help develop your loads or just see what the gun will do? I personally find that I shoot better with iron sights than with a scope. I think its because I allow the scope to cheat me. I don't concentrate on the shot enough. If you don't plan on using the scope in the field, don't practice with it. After the scope comes of your starting over.

I read a tip from Paco Kelly over at, he uses what he calls Paco's Rule. As the weather gets better I'm going to use it. His rule is to practice with one round for every yard you plan on shooting at. 50 rounds for 50 yards, 100 rounds for 100 yards and so on. I won't take a handgun shot at 100 yards at this point because I'm not confident enough in myself to do so. Hopefully using this rule will help.

My advice is to dump that scope and get some practice in. The groups will shrink I bet.
Thanks to all for your input. I do strongly suspect that the gun and load are more accurate than I am. I am still learning the tricks to shooting a revolver accurately. I often get 3 or 4 or 5 shots in one hole and then the others open up the group. Sometimes I get 3 in one spot and then 3 in another (a double grouping) but that is not consistent. Sometimes they all go in one hole- I put 10 of the Beartooth 340s into 1" at 25 yards one time but cannot duplicate it. I often see as much or more horizontal spread to the group as I do vertical. I would suspect that the horizontal spread is induced by me and not the gun or load. Does that sound correct? If the horizontal is caused by me what can I do to minimize it? Thanks again, Brian.
MT Callahan, yes I installed the scope to aid in load development, thinking that it would reduce the error induced by improper use of open sights.  I had a older Blackhawk in 45 Colt and no matter what I did I could not get much better than 3" groups at 25 yards from it when using the open sights. I decided to buy this new Bisley, hoping it would be more accurate. I shot it as issued from the factory and was not doing any better than with the Blackhawk. I discovered that the cylinder throats were undersized and sent it off to a gunsmith (John Gallagher in Jasper, Alabama) to open the throats up and tune up the action and trigger. He also gave the forcing cone a Taylor throating and installed a Belt Mountain base pin. Well after I got it back from him I still was not doing much better than I had with the Blackhawk. Then I decided to buy the B&L 2x scope and it has made a substantial difference- I went from 2.5-3" groups to 0.8 to 1.5" groups. So now that I have a good load developed I do need to take off the scope and learn how to use the open sights. I think in the past part of my problem with using open sights was that I was shooting at too large of a black circle. Also I suspect that I was concentrating too much on the target and not enough on the front sight. My understanding is that I should line all three (rear sight, front sight and target) up and then mainly focus on the front sight. Is that correct? Thanks, Brian.
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Yes, your right on the money. Its all about the front sight. For my eyes I like a thinner front sight than what the factory gives us. This is strictly personal. I also like to take a very fine file and deepen the serrations in the front sight. This helps my focus. Hit the sight with some Birchwood Casey Perma Blue Paste and your all set.

Practice, practice, practice. Its a dirty job but someones got to do it.
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