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Agarbers,
My research is far from complete so I would only be guessing at a percentage of Bisley's being shipped. Yes they seemed to be popular back then but soon faded away when the more popular automatics and double actions came to market. If you want more accurate information then I would suggest getting the book A Study of the Colt Single Action Army by Graham, Kopec, and Moore. They have a couple detailed chapters devoted specifically to the Bisley and their production dates.
 
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In looking at this thread: https://www.coltforum.com/forums/single-action-army/98026-arizona-shipped-1st-2nd-generation-colt-single-action-serial-number-research-list.html#post768499 I would say about 24 percent of Colt SAA shipped to Arizona around the turn of the century were Bisleys. Would any of you say that is an accurate statement?
Many cowboys favored the Bisley over the Colt SAA. Look for them in old cabinet photos wearing Bisleys. The pictured Bisley here was owned by Tom Cross as purchased in El Paso in 1903. Tom was a ranch foreman and ranch owner in El Paso County when that county was 3X as large as now.

On Jan 16, 1915 Tom Cross witnessed a shooting in a cow pens at Sierra Blanca, Texas and was called to testify in the trial at El Paso in 1919. One cattleman, H. F. Boykin, was gunned down by H. L. Roberson with a Winchester there according to a Nov 11, 1919 El Paso Herald. Roberson was manager of the "TO Ranch" in Mexico near the border.

During the 1920's-30's Tom was working his ranch in Kent County, Texas. But the dreaded "consumption" caught up with him, and he died near Brownsville, Texas while getting treatment. Someday I might do an article on this Bisley and its original owner.
 

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Anecdotal evidence has shown many Bisleys arrived in Arizona. I have one that walked into a small gun shop in NM that I've never lettered, but the provenance suggests it was out West since new.

An easier question would be how many Bisleys were made and sold, compared to SAAs, regardless of where they were shipped. I suspect they were very popular at first all over America. They worked fine and last a long time. The Colt archives could tell us the numbers, if they'd do it. I think like lots of original designs that are altered, many people go with the original. But did Colt ever cancel the Bisley, before cancelling the SAA pre-war? Could you buy a Bisley in 1930 for example? I've never looked it up.
 

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Anecdotal evidence has shown many Bisleys arrived in Arizona. I have one that walked into a small gun shop in NM that I've never lettered, but the provenance suggests it was out West since new.

An easier question would be how many Bisleys were made and sold, compared to SAAs, regardless of where they were shipped. I suspect they were very popular at first all over America. They worked fine and last a long time. The Colt archives could tell us the numbers, if they'd do it. I think like lots of original designs that are altered, many people go with the original. But did Colt ever cancel the Bisley, before cancelling the SAA pre-war? Could you buy a Bisley in 1930 for example? I've never looked it up.
Bisley models were produced 1894/1912 approx 44,000. Standard SAA's in that period approx 4 times as many
the vast majority of Bisleys made between 1900 and 1912
 

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Discussion Starter #8
According to what I read Colt produced the last Bisley in 1914 but shipped the last one in 1918.
 

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Anecdotal evidence has shown many Bisleys arrived in Arizona. I have one that walked into a small gun shop in NM that I've never lettered, but the provenance suggests it was out West since new.

An easier question would be how many Bisleys were made and sold, compared to SAAs, regardless of where they were shipped. I suspect they were very popular at first all over America. They worked fine and last a long time. The Colt archives could tell us the numbers, if they'd do it. I think like lots of original designs that are altered, many people go with the original. But did Colt ever cancel the Bisley, before cancelling the SAA pre-war? Could you buy a Bisley in 1930 for example? I've never looked it up.
Bisley production ended about 1915. I believe that the last Bisley sold was in 1921.
 

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Pancho Villa liked the Bisley. Reports are it was his favorite pistol, no doubt it got a lot of use.



Of all the guns I did not buy- a Oklahoma Bisley, I passed on in the late 70's, is the only one that still makes me want to holler. lol
I am glad that you posted this picture! It is my understanding that Pancho had arthritis in his hands, and the Bisley was simply easier for him to handle than the Colt SAA.
 

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Since there are less of the Bisley model, one might think their value would be higher. Any opinion why the Bisley value appears to be lower than the non Bis SAA?
 

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In the supply and demand equation, weigh demand heavily. Hollywood westerns made the SAA an in demand model starting in the 1920s, when it should have been a forgotten, obsolete arm. Interest in them (demand) has never stopped.
 

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Since there are less of the Bisley model, one might think their value would be higher. Any opinion why the Bisley value appears to be lower than the non Bis SAA?
Since the majority of Bisleys were made and sold in the early 20th century, perhaps they don't have the historical allure that the black powder SAA's do
As far as I'm concerned, they are dandy to own,shoot and admire
 

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If you don't know Colts you might be put off by the different looks of the Bisley. That's what happened to me when I ran into one for sale in about 78'. A very nice old lady had one for sale- her husband had passed on. My pard Bob said this lady has a pistol for sale lets go look at it- he was a friend of hers. I did not know what it was and was not interested. Thought it was strange looking lol.

IIRC Bob bought it and paid her more than she was asking.

That was Oklahoma- hell, that gun could have belonged to Heck Thomas!
 

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Since there are less of the Bisley model, one might think their value would be higher. Any opinion why the Bisley value appears to be lower than the non Bis SAA?
I suspect that the Colt SAA favoritism began with Hollywood Westerns. If we had seen Matt Dillon using a Bisley, perhaps SAA sentiment now would be a bit different.

One thing too about Bisley survival - how many have been fitted with SAA backstraps, TG's, grips, hammers, triggers, and mainsprings? With some slight frame alteration, any remaining hint of a past Bisley is gone. Back in the 1960's-70's I used to check with gunsmiths for old Colt SAA parts. They all had a few. But in an El Paso shop the gunsmith told me "what I have is in those drawers". I saw at least six pairs of backstraps and trigger guards from Bisley's. There was no point in asking why!
 

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I have this 1901 45 cal that I like. The grips are nearly worn smooth. Id like to know who or why the grips wound up so worn. Thats whats so interesting.
My 44-40 x 4-3/4" Bisley shipped to KZ&M of El Paso in 1910 also has worn-down-smooth rubber grips. The gun itself is not so worn. The grips have matching SN's scratched inside. I thought this was odd, but then began recalling what ranch life is like. In building and fixing fences, working cattle, and doing other labor our hands get quite dirty (sandy). The right hand often rests on the pistol grip, somewhat like a football player is seen with hands on hips when growing tired. That is like fine sand paper on relatively-soft hard rubber grips. The sand only polishes the gun's straps, but the grip checkering wears away. That's when the term "working gun" clearly applies.

Attached are pics of that Bisley #309xxx, shipped to KZ&M, El Paso, TX on 3-21-1910, 44/c, 4-3/4", Blue, SNL, 6 Guns. The bright blue ejector housing (as when purchased) has been replaced with a condition-matching ejector assembly.
 

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