Originally published on 10/10/2010
The Birmingham UK website reveal the once mighty and proud works at Birmingham Small Arms stands lonely and derelict today. The thriving manufacturer produced arms for the British Government from 1860 thru the 2 World Wars. BSA was also the Worlds largest manufacturer of motorcycless in the 1960's. The company built just about everything before it's final demise. Today, air rifles and shotguns are built at one of the old plants by BSA GUNS, but the real brand rights belong to the BSA Regal Group, a group of engineering companies in Southampton.
Things are looking up for the old BSA buildings. BSA Guns is still there, and the main building has been taken over by MSL Performance, a high end automobile performance tuning center. The building has been rehabbed and the building has taken on a new life.
Originally designed as a target revolver, whose grip and hammer position was light years ahead of the old Colt, turned out to be popular as a workaday pistol in it's own right. Those who used it thought it to be faster shooting. Over 44,000 were built from 1894 through 1912.
Colt Bisley reproduction built by Uberti
The Bisley model acquired it's name from the famed Bisley shooting competitions in the UK, which became the headquarters for Britain's National Rifle Association in 1890. Colt introduced it's target model there in 1894 and it soon became known as the Bisley model.
The first guns were flattop models with adjustable target sights... the front side blade was replaceable for different heights, and the rear was adjustable for windage. Soon however, those were overshadowed by fixed sight models, which would suggest gunfighting and ranch use, where a rugged pistol was necessary, although by the late 1890's I would think gunfighting days would be over.
The grip and lower hammer would take some getting used to if you were a single action Colt shooter, and you would either love it or hate it. It's main advantage is keeping the gun from rolling up in your hand during heavy recoil. The late author Elmer Keith's famed No. 5 pistol is an adaptation of the Bisley model, as is Ruger's Bisley model, but with less extreme grips.
Real Bisley for sale at Collector Firearms