Pancho Villa

While a few Bisleys were shipped across the “Big Pond,” many more made their way west into the hands of cowboys, outlaws and lawmen and firearm historians say the majority of the Bisleys went to the arid Southwest. This may have been from the popularity of one well-known admirer — Pancho Villa.

The Mexican outlaw turned revolutionary had many followers on both sides of the borders. Freedom-loving cowboys from the U.S. flocked to his banner, fighting to overthrow the corrupt leadership that had a chokehold on Mexico. In their admiration for Villa, it stands to reason many of his followers would want similar guns.

Accounts say Villa owned several Bisleys and one now resides in the Autry Museum of the American West. It is a fine example of a 1912 Bisley Colt in .44-40, complete with heavily worn bluing, a faded color case hardened frame and custom mother-of-pearl grips.

While the Bisley’s unique styling may have attracted Villa, it may have been more of a need than a fashion statement. Some historians say Villa had arthritis in his hands and the Bisley grips were easier to hold than other grip styles of the day.