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The High Standard Double-Nine Revolver
and Other Western-Style Revolvers
by Ed Buffaloe

 

 

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Hi-Standard Double-Nine Hi-Standard Double-Nine

There isn’t an extended history to High Standard’s revolver line, like there is to their line of semi-automatic target pistols.  They didn’t design their first revolver, the Sentinel, until 1955, probably at the behest of Sears, which was a large shareholder in the company.  The Double-Nine, a double-action nine shot Western style revolver, first appeared in 1958 .  It had an aluminum frame, a rebounding hammer, and a 5 inch barrel.  They were available in both blue and nickel finish, though I have seen far fewer in nickel than in blue.  Sears sold the gun as the J.C. Higgins Ranger Model 90, and later also as the Ranger De Luxe.  High Standard also made western style revolvers for Western Auto and Kroydon Arms.

  • W-100 in Original Box

    W-100.  The first Double-Nine series was called the W-100.
  • W-101.  After about a year, in early 1959, the ejector rod latch was modified slightly, as was the frame to accommodate it.
  • W-102.  In 1960, for the W-102 series, a return spring was added to the ejector rod.  On the earlier models, if you didn’t remember to manually retract the ejector into the cylinder before closing the cylinder you would put a nasty scratch on the left side of the frame.  The “Longhorn,” “Posse,” and “Natchez” models were first manufactured in 1960, with shipments beginning in September.  The “Longhorn” was sold with 4, 5, and 9 inch barrels; the “Posse” had walnut grips and a 3 inch barrel; and the “Natchez” featured a birds-head grip and a 4 inch barrel.  Sears also sold versions of the 9 Longhorn, Natchez, and Posse.  The W-102 series of the Double- Nine was only in production for a few months before it transitioned to the W-103, whereas the W-102 Longhorns were in production for about a year. 
  • W-103.  This series appeared arround March of 1961.  The changes were mostly internal.  The ejector latch housing was stamped instead of machined.
  • W-104.  This series appeared around April of 1962 and featured internal changes only.
  • W-105.  In early 1970, more internal changes were made.  The “Hombre,” “Durango,” and “Marshal” models were introduced.  Walnut grips became standard.  The 1970 Hombre had a 4” barrel, whereas later versions had a 4.5” barrel, as did all the Durangos.  High Standard also made a copy of the Double-Nine from 1971 through early 1975 that was called the NATO 49er.  It had the aluminum frame of the W-105 series guns, rather than the steel frame of the W-106..
  • W-106.  The W-106 series was introduced in 1971 and had a steel frame that could handle magnum cartridges.  The first Double-Nines were made with interchangeable cylinders (.22 long rifle and .22 magnum).  The firing pin was moved from the hammer to the frame, and the guns were available with an adjustable rear sight.  The “High- Sierra” was introduced in early 1973, with an octagonal barrel, gold plated trigger guard and grip frame, and interchangeable cylinders.  (The earliest version was not marked “High-Sierra” and was produced for less than a year.)  The aluminum-frame W-105 series continued production in parallel with the steel-frame W-106.

 

The Double-Nine shown here was the first gun I ever bought.  It is a W-104 series, made in 1968.  I bought it in 1971 at a pawn shop in downtown Houston for $39.95--it came with a holster.  The gun originally had some really ugly fake-stag plastic grips.  I quickly sought out the black grips which have been on the gun ever since.

This is still my favorite .22 pistol.  I also own a High Standard semi-auto target pistol, but I can shoot my revolver pretty much interchangeably with it--they are both equally accurate.  My experience with other .22 revolvers has not been as good.  For instance, it is difficult to find a Ruger Bearcat where all the chambers are accurate.  John J. Stimson, Jr. tells me, however, that the factory acceptance standards for the revolver line was not as high as for the automatic pistol line-- the autos were required to fire tighter groups to pass inspection.  High Standard claimed that with the counter-bored cylinder the gun could be dry fired without damage.  I have accidentally dry fired mine a number of times over the years with no noticeable damage to the cylinder or firing pin.

This gun has seen a lot of wear and tear.  I foolishly left it in the trunk of my car for quite a while and the cylinder got some rust on it.  Before I took these pictures, I carefully touched up scratches on the frame with Birchwood Casey Aluminum Black and retouched the cylinder and barrel with Birchwood Casey Super Blue.  The old gun looks pretty darned good now!
 
Hi-Standard Double-Nine Hi-Standard Double-Nine

Double Nine serial numbers were in the same series as the Sentinel through 1971.

Late Model Western Revolver Serial Numbers

1972

M001000 - M009005

1973

M009006 - M027616

1974

M027617 - M043285

1975

M043286 - M055681

1976

M055682 - M070480

1977

M070481 - M70668

1978

M075000 - M076145

1979

M076146 - M078342

1980

M078343 - M079310

1981

M079311 - M082850

1982

M082851 - M086424

1983

M086425 - M088872

1984

M088873 - M090016

 M series guns actually began shipping in December of 1971.  This data provides the known highest serial number produced in a given year--but the guns were rarely shipped in serial number order.  Production from 1978-1984 was at the East Hartford location.  For more detailed information and for earlier revolvers see www.histandard.info.


References

Hi-Standard pistols & Revolvers: 1951-1984, by James Spacek.  Self published, Cheshire, Connecticut:  1998.
High Standard Western Style Revolver Information
High Standard Western Style Revolver Production Data
 

Copyright 2008 by Ed Buffaloe.  All rights reserved.
Click on the pictures to open a larger version in a new window.

Please contact the author if you can provide good photographs of High Standard (or Sears) revolvers not shown here.

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