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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.  Early grips were white or black plastic, and later fake stag was available.  A few rare guns have checkered black plastic grips.  Sears sold the gun as the J.C. Higgins Ranger or 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 Posse did not have the underlug on the barrel to contain the cylinder release.  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 Marshall, like the Poss,e did not have the underlug on the barrel to hold the cylinder release.  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, though I still don’t recommend dry-firing if you can avoid it.

My 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.


The J.C. Higgins Ranger

The Ranger was made by High Standard for Sears Roebuck Company from 1958 through 1963, built on the same aluminum frame as the Double-Nine.  The cylinder of the Ranger was fluted in a distinctive pattern and the trigger, hammer, and grip frame were nickel plated, whereas the rest of the gun had a blued finish.  All Rangers were fitted with a 5-1/2 inch barrel.  There were three versions.  The first version (Sears ID number 583.990), marked “Ranger” on the barrel, was a W-100 series gun with no return spring for the cylinder ejector.  The second version (Sears ID number 583 .991), marked “Ranger” on the barrel, was a W-101 series gun, which likewise did not have a return spring for the cylinder ejector.  The third version (Sears ID number 583.992), marked “Model 90” on the barrel, was a W-103 series gun with a return spring in the cylinder ejector.  These guns all featured checkered black plastic grips with a medallion showing a saguaro cactus inset with the skull of a steer.  The Ranger is a relatively scarce gun.

References

Hi-Standard pistols & Revolvers: 1951-1984, by James Spacek.  Self published, Cheshire, Connecticut:  1998.
“J.C. Higgins Ranger” by Marcia Mighell.  High Standard Collectors’ Association Newsletter, Vol XVIII, No 2, June 2009.
High Standard Western Style Revolver Information
High Standard Western Style Revolver Production Data
 

Catalog Number

Start of Production

Series

Name

Barrel Length

Grips

Notes

9169

Apr. 1958

W-100 to 104

Double Nine

5.5”

Faux Ivory Plastic

Blue Finish - the most commonly found Western revolver

9170

Apr. 1958

W-100 to 106

Double Nine

5.5”

Black Plastic

Nickel Finish - the second most common Western revolver

9171

Sep. 1958

W-100

J.C. Higgins Ranger

5.5”

Black Plastic

Blue Finish - Sears ID 583.990 - scarce

9174

1959

W-101

J.C. Higgins Ranger

5.5”

Black Plastic

Blue Finish - Sears ID 583.991 - relatively scarce

9175

Sep. 1960

W-101 to 103

Double Nine

4.5”

Faux Ivory Plastic

Blue Finish - relatively scarce

9176

Sep. 1960

W-101 to 103

Longhorn

5.5”

Faux Ivory Plastic

Blue Finish - relatively scarce

9177

Sep. 1960

W-101 to 103

Longhorn

9.5”

Faux Ivory Plastic

Blue Finish - relatively scarce

9178

Sep. 1960

W-101 to 104

Longhorn

4.5”

Faux Pearl Plastic

Blue Finish - relatively scarce

9179

Sep. 1960

W-101 to 104

Longhorn

5.5”

Faux Stag Plastic

Blue Finish - relatively common

9180

Sep. 1960

W-101 to 104

Longhorn

9.5”

Walnut

Blue Finish - relatively scarce

9181

Sep. 1960

W-101 to 104

Posse

3.5”

Walnut

Blue Finish - relatively scarce

9182

Sep. 1960

W-101 to 104

Natchez

4.5”

Bird’s Head

Blue Finish - relatively common

9183

Feb. 1961

W-101? to 103

Posse

3.5”

Black Plastic

Blue Finish - scarce (rare if unmarked)

9184

Jan. 1961

W-101 to 103

Buntline Style (Longhorn)

9.5”

Black Plastic

Blue Finish - relatively scarce

9185

1961

W-103

J.C. Higgins Model 90

5.5”

Black Plastic

Blue Finish - Sears ID 583.992 - relatively scarce

9186

Feb. 1961

W101? to 103

Riverboat Style (Natchez)

4.5”

Black Plastic

Blue Finish - very scarce if unmarked

9199

Mar. 1966

W-104

Longhorn - Model 90

9.5”

Walnut

Blue Finish w/ Gold Grip Frame - very scarce

9300

Apr. 1970

W-105 to 106

Hombre

4” & 4.5”

Walnut

Blue Finish - relatively common

9301

Apr. 1970

W-105 to 106

Hombre

4” & 4.5”

Walnut

Nickel Finish - relatively common

9302

Apr. 1970

W-105 to 106

Durango

4.5”

Walnut

Blue Finish w/ Nickel Grip Frame - common

9303

Jan. 1973

W-105 to 106

Durango

4.5”

Walnut

Blue Finish w/ Blue Grip Frame - relatively scarce

9307

Apr. 1971

W-105 to 106

Durango

5.5”

Walnut

Blue Finish w/ Nickel Grip Frame - relatively common

9308

May 1971

W-105 to 106

Durango

5.5”

Walnut

Nickel Finish W/ Nickel Grip Frame - relatively scarce

9329

Dec. 1966

W-104 to 105

Double Nine

5.5”

Faux Stag Plastic

Blue Finish - quite common

9330

Jan. 1971

W-105 to 106

Marshall

5.5”

Faux Stag Plastic

Blue Finish - common

9330N

May 1973

W-105

NATO 49er (2nd ed.)

?

?

Blue Finish - very scarce, possibly rare

9399

Feb. 1967

W-104

Longhorn

9.5”

Walnut

Blue Finish - relatively common

51867

May 1971

W-105

NATO 49er (1st ed.)

?

?

Blue Finish - relatively scarce

Information from the High Standard Collectors’ Association Newsletter, Vol XX, No 4, December 2011& Vol XVIII, No2, June 2009

Copyright 2008-2016 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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