The gun we are looking at today is a bolt action shotgun in 16 gauge. Labeled the J.C. Higgins model 583.2 (also known as the model 10).
The model number is based on a system Sears used to identify the supplier and the gauge.
583 was the supplier number for High Standard and the .2 designated it as a 16 gauge, 1st year introduction.
583.1 = 12 Gauge, 1st year
583.2 = 16 Gauge, 1st year
583.3 = 20 Gauge, 1st year
583.4 = 12 Gauge, 2nd year
583.5 = 16 Gauge, 2nd year
and so on.
There is some confusion as to the origin of the design. The following is what I have pieced together from my research, forgive me if any info is in error.
Prior to WWII Harrington and Richardson made a gun known as the H&R model 120/121 which externally looked identical to the Sears model 10.
After the war Sears hired High Standard to build them a copy of the H&R. This coincides with Sears using the numbering system and the trade name: J.C. Higgins.
Although some say that Sears purchased the rights to the H&R design, which is possible, because H&R only made the guns in 1940 and 1941 and did not resume production after the war.
There were some changes, including the addition of a 12 gauge offering (the H&R guns were in 16 & 20 gauge only) and some internal differences which may be due to patents held by H&R or perhaps cost cutting measures implemented by High Standard.
Either way internally the H&R and High Standard built guns are different, while externally they appear identical.
The H&R model 121
One interesting note, Sears issued a recall on the 12 gauge model 10s, due to the receiver failing at the bolt handle lug, causing the bolt to eject into the shooters face. The recall only covered the 12 gauge models as the smaller gauges didn't seem to fail. Perhaps this is why H&R didn't make them in 12 gauge?
In the photo below you can see the broken material next to the safety lever.
High Standard designated this design as the BA-1 and according to internal documents they also sold the gun to other retailers. Although I have yet to see one. All of the Western Auto Revelation and Montgomery Wards Western Field bolt action shotguns appeared to be made by Mossberg or Savage.
As stated the gun is a bolt action type, with the shoulder of the bolt resting against the receiver acting as the only locking lug. The Safety lever resided on the right side of the gun, just above the trigger and behind the bolt handle.
Some of the guns came with a recoil lug just ahead of the trigger, mid-stock.
The bolt cocked on closing and featured dual opposing extractors. Removal of the bolt was facilitated by removing a screw on the left side of the receiver, just forward of the roll stamps.
The tubular magazine held four rounds and was loaded from underneath the stock, much like a modern pump shotgun. The screw ahead of the loading gate was for separating the stock from the barreled action.
The 26" barrel was equipped with a Full Choke and chambered for 2 3/4" shells.
up front was a brass bead sight
The stock was made from straight grain American Walnut and had a recoil absorbing pad. I have found two styles that were used a red one and a black one.
Caliber/Gauge: 12, 16 & 20 Gauge - 2 3/4"
Capacity: 4 + 1
Weight: Approx. 11 lbs
Barrel Length: 26"
Stock material: Walnut
Finish: Blued Carbon Steel
According to Guns Magazine, these guns originally retailed for $29.95, and for .45 cents more, Sears would throw in a case and cleaning kit.....That is about $400 and $6 in 2017 monies...
This ad shows the gun on sale for just $24.95, click on the picture for a larger version
This particular gun is a 583.2 (1st year, 16 gauge), it was made in 1946 and was one the first to carry the J.C. Higgins name. I bought it from a local private party for $80 several years ago.
The bluing was in good shape, but the stock had been redone by a backyard amateur and was in need of help. I removed the old varnish, sanded it down and applied a Tru-Oil finish which really brought out the beauty of the walnut.See the refinishing job here
before and after
These guns can be found at very reasonable prices, they have not yet garnered attention from collectors, but that seems to be changing. The prices range from $25 for ones in poor condition to $180 for pristine examples.
Here is a nice example that someone engraved and put a high polish blued finish on.
Sears & Roebuck
John Stimson High Standard.info