The JC Higgins Model 80 is a Sears branded High Standard Duramatic pistol. High Standard had a close relationship with Sears, to the point where the Sears decision to stop selling firearms seriously damaged the High Standard Company and contributed to its demise.
Researching the Higgins Model 80 is best done by researching the High Standard M-101 Duramatic. The Model 80 is a M-101, with the Sears brand stamped in place of the High Standard.
The Duramatic .22 semi-auto pistol was designed as a low cost plinker and informal target shooting pistol. One interesting feature was the easily removable barrel (something High Standard designed into most of their .22 autos). Production began in 1954 as the M-100, with a barrel mounting change in 1957 resulting in the model change to M-101.
The Sears Model 80 is the High Standard M-101, so the earliest it could have been sold in Sears stores was 1957. Sears dropped the JC Higgins name in favor of Ted Williams in 1961, which limits the sale run of Model 80’s to 1957 thru 1961. Given leftover stock, that means a 4-5 year period of retail sales on the JC Higgins Model 80. Not a long run!
The pistol has some interesting features. The barrel can be swapped out without tools, and in fact is normally removed as part of field stripping. There were two barrel lengths available, 4.5” and 6.5”. The original box was cut out to accommodate both barrel lengths. High Standard sold the pistol as a set, with both barrels.
Another feature, or curse, is the unique grip design. The plastic oversized target style grip is held on by one screw through the base.
The grip itself comprises the entire lower part of the pistol, including the magazine housing. Alternative grips were not available.
Sights are usable, but minimal. A target width blade front is combined with a drift adjustable square notch rear. The trigger is actually pretty decent for an inexpensive plinker pistol, with a crisp and relatively light let off. The rear of the firing pin and bolt is visible at the rear of the slide, and acts as a cocking indicator. Another fun-fact... there is a "Silvery" plate inset on the left side of the grip. This is billed as a great place to have the owners initials engraved to personalize the pistol.
I bought this pistol from a local gun shop for my collection. It came as pictured, and I picked it up for a reasonable price that practically guarantees a healthy return on investment should I ever sell it. These bargains are out there, if we look. It takes time, spent stopping in at local gun shops, reading classified ads, and being ready to jump on the bargains as they come into sight. Time also has to be invested in study, to understand both the basics and minutia of this field.
I think it’s time well spent, not only in terms of investment, but in interest, enjoyment, and the ability to hold history in our hands.
The pistol shoots like a dream. It can hold one inch groups at fifty feet, which is better than I can normally shoot a pistol.
I've decided to sell it..... please allow me to explain.
Judging by serial numbers, it seems that only a few hundred of these JC Higgins (Sears) branded High Standard Duramatics were sold. This one is in the original box, with the original magazine and papers. Frankly, it belongs in the hands of a High Standard collector. Everything I own is a shooter... period. As will this be if I keep it.
I'll sell it for $275 plus shipping, or trade for a Ruger 22/45 or Mk3.