The pictures below show a double-action .22 caliber J.C. Higgins Model 88 revolver that I recently inherited. I am interested in learning more about this revolver and I will be pleased to read any responses.
There is a five digit number (168XX) on the left front right of the lower frame, just above and in front of the trigger guard. There is a different six digit number (583.8XX) on the left side of the barrel just below the name “J.C. Higgins.”
The gun, while appearing well used also appears to have been well maintained. To me, there is no discernible wear on the crown of the muzzle (however, I am not a gunsmith). Overall, the revolver is “tight” and when shaken, there is no sound whatsoever. The bore is bright with no pitting. While the barrel appears to be blued, the rest of the gun seems to have a matte finish of some type. There is no exterior rust but the left side does show two places where the finish has been rubbed away so bare metal shows. Also, there is noticeable wear on either side of the hammer but more so, on the left. The “firing pin” is more of a wedge than a pin. When cocking the hammer, the pawls of the cylinder click-click in a very crisp manner and the hammer also clicks into the cocked position with a positive action. The cylinder itself, which holds nine cartridges, shows the expected ring but otherwise very little damage. Its timing is as it should be. The cylinder rod is tight and opening the cylinder is somewhat awkward. The cylinder chambers themselves appear to be clean. The rear sight appears to be adjustable for windage by pushing the sight either right or left. There is a one-piece plastic grip with a screw in the bottom for the removal of the grip (which I have not done.) There are no breaks, scratches, chips, etc. in any manner in the grip and the checkering is not worn. While having neither shot nor dry-fired the revolver, I have manipulated the trigger enough to tell that it will be very heavy when fired by squeezing the trigger. The trigger face is not smooth, but striated.
Here are my questions:
I know that J.C. Higgins firearms were sold by Sears Roebuck. However, I doubt that Sears manufactured the firearms so who manufactured the Higgins brand and more specifically, what would be the time frame for this particular revolver?
The barrel is stamped “.22 caliber.” Does that mean long rifle only, or will it also fire shorts and longs?
Also, not really knowing how to measure the barrel length, I got measurements of both 3-1/2 inches and 4-1/2 inches. Therefore, I would like to know its length.
Why are there two sets of different numbers on the revolver and which is the serial number (I tend to think it is the five digit number). What is the purpose of the non-serial number?
Is the rear sight really windage adjustable or does it just give that appearance?
Value wise, I figure the revolver is worth $100 to $200 in its current condition. Is that about right?
Will dry-firing damage the firing mechanism of this revolver?
Thank you for taking the time to look and I look forward to reading any comments that are made.