J.C. Higgins Model 88 .22 Revolver

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by dglockster, Dec 19, 2010.

  1. dglockster

    dglockster Member

    Jul 3, 2006
    DFW, Texas
    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.
  2. 22shot

    22shot New Member

    Oct 30, 2010
    U.S.of A.

    A very dstinctive handgun!

    The shape of the frame behind the cylinder tells it all. (aluminum frame)

    It was mfg. by High Standard as the Sentinal from 1955-1956; 9 shot; 3,4,or 6" barrel.

    It will chamber and fire .22 shorts and longs.

    Nice .22 revolver!
    And GREAT pics!
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2010

  3. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

    Feb 22, 2004
    Goodyear, Arizona
    Sears was the retailer, High Standard was the manufacturer. Your firearm is a version of the HS Sentinel. The 583.8 number was the catalog number or Sears stocking number ( No need to X out the number:) ) The serial number doesn't jibe with anything I have on High Standard, so they have very well used a different serial number series on guns that were retailed under the Sears Store Brand. However High Standard started manufacturing the Sentinel in 1950's. Store brands are considered a cheaper or cheapened down version of the parent company's line and as such usually are valued 15 to 20 percent less that a comparable Name Brand gun. As a guide the Sentinel is listed at 180 in excellent, 105 in very good, 85 in good, 70 in fair and 45 in poor. The value is not high but the High Standard revolvers are reliable firearms . Hope that helps.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2010
  4. 22shot

    22shot New Member

    Oct 30, 2010
    U.S.of A.
    Looking over the pics again...

    Is that a crack I see in the frame behind the cyl (with the hammer cocked); or just two scratch marks??
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2010
  5. dglockster

    dglockster Member

    Jul 3, 2006
    DFW, Texas
    Thank you for the information - especially about not dry firing.

    Also, I would not have known the frame was aluminum.

    Following the question about the two marks behind the cylinder, I looked at the gun with a magnifying glass. The two marks in question are scratches not cracks. Thank goodness because I do want to do some shooting with the revolver.

    Your comments on the pics are also appreciated.
  6. tcox4freedom

    tcox4freedom Well-Known Member

    The 6" version of this gun was the very 1st hg I carried on a regular basis. The little shooter saved my butt in a HIR and a confrontation with a bad neighbor. I sure hate mine was stolen in a burglary almost 15yrs ago. (I sure miss that little plinker.)
  7. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

    Dec 6, 2009
    They were a good little revolver and very accurate. They are OK with high speed .22 Long Rifle ammo. IIRC, the only differences between that gun and the regular H-S Sentinel were the grips and that little "hump" on the back of the trigger guard.

    Please don't attempt to take that gun apart without the manual or without asking here or asking someone familiar with the gun. Some have been ruined by wrong disasembly.

  8. SGVictor

    SGVictor Member

    Aug 2, 2005
    This Sears J. C. Higgins Model 88 Sears Identification number 583.880 was made by High Standard.

    The differences from teh High Standard sentinel were cosmetic - Grip, Spur on trigger guard, cylinder fluting and barrel lengths.

    The serial number ios fom the first year of production The first few Sentinels were made in the common serial number group and then the revolvers, Sentinel and Model 88, were put into a separate serial number group for something over a year and then returned to the common serial number system. serial numbers 1 to around 46,000+


    There are a number of different numbers associated with this revolver. The Sears Identification number 583.880 which breaks down to 583 being the Sears vendor code for High Standard. and 880 which is used to define the type gun, model and model variation.. Sears Catalog number was 124 for the short barrel and 125 for the long barrel. High Standard's catalog numebrs for these revolvers were 9130 for teh short barrel and 9131.
  9. shagagagunga

    shagagagunga New Member

    Dec 15, 2011
    Metro Detroit
    Those are scratches. I have one of these .22s as well and there is no spring on the ejector pin so you push the pin to eject the shells and then have to pull/push it back into the barrel before closing it otherwise you slam the pin against the frame.
  10. Snakedriver

    Snakedriver Active Member

    Mar 4, 2009
    SW. Florida
    My Dad has had one of those same pistols from Sears that he bought back in the 50's. It has always been superbly accurate. Yes, .22LR's are good to go in it and yes I think dry firing it is bad and will ding up the cylinder rim and the hammer mounted firing pin. Get some .22 snap-caps first if you want to dry fire it.

    While not a high value collector's item, they are still great pistols to have. Recently when my Dad was interested to know if there were any items in his estate that we wanted, I specifically mentioned that I didn't want much of anything in particular other than that old J. C. Higgins .22 revolver, it's a jewel to me.
  11. GEarl

    GEarl New Member

    Apr 27, 2016
    I too have one of this fine little .22s. Dad bought it new in the 50s, and it was what I first learned to shoot. When he died in 1984, it became mine. Had it to the range a month ago, and it's still accurate and fun to shoot. Just the sight of it brings back many good memories.
  12. Fatstrat

    Fatstrat Well-Known Member

    Apr 17, 2003
    Sentinel revolvers are becoming very collectible. I haven't seen one south of $200. in about 7 years. And in my experience, it makes no difference if it's a High Standard or Sears/Western Auto branded gun. Yes, Western Auto also sold them.
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