The old JC Higgins 12 gauge question

Discussion in 'Large-Bore/Small-Bore Rifle/Shotgun' started by WHSmithIV, Mar 3, 2013.

  1. WHSmithIV

    WHSmithIV Well-Known Member

    May 3, 2012
    Moore, Idaho
    I've been working on this old J.C. Higgins bolt action, tube fed shotgun shotgun I bought. I will certainly have more questions in the near future, but this first question is about the safety lever.

    The safety lever does work though not really well. After removing the bolt and working on cleaning it all up in the bolt area what I found was some type of 'cotton'? wadding that the safety pulls back on. With the safety in the back position (towards the shooter), the trigger is disengaged and in the forward position the trigger engages. Bringing the safety lever back, this wadding does push the lever forward some though not enough to disengage the safety.

    Does anyone know if this was normal for these shotguns? I would expect more of something like a 'click' I could feel or hear when disengaging and engaging the safety.
  2. Fatstrat

    Fatstrat Well-Known Member

    Apr 17, 2003
    W/O knowing the actual model number, it's hard for us to answer. Step one in any firearms repair or restoration is knowing the actual make/model.
    If you go to the Numrich Arms website (Google it), and click on "BrandCross Reference" at bottom of home page, it will take you to a list of store brand guns. And tell you what the actual MFG and MFG model number is.
    Then you can go to the Numrich listing for that MFG model gun and perhaps they might have a parts schematic.

  3. WHSmithIV

    WHSmithIV Well-Known Member

    May 3, 2012
    Moore, Idaho
    It's a JC Higgins model 583.17
  4. WHSmithIV

    WHSmithIV Well-Known Member

    May 3, 2012
    Moore, Idaho
    I figured out what that cotton wadding is behind the internal safety mechanism. It is bedding between the stock and the receiver. From the bit I pulled out it is cotton that has expanded over the years from simple oiling and cleaning. The safety spring is very weak so I will need to disassemble this old shotgun to replace it. I think with this nice old shotgun I will send a couple 00 buckshot shells down the barrel before I redo this nice old piece. Since the value of them isn't high and I certainly didn't pay very much for it (less than $100 with the FFL transfer), I will strip the barrel and feed tube and the bolt area where the bluing is worn and simply re-blue them. I will gently sand the stock, refinish with tung oil and reassemble - and replace that annoying safety spring in the process. I'll look at that original bedding of the action to the stock and see if I replace that also - most likely I will but I don't know with what yet. I won't try to take all the little dings out of the stock, just smooth them out.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2013
  5. Big D NatVPPHCW-MA

    Big D NatVPPHCW-MA New Member

    Oct 14, 2013
    Ogden Utah
    I have a 12 Ga. Pump JC Higgins with no serial #s that i can find. How would i be able to find the age of this particular shotgun ??? Its not in bad condition altho it does get really stiff ejecting after a box of shells at the trap club . When it cools down it goes back to normal on the ejection cycle, when i rack the slide.
    Im asking here because i just signed up on this site and haven't figured out how to start a post on here yet. Any info would be greatly appreciated thanks. Big D
  6. berto64

    berto64 Active Member

    Your Higgins 12 ga. pump could be a Mod 20 which was made by High Standard for Sears in the fifties. It compares to the High Standard mod 200 of that era.

    How clean is this gun? A good cleaning could make a big difference in performance.

    You might make sure that 1. it is sufficiently lubricated or 2. It is not over lubricated. When the action gets hot it expands which might cause the binding which stops the action from performing properly.

    Pictures would help in identifying the firearm.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2013
  7. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

    Feb 22, 2004
    Goodyear, Arizona
    The J C Higgins Model 583.13 through 583.22 were recalled years ago ( but the recall is still in effect ) because of the failure of the bolt and receiver. When the recall first started Sears would pay 160.00 for return of the bolt, now they will give you a 30 dollar gift card. Not all the guns were dangerous, only a few blew the bolt and hot gases back in the shooters face. There is a lot of misinformation on these guns. People like to say it was only the retaining screw that would fail and during cycling the bolt could be pulled back into the shooters face. The facts, the receiver cracked and the bolt would wind up in the shooters forehead. It is like the old low number Springfield 03's. Many have been shot with thousands of rounds so the story starts that the low serial number heat treatment problem was a myth. No. It was not a myth, it is only that the ones that were prone to blow up have already done so. Perhaps your shotgun is one that will never have problems, do you feel lucky??
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