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Old 12-10-2010, 03:37 PM
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Default Space guns!

It was the summer of 1962, and a young Army lieutenant was on the firing line with his Army-issued Ruger Mark I .22 pistol. The rapid-fire phase of the .22 bullseye course was finishing, and his pistol barked five times in measured cadence. Rather pleased with his performance as revealed through the spotting scope, he walked down to the targets to formally score and verify the performance of the competitor on his right. The target of the Marine captain on his right, however, was phenomenal: a nice cluster of shots in the 10-ring. The lieutenant’s own performance showed a couple of shots straying into the 9 and 8 rings. When the string of shooting had finished, the young lieutenant looked at the gun the captain was putting away in his shooting box. Wow. It appeared for all the world like something out of a Buck Rogers comic strip. The barrel was long and tapered, with a beautifully streamlined recoil stabilizer on the muzzle. It had a couple of rakish weights attached to the underside of the barrel. The grip was slanted very much like the Luger pistol. The captain showed him how the wide trigger was easily adjustable for pull weight and overtravel. It had a slide lock which his issue Ruger lacked. And even more interesting, one could switch to longer, shorter or differently configured barrels with the push of a button in front of the trigger guard. The slide, when retracted, left plenty of open space for the spent shell to be ejected. There was no doubt that this pistol was seriously built for target shooting. “Go ahead, Lieutenant,” the captain grinned. “You’re welcome to put a few rounds down range with it if you like.” A target was taped to the target frame, and the lieutenant let fly a trial rapid-fire string. One round, a called flyer, was in the 9 ring, but there was a nice group in the 10-ring, with one X. And that was my introduction to the racy Hi-Standard .22 target pistols of that era, as I was that young lieutenant. Unfortunately, a junior officer with a family could in no way afford such a delightful and relatively expensive paper-punching tool, so I carried on with the issued Ruger. Still, I lusted after that High Standard “space gun” pistol! It wasn’t until many years later that I was able to find and afford one. It’s illustrated here in the first picture. This is a Model 103 6 ”-barreled Supermatic Citation. It was made in 1963, still complete with an original box, stabilizer, tools, papers and extra magazine. It’s a hard-to-find classic.




And just for comparison, here's a duplicate of the gun from my service arms room that I had to use!



The line of target pistols nicknamed the “space guns” began in late 1957 when the High Standard Manufacturing Corporation of Hamden, Connecticut started production on their Model 102 series. These were radical guns for their time, and attracted a lot of attention with their futuristic design features. No other .22 pistols were quite like them. There were four basic models. The Supermatic Trophy was the top of the line, with a high polish and gold-plated trigger. The Supermatic Citation was identical except for finish, and had plastic grips instead of the walnut grips of the Trophy. The Olympic Trophy and Citation models were chambered for the .22 short cartridge, and were designed for Olympic rapid-fire competition. There were two different configurations of the Olympic series, one designed as an out-of-the-box contender in ISU (International Shooting Union) competition. It had a unique 6 ” barrel with an integral rather than a detachable stabilizer. At the Pan-American games of 1959, the .22 rapid-fire champion, runner-up and the entire 4-man winning United States team all used Hi-Standard Olympic Citations. Captain Bill McMillan of the United States Marine Corps won a .22 rapid-fire Olympic gold medal in Rome with an ISU Olympic in 1960. The fourth model of the 102 series was the Tournament, a no-frills economy model without some of the advanced features of the more expensive guns. Each of these models would accept different barrels interchangeably. Barrels offered were a 10-incher with an integral rear sight over the chamber, an 8-incher with integral rear sight, and a 6 -incher with no rear sight. The rear sight was mounted on the slide on this model, giving a longer sight radius than even the 10-inch barrels. Many tournament shooters accordingly preferred this length of barrel. At Camp Perry, Ohio in 1959, Hi-Standards were used in a clean sweep of the first 3 places in the .22-caliber championship. In fact, the Hi-Standard guns of this period routinely outnumbered all other makes on the line, and in most cases were more prevalent than all other makes combined! The High Standard company touted these facts in their advertisements in the gun press, and sales soared.

Here's a pic of another "space gun" I acquired about a year or so ago. It's a Citation series 102 with an 8" barrel, made in May, 1958:



As a side note, it’s correct to refer to the company as “High Standard” while the guns themselves are “Hi-Standard” and are so marked on the guns.

The Model 103 versions of these models came out in late 1960. The 103s were visually identical to the Model 102s, differing only slightly in the internals. A 5 -inch bull barrel with a recessed muzzle was offered as an option in early 1962. This barrel was grooved on top to match the groove pattern on the top of the slide. The standard stabilizer also worked on the bull barrel, and special weights were provided for it. The bull barrel became very popular. A 7 ” fluted barrel also came onstream. Walnut grips became standard on the Citation 103s, replacing the plastic grips used on the Citation 102s.

The Model 104 series replaced the Model 103s in late 1963. These models reflected manufacturing changes designed to decrease production costs. The anti-backlash screw on the right side of the frame was eliminated, replaced by an Allen-head screw in the center of the trigger. Minor frame changes took place a few years later.

The Model 104s were the last of the “slant grip space guns.” New “military grip” models were introduced in 1965 that mimicked the angle and feel of the Colt Model 1911 grip. These became the more popular models. The 10-inch space gun was the first to be discontinued, although it was sparingly produced through 1965. The only remaining slant grip model was the bull barrel Citation, which soldiered on until 1976. By 1966, however, the old slant grip models were almost entirely superceded by the Model 106 Military models.

Unfortunately, High Standard folded in 1984, yielding to other competitors such as Ruger and Smith and Wesson. In recent years, it has been resurrected as a new company out of Houston Texas, featuring only the military-grip models. The old slant-grip “space gun” target models are no more, and are available only on the used gun market. In their day, these pistols had no equal and were in the hands of those top competitors who recognized quality, style and performance. Even today, they will hold their own on the bullseye circuit. Prices are rapidly escalating, particularly if you find one accompanied by an original box, accessories and papers. The Hi-Standard “space guns” have become true collectibles and icons from the golden era of widespread competitive bullseye shooting. Finding one of these truly classic handguns in good shape has become a challenge today. Their owners prize them, and most aren’t willing to part with them!

Thought you might enjoy these recollections and observations of an old bullseye shooter from days gone by.

John
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Last edited by PALADIN85020; 12-10-2010 at 03:59 PM.
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Old 12-10-2010, 04:29 PM
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As we's used to say,
"Buck had a raygun...Not an everyday gun,"

Those ol' supermatics sur nuf shot like lazer ray gun.

Su Amigo,
Dave
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Old 12-10-2010, 05:02 PM
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Thanks for that interesting and informative post. As a younger fellow I was able to acquire a couple military grip pistols, which I still have, and I hate to admit that I shot them better than my long-barrelled Model 41. I used them for a few years until someone insisted I try a 5-1/2" heavy barrel Model 41, and that eventually drove me away from my Hi-Standards. They were never quite as trouble-free (for me, anyway) as the 41. I always wanted to try one of the space guns, but never saw one at a reasonable price. I think I will have to drag out the Hi-Standards again and see if they will still go bang.
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Old 12-10-2010, 05:34 PM
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I did some lusting after those in the day. I was awfully taken with the 4 1/2" Woodsman Match Target, too.

Still have my 1960 Stoeger's Bible ("wish book") that I bought for $2 as a gun-struck teenager.
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Old 12-10-2010, 06:46 PM
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My first handgun was a 101 Dura-Matic. It taught me a great deal about shooting and I still have it.
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Old 12-10-2010, 07:06 PM
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What a wonderful and interesting post! Thanks for sharing.
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Old 12-10-2010, 07:29 PM
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My dad had a Hi-Standard Field King, the plinker and small game hunting version of that line. It shot pretty well, as I recall. I still prefer the Rugers.

Can anyone recall the guns used on the TV version of Buck Rogers? And has anyone got pics of Wilma Dearing? Or of the evil space princess who caused problems for Buck and Wilma? She was a real fox!
I remember Wilma being played by Erin Gray, a former model.

It is interesting to compare the Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, and Star Trek phasers as future guns. Or, Han Solo's modified Mauser C-96...

Without the barrel weights and the fixture at the muzzle, a Hi-Standard does indeed look rather "spacy." It's a little surprising that none has been used in a space TV show or movie.


T-Star

Last edited by Texas Star; 12-10-2010 at 07:31 PM.
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Old 12-12-2011, 02:21 AM
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I just bought a Hi-Standard "space gun" yesterday at a gun show. I knew what it was and really wanted it. When I got home I took a longer look at it and did some searching. Near as I can tell it is a real composite.
The parkerized frame is marked as a Flite King.The slide is steel marked Model 102 with a different serial# than the frame. The .22lr barrel is 8" with 2 barrel weights and stablizer. There is a Hi-Standard site that I'm going to contact to find out dates of the pieces.
The grips are checkered walnut target grips that I was told were Herrets, but whoever put them on spent a lot of time getting the fit right. The fit to my hand is like an extension of my arm, tho it is a mighty heavy piece of iron.
Haven't shot it yet,but I'm really looking forward to it.

rr
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Old 12-12-2011, 03:47 AM
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Thanks, John. Great writing as always. I haven't been
exposed much to Hi-Standards. The few I've seen looked
like superbly made firearms, and I wondered why they weren't
more popular. I'm thinking that anyone who ever handled one
would know it was well crafted.

rr, welcome aboard! How about a shooting impressions post
after you try out your new one?
TACC1
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Old 12-12-2011, 07:38 AM
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What a terrific, informative report. I will probably never have the chance to but one of these guns, but at least if I see one, I'll have some idea of what I'm looking at.
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Old 12-12-2011, 07:47 AM
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Very interesting and informative posts. Thanks for sharing.

As I read your story, I kept thinkin', ain't it a shame that folks cain't afford things like them pistols and Corvettes and such until we are so old that they don't make any difference.

By the time a feller gits one of them guns, the shakes has took care of any difference the gun woulda did.

Corvettes? Yah, well, that's anuther story.
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Old 12-12-2011, 07:50 AM
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Great story and pics! I have a a his-n-hers pair of '53 vintage Supermatics that Mom and Dad used to shoot bullseye up into the 60's. Always thought the Citations were very neat looking guns.
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Old 12-12-2011, 08:31 AM
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Default Thank you

Thank you for your time, and effort in making this excellent informative posting.

I have been curious about these pistols, but have never taken the time to educate myself.

A few years ago I met a fellow who was selling off part of his collection to fund a new horse. He had a dozen High Standards, and a dozen S&W 41s for sale. He was in a rush to sell, and the prices were very good. I could only afford one at the time, and opted for a 1981 Model 41, 5 1/2" barrel, that only had 50 rounds through it. I was not familiar with the High Standards, and was concerned about getting parts if anything ever went wrong. I was also pretty confused with all the barrels, weights, etc. that went with the "Space Guns." It was more than I needed, or wanted for my type of shooting.

With reading this posting I now realize that he had "top of the line" High Standards, but I am still happy that I got the Smith. It has been a good accurate pistol, and I have enjoyed it every time that I have shot it.

Best Wishes,
Tom
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Old 12-12-2011, 01:17 PM
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Here's a 102 Series Supermatic Citation with the 10" barrel.
I use it for bullseye, and it's got the finest trigger action I've ever shot.
As an old High Standard collector, I'm here to tell you that there are no better .22 target pistols.
My S&W 41 and 46 are excellent, as are the Colt Match targets, but this odd-looking gun is at the top of the heap.
Don
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Old 12-12-2011, 02:09 PM
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Just to add to the picture collection.. Here's a 102 Trophy (pretty much the same as the Citation except for a higher grade finish..)
This one belongs to a friend and, believe me, I tried my best to talk him out of it. No such luck! (It belonged to his wife's departed husband who had been an Air Force shooter.)

He brought it to me to see if I could figure out why it was doubling. Turns out that the original owner had been messing around with the springs trying to improve an already great trigger. He had it down to around 1.5 lbs by cutting a couple of turns off the hammer spring. This caused a weaker hammer strike so he replaced the FP spring with a weaker one. The incorrect FP spring didn't fit right and was jamming the pin causing all kinds of problems. I replaced all the springs with factory spec ones and everything is now working as intended.

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Old 12-12-2011, 02:35 PM
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Those have been on my short list FOREVER. Like a 750 Norton, a 1963 Jaguar XKE, or a 1967 GTO. It's style was ahead of EVERYTHING and remains so to this day.
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Old 12-12-2011, 03:51 PM
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If we are going to talk about "Space Guns" here is another one that's not a HS. It's a Ljutic Trap Gun and they were fairly expensive in their day.



here's a couple of links that have a short description of it and more pictures.
The National Firearms Museum: Ljutic Industries Space Gun

Photo - Smoothbore From Space, Ljutic's Space Gun: NRA National Firearms Museum Featured Gun - YouTube
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Old 12-12-2011, 05:19 PM
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It's threads like this that make this forum someplace special. Beautiful guns, thanks for sharing.

Last edited by rondo; 12-12-2011 at 07:19 PM.
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Old 12-12-2011, 06:11 PM
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Great thread and photos. Here is a Model 103 Supermatic Citation my Dad gave me about 50 years ago. I still enjoy taking it out on occasion and putting a few rounds through it.

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Old 03-31-2014, 04:07 PM
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Default Space Guns

Hello

I am looking for an HS Olympic, 22 Short, Model 102, 103, or a model 104.
7 3/8" barrel, weights, etc.
Anyone have one for sale.
Please PM if there is one available.
Thank you.

# Six-3-1-four 82-four 568
Ed
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Old 03-31-2014, 04:48 PM
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When I saw "Space Guns" I thought it was going to be another Whitney Wolverine thread; but the Hi-Standard also looks the part.

Thanks for the post, pictures, and great story. You always set the bar high.
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Old 03-31-2014, 07:43 PM
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Default Great story as usual...

You mentioned looking like a Luger. As long as I've been around (a pretty long time) I've always thought that the Luger LOOKED more 'futuristic' than any other pistol. As a matter of fact, I still feel that way.

I have an unfortunate feeling that the evil and frightening things the Nazis did, along with their awesome Tanks, planes and artillery (even jets and rockets) and efficient war machine, seeing a Luger gives me the willies. However, I could get over that feeling if I had one along with the thought that the Luger has LOT of history attached to it besides being a 'Nazi gun'.
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Old 03-31-2014, 10:35 PM
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I got into Army pistol shooting a little earlier; around 1958, so my Hi Standard Supermatic was the model before yours (S-101). I shot in the All-Army matches in, I believe, 1958 (and came in about third from the bottom). I went down the line during another relay and counted what was out there. Out of 50 shooters there were about 5 Rugers and one Hammerli; all the rest were Hi Standards. I still have that paper somewhere.

I traded mine for a S&W 41 a couple of years later, and my scores went up about 5 points over the NMC. I still have the 41 but didn't get another Supermatic until a few years ago when I found one at the local gun show.
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Old 05-29-2014, 02:00 PM
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Default 102 With Custom Grips

Found this forum by accident while searching for High Standard information. I have a fairly decent 8" 102 Citation that was tuned and checked out by Bob Shea. It came with plastic grips but I had Bob Leskovec make a reproduction pair of the wood grips from my 10" 102. I got the idea that a scrimshaw ivory medallion might look nice and I have enclosed some pictures of the results. One of my favorite target guns - a real gem to shoot!

Bryant
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Old 05-29-2014, 03:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PALADIN85020 View Post
It was the summer of 1962, and a young Army lieutenant was on the firing line with his Army-issued Ruger Mark I .22 pistol. The rapid-fire phase of the .22 bullseye course was finishing, and his pistol barked five times in measured cadence. Rather pleased with his performance as revealed through the spotting scope, he walked down to the targets to formally score and verify the performance of the competitor on his right. The target of the Marine captain on his right, however, was phenomenal: a nice cluster of shots in the 10-ring. The lieutenant’s own performance showed a couple of shots straying into the 9 and 8 rings. When the string of shooting had finished, the young lieutenant looked at the gun the captain was putting away in his shooting box. Wow. It appeared for all the world like something out of a Buck Rogers comic strip. The barrel was long and tapered, with a beautifully streamlined recoil stabilizer on the muzzle. It had a couple of rakish weights attached to the underside of the barrel. The grip was slanted very much like the Luger pistol. The captain showed him how the wide trigger was easily adjustable for pull weight and overtravel. It had a slide lock which his issue Ruger lacked. And even more interesting, one could switch to longer, shorter or differently configured barrels with the push of a button in front of the trigger guard. The slide, when retracted, left plenty of open space for the spent shell to be ejected. There was no doubt that this pistol was seriously built for target shooting. “Go ahead, Lieutenant,” the captain grinned. “You’re welcome to put a few rounds down range with it if you like.” A target was taped to the target frame, and the lieutenant let fly a trial rapid-fire string. One round, a called flyer, was in the 9 ring, but there was a nice group in the 10-ring, with one X. And that was my introduction to the racy Hi-Standard .22 target pistols of that era, as I was that young lieutenant. Unfortunately, a junior officer with a family could in no way afford such a delightful and relatively expensive paper-punching tool, so I carried on with the issued Ruger. Still, I lusted after that High Standard “space gun” pistol! It wasn’t until many years later that I was able to find and afford one. It’s illustrated here in the first picture. This is a Model 103 6 ”-barreled Supermatic Citation. It was made in 1963, still complete with an original box, stabilizer, tools, papers and extra magazine. It’s a hard-to-find classic.




And just for comparison, here's a duplicate of the gun from my service arms room that I had to use!



The line of target pistols nicknamed the “space guns” began in late 1957 when the High Standard Manufacturing Corporation of Hamden, Connecticut started production on their Model 102 series. These were radical guns for their time, and attracted a lot of attention with their futuristic design features. No other .22 pistols were quite like them. There were four basic models. The Supermatic Trophy was the top of the line, with a high polish and gold-plated trigger. The Supermatic Citation was identical except for finish, and had plastic grips instead of the walnut grips of the Trophy. The Olympic Trophy and Citation models were chambered for the .22 short cartridge, and were designed for Olympic rapid-fire competition. There were two different configurations of the Olympic series, one designed as an out-of-the-box contender in ISU (International Shooting Union) competition. It had a unique 6 ” barrel with an integral rather than a detachable stabilizer. At the Pan-American games of 1959, the .22 rapid-fire champion, runner-up and the entire 4-man winning United States team all used Hi-Standard Olympic Citations. Captain Bill McMillan of the United States Marine Corps won a .22 rapid-fire Olympic gold medal in Rome with an ISU Olympic in 1960. The fourth model of the 102 series was the Tournament, a no-frills economy model without some of the advanced features of the more expensive guns. Each of these models would accept different barrels interchangeably. Barrels offered were a 10-incher with an integral rear sight over the chamber, an 8-incher with integral rear sight, and a 6 -incher with no rear sight. The rear sight was mounted on the slide on this model, giving a longer sight radius than even the 10-inch barrels. Many tournament shooters accordingly preferred this length of barrel. At Camp Perry, Ohio in 1959, Hi-Standards were used in a clean sweep of the first 3 places in the .22-caliber championship. In fact, the Hi-Standard guns of this period routinely outnumbered all other makes on the line, and in most cases were more prevalent than all other makes combined! The High Standard company touted these facts in their advertisements in the gun press, and sales soared.

Here's a pic of another "space gun" I acquired about a year or so ago. It's a Citation series 102 with an 8" barrel, made in May, 1958:



As a side note, it’s correct to refer to the company as “High Standard” while the guns themselves are “Hi-Standard” and are so marked on the guns.

The Model 103 versions of these models came out in late 1960. The 103s were visually identical to the Model 102s, differing only slightly in the internals. A 5 -inch bull barrel with a recessed muzzle was offered as an option in early 1962. This barrel was grooved on top to match the groove pattern on the top of the slide. The standard stabilizer also worked on the bull barrel, and special weights were provided for it. The bull barrel became very popular. A 7 ” fluted barrel also came onstream. Walnut grips became standard on the Citation 103s, replacing the plastic grips used on the Citation 102s.

The Model 104 series replaced the Model 103s in late 1963. These models reflected manufacturing changes designed to decrease production costs. The anti-backlash screw on the right side of the frame was eliminated, replaced by an Allen-head screw in the center of the trigger. Minor frame changes took place a few years later.

The Model 104s were the last of the “slant grip space guns.” New “military grip” models were introduced in 1965 that mimicked the angle and feel of the Colt Model 1911 grip. These became the more popular models. The 10-inch space gun was the first to be discontinued, although it was sparingly produced through 1965. The only remaining slant grip model was the bull barrel Citation, which soldiered on until 1976. By 1966, however, the old slant grip models were almost entirely superceded by the Model 106 Military models.

Unfortunately, High Standard folded in 1984, yielding to other competitors such as Ruger and Smith and Wesson. In recent years, it has been resurrected as a new company out of Houston Texas, featuring only the military-grip models. The old slant-grip “space gun” target models are no more, and are available only on the used gun market. In their day, these pistols had no equal and were in the hands of those top competitors who recognized quality, style and performance. Even today, they will hold their own on the bullseye circuit. Prices are rapidly escalating, particularly if you find one accompanied by an original box, accessories and papers. The Hi-Standard “space guns” have become true collectibles and icons from the golden era of widespread competitive bullseye shooting. Finding one of these truly classic handguns in good shape has become a challenge today. Their owners prize them, and most aren’t willing to part with them!

Thought you might enjoy these recollections and observations of an old bullseye shooter from days gone by.

John
The Marine captain's name wasn't Bill McMillan, by any chance? He used a Hi-Std. .22 in the Olympics about 1960 to win a Gold Medal for the USA. Later: Oops! I read your text more carefully and you did note his achievement. But was the guy you met him? Not all Marines shoot that well.
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Old 05-29-2014, 03:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Texas Star View Post
The Marine captain's name wasn't Bill McMillan, by any chance? He used a Hi-Std. .22 in the Olympics about 1960 to win a Gold Medal for the USA. Later: Oops! I read your text more carefully and you did note his achievement. But was the guy you met him? Not all Marines shoot that well.
Nope - not Bill McMillan. But this Marine CPT was an enthusiastic pistol competitor. As I recall, he also had an S&W Model 52 "Master" semiauto in .38 special wadcutter caliber for centerfire matches. I got by with my accurized WWII-surplus Ithaca .45 auto. I used to think he "bought" his shooting prowess with equipment I couldn't afford, but we had some folks there at the time that could shoot better than I could with standard issue 1911A1s. I realize now that it's 90% shooting skill, and 10% equipment. Practice, practice, practice.

John
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Old 05-29-2014, 04:07 PM
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My first pistol acquired when I was 14 was a Hi-Standard "Sport-King" with interchangeable barrels. I still have it 58 years later. I also added a "Field King" and a Victor over the years. The Victor is a real tack driver.
Jim
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Old 05-29-2014, 11:18 PM
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Cpt. McMillian's gold (at Rome, I think), was more dramatic than that. In the Olympic rapid fire match tie scores are shot off at the 4 second stage. He was tied with a Russian shooter for the gold at the end of the match. In the shoot off, at 4 seconds for 5 shots on five different targets, the Rssian blinked; Cpt McMillian, won the gold. Ice water in his veins instead of blood!!
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1911, 22lr, bull barrel, bullseye, cartridge, colt, fluted, grooved, lock, military, model 41, olympic, overtravel, parkerized, recessed, ruger, scope, smith and wesson, walnut, woodsman

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