[Guest Post] Throwback to Older Days : JC Higgins Model 28 Auto-Loading .22 Caliber Rifle

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[ This guest post was written by Jon. ]

First off, I’m somewhat of a newbie to the realm of firearms and shooting so please don’t hold any naivety against me :P

The JC Higgins brand, for those who may not be familiar with the name, is a line of guns sold by Sears Roebuck & Co. in what I can only imagine were “the good old days,” when Sears and other retailers still sold firearms (If Sears still sells firearms where you’re reading this from, don’t think ill of me. I live in California and NOBODY sells guns anymore.) Anyways, this gun sports a barrel-length of 23 ¼” and an overall length of 41 3/4,“ weighing in at a good 5 pounds, 5 ounces. Now like I said, I’m no expert in firearms so I can’t comment on the specifications in too much detail, but I DO know that the gun feels great in the hand and is always a joy to take down to the range for some stress-relief! And though it may not have much in the way of ‘tactical’ features, or a plethora of aftermarket parts like a 10/22 might have, just one look at this fine piece of history and you know it is a “Grandpa’s gun.”

A few years back, around Christmas time, I started looking into buying “my first gun” because I’ve always loved BB guns, Airsoft guns, etc, and being 16 or so I figured it was a good time to “upgrade” to the real deal, my very own .22 rifle. And to be honest, I was leaning towards a new Ruger 10/22 or something from the Marlin/Savage lines, something relatively cheap yet reliable for the price and if at all possible, Made in America. In talking to my dad, though, it turned out that my grandpa Bob had this .22 rifle just sitting in his gun cabinet, collecting dust ever since he decided hunting and shooting was for us ‘younger’ types. So I got what I was looking for in a good starting-out rifle (cheap because it was my Christmas gift that year, and my favorite one at that!) and the added bonus of a little bit of family history in the gun. According to my dad, this is the very same rifle he used when he was a boy and my grandpa took him and his brother (My uncle Jon) out hunting. I don’t think my dad so much as ever killed a squirrel with it, but just knowing that it was carried in such a great father-son bonding experience brings me a little bit of joy. The rifle shoot straighter than I can (which isn’t saying much) and just has a classic look and feel to it that makes it a special part of family history and the greater history of American firearms.

The only visible blemish that I can see in the rifle is a single fairly minor scratch in the stock. I have no idea how that got there, and my dad is equally clueless how it got there. I like to think (and my imagination is just running wild here) that this blemish on theBlack Walnut stock came from the time when my grandpa was pulling a drowning puppy out of a river and was ambushed by a Wild Rampaging Grizzly Bear. Armed with only this .22 rifle, instead of shooting my grandfather clubbed that bear in the face; the scratch in the wood is from that bear’s teeth. That’ll show them darn bears who’s boss! :)

In conclusion I think this will always be at the top of my list of “favorite guns I own” even though I’m sure, through the years, I will amass quite a collection of other firearms of various accuracy, reliability, and tactical appeal. It’s a bit if a family heirloom and it was my first ever real firearm. Perhaps in reading this, you too might remember back to the first gun you ever owned or a treasured family firearm?

Any other questions about this gun in particular, I’d be happy to try and answer!

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  • daskro

    I too own a JC Higgins Model 28, although for entirely silly reasons I put an eotech 512 on it. Looks goofy as can be, but fun to shoot.

  • Herb

    Nice article, very refreshing. Hope to see you post more!

  • GaGator

    In 1958 I purchased a J.C. Higgins 12 ga. pump from the Sears Roebuck in Ocala, Fla. I was 15 at the time and paid $17 for it (2 months’ farm chores money.)

    The Sears sporting goods guy told me it was actually made by Savage Arms Co. It put 100′s of birds on our table and it’s still my favorite wing gun today.

  • Ladyfox

    I have to admit while there really is nothing special about it I think that’s what makes it special. I mean, when’s the last time you saw a bolt charging handle near the handguard instead of on the bolt itself?

    Thanks for sharing that story with us Firearms Blog junkies who were fearing withdrawals. ^_^

    Ladyfox,
    also a resident in the PRK

  • GMC70

    Good for you. And pass this same kind of relationship, and the symbols of it, to your own children.

    Congratulations on a fine piece of family history.

  • Jon

    Thanks for the feedback, glad you guys liked it :)

  • Steve

    Your “J.C. Higgins Model 28″ was made by Winchester and is the counterpart to the nearly identical .22 Auto sold under the Winchester name. Sears sold guns through the years under the “J.C. Higgins” or “Ted Williams” brands made variously by Savage, Mossberg, Winchester, Fabrique National, Marlin, and even Sako, to name a parial list. Some of the nicer Sears guns are gaining some collector interest.

  • Bob Z Moose

    Great post on a great lil’ gun. I, too, don’t get the need for a 22LR to be “tacticool” or to be souped up to the point of being semi-match, especially when it’s just going to be a plinker/squirrel gun. A nice little scope is about all you need. I got a 10/22 as my first gun around the same age you did. The only accessory I have on it is a Weaver .22 scope. Shoots good enough for squirrels and can make soda cans dance for hours. :D

    P.S. I can’t be sure, but I think your M28 is a copy of one of the popular Winchester .22 auto-loaders from back in the day. It just cost about 1/2 the price.

  • http://votefordavid.blogspot.com Vote For David

    That knife: It is a good one. My dad has had one about as long as he has had me and I am no spring chicken!

    I take gun photos as part of my job, and those are some pretty good ones.

  • http://guywithguns.blogspot.com chris

    I own 2 of the JC Higgins rifles, mine were both made by Hi-Standard. I love them more than any of my newer .22s.

  • M.G. Halvorsen

    Years ago I had a J.C.Higgins 16 Gauge double-barrel shotgun that my father reluctantly gave to me. I was 12 years old at the time and, back then, this wasn’t considered Child Endangerment. I killed many a jackrabbit over the next six years…and, at 50 cents a pair of ears bounty, a tidy side income in the early 1960′s. Somewhere over the next 10 years, a hitch in the U.S. Navy, another in the Army, many other adventures, etc. the old cannon disappeared. I have several other guns now, but that old 16 gauge is still missed. Thanks for the memories.

  • JamesD

    That brings back some memories for me. That JC Higgins looks like my Remington Speedmaster.

    My dad bought the Speedmaster for me when I was 12. It was an early birthday present and come to think of it, it was my Christmas present as well that year.

    Dad took me gun shopping to pick out a rifle. Nobody had the pump version I wanted, and the other 22 rifles Cabelas had (back when it was in the old John Deere building) were too expensive, so we decided to wait.
    Shortly after that that (a few days I believe), ALCO advertised the exact rifle I wanted on sale.
    When we got there, they only had the semi-auto left in stock. The clerk said the last pump sold earlier that day.
    We were both disappointed the didn’t have the pump but thought the price was too good to pass up after what we had looked at. I still remember picking it up with my dad. It was $112 on sale and it has worked flawlessly for around 35 years.

    When I went away to college the Speedmaster served as my dad’s 22 on and off during periods when he’d trade his “next 22″ for something else. He had a Remington Apache 77, a lever action Ruger 22 (which he regretted trading the Apache for since he hated the Ruger) and a couple others but he always preferred the Speedmaster.

    I’d plink with it when I came home but left it for him most of the time until a few years ago when I finally claimed it back. My Dad was getting old, and the Speemaster was getting difficult for him to hold up to aim.
    Dad didn’t think he needed another 22 at his age and wouldn’t buy one for himself so I returned the favor and bought him a lightweight Mossberg Plinkster as a Christmas gift for $99. When I handed it to him and he felt how light ist was his face lit up because he knew he could shoot it. That rifle, some spinning targets, and a brick of 22s traveled in the trunk of my dad’s car until he passed away a couple months ago.

    Now the Plinkster is being passed to my nephew to teach “the grand kids” to shoot. And the Speedmaster? Well, its sitting next to me. I was cleaning it and thinking about my dad shortly before I saw this post.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Paul

    im looking for an action bar for a jc higgins model 28?

  • Larry

    If anyone out there can help , I’m in need of a barrel for the Mod. 28; same 583.71 barrel as above.