The name may be gone from the list of current American firearms producers, but almost every rimfire handgunner and collector is familiar with High Standard for good reason. These sleek guns showed futuristic lines, a reputation for both reliability and accuracy, and enough model variants to suit nearly every shooter. 

Here’s more on the High Standard Sport King we unearthed from the depths of the Vault and the reasons we’ll always be on the lookout for steals wearing the High Standard brand. 

High Standard History

High Standard Sport King .22 LR Pistol
High Standard built a following almost by accident. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

The story of High Standard reaches back to the mid-1920s in Connecticut, not as a dedicated gun builder, but rather a company producing deep-hole bore drills and machinery for other firearms producers. Their own gun building has roots in the 1930s after acquiring the little-known Hartford Arms and commencing production of .22 caliber handguns. 

The majority, believe it or not, were sold to the United States as training tools for WWII soldiers. When those same brave young men returned from overseas, they sought out the High Standard brand, and that history became the greatest advertisement the company never planned on having. 

High Standard Sport King 1957 Christmas ad
High Standard Sport King 1957 Christmas ad


High Standard Sport King .22 LR Pistol
Despite seeing success, the High Standard line faced some challenges as political waves hit. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

The now-infamous Gun Control Act of 1968 hit High Standard – and many other firearm manufacturers – with a vengeance. That led to downsizing and relocation, with High Standard selling off the Hamden plant and opening the doors of its East Hartford facility. Though there were some good years running into the early 1980s, firearm sales were lean. In short order, the company was parted out by models and trademarks. 

What seemed a lasting renaissance occurred in 1993 when what became known as the High Standard Manufacturing Company acquired all the related assets they could muster and opened the doors in Houston, Texas, to resume production. Though we’ve yet to discover the exact number of handguns produced with the Texas markings, the latest iteration of High Standard remained in business well into the 2010s. 

High Standard Models Galore


High Standard Sport King .22 LR Pistol
The Sport King, like others, hosted a takedown button on the front of the trigger guard. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

It’s nearly impossible to delve into the full details of High Standard’s production over the years in this short space, but suffice it to say the company’s reach was vast. Over time, it produced mainly handguns, including plinkers, target guns, long barrels and short, as well as serious competition pieces. If you’ve ever heard the term “space gun,” odds are good that was a reference to High Standard.

Though the .22 Long Rifle chamberings are surely the most well-known, the company also put out dedicated .22 Short pistols. But it wasn’t only repeaters. In fact, the High Standard name is found on many western and police-style revolvers as well as snub-nosed dual-barreled Derringers. Savvy gun shoppers will even have noticed a line of High Standard shotguns. A vast majority of variants catered to cost-conscious buyers, while maintaining a reputation for reliability. 

High Standard Sport King .22 LR Pistol
The blowback design is simple but reliable and effective. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

In addition to the High Standard brand, the company also produced pistols for common department stores and aftermarket outlets, including names like Sears & Roebuck and J.C. Higgins. High Standard pistols have even claimed numerous Olympic medals – including several Golds – among countless other competition wins throughout the years.

In addition to our Sport King from the Vault, some of the more desirable repeater models included the Supermatic, Olympic, Trophy, Victor, and even a seldom seen 10-X. There was also the Citation and HD

Our Test Gun

The .22 LR chambered semi-automatic High Standard Sport King wears a 6.75-inch round, blued steel barrel. It is marked as the LW-100 model at the right of the slide. This particular model is an earlier one, marked as being built in “Hamden, Conn, USA” on the right of the flat-sided frame. 

There’s a takedown button at the front of the trigger guard, a feature common on many of the rimfire pistols. The early polymer grips wear angled strips of checkering, which add to the modern, futuristic look of the High Standards. Thumb rest grips, though only good for righties, fit the hand nicely and grant exceptional control for that target-shooting feel. 

High Standard Sport King .22 LR Pistol
This Sport King hosts a small High Standard logo at the base of the grip. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/
High Standard Sport King .22 LR Pistol
The sights are basic on this model, but High Standards went on to win glory in competition as well. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

The addition of a tiny High Standard logo near the bottom of the grip panels is a nice touch. Slide serrations are thin and straight, while other rimfires of the time used angled grooves. A gently serrated trigger shoe feels nice on the finger. The rear sight is simple but drift adjustable for windage. The front sight is a compact blade with a grooved ramp. 

Like many other rimfire pistols of the time, the magazine release sits at the base of the grip frame and moves rearward to release the mag. While our selection sadly did not include the original packaging, acquiring such a model with the box would certainly add to both collectibility and desirability. Grabbing one in clean, fireable condition for a song, however, may be the greatest gift of them all because High Standard’s rimfire pistols are reliable, accurate, enjoyable shooters from days now past. 

revolver barrel loading graphic