As a teenager, I had an opportunity to shoot a friend’s High Standard H-D pistol. This was the model with the exposed hammer, which I thought was cool because I was saturated with all the television westerns of the 1950’s, and all those guns had visible hammers. The friend also offered to sell the H-D model, but being totally committed to “the cowboy way,” I was saving my coins for a new Ruger Single Six. As a result the High Standard slipped from my grasp for what would turn out to be more than half a century, and while I was always disappointed, I realized I had made a conscious choice, and I shared some wonderful memories with that little Ruger throughout our years together. As a junior officer in the Air Force, I shot a few bullseye matches during the 1960s. Although the pistols we used were excellent, certainly well beyond my novice abilities, I always felt a tinge of envy when one of the other shooters pulled a Colt Match Target 22 from his pistol box for the rimfire stage of the match. It didn’t matter whether he won the match or finished last; what mattered was that he had the most elegant .22 pistol I’d ever seen.

Even more, it had the Colt logo emblazoned on the side, and nothing symbolized American handguns more than Colt. The dream to own one sprang to life and waited for more than four decades to become a reality. And now, after all the years, I was staring at both guns in the Elite Firearms case trying to decide whether it was my eyes or my memory that was playing tricks on me. I had both pistols pulled from the case for a quick inspection. This was not a serious value appraisal; I knew that if both guns were the real deal they would be going home with me. I’m a shooter, not a collector, and this looked like my opportunity to acquire two of the guns I’d missed in my youth to share some late-in-life field adventures. It wasn’t until I got home and pulled the reference books that I was able to identify specific model characteristics.

High Standard H-D

The High Standard has a serial number in the 173,000 range, meaning it’s a Model H-D Military made between 1945 and 1950. Interestingly it was not made for the government as a training gun but rather sold on the civilian market. This gun has the checkered walnut grips and external safety but not the trigger stop that was installed on later models. It has the H-D external hammer with both a full-cock and half-cock position. This model has the longer 6.75-inch round barrel (which I like on a field gun that will be used on small game and varmints) and an excellent bore.

The rear face of the front sight blade is vertical and has serrations to eliminate reflection and reduce glare. The rear sight appears quite rugged and is adjustable for windage and elevation but with only minor changes in elevation possible. The rear sight blade is enclosed by two half- moon shaped ears and rotates between a vertical position (highest elevation position) and about 45 degrees to the rear (lowest elevation position.) The sight picture is very crisp and precise.

The magazine release latch is on the bottom of the frame in the European style, rather than having a thumb release at the rear of the triggerguard in the American tradition. That strikes me as an odd choice for a handgun designed to prepare troops for the 1911, but it will work fine for my more recreational lifestyle. There are a few “goobers” on the H-D, but the bluing is original if slightly worn in places. Both pistols had serrations at the rear of the slides, a feature particularly appreciated on the H-D since it had no means of locking the slide to the rear.

Colt Match Target

When I first put my hands on the Colt Match Target in the store, it’s possible I started drooling a little. This was the classic bullseye match dream gun. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t shot a bullseye match in decades; the dream far outweighed the reality, and I was not going to miss this opportunity. Again, it was after arriving home that I really started to identify the model and time frame from which it came.

The 31st Edition of the Blue Book of Gun Values lists this Colt as a Woodsman 2nd Series Match Target Model. With its 6-inch heavy barrel and “S” suffix serial number it was manufactured between 1947 and 1955. The front sight blade is distinctly undercut on the top portion (that part that you see in the rear sight notch) with the bottom part of the blade even more severely angled into the base. The rear sight is the Colt Master Sight, which was introduced in 1953. The rear sight blade is enclosed in and protected from bumps by a solid piece of steel. The entire sight structure is fully adjustable for elevation while the blade insert is moved within the “steel sandwich” for changes in windage.

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