High Standard Manufacturing Company, Inc. is a Texas corporation with manufacturing facilities in Houston, Texas. Its primary objective is the manufacture and sale of world famous high quality .22 target pistols, replacement parts and accessories at the best possible value to our customers.
The company was founded in Connecticut in 1926 as a supplier of deep hole drills and specialty machines to the numerous firearms companies in the Connecticut Valley. In 1932, the company, headed by Carl Gustav Swebilius, purchased the Hartford Arms and Equipment Company and began making .22 caliber pistols.
Development continued and significant sales of .22 caliber pistols were made to the U.S. Government which trained hundreds of thousands of servicemen in World War II using the High Standard pistols. During the war, the company also produced hundreds of thousands of .50 caliber machine guns and machine gun parts in addition to various pistols for the military. By the 1950's, the High Standard .22 pistol was the gun of choice on the NRA pistol competition circuit.
As the company expanded its product offerings away from the .22 pistols, adding such products as derringers, .22 revolvers, .22 rifles and sporting and police shotguns.
The company also began to manufacture private label handguns for the major mass merchandising chains. Its J.C. Higgins line for Sears, Roebuck, Company was a very successful product line.
In 1960, Colonel William McMillan won the Gold Medal in the Olympic Rapid Fire competition using a High Standard pistol. This is the only Gold Medal won using an American-made firearm in this event!
At this point, the company made some significant changes to its product line-up-yielding the .22 pistol still made today.
These new pistols featured a new grip design with the grip at the same angle as the Colt .45 pistol also used in competition. In this way, a shooter could shoot the .22 leg of the course and then the .45 competition without having to think about the way the gun was held for maximum accuracy. These pistols also had the same unique push-button barrel takedown design and micro-adjustable sights that is still available on the pistols today.
In 1968, the company was purchased by the Leisure Group which was a growing conglomerate. The timing was, however, very bad as the Gun Control Act of 1968 caused the mass merchandisers (nearly 60% of High Standard's business at that time) to drastically curtail firearms sales. This dramatic loss of business forced High Standard to downsize while, at the same time, carrying more inventory than before. The company's main sales continued to be in the .22 target pistols and the derringers.
By 1975, there had been several management changes and assets such as the Hamden plant and the museum were sold. The company then relocated to East Hartford in 1976 into a modern leased facility.
In 1978, Clem Confessore, company president, and a group of investors bought High Standard from Leisure Group. However, the company was heavily leveraged and, by 1980, the borrowing rate had increased from 9% to 28.25%!
Things were still relatively stable until 1982 when the shooting sports industry experienced a major decline followed by further decline in 1983. Sales of rifles, shotguns, and revolvers were hard to come by and the still popular derringers and target pistols alone could not carry the load.
By mid-1984, the company began to wind down its operations in East Hartford. In December 1984, an auction was held to sell all of its assets. Gordon Elliott, who had been the National Parts Distributor for High Standard since the mid-1970's, purchased: the .22 Target pistols, the Crusader line and the High Standard name and trademarks.
In the spring of 1993, High Standard Manufacturing Company, Inc. of Houston, Texas acquired the Company assets and trademarks, as well as the .22 Target Pistols. These original assets were transferred from Connecticut to Houston, Texas in July of 1993. The first shipments of Houston manufactured pistols began in March, 1994.
The company is now housed in a modern building in an industrial park in Houston. However, its Connecticut roots are continued with our National Parts Distributor, G.W. Elliott Inc., located in East Hartford; and Bob Shea from North Haven, working with our Custom Gun Shop.
Many civilian and military shooting teams have already acquired these fine pistols for the National and International Competitions! In fact, at the 1995 National Matches at Camp Perry, the number one pistol brand on the .22 caliber firing line was High Standard. The High Standard Manufacturing Company, Inc., Houston, Texas is continuing the traditions of this fine American company!
You can now find a supply of new pistols, repair parts and qualified repairs for your favorite High Standard pistols.
High Standard's are once again, the "Choice of the Champions!"