Gun Review: J.C. Higgins .22 Rifles are Perfect for Passing on to your Kids

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As a recent father, I wanted an old .22 rifle to restore and share with my son someday. Luckily, during a recent trip to the gun store I happened upon one, a J.C. Higgins 10316, with a hundred-dollar asking price. The Higgins is a magazine fed, bolt-action rifle. It had a little rust starting on the barrel and a lot of gunk and grim inside, but otherwise it was in fair condition.  And at $100, it turned out to be quite a bargain.

J.C .Higgins is a company that produced sporting goods for Sears many years ago.  This particular model has the inscription ”Sears, Roebuck & Company S, L, LR”. The latter means that it fires .22 short, long and long rifle cartridges, which is nice even though short and long are relatively hard to find.  Further research shows that it’s a copy of the Marlin Model 80. It wasn’t uncommon for big box retailers to contract gun makers to produce store-brand guns.

Patients not being a virtue I was blessed with, I decided to take the rifle out to the range the same day I bought it — before cleaning it! The magazine loaded with ease, holding seven rounds.  While shooting at a 25-yard target, the oversized iron sights seemed somewhat awkward, but after a few shots I got on target, driving round after round into the 10-ring. I put about 150 rounds down range and at 25 yards the groupings were great, even on windy, rainy day.

The rifle cycled smoothly, however, spent casings failed to eject properly — one out of every five did correctly.  Casings got stuck in the extractor. I tried cycling the bolt faster but that didn’t improve the situation. I figured the problem was probably due to all the gunk and build up inside the rifle, but I was wrong.

Upon closer inspection I found that the ejector spring was not positioned correctly.  I used a thick flat head screwdriver to push the spring back to its proper position.  Sure enough, the problem was solved.

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