A Very Special High-Standard Trophy Target Pistol
By David Tong
This is a short article regarding a firearm I encountered a couple of years ago at Medford Pawn Shop, in Medford, Oregon. I was working in the area doing insurance loss control inspection work and this business happened to be one that I had to review. After that straightforward interview was over, the owner questioned my knowledge of firearms, as the majority of their business revenue centered on them.
I guess I passed his verbal test, as he said to "wait a minute" while he retrieved a pistol out of the safe in back. What he came out with was a jaw-dropper, a piece of history.
It is a High-Standard Trophy target pistol in .22LR. It differs from the last produced by the company in the mid-1980s by it’s Luger-like grip angle (known by collectors as the “slant” grip), rear sight mounted over the receiver rather than straddling over the rear of the slide, rather skinny barrel with barrel weights and a muzzle brake that also provided mounting for the front sight. I believe in collector’s parlance that this is a “large frame, slant, take-down, space-gun.” I believe its official nomenclature was the Model 103 Supermatic Citation Trophy.
It had unique engraving and was enclosed in a black-lacquered wooden presentation box with a padded red felt lining. The original recipient of the pistol was none other than Dwight David Eisenhower, President of the United States. It was given to him in the late 1950's in Japan, according to the shop owner.
The pistol appeared to be in new condition with no evidence of wear or usage. What was interesting and unknown to me was that Ike was evidently a southpaw shooter, judging by the fitment of the usual pattern of checkered walnut stocks typical for High Standard, but with the thumb-rest on the right grip panel.
Please do not ask me whether the pistol is still there, or available for sale, as I don't know. The shop is still there, although it has changed ownership since my visit in March 2009. It was very interesting to see such a rarity in private hands, as most Presidential gifts of this kind end up in their libraries or at the Smithsonian. It was a privilege to be able to handle “Ike’s .22.”
Copyright 2011 by David Tong and/or chuckhawks.com. All rights reserved.