High Standard S-101 Supermatic Target Pistol
By David Tong
One of the things I absolutely love (and dread) about my local favorite gun shop is that one never knows what sort of firearm is going to among the offerings. Generally, I prefer my arms designed before 1980 and mostly before 1950. Generally, it is because they were manufactured with old-fashioned materials and techniques, but also enjoyed modern notions about ergonomics, function and consistent accuracy. High Standard, founded in 1932, is a revered old name of gun making. Formerly produced in Connecticut, High Standard was particularly well known for their line of .22 caliber semi-automatic pistols. These were widely used by the military in WWII and by civilians for everything from casual plinking to international level match/target competition. The test pistol is one of the latter variety.
Manufactured between 1949 until 1957, the �slant grip� Supermatic was arguably the best target pistol of its time. Versions of this pistol could be used in ISU rapid-fire Olympic courses of fire (.22 Short caliber), as well as standard bullseye shooting. US shooters won Olympic Rapid Fire gold medals in 1952 and 1960 using High Standard pistols, the only gold medals ever won in this event with an American made pistol.
The sample pistol features a 6-7/8� barrel with integrally machined muzzle brake, two removable barrel weights, finely adjustable rear sight and a two-stage trigger that breaks like the proverbial glass rod at 2.5 pounds with zero over-travel due to an integral screw stop system.
addition, High Standard was the only American manufacturer of .22 semi-auto
pistols that designed a quick change barrel feature into the frame. A simple
spring-loaded plunger located just above the front of the trigger guard is
depressed with the slide locked back. The barrel slides forward off a
dovetailed track and a shorter and thinner field grade tube could be fitted. Other
options were also available.
of the more infamous uses of the High Standard .22 was by one of our lettered-agencies�
assassination efforts. This silenced pistol was known as the �Hush Puppy.� Another
interesting example was President Dwight Eisenhower�s engraved and cased presentation
�Space Gun,� described in another Guns
and Shooting Online article.
fit and finish of the Supermatic surely makes one yearn for the good old days.
All parts are made from milled forgings except for the pressed-steel slide
catch, thumb safety lever and the magazine tube. The finish is a high quality
polished blue on the barrel and slide, with matte sand-blasted upper surfaces
and rear of the slide to cut glare along the sighting plane. The receiver is
also finished in matte blue and both front and rear straps have fine serrations
for a solid grip.
I am not as fond as others of the Supermatic's Luger-like grip angle, the
Herrett�s stocks fit my slender size 9 hand like a glove. (Most High Standard
pistols manufactured after the early 1960's and all High Standard .22's made
since 1994 use the 1911 grip angle.) At nearly 50 ounces empty, very muzzle
heavy and having an integral ported compensator, recoil is nil for the slow
fire offhand shooting for which it was designed.
it proved that the acute grip angle makes the pistol somewhat ammunition
sensitive. Bullet profile that differs significantly from the original
round-nose .22 LR design or bargain ammo need not apply, nor should one use
them. (This is not a problem with later models.) Sub two-inch hand held groups
at 25 yards were relative child�s play.
believe that the slide and frame were hand fitted and polished, though I am
honestly not familiar with High Standard�s production methodology. However, it
is apparent that the very smooth, free running, fit of the slide on the frame
is not an accident or coincidence.
the breech end of the barrel and the standing breech of the slide are left in
the white. The removable barrel feature allows the careful owner to clean the
barrel from the breech end, as one should always do to avoid damage to the
overall condition of the pistol is approximately 98%, with only the barest hint
of blue wear on some slide edges and at the muzzle. I like the fact that the
rear sight is a relatively compact design that does not feature the later sheet
metal mounting system and huge blade of the �Military� models manufactured in
the 1960s through the 1980s. That later system interfered somewhat with the
ability to rack the slide easily, as anyone with a Citation or Victor pistol
can probably attest.
High Standard's time in the sun as a competitive target pistol was relatively
short. This may have been partly due to changing shooter tastes, but was
probably mostly due to unfortunate decisions by the Company management. In 1968
the Company was purchased by Leisure Group, a sports conglomerate. (Almost
always bad news for a gun manufacturer!) There were many subsequent ownership
changes, culminating with the 1993 acquisition of all Company assets and
trademarks by the High Standard Manufacturing Company, Inc. of Texas, who moved
all assets and manufacturing from Connecticut to Houston. In the 1995 National
Matches at Camp Perry, High Standard was again the number one .22 pistol brand
on the line. You can visit the modern High Standard Manufacturing Company
website at www.highstandard.com
is interesting to me is that this pistol�s relative commonness makes it a bargain
in 2011 dollars. When a Ruger Mark III MK-512, 5 1/2 � bull-barrel Target model
can exceed $350 street price, constructed as it is of a folded and welded sheet
metal frame and a tubular upper receiver, a pistol of the High Standard�s
quality selling in the $500 range seems almost cheap. It is certainly less
expensive than any version of the comparable Colt Woodsman �Match Target� or
Browning Medalist target pistols, which tend to sell for nosebleed prices.
I suspect the Supermatic will always be able to outshoot this lowly scribe and it would always challenge me to become a better shot than I already am. I kind of like that idea.
Copyright 2011 by David Tong and/or chuckhawks.com. All rights reserved.