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Old June 11, 2011, 07:49 PM   #1
WildBill45
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Sears, J.C. Higgins, with Belgium action questions

I just went over to a friend's house, to see the rifle he inherited from his dad. The barrel says it is a 'Sears" J.C. Higgins rifle, ok on that, but the action says, "Action made in Belgium" and I think it had an FN marking on it!

It has the plain Jane pre-64 style stock, with a lightweight model barrel taper. The front sight, and rear sight bases are an integral part of the barrel and machining process, no screw mounted parts here!

The action is a true Mauser Action, with the left side mounted, lever safety. The caliber 30'06.

QUESTION:

Is this a Winchester rifle with an FN action, or a Browning rifle, or what or who would be its base maker, and what would you call it?

Anyone know?
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Old June 11, 2011, 09:47 PM   #2
taylorce1
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It is neither, it is a FN Mauser action with a High Standard barrel. They were imported and put together by High Standard IIRC and sold under the JC Higgins name at Sears back when they sold rifles. There was a JC Higgins model that used Husky actions as well.

I own a model 50 in .30-06 which is what your friend has. As far as I know they weren't offered in many different chamberings. I've only seen them in .270 and .30-06, they have a reputation for being good shooters and they barrels are chrome lined.

Here is some pictures of mine:






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Old June 11, 2011, 09:55 PM   #3
WildBill45
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THANKS!

Your stock is much better than his! His stock looks like the plain-jane with no additions at all! I have seen old pre-64 Winchesters with similar stocks! The action and bolt release are the same, as is the safety, the same rifle! I will pass on your information.

Thanks for being so kind. I really like the rifle, it has a wonderful feel and look to it ... old school quality!

On second thought, maybe his stock looks different, because it is beat up, and worn! It has seen a lot of Pennsylvania deer seasons with his dad, at their old hunting camp! I know from experience, because I used to hunt with his dad about 35 years ago at his camp and that rifle filled the freezer!
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Old June 12, 2011, 01:52 AM   #4
T. O'Heir
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A J.C. Higgins Model 54 used a Browning FN300 receiver. Mauser action added by FN to the Browning line in 1960.
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Old June 12, 2011, 03:04 AM   #5
natman
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Sounds like a J.C. Higgins Model 50. The action is a commercial Mauser made by FN in Liege, Belgium in the early 50s. The barrel is by High Standard and is chrome lined. They are very accurate. It's amazing that you could once walk into a Sears, drop less than $100 and walk out with a rifle of this quality. It would cost well over $1500 to make a rifle this nice today.



BTW, the sights are soldered on, not machined from the same stock as the barrel.
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Old June 12, 2011, 08:16 AM   #6
Keg
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My SIL has that same rifle....I also had one and used the action on a custom project.....
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Old June 12, 2011, 08:44 PM   #7
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Quote:
It's amazing that you could once walk into a Sears, drop less than $100 and walk out with a rifle of this quality. It would cost well over $1500 to make a rifle this nice today.
!00 in 1960 was about $1000 in today's money. You could make and sell rifles like this for about the same cost today.
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Old June 13, 2011, 03:36 AM   #8
natman
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Quote:
!00 in 1960 was about $1000 in today's money. You could make and sell rifles like this for about the same cost today.
While you're quite right about the effects of inflation, I suspect you're underestimating the quality of the Model 50. Sure, you could make a Mauser sporter for $1000, but it wouldn't be as well made as a Model 50.

If you think it's possible I'd invite you to try it and see how it works out. I would point out that nobody's doing it. Zastava Mausers are nice enough rifles, but they aren't nearly as well made as an FN action, nor are their barrels anywhere near as good.

Call FN and find out how much it would cost for a run of commercial Mauser actions precision made out of the finest steel. Then call Pac-Nor, Douglas or Shilen and get an estimate for a batch of stainless steel match grade sporter barrels. (I don't think they'd do chrome.) Add in labor and overhead and my $1500 estimate is going to start looking conservative.

The only way Sears was able to do it was because of favorable US$-Belgian Franc exchange rates post WWII and a cozy business relationship with High Standard. Both are LONG gone now.
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Old June 13, 2011, 07:26 AM   #9
natman
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Quote:
As far as I know they weren't offered in many different chamberings. I've only seen them in .270 and .30-06
You're right, they were only offered in 270 and 30-06. I suspect that there were more 30-06s than 270s, at least based on the numbers I've seen in 25 years of following them.

It would be a sweet rifle in 25-06 and nearly perfect in 35 Whelen, but alas, both were wildcats when the 50s were made.
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Old June 13, 2011, 07:30 AM   #10
model18
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nice gun, any way you cut it!
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Old December 6, 2014, 02:56 PM   #11
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JC Higgins Model 50 30 06

I was fortunate enough to inherit one of these from my grandfather, though when I got it it was in very poor condition. The finish on the stock was virtually non-existent and there were rust spots on the barrel. I decided that in its condition it would continue to deteriorate so I refinished the stock myself, though I wonder about the barrel. The bore cleans up like a mirror but there is some residual pitting on the exterior from rust. I would like to have it blue'd, I was just wondering if anyone knows of some reason not to. Also, I considered giving it to a smith. It already shoots very well so is it worth it for this old of a rifle?
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Old December 6, 2014, 03:13 PM   #12
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The pitting on the outside of the bore and the refinished stock put it in the 200 to 350 dollar range of a reasonable stores used gun rack. Odds are you wouldn't get that selling it to the store, or for store credit.

I wouldn't bother selling it though, even in the current condition it is a better quality rifle than anything you could get for the money you got selling it.

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Old December 8, 2014, 10:17 AM   #13
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^^ Man that is for certain. It may not have a lot of dollar value, but good luck replacing it with another good shooting FN mauser action old-world-crafted rifle for $300... I would keep it forever. Actually I wish I had it !
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Old December 8, 2014, 12:53 PM   #14
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How about the Wards Westernfield model EJN 75? Is that the same rifle, built on a FN action?
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Old December 8, 2014, 01:52 PM   #15
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Back in the mid 1950's into the 1960's FN made rifles for a lot of companies. Sears as we already know, Montgomery Wards, High Standard and even Colt Firearms with their Coltsman series.
I only have the J.C. Higgins M50's, three in 30-06 and one that used to be a .270. I've only seen two M50's in .270 and the other one was a total beater rust bucket. The one that used to be a .270 was in great shape but early M50's had the notch for the rear sight over the chamber which made me very nervous. So after serious thought, I had it rebarreled to 7x57 Mauser and restocked in in the same general stock style as the current Winchester M70 Featherweight. I replaced the trigger with a Timney. I've only seen two faults with the M50. The sight notch on an early one over the chamber and the trigger. It looks similar the a New Haven Winchester M70 but is actually a two piece system held together with a pin through the frame of the floor plate. Should the pin wear through and break the gun can fire. I don't think they were hardened so I replaced the ones on my rifled with harden drill rod. Wood quality is a bit of an "iffy" thing with some rifles having fairly decent wood and others very plain Jane. Stocks are a bit on the clubby side if one has small hands but with some wood working skills that can be remedied. If you have the impression that I like them, you're right. I like them very much.
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Old December 8, 2014, 02:39 PM   #16
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I've got one of those JC Higgins 12 gauges. If I pump it too fast I end up with a pile of shells at my feet.
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Old December 8, 2014, 02:48 PM   #17
Jim Watson
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Marlin sold a rifle on the FN action, too. Also short action rounds on Sakos.
It was unusual in that it had a heavier barrel profile than most and came with receiver sight. The barrel was a real Marlin, Microgroove rifling and all. Barrel life was reported to be not so hot with high velocity rounds, unlike .22 and .30-30.
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Old December 8, 2014, 09:09 PM   #18
natman
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Quote:
How about the Wards Westernfield model EJN 75? Is that the same rifle, built on a FN action?
Well sort of yes, but mostly no. It's the same action, but the barrel is completely different. The Sears 50 and 51 used a High Standard barrel that was chrome lined and very accurate. The Wards guns used different barrels. I've seen some with barrels that strongly resemble a Marlin Microgroove barrel, so much so that I'm pretty sure Marlin supplied them.
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Old December 8, 2014, 10:35 PM   #19
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My late dad owned a large tool and die shop that made tooling for High Standard in New Haven.

I remember as a kid waiting in the car as he went into HS and got two M51's. One ea. for himself and also his brother.

I still have his rifle, a 30-06!
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Old December 8, 2014, 11:44 PM   #20
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The Monkey Wards rifles were made by Jefferson Arms. Jefferson barreled the action and added the stocks. Jefferson Arms also made rifles for Colt.
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Old December 10, 2014, 08:48 PM   #21
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I have one of the 50s in .30-06 that I bought used in 1967 for $50. It is exactly as the one pictured above except my father checkered the stock. The blued finish has become a nice brown patina. I am not in any rush to refinish it.

The only number on my gun that could be considered a serial number is on the bottom of the receiver. You have to disassemble the rifle to find that number.

Mine will shoot MOA at a hundred yards with factory ammo and a K-4 scope.
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Old December 11, 2014, 02:15 PM   #22
Paul B.
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Most of the early M50's had no serial number. There was no federal requirement for rifles and I believe shotguns to have one.
If you take a close look at the picture of the ad for the M50, you can see the rear sight is shown with the notch over the chamber. Looks kind if like it was installed backwards. All my other M50's have a 4 digit serial number.
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Old December 16, 2014, 05:44 PM   #23
peggysue
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Gas was 17cents in 1964...so yep a like gun will cost more now days. Called inflation.
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Old December 18, 2014, 10:42 PM   #24
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My JC Higgins is from the late '50s and is a 30-06. The previous owner fell on the rifle and busted the stock at the wrist, since repaired with dowels and epoxy. The gunsmith also added an ebony forend tip. Mine is definitely a shooter, will routinely go sub ¾" groups at 100 yards with both factory and hand loads, both before and after the break/repair. The quality of the walnut is also rarely seen today at anything under $1500.

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Old Yesterday, 12:56 PM   #25
natman
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The quality of the walnut is also rarely seen today at anything under $1500
.

I don't think either the Model 50 or 51 saw walnut of that quality because that doesn't appear to be an original stock. Neither had a Monte Carlo like the stock shown. The 50's stock was uncheckered as shown in the ad in an earlier post. The 51 was checkered and had a cheekpiece, but had neither a forend tip nor a crossbolt.

I suspect that the stock was replaced at some point in the last 60+ years.
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