Keep a High Standard – High Standard Derringers

July 1, 2023  
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Categories: Guns, Learnin'
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Today we want to take a look at the interesting little mouse gun – it’s one of the High Standard Derringers.

The High Standard Derringer.

High Standard Firearms entered the derringer market in 1962.

This particular specimen was made by High Standard, famous for their .22 caliber semi-auto pistols and double action rimfire revolvers. In 1962, they entered the Derringer market with a model simply known as the High Standard Derringer. It was probably the first major change to the over-under derringer design in close to 100 years.

High Standard Derringer

High Standard’s pocket gun brought the first real changes to Derringer style pistols in nearly a century.

The original model produced from 1962 to 1967 was cataloged as the D-100 and was available only in 22 LR with a blued finish. In 1969, the D-101 and DM-101 models were released and were chambered in .22 LR and .22 Magnum respectively. Both had a barrel length of 3.5 inches. They could be had in blued, nickel, electroless nickel, silver, and gold-plated finishes.

The company went through some financial difficulties in the 1980s. After production ceased in 1984, the handgun was adapted by Benjamin Johnson Technologies. Johnson scaled up the design and these rimfire hideout guns became a .38 Special pocket gun known as the DA38 Derringer. In 1990 the design went to the American Derringer Company, and as far as we know is still produced today.

The High Standard Derringer.

The early D-100 was available only in 22 LR, but later iterations were produced in 22 Magnum as well.

 

Buy it and back the bang

Where to Find a High Standard Derringer For Sale

 

Features of the High Standard Derringer

Because these derringers were rimfire, High Standard could make them very flat from side to side. Some folks go as far as to remove the grip panels to maintain an even flatter profile. A number of wallet holsters were made over the years for these pistols but may turn your pocket rocket into an AOW (Any Other Weapon) NFA (National Firearms Act) item.

High Standard Derringer

The High Standard could be used as a so-called “Wallet Pistol” as well.

We think it’s stupid too, but the wallet holster looked like a wallet and left the derringer concealed within. Draw from your pocket, put your finger through the hole and fire at will. This puts it in the same category as a cigarette lighter gun, cane gun, pen gun and other cool things the Feds think that we don’t need. The good news is that the transfer tax is only $5 and will give you a nice red stamp for your stamp collection. The downside is if you put it on a Form 1, you have to pay $200 in order to “make it.”

The sights are rudimentary and a guttersnipe style. Some say they influenced Paris Theodore on his ASP design. The trigger is hefty, and like you would expect to see in an Old Western, there is no trigger guard so you have fast access when you need it most.

High Standard eliminated the need to manually cock the hammer before each shot, making this one of the fastest Derringers to draw and fire in one movement. They did so by making it double-action-only, i.e., squeezing the hammer both cocks the internal firing pin and releases it. However, the trade-off was a thoroughly heavy double action trigger pull.

Bear in mind that this was not designed as a target pistol, but rather a deep concealment or back up carry piece (also called a BUG, or Back-Up Gun). It’s intended for use at bad breath distance while under stress. Match grade triggers and sights are not needed with these little guns.

High Standard Derringer

These pocket guns were built for up close and personal social work. If you’re one of those who insist on a match-grade trigger and a gazillion-dollar barrel even in a Derringer, well, perhaps you are reading the wrong publication.

The design may seem outdated to some but remains intriguing to others, and perhaps could even be a niche “gun hipster” carry piece! We find that they work very well, and anyone paying attention knows the .22 Magnum round is nothing to sneeze at.

This article first debuted in May 2018. 

This isn’t the only pocket gun we’ve written about – see some other Derringers and BUGs.

For more information on the High Standard company, see the work at American Rifleman.

 

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Mike Searson

Mike Searson

About the Author

Mike “the Mook” Searson is a veteran writer who began his career in firearms at the Camp Pendleton School for Destructive Boys at age 17. He has worked in the firearms industry his entire life, writing about guns and knives for numerous publications and consulting with the film industry on weapons while at the same time working as gunsmith and ballistician. Though seemingly a surly curmudgeon shy a few chromosomes at first meeting, Searson is actually far less of a dick and at least a little smarter than most of the Mad Duo’s minions. He is rightfully considered to be not just good company, but actually fit for polite company as well (though he has never forgotten his roots as a rifleman trained to kill people and break things, and if you look closely you’ll see his knuckles are still quite scabbed over from dragging the ground). You can learn more about him on his website or follow him on Twitter, @MikeSearson.

3 Comments

  1. AltheDago

    Carried one undercover in the late ’70s. Finally traded it and a S&W 659 as partial payment on an S&W 457 in ’98.

    Reply
  2. Jack Barrett

    I spent 8 yrs undercover and carried one of these High Standards in blue steel 22mag. No one ever found it on me. Carried between my wallet and butt. Still have it in my collection

    Reply
  3. TGP389

    I carried a High Standard .22 magnum in my back pocket for years as a police officer. It was a nice 2nd backup

    Reply

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