The Hi-Standard Model-GE

The Hi-Standard Model-GE earned a fine reputation for high-quality craftsmanship and extreme accuracy. One of its favorite features is the ease with which barrels can be removed and cleaned or switched via the thumb latch in the forward upper end of the trigger guard.
Built in 1950, the Model-GE pistol shown was one of Hi-Standard’s premium, top-of-the-line target pistols. Only about 2,900 were made, all in the company’s New Haven, Connecticut, plant during 1949 and ’50. Several premium features endeared these pistols to the target crowd. Triggers were crisp and adjustable. The thumb safety and grip angle were similar to those of the venerable Model 1911, although the grip angle was steeper than the 1911’s. The GE’s grip had a comfortable thumbrest and was handcheckered. The barrel could be removed in seconds, enabling easy cleaning from the chamber end as well as quick swapping of different-length barrels.

Three configurations were offered: the Model-GE with a 4.5-inch barrel; the Model-GE with a 6.75-inch barrel (like the version shown); and the Model-GE as a two-barrel set. With a well-earned reputation for superb accuracy and easy shootability, the Model-GE became one of Hi-Standard’s more coveted pistols.

Mechanicals

The slide stop is located on the right side of the Model-GE and is mortised deeply into the upper edge of the right grip panel, making it somewhat difficult to access and activate manually. However, the slide locks open on an empty magazine, and “slingshotting” the slide to chamber a round rather than pressing the slide stop to release it probably benefits reliability by giving the slide a running start before picking up the rim of the fresh cartridge.

The manual thumb safety resides at the left rear of the slide. It’s cleanly contoured and nicely serrated, providing a perfect combination of low-snag profile and positive function. When engaged, it locks the slide.

The trigger guard and backstrap are deeply undercut, promoting a very high grip. The frontstrap is flared forward at the lower end, which helps seat the hand properly and protects the forward lip of the magazine baseplate.

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The barrel is removed for cleaning or swapping by retracting the slide, pushing up on the thumb latch, and sliding the barrel off the frame. It will slide about 1.5 inches in its tightly fitted dovetail before coming free.

Not being made for fast reloads, the Model-GE’s magazine well is crisp-cornered, and magazines fit with superbly tight, smooth tolerances, sliding home like the precision part they are. The mag catch is located in the bottom of the grip. If the catch is pressed and held, empty magazines drop free; if pressed and released, the magazine partially ejects and is then held by spring tension for manual removal.

A compact, triangular-shaped latch in the forward top of the trigger guard secures the quick-detach barrel. Press it upward and draw the barrel firmly forward. It will slide about an inch and a half in its tightly fitted dovetail before coming free.

Measured with my Lyman digital trigger gauge, the crisp, clean trigger breaks at 2 pounds, 10 ounces with less than 0.7 ounce of variation over a series of measurements.

Provenance

A good friend loaned me the pristine Model-GE reviewed here. His father put it up as the prize for an all-day family shooting competition, and my buddy posted top scores and walked away with the pistol.

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Little is known of the history of the pistol prior to coming to my friend’s family, aside from the fact that it was clearly somebody’s pride and joy. Very few 68-year-old firearms look as new as this one.

Rangetime

Because of the Hi-Standard pistol’s target-world pedigree, I picked test ammo selectively, digging up Eley Subsonic Hollowpoints, CCI Select LRNs, Browning BPR HPs, and Federal Gold Medal Solids.

Sandbagging the pistol rather than attempting to test accuracy offhand, Bullseye style, I fired a series of five-shot groups with each type of ammunition from 50 feet. Courtesy of the long sight radius and crisp post front, it was easy to shoot consistent groups, and the Davis adjustable rear sight made putting those groups center-target easy.

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This Hi-Standard Model-GE is the single most accurate vintage pistol I’ve ever tested. The wind was gusting to 20 mph, making the cardboard target sway, and the partly overcast light kept abruptly shifting from glaring sunlight to drab shadow, but two of the four loads tested produced five-shot groups that averaged about a half-inch at 50 feet. I have no doubt that in a Ransom Rest the pistol would average a quarter-inch or less at that distance with the ammo it prefers.

In addition to the inherent accuracy, with its fantastic trigger pull, the Model-GE is extremely easy to shoot and offers clean, crisp sights and a very comfortable, consistent grip. 

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