Bolt Action Shotgun inherited: JC Higgins Model 583.20

Discussion in 'Rifle Discussion' started by shredjesse, Oct 16, 2013.

  1. shredjesse

    Active Member

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    So, my father passed away a few weeks back. Very unexpected and unfortunate. I've relocated out of the PNW for a year, but intend to come back, so I'm still posting firearm questions and what not here :)

    Anyways, among the things he left behind I can inherit with no bickering from family members, is a several thousand rounds of shotgun shells, and a JC Higgins Model 583.20 bolt action shotgun.

    I did some preliminary research. They were recalled by sears for a reason, that upon research, was pretty absurd. There is a screw that holds the bolt in and prevents it from coming loose. The bolt would back out, and when you cycled the bolt (manually of course) it is possible to pull the bolt all the way out and hit yourself with the bolt. Nothing dangerous about firing it or anything though it seems.

    Anyways, it surely hasn't been used in at least 20 years. It seems to cycle fine though, although I haven't put any rounds in it. Everything appears intact and it seems mechanically sound.

    Any thoughts from anyone knowledgeable and/or experienced with JC Higgins Model 583 shotguns?

    I'd just buy a nice shotgun for shooting trap, but not having a NH drivers license makes person to person sales illegal of course, and buying new seems a waste since I already own a few shotguns back in OR.
  2. Mark W.

    Mark W.
    Silverton, OR
    Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Put some non permanent thread locker on the screw and forget about it.
  3. Dapapadon

    Gladstone, OR
    Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    I have one in 16 ga. with full choke. I like it, fun gun to me. I take it out once or twice a year. I'd take it out more but I have other shotguns in 12 ga. that are cheaper to feed.

    What I remember when looking into the recall was that a guy hit himself in the face with the bolt. Sounded like he knew there was a problem with the screw on his gun. Anyway he sued Sears. After they lost they recalled the guns. I believe Sears was paying something like $75 for the bolts. Guys were buying the guns cheap and sending the bolts in for the recall money. I read all this on the internet so who knows?

    The screw on mine doesn't come loose. You need to take the screw out to remove the bolt for cleaning. I'd see how your's does before using thread locker. I believe the guy who sued Sears had stripped threads on his.

    I think these guns were made for Sears by High Standard. I also have a JC Higgins model 20 - 12 ga. pump. And I'm keep an eye out for a model 66 - 12 ga. I kind of like the old Sears shotguns.

    I haven't taken the magazine apart on mine but I hear there is a wooden dowel in it to limit capacity to 2 shells. Plus one in the chamber. I think you can get 4 or 5 in the magazine with the dowel removed.

    Sorry to hear about your father.
  4. HxEngr

    Great Lakes
    New Member

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    I see you hail from Hood OR. I have relatives there, and it's a beautiful area.

    Anyway, I found your post via an internet search. Many years ago my dad purchased a shotgun from a friend who needed to raise some money. It will eventually come to me, because, like you, I have no other family members who will want it. I haven't looked at it closely in years, but I recall it being 10 gauge. I vividly recall the time when I was growing up that my dad wanted my mom to shoot it once just to know that she could in a pinch. Must have been in the fall as huge flocks of starlings were gathering in our trees and they thought the shot would scare them off. It did -- and sat her down smartly on her backside!

    I can't find 10 gauge shells anywhere. Any hints on that, or for that matter on the Model 5881 shotgun in general? If you want to take it offline, email me at

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