By Lars Dalseide | September 4 2014

3 .22 colored revolvers from High Standard

Fairfax, Virginia – It’s never easy to make noise in the firearm industry. No matter how innovative your product may be, you need something to catch the consumer’s eye. In the case of High Standard Manufacturing, they did so with color.

“They started with a lightweight aluminum frame,” started NRA Museums Senior Curator Doug Wicklund. “But they wanted to make it different. So instead of coloring it black or bluish like every other gun, they decided to produce their .22 9-shot revolver in red, blue and also gold.”

Known as the Sentinel, this 9-shot double action pistol caught the eye of many a buyer … including the man who donated these three pistols to the NRA today. A journey that started decades ago by a visit to the old NRA Headquarters in Washington, DC.

“He saw a Sentinel in our collection more than twenty years ago. That inspired him to go out and find his own collection of the three primary colored guns … the same ones he donated to us today.

3 of High Standard's anodized colored .22 pistols at the NRA Museum

“There was also a couple of Marlin shotguns and a few others. In total it was a 10-gun donation day.”

The revolver that inspired our New York donor, colored in green, was a floor model rather than something you’d find in the store. In fact, thanks to hex expanders placed in the barrel and cylinders, it was deactivated before it arrived.”Beautiful piece that cast a spell on many.”

Question is, how do (or did) they create the color?

“That’s all thanks to Alcoa,” Wicklund explained.

Using a unique anodizing process, the company was able to determine the color of the frames. Here’s a quick snippet from the original ads that ran in the 1950s.Alcoa's film explaining how they anodized/colored the High Standard pistol frames

This exclusive process creates sparkling colorful modern revolvers, combingin the traditional features of superb handgun craftsmanship with advanced metal-finishing techniques.

How impressive was the discovery? So impressive that Alcoa shot a film explaining it all. Another piece of today’s donation.”It was a very interesting innovation for the time,” Wicklund reflected. “In the 1950s, when the gun was produced, it was cutting edge, state of the art, and, dare I say, a horse of a different color.”