Ding ding! The bell has rung and let's come out of the corners swinging.
A few weeks ago, I wrote an article on Pistol Caliber Carbines. In that article I mentioned favorably the Hi-Point 995 carbine --while sidestepping over a comment that it was better than the same company's pistols. This brought a firestorm from readers who supported the C9 pistol as a valid and effective handgun, especially for the money.
- Elegantly clad in its plain white box, the Hi-Point C9 is not pretentious, but it works and you cant beat it for the money.
With that in mind, I decided to try one out for myself and I found some good things and some bad. While I have had several handguns pass through the safe over the years, I have not possessed a modern Hi-Point. By putting the feelers out among my friends and co-instructors, I was able to lay hands on a slightly used, year-old Hi-Point C9 semiautomatic pistol. This pistol I ran a case of various ammunition through in several different courses of fire over a two-week period. Before it was loaned to me, the owner had put about a boxof FMJ rounds through it and reported no serious problems.
For better or worse, here we go:
Many shooters decry the humble Hi-Point, often seen as the Yugo of the handgun world. The Yugo, an Eastern European made compact car imported into the US during the 1980s was ugly and cheap, but under the right circumstances it worked and many are still being driven by those who love them today. The Hi-Point for better or worse has some of the same love/hate relationship with gun owners.
The test gun shot with reasonable accuracy out to 25-yards. Using a mix of several different brands and loadings of 9mm Luger, I found that the pistol could reach out and touch the center mass of a target. As I didn't do any shooting from a vice or rest I am not going to quote inches and spreads, but rest assured that most two-handed groups could be covered with a salad bowl.
The sights were functional and magazine exchange was accomplished easily. It has a Lifetime warranty and is +P rated. It has a no-fuss durable finish that can take a lot of abuse.
I did not torture test this handgun as it is a loaner from a friend, but many have. It appears that the C9 just-won't-die under many tests.
This is one of the more extreme tests I have seen.
Price is an amazing factor in this pistol. My friend and the C9's owner picked his up for just over $100 new in the box. Hi-Point lists these on their website for $179 MSRP, so realistically if you can't find a new one out the door for under $200, you have a problem. I honestly cannot tell you of another factory new handgun you can get for the same price that is at least as accurate. The next closest candidate is the Kel-Tec PF9 series pistols that run about $75-$100 more on average when compared.
As a NRA firearms instructor for more than two decades in multiple disciplines, former military contractor and current security consultant, I have seen just about every modern firearm in use on the line in realistic settings. This included several Hi-Points pistols, a few of which passed through my hands. Many of these weapons exhibited very bad ergonomics, poor construction, and numerous mechanical issues that led to abysmal range performance. The new C9 is better than previous Hi-Points that have passed through my hands, but is still not perfect.
I did have a handful of failure-to-eject weapon malfunctions. Overall, there were about twenty over the course of 1000 rounds fired. This is not perfect and is acceptable for the average range gun, but is a little scary for a defense gun. I should say however that many of the failures happened in the first few boxes I fired, leading to the possibility that the weapon may have a break-in period. A handful of failure-to-feeds occurred once the weapon became carbon-laden. With cleaning, the feed issue went away. If you polished the feed ramp, odds are the issue would abate further.
Speaking of cleaning, the Hi-Point has the worst take down of almost any handgun made in modern times. The fact that the pistol cannot be taken down rapidly in the field or in low light conditions does give me a little heartburn.
- Its a whole lotta slide for me, but its accurate and will take a lot of abuse.
The C9 itself if extremely heavy and bulky, feeling more like a brick than a handgun. At 29-ounces (even with its polymer frame) for a what is billed as a semi-compact 8-shot 9mm, I am pretty confident in saying this. This is due to the pistol being over-engineered for safety and to accommodate the recoil of its blow-back design.
- Hi Point makes an optional 10-round magazine that will give the shooter 11-ready rounds. (photo by Hi-Point Media Relations)
Some things I would personally like to see on the Hi-Point is a separate ejector, a larger cut out on the ejection port, a double-stack magazine, and a much simplified take down. I think this would make the pistol more manageable, more attractive to shooters due to fewer failures, and more dependable. If this could be done for the same price mark then Hi-Point should continue to move up in the world and even considered a combat pistol in some circles.
It's not a Ferrari, it's a Yugo. While not being flashy, it starts up and will get you from Point A to Point B with acceptable reliability. While I can make a list of handguns that I would rather carry, I cannot make a list of new, American-made pistols in the $100-$179 range that are anywhere near as good as the Hi-Point. If you need a handgun, and have a budget in this range, the Hi-Point is for you.