The Hi-Point name is largely unknown outside of those who follow or use firearms. Colt, Smith & Wesson and Beretta are all manufacturers that most people on the street could recognize as firearm manufacturers. Hi-Point is one of those makers that make little noise in the industry and go along making their product with minimal disturbance to the other major manufacturers. Selling relatively inexpensive firearms, they have solidly carved a niche in the lower end of the buyers spectrum next to other budget companies such as Kel-Tec, Jennings, Raven and Bryco. Such manufacturers often are labeled peddlers of “Saturday Night Specials” – cheap guns that find there ways into the hands of criminals. Hi-Point itself gained some notoriety when one of its 9mm carbines was used in the infamous Columbine High School Massacre. Often seen as targeting minority and low economic areas where crime is often prevalent, the inexpensive handgun has been the target of many legal and political charges. In 2003 the NAACP sued 45 gun manufacturers claiming that the industry purposely saturated the market with cheap guns that would eventually end up in the hands of criminals. The suit was eventually dismissed, but the damage had already been done. While researching the purchase of this gun, I read numerous references to this gun as a “gang banger special”, “ghetto blaster” and “slum gun” – not exactly glowing endorsements.
I found a Hi-Point C-9 at Vance’s in Columbus on sale for $119, a bit high compared to what I could find on line, but Vance’s provides excellent customer service and I could take it home that night, so the pistol found its way into my collection (I also picked up their 4095 .40 S&W carbine the same day!!). The pistol itself comes in a plain cardboard box – no fancy carrying case included, with one 8 round magazine, a ghost ring rear sight and a trigger lock. The rear sight is a nice accessory to include. I prefer standard sights for my pistols, but for those wishing to use a rear peep/ghost ring set-up the included part should work for most. The pistol is marketed as a compact pistol with a 3.5” barrel, 6.75” overall length and empty weight of 29 ounces. It is a bit big for my definition of a compact, but that is mostly due to the size of the slide due to the direct blowback nature of the gun. Its also labeled a “polymer” frame, but “high impact plastic” is more descriptive. Plastic is technically a polymer, but the quality on the pistol is not the same as the polymer used on higher end pistols such as the Glock and Sig. It has proven in my use to be just as good, so other than cosmetically, it affects the pistol minimally in my opinion.
This is the second pistol I have reviewed that does not use the Browning system to operate. All of Hi-Points firearms use a direct blowback system to operate. In this systems when the round is fired the energy from the expanding gasses and fired projectile is directed against the slide itself which recoils, extracts, ejects, strips, loads and chambers the fired and next round. This simple system was widely used during the first part of the century. It is reliable and easy to produce, which is a bane when you are only asking $155 (MSRP) for each pistol. To accommodate this system, the slide is rather large for its caliber. When I say large, I mean like a hunk or slab of metal on top of the frame. Not that it is a bad thing mind you, all that metal is comforting in a way. If you were ever to run out of ammo and have to throw this pistol at an assailant, a hit to the face or forehead would be devastating!! Now this size would imply that it is large or ungainly to hold and shoot. Not the case here. Between the molded grip, finger extension on the magazine and slide shape it sits well in my hand and points naturally. This is an observation I have also gotten from a few other people who have shot this pistol on the range.
This reliable, robust and simple system would almost indicate that this weapon is made in the former Soviet Union, but no…Its made right here in Ohio!!! That adds one coolness point for me being a buckeye just for the place of origin. Located outside of Dayton, Ohio, Hi-Point borrows some of the technology prevalent in local automotive parts manufacturing practices in the creation of their pistol. Makes sense, parts and service for their manufacturing devices should be readily available, as should locally available skilled labor to operate them. They use a different location in Ohio to produce their .40 (Mansfield) and .45 (Lima) pistols.
Safety concerns are addressed by the use of 3 systems: a provided trigger lock, a manual sear safety and a drop safety. The trigger lock is interchangeable with other Hi-Point firearms and consists of a clamshell trigger lock that fits over the trigger guard and is locked by means of a special tool included that also does duty as a maintenance and adjustment tool for the pistol. Once locked it has an additional lock hasp on the left side that can accept most small or medium pad locks for extra security. One critique if have about the pistol is that the slide design does not lend itself well to the insertion of a cable lock into the weapon, which I prefer. The manual safety is easy to reach and operate, though I wish it had a bit more positive locking or setting motion to it when moved between safe and fire, as opposed to it continuous sliding movement of the lever. I have not tried to test the drop safety (for obvious safety reasons) but needless to say these are commonplace and the design and principle is sound enough not to overly worry about it. Using the 4 principles of safe shooting along with these safeties should ensure a safe pistol for all users.
As I stated above, the pistol handles well for me. The sights consist of 2 orange dots in the rear with a yellow ramp sight up front. They aquire easy and are simple to use. The magazine on my particual pistol takes a bit of exertion to insert (the cause of my only feed failure with it) but ejects normally. Hopefully this will be remedied after a few more rounds (like 500!). I wish that they included a 2nd mag, reloading is always the worst part of range day other than setting and pulling targets. The pistol shoots well, at least as well as the more expensive pieces in my arsenal. I am shooting a bit low and too the left with Blazer 115gr. roundnose range ammo, but grouping is well within 5" at about 15 yards, which is acceptable for this type of gun. Partially due to the large slide, recoil is very managable (it is a 9mm for crying out loud!). Overall, this is a great gun to use for a plinker or backup gun for a truck or RV.
Until next time- Shoot Often...SHOOT SAFE!!