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I recently received two 9mm carbines for testing. One is made by Hi-Point and the other one by Ruger. I will do a two-part review using these two carbines — this style of firearms is really hot right now. So, let’s look first at the Hi-Point, then next time we’ll examine the Ruger. These are two guns at opposite ends of the manufacturing spectrum — let’s see how they do.
9mm Carbine — Why?
Before we get to the carbine before me, I think I might need to address a question that some of you might have — why a carbine in 9mm? I can think of a few reasons, and I’m a handgun guy for the most part. Please remember that we live in the country, and my uses may not be the same as yours — I can shoot anytime and anywhere on our property as I like. So, with that understanding, the uses that I might find for this gun would include pest control/varmint reduction around our house and barn, close-in coyote control, home defense and target/recreational shooting. I see this gun as a step up from a .22 rifle in terms of stopping power — if you shoot a rampaging raccoon with a .22, you might need to hit ‘im again but with a 9mm, usually one shot settles his hash. I’ve had experience with both. (Now, if you’re having to dispatch a particularly ornery, hissing possum, you might have to shoot more than once with even the 9mm. I remember one I had to shoot five times — their brain is about as big as a pea and is easy to miss, especially with him hissing and spitting as sick possums tend to do). At any rate, I would find uses for it.
The shooting universe is replete with many brands, models and versions of 9mm carbines, from AR-15-style guns to newly-designed, dedicated platforms. The Hi-Point is one such gun, being designed from the ground up as a carbine. You can get it in .380, 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP and 10mm. I chose the 9mm, which I believe is the most popular.
The Hi-Point Mystique
If you mention Hi-Point to many gun-savvy people, you’ll get a half-smile and the reply “they’re ugly but they work” or words to that effect. Of course, what they don’t tell you is that they owned at least one Hi-Point at the beginning of their shooting career — they don’t admit that. My point with this opening statement is to show that the Mansfield, Ohio-based company sells a lot of guns to folks who otherwise claim they wouldn’t own one. Huh? Let me try to explain.
Hi-Point guns are, to put it politely, utilitarian in design and manufacture. Many shooters start out with a Hi-Point 9mm, .45 ACP or .380 and then, as their skills and bank book allow, progress to more expensive guns. I’ve seen Hi-Point pistols for sale at around $130. That’s pretty cheap. I admit I owned at least one of their 9mms along my journey to becoming a more prolific and accurate shooter. Hi-Point is one company that prides itself on great customer service, another reason that they sell a lot of guns. One of my friends had one as well, a C9 9mm. He was experimenting with handloads and blew the gun up. He sent the pieces-parts back to Hi-Point and they sent him a brand-new gun. No questions asked. Their customer service is excellent, at least.
Another factor that contributes to Hi-Point’s decent reputation among owners is that their guns tend to work. Most all the time. I don’t recall ever having a stoppage with my C9, and this was with me firing a mix of factory and handloads. The guns are reliable, for the most part.
The final thing that Hi-Point does that endears it to some shooters is that they sell basically one pistol and one carbine, albeit in several calibers, and all the pistols are built alike as are the carbines, all built alike (except for a few minor differences). So, if you learn to run one, you can run ’em all. The only thing that varies, according to my observations, is the size of the pistol and that not by much. The .380 is a bit smaller than the .40 or .45. But — it works the same way as they do.
I’ve already mentioned what is most probably the number one reason that the company sells so many guns — their price. As an example, the C9 9mm has a full-blown MSRP of $199. Most dealers sell below MSRP, some well below. How can they sell so low?
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Why Are They So Inexpensive?
Notice I didn’t say “cheap”… these guns are not cheap but they are inexpensive — there’s a difference. For one thing, metal that doesn’t have to stand up to high pressures like barrels and chambers do are made of an alloy called Zamak-3. This alloy has been called pot metal and white metal. It is basically an alloy of zinc, aluminum, magnesium and copper. It is cheaper to use this metal than alloyed steel in areas that do not experience high pressures or temperatures. Another cost-saving procedure that Hi-Point uses concerns the actions. Most pistols and carbines that shoot cartridges more powerful than the .380 will fire from a locked breech. This is usually based on a modified Browning design, with lugs or a shelf built into the barrel hood that lock into another part when the gun is fired. Two advantages of this system is that the gun can shoot more powerful cartridges, and the slide or receiver can be made smaller. The other way to build a pistol or carbine action is to use what is called a blow-back design. That is the system that is used for most rimfire guns and centerfire calibers of .380 and down. It is simply a beefy slide that doesn’t lock into anything but uses its mass to slow the slide down in recoil. The main advantage of this system is that is pretty inexpensive to produce and maintain, with the disadvantage of having a gun that is almost “top-heavy”, with a large, weighty slide. Hi-Point guns all use a blow-back action. This means that their pistol slides are heavy and bulky and carbines’ receivers and overall weight numbers tend to be heavier than other locked-breech examples. But…they ARE cheaper and tend to work very reliably.
The 995 Carbine
As we look at this carbine, I will relate my experiences when I first opened the box in Duane’s shop. I pulled the gun out, and noticed that there was a forend pistol grip and a Crimson Trace red dot sight in the box, along with a sling and swivels and a 20-round magazine. You can get 18 different carbines in 9mm alone, not counting the 15 10mm/15 .40 S&W/20 .45 ACP/4 .380/2 Hunter Series/4 OD & FDE Series guns they make — that’s a total of 76 different models of carbines. That’s probably more than any other manufacturer makes (don’t know that for a fact, but that’s a bunch of guns). Any combination of red dot/laser/light/grip/finish that you want, you can most likely get (especially in 9mm and .45). Mine happened to come with the above-mentioned accessories, so that’s how I’ll picture it and shoot it.
Let’s look at some specs…
|Caliber:||.380, 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, 10mm; 9mm +P as tested|
|Overall Length:||31 in.|
|Barrel Length:||16.5 in. (19 in. available); threaded 1/2x28|
|Capacity:||10 round magazine; 20-round available|
|Stock:||All-weather, skeletonized polymer with internal recoil buffer|
Now that we’ve seen how Hi-Point can make guns that sell for less than $200, let’s look at the carbine. Here are some photos…
It is adjustable up or down a bit. The muzzle is threaded to accept a suppressor or muzzle brake, plus there is a rail directly below for a light or a laser.
Adding a pistol grip to the forend is easy if you order it that way from the factory — it went right on, no sweat, and folds out of the way if needed.
The trigger toe is very sharp — you must make sure to use the tip of your finger to press the trigger past its safety disengagement point, or it will pinch you. A touch with a piece of low-grit sandpaper would cure that.
Moving further to the rear of the gun, we come across the rear sight. It is adjustable for both windage and elevation, and works very well. This model came with both the forend pistol grip and a Crimson Trace red/green dot. I chose not to install the red dot because I wanted to see how it shot with just the iron sights that come on all of these carbines. The CT sight is proprietary, made for distribution with Hi-Point carbines. It offers a 4-MOA dot in both red or green. It runs off an inexpensive CR2032 battery. As you will see in a bit, the rear sight was close to point of aim, with the windage being off just a bit to the right. The “plain-jane” iron sights worked very well.
The pad is spring-loaded and moves with recoil. With the lesser calibers, it can skate through its life without having to work very hard but I would imagine that the pad on the 10mm carbine would get more of a workout. Notice the utilitarian machine screws that hold the piece together — that helps hold down costs.
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At The Range
I shot my sample gun with a couple of different target/practice loads, the Winchester white box and Fiocchi’s FMJ. Both used 115-grain FMJ bullets.
It is hard to find good 9mm ammo right now, so I figured I was lucky to have what I had. At any rate, here are a couple of targets…
Above, the Winchester 115-grain target, with the Fiocchi 115-grain below.
Notice both loads shot pretty well to point of aim, but were off a bit to the right. This would be an easy fix. The distance was 25 yards under sunny conditions at my back-yard range. The gun is more than accurate enough.
I was favorably impressed when I shot this gun. I did, however, get my finger pinched a few times by the articulating trigger safety. That is not a big deal — it’s easily fixed. I was impressed with the way the gun settled into firing position for every shot. The sights were easy to see — I used a 6-o’clock hold, which put the rounds just about where they should be in terms of elevation. I really don’t think that I would have shot any better with the Crimson Trace red/green dot installed — it might offer a slightly quicker sight acquisition — but in terms of accuracy, it’s hard to beat the old-fashioned peep-and-post sight. That configuration has been around for many decades and it works, as your eye automatically centers the front post in the rear ring. This is one area where shooters will have differing ideas — what works for one shooter may not work for another. You could conceivably put a scope on the carbine — the rail would allow that — but if you did that, you cut down on the “handy factor” that this carbine offers. For a $400 carbine, it shoots well above its price point.
So — do you rush out and buy one of these Hi-Point carbines? Yes and no. If you are working within a fairly tight budget, this is one to consider. I had thought about getting one of these a few years ago to keep handy in case I needed to dispatch a nocturnal 4-legged intruder…it would excel in that role. Now, I said yes and no above — the “no” part has to do with the fact that you can’t find them for sale during the current health crisis. (I was surprised to walk into friend Duane’s shop today and see all the empty spaces in his handgun cases and rifle racks — I guess the gun-buying craze has finally hit Cornfield County). If you can find one of these, consider picking it up and adding it to your collection. I do think you could do worse, especially given the fact that these guns tend to sell for less than MSRP. That is, once you can find them for sale again. If you’ve had experience with one of these carbines, stick a comment below for us to read. As always, get out and shoot and be safe!