Hi-Point C9 Review [Unboxed and Shot]

Hi-Point C9 Review [Unboxed and Shot]

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Let’s take a look at the Hi-Point C9.

So you want to get a pistol but you’re on a budget? 

You’ve narrowed your caliber choices down to the “big 3” pistol calibers: the 9mm, .45 ACP or the .40 S&W? 

You have exactly $200 to spend on a pistol and cannot find (or would rather not buy) something used? 

Well, I have great news for you. You can get a brand new Hi-Point C9 9mm for right at your budget limit (including tax in my state), give or take a couple of dollars. 

I’ve owned Hi-Point pistols and they work – so do their rifles. Check out my Hi-Point 9mm carbine review

The guns are not pretty, but every shooter I’ve talked to who owns one sings its reliability praises.

Here’s a paraphrase of what every Hi-Point handgun owner I’ve talked to tells me: “the guns are uglier’n a mud fence but they work every time”. The guns work, and if they don’t, they are backed by some of the best customer service in the industry.

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Cost. These guns usually sell for under $200.
  • Customer Service. If you need a part, call them and it’s at your home in two
  • Construction. Sure, the guns use a different-type of alloy, but they are
  • Sights. The rear sight has red dots (well, squares actually) and is adjustable, with a front ramp that has a yellow insert. Want a ghost ring sight in the back? There’s one in every box, included free.
  • Other Goodies Are Included. In the box comes the always-present trigger lock, the ghost ring sight just mentioned, and a grip cover that adds a bit of stickiness to the grip. The owner’s manual is one of the most complete, best-written examples of the type I’ve ever seen.
Cons
  • Cost. Why list it as both a pro and a con? Because the low cost prevents the company from including some more-refined features. One example: a short-recoil Browning-type locked action costs more to build than a straight blowback one but it allows the gun to be smaller and lighter.
  • Materials. The slide is made from Zamak-3, a zinc-based alloy sometimes called pot metal.
  • Slide size and weight. The gun is top-heavy, with the slide accounting for about three-quarters of the guns’ total weight. It measures 1.53 inches tall, about twice as tall as competing locked-breech-action guns’ slides.
  • The guns are built differently than any other mainstream pistol, making them harder to work on or customize. Also, the third-party accessories market, although present, is not as viable as that for other pistols.
  • Magazine disconnect safety. I am to the point of just cutting right to the chase on MDSs and just saying I dislike them for most purposes. I believe they have no place on a gun meant for self-defence. I can see having police pistols so equipped in case a bad guy gets control of the gun – if the cop can drop the mag during a scuffle, the gun can’t fire. Civilian guns usually operate under different conditions.

Who Should Buy the Hi-Point C9?

What is the target market for a Hi-Point C9? Good question.

If you listen to some “experts”, the company shouldn’t sell ANY guns to ANYone… they’re ‘that bad!”. Or, every shooter who ever pulled a trigger should own one, since they work and are pretty low on the cost totem pole. As usual, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

The C9 does tend to represent a good value in a 9mm handgun. I would suppose that beginning shooters realize that and may buy one as a “starter” gun. That’s basically what I did, in terms of a 9mm and .45ACP pistol – I bought one of each at different points in my shooting journey and then replaced them as I gained experience (and dollars). There was certainly nothing wrong with them – and, if there had been a problem the company would’ve taken care of it. 

Starter Pistol

One can certainly learn the basics of shooting with a Hi-Point. Those things include trigger control, sighting, safe handling, etc.. Heck, the C9 even has a fully-adjustable rear sight and then an extra ghost ring sight if your tastes run to that type of aperture sight. For the purpose of obtaining an affordable, works-every-time pistol to learn the craft on, I would recommend one. If you are going to want to shoot competitively or are wanting a cut-to-the-chase carry gun, I’m not sure it’s for you.

Great for the Glove Compartment

Another purpose for the C9 that I can see is that of a truck glove compartment gun. The same applies to your barn, boat or tackle box. That is the use that most of my friends and relatives who’ve bought one had put it to. They own other guns, some fairly expensive models, that they don’t want to get scratched or worse as they live out their their useful “life” in a tool box, tackle box or glove compartment. Would you rather have a $160 9mm accidentally go overboard than your prize $600 specialty 9mm? They have a point. A Hi-Point C9, to be exact. 

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Stigma?

Many shooters (new or not) refuse to buy a Hi-Point because of what they’d heard about them. Of course, the so-called expert that so freely offered his or her advice most likely has never shot (much less owned) a Hi-Point and contributed their uninformed two cents’ worth gratis. To my way of thinking, as long as the gun does what you need it to, there’s nothing wrong with buying one that won’t break the bank. Actually, I would say more Hi-Points are sold as first guns or tackle box pistols than we know about. The company sells guns about as fast as they can make them, and all those guns are going somewhere, to be sure. I would say that stigma, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Hi-Point C9 Review – Hands On

Hi-Point C9 review - gun shown on right

Here are a few specs, taken from the owner’s manual and my measurements:

Caliber:9mm
Barrel length:3.5"
Overall length:6.8"
Overall height:4.9"
Overall width:1.4"
Weight (unloaded):29.8 oz (my scale showed 30.6 ounces)
Trigger pull:6 lbs, 5 oz. measured
Safeties:Thumb, magazine disconnect
Rifling:3 left twists
Magazine capacity:8 rounds with 10 round optional
Hi-Point C9 review - gun shown on scale
Hi-Point C9 review - gun shown in hand

Unboxing the C9

Let’s start with the box and what comes with the gun.

Hi-Point C9 box lid

A decent plastic hard case is included.

Unboxing the Hi-Point C9

Open the box and you will find a few things.

  • An extra ghost ring rear sight
  • A grip sleeve
  • Your owner’s manual
  • A gun lock

I usually see the manual, lock, printed material, etc. but the extra rear sight is new. You simply replace the red-dotted rear notch sight if you want a sight picture like that of an aperture sight. Instructions on how to do this are in the owner’s manual. For some shooters, it might be faster for their eyes to acquire than the standard one.

Hi-Point C9 Sights

Hi-Point C9 rear sight
Hi-Point C9 rear sight adjust
Hi-Point C9 front sight

Slide

Hi-Point C9 slide shown on the left
Hi-Point C9 slide shown on the right
Underneath the slide of the Hi-Point C9

Grip Panel

Hi-Point C9 review - gun shown on left

Note the grip panel – the panels are replaceable.

Controls

Hi-Point C9 controls close up

Trigger, magazine and safety/slide stop. Yes, the safety does double-duty.

Hi-Point C9 firing pin shown through breech

See the firing pin protruding through the breech? Okay. So, seeing the firing pin sticking out of the breech face a half an inch isn’t normal, usually. Here it is though – it retracts when the slide moves forward.

Hi-Point C9 slide retaining pin

These are the slide retainer and pin. There is a trick to putting the pin back – see below.

Other slide parts include the firing pin and springs, and the recoil spring and plug.

Hi-Point C9 internal springs
Hi-Point C9 firing pin

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Frame

Hi-Point C9 frame on right
Hi-Point C9 frame on left

Hi-Point handguns do not use a locked-breech Browning-style action. They instead use a fixed barrel and operate from the recoil of the cartridge as you fire it. Gases blow the heavy slide back, ejecting the empty case and picking up the next round from the magazine on the rebound. The slide is massive, but it has to be to keep the recoil spring tension (and attendant racking effort) down.

Hi-Point C9 Muzzle

Hi-Point C9 muzzle

Magazine

Hi-Point C9 factory magazine

8-round magazine. You can buy 10-rounders to use with the pistol if you like.

Fieldstripping the Hi-Point C9

Hi-Point C9 field stripped

Taking apart:

  1. Make sure the gun is empty and remove the magazine.
  2. Lock the slide back using the safety lever.
  3. Using an ⅛” punch, remove the slide retainer pin from the slide retainer, left to right – that’s the hole furthest aft on the frame above.
  4. Allow the slide to come forward about an inch and lift it off the frame starting at the rear.
  5. Pull the slide forward off the barrel.
  6. Remove the recoil spring/ plug, slide retainer and pin and the firing pin with its two springs. They all just slide out.
  7. That’s it. Clean as directed in the Hi-Point C9 owner’s manual.

Putting it back together:

  1. Place the recoil spring/plug and firing pin/springs back in their channels in the slide.
  2. Place the slide retainer in its channel in the rear of the slide.
  3. While catching the end of the recoil spring on the front projection on the slide designed to hold the spring, move the slide over the barrel and move it to the rear and seat the slide retainer in its hole in the frame. Lock the slide back with the safety lever.
  4. Here’s the trick I alluded to above – using your punch, put it into the frame and through the slide retainer’s hole before attempting to tap the retaining pin in. Line the holes up first.
  5. Tap the retainer pin into its hole. Release the slide and everything should work.

The process is described in full in the owner’s manual. I discovered the line-up-the-holes trick after several unsuccessful attempts at seating the retainer pin. 

Shooting the Hi-Point C9

I grabbed a couple of boxes of 9mm FMJ loads and one handload and headed to my shooting bench behind the barn. Even though the gun did not exhibit gilt-edged accuracy, it is more than accurate enough for its intended purpose. The targets were at 25 yards, and were held in place on a Caldwell Ultimate Target Stand – this thing works. 

The factory ammo I shot consisted of Maxx brass-case 115-grain FMJ and Tula 115-grain FMJ steel-case loads:

Hi-Point C9 - our test ammo

I am grateful to Midsouth Shooters Supply for providing this ammo. In these uncertain times, it’s nice to be able to shoot factory loads of any type, and I appreciate MSS for providing ammo for me. Look to future reviews for more of their products showing up in my reviews. I am anxious to try my hand at loading the XTP bullets they sent in .380 and 9mm loads, especially.

Targets

MAXX Load

Target shot with Hi-Point C9 9mm using Maxx ammo

Obviously, not very well-liked by this particular pistol but it’s brass-cased and reloadable. I’ve had other guns do well with it.

Tula load

Target shot with Hi-Point C9 9mm using Tula ammo

Just about right for elevation, a bit left for windage but it was reliable. It makes good practice ammo.

Handload

Target shot with Hi-Point C9 9mm using handload ammo

Two in one hole, but nothing great. This is a Lee 120-grain TC FP cast bullet over 4.8 grains of Long Shot. I’ve had good results in the past with this load – another gun might like it. This C9 seemed to prefer, of the three loads tried, the Tula.

In terms of shooting the gun, it was fine. The sights are easy to see and the rear is adjustable, and the gun’s weight distribution helps dampen recoil. Ergonomically speaking, it fit my hand very well – not bad for a sub-$200 pistol! I could see getting a couple of the 10-round magazines and buying a box or two of whatever ammo you can find. Grab some targets, and head to the range for an informal target session that would be sure to please. It did well, considering its price point.

Any close competitors for $200?

I always like to include competing models in my reviews, but with this gun, that’s a bit hard to do. There aren’t too many 9mm pistols out there that sell for under $200, or too many that sell for a bit over.

I did think of one, however, and it’s a good ‘un…

Diamondback DB9 9mm

This is a 6+1 carry gun in 9mm that weighs 13 ounces with an empty magazine. It’s not a full-size 9mm like the C9 but it’s about the only one I’m familiar within this price range. You can pick up the DB9 for about $230, which is not too far away from the C9’s price tag. The main differences between the two are size and construction.

The DB9 is a traditionally crafted striker-fired pistol that takes down like a Glock. If you are looking for a small carry gun, give the DB9 a look. But, I still say that the C9 is the “Tacklebox King” of 9mms. You’d be hard-pressed to find another new gun that you’d want to stuff in your tackle box for the same price as you can buy the C9. And, with the way it’s built, you could use it as a sap to whack that huge, flopping catfish that you just netted without fear of bending anything. 

I can’t think of another 9mm with this guns’ feature set that costs anywhere near what the C9 goes for. When you consider that you get a gun that puts all its shots on the paper, includes good, adjustable sights, and is backed by some of the best customer services in the industry, I don’t think you need to look much further.

Hi-Point C9 Accessories

Hi-Point lists a lot of accessories for their handguns, of course including the C9.

  • Magazines
  • Optics (most of them are for carbines, but there is one laser for handguns)
  • Grips/Shrouds
  • Extras
  • Holsters
  • Cases

Several third-party sellers also show Hi-Point accessories, most of which are for the carbine. One big advantage that Hi-Point handguns share is that they are all pretty much the same size. That laser you bought for your 9mm ought to fit your new .40 as well. Don’t forget the fact that one holster pretty much fits all.

Factory 10-Round Magazine

The 10-round magazine works in the C9 pistol. $17.50. They make another similar 10-rounder for the carbine that will not work in the pistol, so order carefully.

Laser

Kydex OWB Holster

Available for left or right-handed shooters, $50.00 from We The People Holsters, USA-made.

Conclusion

You may have read our best concealed carry gun or our best 9mm guide guides. Okay – the C9 may not be included on some of these lists of guns. But… does that rule it out? I would say not. The C9 just works, no matter what your budget.

I see these guns being purchased by two different groups of shooters.

The first group consists of those on a strict budget who want or need a pistol but cannot afford more than a couple hundred dollars to spend on one. The second group is made up of those shooters who own other guns but who are looking for a 9mm to stick in a toolbox or tackle box. These are the folks who don’t care if the gun gets scratched or worse.

Hi-Point guns fulfill a specific need in the world of pistols. It’s an inexpensive gun that works every time you pull the trigger, backed by top-drawer customer service. We can’t ask much more than that, can we? “Everyman’s” gun, indeed – it truly is. If you own one (and a lot of you do!), please comment below about your experience with your gun. As always, keep ‘em in the black and stay safe!

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2 comments
  1. Once again Mike, I agree with you on the Hi-Point. It’s an ugly gun, but I’ve found it to be effective, reliable and sufficiently accurate for it’s purpose. It fills a niche, introducing someone on a budget to the shooting world without the need of a second mortgage. I’ve even watched some of the torture tests on You Tube, and I’ve been amazed at the abuse the pistol handled, and still functioned.

    The Hi-Point would be a good choice for a truck, toolbox or mucking about the farm gun. I would also suggest it as a cache gun for the prepper community. Sealed along with some ammo a holster extra mags in a vault, it would be a lot less worrisome than burying a $1000 Kimber.

    I’ve fired the carbine versions as well, and I have to say, they’re pretty impressive. So I’m in complete agreement, Hi-Points do what they’re designed to do, and do it at substantial savings for those on a budget or not wanting to spend a lot to try their hand at shooting.

  2. Chuck, you are not alone in liking the Hi-Point. Many out there do, even if they won’t admit it :). Thanks for writing again!

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