View Full Version : Budget Guns Review- Hi-point C-9

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6/09/2009 9:00am,
This is the first of several articles I intend to do this summer on low-cost firearms. If you read my article on gun snobs, you already know how I feel about evaluating a weapon, so I wonít dig too deep into that here. Each article will be broken down into three sections: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. I will try to be objective, but bias always creeps in. Sorry about that.
Here we go!


The cheapest handgun Iíve ever purchased is the Hi-point C-9 9mm automatic. This weapon was purchased in a fit of frustration at the ridiculous cost of .357 this spring. I paid $168.00 for this hunk of metal, and it represents the quintessential ďbudget gunĒ in its execution.
Hi-point Firearms is based in Ohio, and all its products and parts are made in the USA by American employees. The business model seems to be built around making low-cost weapons for the new gun owner who doesnít have a lot of cash.

ACTION TYPE: Blowback Semiauto
WEIGHT: 30 ounces
FINISH: Matte Black
SIGHTS: Adjustable, 3-Dot
GRIPS: Black Plastic
PRICE: $168


Price-This gun is uber-inexpensive. For the price of 4 boxes of .357, you can have this weapon. It also shoots cheap, readily available 9mm luger.
Consistency- Once you dial the adjustable sights in, this weapon will put a bullet in the same spot over and over again. I freely admit I never expected that from this piece. Even after several hundred rounds, this thing will shoot point of aim dead on at any distance. It has been such a treat to see a low-cost product perform this well.

Simplicity- This is a single-action-only, straight-blowback, striker-fired handgun. There are no complex mechanisms at all. It has about 8 moving parts and thatís it. Cleaning can be done without stripping; as a matter of fact, hi-point recommends you do NOT disassemble this weapon. Spray it out with cleaner, run a brush through the bore, and wipe down the feed ramp and youíre done. Seriously; itís like having an automatic revolver.

No Worries- Warrantee is 100% no-questions-asked, fully transferable, and legendarily fast. If the weapon fails for any reason, send it back. They will fix it or give you a new one. According to anecdotes, they donít even care how it broke. I have spoken with several owners of these, and turnaround time seems to be about 2 weeks.


Picky Eater- Since the action is straight blowback, the breach does not tip back to align with the feed ramp, and the feed ramp suffers from poor polishing. The result is a weapon that will not feed non-jacketed ammo. So those super-cheap reloads that you got for $.03 a round? Donít even try. Itís embarrassing. Even low-power jacketed ammo can be problematic. While straight-blowback is inherently simple, it necessitates a heavy slide and recoil spring, and if you have an anemic round, it may fail to throw the slide all the way back, and cause the weapon to feed the next round improperly. Half an hour with a Dremel tool will polish the feed ramp to the point that many of the feeding problems will disappear, and is not the sort of thing that requires a skilled gunsmith. That being said, both Federal and Remington 9mm Luger FMJ feed reliably and consistently right out of the box.

So shoot decent ammo! The weapon is +p rated, and using jacketed +p ammo completely eliminates this issue.

Weight- 9mm handguns should be thin and light. This one is not. Fully loaded, this beast weighs almost as much as my .357. It boasts unloaded weights of 30 oz., while competitors are fully 1/3 lighter with better ammo capacity. It has a polymer frame, but its design necessitates a big, heavy slide to operate reliably. You definitely have a BIG, HEAVY slide to deal with. The only plus to this is that with 9mm, the weight makes recoil non-existent, even with the hottest loads around.

No Staying Power- Stock single-stack magazines hold 8 rounds, and the big one holds 10. Springfield XD-9 has a 20-round stick and is lighter. Enough said.


Not even professional photography can make this thing look cool.

This Gun!- This is the second-ugliest handgun ever produced (Glock wins the prize for me. Hideous weapons!). The giant slide is milled from a single chunk of metal, has the graceful curves and angles of a Ford Edsel, and the aesthetic appeal of grandmaís meatloaf after her second bottle of tawny port. Absolutely NO consideration went into this weaponís appearance. WellÖI ainít exactly pretty myself, so I donít give it too much consideration.

One look!?!? ONE LOOK!?!?!- (Zoolander reference, people!) There are no accessories out there for this gun. Donít like the polymer grips? Tough. Want to get a different recoil spring? Too bad. Conversion kits? You must be joking.

You buy this gun, you get this gun. This is not a weapon for personal expression or match-modding. It just isnít going to happen. A Hogue hand-all rubber slide on grip sized for Glocks will go a long way toward keeping this thing in your hands after things get sweaty. As a ten dollar investment, I highly recommend it.

Snobbery- People will give you a hard time for having this gun. They will cite feeding problems and tell (anecdotal) horror stories of catastrophic failures at critical moments. If this weapon jams or fails, the problem is almost ALWAYS cheap ammo or an old magazine. Unless they can prove that this weapon is more prone to failure under normal conditions than any other, tell them to shut up. At my last trip to the range I was perfectly happy to out shoot my antagonist and his custom 1911 with this little monster.


This gun will do the job. There are many advantages to a higher-priced weapon, but there is no over-arching reason to overlook this piece if you do not have a lot to spend. Simplicity, affordability, and customer service are the strengths of this particular weapon, and as such should be considered when looking at higher-priced models. With a little patience and some common sense, this is a reliable, accurate, and well-made weapon. I have carried it cocked and locked for self-defense, and have never worried about it. If you have a little money, a little common sense, and some patience, this weapon will give you many years of excellent service at the range or for self-protection.

Donít let anyone tell you otherwise.

6/09/2009 9:07am,
And if it doesn't work you can always throw it at an attacker, which given the weight will do significant damage.

Someone described these guns as the perfect gun to take on a boat trip, because you wouldn't care too much if it fell overboard.

6/09/2009 9:13am,
You can play with mine at the shootout. I think you will be amazed. I am going to get some top-notch +p ammo, and then shoot 2" groups at ten yards to shut up any haters.

I should have mentioned in teh article that the weights means that the sitles don't move much when you shoot, so double taps are pretty easy.

6/09/2009 12:49pm,
Nice piece. Someone on a budget like me who knows shooters with too much $$$ appreciated the review. Now I know what my girlfriend is "buying me" for my Birthday...

6/09/2009 4:32pm,
Sadly, the gun laws in England leave a lot to be desired - so without a trip to France or America... getting to use this wee beastie is not really on the cards....

However, if ever I felt the need to get a weapon - thanks to this review, this would be on the list.

On the visual point of view - it does look like they've seen a few late 80's -90's 'cyberpunk' films (think of anything 'sci-fi' made post Terminator going straight to video) and thought it would be a good look for a working weapon.

On the ammo front, can't see why people would even entertain the idea of cheap ammo anyway (aside from the obvious of costing less).... although I'm far from being a firearms expert, logic would indicate that the manufacturing quality tolerances of cheap ammo are more likely not going to be as stringent as ammo with a bigger price tag... unless of course it's a case of 'pretty box same crap' going on (which let's be honest occurs a lot in many things made for the domestic consumer market).

So yeah, good honest review - I would like one... stupid English gun laws...

It is Fake
6/09/2009 4:52pm,
Really enjoyed the article. If I wan't considering another gun I might actually give this a try.

6/09/2009 10:08pm,

I've got big hands, and little money, is the grip a decent size?

6/10/2009 1:22am,
what about jacketed hollowpoints, like hydrashok? Or is it best suited to just FMJ ammo? The price makes it a good first gun, giving you something to carry, and defend your home with while you build a more rounded out arsenal. I might get one. then an m1a, with vltor modstock, and a mossberg 930.

6/10/2009 7:50am,
I have yet to try hollow points, but I will get to it.

As as cheap ammo goes:
Right now ammo is obnoxiously expensive. Obamaphobia has created a HUGE demand for guns and ammo as people try to amass huge stockpiles before he starts banning things or making ammo impossible to get (Whether or not he actually plans to do any of this is a whole other thread).

So cheap ammo is HIGHLY desirable. In an average day at the range, I can easily put 4-500 rounds through my weapons. If I did not have access to .10 and .15 per round ammo, this would not be plausible, expense-wise.

.357 magnum ammo can be .75 per round, and if I want to bring out Big Daddy (.454 Casull) I can plan on kissing 2$ downrange every time I pull the trigger.

What you end up doing is buying cheap reloads or low-cost target loads for the range, and one box of the "good stuff" for self defense. the problem with the hi-point is that the cheap ammo will not feed reliably. You don't necessarily need "the good stuff' but the "medium stuff" is the bare minimum. A higher-priced gun will eat anything without complaint, and over the years might pay the difference in ammo costs, but with 9mm I doubt it. 9mm is fairly cheap unless you go for the REAL exotic ****.

I will be polishing my feed ramp witgh a dremel this week, and I'll take it out the the range with some cheap stuff and hollow points to see what happens.

According to internet legends, if you give teh ramp a good polishing, and keep it clean and lightly oiled, it will feed just about anything. It's kind of a do-it-yourself fix for teh low manufacturing quality of that feed ramp.

6/10/2009 7:56am,
Grip is perfect for big hands. I have rather meaty paws myself, and I hate thin grips. It is wide and thick. The ten round magazine gives you even more room, as well. The plastic grips are less than stellar, though. get the hogue hand-all and you will be very happy.

6/10/2009 6:25pm,
a guy on youtube gives a decent review of this gun and says the manufacturer told him to do the dremel thing. One wonders why they don't just make a smoother feed ramp.

6/12/2009 9:46pm,
I have to say that the only high point I have ever had the opportunity to shoot was incredibly inaccurate and fed poorly shooting pretty cheap FMJs. Not saying this was representative of all high powers but this one was certainly a dud. That said I had a Glock 22 that was such a crapper in the accuracy department that it took several years to convince me to give the company another chance. The Glock 26 I now own has pleased me greatly. The Glock 22 would not put rounds on paper (human silloutte) at 25 yards out of a cold bore. Not even on the paper. Once it got warm it would shoot. I have yet to find someone who could explain how that malfunction worked.

6/13/2009 3:04pm,
Improper heat treating or hardening of the barrel metal.

Hi-points, like any other manufacturer, are going to have their percentage of duds. it's the law of mechanical devices.

6/13/2009 11:36pm,
. I never would have thought a gun in this price range would be worth a hoot. Thank you for the honest review and the tips regarding the feed ramp / ammo

6/16/2009 3:42pm,
I have yet to try hollow points, but I will get to it.

As as cheap ammo goes:
Right now ammo is obnoxiously expensive. Obamaphobia has created a HUGE demand for guns and ammo as people try to amass huge stockpiles before he starts banning things or making ammo impossible to get (Whether or not he actually plans to do any of this is a whole other thread).

So cheap ammo is HIGHLY desirable. In an average day at the range, I can easily put 4-500 rounds through my weapons. If I did not have access to .10 and .15 per round ammo, this would not be plausible, expense-wise.

well... that makes sense, out of curiosity though - is there a greater proportion of cheap ammo that fails due to lower tolerances in the manufacturing process... or is it simply 'the law of luck' for both the pricey and cheap?

just curious... the chances of getting a gun in England legally is pretty much nil anyway...

6/16/2009 4:28pm,
The proportion of bad rounds in both cheap and expensive ammo is minuscule. Even cheap ammo fires most of the time. if it is anemic, it may not work in the C-9, whereas higher quality guns won't mind as much.