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Budget Guns Review- Hi-point C-9
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
BARREL LENGTH: 3.5"
OVERALL LENGTH: 6.75"
WEIGHT: 30 ounces
FINISH: Matte Black
SIGHTS: Adjustable, 3-Dot
GRIPS: Black Plastic
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.