Home Editorials Hi-Point C9 9mm Handgun — Utilitarian, Not Useless By: Bob Campbell

Hi-Point C9 9mm Handgun — Utilitarian, Not Useless By: Bob Campbell

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Hi-Point C9 9mm Handgun — Utilitarian, Not Useless   By: Bob Campbell
Hi-Point C9 handgun with the slide locked to the rear resting on boxes of Hornady, Winchester, and Black Hills 9mm ammunition

When evaluating a firearm, I try to give every example a fair shake. I have favorites. I have developed a firm grasp of the hierarchy of handguns in quality of manufacture and reliability. It is easy enough to recommend the Beretta 92, CZ 75, Glock 19, or SIG P226 as models of reliability.

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Practical experience and institutional testing confirm my findings. It is false economy to choose a second or third tier firearm, especially when attending a shooting school, engaging in competition, or envisioning an intense training regimen. The cost of training and ammunition will quickly outpace the outlay for the gun and holster — regardless the choice.

Bob Campbell shooting the Hi-Point C9 9mm handgun at an outdoor range
The blocky slide did not limit handling as much as we first thought.

Then again, there are those who don’t need that level of performance and cannot afford a better handgun. We all have a budget that may vary with circumstance at different points in our life. A homeowner, hiker, or concealed carry permit holder on a tight budget needs something he or she can afford. Low cost is a factor in the market.

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These shooters may purchase the pistol, fire a magazine or two, and consider it proofed after firing at a target a few yards away. They are not recreational shooters. The handgun is a tool, much like a car jack. We hope we don’t need it, but if we should, we will need it badly.

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Hi-Point Firearms

Hi-Point firearms sells many thousands of units each year and has done so for many years. There are thousands in circulation. Yet, they are seldom seen in the used rack at gun shops. Certainly, trade in value is low on this affordable handgun — most retail for less than $200 — but you would think they would be more common. I suppose folks keep them.

For this review, I selected a Hi-Point C9 model in 9mm. This is about a Glock 19-sized pistol but bulkier and heavier. The pistol is striker fired. The slide is a non-ferrous material, and the frame is polymer. The magazine is a single-column type, holding eight rounds of 9mm Luger ammunition.

The design is blowback, which accounts for the need for a heavy slide. The typical locked-breech tilting-barrel action is a type in which the barrel travels to the rear along with the slide until pressure abates as the bullet exits the barrel in the simplest description. A blowback type is used in .22, .32, and .380 ACP pistols.

manual thumb safety on a Hi-Point C9 handgun
Gotta give the Hi-Point C9 credit. The manual safety was positive in operation.

The barrel is fixed, and the slide simply blows back off the barrel once the bullet exits the barrel and pressure abates. It takes a heavier slide to maintain inertia against this pressure. While bulky, the 9mm blowback design allows the use of an inexpensive manufacturing technique. It seems to work.

The owner’s manual tells us never to carry the pistol chamber loaded. I agree with this assessment, and this is a limiting factor in the use and carry of the pistol. Some may disagree, and it is your hide. Perhaps the pistol is safe enough unless it is dropped.

Takedown isn’t the simplest. But then, maybe the pistol isn’t meant to be field stripped. The slide is locked to the rear and a pin driven out. The slide is then pulled rearward and off the frame. Spraying the pistol down with aerosol cleaner only goes so far. Every handgun should be cleaned and lubricated every 300 rounds. If possible, I would keep an extra takedown pin on hand in case it is damaged or lost.

Field stripped Hi-Point C9 9mm pistol
Takedown was fairly simple.

When doing my research on the pistol, I ran across comments, statements, and video that gave me pause. Some were so sad and unprofessional that I was embarrassed for the persons involved. One was so dangerous that I was appalled.

One pundit roundly criticized the safety as difficult to reach. Every friend and family member who tried the Hi-Point safety found the safety to be ergonomic and positive in operation. Big and small hands, all found the safety a good feature. I’ve got to give the pistol its due on that count.

A fluff piece in the popular press credited the pistol with accuracy and reliability properties that it does not possess. Whether it was actually fired or not would be a question worth asking. A rather odd post involved the author trying to make improperly-sized lead bullet loads filled with black powder feed in the Hi-Point. I like a good experiment as much as anyone, but these loads would not have feed in a 1911 9mm either — of that, I am certain.

Stripped Hi-Point C9 9mm handgun
Prior to cleaning, the Hi-Point 9mm had plenty of powder ash. Be careful as the grips hold some of the parts in place.

The average pundit has no chronograph and no trigger-pull gauge and relied on factory figures and his own guess work. That isn’t professional. A Lyman trigger gauge backed up by a RCBS model as well showed the C9 model trigger compression at 5.6 pounds. Almost everyone testing without a gauge guessed at nine pounds. Perhaps, I have a good example. Trigger compression varies by .4 to .6-pound on each press.

A video in which a fellow doing what was meant to be a gunsmithing was particularly horrific (gut-wrenching actually) to those interested in safety, which should be all of us… The fellow begins the video holding the Hi-Point by the muzzle with the pistol pointed at his hand. His knowledge of nomenclature is limited to be charitable.

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During the disassembly video, he says Oops!, or something like that and removed a loaded magazine from the pistol. I kid you not. The real wonder is that after the mistake was made, the video was posted.

Such was the information I found on the internet on the Hi-Point. I should have followed my usual basis for procedure and never looked over the internet. I would have been better spending time on the porch reading the National Enquirer.

My initial impression of the Hi-Point led me to the conclusion that the pistol isn’t safe to carry with the chamber loaded. The piece isn’t well balanced but fits the hand well. The safety is ergonomic, and the sights are good for the intended chore.

I lubricated the pistol, and then loaded the magazines with FMJ ammunition for the firing test. I used a variety of 115, 124, and 147-grain loads. The pistol is easy to get hits with at five to seven yards. Bring the pistol on target, press the trigger, and you’ll have a hit. Ride the reset and keep firing.

Hi-Point C9 handgun frame showing powder and debris
The single-action trigger is fairly simple in operation. The pistol was caked in powder ash and debris.

The pistol does not like cheap underpowered loads or steel-cased ammunition. It is at its best with full-power loads. Fiocchi loads are usually a tad hotter than most but then CCI Blazer — both aluminum and brass case — worked well. Winchester 147-grain target loads were fine and demonstrated good accuracy. Note: When the slide is locked back, the firing pin protrudes by design, it isn’t stuck.

Recoil is — more or less — in the Glock 19 category. The pistol is heavier than the Glock, but the heavy slide gives us a jolt at the end of its travel. I fired a magazine of Hornady American Gunner 124-grain +P without a problem.  As mentioned, the Hi-Point seems to run best with stronger loads.

As a final test, I fired the pistol from a solid, braced, benchrest firing position. I used every advantage in solidly locking the pistol down for accuracy testing. The results were more than acceptable for home defense with a 15-yard group of about 2.4 inches. That is better than expected and very decent. At 7 yards, the pistol will put a magazine load into a single rathole.

Accuracy Testing — 15 Yards, 5-Shot Group

Load    Velocity (FPS) Group (inches)
Hornady Critical Defense 115-grain 1,090 2.4
Hornady American Gunner +P 124-grain 1,140 2.5
Winchester 147-grain FMJ 903 2.35

The pistol is minimal but with good ammunition it functions. A half-dozen different loads were tested and all functioned. A minor complaint was that the pistol fired to the left. A fully-adjustable rear sight allowed moving the point of impact to proper relation with the sights. The previous owner had cocked the sight far to the left.

I managed to break a few clay birds at about 15 yards simply plinking with the pistol. It has recreational value. The Hi-Point is worth the money. Do not have the expectation you are spending smart money and getting a Glock. That is a fantasy. You are getting a pistol, when properly handled, will save your life. Don’t use cheap ammo and maintain the piece.

Bob Campbell shooting the Hi-Point C9 9mm pistol at an outdoor range
The Hi-Point C9 handled better than expected.

A lot of folks are as interested in firearms as we were high school fire drills, but they realize they may need a handgun. A SIG you have not mastered, or worse you don’t understand the manual of arms, isn’t going to help you in life or death situation. The Hi-Point is worth considering.

Specifications

Barrel length: 3.5 inchesOverall length: 6.75 inchesMagazine capacity: 8 rounds, optional 10-roundWeight: 34 ounces

Carrying the Hi-Point C9, and Other Handguns

Recently, I have been evaluating the DeSantis Vanquisher holster. This is a very well made holster — a credible design from one of our most respected makers. The Vanquisher fits several handguns. This is an ambidextrous tuckable IWB (inside the waistband) holster that can be adjusted for both height and cant.

It is built from padded-ballistic nylon and designed to fit nearly all concealable handguns, including a range of offerings from Beretta, Colt, Glock, Heckler & Koch, Kimber, Ruger, SIG Sauer, Smith and Wesson, Springfield Armory, and more.

bullet holes in a paper target
Five shots at 10 yards! The flyer far from the other four is the work of the author and his shortcomings in some regard. Two shots in the same hole happens occasionally and is the work of a guardian angel. I was aiming in the blue, however, and all went better after adjusting the rear sight.

This is not a cheap holster in any description. The holster is available in two sizes — small and large. Ballistic Nylon is a good holster material well suited to the Hi-Point.

Side Note

The original test gun sometimes failed to lock back on the last shot with ammunition featuring lower recoil impulse, but it never failed to feed, chamber, fire, or eject. We added a new-in-the-box Hi-Point C9 9mm to the mix. This pistol always locked back and always performed well. This confirmed our impression of the pistol.

The Hi-Point C9 is certainly not for everyone, but it has its market. Have you fired the Hi-Point C9? What was your experience? Share your review in the comment section.

  • Adjustable rear sight on a Hi-Point C9 handgun
  • Hi-Point C9 handgun with the slide locked to the rear resting on boxes of Hornady, Winchester, and Black Hills 9mm ammunition
  • Bob Campbell shooting the Hi-Point C9 9mm over the hood of a truck
  • Stripped Hi-Point C9 9mm handgun
  • Hi-Point C9 handgun in a DeSantis Vanquisher IWB holster
  • manual thumb safety on a Hi-Point C9 handgun
  • bullet holes in a paper target
  • Hi-Point C9 9mm handgun, left profile
  • Hi-Point C9 pistol with the 8-round magazine removed
  • Ballistic Nylon DeSantis Vanquisher inside-the-waistband and tuckable holster
  • Open box of Hornady American Gunner 9mm ammunition
  • Hi-Point C9 handgun frame showing powder and debris
  • Bob Campbell shooting the Hi-Point C9 9mm handgun at an outdoor range
  • Field stripped Hi-Point C9 9mm pistol
  • Bob Campbell shooting the Hi-Point C9 9mm pistol at an outdoor range