Hi-Point C9 pistol
Oleg Volk 07.25.16
Hi-Point C9 pistol won’t win any beauty contests. It’s a metallic brick with a mag well, a trigger, and a muzzle. And yet, somehow, Hi-Point sells 160 to 190 thousand guns annually, most of them pistols in 380ACP, 9mm Luger, 40S&W and 45ACP. 9mm, by the virtue of being the cheapest to feed, is the most popular.
The pistol is hefty at 29oz, which is unsurprising for a pure blowback design. The steel breechface is enclosed in an aluminum alloy cage and further sheathed in a zinc alloy slide with sufficient inertia to keep the action closed until the pressure drops to safe levels. A very common mechanism for calibers up to 380ACP, less coming with the more energetic 9mm Luger. Why use it for larger calibers? Cost reduction. Hi-Point pistols cost somewhere between $140 and $200, with the next least expensive repeaters in the mid $200s or higher. For most people, the extra $50 to $100 makes no difference, but for many it’s the difference between getting just the gun or also being able to afford ammunition, range time, and eye and ear protection. Or the difference between getting a gun at all and having to wait a month. It’s a pistol expression of the same philosophy that brought us the STEN submachine gun.
Besides people with a dire need for an immediate defensive weapon, Hi-Points are sometimes bought by new shooters who are unsure why they should spend more money on a nominally similar pistol of another brand. But the greatest number of purchasers simply treat guns like any other domestic appliance. I don’t get excited about washer and dryer, and they don’t get emotionally invested in buying a firearms. Something inexpensive that works is their goal, and Hi-Point supplies the product to fit.
C9 uses single action striker with a manual safety that doubles as a manual slide lock. It also locks back on an empty magazine. Manual slide stop does not release the slide locked by the magazine follower, so it has to be racked for manual release. While the trigger is single action, its weight is much closer to double action. It will not release without a magazine in the gun.
Contrary to my expectation, racking the slide wasn’t difficult. The spring is less stiff than in subcompact locked breech 9mm pistols. The slide have a slight texture but feels smooth, which is helpful during firing.
The sights are quite good, with high-visibility paint and windage adjustment option on the back. An adjustment tool is included with the pistol. The sight picture is fairly easy to maintain even in low light.
Standard magazines hold 8 rounds. Extended magazines hold 10. The pistol (and the carbine also) were designed to be legal in as many states as possible.
Users with larger hands might prefer the 10-rounders, while people who intend to carry C9 would be better off with the standard magazine. While the mags drop free, it’s not recommended to drop them on a hard surface due to the possibility of damage.
If you look carefully at the back of the gun, you will see that what the slide extends unusually low, and what looks like the frame under the index finger isn’t. Bottom view shows the parts relationship even more clearly.
The standard two-handed hold with thumbs on the frame isn’t possible with C9. Further, riding the safety lever 1911-style would be uncomfortable as recoil pushes the edge of the stamped lever into the thumb. The most comfortable hold is with the right thumb below the safety, and the supporting hand partially wrapped around the trigger guard. It may look dated, but works well to stabilize this pistol.
“Blah, blah, blah! How does it shoot?” I went to the range with the pistol straight out of the box. I shot 2-4 magazines of each type of ammunition:
- Liberty 50gr HP
- MI Bullet zinc 88gr FP
- LTech 90gr frangible
- SBR 100gr Frangible
- Remington Golden Sabre 124gr +P
- CCI Blazer 147gr FMJ
Zero malfunctions of any kind! Strangely, recoil with the +P load was unremarkable. In general, the MI Bullet load was the easiest to control, but future ammunition from them will be slightly hotter. That cartridge was also the most accurate, with 8-shot groups around 1 inch!
Golden Sabre was close at 1.5″, everything else groups 2-3″. It’s hard to tell how much of the groups were due to heavy trigger pull, my eyes occasionally losing focus of the front sight or inconsistent grip, but the accuracy rankings remained consistent with multiple magazines. The trigger surface is fairly rough, so I would recommend covering it with moleskin for extended range sessions.
Fully loaded, C9 holds 8+1 (or 10+1 with extended magazines). That’s fewer than most pistols of that size, but quite a bit more than the next best thing available for the same money (low-end 2-shot derringers or equally low-end .22s of dubious reliability).
I am quite confident that it will run pretty much any standard 9mm ammunition. The wide variety of ammunition tried today suggests a very reliable design. In look and feel, C9 is odd for a shooter used to mainstream designs. For a new shooter, no re-learning would be necessary. According to long-time owners, the design is robust. With the lifetime warranty, some have had their pistols rebuilt by Hi-Point completely after 25-30 thousand rounds. The cost of ammunition had long exceeded the price of the guns, so they obviously were shooting it for reasons other than dire need. It’s not my first choice for recreational shooting, but I wouldn’t feel poorly armed wielding one in a fight.