Gun ranking: is the hi-point as bad as people say?

I am already writing a little for SOFREP and in that time I have revealed to you, dear readers, some things that I would be reluctant to announce in a room full of my friends. You have been supportive and respectful, but what I’m about to tell you next could leave some of you gasping in disgust and possibly even destroy all of my credibility in your eyes.

In 2006 I bought a 9mm Hi-Point pistol.

I know. I know. It’s a terrifying pistol that sees more action than the butt of jokes than a respected gunslinger’s sidearm. It’s the gun of choice for drug dealers who lack the common sense to steal the gun they carry. You wonder what could have led me to make such a ridiculous purchase, or whether I might have done it under duress. Perhaps Theresa Hi-Point, the evil heiress of the Hi-Point fortune, forced me to buy it at gunpoint (with a much more reliable weapon than what her company offered)? Sadly no. I bought it because I was poor … and an idiot.

You see, in 2006 I was a brand new Marine First Class. I’d never fired a pistol up close at the time – in Vermont we usually just picked dead trees and then spent the day chopping them down with shotguns (a great way to have a Saturday) – and into my opinion after a gun was a gun. I thought practicing with a pistol I could afford was better than not practicing at all, and my aim was to shoot as deadly and accurately as possible. So I strolled into a gun shop about an hour from base, hit $ 200 on the table, waited for my cool down, and drove home with my very first pistol – a heavy black 9mm hi-point that looked a little if Goonies Sloth paired with a Glock.

Above: Hi Point C9. Below: Glock 19

It wouldn’t be long before I was selected to join my unit’s counterterrorism team, a small reactionary force trained along with local law enforcement and military officers to be activated in the event of an attack in Southern California. As part of the team, I completed all kinds of training including hand-to-hand combat techniques, Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) spray certification, and of course, pistol shooting. It wasn’t long before I got gunsmith certifications with my trusted Beretta M9 and my hi-point was in a drawer and only showed up occasionally when my friends and I went out shooting.

In the more than ten years since then, I’ve got my hands on all kinds of pistols. As I have already written, today I choose between an American Classic 1911 and an increasingly modified Glock 19 for my everyday carrying weapon, my wife carries a Walther P22 and my old Hi-Point is in a drawer as always. Over the years I’ve probably shot through about a thousand rounds, which sounds like a lot – until you realize that I really only took it out of the drawer a dozen times to literally fire it every time it has the Hi-Point name Honored because it hurt me and didn’t affect the paper I say it on.

Although the Hi-Point is about the size of my Glock 19, it outweighs my much larger 1911 with a full magazine. But hey, someone in a movie once told me, “heavy is good” when it comes to pistols. Surely pop culture never lied to me about guns, did it?

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The thing is, in this case, hard is not reliable at all. Granted, I put in the cheapest cartridges I can find through this thing (I don’t put premium gasoline in my Kia Optima either) but you’d expect it to be able to shoot through a full magazine, without causing a paper jam or a jam at least every now and then. If you can make it through the short magazine without stopping to take immediate action, it might as well be your birthday because today is a special day that you and the gun will remember for a long time.

On the subject of ammunition, let’s talk about the capacity of the magazine. Although the Hi-Point is chambered in 9 mm, has a similar footprint as my Glock 19 and weighs only slightly less than a Toyota Corolla, it comes with a magazine that can hold a whopping eight cartridges. An extended magazine, with which I put the handle in my hand, increases the load capacity to 10 rounds. In the never-ending debate between 9mm and .45 pistols, the 9mm guys always proclaim that their increased magazine capacity makes their choice a better one, while the .45 guys stand by the superior stopping power that the larger cartridges offer in the gun offer .45. Allow me to introduce you to the worst of both worlds: 9mm stopping power with a magazine capacity of 0.45.

Top to bottom: 1911 (7 rounds), Hi-Point (8 rounds), Glock 19 (15 rounds)

Of course, this assumes that the magazine remains in the gun, which in my experience is quite unlikely. The magazine’s release is out of the way and easy to avoid, but the weight of the magazine when fully loaded with eight or more rounds combined with the recoil and nudge of the occasional actual shooting followed by my screaming “Tap, rack “bang” on the pistol, as if it were a lance corporal working for me and trying to create another space, the magazine almost always just … falls out of the pistol.

It’s not just me, either. Before she died, my mother-in-law asked me to take her to her back yard to shoot. We set up a few targets and I introduced her to a number of different guns, but at the time the only pistols I owned were my 1911 and the Hi-Point, the latter still in my pocket and probably jammed because it was could feel My presence. After firing a couple of shots with a .22 rifle, she wanted to move on to pistols. I made the Hi-Point in the hope that the 9mm would be easier to handle for them.

In her small hands, the pistol fired one round, blocked, and dropped the magazine to the ground near her feet. She screamed, assuming she had done something wrong to cause the problem, and immediately started apologizing to me. Of course she hadn’t done anything wrong. The gun is just a jerk.

Suppose you are in an emergency and your only option to defend yourself is through the hi point. You have to assume you will only get one round before the gun jams and ejects its own magazine, so it has to count. You draw your pistol and focus on the point of the sight while pointing the gun at your attacker. You are only 10 feet away. You could literally throw a bullet at him and hit his face. But after you pull the trigger the attacker is still standing and the window above him and three feet to the left is broken. With no magazine left, you decide to use the weapon as an oddly shaped bat.

Of all the complaints I have about the Hi-Point, the biggest one is its accuracy. I don’t expect it to shoot as well as my Glock or 1911, but if I get it out on the track with my friends and their pistols, I have yet to find one that shoots as poorly as my old Hi-Point.

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You might hear gunmen use terms like “point target” and “area target” from time to time. To cut a long story short, “point target” means the distance you can keep from who you are shooting at, yet choose exactly where the round hits. “Area target” is further away where the weapon is no longer as accurate. Instead, you can just select the area that it will act on. A good example would be the M16’s point target range, which is around 550 meters. That said, at 550 yards I can choose where the bullet I fire hits your body. Beyond that and through about half a mile, I can hit you, but maybe not necessarily where I was aiming.

The Hi-Point has a point aiming accuracy of ten meters or less. It’s worth noting that 10 meters (about 30 feet) is dangerously close to the 21-foot rule. The 21 foot rule is a law enforcement rule of thumb that says an attacker within 21 feet could close with me and injure me before I can accurately draw and shoot. That means, in the area where the hi-point is accurate, I might be better off leaving it on my belt and relying on Siskel and Ebert (that’s what I called my fists) to do business.

At greater distances you are faced with the decision: should you try to shoot your opponent and hope that the round does not stray into a crowd and that the loud noise scares off your attacker? Or do you just drop the magazine and toss that thing at her? If you have a pretty good arm I wouldn’t discount the second option. It could be your best choice.

I wish I knew who created this meme so that I can give them due credit.

I know, I know, I sound like one of those on the high-end internet forums who disapprove of anyone who chooses a gun they don’t like or a gun snob who thinks you have to spend a certain amount of money to get one Satisfaction from what is actually a hobby. I know a lot of people who like to shoot but can’t afford every gun they want. I really get it. But spending a few hundred dollars on something that doesn’t do what you want, need, or ask for is not a bargain, it’s a waste of money.

Does the Hi-Point live up to its reputation as a terrible weapon? Absolutely. Should you buy one? Absolutely not.

Should you forgive me for owning one of my own? Well … that’s up to you.

Image courtesy Sony Pictures

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