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"Stay 'unreasonable.'  If you don't like the solutions [available to you], come up with your own." 
Dan Webre

The Martialist does not constitute legal advice.  It is for ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY.

Copyright © 2003-2004 Phil Elmore, all rights reserved.

Hi Point 9mm Carbine

A Product Review by Stephen Mallory

Editor's Note:   Some time after this review article was originally published, I had the opportunity to run a Hi Point 9mm carbine through a Progressive FORCE Concepts four-hour carbine class, a shooting class dominated by AR15s. I had very little in the way of supplies with me -- just a Nylon magazine carrier on the buttstock and two extra mags stuck in the pockets of my 5.11 vest. Would you believe that "ugly, cheap" gun worked and worked and kept on working, giving me no problems?

When I first showed up with that "piece of junk," that "ugly" and "cheap" gun, I am told several students snickered behind my back. Those snickers turned into grudging admiration when the weapon with which I ran through the class proved more than up to the task. The instructor even told me I shot pretty well with it.

The Martialist editor Phil Elmore with the Hi Point 995 carbine.

I did have one malfunction -- ironically, during a failure to fire drill! -- when the last round in the magazine didn't strip out of the mag and got stuck in it, leaving me with nothing to do but change out the almost empty magazine. The rest of the time that Hi Point just kept chowing down on Winchester White Box with nary a complaint. I don't think the barrel got completely cool for maybe two and a half hours, as during that time it never had the chance to go unused for long enough to manage it.  I think I burned through 400 to 500 rounds total.

Let me reiterate:  That 9mm carbine worked and worked and worked.   While the gun does have some very rough edges and is not terribly ergonomic (the Hi Point really tore up my hands, in fact, and loading the magazines got to be truly painful), it's cheap, it's reasonably accurate, and it functions. That's why these ugly, cheap guns get such good reviews -- they throw lead downrange at a reasonable price. Unless you've tried the gun and found it not to work properly, dismissing it is just firearms snobbery, a very popular pasttime among people who sneer at cheap firearms but who have no direct experience with them.
Marketed by MKS Supply, the Hi Point family of firearms has been a fixture in the "gun culture" for a while now.  Respectable gun magazines have profiled Hi Point pistols, including its latest .45 ACP offerings.  What might at first glance appear to be "pot metal" junk guns are, in fact, serviceable budget guns in several calibers.  The sample sent to me on behalf of The Martialist for testing is of the company's established 9mm Parabellum carbine, which I've seen for sale at gun shows for years.  Like all of the company's pistols and longarms, it is 100% American made and has a polymer frame.

Hi Point 995 Carbine with Magazine Sleeve Installed on Stock.

The model 995 shipped to me by the company has a black finish, fully adjustable sights with a "ghost ring" rear sight and front post, and a stylized metal heat shield over the barrel.  The rifle is ugly and futuristic-looking by design, intended to appeal to the cost-conscious "tactical" market.  Considered a toy by some serious shooters, the Model 995 is actually a pretty decent gun for home defense and 9mm target shooting.

Black-finish receiver and barrel sit on and in the polymer stocks.

My carbine shipped with a trigger lock, sling, and swivels, none of which I am currently using.  I did, however, obtain a stock sleeve in which to place two extra magazines.  The sleeve comes from the company, and while it is as ugly as the rifle, it stays on and does the job.

Nylon sleeve has hook-and-loop closures and fits on one side.

Loaded magazines sitting in the sleeve for quick deployment.

Plastic trigger may feel a little small to some, but it fit the author okay.

Until you get used to it (which you will), the carbine handles strangely.  It feels heavy and light at the same time, the result of the heavy metal receiver and barrel sitting on and in the extremely light plastic stocks.  The pistol grip was too smooth and felt a little flimsy for my tastes, so I snugged it up and filled it out using a cut section of synthetic tennis grip purchased in a sporting goods store.

Cutting a strip of tennis racket grip for the handle.

The smooth plastic grip was much improved by the addition.

The plastic trigger may seem a little small to some users, but it felt fine for me.  I have smaller hands and had to readjust my grip to push the magazine release.  The ten-round magazines drop free when empty, with only gravity to get them there.  The safety is a simple bent piece of metal on the left side of the receiver.  Brushing it off without moving my hand was easy enough (doing so reveals an orange dot).  To put the safety back on, though, I again had to reposition my hand to get enough leverage.  All in all, I'd rather be able to take the safety off quickly than put it on quickly, so this works fine.

Extractor and bolt of the Model 995 carbine, on right side of weapon.

The cocking lever is a bolt – it really looks like a hex-head bolt – with a free-rotating metal collar around it.  When I took the carbine out of the box, the weapon had been fired, jamming up the plastic tab used to block the mechanism for shipping.  I had something of a time getting that plastic tab out of there and was momentarily confused by the lack of a cocking handle.  (I wish there had been an instruction sheet warning me of the fact that the charging handle is shipped unscrewed from the weapon.)  Once I realized what was going on, I screwed the handle in and was able to draw back the bolt to remove the tab.  Pushing in the collar allows you to hold the bolt open mechanically – it's a cheap solution and a good alternative to some other inexpensive guns, which lack a bolt-hold-open feature entirely.  I've found that I have to check the handle periodically and snug it up, as it tends to work its way loose over time.

Cocking handle and safety switch.  The handle is a hex-head bolt.

I took my carbine to the range with several different brands of 9mm ball ammunition:  American Eagle, Mag-Tech, and CCI.  I'm a little neurotic and have adopted Publisher Phil Elmore's habit of shooting only ball ammo for maximum feed reliability, but I wanted to see if brand made a difference within that limitation.  The carbine is rated for +P+ loads, but I didn't fire anything that hot because I don't keep any on hand.

Factory magazine for the 9mm carbine.

The first thing I discovered about the 995 is that its magazines must be properly and thoroughly slapped after loading.  If you don't whack the magazines to seat the ammo, the top round can end up angled down instead of up and out.  When you insert the magazine and try to charge the first round, it will jam up on its way into the chamber.  I had a single jam during test-shooting before I realized this and thereafter had no problems, as I was careful to smack each loaded magazine before using it.  The magazine supplied with the carbine was nice and smooth, but a couple of the spares I picked up were extremely stiff and I had to white-knuckle them to get the rounds in.

I did not touch the sights in any way before test-firing the carbine.  I wanted to see how it would perform straight from the box.  I was not disappointed.  The sights are nice and large anyway, which made it easy to see where and at what I was aiming. 

Front and rear sights of the 995 Carbine are large, adjustable, and easy to use.

After firing a single shot with my left hand from behind a supporting post at the range ( to make sure the carbine would not explode – another neurotic trick I learned from Phil), I fired out the rest of the magazine off-hand from fifty feet away.  (My thanks go to Phil for obligingly labeling my targets for me, and for massaging these photos.)

I lost two of my shots getting used to the carbine.  The others all found the small sheet of notepaper I used for a target, with two of them at the extreme border of the paper.  I used the American Eagle parabellum ammunition and had no jams.

The second magazine was of Mag-Tech ammo.  I fired all shots off-hand and, except for an initial flyer (common when firing a semi-auto), got all the rounds into the paper and made a decent group of five of them.

While preparing to fire the third magazine, this time filled with CCI ammunition, I experienced the feed jam I previously described.  After clearing the problem and properly smacking the magazine, I did not have any more problems.  I test-loaded and charged several magazines in a row to see if I could duplicate the incident, but didn't have any problems as long as my ammo was seated.

I fired out the magazine with the weapon supported on a bench.  This time I got all ten rounds into the paper, probably achieving my best grouping of the day.

For my fourth test target, I fired more American Eagle ammunition off-hand.  During the course of firing all ten rounds I did three double-taps.  Each time, thanks to the light weight of the carbine, I lost the second shot, as the barrel rose a lot more than you'd expect from a 9mm carbine.  It simply isn't heavy enough to hold the barrel down when firing quickly.  While my shots hit the wooden backboard, they didn't strike the paper.

What was most impressive about the Model 995 carbine's performance was that it was all straight from the cardboard box.  I didn't do any initial cleaning, and adjusting of the sights, or any other preparation.  While I checked the barrel for obstructions, I basically forced the carbine to do its thing fresh from the factory.  It came through with flying colors, producing decent fifty-foot groups for an unfamiliar weapon with sights untouched from the assembly line.

For around or under $200 USD, you can get a functional 9mm carbine from Hi Point that will throw parabellum rounds downrange and do so with decent accuracy.  If you're in the market for such a weapon, I gladly recommend this one.

I'm off to practice my double-taps.