The High Point of Shooting? Not Quite.
Regardless of how much money one has invested in high quality firearms, it’s difficult to not be piqued by Hi-Point Firearms. Their proposition is simple: a semiautomatic handgun at an MSRP of $219, that portends to have better quality than the usual Zamak-filled Saturday Night Specials. And since everyone is dumping their .40 S&W guns to go back to 9mm (or even to .380 ACP), it seemed like a good time to scoop up a nice used Hi-Point to see what they’re really about. A single Benajmin brought this lightly used example into my gun safe, complete with its owned logoed hard plastic case. So far, so good.
This gun is big. My first impression was that it was Smith & Wesson M&P or Glock 17 big, but I quickly realized that an M&P is a Frisbee in comparison, and if all else fails the Hi-Point would make an effective bludgeon. The grip is beefy; a curious detail when juxtaposed with the single stack magazine that only holds ten rounds of fawty. The gun itself is a strange amalgamation of plastic, steel, and Zamak, and the swollen proportions of the slide inspire equal doses of confidence (“this thing is built like a tank”) and fear (“will this thing actually stay together?”). The plastic skeletonized trigger (yes, I just used “plastic” and “skeletonized” in the same sentence) is mushy and the reset … what reset? Is that the reset, or did something just fall off?
It’s easy to see why people vigorously love and loathe the Hi-Point, and why discussions about them can get so heated. What can’t be debated is that one could buy this gun brand new, stock up on hundreds of rounds of quality ammunition, pay for plenty of range time, and still be money ahead of the rest of the pack that haven’t even racked the slides on their slinky new fancyguns. And let’s be honest: the marksman that practices regularly with his cheap gun is going to be a better and safer shot than the internet cowboy with a safe full of iron that sees ten rounds down the pipe every few years.
The Hi-Point loading process is pretty straightforward, and I quickly found my NPOA thanks in part to a grip angle that worked well with my favorite Weaver stance. And to my utter delight, the Hi-Point swallowed the rather sharp .40 S&W rounds with ease, made easier by the heavy slide absorbing the .40’s recoil. To my even greater surprise, I made a reasonably tight group at 25 yards with some cheap surplus aluminum-cased ammo, through a gun that’s positively Soviet in its engineering prowess. No, they weren’t Colt Woodsman or Smith & Wesson Model 41 groups, but they weren’t that much worse than the Glock 19X I was also shooting that day. And I’ve got a lot more practice with the Glock platform …
Many years ago Road & Track did a comparison of a Honda to a Rolls Royce, and they correctly noted that things we’d tolerate in a Honda would be absolutely impermissible in a Rolls Royce … and vice-versa. The same comparison is true here, although the more apt analogy may be comparing a modern automobile to a riding mower. Case-in-point: certain guns at a much higher price point are finicky about ammo. I’m fairly certain I could stuff twigs and branches down the magazine of the Hi-Point, and they’d feed and fire just fine. it wasn’t the least bit persnickety about the hodgepodge of ammo I ran through it; ball and hollow point all fed, shot and cycled as expected. If nothing else can be said, this gun tolerates cheap ammo with the forgiveness of an AK-47.
In the same breath, though, it’s worth noting that the Hi-Point’s slide fit may charitably be called “sloppy.” I’d ship my pants if a Colt or Smith & Wesson (or heck, even a Glock) came with that much slide slop, but on the Hi-Point it’s fine. The purists will also note that the barrel is rigidly mounted to the frame of the Hi-Point, which means that the fit of the slide is going to have much less to do with the gun’s accuracy, notwithstanding the fact that the side play of the slide could have all sorts of other deleterious consequences to the gun’s accuracy.
And thus we enter the circular vortex of whether to love or hate the Hi-Point. No, it’s not a Smith & Wesson M&P, a Colt 1911 or even a Glock, although they all result in flinging little bits of copper and lead downrange. One could drive an automobile or a riding lawn mower to get the groceries, and both would exhibit strengths and weaknesses in the performance of their duties (especially if there’s grass to the mowed on the way). In the case of the Hi-Point, it’s safe to say that they met their goal of producing an inexpensive firearm that reliably goes bang with each pull of the trigger. Whether it’s the right gun for you depends on how much you value things like a tight slide fit over a few extra hundred dollar bills in your wallet.