by R.K. Campbell
As a peace officer, when unexpected trouble came I answered with the handgun. But if I had a little warning, I deployed a short handy rifle or a shotgun. On roadblock duty, on a search, or when on a raid, the long gun was comforting.
Now that I am no longer active in police work, the shotgun is seldom used, but I do keep a 12-gauge pump handy just in case. However, the long arm I have on hand for alarms and emergencies is different than anything I deployed as a peace officer. As many of you realize, .223 caliber carbines can cost $1,000 retail. Quite a few exceed that. Many centerfire semi-autos are not well suited to personal defense, being based on civilian designs and not as reliable as the AR-15 series. But a short, light carbine is among the best home defense guns we can deploy. In those jurisdictions that make handgun ownership difficult, a pistol caliber carbine usually is not difficult to obtain. And if that carbine is not based on a submachinegun, why, it is even friendlier. Among the very best choices for civilian home defense is the Hi-Point carbine from MKS Supply Inc. (8511-A No. Dixie Dr., Dept, GWK, Dayton, OH 45414; phone: 877-425-4867; on-line: www.hi-pointfirearms.com).
Hi-Point is a well known name in inexpensive handguns. This company has done their dead level best to insure that those of humble means and on a strict budget have access to a quality defensive handgun. The Hi-Point handguns may not be pretty, and lack features found on more expensive handguns, but they work. I have tested several and in terms of reliability and utility, they are well suited to the task of personal defense. They are useful as first guns for the novice to try his or her hand without breaking the bank. Retailing for less than $150, the 9mm and .45 caliber Hi-Point handguns are a credible choice for those on a budget or who simply wish to obtain a second or truck gun.
The Hi-Point carbine was built on much the same philosophy but brings more to the party. The carbine features robust construction and a rugged no-nonsense action. The stocks and grip are designed to fit the human form as comfortably as possible, meeting the needs of most sizes of adult shooters. The sights are well protected from knocks as may be encountered in the trunk of patrol vehicles.
The Hi-Point is not gas operated but a simple blowback. Cock the bolt via the cocking handle on the left side of the frame and you are ready to fire. (The cocking handle can be reversed for left hand operation, but beware the ejection port.)
The safety is located just above the pistol grip. With some practice, manipulating the safety is not difficult. The stock features enough drop to be comfortable and while you are wedded to the stock when using the proper hold, recoil is well managed by the comfortable design of the buttstock. The magazine is located in the pistol grip. This rugged single-column magazine holds 10 rounds. The ease of loading a pistol grip magazine is borne out from field experience with the Uzi design.
You need not visually ascertain the position of the magazine wellsimply let your hands meet and you are in the right place. A rapid reload is unlikely in a personal defense situation, but it does not hurt to keep a spare magazine handy. I have several and rotate them to relieve spring pressure and ensure reliability on this home defense carbine. That being said, the magazine is of sturdy construction, with the addition of a modern synthetic follower.
The Hi-Point carbine has been available for some time in 9mm Luger caliber. Chambering to take the greater pressure and increased momentum of the .40 caliber cartridge is no simple task, but High Point now offers a .40 caliber version of the original carbine. The carbine is all black and business-like, yet does not have the aggressive appearance of a military weapon. Low key and ergonomically friendly, the Hi-Point is practically ideal as a home defense.
When first examining the Hi-Point, I found numerous laudable design features. The well protected sights, ergonomically designed stock, and overall user friendliness are obvious. It can be seen that the carbine is produced as economically as possible, but no corners are cut that degrade the carbines function. It seems to be as good a carbine as can be made for the price.
The question is: how good is the Hi-Point? I addressed that by a long term test. I have fired perhaps 1,000 cartridges in the Hi-Point to date without a malfunction of any type. A firearm of this type will be reliable forever if kept clean and well lubricated but at the ready in a safe location. I keep the carbine chamber empty in the uncocked mode. To make it ready, all I have to do is grasp the High Point and rack the bolt. It is a pleasant recreational firearm but I doubt many shooters will care to fire the carbine as often as I have. It is fair to say I have gotten the measure of the carbine and found it good.
The majority of the cartridges fired have been economy types. I began by firing Silver Bear 180-grain JHP from Zanders Inc. I found this inexpensive ammunition fed, chambered, fired and ejected normally. I expended several boxes firing at targets at known and unknown ranges. I found the High Point comes to the shoulder quickly, and the front sight is very bold, easily pulled into the rear sight quickly.
I had a ball, firing the Hi-Point as quickly as I could load magazines. It did not heat up or malfunction at any time. Pistol caliber carbines seldom heat up in the manner .223 and .308 rifles will. I found that dirt clods, large sticks and other bric-a-brac of the range were in danger well past 50 yards when I had my sights on the target. The point of impact versus point of aim was several inches to the left during the initial outing, but the adjustable sights were easily corrected. During the initial phase I also fired a few boxes of Zero 180-grain loads, in both full metal jacket and hollowpoint configuration. This inexpensive remanufactured ammunition is a good training resource.
I later moved to full power defense and police service loadings such as the Speer Gold Dot with excellent results. The High Point fed, chambered, fired and ejected everything normally. Sensibly, I avoided +P loads in this blowback firearm. A large number of CCI Blazers functioned well and gave good accuracy. With the velocity increase realized by the carbines long barrel, +Ps are not needed and probably not warranted. As an example, 155-grain Gold Dot loads reached 1,400 fps.
As for absolute accuracy, the Hi-Point is impressive. Remember, this is a carbine to be compared to the handgun. It is not a short rifle. At common defensive ranges, I placed the entire magazine load into one ragged hole. More importantly, the carbine can be used decisively by someone who may have little experience with a handgun.
As an example, I am an experienced shot and can get the most out of a handgun or carbine, at least in controlled range conditions. I own several handguns that I can coax a 25-yard two-inch group out of. A shooter of less experience might do well to hit a man sized target at 25 yards, and the occasional shooter may manage a six-inch group. The same shooter may quickly learn the carbine and may fire groups much closer to its mechanical limits. In careful benchrest testing, the Hi-Point demonstrated a number of three-inch 50-yard groups with quality ammunition. That is good for an inexpensive carbine of this sortmore than is needed for home defense, but enough to allow the shooter to take medium game in a survival situation.
A+ for Handling
As for handling, we have to give the carbine an A+. When in the home, a pistol grip carbine has an advantage in that the firearm can be held in one hand if necessary. It is possible to clear the home with one hand and maintain control of the firearm while the other hand grasps a cell phone or carries a child. It does not have a protruding magazine to catch and snag on obstacles. This is the type of design advantage that makes the Uzi a superior firearm in house clearing.
The Hi-Point is not an Uzi but the handling is similar. The design is reality based. I am very enthusiastic concerning this carbine as all around home defense firearm. Not only would it serve against two-legged predators, it has sufficient power to take on some of the more dangerous four-legged threats, including large dogs and big cats. The Hi-Point is light and handy and just may make a difference when traveling in the wild. It would be an excellent firearm for those times when you dont think you will need a firearm.
As time goes by I find it a recreational firearm that surprises those who fire it with its handiness and accuracy. For pure recreation, the 9mm Luger caliber carbine is less expensive. But for those times when you may really need a firearm, the .40 caliber is considerably more powerful. This is an advantage that cannot be overstated.
The main advantage of the 16-inch barrel carbine is the increase in velocity enjoyed over a .40 caliber handgun. The longer barrel gives gun powder a chance to burn more completely. This results in a velocity increase of 100 to 300 feet-per-second (fps), depending upon the loading. That is significant. This puts the .40 Smith & Wesson in the full power 10mm cartridge class. That is a considerable amount of power, directed from a platform that is easy to use well.
There are some cautions. Handgun bullets are designed to expand at a certain velocity. A bullet designed to expand properly at 1,150 fps might fly apart at 1,300 fps. I prefer the 155-grain JHP loads in .40 caliber pistols, but some may under-penetrate at increased velocity. Others may expand quickly, tear the nose off, and produce a shallow wound channel. Loads I can recommend in this range include the Black Hills 155-grain JHP and the Black Hills Extra Power 165-grain loading. Each gives an excellent balance of penetration and expansion. Practically any load using the Hornady XTP bullet should perform well from the carbine. Winchesters 165-and 180-grain SXT also give good results. Choose the loading that feeds well and is accurate in your particular carbine.
For taking deer-size game at moderate range, I would be comfortable with the 155-grain Hornady XTP. I have taken whitetail with the .40 caliber pistol; the carbine would be much more capable. For defense against larger animals like bear the .40 looks pretty weak, but then so does anything short of a .45-70 rifle. But we have 10 shots that can be delivered with precision. When we compare this to the usual bear defense handgun, a heavy loaded .45 Colt or .44 Magnum, the carbine doesnt look bad. Few shooters realize that the 180-grain full metal jacket bullet in .40 caliber will out-penetrate either the 124-grain 9mm or 230-grain .45 caliber ball. I was surprised but at 950 fps, this load will penetrate in the class with 130-grain .38 Super ball, but with much greater frontal diameter.
I think we have something here. We have an affordable, attractive carbine with many good features in the Hi-Point carbine. The carbine seems to be geared toward personal defense and informal target practice, but the Hi-Point has promise as an outdoors rifle as well. Compare the ballistics of the Hi-Point to the long-gone and much-missed Winchester Model 92 in .44-40 and you may see a similarity. The Hi- Point is not traditional in appearance, but in utility, economy and manufacture it is all American. I think that someone on a budget may find the Hi-Point the answer to a real need. And anyone who appreciates workmanlike design and function may appreciate this carbine.
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