After coming back from SHOT Show, Robert and Dan asked me what I wanted to review next. I thought it the perfect opportunity to chuck one of the commonly acknowledged “worst guns ever” under the bus: the Hi-Point 995TS Carbine. But it didn’t quite work out that way . . .
Thanks to the fine folks at Guns Warehouse in Cedar Park, Texas I was able to get my hands on a HPC fairly quickly. When they asked me what color I wanted, I replied “the worst looking thing you can possibly imagine.”
Hi-Point makes their gun in that exact color: a Realtree-esque hot pink camouflage pattern. The gun’s a little hard to see in these pictures; I’m not sure whether that’s the camo pattern working or just my brain trying to filter out the image to spare myself the psychological damage it causes.
When Guns Wharehouse called me to pick up the Hi-Point Carbine they could barely get two words out before they started laughing. Never mind. Giving customers what they want, even if it looks like my idea of unicorn diarrhea, is as American as apple pie.
The Hi-Point 995TS Carbine is a blowback operated, magazine fed semi-automatic rifle. It’s the simplest self-loading action possible. That makes the gun cheap to manufacture — and as clunky and heavy as a couple of my ex-girlfriends.
The rifle was designed specifically to beat the “assault weapons ban” put in place back in the 1990s; it uses a less than 10-round magazine located in the pistol grip (NOTE: 20 round magazines available upon request). That’s good if you worry about Dianne Feinstein using her rudimentary-at-best understanding of firearms to concoct more “common sense” gun control proposals, but terrible for those living in Free States who want a useful firearm.
Even with the specific goal of skirting the “assault weapons ban” Hi-Point didn’t have to make a terrible gun. With states like California and New York going “full retard” there’s been an influx of “ban compliant” versions of semi-auto rifles that, in general, don’t suck.
The Hi-Point 995TS Carbine, however, sucks. The safety is a flimsy lever on the left side of the receiver. It feels terrible, it’s difficult to operate and isn’t ambidextrous. The magazine release is a push button on the left hand side of the gun that takes some effort to hit.
The charging handle is a bolt screwed directly into the bolt carrier which reciprocates with every shot. And the trigger is as mushy as five-day-old bananas in a vat of congealed canola oil. In short, everything about the 995TS’s controls is terrible.
While the action may be simple the design is somewhat less so. Unlike the majority of firearms produced in my lifetime, the Hi-Point carbine requires a couple tools to properly take the gun down.
I suppose the reduced time and effort put into the gun’s design is passed along as savings to you, the customer. Then again while the design hasn’t changed much in decades, the Hi Point 995TS Carbine’s price has nearly tripled since it was first introduced. You have to think someone is buying these things.
So what has changed in the last few years? The “TS” model (shown here) features full-length rails along the top and bottom of the gun and a last round hold open feature for when the magazine runs dry. Progress!
I say it has full-length rails, but there’s a bit of an asterisk on that fact. The rail under the gun is much like a cheap 1950’s split-level house; things don’t necessarily line up.
Part of the Hi-Point’s rail is attached to the forward handguard (which in turn is attached to the barrel in a way that would make most precision rifle owners twitch uncontrollably). The other part is attached directly to the barrel (which should only exacerbate those tremors).
That rail space should be handy for…something, but definitely not holding the rifle. The Hi-Point’s hand guard is large to begin with and the rails don’t help the ergonomics. They’re made of plastic instead of metal — which is good for shooter comfort but terrible for accuracy, reliability or durability.
Up top, the 995TS ships with a set of adjustable iron sights. The is a fixed hooded post held in place by a single bolt. The rear peep sight assembly is bolted to the upper rail and adjustable for windage and elevation.
Under that rear sight assembly is a full-length rail of some sort. Giving the gun the benefit of the doubt I grabbed my Leupold scope and one-piece mount and headed to the range. That’s where the gun really disappointed me.
I had low expectations going in, but at the very least I figured Hi-Point would include a standard Picatinny rail since this is 2017, not 1997. Nope — it’s a Weaver rail. None of my optics fit.
At that point I was pretty satisfied that what I was holding was the worst firearm I had ever reviewed. All I needed to do was put some rounds through it, do some accuracy testing and call it a day. So I slapped the iron sights back on the rifle and took it to the deep end of the pool.
The laughs as I uncased my Hi-Point next to the row of Accuracy International and custom long range bolt guns were hearty and numerous. Nevertheless, I set up the rifle, loaded her up with some 9mm ammo, lined up the sights on the 250 yard steel plate and squeezed the trigger.
I went through two boxes of 9mm ammo verifying that yes, the Hi-Point Carbine was in fact smacking the 250 yard steel plate with the kind of boring consistency that you’d expect from a much more expensive firearm. Another box of 9mm confirmed that the gun wouldn’t jam. Not even once.
At this point my day was well and truly ruined. I’d been looking forward to a truly vitriolic review of a supremely unattractive firearm. But my plan had been foiled thanks to its unexpected accuracy and reliability.
In short, the Hi-Point carbine works. It’s more than accurate enough for home defense situations (or even carbine competitions if you can find a bigger magazine). It’s reliable enough for the average shooter, and cheaper than the bar tab at the end of a good night.
Yes, there are far better firearms on the market than the Hi-Point carbine. But for the shooter on a budget this might not be a complete waste of money. Imagine that. But close your eyes first.
Specifications: Hi-Point Carbine
Caliber: 9mm NATO (as reviewed)
Barrel Length: 16.5”
Finish: Composite stock, hot pink camo (or black)
Weight: 6.25 Lbs.
Street Price: $319
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style and Appearance *
I mean, if you’re going all Austin Texas hipster and want an “ironic” terrible firearm this will fill that role perfectly. Otherwise I can make a more appealing firearm from scrap parts at Home Depot.
Reliability * * * * *
The good thing about a simple action is that there are very few things to go wrong. I shoved every type of ammo I could get my hands on into the chamber and it never failed to cycle.
Accuracy * * * *
Minute of skinny bad guy at 250 yards. For a cheap rifle that’s pretty close to perfect.
Overall * * *
Everything about this gun is terrible, from the aesthetics to the feel and function of the controls. But there’s no denying that it hits what you’re aiming at and doesn’t fail to go bang. The next comparable firearm is $200 more expensive. While it’s definitely worth the money for the upgrade those who are closely watching their money can rest assured that this gun will at least do what it says on the box.