Austin Knudsen submitted a nice piece recently on five handguns he couldn’t live without. Me, I’m more pragmatic. Any handgun that goes bang every time, and shoots to minute-of-bad guy accuracy works for me. Much as I prefer concealable guns with good triggers and higher capacity, any gun that’s carried beats the perfect gun left at home.

Not surprisingly, I’ve run across a complete lemon or two in my time. Also, other guns have zero practical appeal to me. Several, actually. Herein lies a list of five handguns I can – and do – live without. You might want to do the same.

#1:  The Taurus Curve 

Guns and Ammo initially gushed over this offering from Taurus. A shock, I know. Meanwhile, I rather crudely dubbed it the Taurus Turd right out of the gate when I called out G&A‘s gushing promo piece. In response, they threatened to sue us. That threat sort of blew up in their face (Streisand Effect). In the end, calmer heads at G&A‘s publishers prevailed.

Since its introduction, the Curve has pretty much gone the way of the Studebaker. I got my hands on one brought by a student. In my experience, it shot okay for a gun without sights. In contrast, the person who brought it struggled with it. He never could have hit the Sasquatch-sized B-27 target enough times to qualify for a CCW using that gun.

You read that right, the Curve has no sights. Just like using birdshot in your home defense shotgun works at three feet or less, so too does a sightless pistol. But what if the bad person presses their attack from across the room? Taurus touts the gun’s (anemic) flashlight and laser as sighting tools.

A person with evil in their heart can cover 21 feet in well under 1.5 seconds. Knowing that, how long does it take them to cover 12 feet? “Not very frickin’ long” stands as an acceptable scientific answer.

An a perfect world, a user would identify a deadly threat, activate the laser, bring the gun on target and fire before the bad actor reaches them. But we’re not all operators and stress makes people — especially untrained or inexperienced people — freeze or perform less than ideally.

The sightless Curve seems as though made to facilitate employment for trial lawyers.

#2:  Hi-Point pistols 

I bought a new Hi-Point 9mm pistol about 25 years ago for $89. How could I go wrong? I giddily waited the requisite three days to pick it up (may God curse Illinois’ silly waiting period law).

Looking my new gun over, I soon started to question my sanity for trading most of a perfectly good C-note for this hunk of cast iron. It felt like a brick-shaped boat anchor. Oh well, if it worked, I’d be fine.

Then I got to the range. Shooting it proved… frustrating.  While I shot well enough with my Beretta 92, I struggled stay on a letter-sized piece of paper with the Hi-Point. At 12 feet. When it fired.

Malfunctions of every sort plagued me. As an added bonus, those times it did fire and I hit the paper, the rounds often key-holed. “Added stopping power!” I thought in my effort to remain positive.

Fifty rounds later, I surrendered. A week later, I sold it to a co-worker’s friend’s mom for $100. Feeling dirty, I gave her a box of ammo to assuage my guilt.

A few years ago, Benjamin T. Shotzberger wrote a laugh-out-loud funny review of his experience with the C9 here at TTAG.  An excerpt:

The Hi-Point C9 ships with a rear Ghost-ring sight. Too bad that extra bit of plastic wasn’t added to the nearly-impossible-to-operate-from-a-firing-grip safety. Hi-Point calls it the “quick on/off thumb safety.” Operating the switch is about as fast as a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter uphill. In January.

Read the whole thing. It’s a hoot.

Tim over at GunNuts Media published his experience firing 2200 rounds through the Hi-Point C9. His findings? A stoppage or malfunction every 28 rounds on average. They must have improved the gun dramatically since I bought mine.

Anecdotally, I had one family come to a concealed carry class. Dad brought three tricked out Hi-Point pistols. While some had compensators, others had lasers and other accessories I didn’t even know Hi-Point made. “I got all of these for less than you paid for your Beretta,” he boasted. Curious, I asked him about reliability. “Never had a problem,” he says.

By the afternoon, his entire family had ditched those malfunction-prone guns for our loaner guns. The same guy came up to me Sunday morning to tell me, “Your Beretta shoots pretty nice.” Yeah, I replied, you should try the GLOCKs.

 

#3  Remington R51 (Gen 1)

Many gun aficionados quickly became excited at Remington’s modern take on the old Remington Model 51. One, a prodigious collector and member of Guns Save Life, got an early one. He shot it and then invited me out to try it with him.

The slide bit me on the first shot. I adjusted my grip. From there, it delivered good accuracy while punishing my hand and inducing a flinch. Some pistols do that.

Reading some reviews of the gun left me scratching my head. Those gents must have stouter hands than I. Then I read Nick’s review and thought it not only honest but brilliant. He identified all the problems I found in my limited experience and a whole lot more. While Nick took a lot of heat initially for his review, in the end he prevailed.

I recently won a R51 Gen 2. While I have yet to take it out and shoot it, I have high hopes for it.

#4.  American Derringer M-4 Alaskan Survival Model

A .45-70 Derringer: just what every man needs, right? The base model American Derringer M-4 retails for about $780. Not only does it weigh almost as much as a loaded GLOCK 19, it only holds two rounds.

The owner of Rock Creek Arms in Dawson, Illinois brought one to show off at a recent Guns Save Life meeting. Norm had it on consignment after the original owner decided to sell it. “He said it’s been shot twice,” Norm said, laughing jovially. With great love, Norm told me I was welcome to come out and shoot it.

While the French might have plenty of “never fired, and only dropped once” guns, this .45-70 might be a “fired twice and only dropped once” piece for your collection.

The fine folks at American Derringer market the gun as the a bear-stopper. Given a choice between being mauled by a Grizzly and pulling the trigger on a .45-70 derringer, I’d have to think about it. On one hand, the pain would last longer if I fired. On the other hand, if the shot proved ineffective (or I flinched and missed), I would probably scream in pain like a little girl as the bear killed me.

The smart fellow spends half that on a Ruger LCP-II .380 pocket pistol as a last-ditch bear defender. How does a .380 stop a bear, you ask? Easy. You shoot the other guy in the legs a few times then run like hell.

#5.  The Judge/Governor Family of .410 Revolvers

I wrote about my skepticism of .410 revolvers here not long ago. As novelty guns? Maybe. For self-defense? For the size and heft, other options prove much better choices unless the threats you expect to face slither on the ground and have venomous fangs. And no, I’m not referring to lawyers.

These enormous wheelguns look like hand cannons. However, when loaded with .410 shot shells they pack the horsepower of a .38 Special…or less. Obviously, the .45 Long Colt makes a better self-defense round but most users become enamored with the shotgun rounds.

In my experience, they make great slayers of tall weeds. But a machete does the same thing a lot quieter and more cost effectively.

Yes, the Taurus Judge and Smith & Wesson Governor families will work for self-defense. And a Coleman lantern will provide some light in a dark room, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t better options.

While RF gave the Governor four stars way back when, his final line spoke volumes: Kinda like the world’s most fire-retardant paper hat.

In conclusion, while almost all guns can be used for personal defense and recreational shooting, some perform better than others. Better to read and learn from others’ mistakes, than to experience those mistakes the hard way, as so many of us have.

74 Responses to Five Handguns I CAN Live Without

    • Technically 45 auto is 45 colt too. ACP stands for automatic colt pistol. they could call it 45 rimmed but then that could mean 45 auto rim.

      • I once walked into a gun store. I asked for some .45 ACP. The dude behind the counter said: “Uh, No, we only have regular .45.” I just walked out. Possibly the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

        • So, instead of taking the opportunity to educate an obviously new employee, and perhaps teaching him a bit of firearms history, you just made your exit.

          That’s a shame.

        • Curtis: it’s not the customer’s job to educate the sales person. It’s the job of the store owner or the sales person’s manager. And if the shop’s management is so lax or bad at a pretty basic thing … we’re not talking about the fine points of Mauserology here … do you really want to be shopping there for deadly weapons? I wouldn’t.

        • Gosh, I educate counter guys and customers alike all the time. As long as you have the tact to know when to step in and not mess up a sale, I’ve never had either party complain. Keep it to facts as much as possible and always talk up the good choice, never talk down the bad one.

      • The SAAMI designation “45 Colt”. So it’s not ambiguous at all–45 Colt is 45 Colt and 45 ACP is something else.

    • The problem Remington use to make shorter cartridges that were head stamped the same as the standard .45 Colt. And no, it was not a Schofield cartridge (even though those probably help with the term Long Colt)

      • Where do you get your info? It’s totally the adoption of the shorter Schofield cartridge, particularly by the Cavalry, that led to the “Long Colt” designation of the older chambering to avoid confusion. In hindsight it would have been smarter to call them “.45 Colt” and “.45 S&W” but that’s not how it went down.

    • I just say I’m shooting .45. I know what I mean, I don’t care if you don’t. I pull my own cartridges off the shelf and buy them, if I can’t I shop elsewhere. No need to ask for what I want.

      • Actually I have never owned anything from Taurus and don’t ever expect to. But then where would the interwebs be without people making groundless assumptions.

        Never owned a hi-point either, have borrowed one from time to time at the range and fed 2-3 magazines fast as I could each time with no stoppages.

        Derringers, living as I have in the late 20th and early 21st centuries I have a wide selection of smaller pistols that have the capacity for more than 2 rounds so considered one of any caliber.

        Everything else on the list: since I don’t shoot for a living and I’m not Scrooge McDuck I don’t drop $$ on guns just to try them out.

    • You’re putting me in the unenviable position of defending Boch, but… this article was pretty much the very definition of an opinion piece.

      Not sure what else you expecting? “Five Guns Research And Encyclopedic Knowledge Has Shown A Median Human Can Live Without, Now With Extra Science.”

      • “Five Guns Research And Encyclopedic Knowledge Has Shown A Median Human Can Live Without, Now With Extra Science.”

        I have never said this before to a comment on a article: That was funny. Thanks.

  1. John,
    Were are we with the HPA, SHUSH and other 2A reforms? Are you still on that federal committee? Is there still a federal committee?

    • I cannot talk or write about this at this time.

      Sorry.

      I will say there are (much) higher priority items for this admin that have gone exactly nowhere, in large part thanks to Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan.

      John

    • Can someone explain why they feel the need to carry a dedicated “snake gun”. I’ve spent a bit of time in the bush and around a farm and there has been exactly ONE situation where I came across a snake that really needed to be killed (a rattler in my shed) and a shovel did the job just swell. In any other case why wouldn’t your normal carry gun work? Can’t hit a snake at 8 feet with as many shots as you want?

    • If you don’t want them anymore, drop ’em in a box and ship them to me. I’d be glad to take them off your hands. My XD9 was always reliable unless you limp wristed it. A Springfield 1911 is on my “want to buy if I ever have any money” list (which, since I have kids, is about a week before I kick the bucket).

    • So… they were perfectly good guns two months ago, but now they suck, because of something the owner of the company did.

      Sure. That’s completely logical.

      • I am not for sure if you read English well, so here it is.

        The list is supposed to be “five handguns you can live without”, not “the five worst handguns to ever exist”. Surely you can see the difference.

        I think the post was supposed was meant to show that he/she could live without any Springfield product.

        The poster never referenced the quality of the firearms nor did he/she link the quality of said firearms to upper management’s political view.

    • If I read it correctly, he hasn’t tried the Mod2 version yet – might be afraid to given that his hand didn’t fit the first one. A gun either fits or it doesn’t. Trying to make a gun work that clearly wasn’t made for your hand is like buying a pair of shoes based solely on fashion or what the salesman said about them – your feet wont change to fit the shoes, you’ll only end up hurting yourself.
      Having said that, the R51 fits my hand like Remington had me model for them – so glad they worked the bugs out of it last year because I REALLY WANT ONE.

      • It is. It’s a JCP .40 S&W. In defense of the Hi-Point, they have excellent customer service and, as far as I know, improved their reliability. That all said, I need to go off and cry for a moment. That’s the exact problem MY Hi-Point started to develop, but I sent it back before the crack in the slide turned into…that. It got repaired completely and it’s been very reliable ever since.

  2. Thank you for your honest review. The majority of the gun reviews are always positive. As a result I don’t trust them.

  3. I’ve also soured on the .410 pistol concept. Even with Federa 4 pellet 000 buck, they still don’t shoot accurate enough for me to be confident in it.

    I disagree about the Hi Points. I seldom hear bad things about them other than their size, weight, looks, and mushy triggers. All that aside, they’re proven guns for the not so much money you’d spend on one.

    • I’ve taken to describing HiPoints as the ideal gun for someone who
      A. Won’t really shoot it much and only needs it to work briefly until the goon runs away as fast as his sagging pants will allow.
      B. Honestly can’t afford a better gun, even a used better one. Hey, poor folk arguably have more need for a self-defense gun then most of us…

    • I am a big fan of novel guns and novel ideas. The shotgun handgun is so up my alley . . . but alas . . . you pay almost everything for that shotgun effect. Plus, at car jacking distances the effect is not necessary and much past about 20 feet connecting where you want becomes “iffy”.The .45 LC is a potent round but for the size of the package you could get just as powerful with many more rounds.

      I think what he said of hi points may have been true 20-30 years ago. I think they have upped their game. Plus, with the help of the internet you can do some tinkering and DIY on hi points to improve reliability.

  4. What, where are the Heizers? Not only do they build their tiny two shooter in .45 ACP, they have a .4/.410 version, and horror of horrors, one in 7.62×39.

  5. My Pop once bought a Star PD based upon a positive gun mag review, it was the first light weight “Officer Model” size 45 a.c.p. pistol. It was a POS from the get go and basically disintegrated as it was shot.

    Suffice to say lesson learned regarding gun mag reviews. I personally only trust reviews in American Rifleman.

  6. 3 days wait in Illinois? Be thankful, come to California and live in crazy land and the over the top restrictions on everything!

  7. Not a bad list, but I’d take my Hi Points over the Glock I owned. While I wouldn’t call it unreliable, it did have a couple hiccups and I could never get good groups with it. On the other hand my Hi Point C9 and carbine have run flawlessly so far, and the accuracy is impressive for sub $200 guns. I trust my C9 enough to leave it loaded in the garage. And the best thing about a gun I bought for $120, is I don’t care if it rusts!

  8. Well just another “gun expert” who’s been shooting since he was in his mothers womb. I’ll bet he has six or seven gun safes for his gun collection.

    As a gun generation 2.0 person I’ve noticed the large number of rich gun people who think you should spend at least $700 for a firearm.

    A ruger 10/22 with a 25 round box magazine will turn any home invader into swiss cheese for under $200 on sale at local stores.
    I’ve seen hi point 9mm carbine for less than $300. That new 20 round red ball magazine for the hi point will also make swiss cheese out of any home invader.

    As far as hand guns go, I like the idea of my Taurus judge putting 21 holes into an invaders chest with just three pulls of the trigger. Or I can use a different load and put 57 holes into an invaders chest with just three trigger pulls.

    You can keep your Glock or Sig or whatever. My ruger p89 works just fine.

    • Well just another “gun expert” who’s been shooting since he was in his mothers womb. I’ll bet he has six or seven gun safes for his gun collection.

      Well since I was 6 or 7. Shooting independently since 12. Didn’t know what I didn’t know until I started getting training in my late 20s. As far as safes go, (thinking…), not quite to six. Er, wait. Yeah, with the one in the vehicle I guess I have six. Good call!

      As a gun generation 2.0 person I’ve noticed the large number of rich gun people who think you should spend at least $700 for a firearm.

      Not sure what gun gen 2.0 person is. However, the Taurus 85 revolver borders on outstanding for street prices as low as $230 in this parts of Illinois. Another affordable gun that works for the budget conscious: SCCY. I don’t have many (any?) handguns that cost $700. Unless you count “support brace” so-called pistols.

      A ruger 10/22 with a 25 round box magazine will turn any home invader into swiss cheese for under $200 on sale at local stores.

      Yeah, if he doesn’t eat you first. Remember, Mongo the Mauler gets a vote on this. He might not appreciate you poking .22LR holes in him and if he’s only six feet away, he might push that muzzle of yours away before you can score more than a hit or two. He might then seek to beat you to death with that 10/22.

      I’ve seen hi point 9mm carbine for less than $300. That new 20 round red ball magazine for the hi point will also make swiss cheese out of any home invader.

      I have never heard a bad word about Hi Point carbines. A relatively inexpensive carbine that works. I have never shot one though. I cut my carbine teeth on an HK-94 and an SP-89. Don’t recommend either, but I did well unloading them both for as much as twice what I bought them for in the market distortion created by the AWB.

      As far as hand guns go, I like the idea of my Taurus judge putting 21 holes into an invaders chest with just three pulls of the trigger. Or I can use a different load and put 57 holes into an invaders chest with just three trigger pulls.

      Why stop there? Go with #8 shot and you can put several hundred (ineffective) holes in an invader’s chest (if they make it through his or her coat and shirt). My go-to gun is a used Mossberg 500 shotgun with a sawed off bird barrel. I prefer 00 buck (reduced recoil), but to each his or her own.

      You can keep your Glock or Sig or whatever. My ruger p89 works just fine.

      Thank you, I will. I’ve owned a P89. It’s a little big, bulky, and a bit on the heavy side, but it worked just fine.

      Chris: After you’ve been doing this seriously for a while, you’ll accumulate guns acquired through winning charitable raffles or drawings, or great deals that come down the pike for a host of reasons. While I have a variety of different guns, many of which I don’t use for self-defense, I don’t thin the herd as they make fine loaner guns for students to use. As for the guns I have utterly no use for that I win (and I usually win several each year), I donate them to a worthy charity. Everyone wins. Want to win several guns each year? Come to Guns Save Life meetings and buy some drawing tickets!

      What’s more, guns don’t really depreciate like cars. And unlike golf clubs, they might just save your life someday.

      John

      • John
        Thanks for the informative response. The new gun owners are generally referred to as “Gun Generation 2.0”. At 45 years of age I got into guns after I retired from the Army. Now ten years later I’ve started taking formal classes. I’ve has three so far.

        If you look it up you’ll find the worst mass murder in America was done with a 22 caliber hand gun at Virginia Tech. The murderer also had a 9mm pistol as well.

        Also in Washington state I think last year a Muslim terrorist using a ruger 10/22 rifle murdered 8 people and wound 6 others. This attack is a video on You Tube. Active Self Protection channel is the POC.

        This is my main point of disagreement with “gun experts”.
        I understand center fire round ammunition is more reliable. But 22 caliber is deadly and kills very quickly. I think a ten round ruger revolver in 22 would be an outstanding self-defense weapon.
        What say you?

  9. The one thing you can’t fault about Hi Point is the lifetime warranty that follows the gun. I for some weird reason have always liked pistol caliber carbines. I bought a Hi Point 9mm Carbine with a broken shell stuck in the chamber for $25 bucks out of a pawn shop several years ago. I probably put 2500 rounds through it over the years and then a chunk of metal fell out around the firing pin. I called HP seeing if I could buy a new stripped slide. They said no, I have to ship the gun for warranty work, and I explained I’m not the original owner and where I had picked it up. I also said I had cut barrel back and threaded it for a linear brake. Didn’t matter. I sent it in and a month later I get it back.
    The only part of my original gun is the small numbered part. New slide, trigger, barrel, sling, and sights. The old gun didn’t have any sights when I bought it so I used a cheap low power scope. They also sent an extra mag for my troubles.
    In the box was a report of what was replaced and a note saying cutting and threading a barrel may void your warranty in the future. My only cost was shipping to them which was more than reasonable.
    Yeah it’s an ugly heavy brick Planet Of The Apes carbine (original stock) carbine but it’s fun to shoot.

  10. Lemme guess, the author like Glocks and other blocky double-stack handguns? Or perhaps SIGs with a high bore axis?

    I have a theory about the people who manage to get ‘slide bite’ on the R51 (the ducktail is like an inch long; it isn’t slide bite unless you’re Wilt Chamberlain). I think the fat Glock-a-likes require one to place the center of their palm further to the left (for a RH shooter) so as to get their thumb around it, and I think this may end up putting the web of their palm in an awkward spot. I think the low bore axis of the R51 forces the shooter to put their trigger finger more or less straight horizontal between the trigger and ‘duck tail’ area, but on taller guns with higher bore axis there is more room for the base of the palm to slide way up into the duck tail without encountering the slide. I understand this is done for better control, but on the R51 there is no need.

    It’s just a strange, recurring pattern that shooters of the gun seem to think it’s either remarkably comfortable (I am one) or unbelievably uncomfortable. Now, normally when something is working so badly, you’d think to examine what you might be doing wrong, but since the purpose of many folks is to shoot down anything that’s not like their current favored carry piece… I do think it hilarious his criticism of the R51 doesn’t involve poor workmanship (despite the highly negative review, the pistol reviewed by TTAG originally was one of few that was actually reliable)

  11. So, twenty-five years ago our author had problems with a Hi-Point C9? Things change in 25 years, especially handgun reliability.

    My Hi-Point C9 set me back a whopping $149.00. Yes, it’s ugly. Yes, it’s heavy. Yes, it rattles when I carry it in a holster on my hip. And yes, IT WORKS, every time I’ve fired it.

    You didn’t like yours, I like mine, and that’s why they have horse races.

    • Amen, sir. Thank you for your service, too.

      The guy who brought three to class was a year or two ago.

      I also had a pretty blonde college coed who ran the whole class without a single malfunction or stoppage with her Hi-Point. That’s certainly an outlier among probably three dozen or more Hi-points that have come through over the last 20 years.

      John

  12. Wahlter p99. Could never get good groups with it and it was a jam o matic.
    Ruger p93. Too heavy for what it was.

  13. My list of guns not to own starts and ends with Kimber. Had 2, neither would go 150 rounds with jamming and needing a cleaning. Customer service sucked too.

  14. Thank you, I never get enough Hi-Point hate. Even the Soviets never made anything that ugly, there’s just no excuse.

  15. The Palmetto State Armory PA-10 .308 should get a dishonorable mention. I hope mine will function after some extractor work and swapping out the factory buffer and spring for a heavy buffer / spring combo. We shall see.

    Do a YouTube search of PA-10 fixes and you’ll find I’m not the only one. Yes, I’ve thoroughly cleaned the gun and tried a variety of ammo and mags.

  16. Speaking of the HP being “ugly.”
    IMO, too many people put too much emphasis on looks.
    I’m a function over form person. Just because something looks good doesn’t mean it will work well.
    And form does not follow function. I’ve known far too many women who looked mighty fine who were just plain mean through and through.
    And, looks are extremely subjective. While many here really like the way a certain AR looks, others see anything that looks remotely like an AR as pure evil.
    To me, if it works well, I don’t care what it looks like.

  17. I would have to disagree about the curve or any other gun being useless because of no sights. Although I prefer even a .25 auto to have sights in “real shooting situations” its been found that even people using full size pistols with large easy to see target sights seldom use them in “a panic situation”. Rather they point and shoot.

    I have used and liked very much the FN Browning 1910/1955 model and it has no sights to speak of as it only has a sight track with a pair of sights so small you need a magnifying glass under intense light to even make them out but the gun is snag free and has the same trigger pull for every shot being that it is a striker fired gun. It has a got a stiff grip safety as well as a manual safety, something the Morons of today that both make and buy the newer plasticky trash would do well to emulate. Would I like a good set of high visibility sights, well yes, and I admit its lack of good sights is its only drawback but when I need a small hide out gun that is dependable with any ammo you run through it you will not find a more dependable gun and its ready for instant action as well as being a safe gun to handle and carry something sadly lacking with many safety-less pre loaded modern plasticky trash which are involved in more tragic accidents than I would have room to write about. And when gazing upon an FN 1910 you will not vomit or try and hide it from your friends.

    Having said all that plasticky made modern made trash are lighter in weight even though I have seen more than one crack right behind its junk plasticky trigger guard and the plastiky guns will not rust from sweaty hands either. And since they are difficult to sell used they can often be picked up for nothing more than a song. After all we live today in a disposable society and the plasticky gun certainly fills the bill. Use it until its junk frame goes snap. crackle and pop and then just throw it in the trash or down the crapper.

  18. Hi-Points require about the same amount of work as a S&W M&P to make reliable and they cost less. Note that this doesn’t mean tacticool accessories. It means things like a light trigger job, polishing the feeding ramp, etc.. M&Ps have a horrible reputation for all of the same stoppages.

  19. 1) Most ‘Fudd guns’
    2)Glocks (I’ve tried MANY MANY TIMES, don’t pout).
    3).40 S&W anything
    4)Nazi surplus ( had a minty AC ‘2-line’ P-38 w/matching holster, gave me the creeps).
    5)Mosin-Nagant 91/30, since I sold my canoe…

  20. Purchased a high point c9 three years ago. I shoot fine with it and never had a problem. Best bang for the buck imo. Don’t get me wrong. I love my 1911 .45and always will. just sayin.

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