May 09, 2023
I’m writing this a few days after Michigan’s Governor WineMom (I think that’s how she pronounces her last name) issued a lockdown order for all residents of our state who aren’t involved in “essential” occupations. Gun sales have been crazy (toilet paper too, for no apparent reason) and one of the guys on my Facebook feed was bemoaning the fact that he didn’t have any “tactical gear” if things got spicy during our pandemic staycation. I replied, “A Hi-Point carbine is high-speed tactical gear if you’ve got the will and the skill to use it. People have done a lot with less.” And I was deadly serious.
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With ten years of experience behind Hi-Point carbines, I would wager I’ve got more trigger time on the design than almost anybody who is not in the gunwriting business or an employee of Hi-Point. While I’ve never cared much for their looks, I would and in fact have recommended them without reservation to people. I respect them for what they are. They are uniformly reliable, and shockingly affordable.
Hi-Point offers a number of different versions of each of their .380 ACP, 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, and 10mm carbines with various accessories, colors, or camo patterns. Currently, they sell ten different versions just of their black .45 ACP carbine — you can get it with a 4X scope, forward folding grip, flashlight, laser, buttstock magazine carrier, or some combination thereof. For this article, Hi-Point sent me a sample of their newest all-black .45 ACP carbine, the 4595TS RD CT. If that’s a bit difficult to remember, let me make it simple for you — think 45 carbine that holds 9 rounds and comes with Tactical iron Sights and a Red Dot from Crimson Trace.
This carbine sports a 17.5-inch barrel and is 32 inches long. The muzzle is threaded .578x28 if you decide you want to attach a flash hider, muzzle brake, or suppressor. It comes with a thread protector. Empty it weighs seven pounds. Hi-Point introduced their .45 ACP carbine in 2010, and it’s been one of their best sellers ever since. The receiver is stamped steel and has a glossy black finish. The forend, pistol grip, and stock are all polymer. There is a polymer rail underneath the barrel, if you want to mount a light. There is also a rail on the underside of the handguard, and if you buy a model with a vertical foregrip, that’s where it’s attached. The handguard has somewhat aggressive texturing in the form of deep vertical grooves. The rail on the handguard tends to dig into your hand while shooting, so you can either: 1. Simply remove the two screws holding it on, or 2. Complain about it like an overpaid gunwriter with babysoft hands.
The front sight on the carbine is steel, a post inside a protective circle. The entire sight tower is adjustable for elevation by loosening a screw. The rear sight is an aperture and polymer. It is screw adjustable for both windage and elevation. The polymer rear sight body is inside and protected by a steel housing which is attached to the top of the receiver with screws. There is a matching polymer rail atop the receiver for mounting a red dot. My model carbine comes from the factory with the Crimson Trace CTS-103 red dot already mounted. The CTS-103 is an Aimpoint Micro-sized tube red dot sight, and if you go onto the Crimson Trace website looking for this optic…you won’t find it.
The CTS-103 seems to be a version of the CTS-1000 optic that, right now, is only offered in various gun bundles through various firearms manufacturers. This optic has a 2 MOA dot, and you have your choice of red or green, easily switchable by using rubberized buttons atop the optic. It comes with a rubber bikini scope cover and has an auto-shutoff feature if you forget and leave it on. This optic is powered by one CR2032 battery, and one is supplied with the optic. In fact, Crimson Trace has their “Free Batteries For Life” program, where you can get a new set of batteries for your optic every year for as long as you own it. Battery life is still thousands of hours, so swapping it out every year is still more often than you’d need to.
This optic is advertised by Hi-Point as co-witnessing with the iron sights. That, technically, is accurate. In fact, out of the box the optic had been zeroed with the iron sights — when I looked through the iron sights, the red dot was right at the top of the front sight post. However, the iron sights weren’t in the middle of the optic’s tube but rather in the top one-third, as it sets very low on the rail.
I already thought the sight picture on Hi-Point carbines was a little busy, and was worried the red dot would make it worse…but in fact it didn’t. With iron sights, you’ve got to look through the aperture, focusing on the front sight and making sure it’s centered in the aperture, while aiming at the target. While the iron sights are still there, if you shoulder the gun and keep both eyes open that red dot is clearly visible through the rear aperture. It sits nicely on the target and you can ignore the irons. In fact, you could cover the objective (muzzle) end of the optic and your brain will superimpose the red dot on the target. This was actually how the Armson OEG (occluded eye gunsight, perhaps the first successful commercial red dot, which gave birth to Trijicon) worked.
The stock is polymer, with a spring-loaded buttpad to help absorb recoil. The bolt handle reciprocates with each shot, and you can swap it from one side of the gun to the other. In fact, the gun ships with the bolt handle not installed, so when screwing it in you decide which side of the bolt you want to attach it to. There is a safety on the left side of the gun, where the pistol grip meets the receiver. It is a stamped piece of sheet steel and works a bit like the thumb safety on a 1911 — up for Safe, down for Fire. It isn’t quite as easy to work as a 1911’s safety, but it’s easier than it looks.
Hi-Point carbines look like nothing else on the market, and in part that is because the carbines (all but the .380 ACP model) are designed to feed from the same caliber Hi-Point pistol magazines. In this case that means the carbine uses the same 9-round magazine as Hi-Point’s Model 34510 .45 ACP handgun. The magazines insert through the pistol grip of the gun, and the magazine release is a button just to the rear of the trigger guard. These are single stack magazines, but no, they are not 1911-pattern magazines, and 1911 magazines will not work in this gun.
For years this disappointed me, because it meant you were limited to that 9+1 capacity, however that is no longer the case. Redball Sports, working closely with Hi-Point, began making extended 20-round magazines for the 9mm carbine a few years ago. They have now expanded their line to include 20-round .45 ACP magazines for this carbine, and you can buy them directly from Hi-Point for $25 apiece.
These 20-round magazines aren’t as hugely long as you might expect, because where they extend beyond the pistol grip they widen from a single- to a double-column. They’re just over five inches longer than the original nine-round magazines. If you’re looking at one of these carbines for personal/home defense, this extended magazine is a no-brainer. Seriously, if you can’t solve all your problems with twenty rounds of .45 ACP, chances are you’re fighting through the hedgerows of Normandy or the jungles of Bougainville. Or the toilet paper aisle in Costco.
On a related note, if you’ve been eyeing one of Hi-Point’s 10mm carbines, the 10mm magazines have the same body dimensions as the .45 ACP magazine, with slightly different feed lip geometry. I know this for a fact, because while testing the 10mm carbine a few years ago, my giant son (6'4", 240 lbs.) mistakenly loaded .45 ACP rounds into the 10mm magazine (when in doubt, push harder, that was my entire philosphy of life when I was his age), and those rounds were a bear to get out because of the narrower feed lips. I had to pry them out with a knife. Magazine still worked.
These dimensions matter because while there is not yet an extended magazine for the 10mm, and Hi-Point has not said this officially, I know they’ve been doing testing in house. They’ve found that the extended .45 ACP magazines, loaded with 10mm ammo, seem to work pretty darn well in the 10mm carbine, and hold more than twenty rounds… This carbine is blowback operated. That means the force of the fired cartridge is counteracted simply by the weight of the bolt (inertia) and the strength of the recoil spring. The recoil spring is a bit stout, especially on a new gun, but the bolt handle is quite large, so you’ve got some leverage. Blowback recoil systems are about as simple as guns get. They usually have fewer parts. Simple+fewer parts, you probably won’t be surprised to learn, generally means reliable, and Hi-Point carbines are exactly that.
I’ve been doing TV since 2009. In that time, I’ve co-hosted the last season of Handguns, was a guest on several seasons of Personal Defense, am currently co-hosting the sixth season of Handguns & Defensive Weapons, and been a guest on the Guns & Ammo TV show every season for the last ten years. In that time, Hi-Point has been a regular sponsor of various shows, which is why I’ve had the opportunity to put a lot of rounds downrange through their products. I’ve shot their .380 ACP, 9mm, and .45 ACP pistols, and their carbines chambered in .380 ACP, 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, and 10mm. The .380 ACP carbine recoils like a .22. The 10mm is the most powerful. Most of my trigger time has been split between the 9mm and .45 ACP carbines, and ironically the only time I’ve ever had a jam with a Hi-Point carbine, it was the .45 ACP model.
Notice how I didn’t write “malfunction?” That’s because I don’t really consider it a malfunction. Hornady has also been an occasional sponsor of the various TV shows I’ve been on, and their 200-grain XTP load has a very wide mouth in that hollowpoint. Too wide, apparently, for this gun, as it tends to regularly jam up on the feed ramp of the Hi-Point carbine, the edge of the JHP hooking on the feed ramp. This is an incompatibility between ammo and firearm, and the various .45 ACP carbines I’ve fired over the years have fed every other kind of ammo I’ve tried, including everything else from Hornady. I’m sure if I searched the market for other wide-mouthed JHPs I might be able to find another type of ammo that didn’t work so well in this carbine, but that’s the only load I’m aware of the carbine doesn’t like. If the hollow point has a profile even close to that of a roundnose FMJ, the gun will feed and fire it.
Handguns chambered in the big .45 ACP cartridge tend to be big and heavy, and if they’re not they’ve got a lot of recoil and not much magazine capacity. Carbines, on the other hand, are roughly the same size and weight no matter what cartridge they fire, so why not go for the pistol caliber many people still consider the best choice for personal defense? Heading to the range brought no surprises. As it is a blowback-operated gun, the Hi-Point has a little bit of bump when shooting, but it is not prohibitive at all. Think halfway more than a .223 AR but significantly less than a shotgun. The red dot made shooting a lot more enjoyable, and I think I was able to get better accuracy than I would have if I was just using the iron sights.
The 20-round magazine Hi-Point sent me for testing worked perfectly. For most of the function testing (and a bit of accuracy testing) I used inexpensive Barnaul FMJ. This imported steel-cased ammo features the traditional 230-grain FMJ bullet and worked great. This ammo is great for practice, but I do not recommend full metal jacket ammo for self-defense — hollow points exist for a reason. That reason is to expand, cause more impact damage, and slow those bullets down so they tend to stay in the bad guy — fellow gunwriter Tamara Keel referred to hollow points as drag chutes for bullets, and that’s not wrong. A standard .45 ACP 230-grain FMJ bullet will penetrate 20+ inches of ballistics gel — penetration has never been a problem with this or most other pistol bullets. But hollow points increase terminal performance.
My son, when he was 15, thought the Hi-Point carbine I had in for testing at the time looked cool. Having fun shooting is one sure way to make sure people want to not just go shooting but head back to the range time and time again, especially new shooters and kids. Long guns are always easier to shoot no matter your skill level, and hitting what you’re aiming at is always more fun than missing. While this isn’t specifically a “plinker” or a “target shooting gun,” it can be used for both, in addition to serving as a home defense weapon.
As for my “A Hi-Point carbine is high-speed tactical gear if you’ve got the will and the skill to use it,” comment at the start of this article, not only did I mean it, I was in fact referencing a specific real-life event that happened in Detroit in 2014 or so. According to the local TV news reporter, a Detroit woman drove off three-armed home invaders firing an “assault rifle” that she had purchased from a local pawn shop. When they showed a picture of the “assault rifle” it turned out to be a Hi-Point pistol caliber carbine — covered in rust. That’s the great thing about the design; while I recommend keeping every firearm lubed and clean and rust-free, it is just a simple blowback carbine with few parts, and generally with firearms, simple = reliable.
This incident also illustrates the pandemic ignorance afflicting pretty much every news media organization on every subject, but especially firearms. Anyone want to argue a .45 ACP fired out of a Hi-Point is any less deadly than when it’s fired out of a different gun? Didn’t think so.
Hi-Point .45ACP Carbine Specs
- Type: Blowback-operated, semi-automatic
- Caliber: .45 ACP
- Weight: 7 lbs.
- Overall Length: 32 in.
- Receiver: Stamped steel
- Finish: Black (other colors and camo available)
- Barrel: 17.5 in.
- Muzzle Device: None, threaded .578x28
- Safety: Manual
- Stock: Molded polymer with internal recoil buffer
- Forend: Polymer with rail uderneath
- Trigger: Single-stage, 5.5 lbs. (tested)
- Sights: Front post adj. for elevation, fully adjustable aperture rear, Crimson Trace CTS-103 2 MOA red dot
- Accessories: One 9-round magazine, trigger lock
- MSRP: $425 (tested), carbine models in .45ACP start at $349
- Manufacturer: Hi-Point Firearms
About the Author
James Tarr is a longtime contributor to Firearms News and other firearms publications. A former police officer he is a USPSA Production Division Grand Master. He is also the author of several books, including CARNIVORE, which was featured on The O’Reilly Factor. His current best-selling novel, Dogsoldiers, is available now through Amazon.
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