Hi-Point 995TS: Pistol Caliber Carbine Bargain

By Mark Wynn

Hi-Point 995TS
Illustration courtesy of Mark Wynn.

If you've been looking for a versatile gun short and stout and easy on the wallet, say hello to the Hi-Point 995TS 9x19mm pistol caliber carbine (PCC) from Beeman Industries in Mansfield, Ohio. Of the top 25 firearms manufacturers in 2010, latest stats available in July 2012 show Beeman 12th with 115,200 total (35,300 carbines), ahead of more familiar names like Kimber, Bushmaster, Springfield and Glock in sales.

The original Hi-Point 995 with the droop snoot look debuted in 1998 during the 1994-2004 federal ban that included magazines of more than 10 cartridges. In 2009 came the successor 995TS with a more macho stock around the blowback action and 10-round magazine. The only 995TS magazine alternative remains an aftermarket 15-rounder and the 995TS does not accept a bump fire stock, such as the one from Slide Solutions.

Executive Summary: accurate, reliable, sporty, lifetime guarantee, $285 suggested price. If that doesn't hook us, we're not in the market. The web site, hi-pointfirearms.com, promises: “All Hi-Point firearms carry a life, 'no-questions asked' warranty." Whether you are the original purchaser, or a third-hand owner, your Hi-Point firearms will be repaired free of charge.”

The trouble is, it's difficult to make its acquaintance. Finally I found a .45 ACP version at a gun show. Looked competent and felt great. I was hooked. I had to have one in 9mm. With Hi-Points scarce in my area, I found my source in Iowa, via Gunbrokers on line.

Although on an auction site, this transaction was offered as a fixed price $250 plus $25 shipping in the U.S., plus the usual Federal Firearms License (FFL) transfer fee to a local dealer, another $30, for a total $305. This includes buying with money order instead of credit card to save $9, which requires about an extra week before the 995TS is shipped.

The brawny 995TS belies the original 995, lampooned as looking like the simian gun in Planet of the Apes. The ape guns actually were Hollywoodized .30 caliber M1 carbines and many wooden replicas.

With its basic 7-pound weight and compact 31-inch length, the Hi-Point 995TS is a rock-solid shooting platform. Triangulate your left elbow against your chest and you'll be a rare offhand shooter whose laser barely quivers at 20 yards. Even offhand in close quarters, the end of the 16.5-inch barrel does not reach as far as some handguns aimed with fully extended arms.

Despite its appearance, the 995TS is not Picatinny around the clock. One 9-inch Picatinny rail is on top and two rails are on the bottom: a 3-inch under the barrel and a 4-inch under the fore-stock. The top rail has 2-1/2” available in front of the long rear iron sight. The rail-looking black polymer stock is comfortable to handle without gloves.

The 995TS is a stout armful you may not want to laden with accessories. For example, I added a forward vertical grip and quickly took it off to save seven ounces. Too much weight for an already stable shooting platform.

I added the clever stock magazine holder with two additional 9mm magazines, then quickly removed it to save 15.1 ounces when fully loaded with 147-grain 9mm cartridges.

A Weaver mount BSA 8.3-ounce red dot sight topside yielded to a 2.4-ounce subcompact Viridian C5L 5mW green laser with 100-lumen tactical light. Mounting it on the Picatinny rail beneath the barrel preserves the excellent iron sights. The total weight savings from rethinking initial accessories: 28.1 ounces, almost two pounds!

As with many sights nowadays, the C5L costs as much as the 995TS. The Viridian C5L lists at $349 and sells for around $269; the Hi-Point 995TS lists at $285 and sells for around $250 before accessories. With a laser facilitating situational awareness, the 995TS is just as accurate from armpit or waist.

Pistol caliber carbines now are usually one of three styles: M1 Carbine, M4 Carbine, or submachine gun (we are talking only semiautomatic versions here). Guns in the first two categories cost around $700 to more than $1,000. Guns in the last category, which includes the Kel-Tec Sub2000 and the Hi-Point 995TS, cost around $400 to $600.

Depending on your druthers, major PCC tiebreakers include bolt open last shot (995TS yes), adjustable stock (995TS no), same or popular brand magazines as pistols (995TS no), large capacity magazines like the 33-round Glock (995TS no), able to fire with magazine out (995TS yes), folding stock (995TS no), stock recoil springs (995TS yes).

PCCs generally are considered most effective within 50 yards. Usual 9mm bullet weight choices are 115 grains, 124 grains (NATO), or 147 grains. I prefer the latter. The 995TS is rated for +P (not +P+) ammo, but standard velocity ammo generally suffices.

A 9mm carbine with 16-inch barrel has around a 200 feet per second (fps) advantage over a 4-inch barrel pistol. Compared to pistols, carbines shoot straighter and hit harder with less noise and recoil.

The Hi-Point .40 S&W carbine is the Model 4095TS; the .45 ACP carbine is the Model 4595TS. Following are the main 995TS 9mm specifications from its Instruction Sheet, hi-pointfirearms.com and my measurements.

Model 995TS Specifications

    -          Finish: all-weather, black polymer skeletonized frame

    -          Caliber: 9x19mm (9mm Luger, 9mm Parabellum, 9mm NATO); +P okay

    -          Magazines: 10-round; 15-round aftermarket

    -          Barrel length: 16.5”

    -          Overall length: 31”

    -          Height: 7 5/8” pistol grip to iron sight

    -          Width: 2 3/4” from operating handle

    -          Weight: 6.25 lbs (with empty 10-round mag)

    -          Weight with 10-round mag, 147-gr bullets, Viridian C5L laser/light: 7 lbs, 1 oz

    -          Sights: fully adjustable ghost ring rear peep and forward post

    -          Action: blowback

    -          Weight of trigger pull: about 8 pounds (using Lyman Electronic Pull Gauge)     

    -          Length of pull: 14.5”

    -          Operating handle: left side

    -          Grip: pistol with left side magazine release button

    -          Rails: three Picatinny

    -          Dryfire: no restrictions but good to have unloaded magazine inserted (and be sure barrel is empty) 

    -          2012 Catalog suggested retail price: $285

    -          Safeties: thumb lever left side

    -          Warranty: lifetime to first purchaser (and subsequent customers; see hi-pointfirearms.com)

    -          Other: instruction manual, trigger lock, sling, swivels, scope base, internal recoil buffer in stock (three over half-inch gap), last round lock open,100% American-made parts and assembly, adjustment tool that includes two Allen wrench sizes.

Optional Accessories include a soft gun case $25, beam shot laser $52, 995 magazine $17 ($18 for 4095 or 4595), 3/4” standard weaver accessory ring $5, Hi-Point carbine compensator $15, folding grip $25, 60-lumen quick attach tactical light $25, two-magazine holder $10, attachable standard Weaver side rails $15.

Disassembly requires the forend cover and receiver shroud to be removed, fortunately not too often. The Instruction Sheet says: “Barrel should be brushed every 300-400 rounds. Complete disassembly and cleaning should be performed at 1500-2000 rounds.” Preliminary explorations and on-line video demonstrations confirm 995TS disassembly is challenging.

When you first meet the 995TS, four tips will make your courtship easier:

  1. Look carefully at the Instruction Sheet illustration before screwing in the operating handle; be sure to put the smaller end of the roller against the gun.
  2. Note the pistol grip holding the magazine is at an angle, not straight up. Always insert the magazine at that angle, pushing until you hear and feel a distinct click.
  3. Work around a strange pinch, scrape, or bite you may feel on your cheek when firing offhand. Sanding the unremovable pebbled cheek rest doesn't solve it; I suspect the ridge of its back edge. So far my remedy is spreading a handkerchief over the area. Other shooters have wrapped it with paracord or straightened it with a custom cover. (No, I am not going to buy a recoil pad to put over a recoil stock.)
  4. Deal with the pistol grip being just thick enough that your right thumb (even if Large glove size) may not reach the magazine eject button without altering your grip. On the other hand, this makes for a very secure magazine; not much chance of accidentally ejecting it. Similar stretch for the safety.

Out of the box, the 995TS shot high and right. Fine-adjusting the rear sight was aided by clear marking bars. Front sight coarse adjustment has no marking bars and needs the supplied tool that includes an Allen wrench. The plastic trigger is comfortable and easy to pull with a short travel distance.

In three indoor range sessions, firing about 300 rounds of 147 and 115 grain 9mm, the 995TS operation was flawless, as long as the top cartridge in the magazine was angled up instead of being level. Loading the single-stack metal port-holed magazine was easy, but an UpLULA loader is always faster and kinder to thumbs. Ammo was American Eagle 147 grain FMJ FP (flat point), Winchester 115 grain FMJ and Speer Lawman 147 grain TMJ (total metal jacket). I also validated my primary defense round, the hollow-point Federal Premium 147-grain HST Tactical.

My 995TS shooting was offhand at 7, 10, 15 and 20 yards, typical defense posture and distances. With iron sights or Viridian C5L laser/light, initial groups were around 3 inches. Not as good as expected, because I was mostly trying to get used to the magazine and bolt.

The 995TS barrel proved exceptionally steady during rapid fire. Later, 10-shot groups improved to 1-5/8 inches at seven yards and 2-1/2 inches at 20 yards. The latter was with the Viridian C5L laser/light and gun tucked under arm. Be sure to periodically check that the laser is tightly secured; it has only one screw.

The Viridian C5L is great to shoot with, but really drains the battery. Using only the steady green beam and not the light, with a weekly trip to the indoor range, I get only two weeks out of one CR2 lithium battery and it dies suddenly, without warning.

The Viridian Operating Manual states: “Battery life (with laser on only) will increase from approximately 4+ hours in constant to 7+ hours in the pulsing modes. With laser and tactical light on (high output) battery life will be approximately 60 minutes.” Over about two years you can spend enough on batteries to buy another 995TS.

Conveniently, only a coin is needed to unscrew the C5L Picatinny mounting screw and the battery cover. However, the battery cover thread is so fickle that you wonder what you have done to deserve such aggravation. The Viridian C5L comes with an ingenious choice of three rail sets that allow mounting on the vast majority of railed firearms. The R3 works fine on the 995TS.

The 995TS is as heavy to lug around as two or three 9mm pistols. Plinking is widely touted, but plinking with 9mm cartridges costs about the same as shooting 12-gauge shotgun shells, i.e., about 24 cents a shot based on the most inexpensive Wal-Mart-stocked ammunition. Still, much cheaper than shooting rifle cartridges.

What are the main overall handgun caliber carbine choices? For the most inexpensive shooting with least recoil and noise, it always is .22 rimfire, at about 3 cents a shot. For more power than 9mm, get .40 S&W or .45 ACP. For more power than PCC and even .223 or .30 Carbine rifle caliber, try a .357 Magnum or .44 Magnum revolver caliber. For center fire ammo spraying, use a 9mm that accepts a bump/slide fire stock and large-capacity magazine, such as the 33-shot Glock.

It is noteworthy that lately the U.S. Army is relying more on the 5.56mm M4 carbine, the way it used to rely on the .30 caliber M1 carbine in WWII and Korea. The M4 is becoming the primary firearm for many troops that formerly used the M3 .45 ACP submachine gun or the Beretta M9 9mm pistol. Civilian versions offer the same range and a wide variety of .223 and 5.56 ammo.

9mm carbines thus remain a good compromise for many shooters. They are often more accurate with more impact than pistols, have less recoil and muzzle blast, are inexpensive to buy, ammo is about half the cost of .223, effective within the 50-yard comfort zone of most shooters, allowed in ranges that do not permit center fire rifle cartridges, good choice for recreational shooting and home defense, as well as medium-sized critter control (with appropriate expanding ammunition).

When at last the pile of pondering is sifted, I found it impossible not to admire the aggressively priced Hi-Point 995TS. The 10-round magazines curb our expenses, but not our enthusiasm. How many guns can you name that do more for the money within distances most people shoot?

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Copyright 2012, 2016 by Mark Wynn and/or chuckhawks.com. All rights reserved.