In case you haven’t been paying attention lately, the economic situation in the United States has taken a nosedive. People are losing their jobs and just getting work is difficult; many have had to accept pay cuts to keep their employers’ doors open. This translates to lower family budgets and decreased spending, even for critical items. The old saying “What this country needs is a good nickel cigar” can also be applied to firearms for home and personal defense—what we need is a good, affordable weapon the legally armed citizen can use for protection. Fortunately, there are a few manufacturers out there who cater to those with reduced budgets; one of those outfits is MKS Supply, Inc. This Ohio-based company started out with a line of inexpensive semi-automatic pistols, then took their Hi-Point pistol, modified the slide, encased it in a stamped steel receiver, added a longer barrel and stock and came up with the Hi-Point Carbine. I tested one of these carbines out over a decade ago in 9mm Luger and later evaluated a second model in .40 S&W. I was always bugging MKS President Charlie Brown to make the Hi-Point Carbine in .45 ACP, and in 2010, that has finally happened.
MKS Supply has been around for over 20 years and their line of Hi-Point pistols come chambered in .380 ACP, 9mm Luger, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. As mentioned above, they also produce a carbine line that has 3 basic models with iron sights in 9mm Luger, .40 S&W and now .45 ACP; plus numerous variations differing in optical sight, laser sight, and tactical light configurations. You can also order accessories for your Hi-Point carbine separately and set it up the way you want it. You get a lot of value for your dollar with Hi-Point firearms. MSRP for the pistols range from $140 for the .380 to $199 for the .45 and the carbines start at $274 for the 9mm and go up to $449 in .45 ACP depending on the factory option package you prefer. They aren’t pretty, but the ones I have tested over the years have always been accurate and reliable. Hi-Point is so confident in their product that they offer a no-questions-asked lifetime warranty on each gun, no matter who owns it, and all of their firearms are 100 percent made in the USA.
I asked Charlie to send me a new Model 4595TS carbine and I wanted all the “bells and whistles” with it so I could try out most of the optional accessories now available. As I said before, the basic Hi-Point carbine comes with iron sights, which in this case is a fully adjustable peep rear sight enclosed in a protective mount along with an elevation adjustable front post sight that is hooded for protection. The old polymer stock that I used to think made the carbine look like a weapon from Planet of the Apes has been redesigned from front to rear. It now has a Picatinny rail on the bottom of the barrel, extending back from the base on the front sight to the fore-end. The fore-end itself has a short rail on the bottom with a vent rib on top. This becomes the forward attachment point for a longer rail that extends back almost to the rear of the receiver. Mounted on this rail is the rear peep sight unit and ahead of that is about 4 inches of usable rail space. The fore-end completely encloses the barrel and is ribbed and textured for a good surface to grip. It’s a two-piece affair and the bottom portion extends back below the receiver and encompasses the pistol grip/trigger guard and butt-stock. The pistol grip is also textured, with checkered panels on the upper portion, where the thumb and forefinger contact the grip. The butt-stock is skeletonized and has a cheek rest and a unique shock-absorber butt plate to help reduce recoil. You also get a black nylon sling and sling swivels as a standard feature and I installed them on my test gun. The finish is a corrosion-resistant, black powder coat application that goes well with the matte black stock. Attention to quality was evident.
As I stated earlier, the Hi-Point is basically a pistol converted to carbine form and you note this when you pull back on the charging handle and see the front portion of the modified slide move back into the ejection port area. The weapon’s single-column magazine is housed in the pistol grip and has a 9-round capacity, making the Hi-Point Carbine a 10-shooter with one “up the spout.” The magazine is sheet steel and has a large polymer base to protect it when it is ejected and it also assures proper seating when rapidly changing magazines. The magazine release is located on the left side of the pistol grip, to the rear of the trigger. There is a manual thumb safety on the left side of the receiver, with a big red dot to show when the carbine is ready to fire. There is no magazine safety. The mechanism is your basic blowback action and the inertia of the heavy internal slide and recoil spring keep the action closed until pressures are reduced and the empty case can be extracted and ejected safely. It might sound crude, but it follows the KISS Principle and works darn near 100 percent of the time. The gun is a compact 33.0” in OA length and has an empty weight of 7.5 pounds.
This is not your premium grade target gun so don’t expect a trigger pull as crisp as the proverbial “breaking glass rod.” In fact it is fairly heavy at 8-9 pounds, with about 0.35 inches of take-up before you have to start exerting pressure to release the sear on the striker/firing pin. As a service-type weapon, this trigger pull weight is not that unusual, and as you will see in the test and evaluation, it did not have any negative impact on overall accuracy. The charging handle, unlike that on some carbines and rifles, in on the left side of the receiver. It screws into the bolt and has a plastic roller that adds to the handle diameter and also can be pushed into a slot in the receiver to lock back the bolt. This handle does become loose with use, so check it frequently and keep it tightened up. The Hi-Point carbine comes with a useful little tool that works great for adjusting the sights, take-down and tightening the bolt handle.
The carbine Hi-Point sent me is the Model 4595TSFGFL-LAZ, meaning I got the version with their optional forward folding grip, tactical LED light and mount (FQ60) and Beamshot B1000 laser sight with mount (LAS-40/45). Also tucked into the box was a BSA RD30, 30mm red dot optical sight, which features an illuminated 5 MOA dot reticle with adjustable rheostat setting for 11 different levels of dot intensity. The sight body itself has a slanted hood that acts as a sun shade to reduce glare and it operates on one standard 3-volt lithium battery #CR2032 (included). It has a crystal clear, wide field of view, multi-coated lens and unlimited eye relief. You can also get a detachable compensator for the muzzle, extra magazines (the carbine only comes with one) and a black nylon double magazine pouch. Per my request, I was sent plenty of extra magazines and a compensator, which I decided not to use.
As all the extra goodies were sent to me unattached, my next order of business was to decide what I wanted where. The folding handle was put on at the rear end of the bottom fore-end rail and at the front of this rail I placed the Beamshot laser sight. On the rail below the barrel I placed the tactical light. I actually used the iron peep sights to adjust the laser sight so that the beam and sights were together at 7 yards. I feel like the laser is best used at close range and, unless it is a powerful model, you tend to lose the little red dot if you are operating outside during bright daylight hours. I like a little redundancy on a weapon that might save my bacon, so I decided to leave the rear peep sight and front sight in place. Since the red dot sight has unlimited eye relief, I had just enough room ahead of the rear sight unit to mount the optical sight and I can still see the iron sights through the optical sight if a failure occurs. They also don’t interfere that much when using the optics, especially if you are keeping both eyes open as you should. With the BSA sight in place, I then used the red dot produced by the laser to help line up the optical sight.
With everything connected, wired up and ready for fine-tuning, it was time to select some .45 ACP ammunition to use in the new Hi-Point Carbine. My ammo locker produced five different loads: from Black Hills, a standard 230-grain FMJ Ball cartridge, the excellent Cor-Bon 165-grain JHP +P, Federal 165-grain Hydra-Shok HP, Speer’s 230-grain Gold Dot HP, and the new Winchester Supreme PDX1 230-grain JHP. The barrel length on your standard 1911 pistol in .45 ACP is 5 inches. The barrel on the Hi-Point carbine, however, is 17.5 inches in length, which gives you a substantial increase in power and velocity for the .45 ACP cartridge. When I went to the range for my test, my first order of business was to chronograph the loads through the Hi-Point carbine to see what kind of velocity figures I would get. Using the Cor-Bon cartridge for a comparison, I fired it through a 1911A1 pistol and got a 5-shot average velocity figure of 1,237 FPS (feet per second). According to my Oehler chronograph, the Hi-Point carbine gave me an average of 1,528 FPS, a velocity reading some 290 FPS faster, which translates to increased muzzle energy.
At the range I fine-tuned the BSA red dot sight and had it zeroed in less than 20 rounds, making sure that all loads hit near the point of aim at 25 yards. I then put the .45 ACP Hi-Point carbine through its paces and fired four, 5-shot groups with each test cartridge from the bench at 25 yards. My best group was with the Federal ammunition and I had a tight cluster measuring 0.59 inches; it also had the best overall group average at 0.77 inches. Second place went to the Winchester Supreme with a best group of 0.77 inches, and third went to Black Hills with a best group of 0.85 inches. All the results and average groups/velocities are in the accompanying table. The Hi-Point carbine was a pleasure to shoot from the bench and like I said earlier, the heavy, somewhat “mushy” trigger pull did not prevent me from making the best of the gun’s accuracy potential. The folding grip on the fore-end when folded worked very well with my sandbag rest and it has a handy little compartment in the bottom to carry the little sight adjustment/wrench tool.
I was using Birchwood Casey Big Burst targets that have four 6-inch black bulls-eyes on a square foot orange background. I was a little worried that shots on one bulls-eye might stray into other bulls-eyes or off the paper entirely. That was not the case. This modestly-priced, trigger-challenged, little carbine, with its 56-year-old, bespectacled operator, had no trouble keeping the bullet holes in each individual target every time. Considering the different bullet weights of 165 and 230 grains, the gun, when used with the BSA red dot sight, shot pretty close to POA with everything. I found that the #11 setting on the dot sight was a bit too bright for target work and toned it down to the #8 setting. The large forward knob on the sight is the on-off/brightness adjustment control and it also houses the battery. ‘0’ on the knob is the off position and it can be turned clockwise or counter-clockwise for dot intensity selections.
I next fired five rounds of each load at a Birchwood Casey Dirty Bird reduced silhouette target set at 50 yards. Again, I fired from the bench, but at a fairly rapid pace and all 25 holes on the target could be covered by my hand. Again, I felt that this was pretty outstanding performance for the carbine and sight combination. I found that the dot sight setting for 25 yards allowed me to use the same POA for 50 yards. I didn’t do any testing at longer distances as I envision the use of this carbine at close to moderate ranges where its enhanced accuracy and cartridge performance make it preferable to a handgun.
Throughout the test and evaluation, I used the excellent UpLULA loader to fill the magazines. This is the most outstanding unit of its type and is the only one I use anymore. For a final workout, I loaded five magazines with nine mixed rounds each and using a full-size silhouette target, I fired a magazine full of test ammo at 5 yards from the hip using only the laser sight. I next backed off to 10 yards and used the laser again, shooting point shoulder, noting the bullets impacted a few inches lower on the target, below the red beam. At 25 yards I employed the BSA sight and fired 7 rounds to the body and two to the head, I then backed up to the 35-yard line and shot eight to the body and one to the head. From 50 yards, I used the barricade and fired three rounds left-side, three right-side, and three right-side, kneeling. You can see in the photo that the aimed fire tore a big hole in the oblong box in the “chest” of the target, the hits below and outside it were primarily from the laser sighted shots and the longer distance shooting.
Through the entire test, I used 242 rounds of ammunition and I had only one failure to feed malfunction the entire day. Reliability was darn near 100 percent, accuracy was all I could expect and more, plus the gun handled well, magazines ejected every time, empty cases tossed well clear. However, I felt that the laser location made it vulnerable. I’d like to see Hi-Point incorporate the laser into the base of their folding grip and have the pressure switch built into the handle. More rounds would be nice, but I’ll go with 10 fat .45 ACP cartridges that function every time. My verdict: This is a gun I’d ride the river with.