Dirt Cheap Guns: A Look at the Hi-Point YC-9 YEET Cannon (and others)

For many years, I was guilty of mocking Hi-Point firearms and other “budget” manufacturers. Hi-Point is often the first gun that springs to mind when thinking about discount guns. Thus, for this article, I will be focusing on Hi-Point handguns. However, my thoughts apply to any handgun primarily designed to be on the very cheapest end of the price-point spectrum. It should be noted that the price of a gun is always a part of any business decision, but discount guns are willing to make a low price the primary goal often at the cost of durability, reliability, and style. So, the first factor in defining a discount gun is a focus on lowering the cost over other metrics of quality. This does not always mean reliable function with moderate to low usage, as many discount handguns can operate reliably. What is usually compromised for lower cost is longer-term reliability and function (over thousands of rounds), general durability, and almost always the quality of the trigger.  

Hi-Point Yeet Cannon
After a long evolution of my thoughts towards discount guns, I recently unboxed my first Hi-Point YC-9.

The second metric I would suggest is the general price range of a new firearm. I am often asked for advice regarding a first gun purchase. I recognize that going into detail about all the factors that go into selecting a gun is more than either interest or time allows. As such, I generally give the following soundbite: “Decide on your price range and find the gun within that range that is a good fit for your needs and feels good in your hands.” Inevitably the next question concerns minimum price range, and in the past, my response has been, “Anything in the $500 plus range is likely to be a well-tested, reliable, and durable self-defensive firearm, just find what works for you.” 

Of course, I’m eager to share knowledge if they need specific advice, but I avoid being brand loyal when a new shooter is asking, as what I appreciate in firearms may not be what they are looking for. According to this price-range advice, a discount gun would be less than $500, but I would likely drop that figure to $100-400 in today’s market.

The Stigma of the Discount Gun

In the earlier days of the internet, a short video made the rounds of how to unbox your new Hi-Point. In the very short video, you see a hand take a Hi-Point out of the box, and hold it for just a second before the camera pans down and the hand drops it into a trash can. I honestly laughed out loud the first time I saw it and still chuckle. I will admit growing up around higher-quality guns (Colt, Smith & Wesson, Walther, etc.), I had very little use for the cheap, poorly-made guns that were often referred to as Saturday Night Specials. However, as we entered the 2000s, several companies started producing discount firearms intended for civilian self-defense including Hi-Point. I was not impressed, to say the least, and my gun snobbery was reinforced due to poor balance and feel, horrible triggers, and an overall feeling of cheapness compared to the guns I was used to. This is all to say I had a prejudice against such guns from my very earliest exposures and reinforced up until the past five years by personal experiences and memes.

saturday night special
Cheap guns have often been associated with crime, but some have argued such guns are also utilized by lower-income citizens in urban areas to provide protection for themselves and their families. (Photo Credit Wikimedia.)

My Evolving Opinions on Discount Guns

Prior to moving to Indianapolis, almost all my exposure to instructing people in the use of firearms was in rural settings. Soon after arriving in Indianapolis, I became involved with the training department in a prominent downtown urban setting. This experience, combined with providing training during the giant rush of first-time gun owners in 2020 and 2021, greatly shifted my perceptions. There were many factors that made these students different. These first-time gun owners living in a bigger city were much more diverse.

Although diverse, many of those whom I was training were on a much more fixed or limited income. Suddenly my suggestion of $500 or more as a starting point for a new gun was just not a realistic possibility. Many of them were only taking our 2-hour ‘Introduction to Handgun’ class, as it was available at half price with the purchase of any new gun.  Finally, over many conversations, it became clear these newer gun owners were legitimately at more risk and needed a handgun based on the crime rates in the neighborhoods or immediate palpable threats (aggressive ex-partners for example). 

My gun snobbery was easier to support when the decision to get a gun was based on being proactive, being in a lower-risk environment, and being saved up for. I was now confronted by people who had immediate needs, legitimate fear of crime or victimization, and no time or ability to save up for a ‘good’ gun. During this time, I saw many firearms, both new and used, that I would normally have turned my nose up at. Some, especially the cheap used guns, were poor choices that due to age, misuse, or original design flaws were not reliable guns. However, many modern discount guns that I previously turned my nose up at were reliable and provided a functional, low-cost option for students needing to defend themselves. Around this time, I started buying a few discount guns here and there to better inform by suggestions when asked about cheaper options.  Though I purchased many firearms during this time, the final frontier remained the Hi-Point.

Some prejudices die hard. 

Softening on the Hi-Point

I bought my first Hi-Point C-9 9mm as a joke present for a friend. Once purchased, with some interesting side-eye from the store’s staff, I paid to have it custom Cerakoted as a giant pickle with a character from the show Rick and Morty (it was an inside joke to the recipient of the gun). Once gifted, the owner started actively competing with it and though his scores went down, he was still shooting in the top 10%. Following this exposure to someone successfully running a Hi-Point, I also started seeing them in classes. 

They are clunky and not much to look at, but what I also noticed was outside of a few fundamental user issues, they did run consistently. I watched Hi-Points shoot 50, 100, and 150-round courses of fire with no significant malfunction or reliability issues — even compared to some higher-priced guns. Don’t get me wrong, they did sometimes have issues, but their overall success rate was much higher than I expected. Based on these various factors, I decided to buy myself a Hi-Point.

Hi-Point Rick
Bought as a bit of a joke gun, this C-9 Hi-Point has gone on to compete in a fair number of competitions, and though in no way a race gun has performed admirably. (Photo Credit @counter_guy)

My Very Own Hi-Point YC-9 9mm YEET Cannon 

Earlier this year, I ‘bit the bullet’ and bought the cheapest new gun I have ever purchased: The Hi-Point YC-9 Yeet Cannon with the threaded barrel, and front and rear side serrations. Out the door, it cost me $200 and some change. Dirt Cheap. 

It came with an additional alternative Ghost Ring rear sight, a single 10-round magazine, and a Picatinny rail on the front of the frame. The YC-9 weighs about 9 oz more than the Glock 17 (both unloaded), has a .3” shorter barrel, and is overall .4” shorter in length compared to the G17.

The two guns are the same height, and the Hi-Point is .25” wider. The Hi-Point feels heavier for me and is not balanced as well as other guns. However, there is plenty of grip surface area, and it was easy to get a solid two-handed grip on the gun. In addition to an external manual safety, there is a back strap safety (much like a 1911) that must be gripped firmly to allow the trigger to be pulled. The grips are polymer, but decently aggressive for a solid grip. The iron sights feature two orange (not night sights) squares at the rear and one yellow square on the front sight (the front sight is compatible with Glock front sights), and the magazine release is a right-hand thumb-operated button behind the trigger.

The Good (and the Bad)

Loaded magazines locked into place consistently and the gun ran through about 500 rounds of practice ammo (Blazer Brass 115gr, FMJ) and 25 defensive rounds (Speer Gold Dot 135gr, GDC HP) with no issues. Though clunky in terms of the overall feel and the trigger, the gun was accurate and reliable at defensive ranges.

However, there was a long follow-through before coming back to target (at least for me), and the magazine release provided a clean drop of spent magazines only about 75% of the time. Other times, the magazine had to be removed with the offhand. The overall force required to run the slide and operate the trigger were greater than similar-sized— more expensive—guns on the market, but both are still manageable. Overall, the Hi-Point provided a reliable 9mm handgun at a price well below half that of guns I would normally recommend.

Yeet Cannon and Glock 17
The Hi-Point YC-9 and Glock 17 are fairly similar-sized guns and although the Glock is significantly more expensive it also is lighter, easier to conceal, easier to shoot, and has a higher capacity.


Will I be replacing my Glock with a Hi-Point anytime in the foreseeable future? Absolutely not. But I also wouldn’t turn my nose up at a Hi-Point if I absolutely needed a gun and didn’t have the funds for a high-cost firearm. The Hi-Point (and other discount guns) will not be winning any style contests anytime soon, but at least in the Hi-Point’s case, it does provide a relatively reliable platform for self-defense, especially for those on a limited budget. Perhaps most importantly, it very much looks like a gun and it is doubtful the average criminal is going to be brand-conscious when being dissuaded from targeting the operator.  

I will never be a Hi-Point fanboy, but I have a better understanding of who they are made for and the need for that market to be covered. I have decided to stop laughing at Hi-Points and instead work with their owners to make sure they have the fundamentals to make this choice work for them. However, I will likely still try to steer them toward Glock, Sig Sauer, Walther, or Smith and Wesson if possible. Old habits die hard, I suppose.

Joel Nadler is the Training Director at Indy Arms Company in Indianapolis and co-owner of Tactical Training Associates.  He writes for several gun-focused publications and is an avid supporter of the right to self-sufficiency, including self-defense. Formerly a full professor, he has a Ph.D. in Psychology and now works as a senior consultant living on a horse ranch in rural Indiana.  Feel free to follow him on Instagram @TacticalPhD.

Sign Up for Newsletter

Let us know what topics you would be interested:
© 2024 GunMag Warehouse. All Rights Reserved.
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap