May 2006

Low-Cost 9mms: Hi-Point’s C9 Vs. Bersa’s 18-Shot Thunder 9

We really liked the High-Capacity Bersa, but we couldnít fault the Hi-Point for being anything but ugly. Fed a variety of ammo, the C9 kept on ticking, and it saves you money in the bargain.

The 9mm cartridge continues to retain its immense popularity, and those with little experience with firearms take to it quite well. Those with more experience know there are better self-defense rounds, but not many will argue that you can get ammunition for a 9mm at a cost far lower than most, if not all other, centerfire handgun cartridges. The handguns that shoot it are a different story altogether. The more-costly versions can easily run well into four figures, but most decent 9mm autoloaders sell for under a grand. But we know many folks canít justify spending even half that on a decent firearm. So how low can you go?

To find out, we chose two full-size 9mm pistols that might appeal to the buyer looking for a bargain. The first handgun we chose was the Hi-Point C9 with a suggested retail price of $140, but commonly selling for around a C-note or even less. We found one listed at $92. Can you expect such a handgun to work, much less work well? Our second pistol was the High-Capacity Bersa Thunder 9, just recently available. It lists for $442, or less if you shop around. While not inexpensive, the Bersa has several desirable features that many higher-priced handguns donít have, most notably its 17+1-shot capacity.

We tested these guns with Black Hills 147-grain JHP, Winchester 147-grain SXT JHP, and with Winchester 115-grain JHP ball. We shot for slow-fire accuracy at 15 yards from a solid rest, and for simulated self-defense fire with fast, controlled pairs from seven yards, using two hands. We also tried several other types of ammunition including Cor-Bon 125-grain JHP and Ultramax 115-grain lead-bullet loads for function or potential problems, but didnít report them formally. Hereís what we found.

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