I probably wouldn’t make much of a detective. As it turns out, a gun manufacturer has been operating in my hometown of Mansfield, Ohio, for nearly 30 years and I just recently heard about it: Hi-Point Firearms.
“I’m not surprised,” said owner Mike Strassell. “It’s amazing how many people still don’t know that Hi-Point exists.”
Years ago, Strassell was a young toolmaker and machinist with no knowledge of the firearms industry. He made his living building die-cast and plastic-injection molds.
“The owner, Tom Deeb, of what was then Stallard Arms and Maverick Firearms, walked into the shop where I was working at the time wanting a gun mold made,” Strassell remembered. “He didn’t know much about the tooling industry, but he was a very smart man and caught on quickly.
“I had always wanted to start my own machine shop,” continued Strassell, “and Deeb said that if I was interested he would set me up helping with his new gun company manufacturing a direct blow-back 9mm handgun. He had the idea of getting into larger calibers, as well.”
The new joint venture began in a cramped two-car garage in the late 1980s, producing semiautomatic handguns and semiautomatic carbines. It expanded so quickly that within two years the business had to move to a larger building. The company continued doubling in size every year or two after that, as demand for the re-named Hi-Point guns grew. What made the firearms popular was their reasonable price and rugged quality.
“We make our guns for the blue-collar working man,” said Strassell. “Guns that people can protect their family with, yet don’t have to spend a month’s salary to own. Our early advertisements read, Hi-Point Firearms: The Working Man’s Gun.”
Hi-Point doesn’t just talk about quality. It backs its guns with a lifetime warranty, a guarantee that follows the gun, not the owner. In other words, even if the third or fourth owner of a Hi-Point handgun or carbine experiences a problem with the firearm, he/she can return it at any time for free repairs. Not many gun manufacturers can say that.
“We can afford to offer that guarantee because of our excellent design and manufacturing processes,” said Strassell, “proprietary manufacturing ideas and systems that we’ve refined through the years. Our guns are extremely well-built; some shooters might even say overbuilt. As a result, we have very few guns returned for warranty work. And after the warranty work is completed, if a customer is still not satisfied I’ll make it right no matter what. We’re all about customer service.”
Nearly all of Hi-Point’s guns are sold in the U.S., their most popular model being the C-9 semiautomatic 9mm pistol. That particular handgun has been on the market over 25 years, with more than a million sold.
“It’s not a Kimber, and we don’t try and compete with that high-end market,” said Strassell. “But the C-9 is a solid gun, moderately priced at $199, and it works—the gun can be relied upon. I know many people who depend on it for home defense.”
Strassell estimates that about 30 percent of firearms retailers in America carry Hi-Point guns, the larger big-box stores including: Dunham’s, Rural King, Gander Mountain, and Cabela’s. Not surprisingly, Hi-Point is an adamant supporter of the NRA, encouraging its customers to become NRA members by signing up through a link on the homepage of its website: www.hi-pointfirearms.com. (Editor's note: Shortly after the time of this writing, Hi-Point chose to stop doing business with Dick's Sporting Goods! You can read more about that here.)
Mike Strassell purchased Hi-Point from Tom Deeb in 2015. And like any small, family-owned firearms company, it has seen both good times and bad. About 28 employees work at the company, but two years ago, before the slowdown in the firearms industry as a whole, about 55 employees punched the time clock. Yet Strassell is confident the company will ride out the current storm.
“We’re expanding into new models and offering more handgun calibers in carbines,” said Strassell. “For instance, we recently introduced a 10mm carbine—the 1095TS and 1095TS Edge—for $400; a very affordable, well-made firearm for the money.”
Strassell concluded, “We’re real people, with children and grandchildren, many of whom now work in the company. We’re pretty proud of that family tradition here at Hi-Point. And because of our small size, we believe we can do things better, quicker, and more economically than the larger firearms manufacturers.
“We’re also proud that we don’t send any work overseas. All our firearms are manufactured and assembled here in the Midwest. Ohio, to be exact…”