Time for some fail

Fail 1.  Guy buys an FN-45 Tactical, which is FN’s .45 ACP polymer pistol with a red-dot mounted to the slide, barrel threaded for a can, and high-rise sights to co-witness the dot.  It’s a pretty cool gun.  Guy decides that he’s going to modify a Hi-Point .45 to be like his FNP-45 because…uh…you know what I have no idea why you would do that.  So he decides to mill the slide down and mount a $30 off-brand red-dot on the gun.  Hilarity ensues.  I did not know you could make a Hi Point uglier, but HEY LOOK AT THAT.

Now in all seriousness, this is fail for reasons other than cosmetic issues.  The Hi Point is a blowback operated gun, which means it relies on the mass of the slide and the strength of the spring to keep the gun in battery while you set off an explosion in the barrel.  Compromising the weight of the slide could cause the gun to open up too soon, which would be a bad, bad thing.  Additionally, because of the violent blowback operation, the odds of that cheap-o red dot holding a zero for more than 50 rounds are in the area of slim and none.  It’s going to get whacked around bouncing on that slide, and that’s not going to help your team.  Of course, the final reason why this is fail is because HE JUST BOUGHT AN FNP-45 TACTICAL.  Seriously.  You already have a high quality firearm made of proper materials that does exactly what you’re trying to make this gun do, why in heaven’s name would you do this?

Moving on, we have Fail 2 – also more Hi Point fail but now with danger!

That is a Hi Point that was chambered for .40 S&W.  As you can see, it has suffered a catastrophic slide failure of the zinc alloy slide right along the ejection port, which is the weakest part of the gun.  I have seen Walther P22s (which have slides made of the same alloy) suffer this exact same failure, albeit not as completely after a diet of CCI Stingers, so seeing that a .40 can blow up a zinc slide doesn’t surprise me in the least.  The .40 S&W is an absurdly high pressure round.  Sometimes it blows up perfectly good guns that I would actually recommend people buy.  The problem with the Hi Point design is that it is entirely dependent on the weight of the slide for its operation, and if that slide is a poor quality casting, then the gun is much more likely to fail.

Now, Justin is still doing the Hi-Point Throwdown, which is primarily focused on the ergonomics and shootability of the pistol.  I’m not going to lie though – I have shot enough .40 through other platforms and seen its potentially destructive powers that shooting it through a Hi Point would make me all kinds of nervous.  That gun blew up after only 200 rounds.

I’m not saying don’t buy a Hi Point.  If you really want to, knock yourself out.  It’s your money after all.  I am saying that doing things like milling the slide on a blowback gun that’s made from a zinc casting isn’t smart, and neither (in my opinion) is shooting a gun with a zinc casting slide chambered in .40.  These are things I would not do, and I would strongly encourage you to not do either.  If you must have a Hi Point, get the 9mm carbine.  That one works, and I’ve never heard an stories of them blowing up.

22 comments for “Time for some fail

  1. August 18, 2010 at 11:17

    Something smells off in Fail 2. The microstructure along the fracture line looks wrong for a fatigue failure and that just leaves overpressure. It does look really porous so maybe it was a bad casting?

  2. August 18, 2010 at 11:19

    A bad casting wouldn’t surprise me in the least bit.

  3. August 18, 2010 at 12:18

    “So he decides to mill the slide down and mount a $30 off-brand red-dot on the gun”

    The Burris FastFire is not a $30 knock off:
    http://www.opticsplanet.net/burris-fastfire-w-picatinny-mount-4-moa-dot-mat-fastfire-sight.html

    It is a $200 sight. It cost more than that ‘thing’ he stuck it on.

  4. Nick
    August 18, 2010 at 13:23

    I <3 my 9mm carbine, even though I was young and stupid when I bought it and paid full MSRP (at the time) for a used firearm. I've made a mental note to never buy from that guy at a gunshow again..even though I haven't seen him since. I knew something should have been off when he would only accept cash, nothing else.

  5. Rabbit
    August 18, 2010 at 14:27

    I have an acquaintance who has a scar and subsequently broken cheekbone from an early Beretta 92 slide failure. The Beretta incident makes this look like a bull’s ass sewn up with a log chain.

    Regards,
    Rabbit.

  6. Tam
    August 18, 2010 at 15:48

    That gun blew up after only 200 rounds.

    That’s 150 more than ninety percent of .40 cal High Points will ever see fired.

  7. August 18, 2010 at 15:58

    :D

    Well played.

  8. Nick
    August 18, 2010 at 15:59

    I have a 9mm carbine and no problems with it..even though I put barely any rounds through it /sadface, I also bought it right after I graduated from HS and, like an idiot, paid full MSRP for a used firearm. I’ve made it a mental note to not buy anything from that guy at the gunshow ever again..though I haven’t seen him since. I should have known something was up when he would only take cash, nothing else.

  9. August 18, 2010 at 16:13

    Zinc slide?
    Like the cap gun I had as a kid?

    And I thought they just looked like crap……..

  10. August 18, 2010 at 16:19

    Yeah, the slides on the Hi Points are cast from ZAMAK-3 alloy, which is a zinc based alloy. That a major firearm part is made from the same stuff as the cold lozenges I take doesn’t fill me with confidence.

  11. August 18, 2010 at 16:54

    Yeah….

    Some rough, rough material properties

    Zamak 3
    Ultimate tensile strength 268 MPa
    Yield strength 208 MPa

    Stainless Steel (values in ranges depending on treatment, and I’d go with the higher ends)
    Ultimate Tensile Strength (MPa) 515-827
    Yield Strength (MPa) 207-552

    And of course it’s a blowback which as you said, has all the pressure being held by the spring resistance and inertia of the slide.

  12. Diane
    August 18, 2010 at 17:18

    Somewhere, Mitch Rapp is crying.

  13. Don Gwinn
    August 18, 2010 at 21:47

    “The Beretta incident makes this look like a bull’s ass sewn up with a log chain.”

    Was I the only one who didn’t understand what this is supposed to mean? Is that good or bad?

    • August 18, 2010 at 21:52

      No, I really have no idea what that means either.

  14. August 19, 2010 at 04:55

    The problem with zamak in guns is purely one of design, and the hi-point is very well done in so far as designing for the material. The one above broke exactly where I’d figure it would, at a thinner point under tension. Without handling it, I’d almost go about looking at the spring or guide rod (weak or/and with some defect that was causing drag) or the guide rails (tolerance stacking, loose slide on the rails allowing flex).

    Zamak has plenty of strength, but it’s brittle… crack propogation properties are lousy. This is why the Hi-point’s frame is uniformly thick, doesn’t have deep serrations in the areas under tension, and has that ovoid ejection port…. it’s all to avoid stress risers. This is also why there’s a rash of P22 slide failures, which almost all happen at the front serrations where the material thins AND has stress risers from the sharp inside corners.

    The guy with the machined slide is probably going to be fine, as long as he replaced the missing weight. The missing metal does not come under nearly the shock tension load that the front of the slide does, and it looks that the cut falls completely behind the breech. If he’d cut ahead of the breach, it’d be a chunk of busted fail in no time (however, polishing any rough surfaces and edges without removing any appreciable structure would actually IMPROVE the durability of the slide). One rare example where polishing a turd may actually get you positive results :)

    Seriously, I’ve got beefs against the hi-point line, but the slide design is appropriate for the material used, and the retention method means that even in case of failure, the “dangerous” part isn’t free to leave the frame. Guns like the P22 I hold less respect for, as they have obvious engineering flaws that any goober with some book readin’ and common sense (like me) can spot within a few moments of looking.

  15. August 19, 2010 at 05:10

    Photo 4 of 6, there’s an unusually round black dot on the inside of the top edge of the reinforced side of the slide, opposite of where there’s a protrusion in the fracture line on the other half of the frame.

    If there was a better photo, I’ll bet that will turn out to be a void… a little bubble or a crystal. The only place worse for one of those would be the bottom inside edge. It’s a natural stress riser, in a “critical” section of structure, and it looks to my admittedly non-professional eyes that the little bump in the fracture plane that connects to it points to it being the start of the crack that eventually failed catastrophically.

    Points to a manufacturing problem, not so much a design problem. And the ‘safety factor’ of the rear retaining pin looks to have held everything together fine. Guns with reputations for “sending the slide through X when it breaks” tend to retain the slide at or ahead of the breech, to where the most likely failure areas are ahead of the breech meaning during failure, the breech could still be under full firing pressure with *no retention*. This is why Beretta added that little protrusion to the hammer’s pin assembly in the later 92s, retention behind the breech.

  16. August 19, 2010 at 06:04

    “So he decides to mill the slide down and mount a $30 off-brand red-dot on the gun. ”

    The Burris FastFire is not a $30 red-dot. MSRP is over $200, and it is a nice piece of equipment. The fail here is that the sight cost more than the gun.

  17. IZinterrogator
    August 19, 2010 at 08:45

    Why does Fail 2 have a laser? Does the owner think that the lack of one was what was causing his gun to suck out loud in the accuracy department?

  18. Rabbit
    August 19, 2010 at 09:20

    It’s a euphemism for something that borders on unimaginably, hideously grotesque. Something my grandfather used to say.

    Ponder upon it; you’ll get it.

    Regards,
    Rabbit.

    • August 19, 2010 at 09:22

      I think I’ll pass.
      ;)

  19. August 26, 2010 at 16:25

    The one I’ve been testing has probably about 400 rounds through it, and no signs of failure yet.

  20. August 26, 2010 at 16:33

    Honestly though, with the 9mm I wouldn’t worry nearly as much as with the .40. .40 scares me sometimes out of pistols I consider well-made because it’s running at such an obscenely high pressure.

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