Editors Note: Grand Master is a USPSA classification for the highest level of shooting. Only a small percentage of competitive shooters get there. Rob Leatham and Jerry Miculek are examples of Grand Masters.
The Hi Point Firearms 995 carbine, or as I call it, the Yeet Canon XL (YCXL) is a strange gun. In many ways its bad, but in other ways its actually good; in short its confusing. At the end of the day though, it is good enough that I shot my way to a Grand Master classification in the Steel Challenge PCC (Pistol Caliber Carbine) division using the YCXL exclusively while wearing flip-flops at every match.
It started in the Fall of 2020. In late October the Arizona State Steel Challenge and Southwest Regional Steel Challenge were on consecutive weekends at two on my local ranges. I was already entered in two divisions but I wanted to shoot a third. I had not competed in PCC previously but it looked like a lot of fun. What’s not to like about shooting high speed steel courses with a low recoiling 9mm carbine?
As you may remember, guns were hard to find last Fall and prices were going up. I did not want to spend a lot on a PCC for what might be only two matches. That eliminated all the AR-based PCCs and there was not much left to choose from. Ruger makes the PC9, a very nice PCC starting at about $600. But I was being a cheap bastard and thought that’s way too much. I found a Hi Point YCXL at a local dealer for $360. Perfect! I was also amused by the challenge of competing against great shooters with high-end custom PCCs while I was using the lowest-priced PCC around.
I immediately pulled the gun apart to see how it works and to see what, if anything, could be easily improved. As I tore it down I was surprised at the design. It was clear that every part and the overall design were done with one thing in mind – keeping manufacturing costs down and making it as cheaply as possible.
In short, the YCXL carbine is a Hi Point pistol with a fixed 16.5-inch barrel and no grip dropped into a plastic chassis. It comes covered in rails, but not the expected 1913 spec Picatinny rails; they are Weaver rails, and they are made of a softish plastic. The top rail covers the rear ¾ of the top and comes with a rear sight screwed on. The forend also has rails at the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions. A front sight is clamped onto the end of the barrel. I quickly removed all of these as I was going to be using a red dot sight and not attaching anything to the forend. I had an extra Holosun 407CO lying around which would be a good fit for Steel Challenge due to the large, bright 8 moa donut reticle.
The factory barrel is threaded ½-28 so you can attach a suppressor or muzzle device. I grabbed a Taccom 3G 9mm compensator that was in the old parts box and installed it on the barrel to tame some of the recoil.
A unique feature of the Hi Point carbines is a spring loaded stock. The buttplate rides on three rods which slide into spring loaded pockets on the stock. The idea is to soften the recoil. That’s fine for the average consumer but I was going to be drag racing on steel and did not want that movement, so I took out the springs and threw them in the trash.
The YCXL I bought was black and that just was not going to cut it. I wanted some sort of obnoxious paint job; I was thinking pink and purple at first. While browsing the rattle can aisle at Home Depot I spotted a can of gold glitter! I hung the chassis parts in the Arizona sun, laid down a few base coats of metallic gold followed by a full can of the glitter and finally a clear coat so the glitter would not wear off.
With the paint dry I headed out to the range with a few of my regular 9mm minor loads in various bullet weights. They were all low recoil loads I use for steel in pistols. When I fired the first round I was shocked. The recoil was horrendous, so heavy that I double-checked the ammo to make sure it wasn’t a major power factor load that I had grabbed by mistake. I had the right ammo, the YCXL just had a ton of recoil with every load I tried including factory 9mm.
I have briefly discussed reciprocating weight in some of my other articles here on GA and the YCXL is a prime example of it. The internal slide is heavy, just shy of 1.5 pounds. That’s a lot of reciprocating mass, and since it sits in a lightweight plastic chassis, there is not much weight to counteract that reciprocating mass. That means lots of recoil. But I knew that with some custom handloads I could lessen the recoil.
The trigger was bad. It felt like it broke at 10 pounds, it had a lot of creep and stacking as well. It was so heavy that on a few practice starts I thought I had left the safety on. Nope, I just didn’t pull hard enough. M Carbo makes a lighter sear spring for $13 and with a little tuning and polishing on the trigger components, I was able to get it down to an acceptable 5-pound break. The travel is relatively short and the reset is fast so I knew that I could make it work for me.
I spent a couple weeks developing a softer load for it. I wound up with a Berry’s 147gr round nose bullet, Vihtavuori N320 powder that chronoed at 640 fps for 94 power factor. It still had a good amount of recoil but it was manageable. With this load the YCXL was able to produce 3 inch groups at 25 yards which is plenty accurate for Steel Challenge.
If you are doing things right in the Steel Challenge you are only firing 5 shots per string to hit 5 targets. Recoil management is done while transitioning to the next target so the extra recoil is not a major factor. Aside from the recoil it shot well, had acceptable accuracy, pointed and transitioned fast and overall performance was decent. While the light chassis increased recoil it also helped with speed. Most of the weight of the YCXL is towards the rear and the barrel is a thin pencil profile so it’s light upfront. The light front end points well and transitions fast because you are not trying to stop a lot of weight on the next target. The front of the forend is in the perfect spot for my support hand to wrap over the top in a C Clamp Multi-Gun style grip for good control.
The plastic weaver rail I had mounted my optic to held its zero, surprisingly, so there was no need to replace it with an aftermarket aluminum rail.
In my opinion, the controls are not well placed. I have big hands and still have to do a major grip shift with my strong hand for my thumb to hit the mag release. Reloads are off the clock between strings in the Steel Challenge so instead, I use my support hand to hit the mag release and change mags between strings. The safety is also in an awkward spot that requires a grip shift to disengage. Steel Challenge rules allow PCCs to start with the safety off so no problem.
The last change I made to the YCXL was the bolt handle. The factory version is more or less just a hex bolt and it is thin. That makes it hard to fully pull the action to the rear when loading. I replaced it with a much thicker unit made from Delrin that made it easy to cycle the action. The bolt handle and sear spring are the only parts I replaced. The rest of the YCXL is essentially stock.
In actual competition, the YCXL fared well. In the AZ state match, I finished 7th in PCC and had a stage win on Accelerator. In the Southwest Regional, I finished 6th in PCC and had a stage win on Smoke & Hope. At both matches, I shot a stage with a Grand Master time as well. I would say that is pretty good for a sub $400 PCC.
Fast forward to March of 2021 and the Southwest Regional Steel Challenge rolled around again and this is where the longer-term problems with the YCXL showed up. Bullets started to nosedive in the mags which caused major jams. The YCXL does not have a manual bolt hold open that made clearing the jams that much harder; it usually took at least 5 seconds to clear. I had jams on at least one string on six of the eight stages but still managed to finish 8th in PCC with a Grand Master time on Outer Limits. For the 2021 match, I did upgrade from the Holsosun optic to an FTP Alpha 3 8moa dot. I would have preferred the 10moa like I used on the Ultimate 3 Gun Rifle but they were not available at that time.
After the regional, I realized I only had to cut about 4 seconds from my best total time to make Grand Master. I had already proven that a Hi Point can compete in the Steel Challenge, but now I had a bigger and much dumber goal. I wanted to be the first person to earn a Grand Master card shooting a Hi-Point.
I still had magazine feeding issues and I was pretty disappointed as the factory mag springs lasted less than 300 rounds per mag before failing. Most of the solutions presented online were janky, as I expected. There was one gem, however. A post claimed that +15% Glock 43 mag springs from Ghost Inc solved the nosedive issue. I bought a 10 pack of the springs and swapped out the terrible factory mag springs. You have to bend the bottom coil to make its loop larger but that only takes a few seconds per spring with two sets of pliers. I went to the range to test the new springs. They worked great. I would recommend any Hi Point user swap to these mag springs right off the bat.
I kept shooting club Steel Challenge matches in the Phoenix area (we have 4 per month) and clawed back a little time at most matches. Two tenths at one match, five-hundredths at another. I was down to 1.06 seconds left. In mid-May I shot a full 8 stage match at Rio Salado and made no time after six stages. I felt very discouraged and doubted if I could actually pull this stupid stunt off. Then, on the final two stages of the match, Speed Option and Accelerator I gained .89 seconds, which left me with just .17 of a second to go.
I was excited after that match and with May having the fifth weekend there would be an extra Steel Challenge match with 5 stages at Phoenix Rod and Gun Club. I did not gain any time through the first four stages. The final stage of the match was The Pendulum, a stage that is normally a dumpster fire for me. I had never shot a fast clean run on that stage. My previous best time was 10.29 and I needed to shoot 10.12 to make Grand Master. I did the math before the stage and knew I needed four strings of 2.53 to make it. String 1, 2.65. String 2, 2.52. String 3, 2.54. String 4, 2.49. I did the math in my head while loading for the last string and I knew I didn’t make it. Oh well, time to put up or shut up and hang it all out. On string 5 I went five for five on the targets and shot a 2.36. I had needed to gain .17 and I gained .38. I made it! I was the first shooter to earn a Grand Master classification with a Hi Point. The classification became official on June 2nd when scores were updated.
There are no official records on who used what when getting classified in USPSA or Steel Challenge but I am pretty sure I am the only person to make GM with a Hi Point. I also predict I will be the only person to ever do it as I doubt anyone else is dumb enough to even attempt it. It reminds me of Happy Gilmore’s record on taking his skate off to try and stab a guy with it. Unofficial, dumb, and at the same time awesome.
When I first posted about this moronic achievement on social media I was met with many skeptics who thought it could not be true. Any doubters can look up my Steel Challenge classification here.
Gun owners love to shit all over Hi Point guns – especially on the internet. But it’s a fact that the YCXL is capable of shooting at the highest levels of Steel Challenge competition. It is also a good fit for people on a budget who don’t have $1200+ to spend on a nice AR-based PCC. If you want a fun 9mm carbine and don’t mind snobs snickering behind your back and friends talking shit to your face, the Yeet Canon XL might be right for you.
Video – The highs and lows of competing with a Hi-Point PCC.
High Point 995 Carbine – AKA The Yeet Canon XL Specs:
Caliber 9mm Luger
Barrel length 16.5 inches
Barrel twist 1 in 10”
Total length 31.5 inches
Weight 6.7 pounds
Weight as shot 6.3 pounds
MSRP (base model) $339