Everyone who has handled and shot an older model Hi Point 995 carbine knows one thing; they are ugly as sin. The bodies were made of very cheap feeling plastic, which contorted, flexed and creaked horribly. I was attracted to the low cost of the weapon platform, which I picked up used with 4 magazines, magazine pouch and a sling for $250. Then I found the American Tactical Imports body kit for $70, and figured it had to be worth a shot. But for those who do not know the difference between the two, let's take a look at how they match up.
The first thing you'll notice when you pick up a 995 carbine fitted with the ATI body is that it is much more durable. It doesn't twist and creak whenever you handle it, and is very impact resistant. The distance from the grip to the rear of the stock is bit shorter, and the front end of the body is shorter as well, which I find makes the system more versatile in close space situations. By removing the two set screws on the rear of the stock, there is actually usable storage space to keep things dry. The trigger guard is much larger on the ATI frame, which translates into easier manipulation running gloves. The kit also has two screw-in sling mounts, similar in location to the stock body. With this setup, I usually run a one point attached to the rear, and the fore grip covers the open hole of the front sling point mount.
Ejection is just as smooth and efficient as with the stock body, and has eaten hundreds of rounds in the time that I've run it, not including the untold shots previous owners have taken. The charging handle and all parts of the action are unaffected functionally, and the ATI kit comes with its own rubber pad which sits in the body to catch and absorb some impact from the recoil block. This combined with the sturdiness of the body make it for a much smoother shot, and more accurate follow-up shots.
I have noticed a drastic improvement with magazines seating into the mag well, leading to more efficient feeding. With the stock body I noticed it was more difficult to get the magazine to seat properly, and would fire the first shot and cause the mag to fall out. At the same time the stock body would not drop empty mags out all the time, forcing one to rip out the magazine for reloading. The ATI body runs a lot smoother, and drops mags more freely. The magazine release button still is in a somewhat difficult to reach position, at least for my hand, but functions very smoothly.
I was able to mount a small section of rail to the bottom of the fore end by drilling through, and placing nuts and bolts on either side. Underneath where the barrel runs is mostly empty space, as well as plastic blocks for the screws to hold the top and bottom together. After trying out several different combinations of grips and accessories, I found that the Magpul AFG just molded right onto the front end, and is a very comfortable grip. When used with a thumbs forward grip to maximize surface area contact on the weapon, it feels like it wants to run right out of your hands. Now don't think that is a bad feature, it makes it very easy to punch out from a ready position and acquire a target. Speaking of acquiring a target...
I took it upon myself to bore out my rear sight with an electric drill to about 200% of its original diameter. Since my intended purpose for use of this weapon system would be personal defense or close range shooting, I found the small aperture of the stock sight was very difficult to pick up some targets at close ranges, even up to 5 yards and less. The above photo is very close to how my eye picks up the sight picture, utilizing somewhat of a slight ghost ring around the front sight, which aids in keeping the sights centered. This simple modification makes for a much for combat effective sighting system, which still retains its range of windage and elevation adjustments.
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There are only two notes that should be made about the installation process, which I see one as very minor, merely a tolerance difference, yet the other requires a bit of work to fix. The first thing I noticed is that the metal plate that holds the barrel into the frame via a screw which holds the plate onto a locking block, does not slide as far back as it does with the stock frame:
The plate is still securely mounted onto the frame, and the screw is still able to be tightened down properly. As you tighten the screw, the head will come to a point in the threading where it runs into the plate lip. It just requires a little extra torque to get it to slip past that point, and then it's smooth sailing. No big deal, no marring of parts, and nothing rattles afterward. The second issue is more of a pain, and requires some power tool usage to fix. Note on the photo below the two receiver pins where the metal receiver meets the plastic frame:
The pin towards the rear of the weapon I had no issues with. The front however I had issues getting the two parts of the receiver pin to connect and thread together. The pin had a very slight bend in it, so I just chalked it up to that, and ordered a new pin. After getting the new factory pin, I then noticed the same exact problem. Through a very close inspection, I realized that the front pin holes within the ATI plastic frame itself were smaller in diameter than the rear ones. After drilling out the diameter one drill bit size at a time, I was able to trial-and-error my way into getting a perfect fit. I'm not sure if it is an issue with the kit in general, or maybe I just got an off molding, but not too horrible to adjust, providing one has access to a drill and different size bits.
These pistol caliber carbines are great for target shooting, and not too expensive for the economically aware shooter. For those looking to make their carbines a bit more high-speed low-drag, there are plenty of options available to buy as well as simple modifications one can make to custom tailor these versatile weapon systems. For a total cost of around $350 to build, on top of the reliability and functionality, they really are a great thing to pick up. One more note to make is that installing this body kit does technically void your manufacturer's warranty, which I found out while ordering the new receiver pin. But as long as you hold on to the original body, you'll be covered if you ever need to send it in for repair.