Seventy-One Guns & Counting: Celebrating the ‘Babe Ruth’ of Hi-Point® Firearms Collectors

Seventy-One Guns & Counting: Celebrating the ‘Babe Ruth’ of Hi-Point® Firearms Collectors

Written by Hi-Point® Firearms, August 2019 

 

It All Began in a Two-Car Garage

In the late 1980s, Tom Deeb walked into a local tool and die shop looking for someone who could turn his vision for an affordable gun into reality. That inconspicuous day, he met the man who would execute that vision, Mike Strassell.  Having had a lifelong aspiration to own his own machine shop, Strassell’s interest was piqued when Deeb offered to finance the shop in exchange for manufacturing his direct blowback 9mm handgun.

Working out of a confined two-car garage and the basement of his close friend Ed Stallard, they began producing the very first Model JS-9mm. In just two years’ time, the emerging business had doubled in size, having grown so rapidly that they had to move operations elsewhere. Strassell was the silent partner, responsible for steadily designing, prototyping and building tooling for other models of semi-automatic handguns and carbines that would later become loved by so many.  Deeb was considered the public relations novice of the two; always interacting with local dealers and distributers to get the new handguns on the market.

Together, they made a terrific partnership.

Over subsequent years, Deeb and Strassell merged their enterprises, working with assembly shops: Iberia Arms, and Haskell Manufacturing—generating the Hi-Point® brand beloved today by fans nationwide.

Deeb worked extensively with AFTE, and law enforcement crime labs to adopt special features in his firearms to help catch the bad guys.  He also held seminars, did factory tours and with Strassell’s help, produced training aids for students attending AFTE forensic training.

 

No-Nonsense Business Model Makes Way for The Working Man’s Gun

The original Hi-Point® firearm models varied from the models most enthusiasts are now used to. Occupying alloy steel, cast zinc, and aluminum frames instead of polymer—featuring checkered grips, rough textured slides, and often a heel release magazine latch—these original Hi-Point® guns were heavy, solid, and possessed a less “finished feel” than the models manufactured today.

These evolutionary designs have sparked curiosity and interest amongst gun collectors across the world, particularly those who have grown up right alongside the Hi-Point® brand.

Built on a reputation of quality and affordability backed by a lifetime warranty that spans the life of the gun, it’s no wonder that Hi-Point® has been dubbed home of The Working Man’s Gun and has become one of the most loved gun brands in America.

 In 2015, Mike Strassell purchased Hi-Point® Firearms from Tom Deeb. With a decade’s strong commitment to manufacture and assemble all Hi-Point® guns in the U.S, the Strassell family identifies themselves as “real people, with children and grandchildren, many of whom now work in the company.”

Proud of the deeply imbedded family tradition they’ve maintained within the Hi-Point® company, the Strassell family goes to great lengths to do things differently than the larger firearm manufacturing companies.

On occasion, Mike Strassell will even pick up the phone and talk with customers directly as Tom had always done in previous years.

Since the inception of the company, nearly anyone in any strategic position has been family in some form or fashion. This remains the case even today. In fact, it’s rumored that most of the firearms under the Hi-Point® name have been named after personnel involved in the brand’s success since the beginning.

Whether fact or fiction, one thing is clear: at Hi-Point®, family is first.

 

Self-Made Hi-Point® Enthusiast Becomes ‘Babe Ruth’ of the Brand

Many people claim to collect Hi-Point® firearms, but only one among them has earned a title.

“Mach-O-Melvin,” as he refers to himself, is recognized as the owner of the largest Hi-Point® Firearms collection in the world. For good reason, his collection has earned him repute among Hi-Point® collectors on popular group sites and online forums where he has become well-known as the “Babe Ruth” of Hi-Point®.

With seventy-one guns and counting, you might be asking,

“how exactly does someone become the leading collector of

Hi-Point® guns?”

We wanted to know too, so we set out to uncover the story behind the fan.

The name Mach-O-Melvin ironically mimics the decades-old industry term coined “MOM”,  a moniker that denotates the “maker or manufacturer” of firearms—in this case, the Hi-Point® manufacturing plant in Mansfield, Ohio. Though Mach-O-Melvin states the nickname originally came from a CDL driver he knew “way back in the day,” we like the coincidental implication of the story. Perhaps Mach-O-Melvin was destined to be the “MOM” of Hi-Point® collectors before he was even made aware of the brand’s existence.

Mach-O-Melvin bought his first gun as a young boy with money saved up from a paper route. When an older brother wanted to go hunting and Mach-O-Melvin didn’t have a gun to use, he headed out with his mother in response to a newspaper ad to make his very first gun purchase. And that’s exactly what he did.

With only $12 to his name and just 12 years under his belt, Mach-O-Melvin purchased his first firearm in 1969: a

12-gauge shotgun, of course.

Decades later, Mach-O-Melvin still carries a deep passion (or, as he likes to refer to it, a severe case of OCD) for guns…particularly Hi-Point® firearms. He recalls his first experience with the brand in 2012 when his nephew, then in the Navy, called Mach-O-Melvin’s brother on the phone and asked him for a Hi-Point® for Christmas.

After that initial exposure, Mach-O-Melvin quickly immersed himself in research on the company’s values. Once he realized the Ohio-based company that had been around since the 80s had garnered such a devoted customer base and offered a lifetime warranty to boot—he was hooked.

His very first Hi-Point® model was a 995 carbine, purchased in February of 2013. Not long after, he decided he had to have a matching handgun.

In that moment the Mach-O-Melvin collection was born.

At the onset, however, he ran into some jamming issues. This led him to the Hi-Point® Firearms Forum site where he discovered a tight-knit community of fanatics and was able to share his initial experiences with the guns with others who had answers. That, combined with the notable customer service he repeatedly received from the Hi-Point® headquarters, was enough to make him a fan for life.

Blood, Sweat, Tears, & Seventy-One Guns Later

For four to six hours a day, seven days a week, over the entirety of three-and-a-half years (that’s approximately 6,387 hours!), Mach-O-Melvin cultivated his collection, researching every piece of history he could get his hands on. He joined every Hi-Point® forum he could find and even founded a few of his own, notably Hi-Point® Firearms Café—a forum for Hi-Point® gun lovers, grandfathers, and God-seekers.

The Maverick JS-9

Hi-Point® fanatics such as Mach-O-Melvin cite the very first Hi-Point® was the Maverick JS-9. It’s believed that 6-7,000 of these original models were distributed. But, when Mossberg® Maverick® caught wind of the name, they sent a cease and desist, forcing Stallard Arms to take the approximately 300 already-named Maverick slides left in production and physically scratch out the name.

To this day, finding one of the original 300 scratched-out Mavericks is the ultimate dream of Mach-O-Melvin, and would represent what he considers to be the final addition to his collection.

The “scratch-off” is believed to be the Sasquatch…the Nessie…the Megalodon… of Hi-Point® Firearms.

The Maverick was named the JS-9, supposedly after Josie Stallard (mother to Ed Stallard of Stallard Arms) who was better known at the time as the “mother” of the old stomping grounds for her knack of being surrounded by all the neighborhood children. She was so well loved that they decided to name the gun after her.

The Maverick JS-9 started showing up in the mid-80s and exhibits several differences from the C9 that replaced it later in 1994. Because of these slight differences, the Hi-Point® C9 magazines do not work in the old Stallard JS-9s. Back in the day, Hi-Point® used to service these legacy guns and would occasionally sell customers replacement magazines for less than $20 a pop.

Today, these older models remain some of the most respected in the industry. Many are still fully functional, even after decades of use.

When the Hi-Point® name took over the line in 1992, they called the model the JF-9, said to have been named after Jerry Foncannon, Tom Deeb’s best friend. This limited-release handgun involved the short issue of only several thousand units. Jerry is said to have worked at the Hi-Point® factory as a truck driver, another testament that many of those who helped in big and small ways to build the Hi-Point® brand from the ground up were either family or close friends.

The Haskell .45

Ed Stallard’s best friend growing up was Russ Hill of Haskell Manufacturing, who made the .45 calibers for the Hi-Point® brand. Haskell’s first gun was the Haskell .45, otherwise known as the JS-45—a steel frame .45 ACP handgun also believed to have been named after Josie Stallard. It later evolved under the Hi-Point® banner as the JH-45 (named after Russ Hill’s oldest son, Jessie Hill) and then the JHP-45, with several improvements accompanying each new edition.

The Iberia .40

Jim Cole of Iberia Firearms was a mold designer/draftsman at the same company where Mike Strassell worked building tooling for Tom’s original Model JS. He was soon brought in as the contributor of the .40 caliber, originally called the Iberia .40 and later called the JC-40. Many fan forums cite Jim Cole’s son, John Cole, as namesake of the JC-40. Out of Galion, Ohio, they remain Hi-Point’s designated hitter for .40 caliber handguns such as the JCP-40.

 

Nothing Wrong with a Little Friendly Competition

Mach-O-Melvin began collecting Hi-Point® firearms as a direct result of a popular Internet forum for Hi-Point® devotees. After hooking up with a few other Hi-Point® fanatics that were collecting various models, Mach-O-Melvin decided to engage in a little “friendly competition.” Looking back, he recalls that one of the men in the group had 17 models, and another had 18—the largest number of Hi-Point® models collected at the time. With limited knowledge of what existed in the market, all three men joked that there were not many more models left to be found.

Meanwhile, Mach-O-Melvin began putting his passion for research and the Hi-Point® brand to good use and went to work locating more and more models. His emphasis, even at the very beginning, was always on finding and collecting the oldest models possible. As Mach-O-Melvin rapidly approached number 25 in his collection, he assumed that would be it. Little did he realize at the time all that actually existed in the marketplace, and how deeply he’d have to commit to locating them!

 

Worth a Shot?!

We’d say so! He now owns a total of seventy-one (71) Hi-Point® models, each possessing a unique story. Though not confirmed as the official or “final” rundown, Mach-O-Melvin provided his personal “timeline” of Hi-Point® models since the beginning.

Even as we feature this list and bring to light Mach-O-Melvin’s hard work and research, we open the conversation to hear from others as to what they believe should be in this list. To date, there has been no exhaustive list recorded anywhere other than what he has carefully pieced together below.

Prior to most purchases, Mach-O-Melvin would talk to Tom Deeb personally on the phone, just to make sure that his research aligned with what he believed to be production history. Tom was always happy to take the calls and spent an egregious amount of time attempting to confirm or refute Mach-O-Melvin’s Hi-Point® lineage. Each time, as Mach-O-Melvin recounted his interest in adding to his collection, Tom would ask the same question, “Now, tell me again, why do you want to collect all these guns???”

And each time, Mach-O-Melvin replied with the exact same answer: “Because nobody else is, and because I can.”

Where History and Hi-Point® Meet

When we witnessed the Mach-O-Melvin Collection, we knew we were privy to the making of history. What an incredible opportunity!

To the best of his ability, Mach-O-Melvin has attempted to put the following list in chronological order per caliber. To date, this is the most comprehensive history of the evolution of Hi-Point® Firearms since its inception. While Mach-O-Melvin certainly doesn’t claim this as “the absolute final list,” he believes it to be pretty darn close.

 

The Handgun Collection Part I: Alloy Frames

Maverick JS-9

The very first Hi-Point® handgun.

Stallard JS-9

This is the “rumored” Maverick “scratch-off”—the most desired gun still missing from Mach-O-Melvin’s collection. However, according to some at Hi-Point®, the manufacturing stamp was believed to have actually been changed to “Stallard” at the factory, which would mean the scratch-off models, most likely, don’t exist.

Stallard JS-9

Flat grip with textured slide.

Stallard JS-9

Contoured grip with textured slide.

Stallard JS-9

Contoured grip with smooth slide.

Stallard JS-9

Contoured grip with nickel slide/frame.

Iberia 40

With smooth slide.

Iberia 40

With nickel slide/frame.

Haskell JS-45

Contoured grip with textured slide.

Haskell JS-45

Contoured grip with smooth slide.

Haskell JS-45

With nickel slide/frame.

Hi-Point® JF-9

With silver band slide (like the CF-380). Was never officially done in production; rumored to have been a few specials that Tom or Hi-Point® employees made.

Hi-Point® JF-9

With textured slide, contoured grip and fixed rear sights. Only 2,500 JF Models were produced.

Hi-Point® JC-40

With textured slide.

Hi-Point® JC-40

With smooth slide.

Hi-Point® JC-40

With nickel slide.

Hi-Point® JH-45

With textured slide.

Hi-Point® JH-45

With smooth slide.

Hi-Point® JH-45

With nickel slide.

Hi-Point® Model C

With smooth slide, fixed rear sights and alloy frame.

Hi-Point® Model C

With textured slide, adjustable rear sights and alloy frame.

Hi-Point® Model C

With nickel slide, adjustable rear sights and alloy frame.

 

The Handgun Collection Part II: Polymer Frames

Hi-Point® Model C

With smooth slide, fixed rear sights and polymer frame.

Hi-Point® Model C

With nickel slide, fixed rear sights and polymer frame.

Hi-Point® Model C

With textured slide, adjustable rear sights and polymer frame.

Hi-Point® Model C9 COMP

With compensator, smooth slide, adjustable rear sights and polymer frame.

Hi-Point® Model C

Nickel slide with adjustable rear sights and polymer frame.

Hi-Point® Model C9 COMP 

With compensator, textured slide, adjustable rear sights and polymer frame.

Hi-Point® C9

Upper serrations on slide.

Hi-Point® C9

Lower serrations on slide (current model as of 07/2019).

Hi-Point® C9 $$$ Gun

Wrapped in hydrographic $100 bill money pattern; only 200 ever made so far.

Hi-Point® JCP-40

Black (current model as of 07/2019).

Hi-Point® JCP-40

OD Green with smooth slide (1999-2000).

Hi-Point® JCP-40

OD Green with textured slide (2014).

Hi-Point® JHP

Black (current model as of 07/2019).

Hi-Point® JHP-45

OD Green with smooth slide (1999-2000).

Hi-Point® JHP-45

OD Green with textured slide (2014).

Hi-Point® CF-380

Black alloy frame; serial number on side of frame ends in a letter.

Hi-Point® CF-380

Gray frame with smooth slide and fixed rear sights.

Hi-Point® CF-380

Gray frame with nickel slide and fixed rear sights.

Hi-Point® CF-380

Gray frame with smooth slide and adjustable rear sights.

Hi-Point® CF-380

Gray frame with textured slide and adjustable rear sights.

Hi-Point® CF-380

Gray frame with nickel slide and adjustable rear sights.

Hi-Point® CF-380 COMP

Gray frame with compensator, textured slide and adjustable rear sights.

Hi-Point® CF-380

Black textured slide with adjustable rear sights (current model as of 07/2019).

Hi-Point® CF-380 COMP

With compensator and adjustable rear sights (current model as of 07/2019).

Hi-Point® C9 YEET CANNON™ G1

Released in third quarter 2019. Not in the Mach-O-Melvin collection.

Hi-Point® YC-9™ / YEET CANNON™

Not yet in production, nor in the Mach-O-Melvin collection. To be released soon!

Handguns available in Woods Camo, Pink Camo, and Desert Digital Camo.

  

The Carbine Collection

Classic 995

Macho-O-Melvin has two

Classic 995

Chrome; Macho-O-Melvin has two.

Classic 995

OD Camo

995TS

Classic 4095

Classic 4095

OD Camo

4095TS

4595TS

Macho-O-Melvin has four.

3895TS

Macho-O-Melvin has two.

1095TS

Available in both Black and Real Tree Camo. All have threaded barrels.

All model carbines will be available in Black, Woods Camo, Pink Camo, Desert Digital Camo, FDE and OD finishes with threaded barrels.

Disclaimer: After January 2015 the following guns were manufactured in Woodland Camo, Desert Digital, Pink Camo, OD Green, and Faded Dark Earth (FDE): 3895TS, 995TS, 4095TS, and the 4595TS. These are not part of Mach-O-Melvin’s Carbine Collection.

 

When asked about his favorite gun, Mach-O-Melvin, grinning from ear to ear, doesn’t hesitate.

He proudly holds up his one and only The Commemorative Tom Deeb Gun, a custom carbine which he himself designed in collaboration with Hi-Point® headquarters, Mike Strassell’s family, Jerry Arpaio with Longshot Manufacturing (who custom made the plaque for the gun), friends from the factory, Tom Deeb’s family, and several other individuals who sought to honor Tom Deeb’s legacy by assisting Mach-O-Melvin in bringing to life this important, celebratory gun to honor one of the great names behind the brand.

He thanks the above-mentioned names for supporting him in his collection efforts, including Thing Meister Fabrication and the many, many great friends of the industry who aided in his efforts to track down such a large collection of rare Hi-Point® models and attempt at piecing together the otherwise undeveloped history behind the brand. To learn more, he says to visit him online at his Hi-Point® History 101 Facebook forum where fans can ask questions and learn more about how each gun in the collection was acquired.

Some may wonder what’s in store for the robust collection of not just Hi-Point® firearms, but Hi-Point® history, accumulated as a result of many, many hours of hard work and research…

When we asked, Mach-O-Melvin shared that his ultimate dream would be to “see the collection on display at the Hi-Point® headquarters in Mansfield, Ohio.”

 

For Hi-Point®’s very own Babe Ruth, we hope to one day make this dream a reality.