The Springfield Hellcat is a serious step forward in concealed carry weaponry. For most of us the selection of a concealed carry gun is an exercise in compromise. Size, weight and caliber are often involved in the self-negotiation process for handgun selection. Owners want something that is comfortable for all day wear, possesses the reliability and accuracy needed for defense, and is readily concealable.
Far too often we either leave our carry gun at home or downsize to an ineffective calibered, mini-gun. Springfield Armory’s new Hellcat is one gun that should meet everyone’s CCW needs without sacrifice. Watch my exclusive Hellcat range test over at PersonalDefenseWorld.com.
Springfield Hellcat First Look
Boasting an impressive 11+1 capacity with its flush-fit magazine, or 13+1 with its extended magazine, the Hellcat claims to be the highest capacity 9mm micro-compact in the world. The polymer-framed, striker-fired gun has an overall length of just 6 inches. It is 4 inches tall, just an inch thick, and weighs less than 19 ounces unloaded. It’s a gun so small and light that it can be concealed easily and worn comfortably without effort.
I received the Optical Sight Pistol (OSP) version of the Hellcat, however, a standard non-optic gun is also available. The OSP slide is cut for a micro red-dot. Springfield recommends the JP Enterprises JPoint and the Shield RMSc, which is exactly what I outfitted it with. The OSP model retails for just $30 more than the standard Hellcat.
The 4 MOA red dot is set up so that you can co-witness the gun with iron sights. The rear sight has a generous “U”” notch with a white outline around it. Meanwhile, the front sight has a high-visibility tritium lamp encircled by a luminescent yellow/green ring for quick acquisition during daylight. The deep notch “U” rear sight makes sight alignment as easy as putting the ball (front sight) in the bucket. The rear sight also has a tactical rack design for one-handed slide manipulation.
You’re probably wondering if such a diminutive gun can be comfortable enough to shoot effectively. The answer is a resounding “yes” thanks to the Hellcat’s excellent ergonomics. Springfield engineers designed the polymer frame with a high beavertail to protect the shooter’s hand and promote the highest hold possible to help negate muzzle flip. The trigger guard is also dramatically undercut where it meets the frame for the same reason.
The Hellcat uses Springfield Armory’s Adaptive Grip Texture for a secure firing grip and there are index points on both sides of the frame for the trigger finger. To make the gun comfortable when firing, its backstrap is as wide as the gun is thick to spread recoil over a broader area. All of the Hellcat’s external controls — the slide release, take down lever and reversible magazine release — are low profile for deep concealment comfort. The short dust cover features a rail for a mini light or laser.
Springfield Armory uses a dual recoil spring system to give the gun the spring mass needed for reliable cycling. There’s a large diameter spring wrapped around a cap that slides over a more tightly wound spring wrapped around the recoil spring guide. There is no spring-to-spring contact with this design and its captured spring design makes disassembly and reassembly easy. The front of the recoil spring guide rod extends past the muzzle and acts as a stand-off device so the slide won’t move out of battery if you shove the muzzle against a hard surface.
Like most polymer-framed guns, the Hellcat uses a steel subframe pinned into the polymer grip frame. The steel subframe possesses the rails the slide rides on so there is no steel-to-plastic contact. Springfield Armory melonites the steel internals for increased surface hardness and corrosion resistance. The gun possesses a mechanical block to the striker to prevent inertia type discharges. The trigger also has a blade that must be depressed for the gun to fire. Our test gun’s trigger broke with 5.5 pounds of pressure.
Springfield machines its slides from billet and serializes them to the gun; same goes for the barrel. Both parts are given a Melonite finish for corrosion resistance. The 3-inch barrel is fully supported and there is a circular port cut into the hood to give the shooter an idea if the chamber is loaded.
Springfield Hellcat Testing
Because of the Hellcat’s short barrel and sight radius, I tested its accuracy at 15 yards. Shooting from a seated rest I was able to center the 4 MOA red dot in the bullseye of my target while adding pressure to the trigger to break the shot. My enthusiasm for the Hellcat grew immensely after walking downrange to view my first five-shot group. It measured just three-quarters of a inch. In fact, for the five ammunitions I tested, the Hellcat all groups averaged just .80 inches. Yeah, quite impressive.
|BLACK HILLS 115 GRAIN JHP||1121||321||.78”|
|COLT DEFENSE 124-GRAIN JHP||1140||358||.82”|
|DOUBLETAP 77-GRAIN SOLID COPPER HOLLOW POINT||1412||341||.70”|
|FEDERAL SYNTECH TRAINING MATCH 147-GRAIN TOTAL SYNTHETIC JACKET||936||286||.92”|
|HORNADY +P AMERICAN GUNNER 124-GRAIN XTP HOLLOW POINT||1093||329||.75”|
Lately, my favorite 9mm carry load is the DoubleTap’s 77-grain solid copper hollow point. It is consistently accurate in every gun I fire it in and, because of the bullet’s light weight, its recoil is almost insignificant. Through the Hellcat, this load produced a respectable 341-foot pounds of energy. It gave the mini-compact good slide velocity and also did it without +P pressures.
Speaking of +P, yes, the Hellcat is rated for use with these loads. In fact, Hornady’s American Gunner 124-grain XTP load is +P and I experienced no problems or issues with them. Same holds true for all of the other loads tried in the Hellcat. I have about 400 rounds down range at this point and there hasn’t been a single stoppage or failure.
If you’re carry needs are dictated by size, weight and capacity, the Hellcat should make your short list. It has the accuracy, reliability and “shootability” needed to be a first class CCW gun, all wrapped up in a neat little package. Priced less than $600, the Springfield Hellcat provides a great value for the money and eliminates the need for compromise. For more information, please visit Springfield-Armory.com. We’re also featuring the Hellcat on the next cover of Ballistic Magazine. Grab your digital or physical copies at OutdoorGroupStore.com.
Springfield Hellcat Specs
- Model: Hellcat OSP
- Caliber: 9mm
- Capacity: 11+1 (flush fit); 13+1 (extended)
- Barrel Length: 3 inches
- Overall Length: 6 inches
- Height: 4 inches (flush fit); 4.5 inches (extended)
- Grip Width: 1 inch
- Weight: 17.9 ounces (flush fit); 18.3 inches (extended)
- Front Sights: Tritium Luminescent
- Rear Sights: Tactical Rack “U” Notch
- Frame: Black Polymer, Adaptive Grip Texture
- MSRP: $599 (Tested OSP Model); $569 (Standard Model)
Having previously practiced tradecraft, Pat McNamara knows the skills, gear, and street smarts you...
by Pat McNamara / Sep 24, 2019