The higher-capacity concealed pistol market competition just got tougher with the introduction of Springfield Armory’s Hellcat Pro, the latest upgrade to their Hellcat line. And it fixes a lot of the annoying characteristics of its predecessors while keeping many of the legacy features Springfield fans love about the Hellcat.
I’ve had the privilege of trying out the entire Hellcat line over the past few years have always had mixed reactions to the series. It’s not all bad, not all good. I’ve always like Springfield as a whole – they seem to put out good quality designs despite being based in Illinois – but I’m far from a Springfield super fan. Their line of pistols and rifles has many solid offerings, many of which are fun to shoot, reliable, and easy to operative.
The original Hellcat was an exception. I found it too snappy, with too short of a grip, making recoil more difficult to manage, hardly a great feeling when your life depends on it.
Along came the RDP, with an upgraded trigger (apparently, I wasn’t the only complainer), an optic plate and optic on top, and a compensator onto the nose. The optic upgrade was smart and welcome, an obvious good move. But I thought would be gimmicky, until I shot it and discovered it did serve more of a purpose than I originally thought. And because it required a threaded barrel, it suddenly became a great platform to add a suppressor. Kudos to Springfield for that one. But I was still a bit underwhelmed. They hadn’t fixed the original Hellcat issues.
However, the new Hellcat Pro has renewed my faith in Springfield’s ability to create a pistol that is both concealable and easy to shoot, a gun worth serious consideration to replace my current EDC. The original was always easy to conceal, at just one inch wide and small in all the areas needed to hide it. It was just harder to shoot than it needed to be, in my opinion.
Springfield has improved on the annoying features of the Pro’s predecessors to the point where I might even call this gun fun to shoot, a dramatic departure from previous models. And it didn’t take much doing. A few tweaks here and there were all it needed.
· Caliber: 9mm
· Barrel: 3.7” hammer-forged steel, Melonite finish, 1:10 twist
· Slide: billet machined, Melonite finish, optics ready
· Frame: black polymer with Adaptive Grip Texture
· Sights: Tritium/luminescent front, tactical rack U-notch rear
· Recoil System: dual captive recoil spring with full-length guide rod
· Grip Width: 1 inch
· Magazines: 2 15-rounders
· Weight: 21 oz.
· Length: 6.6 inches
· Height: 4.8 inches
· MSRP: $634
Larger capacity mags on Hellcats are not new, but unlike the previous models, the 15-round Hellcat Pro magazines are flush fit, thanks to a longer grip than the standard Hellcat or RDP version, finally making the Hellcat fun to shoot because it feels like a full-size gun in the hand. If you have any legacy 15-rounders from your existing Hellcat, they will work in the Pro if you take the rubber fit gaskets off. Smart engineering on Springfield’s part. I wish all gunmakers operated like this.
Speaking of grip, the Pro carries over the Adaptive Grip Texture found on the rest of the Hellcat line, a feature worth passing along to future versions. It’s a great mix of not too rough but rough enough to hold the gun firmly with sweaty palms, something you will likely find yourself fighting if you ever have to use your gun in self-defense. It’s good to know the grips won’t tend to slip under stress.
The sights are a tritium/luminescent front and a white-bordered U-notch rear that work exceptionally well together. Both are easy to pick up and align from the draw. This is one feature I’ve always liked about the Hellcat series. Instead of more traditional dots or a box, the U in back makes front and rear alignment a cinch. Plus, the rear sight body is squared off for easy belt or boot rack on one-handed reloads.
What if you prefer a red dot? The Hellcat Pro comes with an optic cut slide that accepts Springfield’s proprietary Hex Wasp dot and a range of other small pistol dots. My trial version didn’t come with a red dot, but I shot the Wasp on the RDP for a previous review and found it easy to zero and simple to use. The sights on the Hellcat Pro do not co-witness with the dot, but not everyone likes that, so I doubt it will turn off many buyers.
The trigger was decent but less than what I expected. It wasn’t crisp, but it wasn’t squishy either. It had a bit more slack than expected, however. Maybe it’s because I’m accustomed to aftermarket triggers in my other guns. It’s not a bad trigger, just less professional grade than I expected from a gun called “Pro.” In the trigger’s defense, however, it was consistent, with a strong audible and tactile reset. So, I’ll describe it as average.
Overall, the Hellcat Pro is a vast improvement over previous Hellcat models. Many of the common complaints about the older models have been addressed and fixed, namely the gun’s grip length and overall shootability. I’m still not a huge Springfield fan, but this gun might find its way into my permanent collection.
At $634 MSRP, the Hellcat Pro stands up nicely against the Sig P365, S&W Shield Plus, and similar small carry guns with larger capacities. So, it boils down to personal preference. It’s worth serious consideration. ~ David
David is an avid gun guy and a contributing writer to several major gun publications. In addition to being an NRA Certified Pistol Instructor and RSO, David trains new shooters on basic handgun skills and CCW requirements and is a strong advocate for training as much as you possibly can. "Real life shootouts don't happen at a box range."
[Photo from Springfield Armory]