Springfield Hellcat Review: A Budget Friendly Micro-Compact Handgun

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What’s your dream carry gun? For some, it’s a Glock 17 with a Surefire X3000 and a Trijicon RMR. Some people simply don’t mind the size when they get 17+ rounds, as well as an optic and flashlight. The vast majority of us are much better suited with a smaller, lighter, and often easier to conceal firearm. Smaller firearms often have a low ammo capacity, but what if they didn’t have to? The Springfield Hellcat is aiming to be both a small pistol, and to be absolutely shoved full of ammo. 

The Hellcat is the same size as a single stack 9mm in both width, height, and length, but it holds 11 to 13 rounds of ammunition. The 11 round magazine sits flush in the grip, and the gun is only 4 inches tall. The 13 round magazine is extended and makes the gun slightly smaller. The famed Glock 19 holds 15 rounds and is over 5 inches tall, so the Hellcat is swinging above its weight class. The Hellcat isn’t the first gun to do this but is the class-leading model when it comes to ammo capacity. 


So What is the Springfield Hellcat

springfield hellcat

The Springfield Hellcat is a micro-compact 9mm, striker-fired handgun. Like most modern guns, it has a polymer frame that reduces weight and makes the weapon more affordable. The Hellcat has 11 or 13 round magazines, and the gun comes with an optional pinky extension. The Hellcat comes in two models, the standard and the OSP, optics ready model. I have the standard model. 

The Hellcat has a 3-inch barrel and an overall length of 6 inches. The gun is 4 inches tall with the flush fit magazine and 4.5 inches with the extended magazine. The gun weighs a hair less than 18 ounces and is 1 inch wide. The Hellcat is a small gun that’s very light and easy to conceal. 


The Springfield Hellcat’s Features 

The Hellcat is feature-packed for such a small gun. The gun comes from the factory with Trijicon U Dot sights that are day and night sights that are both extremely bright and easy to see in both sunny days and in low light. 

The Hellcat also has a Picatinny rail that allows you to attach a wide variety of small lights and lasers. It’s a short rail, so you are stuck with very compact lights. The Viridian CTL, for example, is an ultra-small light that will fit. The Olight Mini 2 Valkyrie will fit as well. 

The Springfield Hellcat also has a standoff device built into the front of the gun. Below the barrel, where the recoil assembly sits, is a small circular device. This will allow you to jam the gun into someone’s belly and pull the trigger. It prevents the slide from coming out of battery and will enable you to keep the gun-running. 

Past that, we have a flat-faced trigger with nickel boron internals. The trigger is smooth and crisp, with a short pull and clean break.


Ergonomics 

Admittedly the gun feels super short with the flush fit magazine in place. You can only get two fingers on the gun with the flush-fitting magazine. Springfield does include a pinky extension that allows for a much better grip, especially for guys like me with big hands. The 13 rounder presents an excellent grip as well that’s completely comfortable. 

The Springfield Hellcat uses the new Adaptive Grip Texture that presents an interesting texture for both shooting and concealed carry. Too aggressive a surface tends to rub the body when you are concealed carrying and can be painful after a long day of carrying close to the body. A more aggressive texture means it fits the hand better and prevents the gun from moving and sliding inside your hand. 

Springfield hellcat review grips

The Adaptive Grip Texture does well at both. The Springfield Hellcat is rugged and grips the hand when it is squeezed tight. You can feel the texture, and the gun doesn’t shift or move in your hand. However, when rubbed against the body, the surface is abrasive and doesn’t rub you raw. The texture is positioned quite high on the grip and is very comfortable, and it does its job exceedingly well. 

The gun lacks the grip safety of the older XD series and lacks a manual safety of any kind. The layout of the handgun is straightforward but well placed. The magazine release is positioned in a way that’s extremely easy to reach and makes reloading quick and easy. I barely have to change my grip to release a magazine

The grip also fits my hand very well. It has a high undercut and allows for to choke up on the gun. Better yet, the Hellcat has a small but useful little beavertail. There is no slide bite with this bad boy. 

The slide has serrations on the front and rear of it. The rear serrations are particularly impressive. What makes them remarkable is that they go over the top of the slide, and this makes manipulating such a small gun much more comfortable overall. This is especially true for reloads. It’s quick and easy to reach over the slide and slingshot the slide into action. 

Overall the Hellcat is a comfortable gun. It’s easy to hold, sticks to your hand, and presents controls and features that are intuitive to manipulate and well thought out.


Range Time with the Springfield Hellcat

A general accuracy test is the first thing I do. When looking at a gun as a concealed carry piece, I’m not trying to take a handgun and make half-inch groups at 50 yards. I want to be able to quickly shoot a man-sized target at 25 yards in the vital areas. This includes the chest and head regions of a man-sized target. Specifically, the fabled T box and the heart and lungs of a man. 

The Hellcat is easily capable of doing both at extended ranges. I can reliably hit a small T zone at 15 yards. At 25 yards, I can drill standard headshots and chest shots. The awesome Trijicon U Dot sights most certainly aid in accurate shooting. They are fantastic sights that are very eye-catching, and the bright color makes focusing on the front sight simple. 

When you start adding speed and drills to your shooting, you’ll start seeing just how impressive those sights are. Their design makes them well suited for getting on target rapidly and delivering accurate rounds. I shot my first El Presidente drill in years and scored every shot in 8.67 seconds. That’s more than a passing score. 

The Hellcat is both accurate for slow fire extended range firing and close range dynamic shooting. Springfield’s Hellcat is a great shooter. Recoil is very mild and muzzle rise is also entirely controllable. Staying on target during rapid fire is very possible, even when your target is a small one. The trigger’s smooth design also helps as it is concise and consistently enjoyable to pull. 

The gun is plenty reliable as well. It chugged through over 500 rounds of the cheapest steel cased ammo I could find, and it did so with a smile. I’m at a total of 700 rounds without a single malfunction.


Springfield Hellcat Concealability 

Concealing the gun is very easy to do. A few companies are already pumping out holsters for it, and this includes Crossbreed. I’m currently carrying it in my Reckoning IWB holster. The Springfield Hellcat is very light and easy to hide with nothing more than a T-shirt. 

Springfield Hellcat

Comfort is king with the Springfield Hellcat. Now because the gun is still extremely new, there isn’t a lot of holsters available. Crossbreed makes a few different models, and Alien Gear just released one. Following those two, we have Clinger Holsters working on various options, and I imagine we’ll see most major holster companies following soon.


Downsides 

I like the Hellcat overall. It’s a well made, easy to shoot a gun that conceals like a dream. The Hellcat is an excellent concealed carry gun. Springfield has done an excellent job with this pistol. Nothings perfect though. 

The Hellcat’s slide lock is placed quite pretty far back on the frame of the pistol. My thumb sits on top of it with a thumbs forward grip that renders it moot. The slide can’t lock to the rear when the final shot is fired if my thumbs are sitting on it.


Parting Shots…

The Springfield Hellcat is accurate, reliable, small, and has a high capacity. It’s entirely worthy of concealed carry and dependable enough to boot. The Hellcat is an excellent firearm and is well worth its modest price. Give it a little more time and we’ll see holsters, accessories, and upgrades and more. For now, you have a dependable gun that’s worthy of the Hellcat name. It can hold over a dozen rounds of ammo and does so with some real gusto. At this point, I think we can declare the 9mm single stack dead and the new reign of micro compacts is taking over. 

By

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd BN 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and works as a firearms writer.

The Daily Ammo

The latest firearms reviews, gear reviews and safe shooting tips for responsible gun owners.

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