When it comes to firearms very few have the potential or clout to disrupt an entire industry, but that is seemingly what the Springfield Armory Hellcat has accomplished. They have gone smaller in size than what was thought possible and conversely increased the capacity of your magazine at the same time. Why sacrifice capacity in an easy-to-carry sidearm when you can have both? The Springfield Armory Hellcat has been lauded by nearly everyone who has touched it in its 4 infant months of existence. From the day it was announced, TFB and TFBTV have had copies of the Hellcat to play with, carry, and form our own personal impressions. So, today I am going to share mine in this TFB Review of the Springfield Armory Hellcat. Let’s dive in!
specifications: Springfield armory hellcat 9mm
We all know the monumental selling point of this pistol is its claim to fame as the “World’s Highest Capacity Micro Compact,” and that is not just a phenomenal advertising slogan; it’s true. Like all things produced by Springfield Armory, that is not the only element worth noting in this pistol. The complete specifications for this pistol can be read below as presented by Springfield Armory:
- Caliber: 9mm
- Magazines: One 11-Round w/ Finger Rest, One 13-Round Extended
- Barrel: 3″ Hammer Forged Steel w/ a Melonite® Finish & 1:10″ Right-Hand Twist
- Sights: U-Dot™ Tactical Rack Rear & Tritium/Luminescent Front
- Frame: Black Polymer w/ Adaptive Grip Texture™
- Slide: Billet Machined w/ a Melonite® Finish
- Recoil System: Dual Captive Recoil Spring w/ Full Length Guide Rod
- Overall Length: 6″
- Overall Height: 4″ w/ Flush Mag, 4.5″ w/ Extended Mag
- Overall Width: 1″
- Weight w/ Empty Mag: 18.3 Oz w/ Flush Mag, 18.6 Oz w/ Extended Mag
The MSRP for the Hellcat is currently benchmarked at $569. There is also a Hellcat OSP (Optical Sight Pistol) version on the market as well that can readily accept micro red dots that goes for a little more at $599. An even more in-depth dive into the pistol going from concept to reality can be watched through Springfield Armory’s product announcement YouTube video:
Dennis Reese, the CEO of Springfield Armory who has been guiding the company since 1974 with his father when the Reese family took on the Springfield Armory name, gives us further insight as to where the Hellcat originated from and what was its driving force to be created:
For the last several years, we’ve been deeply entrenched in the research and development of the definitive solution for everyday carry and personal protection. The result is a handgun that exemplifies our disciplined approach to modern firearms design. On behalf of Springfield Armory, I am extremely proud to finally introduce… the Hellcat! The highest capacity, micro compact 9mm in the world.
first look: Springfield armory hellcat 9mm
When I saw the Springfield Armory Hellcat in person for the first time I was honestly conflicted. My initial thoughts were what the heck am I looking at? Firearm companies throw around the terms ‘brand new’ and ‘gamechanger’ quite a bit, but the Hellcat truly is (those are my buzzwords, not Springfield’s).
The Hellcat is not an XDS. It has twice the capacity, and surprisingly a smaller overall footprint. What kind of wizardry does it take to make a gun smaller and increase the magazine capacity? It is like the rounds coming from the magazine are materializing out of a magician’s hat. I always liked the fiber optic sight picture of an XDS, but the Hellcat even improves upon that with their U-Dot™ Tactical Rack Rear and Tritium/Luminescent Front sight.
The Hellcat also is not an XD. Springfield’s slightly older model of an XD sub-compact, and the more current XD Mod.2 sub-compact could achieve 12+1 rounds of 9mm, but they also were admittedly pretty chunky. Another element Springfield faithful like to razz Springfield Armory about is their wonderful/horrible advertising of “Grip Zone” texturing which is absent on the Hellcat. They now have the far superior Adaptive Grip Texture™ that is pressure activated. It uniquely is not anymore abrasive, but affords you significantly more dexterity.
Finally, you cannot talk about the Hellcat without drawing comparisons to the SIG Sauer P365 which is nearly identical in size and footprint, but somehow through dark magic, the Hellcat carries an additional round. While the SIG P365 has been lauded as the best gun in the industry for the last 1 – 2 years, the Springfield Armory Hellcat has appeared to have edged it out in capacity, and a few other feature areas as well.
range time: Springfield armory hellcat 9mm
I got out to the range multiple times over the course of the last 4 months to shoot the Hellcat, but the most telling range visit would have been the most recent one. I live in the delightful frozen tundra that is Minnesota, and if you are not willing to journey outside in inclement weather to practice shooting, then you are not going to be practicing much in our state.
On a morning when it was -10°F I took the Hellcat out to warm it up (oxymoron in temps like that). The Springfield Armory Hellcat performs really well at close distances which should not be a surprise to anyone. At what I would deem ‘concealed carry distances’ of 10 yards or less, it is spot on; you point it, it hits. With a 3″ hammer forged steel barrel and a sighting radius that is twice that, this pistol’s accuracy is more on par with a full-size handgun than it is with its own category of a micro-compact.
So a CCW pistol can hit from CCW distances. Impressive? Not entirely because that is essentially expected and demanded of it. But what if it could perforate a bullseye at say 25 yards with a schmuck like me behind the trigger? That could be impressive. With that challenge in my mind, I stepped off a silhouette target to 25 yards and attempted to slow-fire 10 rounds as best as I possibly could. This probably took over a full minute to do because although I am a hearty Minnesotan, you tend to lose dexterity and feeling in your fingers in -10°F after awhile.
The results I achieved were startling. While shooting off-hand with some Federal American Eagle Syntech 9mm Luger 115 Grain TSJ (Total Synthetic Jacket), I was able to get nearly one ragged hole. I did this a couple times at 25 yards, and luck would have it my first 10-shot group was the best (probably because I had the most feeling in my fingers).
Over the course of 4 months, I probably found time in my schedule to feed the Hellcat a healthy diet of ammunition 4 or 5 times. Out of all of those range sessions I never experienced a failure-to-feed, failure-to-eject, no failures whatsoever. I tried varying hollow-points, FMJ (Full Metal Jacket), and some of Federal’s TSJ ammo. All of the ammo I fired I would consider good quality and it was either brass or nickel casings, but regardless, the Hellcat always performed.
carry time: Springfield armory hellcat 9mm
Over the course of the last 4 months I attempted several different methods for concealed carry. I carried it on my hip Outside-the-Waistband (OWB) which was very convenient and easy. Being as compact as it is you never feel it weighing down your hip even if you carry it for 12+ hours in a day. Since this pistol falls into the category of a micro-compact, I felt it almost necessary to carry Inside-the-Waistband (IWB) somehow for an extended period of time as well.
My favorite method of IWB carry for most any pistol is Appendix Inside-the-Waistband (AIWB) so I did just that with the Springfield Armory Hellcat. It was very comfortable to carry all day in this position whether it was seated in a vehicle commuting, at an office, or strolling around my family’s gun store (where the Hellcat sells like hotcakes, honestly).
AIWB has become my favorite method of carry over many years because it can easily be hidden by a simple T-shirt whether it is a hot July day or a frigidly cold one in January. Simultaneously, it is very fast to draw from if you give it a little bit of practice. A third reason I support AIWB carry is it keeps the firearm between you and anyone you encounter. What I mean by that is no one with evil intentions is going to sneak up on you, and take your sidearm from you if you are carrying AIWB. Although the chance of it happening is one-in-a-million, I always have my head on a swivel (more so than ever) when I carry IWB Small-of-the-Back (SOB) or simply OWB on my hip. The Hellcat could be carried anywhere, but it felt most at home for me while carrying AIWB.
final thoughts: Springfield armory hellcat 9mm
So, the cat is out the bag, and Springfield has dubbed it the Hellcat! One of my favorite features about the Springfield Armory Hellcat are the sights they settled on. The U-Dot™ Tactical Rack Rear and Tritium/Luminescent Front sight were fast shooting, easy-to-acquire, and really stand out. I have shot U-notch types sights on pistols before, but this one has been the most pleasurable to use in my experiences.
The flat bodied trigger that is Nickel Boron coated was a much appreciated upgrade. Traditionally, you would not see a coated trigger or a flat one unless you pursued Custom Shop pistols. To see it present on the Hellcat was a welcomed surprise.
The Adaptive Grip Texture™ was another pleasant surprise. Springfield formerly got heckled to high heaven for their “Grip Zone” texturing, but the Adaptive Grip Texture™ is no jokes, all business. I know it is pretty popular for people to hand-stipple or send out their polymer pistols for stippling, but the Hellcat simply does not need it. The texturing, whether your hands are warm or freezing cold, provides ample dexterity to properly and confidently wield your sidearm.
All in all, I do not have anything negative to say about this pistol. It is smaller than their XDS in its overall footprint, it carries more rounds than its nearest competitor, shoots better than me, and it is easy to carry in a variety of positions. Anyone who purchases this pistol would not be disappointed. Our TFBTV staff had similar sentiments to mine as well.
In closing, I want to say THANK YOU to Springfield Armory for allowing TFB and myself the opportunity to try out their Springfield Armory Hellcat 9mm! That is greatly appreciated. Also, we would like to know what all of you guys and gals think? Do you believe that the Springfield Armory Hellcat is something worth spending your money on? Would you carry it? Shoot a league with it? Let us know all of your thoughts in the Comments below! We always appreciate your feedback.