The Well Armed Woman Blog

Springfield Armory Hellcat – One Hell of a Gun

The Springfield Armory Hellcat just might be an answer to my concealed carry gun prayers! I know, that’s a pretty bold statement, but the innovations Springfield has brought to this gun are not only exciting and functional but incredibly impressive. They have been working on this gun for 2+ years, and their commitment to getting it right paid off. Numerous features are all brought together in quite a sexy way! Many problems I have had in finding my dream CC gun are solved with this firearm. Honestly, I haven’t been this excited about a 9mm in years!

hellcat

I have to tell you that I have ALWAYS struggled with the fact that my self-defense capabilities have been limited by carrying a gun with limited ammunition capacity. I want to carry a 9mm, and I want as many rounds as possible! With my small hands, I must be able to grip it soundly and have full access to the controls. I must be able to shoot it with “out of the park” confidence. Yes, I have wanted all this in a gun that I can comfortably and effectively carry concealed.

Of course, there are some awesome 9mm guns available with excellent capacity, but no matter how many I tried or how much I wanted each of them to be “The One” it wasn’t happening. One or more of the following challenges have prevented me from achieving the concealed carry utopia I longed for.

My ongoing problems have been:

  • Not being able to get a good solid one-handed grip with my small hands on the larger, fatter grip of the guns that have the high capacity I want.
  • With the larger, double-stack magazine grips, I was unable to reach the controls such as the slide lock and magazine release without contorting my firing grip to do so.
  • The guns were just too fat and bulky for me to carry concealed effectively. I certainly don’t need any added width to my midline. I am already doing too much “adding” to my waistband on my own!
  • The length of these guns is more than my shorter frame and waist could accommodate. I couldn’t sit down as the extra length of the barrel would dig uncomfortably into my upper thigh or the grip digging into my side and ribs.

So what about the Springfield Hellcat?

We each have our list of must-haves, and we each have unique and personal needs and preferences that we look for in our defensive CC gun. So what about the Springfield Hellcat? This gun is answered prayer for me, and I think I have found my concealed carry heaven! Not only are all of the above problems solved, but there are additional features that give me even more confidence. This gun is only 1″ wide and 6″ long. There is no other pistol this thin that has a capacity like the Hellcat. As you can see in the photo, it is smaller than my Glock 43!

hellcat vs g43

Let’s get into the specifics and talk about shooting this beauty

I had a fabulous afternoon at the awesome C2Tactical Shooting Range in Scottsdale, AZ.

First I had to zero in the Shield RMSc, the micro red dot on my Hellcat. I was able to do this easily at 20 yards shooting from bench rest. Zeroing your optic is an essential first step, and it’s so easy to do. There are instructions and some great YouTube videos that can guide you through. Once I had it all set, I shot 300+ rounds of Fiocchi Pistol Shooting Dynamics, 115 GRS FMJ ammunition without a single issue. This gun ran flawlessly. Check out my first shots at 10 yards! Man, nothing makes you love a new gun than a target like this.

The size of this grip is pretty amazing considering the magazine capacity. One of the most striking things about this grip is the texture. This adaptive grip increases the texture with pressure. So, while holstered and with general handling, the texture is subtle like fine sandpaper and won’t snag on clothing or irritate your skin during daily wear. However, when you are shooting and have a solid, secure grip on the gun, the pressure causes the embedded pyramids to extend into the palm of your hand for an optimal firing grip. It’s pretty amazing. When you are in a fight for your life, and your adrenaline is pumping, and your hands sweat, you can be confident of keeping a solid grip on your gun.

grip texture

Notice there is texture on both sides of the gun just below the slide and above the magazine release. These create a non-slip place for your strong hand thumb. A second patch located in front of the takedown lever on the slide is for your non-dominant thumb when using a two-handed grip. The patch on the other side can be used to place your trigger finger when it is not pulling the trigger and is placed safely along the slide.

grip texture image
trigger finger rest

My hand seemed to slip into a proper grip easily. I didn’t have to tweak and adjust to get a solid, high on the backstrap grip. It just felt natural. The Hellcat has a nice and pronounced beavertail that sits high to help align my hand high to help with recoil management. I had no issues with my grip, even when my hands became slightly sweaty.

Recoil

Like all 9mm guns of this size, it’s “Snappy” to shoot. Being such a small firearm and given all of that power has to go somewhere, it doesn’t surprise me. Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t a negative or something specific to this gun. It’s just how it is with any small 9mm gun such as my Glock 43. I didn’t mind it, nor was it a problem. I could manage the gun very well and get back on target quickly. It’s important to understand this and not have an expectation that a gun in this genre and caliber will shoot like a .380 or a full-size gun. It just won’t. I am OK with it as I want a gun with the stopping power of a 9mm AND I want it small.

Don’t ride the wave!

Just a side note, because I can’t help myself – the word “manage” is the keyword. You and I “manage” our guns and we are to manage the recoil – it doesn’t manage us! We must consciously and deliberately do the managing! So many times I see shooters “Go with the flow” of the recoil and allow it to cause their arms, hands and the gun to rise and fall. Almost like riding the wave of recoil and then settling back down on target. That is the recoil managing you and you lose precious seconds! Take control of it ladies and don’t allow yourself to “ride the wave.” OK- back to the Hellcat.

Magazines

The Hellcat magazines are one of the wonderful innovations found on this gun. Somehow they have engineered them to provide us with the opportunity to carry a slim CC gun with a capacity of 14! Yes, I am in heaven! Two steel magazines are included with your purchase. One with a capacity of 11+1 and an extended magazine with a capacity of 13+1 . These provide one more round than the Sig P365. It also comes with a flush plate for the lowest profile possible. It takes some hand strength to finish off higher capacity magazines when loading and with my permanent weakness and nerve damage to my left arm and hand, I am dependent on a Maglula for magazine loading. If you don’t have one, you should get one! Boy to they really make loading magazines a breeze!

hellcat magazines

Sights

There are two Hellcat models available. Both come with U-notch rear sight and Ameriglo Pro-Glo front sight which is a tritium night-sight vial surrounded by a bright, luminescent, yellow-green ring to offer excellent sight acquisition. The front sight “lights up” and seems to instinctively and quickly line up beautifully in the rear U-notch. Also available is the OSP (Optical Sight Pistol) model that has a removable optic sight plate that allows you to mount a Shield RMSc, or J-Point micro red dot, this is only a $30 upgrade. (Red dot optic is not included with gun purchase)

u dot hellcat sights

Mine has the Shield RMSc red dot, and I have to say, for someone with little experience shooting a handgun with a red dot I really liked it. I can see the advantage of using one as I felt I could get on target and shoot faster even with vision that isn’t up to snuff. If you think you might want to add one at some point, I would get the OSP model as it can cost a couple of hundred dollars for the machining necessary to your handgun to have the ability to mount one. Seriously something to consider. One more thing to think about, the red dot can be helpful when racking the slide, and if heaven forbid you were to lose the use of your non-dominant hand, it can be used to rack the slide one-handed.

red dot hellcat

Slide

The slide has serrations front and back, allowing for a solid grasp when chambering a round. It has a Melonite finish that helps to prevent corrosion and improves the durability of the metal. The loaded chamber indicator lets you, at a glance, know if you have a round chambered. With my left arm/hand issues, I must use proper technique when racking the slide. I can rack the slide on the Hellcat very well. It feels about the same as racking the slide of my Glock 43.

I know racking the slide can be an issue for many women, again utilizing proper technique can be the freeing factor if this is a challenge for you. Racking the slide of the Hellcat is not “super” easy or “buttery” as I sometimes hear it described for guns like a .380 caliber gun such as the Smith & Wesson EZ Shield or the Sig Sauer P238, but it was very manageable for me. If carrying a 9mm is as important to you as it is to me, a bit of slide tension is just part of a 9mm package.

chamber indicator

Trigger

The Hellcat has a flat-faced trigger which helps to facilitate proper placement of the pad of your trigger finger and a straight rearward press of the trigger – which is a must for accuracy. It has trigger safety (the lever protruding from the center of the trigger) which must be depressed fully to allow the trigger to be pulled and the gun to fire. It has a pretty standard 5.5ish pound pull weight that is very smooth and consistent with a nice, audible and tactile trigger reset. You know without a doubt when the trigger has reset and is ready to press again.

flat trigger hellcat

Other features: Magazine Release, Slide Lock, and Accessory Rail

The magazine release button is reversable. Both it and slide lock are both smooth and flush to the side of the gun. This helps to prevent snags on clothing or holsters when drawing. This also helps to keep the profile sleek and thin. The magazine release button is reversible and very responsive, so it ejects and drops the magazine smoothly.

I love the location of the slide lock, and because it is set back toward the rear of the slide, it is easy for me to get my thumb under it and have the leverage to engage it even with it being so flush. For ease of use, I would prefer a more 3-dimensional slide lock because of my weaker hands; it’s just one of those things that can be challenging for so many. The struggle to engage them can cause muzzles to wander during attempts to slide it into place. However, to have a truly sleek gun that is easiest and best for concealment and drawing a more flush slide lock is preferred.

The ability to mount a light or other accessory on a such a small sub-compact via the accessory rail is another big plus for such a small gun.

reversible mag release
rail

Take Down

One of the first things I do with any new gun is to take it down. As I handled this gun right out of the box, I was loving what I was seeing, feeling, and experiencing. Then I thought to myself, “Boy, I sure hope the takedown is as easy as how good this gun looks and feels.” Happily, it is!

Lock the slide back, drop the magazine, (verify the gun is unloaded). Then rotate the takedown lever upward, pull the slide back to release the spring tension, pull the trigger and slide the slide forward and off. Very straightforward to disassemble and reassemble.

Here are a few photos of the Hellcat in relation to a few other favorites, the Smith & Wesson Shield and the Sig P238 .380

hellcat v shield
hellcat v 238

My final thoughts

I was very excited about this gun, and literally couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. My verdict? It’s a great gun and will be my new carry gun. The decision to carry a gun and make it your partner in your self-defense is a significant one. After all, you defensive CC gun becomes part of your body by day and sits at the ready by night. It must be one you can shoot with confidence, will perform when you need it, and carry concealed comfortably day after day. Only you can know and choose your partner. For me, the Springfield Armory Hellcat provides what I need, what I want and a few more things I didn’t know I wanted!

hellcat specs

9 thoughts on “Springfield Armory Hellcat – One Hell of a Gun

  1. Thank you so much for the “experienced woman’s view”!!!!
    I’ve been trying to find another CCW as my “EZ Shield ” is a “tad” large for me to carry AND I have disabilities with my dominant hand but sounds as if I could “easily” use this gun.? I’m hoping to check it out soon.

  2. Steven Bucci says:

    One of the most comprehensive pistol review articles I have ever seen. I am sticking with my Sig P365, but this is clearly Sig’s new competition. Again, great article. Like the great TWAW products. If you are male or female, TWAW makes the best holsters I have found for CC. Keep it up!

  3. Nancy says:

    Sounds like my next handgun! Thank s for the review, cant wait to try it out.

  4. Julie K Balassa says:

    I have a Hellcat on order and I don’t take exception to some of your points but I have to say your article didn’t strike me as impartial. I wonder why in the comparison section you did not compare the Hellcat to the Sig P365, it’s true competition. Frankly I’m torn between the P365 SAS and the Hellcat. The P365 has only one round less capacity. More concerning is that If you look at the geometry of the 2 firearms the Sig has more grip and less slide, enabling you to grip it with 3 fingers instead of 2 even when using the flush magazine. And the idea of a recessed sight that may give the red dot a run for its money and eliminates snag is intriguing. On the other hand, I’ve been wanting to try a red dot on a handgun for a while and will be mounting the JP Enterprises Jpoint on the Hellcat. unless I cancel that order and go with the P365 SAS.

  5. David Serlin says:

    Red Dot type optics are great for target, competition and home defense. However all those uses point toward a full size pistol.
    On the other hand “Every Day Concealed Carry” with pistols equipped like this can be tricky as (at least in my and some of my students’ experience) the optic tends to print and can snag on the draw.

    1. Julie K Balassa says:

      I agree with some of your points but not with your comment that home defense points to a full size pistol. I shoot several full size pistols but my EDC handguns are a G23 and a Sig P320, both chambered in 357 Sig and both compacts. They fit my small hands better and print less. I believe the handgun an individual should carry for self defense is the handgun with with which that person feels most comfortable in an emergency. Most if not all people will not shoot with confidence a firearm they’re not comfortable with. I’ve seen too many people at the range where I work as a Chief Range Safety Officer try to hang on to firearms too large or chambered in a caliber too high for an unseasoned shooter, compromising safety, accuracy, and attitude toward shooting.

  6. CaShields says:

    If I were not limited by law in California to a ten round round mag, this would likely be my EDC.
    Thanks for the review. Impressive tool.

    1. carlajo15 says:

      I live in Colorado where our magazines are also limited. My current gun is a Springfield Armory XD 9mm. I was able to order it with a “Colorado package”, meaning the magazines were Colorado law compliant. If you’re interested in the Hellcat, check out the magazine options through a dealer.

    2. greyeagle22 says:

      i carry a Springfield XDM and that fires 16 rounds,my everyday carry is the Taurus p111 Gen 2 which fires 14 rounds, And my new weapon which i love is the IWI Massada that holds 19 rounds, came with 2 clips but no one had a holster for that model, the gun was to new to the market so i called a Israeli company and purchased my holster from them,i like it because there is hardly any recoil, and that gun was made to take a beating,Israeli army uses them in sand, so i knew it was a good made handgun,plus it comes with 5 different plates for 5 different type of top mounted optics. The hell cat is a nice firearm but looks like my Taurus. And i still own my very first handgun which is a Beretta Pietro last one made in Italy and it comes with a open chambered type,so no sliding of the rack.

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