Springfield Hellcat vs Hellcat Pro

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by Adam Scepaniak

Not long ago, we lived in a concealed carry world of single-stack pistols. This was dominated by itsy-bitsy 380 Auto pistols like the Ruger LCP, Smith & Wesson Bodyguard, and Taurus TCP. Super compact as they were they also sucked to shoot. Their long-forgotten homes were people’s pockets sans holster creating liability issues with pocket lint and pocket-sand aplenty. While Dale Gribble from “King of the Hill” might be proud of you for toting around pocket-sand, your carry gun was none too happy.

Evolution of Micro Pistols

Soon after, we saw the momentum of single-stack 9mm pistols grow with the Kel-Tec PF9 and Taurus PT709 (Slim) being some of the first contenders to the market. Quickly afterwards, more reputable brands like the Glock 43 and Smith & Wesson Shield soon followed. This was an improvement because now you had a more meaningful cartridge in 9mm with more Foot-Lbs of energy plus these handguns were oddly easier to control with less felt recoil. The industry still had its growing pains though. Lest we not forgot the horrid designs of the Kimber Solo and Springfield Armory XD-E. The shooting community as a whole still was not satisfied. We wanted near full-size capacity with “CCW dimensions.” As perplexing and as difficult of an ask as that might have been, SIG Sauer seemingly created a new category out of thin air: micro-compacts. The SIG Sauer P365 (a subtle nod to being able to carry their pistol 365 days a year) boasted 11-rounds of capacity with staggered magazines – not quite double-stacked yet not single-stacked – and a dimensional footprint smaller than the current CCW kings at the time in the S&W Shield and G43.

Introduction of the Springfield Hellcat

The SIG Sauer P365 is a perennial offering for concealed carry to this day, but someone quick to copy their homework was Springfield Armory with the Hellcat. Late to the party? Not necessarily. Google owns the “market” for internet search engines and in the late ‘90s they were one of 20+ companies offering search engine services (who remembers AltaVista, AskJeeves, and DogPile). So, the most important thing is not always to be first, but that does help a lot; rather, to do it the best. I am not insinuating that the Springfield Hellcat is the best micro-compact out on the market, but its absolutely in the Top 3 somewhere.

So, what is the Springfield Armory Hellcat and what are your options?… The Hellcat is a series of handguns after starting out as a lone model. There are essentially 3 models for people to pick from with additional variations within each. Those main 3 choices are the Hellcat, Hellcat RDP, and Hellcat Pro. The original Hellcat started it all. It is a 3.1” barrel with 11+1 and 13+1 magazines from the factory. At the time of its release, it was touted as the world’s highest capacity, micro-compact. That might be a lot of marketing hyperbole, but they were not wrong in that it is extremely high capacity for this newly invented category of micro-compacts. Within the original Hellcat line, you can get Black or FDE (Flat Dark Earth) models as well as short-run, Distributor-Exclusive colors like robin’s egg blue, pink, and other niche, obnoxious colors. There are also the options of having a Manual Safety or none (original Hellcat had no manual safety). Additionally, you can get an optics ready version called the Hellcat OSP (Optical Sight Pistol). The Hellcat has MSRPs that vary quite a bit from $599 – $843 depending on color, optics ready, or optics equipped (14 options in total).

Evolution of the Springfield Hellcat

The next step in the Hellcat progression of micro-compacts is the Hellcat RDP. This acronym stands for Rapid Defense Package (RDP). The Hellcat RDP earns this title because it has a micro red dot sight on it from the factory (either HEX Wasp or a Shield RMSc) and a proprietary yet good quality muzzle brake from Springfield – the Self-Indexing Compensator. This pistol sounds like a pain in the butt to source a holster for because of the proprietary compensator and micro red dot, but oddly enough, holster companies have been quick to have options for the Hellcat RDP. You also are receiving an upgraded trigger (Gen2 trigger) and this pistol has a threaded barrel (to allow for the Self-Indexing Compensator) so you have the option to change the muzzle device or play with silencers. This model retails for $778 – $983 with permutations carrying manual safeties, color changes, and optics (8 total options).

Final Form: Springfield Hellcat Pro

The final iteration in this Hellcat journey is the Hellcat Pro. This model, for comparison’s sake, is akin to the SIG Sauer P365XL in size, capacity, and feature set. It boasts 15+1 flush-fit magazines, a longer 3.7” barrel, and all Hellcat Pro offerings are OSP (optics ready or optics equipped). With different colors like those you’d find in a bag of Skittles, the same capacity as a Glock 19 yet it weighs less, and optics ready functionality like today’s modern shooter prefers, this pistol has all the makings to be a winner, and it has been. Again, with safety, color, and optic options the MSRP flutters from $649 – $859 with 11 variants in total.

While there are 3 main models to the Hellcat lineup – Hellcat, Hellcat RDP, and Hellcat Pro – the two most popular and discussed models are the big guy and the little guy. So, what is the elevator pitch for the OG Hellcat? The Hellcat accomplishes what the Ruger LCP and Smith & Wesson Shield failed to do: high capacity in a small footprint. It has a manageable recoil impulse, extended mags available, and is still easily concealable.

The elevator pitch on the Hellcat Pro is that it, like the P365XL, is a Glock 19 killer. You have G19 capacity, better ergonomics, optics ready without deplorable MOS plates, and a smaller footprint that can be easily hidden for carry. Both the Hellcat and Hellcat Pro come in tactical colors, are optics ready, high capacity, and have manual safety options if you lean that way. So, the biggest deciding factor might be whether or not you want high capacity (11+1 on the Hellcat flush-fit) or even higher capacity (15+1 on Hellcat Pro flush-fit).

In Closing

To play devil’s advocate, I own both. I carry the Hellcat in workout and summertime cargo shorts and people are none the wiser. On day’s where I am wearing heavier clothing (jeans, T-shirt, possibly a light coat), I will opt for the Hellcat Pro because its slightly larger dimensions are still easily hidden with the additional benefit of more rounds. If a party flares up and multiple party-goers require my undivided ballistic attention, I am ready. The Hellcat Pro gives you slightly more rounds with a greater purchase on the handle while the Hellcat is more easily concealed with less rounds. I would highly recommend either pistol for concealed carry. If you hate the way they feel, just know it is not the option; rather, it is an option. To each their own. As always, watch for future content on all of our socials and check us out for all of your thermoplastic holsters and solutions.

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