The subcompact 9mm pistol market has exploded in recent years. New pistols have come on the market that are the size of a 380 pocket pistol with the firepower of 9mm Parabellum. Two of these are the Glock 43 and the Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP.
- Final Grade : A+
- MSRP : $529
Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP
- Final Grade : A-
- MSRP : $778
Why Compare the Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP and the Glock 43
The Glock 43 may have been the pistol that started the trend in reliable 9mm subcompact pistols when it debuted in 2016. There have been a lot of competing models from other manufacturers, and one of the more recent versions is the Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP. The SAI Hellcat RDP may have a few more added features like factory optics and a threaded barrel, so we thought this would be interesting to see how the original compares to the latest and greatest on the market.
Glock 43 vs Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP
So we decided to put these two pistols head to head in areas like reliability, accuracy, and concealability. Firearms are being made better today than at any other time in history, so it is always interesting to see how two different guns will perform side by side.
GLOCK 43 vs Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP Report Card
Final Grade: B+
Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP
Final Grade: A-
Glock 43 Review
The Glock 43 debuted at the NRA Annual Meeting in 2016. It was a slightly scaled-up version of the Glock 42 which was chambered in 380 ACP and they intended it for the concealed carry market in the United States. At the time they released it, it was one of the smallest 9mm pistols in circulation. Since then they have updated the 43 to the 43x, full review found here.
Glock 43 Features
Glock 43 Features
It may not be very apparent at first, but manufacturers have stepped up to supply flashlights, replacement slides, sights and other extras for the Glock 43.
If you are used to the larger sized Glocks, this one works the same way from takedown to maintenance to shooting.
The Glock 43 has a very small footprint. It can be a good pocket pistol if you go with slightly larger pockets, but literally disappears on the waistband with the right holster.
GLOCK 43 – Our Take
What I like most about the Glock 43 is its size. The small size of the Glock 43 is just about perfect for a concealed carry pistol. It can be carried AIWB (Appendix Inside the Waist Band) by most people. The small grip is much easier to conceal than the grip modules on most full-sized semi auto pistols,
Based on the proven Glock platform, the pistol has a familiarity among users that has been there since the early 1980s. The manual of arms, disassembly process, and just about every other aspect of this pistol are based on the larger models by this Austrian manufacturer. There are no parts interchange with the larger Glock models, however.
Aftermarket magazines from ETS and other companies are very reliable in the Glock 43 due to the simple nature of the single stack magazine design. Vickers Tactical and a few others offer extensions for the factory magazine to fit one or two extra rounds as well.
These pistols are extremely accurate. The lower bore axis, combined with the thin slimline grip for the single stack magazine, all play their roles here to perfection. This results in a compact pistol that is fast shooting and accurate. I have to admit, when I first received one before their 2016 release, that I was pleasantly surprised with its accuracy and performance.
While there is no accessory rail on the Glock 43, Streamlight has designed a weapon light that attaches to the frame and trigger guard. Likewise, a Trijicon RMR might be too wide to fit the tiny Glock 43, but companies like Shield Sights make a thinner and narrower red dot sight that can be fitted to the pistol if needed once a shooter has the slide milled for it.
However, while attachments like these are great features, they almost can be detrimental by making the gun too large for its intended purpose as a deep concealed carry piece. Many shooters report great success with concealing them and carrying them in an ankle holster due to its small size and light weight.
In many ways, the Glock 43 is a perfect concealed carry pistol and checks all the boxes that we like to see. It is small, light, accurate, reliable and minimizes printing due to its size. If there is one thing I do not like about the Glock 43, it would be the low capacity. Yet, when it was released, this did not seem to be a major concern or setback regarding acceptance of the pistol.
GLOCK 43 Pros and Cons
- Size – Size rules supreme on the Glock 43. It is small, light and easy to carry.
- Accuracy – The Glock 43 is especially accurate. My first go around with this gun had me thinking the opposite until it actually went to the range.
- Accessory Rail – There is no rail for mounting a light or a laser on the G43. Thankfully, companies like Streamlight have stepped up and offered lights which can be mounted on the frame without the need of a rail.
- Capacity – The low round capacity and single stack magazine may be the biggest con with the Glock 43. While it aids in concealability and plays a part with regard to its accuracy and shootability, it seems extremely limited when compared to other micro carry 9mm pistols that use a slightly wider staggered type of box magazine that ups the capacity to10-rounds or more.
Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP Review
The Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP (Rapid Defense Package) is a sub-compact 9mm pistol that takes a double stack 11 or 13-round magazine. They equipped it with a self indexing compensator, a single slot accessory rail, and a miniaturized red dot sight.
Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP Features
The Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP is has a very small footprint. It may be a bit on the large size for true pocket carry, but not unlike the Glock 43, it can disappear in the waistband with the right holster.
2 Loaded with features
The first things most people notice about the Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP is the factory supplied red dot sight low mounted into the slide and then the self-indexing 9mm compensator.
It has a single slot accessory rail and there is a threaded barrel which allows the mounting of suppressors.
Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP – Our Take
If there is one thing I like about the Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP, it is that they completely loaded it with extra features like the micro sized red dot sight and the self-indexing compensator. Some critics may long for a better sight or wonder why a 9mm pistol has a compensator. The red dot sight is a matter of personal preference. We found nothing wrong with it and it performed flawlessly for us.
The trigger felt much nicer and smoother than the one on the Glock 43. This was really evident when firing both on the same day.
I think the amount of rounds that could fit into this magazine was incredible without widening the grip frame. While the Glock 43 has never left me feeling “outgunned” while working as a CCW piece; this one brings much more peace of mind with the increased capacity.
As for the compensator, no, it is not there to reduce felt recoil. Rather, its place is to control the potential for muzzle flip on such a short pistol. Likewise, the ports do not send flame and sparks into the shooter’s eyes or knock glasses off people’s faces. The thread pitch on the barrel is ½ x 28 and also allows the shooter to mount a silencer or sound suppressor instead.
It made for a quiet host with the Thunder Beast Arms Fly 9. The red dot sight allowed for keeping the same point of aim instead of trying to shoot through the can with subsonic ammo. The Thunder Beast Arms Fly 9 suppressor handled both the supersonic Belom and subsonic Federal Premium ammunition well.
One thing I did not like about the Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP was the placement of the accessory rail on the frame. I could not get a decent weapon light to fit to it securely. While I did manage to attach an OLight to it, it had a distinct incorrect downward cant that did not look good. I have heard that there are weapon lights by NightStick and SureFire made specific to the Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP and that they work extremely well, but they were not available for this review.
Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP Pros and Cons
- Size – The Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP is sized right. It is about as compact as the Glock 43 with a few extras, particularly with regard to magazine capacity.
- Trigger – Springfield’s trigger on the Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP is much smoother and lighter than the Glock 43’s.
- Extra Features – I was surprised that Springfield Armory did not include a drawing of a kitchen sink on the box for this one. Springfield Armory’s Hellcat RDP is loaded with an optic , comp and even an accessory rail.
- Accessory Rail – Really, the only thing I can take issue with on the Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP is the rail. It should have been thought out a little better. Perhaps that’s one of the prices you pay when making a pistol this small with all the other features.
Glock 43 vs Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP- My Pick
The Hellcat RDP had extra features that allowed it to beat out the Glock. Those features do come with an increased cost, but the cost to add those to the Glock 43 would most likely surpass the cost of the Hellcat RDP with its included features.
Upgrades and Accessories for the SA Hellcat RDP
DeSantis Slim-TUK SPRI
|Buy on Amazon|
|Buy on Amazon|
|Buy on Amazon|
Important Links and Videos
- G43 by Glock
- Glock 43 Owners Manual and PM Instructions
- Hellcat RDP by Springfield Armory
- Smith and Wesson M&P FPC Owners Manual
And here are two field strip and assembly videos for each handgun. The Glock is pretty standard, but the compensator on the Hellcat RDP does require and extra step.
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