Springfield Armory Hellcat Review [2021]: Is It Worth It?

by Ryan Cleckner

January 1, 2021

17 comments

4.3
(156)

What do we think about the new Springfield Armory Hellcat?

So far, we like it! However, there’s a few things to be aware of. Read on to see our review of the new Hellcat pistol by Springfield Armory.

Hellcat Pistol Review

Here’s what we’re going to cover in this review:

Hellcat SPECS

  • Caliber 9mm
  • Capacity 11+1 or 13+1
  • Sights Tritium Sights, Optics Ready
  • Height 4″ or 4.5″
  • Barrel 3″
  • Twist 1:10
  • Length 6″
  • Weight 18.6 oz

Springfield Armory Hellcat Background

Springfield armory teased us for a while about their new “class-leading product” with a countdown timer over a picture of a city with the words “It’s a jungle out there.”

Most of the speculation online assumed that it was going to be an option for concealed carry because of the urban setting in the photo and the teaser page was hosted at a site and url including the words “fiercely defend.”

Well, it’s officially announced: the new firearm is the Springfield Armory Hellcat. It is a micro 9mm pistol with huge capacity. It holds 11+1 rounds of 9mm with a flush magazine and 13+1 rounds of 9mm with the extended magazine.

Springfield Armory Hellcat Features

1 Standard Size Rail

The Springfield Hellcat uses a standard sized rail so that common accessories can be used.

2 Optics Ready and Wrap-Over Serrations

The Hellcat is available with an optics-ready cut straight from the factory and the rear slide serrations wrap over the top of the pistol.

3 11+1 or 13+1 Capacity

Super high capacity (at least one more round than any other comparably sized pistol).

Springfield Hellcat Review – Our Take

We think that Springfield Armory has a winner here.

The easiest way for us to summarize the new Hellcat is like this: it’s kinda’ like a single-action Glock, with super high capacity, and effectively the same size as a Sig P365.

Here’s our first thoughts:

Super high capacity… great job Springfield Armory! Competition is a great thing. Sig has dominated the CCW market with their P365 and it’s interesting to see the new Hellcat by Springfield Armory as a challenger.

This invites an interesting question: is Glock being left in the dust? Other manufacturers are making aftermarket Glock magazines so that Glock can get near the capacity of these new micro pistols.

They’ve done a few cool things.

First, Springfield Armory introduced the pistol with optics-ready models available. This is a smart move as the future of pistols involves dots of some sort. Whether they be red dots like the Shield RMS or tritium/fiber optic systems like whats on the new Sig p365 SAS.

Second, if you don’t use the optic portion, they’ve carried the slide serrations up and over the top of the slide. We’re not yet sure if this will catch on a holster but we think it is a cool option for better grip!

Other cool features include a unique sight picture, a flat trigger profile, reversible mag release and a standard rail (even on a micro pistol).

Our first hands-on experience with the Hellcat

We took the Hellcat to the range and fired 400 rounds and had zero malfunctions. Obviously, that’s a great start!

The Hellcat is a bit “snappy,” but, honestly, so is any micro pistol we’ve shot. We really have no complaints about the recoil – it was really fun to shoot!

The little pistol is also accurate! I fired 390 shots on steel and decided to shoot one 10-shot group at 10 yards to see what it could do.

I’m not the greatest group shooter so I’ll take this performance any day – especially out of such a small handgun.

Before taking the Hellcat to the range, I took it apart to see what was going on inside. Upon taking the slide apart, I realized that the Springfield Hellcat is easiest described as a single-action Glock. Seriously, just look at that striker and tell me that you don’t see a Glock influence.

That’s right, the slide internals not only look VERY similar to Glock slide internals, they also assembled largely in the same manner. I think this is a great thing – I love it when a design team allows parts to hold each other in place instead of drilling a hole and inserting a roll pin. Also, if the Glock has reliability figured out (they do), why not learn from them?

Even the trigger shoe and some of the trigger springs in the frame look very similar to a Glock setup. Of course, the parts are unique and the operation is different in that the Hellcat is a true single-action instead of having the striker be partially charged on trigger pull like a Glock.

When we picked up our brass after our shooting session, we noticed yet another similarity to a Glock pistol, the primers had the tell-tale Glock shaped rectangle from the striker hole and even had a similar striker mark (with a bit of primer-drag).

What we loved: The Hellcat is a high capacity micro pistol that has proven very reliable. We have no concern recommending this pistol to anyone.

What we didn’t love: The price. Yes, it’s a great pistol, but the MSRP is the same as the Sig P365. See our Sig p365 comparison below to see why we think the Hellcat should be at least $100 less expensive. 

Also, we didn’t love the slide release lever. This is VERY likely just a personal thing but it bears mentioning. When I was shooting the Hellcat like I would normally shoot a pistol, it failed to lock the slide back on an empty magazine EVERY SINGLE TIME. This is because I was inadvertently holding the slide release lever down with my thumb. However, when I shot the pistol with my thumb very far away (not my normal grip) the slide locked back as it should. Therefore, it’s not a function issue with the Hellcat, but rather a bit of a design issue.

Yes, I’m blaming the design for my grip. I had others shoot the pistol as well and it happened to them. I compared it to my p365 and the Hellcat’s slide release lever is much further back on the pistol and it sits just under my thumb’s knuckle making it almost impossible not to touch (especially on such a small pistol). The p365, however, has a slide release lever much further forward and out of the way of my thumb.

I get it – it’s my fault. Springfield Armory made a very easy to access and actuate slide release lever, A byproduct of that choice is that it is very easy to hold down (for me). Also, even the slightest touch causes it to not hold the slide open.

The trigger. According to others, the trigger is better than a Glock trigger. To me, it’s hard to say if it is “better,” but it is certainly crisper/shorter travel than a Glock. But, when you compare it to other single action triggers, it actually feels more like a Glock trigger. I hope this makes sense.

Also the reset, although audible/tactile is a bit far out for my liking (especially for a single action trigger).

Springfield Armory made quite a few claims about the Hellcat 9mm, let’s address them each:

Wrap over slide serrations. Springfield wrapped the rear slide serrations over the top of the slide.

This is AWESOME and I wish more manufacturers would do this! It really made a difference.

I actually wish that they did this for the front serrations, too. 

Special texturing. Springfield Armory claimed that they had a unique texture incorporating flattened triangles so that the grip wasn’t too abrasive with shorter triangles that were engaged with a tighter grip. Their diagram and description seem great! However, in reality, the grip texturing appears to be fairly standard texturing and very similar to the p365. 

U-dot sights and Optics ready configuration. Here’s another kudos to Springfield Armory – these sights are great for a CCW pistol. I didn’t like them out of the box, but once I started shooting the Hellcat, I realized how quick and easy it was to keep the giant yellow/green dot on the target. 

Also, red-dots are clearly the future of pistol sights. It is really cool to see a manufacturer offer an optic ready version straight from the factory when the pistol is released.

Full-sized accessory rail. Even though the Hellcat is a micro pistol, Springfield made it with a full sized accessory rail so that common accessories can be mounted.

This is a great idea!

Also, if you’re doubting my analogy to this being a VERY Glock-like pistol, take a look at the accessory rail – it looks just like a Glock from the single horizontal groove for mounting to the embedded serial number plate (and its orientation).

Our summary:

The Springfield Armory Hellcat is a reliable accurate pistol that would be great as a CCW option and we recommend it without hesitation.

However, it still feels like a gun made in Croatia (because it is) in that it feels like a solid “value” gun that has a LOT going for it. However, when compared to other single action striker-fired firearms, the trigger falls short. This wouldn’t be a problem if the Hellcat wasn’t the same price as these more professional-grade guns.

I really like the Hellcat. I think Springfield knocked this pistol out of the park. I’m just trying to be a critic and give you everything. This gun is MUCH better than any XD I have shot. If you like XDs, you’ll either LOVE the Hellcat because it’s so much nicer, or you’ll hate the Hellcat because you don’t know what a good pistol is.

Springfield Hellcat Pros and Cons

  • Super High Capacity
  • Reliable
  • Accurate
  • A bit pricey
  • The Trigger is nice, but others are better for a single-action

Report Card

Reliability

Very reliable (except for the slide lock back if you hold the pistol like me)

A+
Accuracy

Plenty accurate. I shot a better group than I typically do with a full-sized pistol.

A
Ergonomics

Felt great in my hand. Slide serrations were a big plus.

A
Shooting Experience

The gun is a bit snappy (so are all micro pistols) and the trigger isn’t great. It’s better than many other guns, but not as nice as others.

B
Value

Great gun that I easily recommend. However, with the same price point as an American made gun that is just a bit nicer, it suffers a bit on the value grade.

A-

Our Grade

A-

Reviewed by Ryan Cleckner

Reader’s Grade

A

Based on 9 Reviews

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If you own the Hellcat or are looking to get one, here would be some suggestions I recommend that you get with your gun.  You might already own some of these items, but if you don’t then you should possibly look at grabbing them.

Also, I am giving you some possible options to upgrade your Hellcat 9mm. These suggestions are specific to the Hellcat:

Best Holsters for the Springfield Armory Hellcat

At some point, you will need a holster if you’re getting a CCW or any handgun. Couple things to keep in mind when choosing a holster. The first is, keep it basic you don’t need really anything fancy. Get something comfortable and won’t cause you issues when drawing your firearm. Second, be sure to get one that will fully conceal your firearm. There are many holsters out there that look great but fail on the practical side of why you even need a holster.

EDITORS CHOICE: This is a great holster! I like it for one big reason, it evenly distributes the weight of the gun using the belt and pants. I don’t want a holster that uses only the pants to hold the weight of a firearm. Check Amazon Price

Other Sub-Compact Pistols to Check Out

We know that some of you are still needing more info and more options. The Hellcat is an amazing gun, but there are others in its class that are just as good if not better. So we want to help you by giving you at least one more review to see what else might compare.

#1 Glock 43x

Glock 43x

Sold at Palmetto State ArmorySportsmans GuideBrownells, and Guns.com

A single-stack “slimlined” Glock pistol specifically designed for CCW.

Check Latest Price

  • Shootability A+
  • Reliability A+
  • Accuracy A+
  • Ergonomics A
  • Value A+

Our Grade

A+

Reviewed by Ryan Cleckner

Reader’s Grade

A-

Based on 2 Reviews

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Success Your Grade Has Been
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The Glock 43X is a mixture of the Glock 48 and the Glock 43. Glock was very smart by creating its version of the P365. We didn’t like it has a smaller capacity compared to the P365 but we did love it accuracy! You can see more by READING HERE.

#2 Sig P365

Sig P365

The Sig 365 set a new definition for what a great concealed carry handgun can be – it quickly became the go-to 9mm for many shooters.

Check Latest Price

  • Reliability A+
  • Accuracy A+
  • Customization A
  • Ergonomics A+
  • Value A+

Our Grade

A+

Reviewed by Ryan Cleckner

Reader’s Grade

A

Based on 6 Reviews

Your Grade

Do You Own This Gun? Leave A Review

Success Your Grade Has Been
Added To Our Reader’s Score

This little baby is so capable and versatile, that it is not a tiny version of the gun I’d rather have…. it IS the gun I’d rather have. READ MORE

How to Care Your Springfield Armory Hellcat

The most important thing we can do for our firearm is to keep it clean and maintain it. The Hellcat is a stellar firearm, so it’s important to take care of it and keep it operational. Keeping up with the maintenance will make it last a lifetime!

If you want to start cleaning your gun right away, here is the recommended cleaning kit for the Springfield Hellcat:

Important Links And Manuals For Your Springfield Armory Hellcat

If you want to start cleaning your gun right away, here is the recommended cleaning kit for the Springfield Hellcat:

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About Ryan Cleckner

Ryan is a former special operations sniper (1/75 Ranger) and current firearms attorney, firearms industry executive, university lecturer, and bestselling author of the Long Range Shooting Handbook.

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17 COMMENTS

  1. Croatia, formerly when it was part of Yugoslavia, bordered Austria. Comments like it feels like a Croatian gun is a pretty ugly way to slam the whole new country (1991) which today is still only a short drive from the country Glocks are made in. Make it a Springfield vs Glock story, but not a country vs country. My Glock and my Springfield are both awesome guns no clear winner either way. Springfield has classed itself with Glock and Sig. The review shows it is right up there with and has created a strong top 3 brand.

    1. “However, it still feels like a gun made in Croatia (because it is) in that it feels like a solid “value” gun that has a LOT going for it.”

      Not sure how this is a dig at Croatia. Croatia has been known to produce rock-solid firearms, and that is clearly what the author meant.

      That said, I don’t think I would have phrased it that way.

      I love my XDm 5.25 Comp (which I use in local 3-gun shoots) and I am looking forward to trying out the Hellcat, as I am in the market for a CC piece.

  2. I had no problems with the slide lock on my hellcat. I have very large hands so maybe that’s why? I did have problems with the Kimber micro 9 with my thumb pushing the mag release every time I shot it. The Hellcat works well and is very accurate compared to similar models including the sig.

      1. Thanks Ryan! I carry my hellcat every day and I am preparing to purchase some more personal defense ammo. Couldn’t find on any of the websites whether it was OK with plus P. Thanks for your reply!

    1. Nice review on the Hellcat. I have no trouble with the slide release as it is. However I have short fingers and small hands and is the main reason I love the Hellcat. I’m curious if you guys that had trouble with the slide release have big hands and fingers? I would like to see picture of you guys holding the gun to help verify thumb releasing the slide release? The Hellcat is one hell of a gun. I enjoy using the sticky holster. It fits very comfortable in center of back in pants even when I’m sitting and driving.

  3. I have a Hellcat and am mostly pleased. I have several this that I would mention. I have larger hands and have a problem with the slide lock, no biggie… The trigger is in my opinion very stiff which makes this gun more difficult to shoot than my other Springfield pistols… I like my xd a lot…

  4. Hellcat.. good and bad. The slide release…very hard to activate compared to my other pistols. In closer inspection the Glock 19 has a flat area on ..top.. of the release button where your thumb comes to bare. The Hellcat is just a thin vertical blade so it aggravates your skin. My wife struggles with it, the 19, 17, LC9, M&p, Kimber..is no problem for her.
    Spring tension in the mag is CRAZY strong… this Hellcat is BY FAR the hardest to load..period. We cut 2 curves (if that makes sense) out the of the 13 round mag spring. This helps and still feeds through the last round with no issues. However the slide will NOT lock back on last round.
    If your looking to buy test these 2 points. Most everything else is personal.
    Will use this as a carry rig…something I pray will never be needed.
    This all said…. The Hellcat is a shooter. At 35yrds I dumped the mag as fast as I could on a metal IPSec silhouette. 11 of 13 hits. My LC9 2 of 7.
    Enough said. Hope this is helpful. R

  5. I’ll admit that I’m a bit of a Glock fanboy, but when I was looking to combine the most compact size with maximum round capacity, the Hellcat was often grabbed before going out the door. The Hellcat has been totally reliable.
    One of the main considerations though too needs to be 3rd party support and it’s hard to beat Glock in that department. There’s a reason why people ask ‘does it take Glock mags?’ The light rail is a welcome addition, just make sure you can actually find a holster for the Hellcat/light combination before you buy.

    1. Ron, I own a Hellcat and there was nothing in regards to using p in the manual. I’ve seen reviews saying its p rated so I called Springfield. When I called they said it’s not p rated.
      I’m not the expert so, when in doubt check it out. Maybe something has changed.

  6. The Hellcat is a good gun however I think the Sig 365 is a better pistol. I have both. The Sig is Plus P rated the Hellcat is not. I contacted Springfield on that one. The Sig has a much better trigger. The Hellcat is way better than a Glock trigger but not as good as the Sig. Overall the shooting experience is similar, but the Sig feels better. Both of my pistols are equipped with optics. The Sig 365 ammo shoots well out of both guns. Soft shooting POA, POI was right on out of both. If you want the one extra round go with the Hellcat. Both are good pistols but I’ll take the 365.

  7. Recently purchased a Hellcat, it is snappy but not like the Sig 365, more range time could help with that. The stock tritium front site with the rear U shape is great. I went to the range with my Hellcat and my Sig 320 compact. It was sort of a “apples to oranges” comparison with the 320 being much smoother to operate and easier to keep on target with good groupings even with factory sites. The Hellcat sites are better and I will be getting similar sites for the 320. I also purchased a 15 round mag for the Hellcat. Much easier and comfortable to conceal carry than the 320 which I purchased to be a as my range gun not meant be my EDC. I had been eyeing the Sig 365 for that purpose, but after doing some research and a good recommendation from someone I went with the Springfield.

  8. I own a Sig P365 and Springfield Hellcat. I prefer the Hellcat as I have large hands and I get a better grip on it than the thinner Sig grip. The net result is more grip control gives better accuracy.

  9. My standard EDC is a HK 45c, I bought the hellcat wasp to have a 9mm with threaded barrel for supressor use but once I broke it in it is my new concealed EDC.
    The wasp has a muzzle break that really does keep the nose down allowing quick return to target unlike most subcompact I’ve fired. The built in red dot cowitnessed on the sight picture is absolutely tight and really easy to re aquire target. I feared the red dot was smaller then most but it was perfect fit for the gun. I have shared it with two people and both have ordered their own.

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