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 – 9mm

MSRP – $569

Available lower at Brownells.com

Reliability: A+
Operation: A
Customization: A+
Accuracy: A
Ergonomics: A
Shooting Experience: B
Value: A-

Final Grade: A

Hellcat Pistol Review

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

 

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 reached out to us and sent us a sample to review.  We’ve taken the new Hellcat pistol for a spin and here’s what we think.

Hellcat Specs

Caliber 9mm
Capacity 11+1 or 13+1
Sights U-Dot Tritium Sights, Optics Ready Model Available
Height 4″ or 4.5″
Barrel 3″
Twist 1:10
Length 6″
Weight 18.3 oz or 18.6 oz
MSRP $569

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 comparibly 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.

Springfield Hellcat Accuracy

 

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 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.

Hellcat Primer MarksWhen 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:

hellcat slideWrap 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.

 

hellcat mag releaseSpecial 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.

Springfield Hellcat Grip Texture

 

springfield hellcat sightsU-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.

springfield hellcat sights

 

hellcat railFull-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

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-

Final Grade: A

Springfield Hellcat vs Sig P365

How does the new Springfield Hellcat measure up against the Sig p365?

The Hellcat is the same width but it is a bit shorter, a bit longer, and a bit heavier than the 365.  Unfortunately, they’re the same price.

If the Hellcat was $100-150 less expensive than the p365, then we could easily recommend getting the Hellcat over the p365 if someone was on a budget.  However, at the same price, the Sig P365 is a better gun in our opinion.

We’ve included a table of their specs for comparison and plenty of pictures of the two guns together below.

 

 

 

Springfield Hellcat vs Sig p365
SpecHellcatP365
Caliber9mm9mm
Capacity (flush)11+110+1
Capacity (extended)13+112+1
Weight18.3 oz18 oz
Height4"4.3"
Length6"5.8"
Width1"1"