Springfield Hellion Review [2022] Hands-On Tested!

by Ryan Cleckner

April 11, 2022

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In this Springfield Hellion review, we’re going to put the Croatian-made bullpup rifle to the test and let you know how it performs, what we think about the Hellion rifle, and we’ll summarize its pros and cons and specifications.

Of course, because we’re Gun University, we’re also going to show you the Hellion’s report card and grade, and we’ll even stack it up against other similar bullpup rifles.

Hellion Specs

  • Caliber 5.56x45mm NATO
  • Barrel Length 16”
  • Weight 8 lbs
  • Length 29.75”
  • Rifling Hammer Forged
  • Twist rate 1:7
  • Controls Ambidextrous
  • MSRP $1,999

Hellion Background

The Springfield Armory Hellion, much like their Hellcat pistols, is an imported firearm made by a Croatian manufacturer, HS Produkt. “Hellion” is the American name for the HS Produkt VHS-2 rifle.

HS Produkt has other models of the rifle available, including a VHS-D2 series with longer barrels and “CT” variants of both the standard and “D2” versions that has an integrated optic in the “carry handle” in place of the full length picatinny rail of the Hellion.

The novelty of the Hellion is that it is a bullpup rifle. If it were a standard rifle, it would likely not be as notable nor competitive as it is. This is not to say it isn’t a good rifle (as you’ll see below we think it is), however, it may not be competitive with the myriad other standard AR and AK style rifles.

What is a Bullpup rifle?  A bullpup rifle is a rifle (shoulder-fired firearm with a rifled barrel) which has its action (bolt, ejection port, magazines, etc.) rear of the firing grip and trigger.  This is a feature/benefit to some shooters because it shortens the overall length of the rifle while still having the benefit of a longer barrel.

On AR or AK-style rifles, as examples, the action is forward of the firing grip – this means that the cartridge waiting to be fired sits in a chamber a few inches forward of the trigger. Under U.S. firearms law, a rifle’s barrel must be at least 16 inches long, or it is a special class of highly regulated firearms called NFA Firearms (in this case, it would be a “Short Barreled Rifle” or SBR).

Having a barrel at least 16 inches long for a rifle isn’t just a legal matter, it is also for better performance, as rifle cartridges typically need velocity to perform as intended. And, with a barrel shorter than 16 inches, most rifle cartridges lose velocity and suffer performance because the bullet leaves the barrel before the pressure from the burning gunpowder can get the bullet up to optimal speed.

So, with a bullpup rifle, you can get the legal and performance benefits of a 16-inch barrel but achieve the portability and ease of maneuverability of an AR with a much shorter barrel. In fact, you can add a silencer to a bullpup’s barrel and still be shorter than a 16-inch barreled AR-15. 

Springfield Hellion Features

Hellion Features
1 Bullpup action design

Shorter overall length with the benefits of a “full-length” barrel.

2 Adjustable stock

Fits more shooters and allows for an even more compact package.

3 Fully ambidextrous controls

Very easy to use for both left and right-handed shooters.

4 Forward-mounted charging handle

Easy to charge/operate firearm with support hand and without moving head.

5 AR-style grip

Easy to modify/change to whichever grip you prefer.

6 Adjustable gas setting

Improves function of system for suppressed and normal shooting.

Hellion Review – Our Take

Upon first seeing pictures of the Springfield Hellion, I was a bit confused. It looked a bit “weird” to me. 

Upon handling the Hellion rifle, I started to think, “Hey, this might be pretty cool.”

Upon shooting the Hellion, I have no problem recommending it as a solid bullpup rifle and a serious contender against other bull-pups IF a couple of changes are made.

It sometimes takes me a while to warm up to new things in the industry for certain products. For example, I thought bull-pup rifles were merely a novelty and looked like they belonged in Starship Troopers.

And even when I started to see the merits of the platform, they just seemed too awkward for me to operate, as I’ve spent countless thousands of rounds getting familiar with AR-style rifles.

However, after spending some time with the IWI X95, it has become my new go-to rifle.

So, it is fair to say that I fully accept the bullpup rifle concept, but my thoughts on the Hellion are going to be compared to my thoughts on the X95.

What I liked about the Hellion

SHOOTING/RECOIL: This might sound odd, but the Hellion has a nice “recoil impulse.” I think this is due in part to the gas and operating system being designed well, but also the very low bore axis. The barrel is effectively just above the trigger, vs being a few inches higher in an AR. This allows the recoil to come straight back into your shoulder.

TRIGGER: The trigger on the Hellion is a good trigger for a “battle rifle” and it is perfect for a bullpup. Unfortunately, I don’t think bullpup rifles will ever have as good of triggers as AR’s because of the linkage required to connect the forward trigger to the rearward action. In a way, this trigger is similar to a Glock trigger. It’s not “crisp” but it is easy to shoot and has a positive return and reset.

RELIABILITY: After a few hundred rounds of ammo and NO lubrication, the Hellion performed flawlessly and had a conspicuously clean chamber. It is never something I’ve purposely looked for on a rifle, and it was surprising to look into the ejection port and see such a clean and shiny chamber staring back at me. I assume that this means it’s not only a clean system, but also that the action isn’t opening until most of the gas/pressure is out the front. Great work here, HS Produkt / Springfield, on bringing a well-designed and good functioning rifle to market. 

CHARGING HANDLE: I didn’t think I’d like the Hellion charging handle, but after using it for a while, I think it’s great. It isn’t too hard to get my fingers in to grab the handle, it feels solid, and it is handy being able to easily use it with either hand.

It is non-reciprocating, which is great while you’re shooting it. However, reciprocating charging handles (which are connected to the bolt and move back and forth with the bolt) do have one benefit, wherein they can be used to push the bolt forward if needed. 

However, I still prefer a non-reciprocating handle that doesn’t move while I’m shooting, and I make due with not having that feature. 

The Hellion gives you the best of both because it has a feature that allows you to push a button and connect to the bolt internally. This gives me a non-moving charging handle while I’m shooting, but it allows me to make use of the feature to manually move the bolt forward if needed.

WEIGHT/BALANCE: As I mentioned above, I’m a fan of the IWI X95. When I compare the Hellion to the X95, the Hellion feels more maneuverable and nimble than the X95. Both rifles are listed as the same weight, however, the Hellion feels lighter and easier to move around.

GRIP: By using standard AR-15 style grips, it is not only comfortable, but you can easily change it to whatever you prefer.

What I don’t like about the Hellion

MAGAZINE RELEASE: Although it is super simple and unlikely to fail, the magazine is released by pressing a button on the rear of the mag well. Again, the design is simple and robust, which I like. However, I don’t like having to reach my hand back to release a magazine. It is so much faster and more intuitive for me to release the magazine with my firing hand (Like and AR or the X95).

BOLT RELEASE: The bold release is on the bottom side and rear of the rifle. Therefore, after inserting a fresh magazine when the bolt is locked to the rear, I must move my hand back and slide or pinch the bolt release.

This is a clever method, however, I’ve become spoiled with the X95 bolt release that can be operated while my hand is still on the magazine I just inserted.

SAFETY: The safety works just fine. However, there is an unexplainable angle/design to the safety lever that I don’t understand and don’t like. In a sense, it felt like the safety lever was designed after the fact to make the system work. Although no the same, it is kind of like an HK MP5 safety lever with an angle to make it easier to reach with your thumb.

The problem? I couldn’t tell simply by feeling it if the gun was on fire or safe. It was positive and easy to move, so I could switch it to fire, shoot a few rounds, then switch it back to safe. However, I found myself repeatedly looking at it to ensure it was on safe. 

This would be super easy to design and have a better safety lever. I hope they change this on future models. 

BOLT CATCH: There is no external bolt catch. As far as I’m concerned, a battle rifle should have this. Being able to lock the bolt back is not only a safety concern, it is also crucial when clearing some types of malfunctions. 

Currently, the bolt only locks back on an empty magazine. Therefore, to lock the bolt to the rear, one must remove the magazine and insert their fingers into the mag well to find the little lever and move it up while pulling the bolt back.

CONCLUSION

The Hellion is a bit like a modern bullpup AK, influenced by Glock.

Let me explain.

With no way to hold the bolt to the rear and an awkward safety but with great reliability, it reminds me of an AK.

With the trigger and modern, yet no-frills design, it reminds me of a Glock.

I think the Hellion is a great little rifle and would have no problem recommending it to someone. Sure, it takes some getting used to if you are familiar with AR’s, however, it is a reliable and fun to shoot rifle.

If they improve the safety lever design and give us an external bolt catch, I think this would be the bullpup rifle to beat.

Great work bringing this to market, Springfield!

Hellion Pros and Cons

  • Very reliable
  • Easy to shoot/carry
  • Bullpup design
  • Great charging handle
  • Awkward safety lever
  • No external bolt catch

Report Card

Shootability

The operating system and design make this a pleasure to shoot.

A+
Reliability

Very reliable and clean system.

A+
Ergonomics

Grip, fore-end, charging handle and buttstock make this very ergonomic. Safety lever leaves something to be desired.

A
Accuracy

The rifle was reasonably accurate for what it is… a battle rifle. I achieved barely under 4 moa with bulk ammo.

A
Value

With the same MSRP as the X95 and premium AR-15s, I think it is priced too high. If it were less expensive, it would be much more competitive in my book. It is a great rifle, just not a great “value.”

B
Hellion Final Grade

Our Grade

A

Reviewed by Ryan Cleckner

Reader’s Grade

A-

Based on 9 Reviews

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Springfield Hellion Ammo

Duty Rounds

Frontier 75gr BTHP

Marketplace
Cost Per Round
Gritr Sports $1.00
Natchez Shooters Supplies $0.89

Range Ammo

Federal American Eagle 55gr FMJ

Federal American Eagle 55gr FMJ

Marketplace
Cost Per Round
Primary Arms $0.75
Natchez Shooters Supplies $0.85

Springfield Hellion Starter Pack

If you’ve decided to pick up the Hellion, or found another firearm that suits your needs, there are some bare essentials you’ll need in order to maximize its potential, and your safety, regardless if it’s your first firearm.

  • Gun Cleaning Kit: Otis All Caliber Elite Range Box on Amazon, or build your own personalized cleaning kit with premium components.
  • Shooting Glasses: All it takes is one piece of rogue hot brass, and you’ll learn the importance of shooting glasses. But not all glasses are built the same. See our recommendations for the Best Shooting Glasses.
  • Hearing Protection: Firing a gun without wearing proper ear pro can be very dangerous and detrimental to your hearing. Find out the best hearing protection for you in our full length review.
  • Storage: Check out our article on the Best Biometric Gun Safes
  • Targets – If you’re wanting a great resource for shooting practice or zeroing your optics on your optics rifle or pistol, download our FREE Sighting in Targets below.

Upgrades and Accessories

Hellion Accessories

Aimpoint CompM5b
  • Ballistic compensation
  • Interchangeable turrets
  • Compatible with the Aimpoint 3X & 6XMag-1 magnifiers
Check Price
Surefire M600U Scout Light
  • Virtually indestructible ultra-high-output LED
  • Battle proven, light-weight
  • Highly maneuverable
Check Price
Viking Tactics VTAC Padded Sling
  • Quick and easy adjustment from any position
  • Wide shoulder strap
  • Made with closed cell foam and resin treated nylon.
Check Amazon
Decibullz Custom Molded Earplugs
  • Great In-Ear option
  • Custom molded – super easy and comfortable
  • NRR: 31
Check Amazon

Springfield Hellion

We’ve got a fantastic video below on accessing the gas system in the Hellion.

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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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