Hellcat vs Shield: Shootout at the 9mm Subcompact Corral


Which one is your huckleberry?

It’s high noon in the fast and furious world of “my concealed carry gun is better than your concealed carry gun,” where two rivals — the Springfield Hellcat and Smith & Wesson Shield 2.0, both in 9mm — have emerged that mimic each other so closely that it’s hard to decide which one is “better.” The fact is they are both excellent options. It all boils down to personal preference. If you’re straddling the corral fence, wondering which one is for you, let’s take a gander at their stats to help you sort out the contenders.

Size Matters

In the concealed carry world, it’s all about concealability, which means it’s all about size. Both the Shield and Hellcat measure in at 1 inch wide, a narrow cross-section perfect for hiding under a shirt. What about the grip, the biggest culprit for printing? The Smith & Wesson measures 4.6 inches to the slightly smaller Springfield’s 4 inches. Will that .6 inches matter? Probably not. As for length, the Shield comes in at 6.1 inches while the Hellcat is a bit shorter at just 6 inches, but this is immaterial since the length will be buried inside your pants. (You can get your mind out of the gutter now.)

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But Weight, There’s More…

When carrying, you don’t want your pants to sag, thus revealing that you’re carrying. (“If they know you’re concealing, you’re doing it wrong.”) Fortunately, both the Shield and Hellcat weigh in at a lightweight 20.8 ounces and 17.9 ounces respectively, so you can carry confidently in jeans, pants, shorts, athletic shorts, yoga pants, wearing pretty much anything, assuming you have a good holster. For your athletic endeavors, both guns ride comfortably in a belly band.

Bigger is Better

There was a time in the concealed carry biz when you entered the decision-making processing knowing whatever gun you chose wouldn’t carry a lot of rounds. It was a compromise you had to make: concealability over capacity. Concealable grips were simply too small to hold much ammo – 8 rounds, if you were lucky. That’s still true with the Shield with 8+1 in the primary mag and 7 in the backup, but the engineers at Springfield decided to ignore years of precedent and found a way to pack full-sized capacity into a subcompact with 11+1 in the flush mag and 13+1 in an extended mag. This is more than many larger frame guns carry!

Optic Options

One increasing trend in concealed carry is the micro red dot, that added level of aiming ease typically found only on larger frames. Well, Mr. Subcompact, your day has arrived! But only for the Hellcat out of the box. If you want an optic on the Shield, you have to lay down a few more dollars for the Performance Center version; Shields don’t come in an optic-ready version in the baseline configuration.

Cost-Effective Concealment

Both the Smith & Wesson Shield and Springfield Hellcat are priced similarly, with only a few dollars separating models with similar options. And neither will break the bank.

Don’t forget that no matter which one your choose (or you could get both), you need to carry it in a comfortable, dependable holster.


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David Workman is an avid gun guy and a contributing writer to several major gun publications. In addition to being an NRA-certified RSO, David trains new shooters on basic handgun skills and CCW requirements and is a strong advocate for training as much as you possibly can. “Real life shootouts don’t happen at a box range.”




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