Now that both the hype and the swift criticism of the Springfield Hellcat has died down, it's time to ask: should you make the Hellcat your everyday carry?
In today's firearms market, the micro-compact category features a total of two guns: the Sig Sauer P365 and Springfield Hellcat. Micro Compact seems to be the term being used for weapons that are nearly pocket-sized yet magically find a way to pack ten or more rounds into their small package.
While Sig was first out the gate with P365, Springfield Armory wasn't too far behind with the Hellcat. The Hellcat’s claim to fame is that it beats the wildly popular P365 in capacity by hitting the market with a handgun featuring an 11 round flush-fitting magazine and a slightly-extended 13 round magazine.
We know how many of you are obsessed with the P365, rightfully so, and are thrilled to give those of you who are still Hellcat curious a full breakdown of Springfield's mighty micro to answer the question: Is the Hellcat EDC worthy?!
Let's do this!
Ready to be carried right out of the box, the Hellcat, billed as the highest-capacity micro-compact on the market, comes with night sights, an excellent grip texture, two magazines, and a pinky extension for the 11 round magazine. A firearm that doesn't need immediate upgrades is something gun owners appreciate significantly. And with the Hellcat’s price point, it makes it even more desirable.
For a mighty little 9mm featuring highest in-class capacity, Springfield did an amazing job keeping the Hellcat's footprint petite:
Width: 1 inch
Length: 6 inches
Barrel Length: 3 inches
Height: 4 inches/4.5 inches with the extended magazine
Weight: 18.2 ounces
One of the first things I noticed was the grip texture. Springfield calls it the Adaptive Grip Texture, and it’s a pressure-activated texture. The surface is staggered pyramid shapes. The way it works is that the taller pyramids have a flattened top that keeps you from getting rubbed raw when worn IWB or appendix.
On the split side, the shorter pyramids come to a point and give your hand an excellent firm grip on your gun, which is necessary for a smaller 9mm. They can be slightly snappy, and the worst thing to me is having to continually readjust your grip between shots. This grip texture makes it easy to hold throughout the recoil impulse. I actually love it and wonder if Springfield could texture 1911 grips this way.
The slide is also textured with slide serrations on the front and rear of the gun. The rear serrations go over the top of the slide and provide a generous grip on the slide. It’s nice because short slides can be tricky to grip when clearing complicated malfunctions. This allows you to rip the slide open easily in the event of a bulged or ruptured case.
The magazine release is reversible for lefties, generously sized, textured for a positive grip, and sticks out far enough for smooth engagement. The slide release is also more substantial than average for small guns, but it isn’t massive. That being said, my big thumbs make the slide lock of the Hellcat a bit useless. With a thumbs-forward grip, it’s pinned down and fails to lock the slide with the last round.
The frame has a little beavertail that allows you to get a nice high grip on the gun without the slide pinching you over and over. Small guns often give big slide bite, but this isn’t an issue with the Hellcat, and I applaud Springfield for that.
The Hellcat’s sights deserve their own section, as they are exceptionally well done. The U-Dot™ sight system is the combination of a high visibility tritium and luminescent front sight paired with a tactical rack U-notch rear. The front sight is a big old high visibility design for both day and night shooting. The outer ring is a bright yellow circle, and in the center is a tritium lamp for low light shooting.
The rear sight is a U notch with a white U that you use to line up the dot inside the U. This is a quick shooting design that’s very fast to align with a proper presentation. It’s simple, quick, and precise. It’s hard to beat the U-Dot sights on a small gun.
Springfield also offers the Hellcat in an Optical Sight Pistol (OSP™) configuration with a milled slide to accept the smallest, most popular micro red dots on the market. Recommended micro red dots: JP Enterprises JPoint™ and Shield RMSc. I love that if you choose to add one to your firearm, the optics mount directly to the slide for the smallest possible footprint. The U-Dot™ sight system is offered on both the optics-ready and non-optic model.
I’ve never run into any issues myself, but my friend Clay Martin can definitely speak to the reliability of the Hellcat having shot ten thousand rounds through one himself!
Although he experienced four failures to fire, that was it, folks.
Shooting the Hellcat is an exciting experience. The trigger is very nice: flat-faced with an integrated safety blade. It’s a short, slightly stiff pull, appropriate for concealed carry. You know exactly when it’s going to break and can easily maintain excellent control over the trigger itself.
Like any small 9mm handgun, it does have some recoil and muzzle rise, however, the grip texture and the small overhang allowing a high grip definitely provides an increased control factor. It's easy to get a fast grip - nice and tight - and the gun doesn’t shift from your hand. You can tell it really wants to get out, but it can’t and won’t.
When I first started slinging lead, I was hitting a little high to the left and had to learn how to work with the sights. With a minimal amount of adjustment and practice, I had no issues striking targets big and small. Out to 25 yards, I can land a magazine full of rounds into the vital areas in the chest of a man-sized target.
The grip is just short enough to give me issues reloading. My hand will pin in the magazine if I don’t flare my fingers and palm. This makes the extended magazine my favored choice. The grip has cut-outs near the bottom that allows me to grip the magazine and rip it out of the grip if necessary.
I enjoy shooting the Hellcat, but so does my very petite girlfriend, evidenced by the fact that she claimed it for herself and carries it daily. It’s one of the first guns she’s found that’s both comfortable for her to shoot and carry.
After looking at everything on paper combined with my hands-on experience shooting the Hellcat, it's easy to make a pro/con list in an effort to determine whether or not this snappy little micro-compact is EDC worthy.
In my opinion, the Springfield Hellcat is absolutely worthy of being an everyday carry firearm. Compact, class-leading capacity, reliable, easy-to-use, and affordable, the hardest decision you'll have to make is which holster to carry it in!
The Hellcat has already proven to be extremely popular. It’s a reliable and comfortable shooting weapon, but we want to know what you think? Is it EDC worthy? Let us know in the comments below, we want to hear from you!
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. Travis has trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army.
He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and pursues a variety of firearms based hobbies.
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