The higher-capacity concealed pistol market competition just got thicker with Springfield Armory’s latest upgrade to their Hellcat line, the Hellcat Pro. Rank amateurs need not apply.
Over the past few years, I’ve had the privilege of trying out the entire Hellcat line, along with a few other Springfield pistols, and have had mixed reactions to the offerings. Not all bad, not all good. On balance, I’d have to say more positive than negative, but I’m far from a Springfield super fan. I found the original Hellcat too snappy, with a too-short grip, making the gun hard to manage, hardly a great feeling when your life depends on it.
Then came the RDP, where they upgraded the trigger, threw an optic on the top and a compensator on the nose, which I thought would be gimmicky until I shot it and discovered it did serve more of a purpose than I originally thought. And it automatically handed the user a threaded barrel, the perfect platform to add a suppressor. Kudos to Springfield for that one. But I was still a bit underwhelmed.
However, the Hellcat Pro has renewed my faith in the small gun market and in Springfield’s ability to execute a pistol that is both concealable and easy to shoot, a gun worth serious consideration to replace my current EDC.
Springfield has improved on the slightly annoying features of the Pro’s predecessors to the point where I might even call this gun fun to shoot, a dramatic departure from previous models. And it didn’t take much doing. A few tweaks here and there were all it needed.
Let’s start with the basic features of the Hellcat Pro:
Did you catch the 15-round magazines? In an era where small guns are packing in more rounds than even a few short years ago, it stands to reason Springfield would want to one (or two) up the competition, mainly the Sig P365 and the Shield Plus with their double-digit ammo stacks.
The two 15-round Hellcat Pro magazines are flush fit, made possible by a longer grip than the standard Hellcat or RDP version. This extension is what finally makes the Hellcat fun to shoot and less jumpy. It feels like a full-size gun in the hand. If you have any legacy 15-rounders from your existing Hellcat, take the rubber fit gaskets off, and they will work in the Pro. Smart engineering on Springfield’s part. I wish all gunmakers operated like this.
Speaking of the grip, the Pro carries over the Adaptive Grip Texture found across the entire Hellcat line, a feature worth passing along to future iterations. It works well: not too rough, but rough enough to hold the gun firmly with sweaty palms, a situation you will likely find yourself facing if you ever have to use your gun in self-defense.
Sights are a combo of a tritium/luminescent from and a white-bordered U-notch rear that works exceptionally well together. Both front and rear are easy to pick up out off the draw. Instead of more dots or a box, the U in back makes front and rear alignment a cinch. In addition, the rear sight body is squared off, allowing for an easy belt or boot rack on reloads.
Prefer a red dot? The Hellcat Pro comes with an optic cut slide ready to accept Springfield’s proprietary Hex Wasp dot and just about any small pistol dot typically found on carry guns. My trial version didn’t come with a red dot, but I shot the Wasp on the RDP and found it easy to zero and simple to use. The sights are not tall enough to co-witness, but not everyone likes that, so I doubt it will turn off enough buyers to matter.
The trigger was – not sure how to describe it. Not squishy, but it had a bit more slack than expected. Maybe it’s because I’m accustomed to aftermarket triggers in my other guns. It’s not a bad trigger, just less professional-grade than I would expect from a gun called “Pro.” Perhaps that’s why I expected better. In the trigger’s defense, however, it was consistent, with a strong audible and tactile reset. So let’s call it average.
Overall, the Hellcat Pro fixes many common complaints about the legacy Hellcat series, namely the gun’s grip length and overall shootability. I never thought I’d be a Springfield fan, but this gun might find its way into my permanent collection.
With an MSRP of $634, the Hellcat Pro is in line with the P365, Shield Plus, and similar guns. So it boils down to personal preference. It’s worth serious consideration.
David Workman is an avid gun guy and a contributing writer to several major gun publications. As an NRA-certified instructor, David trains new shooters on basic handgun skills and CCW requirements and is a strong advocate for training as much as possible. “Real-life shootouts don’t happen at a box range.”
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