Some pistols are a little too big, others are a little too small. Most of the popular service guns began with a full-size variant. Later, compact versions were offered. The SIG P220 became the P228 and later the P229, Glock 17 to Glock 19, CZ 75 to CZ 75 compact, and then the P-01.
There is also a trend to increase the size of the pistol making it easier to use and fire accurately. The SIG P365XL is one example. Springfield introduced the subcompact Hellcat 9mm a few years ago. The Hellcat is an uncommon blend of dimensions that are ideal for concealed carry, good reliability, and good practical accuracy.
Hellcat Pro Features
While the Hellcat 9mm is a great concealed carry gun, it isn’t for everyone. Some of us like a larger handle, longer sight radius, and a little more weight to absorb recoil. A larger handle and size make for a more efficient presentation from concealed carry.
If the Hellcat 9mm is perfect for your needs, you may not need another handgun. However, some of us find the new Hellcat Pro better suited to our needs. Many of us will own both, of course. A Hellcat for concealed carry and the Hellcat Pro for home defense would certainly be a good combination.
The Hellcat is a striker-fired polymer-framed handgun. Springfield also offers the XD polymer-framed striker-fired pistols. They are good guns but larger than the Hellcat. Most 9mm pistols are wider than the Hellcat. The Hellcat is downright svelte in comparison to the XD or the Glock.
The Hellcat Pro is a nicely proportioned handgun that seems well suited to personal defense. The Hellcat Pro would serve well for concealed carry and makes an outstanding home defense handgun. The Hellcat Pro uses the proven Hellcat lockwork and design, but the barrel and slide are 0.6-inch longer.
The pistol is 0.8-inch taller. And that’s the sum of the difference. The original pistol was a very big deal when introduced. While we now have the Shield Plus and Taurus micro high-capacity guns, the Hellcat was first with the most with an 11-round magazine.
The grip is comfortable and while wider than a slim line 9mm with a single-column magazine, not by much. The Hellcat has become a popular handgun and one with an excellent reputation. It does what it was intended to do.
The Hellcat Pro has grown a 15-round magazine. This is serious capacity for a pistol that is in the ‘compact’ frame size. The longer barrel and sight radius make practical accuracy easier to come by. The extra barrel length may also exhibit slightly more velocity, but I would not count on more than 20-30 fps depending on the load.
The sights are the same as a standard Hellcat. These sights are ideal for personal defense. The rear sight features a white outline U notch. This design has been called the old man’s sight. For those with limited visual acuity, it is ideal.
The bright front sight features a yellow ring around a tritium (night sight) insert. If there is a better combination for fast accurate shooting at typical engagement ranges, I am not aware of it. The system is also useful for firing at ranges of 25 yards or more. In dim light, self-luminous iron sights are a great choice.
Handgun geometry is a subtle thing. Sometimes a compact pistol cramps the hands. Other times, the curve of a compact fits most hands better. The Hellcat Pro grip fits my average-size hand well.
The original Hellcat has good ergonomics for the size, the Hellcat Pro fits my hand even better. I can’t tell you the Hellcat twisted in my hand. Recoil was not painful. It wasn’t as easy to use well as larger guns, but the Hellcat is a very good shooting handgun for the size.
At the Range
The Hellcat Pro is simply easier to use well. No surprises there. I have been able to fire the CZ P-01 more accurately than the full-size CZ — as an example of a smaller handgun shooting well — and in this case, the larger gun is the better shooter. No surprise, just logic.
Absolute accuracy is slightly better firing from a solid benchrest. Practical offhand accuracy in combat firing is improved by a greater degree. Combat firing is helped by an ideal grip treatment. The grip isn’t spot serrated or checkered but completely covered in a good balance of adhesion and abrasion.
Among the advantages of the pistol that make the Hellcat Pro a good shooter is the relatively smooth trigger. The action breaks at 5.5 pounds clean. Reset is sharp. A sharp reset is more important than a smooth trigger in rapid fire accuracy and follow-up shots.
The sights are one part of the equation, and the trigger action is perhaps more important. During the firing test, most of the ammunition I expended was Federal American Eagle. While affordable, this ammunition is often match-grade accurate.
The powder burn is clean. I also used Federal Syntech in accuracy testing. Each gave good results. The pistol never failed to feed, chamber, fire, or eject — no surprises there.
Springfield Hellcat Pro Specs
Barrel length: 3.7 inches
Magazine capacity: 15 rounds, 9mm
Weight: 21 ounces
Length: 6.6 inches
Height: 4.8 inches
After the initial evaluation and a few range trips, I test-fired the pistol with likely defense loads. I appreciate the clean burn of the Federal HST. With a full powder burn — even in the Hellcat Pro’s short barrel — the 124-grain HST exhibits little muzzle flash.
I also tested the Speer 124-grain Gold Dot. The Gold Dot is a proven loading that offers good ballistic performance. I fired several five-shot groups at 15 yards with each loading. It wasn’t difficult to put five shots into a 2.0-inch group from a solid firing rest.
The Hellcat Pro is more than accurate enough for personal defense. Another advantage I discovered, the pistol may be butted against a barricade, and it will not run out of battery. I find the Springfield Hellcat Pro more than simply interesting. It is a big step forward for Springfield.