Handguns

Springfield Hellcat Pro 9mm — Bigger and Better!

Springfield Hellcat resting on a paper silhouette target

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.

Springfield Hellcat Pro 9mm pistol right profile
The test gun never failed to feed, chamber, fire, or eject.

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.

Springfield Armory Hellcat Pro 9mm handgun right quartering to profile
With a slightly lengthened slide and taller grip, the new Hellcat Pro is a tractable and fast-handling pistol.

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.

Two stainless-steel Springfield Hellcat Pro 9mm magazines
Springfield-designed reliable 15-round magazines for the Hellcat Pro 9mm.

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.

Silhouette target with 25 bullet holes including three in the 9 ring
When the author sped up, he pulled a couple of shots. Firing as fast as he could recover the front sight after recoil at 10 yards, the pistol provided good accuracy.

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.

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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
Frame: Polymer
Slide: Steel
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.

Open box with several loose rounds of Federal Syntech ammunition
Federal Syntech is among the author’s most used range loads.

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.

Are you a Hellcat fan? How does the Hellcat Pro rank alongside the original Hellcat? Share your answers in the comment section.

  • Falco inside the waistband holster with a Springfield Hellcat Pro pistol inserted
  • Fieldstripped Springfield Hellcat Pro 9mm handgun
  • Springfield Hellcat Pro 9mm pistol right profile
  • Springfield Hellcat resting on a paper silhouette target
  • rear view of the Springfield Hellcat Pro 9mm semi-automatic handgun
  • Silhouette target showing 7 holes in the x and 10 rings
  • Silhouette target with 25 bullet holes including three in the 9 ring
  • Open box with several loose rounds of Federal Syntech ammunition
  • Springfield Hellcat Pro left profile
  • Springfield Armory Hellcat Pro 9mm handgun right quartering to profile
  • Two stainless-steel Springfield Hellcat Pro 9mm magazines

About the Author:

Wilburn Roberts

When Wilburn Roberts was a young peace officer, he adopted his present pen name at the suggestion of his chief, as some of the brass was leery of what he might write. This was also adopted out of respect for families of both victims and criminals. The pen name is the same and the man remains an outspoken proponent of using enough gun for the job.

He has been on the hit list of a well-known hate group, traveled in a dozen countries and written on many subjects, including investigating hate crimes and adopting the patrol carbine. He graduated second in his class with a degree in Police Science. It took him 20 years to work himself from Lieutenant to Sergeant and he calls it as he sees it.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (12)

  1. I find SGT Davis’ dislike for Springfield products, apparently since so many are made in Croatia, a sad example of the prejudices we gun guys have. I would venture to say I probably have more experience with various firearms and manufacturers in the civilian world than he does and Springfield’s products are excellent quality. Having owned and shot them myself is one source of observation, but for 12 years I oversaw 60 shooters a week qualify for the Texas License to Carry. Springfields, especially the XD series, stood out to my fellow instructors and I as above the norm, so much so that we all bought Springfields for our own collection and in most cases wound up carrying them.

  2. I went to the range last week and rented both the Hellcat and the Hellcat Pro. I was shooting them both at 25 feet. My groupings weren’t all that bad for shooting these 2 guns for the first time. The original Hellcat is definitely snappier for all of the obvious reasons. I liked the Pro much better since I have larger hands and liked the extra length grip.

    Unlike Sgt., I like and appreciate Springfield Armory. I own a 5.5-inch XDm which holds 19+1. It is the most accurate and safety-featured pistol I’ve ever owned.

    I plan to purchase the Hellcat Pro.

  3. @WR
    You’re correct, but it still doesn’t change the fact whether it’s the original or the larger version, it’s just not the most fantastical thing on the planet and I wouldn’t buy one. No offense but I don’t care for anything that has the Springfield LLC name. Call it a personal reason.

  4. Folks

    Remember this is the Hellcat Pro, not the original Hellcat.

    The negative comments concerning the original do not apply to the larger Hellcat Pro.

  5. Absolutely, Mr. Campbell…
    I thought it was pretty clear.
    I like my S&W Shield Plus. She doesn’t.
    She likes her Western former USSR built Hellcat.
    It doesn’t fit my hand, it’s too dang square and too Glock like.
    The Sheild is more svelte….
    Not exactly sure what else ya need.

  6. Sgt Davis

    Thanks for reading. Your comment is practically unintelligible. Would you elaborate on your experience with the Hellcat?

  7. I recently purchased a Hellcat Pro. I have the original micro size Hellcat as well as a Sig 365 XL and have to say that the new Pro is my favorite of the 3. I am a tad more accurate with my G19 but it feels like a tank in comparison. I find the trigger ever so slightly better on the Sig, but I just ‘like’ the Pro better. My new favorite carry gun.

  8. Wife has a Hellcat, she bought it when it first came out.
    Her money, her gun, she likes it. It sucks IMO.
    Grip is way too wide and short. Overall it’s too square. Way too Glock like.
    She complains that my Shield Plus grip is too big front to back.
    Yeah, go figure. Granted I’m over 6′ tall and she’s 5′ 5″ but really, the Hellcat is overrated. The “U” sights suck. Overall it’s an over priced, over hyped, unimpressive sidearm.
    Does it go bang each time the trigger is pulled? Sure. I guess it serves its purpose. She likes it, I don’t.

  9. Sorry, but the that is a BS review, commentary, whatever you deemed adequate. That spun funk pistol is terrble.

  10. Really like my Hellcat Pro…it’s everything the author says about it.
    The Hellcat is too small for my hand…the proportions on the Pro are perfect for edc. I like the Liberty Ammo Ultra Lights, really reduces the carry weight.

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