Concealed Carry

Review: Springfield Armory Hellcat 9mm

Springfield Hellcat

Springfield’s recent introduction of a high-capacity small-frame 9mm marks a high point in polymer-frame pistols, at least in my opinion.

The 9mm is our most popular caliber, and Springfield pistols are some of the most reliable handguns ever manufactured. Leading up to this test, I have used a number of modern 9mm handguns extensively.

I have a GLOCK 19 I carry sometimes, particularly in the summer months. It isn’t affected by perspiration. A pistol I like even better is the CZ P10 S.

If you go much smaller than the CZ P10 S, pistols become more difficult to shoot well. I haven’t been willing to compromise my standards on accuracy and control.

Springfield recently introduced a subcompact 9mm that will probably replace several handguns I carry for personal defense. I don’t say this lightly.

Springfield Hellcat Features and Specs

The Springfield Hellcat is as easy to use well as some larger guns, more accurate than smaller guns, and holds 14 rounds of 9mm with the extended magazine in place.

That is a good reserve of ammunition. There is an optics-ready version of the Hellcat as well. My example is the standard, fixed-sight model.

The pistol is similar to the Springfield XD-S handguns, and this means proven technology and reliability. The Springfield Hellcat is smaller, however, and features a high-capacity magazine.

The steel slide features standard and forward cocking serrations, and even a set of cocking serrations on top of the slide. The U-notch rear sight is the type that was once called the old man’s sight.

It is easy enough to rapidly acquire this sight, and once lined up, the combination of a U-notch rear sight and the fiber-optic rear sight makes for excellent visibility.

The rear sight may be locked on a gun belt and used to rack the slide. The barrel is three inches long. The Hellcat disassembles easily enough for routine maintenance.

Simply unload the pistol, double-check to be certain the chamber isn’t loaded, lock the slide to the rear, rotate the takedown lever, and then release the slide lock and run the slide off of the frame.

The pistol is well-finished and there are no obvious tool marks. The recoil spring is a big part of the pistol’s recoil-absorbing qualities.

This is a dual-spring setup, the hot number for controlling recoil in very light pistols. As for dimensions, the pistol is only six-inches long and 4.5-inches tall.

Fieldstripped Springfield Hellcat
The pistol fieldstrips easily enough. This isn’t a high maintenance design.

The pistol features a flat trigger with an obligatory bladed lever safety set into the trigger face. The pistol is striker-fired. The trigger isn’t difficult to manage with minimal acclimation.

The magazine release is positive in operation. The tapered magazine makes funneling the magazine in the magazine well fast. This is a small gun with fewer trade-offs than some.

The grip stippling is not overly abrasive, but offers a good balance of adhesion and abrasion. I often carry my Springfield Lightweight Operator 1911 under a pulled out T-shirt.

While it isn’t difficult to conceal with a proper holster, the shredder-type grips are pretty abrasive, sometimes uncomfortable, against my back unless I wear an undergarment.

The Springfield Hellcat doesn’t present this problem. The pistol comes in a cardboard box. Inside is the pistol and a zippered nylon case. Two magazines are suppled, one 11-round flush fit version and a 13-round extended version.

While I can fire the pistol fine with the shorter magazine, the longer magazine gives the shooter more purchase. The pistol features a high beavertail tang that offers excellent hand fit.

The trigger guard is slightly undercut. The result is excellent hand fit. While pistols are supposed to be functional tools, they are more than tools.

They should come with some pride of ownership. The Hellcat 9mm managed pride of ownership with its excellent performance.

Springfield Hellcat and Winchester Ammunition
Winchester Active Duty ammunition is a good training resource.

Shooting the Springfield Hellcat

Firing the Springfield Hellcat is interesting. I learned some things about ammunition performance, handling and super-small 9mm handguns. The pistol isn’t a hard kicker.

Recoil is straight back and muzzle flip is limited. This isn’t like shooting a GLOCK 19, but it is a good shooter at usual combat ranges. I fired at man-sized targets at five, seven and 10 yards in the initial firing stage.

By this point, I had fired the pistol extensively with a wide variety of ammunition without a single failure to feed, chamber, fire or eject. I had good results on the first outing and enjoy better results in fast shooting and accuracy today.

I took the pistol out just this morning as I write this and fired 100 rounds of Winchester’s Active Duty. This is a full-power 115-grain FMJ intended for practice and training.

It is a clean-burning loading that demonstrates good accuracy. It isn’t difficult to get on target quickly. Unlike many small pistols, the grip frame leads the shooter to an accurate first shot.

Control is good and fast follow-up shots are good — not as good as a full-size pistol, but good. Fire, allow the trigger to reset during recoil, and get back on target.

I fired 100 cartridges as quickly as I could refill the magazines, with good results. The magazines are little stiff, but they must be to offer feed reliability with a short slide and high slide velocity.

The pistol handled well and offered good results on the firing line. It wasn’t difficult to get solid X-ring hits, quickly, to 10 yards. If the range is longer, you need to slow down a little to get hits, true with any pistol.

I also fired a smaller number of Winchester’s 115-grain Silvertip with good results. The pistol is reliable and Winchester ammunition is a good match.

I have fired the pistol extensively with a wide range of ammunition. At 15 yards, firing from a braced barricade position, five-shot groups of two to 2.5 inches are possible.

That is plenty accurate for personal defense. You are far from helpless with this pistol at extended combat ranges. I think the Hellcat is going to be a great addition to the personal-defense world.

Shooting Springfield Hellcat
The Springfield Hellcat 9mm is a fast shooting controllable number.

Carrying the Hellcat

I used an inexpensive holster in the beginning, the Galco Stow-N-Go. This holster offers a strong belt clip and good concealment. I like the simplicity and easy on and off feature.

However, once I elected to make the Springfield Hellcat a keeper, I went for something more advanced. The Galco Scout offers a reinforced holstering welt.

The Scout is very well finished and tightly fitted to the handgun. The pistol and holster combination demands some acclimation and a break-in.

In the end, after some effort, you will have a brilliantly fast system. I feel well armed with the Hellcat, and it has less compromise than most any handgun its size.

Springfield Hellcat in Galco Holster
The Galco Stow-N-Go is a good choice for concealed carry, affordable but very well made.

Have you shot the Springfield Hellcat? Tell us what you thought of it in the comments below!

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Comments (27)

  1. Used an extra fine diamond file to polish the trigger mechanism, turned a 6# 20 grit into a glass smooth 4#, about 20 minutes to do this yourself.

  2. I have had my Hellcat for 5 months, Absolutely Love I!!! I’ve put over 500 rounds thru it without any problems. I have a JP Enterprises Jay point RD sights mounted. I have them set Dead on with the front sights…just line the RD up with the target and pull the trigger! Very accurate! This is my first Springfield Armory Handgun and have been very pleased with it. All my other handguns are Berettas. My EDC was my .40 S&W PX4 Storm, now he sits waiting on me to take him to the range…

  3. I have many springfields. The xd the xds in 45 the mid 2 xd etc also have Glock 42 and 43. And many other sub and compacts. The hell cat is the best for me yet! I am a larger guy with big hands and the hell cat gives me a larger handle than my 43 and allows just a better feel. It’s accurate etc only wish it just had a little smoother trigger. I can only hope with use it gets better. Not bad mind you but a little tight for my taste. Great gun also wish it had night sight option.

  4. Very interesting article, specially for me that I’m undecided on a subcompact pistol for EDC (I’m debating in between Glock 26 Gen 5, The Hellcat, and P365). Recently videos and other comments on social media have pointed out the trigger issues with the Hellcat. Do you have any input in regards to that issue?
    Thanks
    Rob

  5. If you have limited hand strength, you may find the Hellcat slide difficult—and in my case, impossible— to lock back.

    I have 10 handguns, including a Sig P365, Glock 48, Dan Wesson V-Bob, Sig P320 Legion, and S&W M&P 9mm Shield. The Shield is the only gun I can no longer lock back.

  6. The Hellcat is my fourth Springfield – LOVE it! Easy to aquire sights, very tight, well built sidearm. Need to put those sights on an XDs slide (.45 please)

  7. I own a HellCat and love it. I have retired carrying M&P .45 Shield for this gun. I like Crossbreed Holsters and I use their Rt Handed Appendix holster in the Cross Draw position on my left side.
    Interesting when Chronograph test I found SigSauer 124gn V-Crown HP Bullets are great velocities Ave. 1093 from that short barrel and their 147gn V-crown right around 900FPS.

    I have chosen to carry the 147gn V-Crown!!!
    Great Concealed Carry Gun:$

  8. I went to the local range to practice with my XDm. I noticed they had some Hellcats on display, so I asked to rent one for familiarization. They let me borrow one, no charge. I set up a couple of round bullseye targets and ran them out to 5 yds. I first shot my XDm. Didn’t impress myself, but gave myself a grouping of about 5 inches as a baseline.

    Next I loaded up the Hellcat. Everything about the gun, including the magazines, felt like a quality Springfield gun. It felt OK with the small magazine but it’s a two finger hold. I shot a few with the short mag, had a flyer but got about a 8 inch pattern. I then tried it with the longer mag, allowing me a full-finger grip and make my group about an inch tighter. Mind, I was a bit out of practice and my dominant eye has cataracts (which are coming out next week) so I wasn’t expecting too much.

    Some of my impressions: the Hellcat is a good-looking gun, especially the silver-colored finish (black also available). It fit my average-sized hand perfectly, had good natural pointing angle when sighting in, and the recoil was surprisingly light. Its dimensions (6x4x1 in.) are small enough, especially for a 9mm handgun, to easily conceal, and it has an enormous capacity — 13 rounds yet it looks like a single-stack pistol. My recommendation is to buy at least one Hellcat, or two if your spouse varries. It’s a fun gun to shoot, you’ll like it.

  9. I just got back from firing my new Hellcat for the first time. Recoil was a bit snappier than I expected, but not bad. My pistol fired around 400 rounds without a single failure at 7yds, 15yds, 25yds, and 45-ish yds. Out to 25 yds, it was easy to keep on target with fairly rapid shooting (6″ steel plate). I felt comfortable shooting at 45 yds and hit over 50% on the 6″steel (I’m no pro shooter). I did not shoot with the short magazine, but I feel like accuracy would suffer without the last finger grip. Luckily, mine came with two end caps for the 11rd mag, one flush, one extended to the same length as the 13rd mag.

  10. After way too many years I finally got my LTC and I’m looking for a EDC. Very nice article with perfect timing. I rented a Hellcat yesterday and spent an hour with it at the range. I really liked it. Did you find the magazine to be a bit loose like I did? Every time I adjusted the grip of my pinky finger the mag shifted ever so slightly and it was a distraction. Something very minor but Like I said, it was a distraction.

  11. I owned the Hellcat (HC) or 4 months now, and have fired roughly 500 round of various ball and defense ammo. I am a retired Army officer and have extensive experience in hand gun use. I have also carried for 18 years. I spent those 18 years looking for the perfect carry. Everything seemed too big, too small, not powerful enough, not comfortable, too expensive, etc. The first time I picked up a HC, it was a Harry Potter moment, just like when he picked up his magic wand and a feeling of euphoria swept through him. It fit my hand perfectly. It felt right (The Sig 365 felt too small in comparison). The HC fits perfectly on my IWB holster. Unlike many previous carries, I forget I have the HC with me. I love the way it fires, and I am able to get back on target quickly. This is an amazing piece and I look forward to years of peaceful, confident carry.

  12. owned the Hellcat (HC) or 4 months now, and have fired roughly 500 round of various ball and defense ammo. I am a retired Army officer and have extensive experience in hand gun use. I have also carried for 18 years. I spent those 18 years looking for the perfect carry. Everything seemed too big, too small, not powerful enough, not comfortable, too expensive, etc. The first time I picked up a HC, it was a Harry Potter moment, just like when he picked up his magic wand and a feeling of euphoria swept through him. It fit my hand perfectly. It felt right (The Sig 365 felt too small in comparison). The HC fits perfectly on my IWB holster. Unlike many previous carries, I forget I have the HC with me. I love the way it fires, and I am able to get back on target quickly. This is an amazing piece and I look forward to years of peaceful, confident carry.

  13. I’ve owned the Hellcat (HC) or 4 months now, and have fired roughly 500 round of various ball and defense ammo. I am a retired Army officer and have extensive experience in hand gun use. I have also carried for 18 years. I spent those 18 years looking for the perfect carry. Everything seemed too big, too small, not powerful enough, not comfortable, too expensive, etc. The first time I picked up a HC, it was a Harry Potter moment, just like when he picked up his magic wand and a feeling of euphoria swept through him. It fit my hand perfectly. It felt right (The Sig 365 felt too small in comparison). The HC fits perfectly on my IWB holster. Unlike many previous carries, I forget I have the HC with me. I love the way it fires, and I am able to get back on target quickly. This is an amazing piece and I look forward to years of peaceful, confident carry.

  14. Love this pistol. Accurate, easy to rack, hold plenty of ammo. The only disappointment is that the back site is not glow in the dark. I cured that with a set of XDM Trijicon HD for 9/40 pistols. It isn’t a perfect fit because the back site sits a little taller than the original but it also sits back about a 1/4 inch farther which I actually like. Aim the pistol about 1 inch below where you want to hit the target at about 7 feet and you are dead on. At 25 yards aim it right at the bottom of the spot you want to hit and it is right on the money. i use a IWB We The People. It is very comfortable and is easily acceptable when needing to draw. It clips on very strong and doesn’t slip off your belt. I like the fact that I can move it to the front when I am in the truck or to my side when I am out and about. I would not hesitate to buy either again. My wife still prefers the Sig P938 I think it kicks a little less because it is a heavier frame. It’s not that much different to me and well worth the extra security having the extra shots.

  15. Tested the Hellcat and Sig’s P365 on the same day using Law Enforcement practice rounds. The Hellcat fit me better Where as the P365 performed just as good. Two great tools for protection. Both surprising and both easy to conceal

  16. I have carried my Hellcat daily since getting it in February and I absolutely love it. To have 14 rounds in the gun and another 11 on standby gives me a comfortable level of confidence. I practice with it about every 3 weeks on average and it shoots very well for me. The recoil is manageable, the grip is ample with either magazine, and target acquisition is excellent and quick with the hi-vis sights. I have had zero failures with it with any ammunition thus far, from FMJ to Personal Defense rounds including reloads. This one is a winner in my book.

  17. I’d love to see a good piece on the pistol’s geometry that shows why it is so innovative. Something comparing it to other ccw firearms. Whats the difference? I have several compact/subcompacts that i carry, what makes this so much better? If anybody has a link to one, pleas post.

  18. I bought this gun in the beginning of June 2020 and fired about 1000 rounds. Magtech,Sellier, Winchester and a local brand with zero failures. It’s easy to carry and easier to clean. It’s pretty accurate considering it’s only a 3” barrel. It’s also a lot of fun. The magazine is stiff so you’ll need a speed loader.

  19. In the Shooting section of the article was this comment was made, “Recoil is straight back and muzzle flip is limited. This isn’t like shooting a GLOCK 19, but it is a good shooter at usual combat ranges.” I think that I know what that means but a little explanation might clarify what was meant.

    E.

  20. I am a 77 year old small framed man. Therefore, I have smallish hands like those of a woman. Would this pistol fit my hand comfortably?

  21. I unfortunately didn’t have the same experience, as when trying to draw and fire, like in a defensive situation, the trigger locked up and I had to release and pull again to fire . Very dangerous….for me. Look on YouTube for others having the same problem.

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