[Review] Springfield Hellcat: Homerun CCW?

Have you noticed something changing about concealed carry guns? 

They seem to be getting bigger…and holding more rounds.

Let’s call it the P365 effect

One of the brands taking note of this shift in the market is Springfield with their new Hellcat that holds 11 round and can be had optics ready right from the factory.

Springfield Hellcat and magazine
Springfield Hellcat with flush-fit and extended magazines

I got my hands on one shortly after their release and put it through testing.

500
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

How it runs, if it’s worth it, drills to run, and more are coming up!

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The P365 Effect

Is this a term yet?

Well, it will be soon.

Sig’s little 9mm has made a big splash in the market, and it changed what concealed carry looks like. Check out our full review here.

The P365 proved you could take a tiny gun, and cram ten rounds into it and have it take up the same space as a single stack 9mm. 

Sig P365
Sig Sauer P365, a real game changer

We got the Glock 48 and 43X, which offer ten rounds in a slightly bigger platform, and SIG released the bigger P365 XL model.

However, there hasn’t been any real competition for the P365, well, until September 25th 2019 when Springfield premiered the Hellcat. 

I got ahold of mine a few days later, sent from Springfield, and have been hitting the range with it every chance I have.

Springfield Hellcat side view
Springfield Hellcat

The excitement of having a new gun always brings me to the range, but Springfield has proven to be a pleasant gun to shoot, and it keeps me coming back. 

Springfield also sent a Crossbreed Reckoning holster, which has been invaluable for testing and running drills.

We love Crossbreed holsters in our Best CCW Holsters article.

55
at Crossbreed

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

I’ve been busy with all sorts of fun stuff with the new Hellcat, and it’s proven to be an enjoyable gun. 

Breaking Down the Hellcat

The Hellcat is a mini XD essentially, but it does have a number of changes. It is a micro-compact gun, a new genre that seems to indicate the gun is small and holds at least ten rounds.

500
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The SIG P365 shoved ten rounds in a tiny magazine, but Springfield turned it up to 11. 

Goes to 11

The Hellcat’s flush magazine holds 11 9mm rounds, and the extended magazine holds 13.

The flush-fitting magazine also comes with an optional pinky extension, and my flush fit mag now wears the pinky extension. 

Springfield Hellcat magazines
Springfield Hellcat magazines

The Hellcat is a tiny and narrow gun.

Impressively small to be sure. 

It has a 3-inch long barrel and is 6 inches long overall. It’s 4 inches tall with the flush mag and 4.5 inches tall with the extended magazine. The grip width is 1 inch, and the slide seems slightly wider. 

The gun weighs 17.9 ounces with the 11 round magazine and 18.3 ounces with the extended mag. 

The gun comes in the optics ready OSP model and the standard model. The Hellcat has a hammer-forged barrel with a standard 1:10 twist rate. The finish is Melonite, and while it’s not fancy, it’s practical and robust. 

The Hellcat even has a Picatinny rail that would allow for secure attachment of accessories.

Springfield Hellcat rail
Springfield Hellcat rail

Small stuff like the Olight Mini Valkyrie 2, Streamlight TLR-7, or the Viridian C5L series will fit perfectly on the gun.

102
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Now we need a light compatible holster, and we’ll be good to go…

The sights are tritium and are outstanding.

The front sight is where all the action is. It has a tritium vial surrounded by a yellow luminescent polymer. 

Springfield Hellcat sights
Springfield Hellcat front sight

The rear sight has a bright white half-circle around the U dot sight. It’s all effortless to see and very well made. The rear sight is squared off, and you can use it for one-hand manipulations. 

The Hellcat does get rid of the grip safety that’s common on the XD series.

I welcome this change and don’t see a need for another thing to break or mess up. Insert this is my safety sir meme. 

This is my safety

Springfield Armory equipped the gun with a new texture they are calling the Adaptive Grip texture.

They sell it as a texture that feels soft when touched softly and feels rougher when gripped harder.

That’s the best way I can translate the marketing talk. 

It works too. Seriously against the skin, the texture doesn’t rub you raw. You don’t feel how grippy the texture is until you squeeze down on it.

Then things get a little rough. 

Springfield Hellcat side rear
Springfield Hellcat “Adaptive Grip texture”

Ergonomics and Controls

Ergonomically the gun is quite simple.

It lacks any manual safeties and has a takedown lever and slide lock on the side. The trigger sports a small safety device similar to other XD models. 

The grip is mostly straight and has a pretty standard grip angle — more American than European, and it’s 1911ish so very comfortable and natural feeling.

Springfield Hellcat side
Springfield Hellcat side

As I mentioned, the texturing is aggressive but comfortable. 

It also goes all the way up the grip, and I do like that a lot. The same texture graces the pinky extension and extended magazine. There is also a spot of texture where your trigger finger lies when it’s straight and off the trigger. 

The beavertail and trigger guard undercut both allow for a high and comfortable grip that will enable you to control the gun well.

Springfield Hellcat controls
Flat trigger, nice controls, awesome grip!

Also, it’s one of the few small weapons that doesn’t bite my hand all to hell. That’s the curse of having big hands. 

The sides of the grip are scalloped to allow for your thumb to sit alongside the grip without getting in the way. The magazine release is well placed it takes just a short jump of the thumb to activate it. 

The magazine release is something else. I love that I barely have to move my hand to activate it.

The mags do drop free mechanically. However, my palm usually presses the mag against the grip, meaning it won’t drop free. 

Springfield Hellcat Fat hands blocking magazine from dropping free
Springfield Hellcat Fat hands blocking magazine from dropping free

I have to open my hand kind of wide to get it out of the way for the magazine to drop free. The grip itself fills my hand well and is super comfortable.

The flush-fitting magazine is a bit short for my hands, and after shooting with it, I attached the pinky extension. 

That made a big difference in how the gun handled for me and was much easier to shoot with a slightly longer grip. The pinky extension is the perfect fit. 

Moving up to the slide, I am a big fan of the serrations. They are deep and aggressive, and the rear serrations also go over the top of the slide. 

Springfield Hellcat top
Serrations on the Hellcat are deep, aggressive, and all over the slide

On a small slide, the top serrations make it easy to reload with and to rack. They dig into your hands and allow you to get a great grip even when you are moving fast.

Accuracy On the Range 

At first, I was hitting low and left, classic signs of a flinch. I’ve been ignoring handguns for a little bit and focusing a lot on rifles and shotguns.

After my first 50 rounds, I took some time to dry fire and practice my trigger pull a bit. 

Trigger Reset Dry Fire
Always practice your dry fire skills!

Even with my flinch, the gun was consistently highly accurate. I shot a round of Dot Torture at seven yards, and while my flinch wasn’t helping the test, the weapon grouped brilliantly. 

For example, take a peek at number 9. This portion of the drill required me to draw and then shoot, reload, and shoot number 10.

That three-round group was fired rapidly and shows how consistent the gun is. 

Springfield Hellcat group
Springfield Hellcat group, nice!

The sights and trigger are fantastic. The trigger is flat-faced, and the pull is short with a solid wall. It’s a very comfortable trigger that lacks any grit of sponginess to it.

The flat-faced trigger design is comfortable, too, without any bite from the safety blade. 

The U Dot sights are quick and eye-catching. They are also easy to focus on, and that makes getting and keeping front sight focus quite easy.

Springfield Hellcat rear sight
Springfield Hellcat rear sight

Front sight focus leads to consistent shooting, and ultimately a high degree of accuracy. 

From a practical perspective, I backed off to 25 yards and landed headshots into an FBI Q target, and it was hardly a challenge, to be honest.

24
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Not to brag, but the gun does most of the work. 

Recoil and Handling? 

Recoil is very mild and pain-free.

Small guns can slap hard, but the Hellcat is plenty comfortable. It’s a gun you could train hard with and not feel fatigued or pain in your hands.

The gun does have some muzzle rise, but with double taps, I could keep it in the heart and lung zone of a man-sized target. 

It’s a controllable handgun that even a novice shooter will enjoy. A few days and several hundred rounds later, I ran through a few more drills, and a lot focused on speed.

The sight configuration, low recoil, and manageable muzzle rise all combined to create a controllable and accurate gun. 

I’ve gotten in the habit now of running drills during reviews. It allows me to test the gun and allows me to train. With the Hellcat, I did Dot Torture, the iHack, Changing Gears, and the famed El Presidente. 

I shot it four times, and I did fail once. The drill has to be shot in under 10 seconds, and I hit 10.21 in one of the runs. The gun was plenty accurate, and I landed every shot on my free Sage Dynamics torso targets. 

I haven’t run the El Presidente in years but still managed to pass with an 8.67, 9.98, and a 9.78. 

The gun was easy to draw from, and I shot the drill from concealment. I also used the Reckoning IWB holster. The holster and gun provided a good enough fit to allow me to grip the gun and clear leather without a problem. 

Reliability? 

I’ve put 450 rounds of the cheapest ammo I’ve ever seen through this gun.

It’s filthy, it’s steel case, and it’s dry as hell. That ammo is Winchester Forged

29
at Lucky Gunner

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

It was dirt cheap to buy by the 500 round brick, so I grabbed a crate’s worth. It’s rough on guns, and I think that makes it an excellent choice for testing reliability.

The Hellcat ate it up.

Four hundred rounds isn’t a lot of ammo in the long run, but 300 rounds were put through the gun in one morning, and it didn’t even hiccup. 

The gun fired round after round without any lubrication. I live so close to the beach that I’m surrounded by sand, and the gun has gotten a good bit of that.

Dropping magazines on the reload means they get full of sand, as does the weapon eventually. 

I’ve started to feel the grit of the sand in the gun as I began to finish Friday’s range session. I could feel it as I racked the slide and loaded magazines.

Yet the gun ran fine, it needs a bath for sure, but it runs.

If you want some better 9mm suggestions…check out our Best 9mm Ammo for Plinking & Self-Defense.

9mm 147 Federal Hydrashok HST
9mm 147 Federal Hydrashok HST

By The Numbers

Ergonomics 4/5 

Ergonomically the gun is sound in most ways. It’s comfortable to hold, everything is easy to reach, and the weapon is not painful to use. I deducted a point because the slide lock is placed so far rearward my thumbs ensures it won’t do its job. 

Accuracy 4/5  

For a carry gun, it’s superbly accurate. When compared to something like a full-sized 1911, you’ll likely find the 1911 a little easier to shoot. The trigger and sights are great, but the sight radius is shorts and limits what you can do. 

Reliability 5/5 

Not a single issue, even when faced with the crappiest ammo, I could toss at it. The gun runs, even when it’s slowly becoming sandy inside and out. 

Customization 1/5  

It’s a brand new gun, what exactly can we do to it? It has a rail for lights and lasers, so it gets one point anyway. 

Looks 3.5/5  

It’s a small, black striker-fired gun. It’s okay looking, kind of Spartan in design. Not a bad thing as this is the most unimportant category. It’s no Hi-Power, or CZ 75. 

Price 5/5 

It’s priced very competitively for what it is. The OSP’s MSRP is $599 and comes ready for a red dot. The standard model has an MSRP of 569, making it slightly cheaper than it’s current competition. 

Overall 4.5/5 

The Hellcat is an immensely fun gun. It’s easy to handle and shoot. It functions brilliantly, has terrific sights, and disappears under your t-shirt. It’s perfectly sized for all shooters and will likely be a homerun for Springfield Armory. 

Conclusion

The Springfield Hellcat is gunning for the SIG P365, and with a competitive price, a comfortable, yet diminutive frame, and stellar accuracy, it’s a winner. We only wish there were more upgrades available right now for this brand-new gun, but we foresee that changing.

500
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The sights are fantastic, the over the top serrations are an excellent addition, and the removal of the grip safety was a step forward for the XD series. 

Honestly, the XD series was always kind of boring to me, I’m a hammer-fired kind of guy, and the XDs were (mostly) striker-fired ladies. The new Hellcat has gained my attention and pleasantly surprised me. It’s going to give SIG a run for their money. 

Competition is always good, and hopefully, this presses other companies into action to make and form their Micro Compacts. 

What is your top Micro or Sub-Compact? Who do you want to see release the next Micro? We have lots of awesome CCW content, from holsters to new guns – take a look at the Concealed Carry Definitive Guide!

26 Leave a Reply

  • Neil

    Cool gun but, The TLR-7's don't fit. Tried everything from TLR-7,8, Nightstick TCM-550XL, APL C. Closest fit is a TLR-3 and Crimson Trace CMR-202. You can clamp the TLR-7 on (without tab ) but if you put it in a reputable Kydex holster with decent retention the light would pull off and be stuck in the holster forever.

    2 minutes ago
    • Neil

      A Olight PL 2 mini Valkyrie or Viridian C5L might be a good option too.

      1 second ago
  • cervantes

    I just dropped 20% at my local pawn/gun shop, Tomball Pawn & Jewelry. 460 to go and I'll be on the range.. well, yeah.. I guess I'll be drawing from the case, no holster yet..

    3 days ago
    • Hollywood

      Black Rhino makes holsters for them, ordered mine last month, fits great, conceals great

      19 hours ago
  • Christopher

    Very nice shooting tiny,very concealable 9. Accurate! Really difficult to load either mags though. Just purchased today and very pleased even from an old school 45r

    2 weeks ago
  • Gabriel Simmons

    Do a SIG P365XL vs SIG P365 vs Glock 43X vs Glock 19 GEN5 vs Springfield Armory Hellcat vs Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield. It would be a very educational video for people looking it CCW.

    2 weeks ago
  • Dennis Eagleberger

    My 365XL holds 12+1, and it's a Sig. I have owned and traded off the Glock 43, it's just too small and too low capacity. Thought about the 43X, then saw the 365XL, and it's really no contest. As for "Hellcat", well it will be a cold day before I buy from Springfield. Long Live The Second for all. Glock fans, I do love my 17.

    3 weeks ago
    • Jeff

      The path of ignorance is guided by fear.

      1 week ago
  • Dan

    The Hellcat is made in Croatia. No thanks. I’ll stick with my made in America P365.

    3 weeks ago
    • Frank C

      The 365 is full of crappy foreign parts disguised as an american gun. Namely from freaking India where they get all their internals, its printed write on the packaging.

      1 week ago
  • N8

    I’ll stick with my P365 (made in NH). Feels great with 12 rd magazine. Where are the SA Hellcats made?

    3 weeks ago
    • Dan

      Croatia

      3 weeks ago
  • Jaxson50

    I don't have micro hands. That's always the challenge for me with micro pistols, my hands are not exceptional large but I have long fingers. I can't get a proper purchase on the trigger, pushing shots to the left.

    3 weeks ago
  • harryhabrams

    Is there any reason to carry a "full size" pistol if you are a civilian??? An M&P 9c feels big next to a p938 or P365. I can no longer imagine using a fullsize, since i wouldn't use a pistol for hunting, and I don't do competitions.

    3 weeks ago
  • Bigguy

    Not a KelTec fan but 1995 the P11 offered a compact 9 with similar dimensions. So, Sign and Springfield are just catching up.

    4 weeks ago
    • Marcus Aurelius Tarkus

      My SIL nas a KelTec P11. I fired it a couple of years ago and had no complaints. However, I don't recall the mag capacity. I'll have to look again. Meanwhile, I do love my Sig P365.

      4 weeks ago
  • Steve Heintze

    I’d like to see Walther shrink their PPS-M2 into a smaller package.

    4 weeks ago
    • Brad S.

      The PPQ M2?

      4 weeks ago
  • Sean Kendall

    I carry a full sized handgun. I worked hard about ten years ago to get used to, like and carry sub compacts. Manipulating these small weapons is much harder and error prone than a full sized or even the step down to a G19 sized gun. If you have a good CC holster and you set it up so that your belt goes over the gun and presses it into your body it is not hard to be complete concealed. I really like the move to larger CC handguns and I am hoping we'll see 1911 killers from SA and Sig and others. Basically full sized, single stack, thin and reliable, modern firearms. I won't buy any weapon that I can't manipulate quickly and safely under stress.

    4 weeks ago
  • S Jaggard

    I love my XD’s extremely reliable.accurate and tough if these are similar I would trust it in any situation-perfect for any one looking to protect themselves or loved ones-

    4 weeks ago
  • Scott C.

    I’m just here for the SA flames. Anyone got any hotdogs?

    4 weeks ago
  • Dennis Eagleberger

    I refuse to purchase anything from Springfield Armory.

    4 weeks ago
    • Deborah Hendricks

      What's going on with Springfield? I've seen this comment a lot but not sure why.

      4 weeks ago
  • Alan

    Any news on the ria- armscor 10 mm semi auto and the Rowland 460 conversion kit used on 9mm glocks and 45s to move on up to 44 special?

    4 weeks ago
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