Review: Hellcat Pro
Is The New "Pro" Really An Upgrade?
Is The Hellcat Pro The New King Of Everyday Carry?
With the ever present demand from consumers to create a subcompact / compact sized handgun that holds as much ammo as full sized handguns do, it’s no surprise that Springfield Armory answered the call with their Hellcat Pro. Springfield Armory has been nailing down a large section of the concealed carry market for over two years with their original Hellcat. So with the release of the Hellcat Pro being around SHOT Show 2022, it begs the question, “is the Pro worth it”? In short, yes it is! Let us go into further detail to better explain what makes the Hellcat Pro so great.
The Difference Is In The Details
With the Hellcat being such a success for Springfield Armory, how does the Hellcat Pro compare? Most of the features from the Hellcat have been shared with the Pro version, such as the sights, trigger, grip texture, slide stop/release, magazine release, and slide serrations.
Overall the most impressive feature of the Hellcat Pro is the capacity to size ratio. The original Hellcat comes with one 11 round magazine with a pinky extension and a 13 round magazine. With the entire handgun only being 1 inch thick, Springfield Armory has found a way to jam 15 rounds of 9mm into the Hellcat Pro with its 2 flush fit steel magazines. Besides the increased capacity, the Hellcat Pro comes with almost every feature that one would want out of a modern striker fired concealed carry handgun.
Springfield Armory has done an amazing job to create and market the Hellcat and Hellcat Pro as being defensive concealed carry handguns. Given their features and size, both are considered top choices in their respective category. In my opinion, having the capability to mount a red dot onto a defensive style handgun is crucial. Springfield Armory achieves this with the Hellcat Pro. Springfield even includes offerings of the Hellcat and the Hellcat Pro with their new Hex Wasp red dot. While Springfield calls the optics footprint the Springfield Micro™, the cut out is the standardized RMSc footprint.
One major upgrade the Hellcat Pro has over the original is the accessory rail length. With the original Hellcat you were limited with the size of light you could attach to the accessory rail. With the Hellcat Pro rail being longer, you can mount lights that are more capable like the Streamlight TLR-7A. Turns out the rail on the Hellcat Pro is not 1913 picatinny spec. But the thinner Glock-style keys that come with most weapon lights will work perfectly with the Hellcat Pro. Depending how your light is configured, you may have to switch out the key to make it work. Keep in mind the Hellcat Pro is still a compact and slim handgun, so you may be limited to most of the single celled variety of weapon mounted lights.
Immediately after I pick up the Hellcat Pro it's hard not to notice the grip texture. For stock grip texture this is some of the best. Grippy enough without being too extreme to be worn next to your body. The trigger guard has a nice undercut which allows for a high thumbs forward grip. A small detail I thoroughly enjoy is the textured spots on the side of the frame where your trigger finger will go when not being on the trigger. That’ll help newer shooters with indexing their trigger fingers. Along with the slight finger grooves, this grip leaves nothing to be desired.
A small but awesome feature that the Hellcat and Hellcat Pro both share is the slight flare to the magwell. Unlike other handguns that have built in flared magwells, the Hellcat and Hellcat Pro achieve it by making it internal instead of making the bottom of the magwell flared outward. Having the design of an internally flared magwell is superior because it does not add to any potential printing when carrying the Hellcat Pro concealed.
Looking Down The Sights Of The Hellcat Pro
The trigger of the Hellcat Pro is borderline with being perfect. I say borderline because the trigger in the Hellcat Pro feels to be on the heavier side. The take up to the wall is perfectly smooth and the wall is very pronounced. From what I could find Springfield quotes the Hellcat Pro trigger weight to be around 6lbs. The majority of the weight is felt after you start pressing through the wall of the trigger. Once you're pressing through the wall you have just enough travel rearward of the trigger to be able to back off and release the trigger fully. While the travel is not as long as a double action revolver trigger, you definitely have to focus on not moving your sights during that period of the trigger press.
Thankfully the Hellcat Pro trigger breaks cleanly and with no over travel. The flat faced trigger shape helps with smoothing out the heavier pull. Also the trigger reset gets you right back to the wall of the trigger so you’re ready for your next shot. While the trigger is a bit heavy, it was not a limiting factor when it came to shooting the Hellcat Pro quickly. The trigger of the Hellcat Pro forces you to be very deliberate with how you shoot it, which is a good thing for a concealed carry handgun.
The factory iron sights on the Hellat Pro are awesome for fast acquisition and close up targets. For targets that are small or at distance the front sight post seems to be a bit wide. A trick while using these iron sights on small or far targets is to superimpose the small tritium vial onto the target and hard focus onto that tritium vial. As long as you can do your part with functioning the trigger and not moving your sights, you’ll make the hit. Once I figured out where the trigger breaks and resets, shooting the Hellcat Pro quickly became super easy.
How Does It Hold Up In Real Life?
The best carry setups involve both a reliable handgun and a high quality holster that compliments that handgun. With our recent release of our Total Eclipse 2.0 Modular Holster, you can finally get the perfect holster for your Hellcat Pro.
At the range we took advantage of using the Total Eclipse 2.0’s modularity. While we ran it mainly as an OWB holster there were a couple of occasions where we ran the Total Eclipse 2.0 as a IWB holster. A few drills we ran while at the range revolved around utilizing the Total Eclipse 2.0 Holster and Total Eclipse 2.0 Single Mag Pouch to do 1 reload 1’s with the holster and mag pouch being both IWB and OWB. Needless to say we were all a bit faster at 1 reload 1’s while both the holster and mag pouch were OWB.
"Pro" Ready And Loaded With Features
One odd feature of the Hellcat and Hellcat Pro is the stand off device that is exposed at the end of the guide rod. At first glance I did not know this was a feature but after taking a closer look I noticed the textured portion on the end of the polymer guide rod. A stand off device is meant to be used for when you need to make shots on a target of which you are in physical contact with. The goal for a stand off device is so that your slide doesn’t go out of battery when you're pressing the gun into the target, which normally renders your trigger inoperable. For the most part this feature works as designed, as long as the gun is mostly perpendicular onto the target. Generally if you wanted to have this capability you would normally use a weapon mounted light body to give you similar if not better results.
The Hellcat Pro has most every feature that one could come to expect from a defensive concealed carry style handgun, except for one, being ambidextrous. Springfield Armory like many other companies design handguns to be suitable for the majority of folks, which are undoubtedly right handed. Creating truly ambidextrous handguns is difficult because there are usually small trade offs to accomplish that design specification.
The trade off of having a truly ambidextrous handgun usually involves the mag release button being pushed inadvertently. What I would have liked to have seen Springfield Armory do for the Hellcat Pro is at least put a slide stop/release on both sides of the frame. While the magazine release button is swappable, left-handed shooters will have to adapt in order to run the Hellcat and Hellcat Pro. For many who are left-handed they need only to swap the mag release button and use their trigger finger to function the slide stop/release. With that being said our team is all right handed shooters so the Hellcat Pro not being ambi wasn’t an issue for us.
So Is This Going To Be Your New EDC Handgun?
While the Hellcat and Hellcat Pro have some outstanding features I see the Hellcat Pro as being a more capable all-around handgun. Given its larger size and capacity, it makes sense when considering all the possibilities of what you may need out of a defensive concealed carry handgun. For me, the optics compatibility and the ability to mount a capable light is crucial for any handgun I would trust the safety of myself and loved ones to.
So, is the Hellcat Pro worth an upgrade or closer consideration for your next handgun? Absolutely. It is important that every individual takes into account all the considerations when choosing a handgun that they will carry on their person for any amount of time. For many, the smaller, more concealable nature of the Hellcat may be a better choice. I know for myself, I can easily get away with carrying a larger handgun with the proper holster so why not have the advantages of the Hellcat Pro. At the end of the day, the Hellcat and Hellcat Pro should be anyone’s top considerations when looking for a defensive styled concealed carry handgun.
Ultimately, seek out the opportunity to shoot and train with any handgun of which you may entrust your safety with.
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