I Carry: Springfield Armory Hellcat Pro Pistol in a PHLster Holster
Firearm: Springfield Armory Hellcat Pro (MSRP: $634)
We’ve covered the Hellcat Pro from Springfield Armory previously, and are returning to this pistol as it represents an excellent bridge between compact-size handguns like the Glock G19 and ultra-compact double stacks like the SIG Sauer P365. The Hellcat Pro offers a full, three-finger grip in a frame that accommodates a flush-fit 15-round magazine, a 3.7-inch barrel, 6.6-inch overall length and 21-ounce weight. It’s really a Goldilocks size—just right.
Add to this some of the excellent engineering choices Springfield has made for the Hellcat Pro, like the upgraded bladed-safety trigger, night sights, aggressive grip texture and nested, dual recoil springs to help reduce recoil. All this results in a pistol that’s easier to shoot than tiny guns and easier to conceal than larger guns. Of course, features we’ve come to expect are also present, like the optics cut for the popular RMSc footprint and accessory rail on the dustcover for lights and/or other accessories.
While the Pro is larger than the Hellcat and other pistols in that market segment, it’s only barely so. A mere .8 inch longer and 3.2 ounces heavier than the diminutive P365, the Pro feels pretty much identical to smaller handguns when carried on the belt. With an optic added, pretty much all pistols in this size class are going to be carried inside the waistband in some manner, negating the longer barrel and overall length of the Pro as well as the negligible increase in weight.
I’ve carried both the Hellcat and Hellcat Pro, in the same model holster, and find the two completely indistinguishable in the same carry position. With less than an inch difference in overall length, most of that in the longer barrel and slide that’s below the belt line anyways, even appendix carry isn’t any different. As for the frame height, the original Hellcat does have a flush-fit magazine to make it slightly smaller, but much harder to control as the strong hand can’t get all three fingers on the grip. Change to the extended magazine or even the larger floorplate and the size difference between the Hellcat and Hellcat Pro becomes negligible. Again, it’s about choices, and the Hellcat Pro is an excellent choice for many reasons.
Holster: PHLster Skeleton (MSRP: $58.74)
It’s no secret we’re fans of PHLster holsters. Rugged, durable and comfortable, the various holsters in the PHLster line offer excellent retention, concealment and value. When we heard the company was producing a Skeleton model for the Hellcat Pro, it was a natural match to put the two together. The Skeleton comes with a Modwing attachment to assist in concealment for appendix carry as well as Griphook polymer belt clips for 1.5-inch belts.
In addition to traditional inside-the-waistband and appendix carry methods, the Skeleton has been designed to work with PHLster’s deep-concealment Enigma system. It is also completely ambidextrous, as all that’s needed to swap from right- to left-hand carry is to reverse the belt clip attachment point. As a final touch, in addition to being cut to accommodate an optic, the Skeleton is also designed to work with suppressor-height sights. All this for less than $60!
Optic: Bushnell RXU-200 (MSRP: $199.99)
New for 2022 from Bushnell is the RXU-200, a micro-red-dot sight intended for today’s popular micro-9 mm double-stack pistols like the Springfield Armory Hellcat and Hellcat Pro. Designed to fit the popular RMSc footprint so common on these pistols, the RXU-200 offers a 6-MOA red-dot in a 7075-T6 aluminum housing with a glass lens coated in Bushnell’s proprietary EXO barrier coating to reduce dust and water accumulation. The RXU-200 is designed with a shorter overall height to better suit micro pistols, with a viewing window slightly shorter than those on traditional micro red-dot sights. The viewing window dimension on the RXU-200 is 11X21 mm, compared to larger MRDS that are anywhere from 15 to 20 mm tall.
Despite its entry-level price, the RXU-200 is packed full of features. First, it has an auto-on feature with automatic brightness detection to save battery life. Bushnell claims 50,000 hours of battery life on a single, easily obtained CR2032 battery. I had the chance to run the RXU-200 at a writer’s event earlier this year, and found the dot to be no more difficult to acquire than other, taller sights on micro-9 mm pistols. As long as the presentation is good, the dot is immediately in the field of view. Of course, there’s nothing like professional instruction if you’re having trouble finding the dot or are afraid that might be the case.