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The Springfield Armory Hellcat vs. the Hellcat Pro

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When it comes to the selection of equipment for concealed carry, your context and purpose should drive your gear selection. We are living in a golden age of gear when it comes to firearms, with modern design capabilities, manufacturing and manufacturing techniques yielding smaller, lighter, higher capacity firearms that are reliable and easy to shoot. Springfield Armory’s line of Hellcat handguns are an excellent example of this at work. We, the end users, can compare the Hellcat vs the Hellcat Pro and see how within a single line of guns, Springfield provides a set of options that can fit just about anyone’s context and purpose.

Common Ground Between The Hellcat vs Hellcat Pro

  • Both are polymer-frame handguns that feature Springfield’s Adaptive Grip Texture which is comfortable when worn in the waistband but provides ample purchase when in the hand.
  • Both feature a non-proprietary rail section forward of the trigger guard for the mounting of accessories.
  • The magazine releases are swappable so you can run the gun easily right or left handed.
  • The slides are attractive and practical with front and rear cocking serrations, a melonite coating, tritium U-Dot sights, and a loaded chamber indicator witness hole.
  • At just 1 inch across, there is no difference with the width between the Hellcat vs Hellcat Pro.
  • The melonite-coated barrels are hammer forged for stellar accuracy, reliability, and durability.

The Springfield Armory Hellcat

When it comes to micro 9mm handguns the Hellcat is, well, the cat’s meow. It is the lightest, smallest, highest capacity micro 9mm on the market and it is a proven handgun. I’ve personally run a Hellcat past 20K rounds with no issues. The Hellcat is reliable, durable, and it is a shooter. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a small gun and there is a recoil impulse, but it is entirely manageable.

The height of the Hellcat is a short 4 inches and the overall length comes in at 6 inches. That slide length houses the 3-inch, hammer-forged barrel.

Capacity of the small Hellcat is impressive. It ships with a flush-fit 11-round magazine for those focused on concealment. That 11 rounder also accepts an included base pad with a pinky extension. Also included is a 13-round extended magazine, and Springfield makes an extended magazine with a 15 round capacity. With 11-, 13- and 15-round magazines available for the Hellcat, capacity is essentially a non-issue for this micro 9.

The Hellcat is available in both black and FDE, a standard version, or an optics ready OSP version cut for the Springfield micro footprint which easily accepts a variety of small optics such as the HEX Wasp with use of the factory U-notch sights.

In addition, the Hellcat RDP is an OSP pistol available with a threaded barrel and a self timing compensator.

Hellcat Pro

Shooting a Hellcat Pro

The Hellcat Pro is the newest member of the Hellcat family and, in my opinion, it is a welcome addition.

The Hellcat Pro is a Hellcat that has been eating its broccoli. Think about all those solid, common features–just bigger.

The overall length of the Hellcat Pro is 6.6 inches, just a hair over a half inch longer than the Hellcat. The slide houses a 3.7-inch barrel which increases defensive ammo options. In addition, the longer slide provides a longer sight radius. If you are running an optic this isn’t a huge advantage, but with irons it’s significant.

The overall height of the Pro is 4.8 inches and provides the length needed to hold the included, flush fit, 15-round magazines. Again, the Hellcat family lives up to its reputation with significant capacity at 15+1 rounds total.

Hellcat vs Hellcat Pro: Options Matter

Hellcat vs Hellcat Pro side by sideSpringfield has made a strong showing with the options available in the Hellcat line. With the addition of the Hellcat Pro, there is a Hellcat for just about everyone. I think it’s important to discuss what these options mean for the end user so that you can decide between a Hellcat vs a Hellcat Pro to find the gun that is right for your personal context.

I’m going to start with what the Hellcat line has meant for me.

For years I have been carrying a full size pistol AIWB (appendix in the waistband.) With the addition of the Hellcat Pro, I have decided that when it comes to a Hellcat vs a Hellcat Pro, the Hellcat Pro was going to be my everyday carry handgun. I am now carrying a smaller, lighter, thinner pistol with an optic, at the loss of only 2 rounds. This is the right gun for me. The additional length in the slide was welcome as it spreads the belt pressure over a larger area and helps to keep the grip of the pistol from rotating away from my body. With the proper holster, like my CYA Supply Co AIWB holster, the pistol is easy to carry and simple to conceal.

Is the Hellcat Pro right for you?

I selected the Hellcat pro as my EDC handgun for several reasons. First, capacity is important to me. I carry a reload approximately 50-percent of the time. I should carry one more often, but it doesn’t always happen. I feel relatively comfortable with the Pro’s 15+1 capacity and my experience with Hellcat magazine reliability is extensive as I’ve taken a Hellcat beyond 20k rounds without malfunctions.

Keep in mind that capacity shouldn’t be the only argument for moving to the Hellcat Pro. I’ll touch on that when we talk about the very capable original Hellcat.

More significant than the capacity of the Pro, I appreciate the additional slide length. Not only does it offer additional comfort when carried IWB, it also provides a longer sight radius. This is beneficial if you are running iron sights and allows for greater precision when dealing with distant or smaller targets. More importantly, the 3.7 inch long barrel is going to provide better terminal ballistics with a wide range of defensive ammo.

The final advantage for me is the consistent grip length of the Pro. The pro only accepts the 15 round mags. The grip is the grip. It doesn’t change based on the mag you select and it is solid from top to bottom. When I’m actually shooting (that’s why we carry guns after all) I like the solid feel of the full grip and the ease of changing mags should I need to.

In a nutshell, the Hellcat Pro might be the right carry gun for you if concealment isn’t your biggest concern, you appreciate the longer slide for ballistics and comfort, and you are willing to have a 15 round grip all the time.

Is the Original Hellcat the right carry gun for you?

Shooting a Hellcat

The new Hellcat Pro doesn’t even come close to making the original Hellcat obsolete. The key attribute of the standard 3-inch barrel Hellcat is flexibility. If you want to increase the comfort of carrying the smaller Hellcat IWB there is an easy solution. Simply pick up a Hellcat Pro holster. The additional length of the holster will do a nice job of distributing the pressure from your belt.

There isn’t a way to add the 0.7 inches to the Hellcat barrel to give a longer sight radius or better ballistics. If you are running a red dot, the sight radius is irrelevant. Simply shop carefully for defensive ammo designed for 3 inch barrels and you are set.

When it comes to capacity, the Hellcat isn’t handicapped. You have the choice between a flush fit 11-round magazine, an extended 13-round magazine and the big daddy mag with a 15-round capacity. The only downside is having the magazine base pad making up part of your grip. This could complicate reloads slightly depending on your hand size, but it is entirely workable.

The bottom line on the standard Hellcat vs Hellcat Pro is that the Hellcat is for those that need to focus on concealment as a primary concern but want to have the flexibility to add additional capacity when they can dress around it or as a reload.

Conclusion

Springfield Armory has been working hard to fill its handgun line with hard working EDC guns. Both the Hellcat and the Hellcat Pro are well designed, reliable, capable defensive handguns. I currently have both guns and find myself carrying the Pro regularly. Both guns have a niche that they fill well and it’s simply up to you to take a look at a Hellcat vs a Hellcat Pro and decide which is the right Hellcat for you. The best part is that you really can’t make a wrong choice with either Hellcat. Both the Hellcat and Hellcat Pro are quality concealed carry handguns that will serve you well for years to come.

Article by PAUL CARLSON

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