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Review: Springfield Armory Hellcat Pro OSP

The Sweet Spot: Springfield Armory's New Hellcat Pro OSP is Just Right

Life is full of tradeoffs. There’s the old adage: “Do you want it good, fast, or cheap? Pick two.” In other words, you can’t have it all. The same applies when selecting a firearm for concealed carry use. Unless you’re built like a Clegane or dressed for winter, you usually have to settle on some compromise between capability and capacity versus comfort and concealability. On the one hand, a larger, full-size pistol is much easier to shoot well and provides more magazine capacity. On the other, a smaller, thinner pistol is more comfortable to carry and easier to conceal.

Challenging the Concealed Carry Status Quo

For what seems like eons, the Glock 19 has been a top choice for concealed carry, offering an effective compromise of performance, capacity, concealability, and reliability. Four years ago, SIG shook up the marketplace with the P365, ushering in the age of the micro-nine, small-and-thin 9mm pistols with 10 rounds on tap in a flush-fitting magazine. Springfield Armory responded with the Hellcat, one-upping SIG with its 11-round capacity.
Springfield Armory Hellcat Pro
But a small gun is still harder to shoot well than a larger one (see “Making Pocket-Sized Pistols Suck Less” in CONCEALMENT #20). And since then, manufacturers have improved the shootability of their micro-nine platforms by releasing plus-sized versions with longer grips and slides. For example, the popular SIG P365 XL provides an improved 12-round capacity with a flush magazine.

Not to be outdone, Springfield Armory said “hold my Karlovačko” and has now three-upped SIG with the new stretched-out Hellcat Pro OSP, boasting not just one more round but three more rounds — for a total capacity of 15 rounds, just like the stalwart Glock 19.

HELLCAT PRO FEATURES

The Hellcat Pro is a Croatian-made striker-fired 9mm pistol with a polymer frame and steel slide with Melonite finish. The slide is milled for a micro red dot optic, with a 4-lug and 2-screw footprint compatible with sights like the Shield RMSc and Springfield’s own Hex Wasp. Holosun’s 507K red dot won’t fit unless you modify the lugs on the slide. The slide is nicely rounded and beveled with front and rear serrations, along with matching top serrations on the optic cut cover.

Hellcat Pro Sights

The tritium and luminescent front sight is paired with a rear sight featuring a U-shaped notch with a white outline. The compact rear sight has a vertical front edge that you can use to rack the slide with it if needed and is positioned aft of the optic cut (unlike the P365 XL, whose rear sight is removed to install your optic). The sights co-witness with the Shield RMSc installed on our sample gun.

Hellcat Pro with Optics & Lighting

Hellcat Pro Frame, Grip & Size

The Hellcat Pro’s exterior dimensions are essentially identical to the P365 XL, with a 3.7-inch, 1:10-twist barrel that’s hammer forged and Melonited. The polymer frame features a nicely contoured, slim line grip with an undercut trigger guard. Springfield describes the grip texture as a “staggered pyramid” pattern, with tiny pyramids of differing heights. The shorter ones have sharp tips, while the taller ones are flattened on top. As a result, the blunted tall pyramids are comfortable against your body and won’t destroy your clothing, but when your hands clamp down on the grip, the pointy short pyramids dig in. We found it to work well; the Hellcat Pro was noticeably more comfortable on bare skin than a P365, while still providing good grip under recoil. There are two textured pads on either side of the frame just aft of the dust cover, providing nice index points for your trigger finger; they didn’t provide enough leverage to use as gas pedals, though.

Hellcat Pro Grip Texture Detail

That textured grip also contains the killer feature of the Hellcat Pro, a class-leading 15-round flush-fit magazine. Kudos to Springfield for cramming so much capacity into this form factor — 3 rounds more than the similarly-sized P365XL and the same as the much chunkier Glock 19.

Hellcat Pro Accessory Rail

Naturally, the accessory rail is longer than the original Hellcat, accommodating larger weapon lights. SureFire’s compact lights, such as the XC1 shown here, or Streamlight TLR-7 lights are a perfect fit. SureFire’s subcompact XSC was specifically designed for the original Hellcat, but the notch in the Pro’s rail is positioned farther forward. Thus, there’s a gap between the XSC and the Pro’s trigger guard; those with gorilla hands or E.T. fingers may prefer it.
Hellcat Pro with lighting accessories

Disassembly/Reassembly

Field stripping the gun is straightforward. After removing the magazine and ensuring it’s unloaded, lock back the slide. Rotate the disassembly lever upwards; as a safety measure, you can’t do this with a magazine inserted. Hold on to the slide and ride it forward, then — don’t get triggered — press the trigger. Remove the slide from the frame, pull out the recoil assembly, and remove the barrel. Reverse these steps to reassemble your gun.

Hellcat Pro assembly/disassembly

Hellcat Pro: Field Test Assesments

Springfield touts the 3rd generation trigger in the Hellcat Pro, but it was our least-favorite component on the gun. Our sample broke at almost 6.25-pounds; while the break was clean and the reset distinct, there was a lot of gritty creep to get to the break. As trigger snobs, we couldn’t stand it, so we did a bit of quick polishing — the resulting trigger was still heavy with a lot of creep, but it was nice and smooth.
Hellcat Pro live fire

If you take a close look at the Pro’s frame inside the trigger guard, there’s a small nub at the rear of the trigger shoe. The back of the trigger safety dingus contacts the nub on the frame, thus preventing the trigger from moving rearward if you haven’t depressed the dingus. The nub is angled to ensure the trigger safety will disengage when you hit the dingus, no matter how you’ve muscled the rest of the trigger.

Hellcat Pro Trigger & Safety detail

This mitigates a complaint circulating on the Interwebs about the original Hellcat, namely that if you pull back hard on the trigger shoe while taking care not to also press on the safety dingus (which takes some serious effort) and pin the trigger securely while then depressing the dingus, you might not be able to defeat the trigger safety because the back of it may bind on the frame.

We tested for accuracy at 15 yards with a variety of ammo. We usually do well with Winchester Ranger 147-grain, but it grouped the worst in our test gun at 2.4-inches and 980 fps. Sellier & Bellot 115-gr did 2.2-inches and 1,122 fps, while Norma 124-grain FMJ turned in 1.8-inches and 1,012 fps. CCI 115-gr FMJ stepped it up to 1.6-inches and 1,104 fps, and Norma 108-gr MHP did the best at 1.1-inches and 1,181 fps.

Trigger aside, the Hellcat Pro has excellent ergonomics. Its textured grip is secure and long enough for most shooters, and the longer slide reduces the snappiness of its smaller brethren. We ran various drills testing marksmanship, multiple shot strings, transitions, and more. The pistol performed very well and was enjoyable to shoot. Magazine changes and malfunction drills were smooth. Besides those we intentionally induced in our drills, there were no malfunctions or hiccups of any kind throughout our range sessions.

Hellcat Pro Top View

We also passed the Hellcat Pro around to several shooters at the range. One of our testers often carries a P365 XL and much preferred the Hellcat Pro’s grip, both its shape for his large mitts and also the grippy texture. He concluded that he would consider switching to a Hellcat Pro, albeit with an aftermarket trigger. Another who usually carries a Staccato predictably complained about the Hellcat’s trigger, but otherwise very much liked it. We tested shooting with iron sights as well. A novice shooter felt the white outline on the U-shaped rear sight helped him acquire and line up the sights but the rest of us preferred to black it out.

To their credit, Springfield worked with several holster manufacturers to ensure fitments would be available at launch. We tested a Covert IWB holster from Crucial Concealment. It’s quite thin, a perfect match for the skinny Hellcat Pro, and concealed very well in our testing.

Hellcat Pro with Holster & Mag

An integrated bump next to the trigger guard pushes against the inside of your belt and pulls your pistol’s grip toward your body to reduce printing. The belt clip can be adjusted to cant the holster, and there are sweat guards on both sides for left- or right-handed use. There’s no built-in wedge; you can attach some foam with adhesive if desired to further tuck in the grip.

Hellcat Pro Final Thoughts & Specifications: The Goldilocks Zone

In conclusion, Springfield Armory has come up with a Goldilocks pistol in the Hellcat Pro. Not to fat shame Glock, but Springfield has squarely hit the sweet spot long occupied by the Glock 19, in an even slimmer package. The Hellcat Pro is just big enough to shoot well and also slim enough to conceal well. And it brings the same 15-round capacity as the Glock. Add some trigger work and give a Hellcat Pro to Goldilocks — those bears won’t stand a chance.



Springfield Armory Hellcat Pro

Specifications

Make: Springfield Armory
Model: Hellcat Pro OSP
Caliber: 9mm
Barrel Length: 3.7 inches
Overall Length: 6.6 inches
Overall Height: 4.8 inches
Grip Width: 1 inch
Weight Unloaded: 21 ounces
Magazine Capacity: 15+1 rounds
MSRP: $634
URL: springfield-armory.com

Accessories

Shield RMSc $450
Crucial Concealment covert IWB holster $66
Crucial Concealment covert mag $43

Price as tested $1,193

Hellcat Pro: Video Review

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