Review: Springfield's Hellcat Pro

When it comes to concealed carry, sometimes slightly bigger is better.

by posted on March 4, 2022
HC Hellcatpro 01

How small is too small? In the concealed carry market, there is an emphasis on smaller, smaller, smaller. These petite guns are often labeled as “lady guns.” However, at some point all this shrinking yields diminishing returns. You now have a shorter sight radius, a stub of a grip to hold onto and increased recoil. This is something any woman who was handed a compact .38 special revolver on their first trip to the range understands.

While small guns might be comfortable to carry, they might not be as comfortable to shoot. And the smaller the gun, the smaller their ammunition capacity. So, Springfield is offering a compromise—in the form of the Hellcat Pro.

To make the Pro model, Springfield took its original Hellcat and made the barrel and grip frame slightly longer. What are the benefits of a larger Hellcat? A longer barrel will give you a longer sight radius to help with accuracy. The longer grip gives a confidence-inspiring hold and helps you manage recoil. This is the reason that guns like the Glock 19 and Smith & Wesson Shield are always some of the top picks in the Ladies Pistol Project and in surveys like those conducted by The Well Armed Women.

The biggest advantage of the Hellcat Pro is what Springfield tucks inside that grip—a flush-fit 15-round magazine. Traditionally, the way to keep a pistol slim was to go with a magazine that held a single column of cartridges. The first wave of micro-compact handguns, like the Ruger LCP, S&W Shield and Springfield XD-S, utilized this type of magazine. Now, there has been a recent trend of models that are striving for higher capacities like the SIG P365, Hellcat and M&P Shield Plus.

Despite having the ammunition capacity of a larger handgun, the grip circumference of the Hellcat Pro remains minimal by mirroring the square shape of the magazine. It measured 5.25” compared to a Glock 19’s 5.63” or Springfield’s own XD-S, with its 7-round magazine measuring 5.3”.


Springfield's new Hellcat Pro (middle) is sized between a Glock 19 (top) and Springfield's XD-S (bottom).

You can expect to find all of the same features on the Pro as you do on the original Hellcat, such as a reversible magazine release, loaded-chamber indicator and non-proprietary rail for mounting lights or lasers.


A non-proprietary rail allows for a light or laser to be attached, such as this Crimson Trace Rail Master Pro Universal Red Laser Sight and Tactical Light.

Grip texture on a firearm is important in maintaining a good grip position for follow-up shots. The Hellcat Pro has Springfield’s trademark Adaptive Grip Texture, which yields minimal abrasion against clothing when carrying, but when the hand is pressed into the grip a sharper texture ensures the pistol stays firm against your hand. The texturing is present on points of contact on the frame such as the support hand thumb area and resting area for the trigger finger below the slide. The texture might be described as similar to a pumice stone or fine-grit sandpaper.

Being able to clearly see your sights is key to quickly acquiring a good sight picture. The Hellcat Pro has the signature U-dot sights, with the front sight being tritium. The slide comes milled with for the Shield footprint, which doesn’t need adapter plates to fit many popular micro red dots. I tested the Hellcat Pro with a Springfield Hex Wasp (sold separately). The open sights co-witness through the optic giving you the option of quickly using either on target.


The slide comes milled for the “Shield” footprint, which doesn’t need adapter plates to fit many popular micro red-dots. We tested the Hellcat Pro with a Springfield Hex Wasp. The Hex Wasp mirco red-dot co-witnesses with the Hellcat Pro's open sights with the front sight having tritium illumination.

Comfort is an important factor when carrying a pistol concealed. With the Hellcat Pro’s inch-wide grip it tucked away unnoticed in a Crucial Concealment Covert IWB holster. The retention on the polymer holster allowed it to be drawn easily with one belt clip holding it in place. Despite being a brand-new product, holster manufacturers already had models specific to the Hellcat Pro available on its launch day. I also kept a spare magazine close at hand in a Crucial Concealment extra magazine holder clipped to my belt, which results in a total carrying capacity of 30 rounds. After spending some time carrying it, the Hellcat Pro felt similar in size to other micro-compacts; it even felt comfortable carried in a Tactica corset holster.


Crucial Concealment offers holsters and mag pouches for the new Hellcat Pro. Pictured are the Covert IWB model and Covert mag pouch.

I took the Pro out on the range and put it to paper. A disadvantage of a double-column magazine is that it takes more force to load all of those rounds, especially the last ones. However, Springfield provides a magazine loading tool with the Hellcat Pro that makes it easy to get all of those 15 rounds loaded.


Springfield supplies a magazine loader to help with filling the Hellcat Pro's mags to full capacity.

The force in which you have to rack the slide can vary among pistols. The Pro’s slide has front and top serrations to aid in getting a firm grip to manipulate the slide. With an optic in place you can either cup your hand over the optic to reach the rear serrations or use the front serrations.

The Hellcat Pro’s trigger has a little take-up then a stiff pull, but breaks crisply and returns to about half of its initial take-up to reset.

The felt recoil was slightly more than other full-sized pistols, but less than other sub-compacts. The 3.7” barrel and 21 oz. weight (compared to the original Hellcat’s 3” barrel and 18.3 oz. weight) contribute to minimizing recoil. You also get a little additional weight from the extra rounds in the magazine. Reliability was 100 percent with every type of ammunition I tested from target loads to self-defense cartridges.


The grip of the Hellcat Pro is slim despite holding a 15-round magazine.

Five-shot groups measured around an inch firing offhand at 7 yards. Red-dot optics are great for getting a quick sight picture once you have perfected clearly locating the dot upon presenting the pistol to the target. This takes a little practice with a new gun and sight, but after rehearsing my draw and grip, I could get the dot immediately lined up with the target with each draw. From a bench, 25-yard groups stayed between 2” to 3”, due to the imprecision of the aiming point of a red dot at longer ranges (the 3.5 MOA dot of the Hex Wasp sight covers about 1.5” of your target at 25 yards).

The take down steps are simple and involve locking the slide to the rear and manipulating the takedown lever. The owner’s manual gives detailed instructions on the procedure for disassembly.

The initial model of Hellcat Pro offered by Springfield is optics ready, but is not supplied with a red dot sight from the factory. It retails for $634 and comes with two 15-round all-metal magazines.

The Hellcat Pro takes all of the features that made the original Hellcat popular and put them in a slighter larger package that translates into more comfortable and confident shooting. When it comes to concealed carry, sometimes slightly bigger is better.


Crucial Concealment offers holsters and mag pouches for the new Hellcat Pro. Pictured are the Covert IWB model and Covert mag pouch.

 

 

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