Springfield Armory Hellcat Pro Review

The Hellcat Pro from Springfield Armory. More Hellcat = more control.
February 22, 2023  
Categories: Guns

Looking for a concealed carry pistol with exceptional capacity, unfailing reliability, and ergonomics that put its performance at the top of its class? Springfield’s got you covered. There’s a reason why The Hellcat is continually in the top four or five best-selling guns across most of the country. Any honest approach to the Hellcat or Hellcat Pro may change how you think about your current concealed carry pistol.

The Hellcat Pro has no learning curve for anyone who has any trigger time with a Hellcat.

The Hellcat Pro has no learning curve for anyone with any trigger time with a Hellcat.

Hellcat Pro Specs

Caliber 9mm
Barrel 3.7″ Hammer Forged Steel, Melonite® Finish, 1:10
Slide Billet Machined, Melonite® Finish, Optics Ready
Frame Black Polymer w/ Adaptive Grip Texture
Sights Tritium/Luminescent Front, Tactical Rack U-Notch Rear
Recoil System Dual Captive Recoil Spring w/ Full Length Guide Rod
Grip Width 1″
Magazines (2) 15-Round
Weight 21 oz
Length 6.6″ 6.6″
Height 4.8″ 4.8″

A decade of Trigger Time

A bit about my relationship with Springfield. Way back—more than a decade at this point—I was writing gun reviews for Guns.com and trying hard to understand how I could take my passion for armed self-defense and turn it into a career. And I was learning everything I could about gun makers.

Around that time, Springfield launched the XD-S. It changed everything in the concealed carry space. It launched in .45 ACP to prove a point, and we all took notice. I carried one for years.

The grip surface on the Hellcat is the best polymer design Springfield Armory has ever produced.

The grip surface on the Hellcat is the best polymer design Springfield Armory has ever produced.

After moving through many 1911s, M1As, ARs, and the whole of the XD line, I developed a respect for the company. I’ve penned reviews of all of these and written articles for The Armory Life. And now, in my current position with Safariland, I’m working on holster designs for their guns.

I regularly carry a Hellcat. I have since the day of its announcement. Though I own a P365, and actually shoot it better than I do the Hellcat, I still love the way this gun feels. And there’s something to be said for the familiarity that comes from putting rounds down range and the confidence that those skills provide those of us who carry concealed.

Hellcat magazines are solid, stainless, and easy to read. Getting that last round in, though, is a bear.

Hellcat magazines are solid, stainless, and easy to read. Getting that last round in, though, is a bear.

The addition of the Hellcat Pro to the line-up, then, was good news. More grip. More barrel. More mass to mitigate recoil. These are all good things and are especially good for those of us with enough mass to easily conceal a Desert Eagle.

First Impressions

As this is a larger version of the Hellcat, a lot of the ergonomics will be familiar. The texture that differentiated this gun from the XD line is still present. The forward slide serrations—deep enough to hold but not so deep that they’ll tear up holsters—they’re there. The boxy, but contoured grip…. It is recognizable as a Hellcat.

While there’s more mass on the slide and muzzle end, this addition is not enough to tip the balance point. It is larger, but not comically larger. And the additional grip isn’t something I feel at all, as I typically run the extended magazines in my original Hellcat.

The 15 round mags fit flush in the grip.

The 15-round Hellcat mags fit flush in the grip.

The Pro version prefers the longer mags, of course. If you’re hoping your stash of Hellcat mags might transfer cleanly, the 13 and 15-round mags will. But good luck getting that 15th round in the 15-round mag.

How does the Hellcat Pro shoot?

The Pro shoots like a Hellcat. I have run both, side-by-side, with and without red dots, and the results, for me, are consistent.

I don’t shoot the Hellcat for one-hole accuracy. Even when I’m trying to put together effective groups and connect the dots, I can’t. But that’s hardly the point.

The sights on the Hellcat Pro

The sights on the Hellcats are fast and perfect for their intended purpose.

The sights on the Hellcat are really good for rapid target acquisition at speed. When you are drawing from concealment, you are likely at a disadvantage. As I have seen first hand, and as I practice it, the threat is already present. So getting on target fast is everything.

Hellcat Pro recoil

The Hellcat Pro, like the Hellcat, is jumpy, but as the next image shows, recovery is easy.

shooting the Hellcat Pro

This is the Hellcat Pro in the hands of a 15-year-old. Granted, he’s no novice. He’s working on bringing down his split times with the HC Pro and is doing well.

And defensive shooting, if we can be both graphic and honest, is rarely about nice, tight groups. The goal is to eliminate the threat. That’s it. Nothing more. Putting two rounds in the same hole is less effective than making two different holes.

The Hellcat’s sights—the bold U-shaped rear and the fat front dot—they’re easy to pick up. Even slight misalignment, at the distance we tend to associate with self-defense, will get you on target.

 Hellcat Pro shot group on target

The control surfaces on the Hellcat Pro make defensive shooting reflexive and efficient.

After that first shot, the Hellcat really shines. Its ergonomics aid in recovery and follow-up shots are easy to place on target. This combination makes the Hellcat a great choice for concealed carry.

The Pro version may feel too big for some really small-framed shooters. I’d argue that it isn’t. The difference, after all, is not so significant. Call it a challenge.

Best Ways to Carry the Hellcat Pro

I carry the Hellcat strong side, OWB. I have for several years now, and I have no difficulty concealing it because I’m intentional about the clothes I wear. I work from home—so it is not concealed most of the time, but when I go out, I throw on a shirt that I don’t tuck in or a jacket.

In the summer, and when I do have to dress more professionally, I carry it appendix. Both work well. I’ve tried to carry the shorter Hellcat in my front pocket, but it feels too large.

The Pro is an even better contender for appendix carry. As odd as it sounds, I can hide more there than I can OWB, as the added length means I need an even longer shirt tail or jacket. The extra barrel, IWB, just goes deeper in the pants and that’s easy.

hellcat pro mag release

I respect the hell out of this smooth ramp to the mag release. This makes Hellcat mag changes so intuitive as the thumb slides right into place.

Hellcat Reliability

In the last few years, I’ve put several thousand rounds through my original Hellcat. I don’t have a hard count, but I train with it. I’ve run polymer frangible rounds, lots of ball ammo, and a good bit of hot carry ammo like the Hornady Critical Defense and Critical Duty. I’ve yet to have a failure I didn’t introduce myself.

Every gun will fail, though. I’ve come to accept that as a reality. These are machines built by machines and people. Sooner or later they’ll shit the bed, and you need to know what to do when it happens (and hope it happens on the range).

hellcat pro optics plate

Optics ready? Almost everything is these days. How you top it is up to you. I’ve run Springfield’s Hex optics on this with great success.

What you’ll need to get it ready for EDC.

Start with the gun, of course. Seems logical. Then I’d pick up some ammo. For every new gun I am serious about carrying, I look at 500 rounds +/- of range ammo.

Then you need to pick a carry ammo. I’m partial to Hornady’s Critical Defense—affordable and readily available. Critical Defense is great for not clogging up as it passes through clothing. For winter months with the expectation of heavier clothing, Critical Duty runs faster.

Hornady Critical Defense round in hellcat pro magazine

I’m partial to Hornady’s Critical Defense for EDC and serious EDC practice. Critical Duty has more punch and is great, too.

I also like Lehigh’s solid copper carry rounds. These do crazy things when they expand.

And extra magazines. This is a must. While the gun ships with two, that’s hardly enough for a range session, and barely enough for EDC. One in the gun, one in the pocket—at least—but I tend to have at least ten mags for every gun that I adopt.

I’d suggest a solid holster, too. And be sure to check for optic and light compatibility. Crucial Concealment is a solid place to start. Read a review of their Hellcat IWB holster here.

For an OWB holster, I’d look at the Galco Combat Master. Classic leather is ideal for a gun the size of the Hellcat Pro.

Optics—as this is optics-ready, I’d pick up a red dot. The Holosun optics are a favorite. For the HC Pro, I’d suggest the HE407C-GR X2.

On the other end, there’s lots of room for a light. The TLR 7 family has been my choice for about a year now. Look to the TLR7 Sub for the Hellcat.

The last concern would be a way to carry a spare magazine. Sticky Holsters makes front-pocket carry easy and hassle-free.

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David Higginbotham

David Higginbotham

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