Considering the Hellcat Pro with Manual Safety
May 8th, 2023
7 minute read
The earth moved just a little bit in September of 2019. That’s when Springfield Armory introduced the 9mm Hellcat micro-compact pistol. In so doing, they helped rewrite the book on concealed carry in America. Now, responsible armed Americans could pack service pistol-grade magazine capacity in a package that comfortably rides underneath a pair of shorts and a t-shirt.
Since that time, the Hellcat has evolved considerably. Springfield Armory tweaked the design with such stuff as threaded barrels, muzzle compensators, sundry finishes, and optics options. One of the most popular models is the Hellcat Pro OSP.
OSP stands for Optical Sight Pistol. The Pro features the same basic Hellcat chassis, only lightly stretched. The frame and the slide/barrel assembly are both slightly elongated to offer an increased standard magazine capacity of 15+1 and enhanced control with the 3.7” barrel, particularly in rapid fire.
This modestly upsized Hellcat remains just as packable as the original smaller sort, and sports a slide cut for a red dot optic. The very latest version also adds a handy bilateral ambidextrous thumb safety to the mix. Along the way, this rarefied Hellcat Pro starts dabbling in the realm of theology.
A Near-Religious Fervor…
We corn-fed Americans are a terribly opinionated lot. One of the reasons we enjoy such perpetual gridlock in Washington, D.C., is because that legendary American rugged individualism reliably precludes our finding consensus on the thorny issues of the day. Counted among them is the way we pack our carry guns.
Striker-fired handguns are all the rage these days, and for good reason. These triggers are monotonously repeatable from the first round to the last, while remaining both reliable and accurate. Once you take the measure of a modern striker-fired trigger, it feels like an old friend. However, the mechanical safety features of some of these modern guns are not without controversy.
The Hellcat sports one of the most refined ignition systems in the industry. The primary safety is a small blade built into the trigger face. When left unmolested, the gun is always on safe. However, put your finger inside the triggerguard and against the trigger face and the gun automatically goes hot. Running such a gun properly pre-supposes that your trigger finger rests outside the triggerguard until you are actually aligned with the target and ready to fire. Millions of responsible American shooters along with pretty much every law enforcement officer on the planet thrive in this space.
There is also an automatic firing pin block built into the action. This system keeps the firing pin locked and away from the cartridge until the trigger is pulled. This is the mechanism that keeps the gun inert when it is sitting on a table, tucked into a holster, or accidentally dropped.
If you propose online to pack a concealed carry gun with the chamber empty, you should be prepared to be metaphorically eviscerated. Racking a gun on the draw stroke is commonplace in Israel, but many seasoned gunmen on this side of the pond consider that to be the unforgivable sin.
Uncle Sam issued the M1911 pistol for 74 years, all the while training American soldiers to rack their weapons as part of the draw. However, like most things involving firearms, it really all comes down to training. For those who might not want to pack a defensive handgun with a dead chamber but still want an additional margin of safety they manually manipulate, Springfield Armory has the solution. That’s the Hellcat Pro OSP with manual safety we are discussing here today.
The ambidextrous safety lever of the pistol is oriented at the rear of the frame where it is readily accessible with either thumb. This appendage is perfectly scaled. It is easily manipulated but doesn’t interfere with holstering. As such, this simply represents another layer of versatility to the overall equation.
Use it if you want. Don’t if you don’t. I like the option, and it doesn’t get in the way. Whatever you decide, you should practice.
Michael Jordan once famously goaded Dikembe Mutombo by closing his eyes and nailing a free-throw during a regular season game before flatly stating, “Welcome to the NBA.” The reason His Airness could perform such an incredible feat of basketball prowess was that he had shot untold thousands of free-throws before in training. Practice and repetition are the basis of developing skill sets. So it is with gun handling.
Adding a manual safety option to your concealed carry regimen demands a little extra practice. Under pressure you will perform as you have trained. There are literally countless real-world anecdotes to back that up. If you choose to use the manual safety, practice your draw stroke until you can retrieve your gun, swipe off the safety as it aligns with the target and engage without having to think much about it.
On the range, the Springfield Armory Hellcat Pro represents the elusive successful compromise. The gun is small enough to be controllable, while remaining sufficiently substantial to tame the chaos. Recoil is brisk without being uncomfortable, and the extended grip allows for ample purchase.
The Hellcat Pro has a Goldilocks trigger. The ideal striker-fired trigger for a defensive pistol should be light and brisk without being so diaphanous as to become dangerous. That of the Hellcat Pro indeed hits that sweet spot between safety and shootability.
The Hellcat Pro ran flawlessly with everything we fed it, including solid copper 100-gr. Black Hills HoneyBadger defensive loads, various jacketed hollowpoints, and 147-gr. heavyweight ball. At a typical seven-meter defensive range, the gun readily grouped inside a golf ball so long as I did my part. In short, the Hellcat Pro does exactly what it is supposed to do — carry easily and hit hard downrange while exhibiting peerless reliability.
Second only to parenting, carrying a gun for personal protection is one of the weightiest decisions an American can make. You don’t need to slip that thing into your waistband until and unless you can do so soberly and safely. The final decisions regarding hardware, ammunition selection and carry gear are driven by your personality, circumstances and budget. Springfield Armory offers the options you need to customize that solution perfectly.
The Hellcat family of handguns is comfortable to carry, monotonously reliable and beautifully accurate. In my opinion, these are machines that are legitimately good enough to bet your life on. Now the Hellcat Pro OSP with manual safety adds yet another layer of security to your personal defense equation.
Packing a gun inevitably involves a lot of extraneous jostling. Even when you’re not using it for real, concealed carry involves slipping the gun into and out of a holster every day, securing the weapon against unauthorized access and routine maintenance. The addition of a manual safety can offer that slight extra edge for you if your carry style calls for it.
The pistol is offered in three versions. Priced at an MSRP of $649 is a standard version as well as a 10-round version. For an MSRP of $859, you can get it packed with a Shield SMSc red dot optic that co-witnesses with the pistol’s excellent U-Dot sights made up of a tritium/luminescent front sight and U-notch rear.
I’ve packed the Hellcat Pro OSP with manual safety long enough to draw some conclusions, and I really don’t see a downside. The manual safety is a great option when you need it and doesn’t get in the way when you don’t. It is, in short, a fairly typical example of Springfield Armory excellence.
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