Since its introduction in 2019, the Hellcat has been the smallest, lightest, highest-capacity micro compact 9mm on the market. The pistol has shown its reliability in several 10,000 round torture tests, with one pistol taking on 20,000 rounds and another chewing through 10,000 rounds of hard-hitting +P ammo. The Hellcat RDP upped the game again with significant upgrades to the red dot-ready Hellcat OSP, including a threaded barrel with an auto-timed Self Indexing Compensator, further increasing the Hellcat’s performance.
You would think Springfield Armory would take some time to relax and enjoy the view from the top. That, however, doesn’t seem to be in Springfield’s repertoire. Instead, the folks working in Geneseo, Ill., continue to press forward with Springfield’s latest addition for the Hellcat, a 15-round magazine.
Why Capacity Matters
When it comes to defensive handguns, capacity matters. If we are talking micro-compact guns like the Hellcat, it matters even more. I am pleased to see a factory option for increasing the Hellcat’s already substantial 13 rounds (in addition to the flush-fitting 11-round magazine). The 15-round Hellcat magazine is a definite advantage for concealed carry and for value when training on the range.
When paired with the Hellcat, the new magazine — which is priced at $39.95 — gives you a micro-sized 9mm pistol with an astounding 15+1 capacity comparable to compact and duty-sized pistols, but in a package that is smaller than similarly configured, lower-capacity pistols available on the market.
Ready for CCW
The Hellcat’s design helps it to fit well in the world of off-duty or concealed carry. When you are carrying concealed as a civilian or as an off-duty cop, the “concealed” part is important. The Hellcat shines here because of its small size.
Generally, the smaller the gun, the easier it is to conceal. And the Hellcat’s size makes concealment a breeze. As a result, one of the more common uses of the Hellcat is a concealable gun for non-permissive environments. However, the traditional trade-off for small size is reduced capacity. Frankly, the Hellcat’s 13+1 capacity is impressive for the size and concealability. At the same time, wouldn’t more be better? If you are in an unavoidable situation and must defend yourself, some extra rounds in the form of an extended mag in the gun or carried as a spare can make a lot of sense.
And don’t think that adding those two rounds over that of the 13-rounder adds much bulk. In fact, the new 15-round magazine is a mere .28” taller than the 13-rounder, which is basically ¼”. That is a pretty small bulk increase for a significant amount of more defensive ammo.
As advantageous as another two rounds can be in a concealed carry context, it isn’t the only place where a 15+1 Hellcat will even the playing field. Consider your typical training class.
When I train with my handguns under the supervision of a qualified instructor, I want to maximize my time. Often, courses are designed around duty-sized guns, and as a result, duty-gun capacities. Having a pistol with a capacity lower than 15 rounds has the potential to reduce the time in class you actually spend shooting.
When you are on the line and run dry sooner than your classmates, you not only reduce your time shooting, but more importantly reduce the amount of time your instructor has to observe you and provide feedback. Leveling up your magazine capacity can make a ton of sense for getting the most out of your practice and your training.
What’s in There?
The most obvious difference between the 13-round extended Hellcat magazine included with the gun and the new extended-capacity 15-rounder is the +2 capacity increase. And as noted earlier, you get those two rounds with only a slight addition of length to the mag. By my measurements, you get more than a 15% increase in capacity for just ¼” more length. That juice is worth the squeeze.
To accommodate the additional two rounds of 9mm, the length of the magazine tube has been increased and the baseplate redesigned in a more traditional manner than the Hellcat’s other magazines. In order to close the gap between the magazine basepad and the grip of the pistol, Springfield uses a spacer similar to those used to adapt higher-capacity magazines to the XD family of pistols. The grip spacer slides onto the mag body with a solid friction fit. Its texture matches that of the hellcat perfectly, making the fit seamless.
Most magazines designed with a flat basepad use some sort of a locking plate to hold the spring in place and lock the basepad onto the magazine. However, these plates take up space that could be used to store ammunition. It appears that deleting this plate is one of the ways the engineers at Springfield created more capacity in less space.
In order to keep the spring in place and the basepad attached, the Hellcat 15-rounder ingeniously locks the baseplate and the spring together. They both stay exactly where they need to be with fewer parts and more room for ammo.
This design alters disassembly and reassembly slightly from the norm, but anyone with some experience dealing with magazines will figure it out without issue. Don’t forget your eye protection.
Here is the procedure I devised to easily remove the base pad and spring for cleaning and maintenance:
- Slide the grip sleeve away from the basepad. The grip sleeve serves as an additional block to keep the basepad where it belongs, and the first thing we need to do is slide it up far enough that the basepad will move freely once we unlock it. I like to slide it up far enough to expose the small hole on the front of the magazine.
- Unlock the base pad and spring. When viewed from the bottom of the magazine, you can see a small rectangular hole in the basepad. Through that hole you can see the magazine spring itself. Using a tool like a small screwdriver or allen key, depress the spring through the hole so that it disengages the baseplate. With the tool still in the hole, slide the basepad forward slightly to keep the spring from reengaging. Remove the tool.
- Capture the spring. This step isn’t required, but I found that it helps to keep parts from flying. I use the same small allen key to capture the magazine spring by inserting it into the small hole in the front bottom of the magazine. I insert it all the way and hold it in place with the same hand that is holding the magazine body.
- Remove the basepad. With the spring captured, carefully slide the basepad forward off of the magazine body and, while holding the spring in place with your hand, remove the tool you used to capture the magazine spring. Now, gently release the tension from the magazine spring.
- Remove the spring and follower. If you didn’t already experience an RUD (rapid unexpected disassembly) of the mag spring and follower, remove the spring and follower manually.
- Clean and reassemble.
- Give the parts a good wipe down and maintain as needed, then follow the steps in reverse to reassemble.
In my opinion, the new 15-rounder for the Hellcat is going to be a welcome addition to a lot of people’s magazine collections. The mag retails for $39.95, the same price as the standard-capacity 13-round mag, and gives an additional two rounds for almost no added length to the mag.
If you’re looking for additional rounds in the gun for concealed carry, a higher-capacity reload or larger capacity mags to even out the playing field while training, the hellcat 15-rounder is just the mag you are looking for. Be sure to check it out. I’m glad I did.
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