Hellcat: Best Micro 9mm?

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Hellcat: Best Micro 9mm?

May 3rd, 2020

4 minute read

Do you remember when firearms manufacturers were designing 9mm subcompacts using a simple mantra — size matters? Then, in what seemed like a blink of the eye, it evolved into size and capacity matters. Today, we are witnessing a market that continues to evolve with lighter, more compact and higher-capacity firearms.

The best micro 9mm pistol: the Springfield Armory Hellcat
The Hellcat has proven that you can get both compact size and impressive capacity in a micro-sized 9mm.

Last year, there was a new entrant into the crowded field of small defensive firearms, the Springfield Armory Hellcat. What did we learn? Well, quite frankly, we learned that the Hellcat offers more than simply small size and big capacity, making it an instant leader among 9mm subcompacts.

Evolution of Micro 9mm Pistols

So how did we get to the Hellcat? The 21st century ushered in the cult-like niche of micro 9mm, single-stack guns. This new development created a mighty conundrum for CCW — carry a larger firearm with a greater capacity, or follow the crowd and sacrifice capacity for the sake of concealment?

Hellcat pistol in a soft carry case
The Hellcat’s excellent grip texturing makes it a great fit for the shooter’s hand.

In short, we were told to choose one or the other, but you can’t have both. You either sacrificed concealment and comfort by carrying a firearm with a larger capacity. Or you selected a no-printing option with a limited capacity – namely any of the single-stack subcompacts.

This was frustrating and no choice at all, which pressured industry leaders to produce the ideal firearm for concealment — one which combined capacity and compactness. Enter the Hellcat.

Raising the Bar

The Hellcat with its 11+1 flush-fit magazine capacity and 13+1 with the included extended magazine plus its compact nature (4” height, 6” length) checks the size and capacity boxes. But the Hellcat is much more, offering an excellent grip, a natural fit, quick target acquisition and optimal accuracy for a small weapon.

I have loved the fit and feel of the Hellcat since I first picked it up. It is a small gun but offers the fit and feel of a larger firearm. In other words, the Hellcat delivers optimal grip and fit for a small defensive firearm.

Its Adaptive Grip Texture with its smaller, pointed triangle shapes grab the hand for a secure firing grip while the larger, while larger flat-topped triangle shapes allow for comfort with a stronger grip. This makes the Hellcat grip feel natural and fill the hand unlike any other micro compact 9mm.

A 9mm micro pistol for CCW
The pistol comes with an 11+1 magazine with both a finger extension and flat floorplate, as well as an extended 13+1 magazine.

The fit of the Hellcat is enhanced by a beavertail that extends beyond the rear of the slide, which promotes a high grip and comfortably rests the gun deep in the web of the hand. In short, the Hellcat feels like a natural extension of the hand.

Grip and fit are great, but target acquisition is essential. The ability to quickly acquire the target in a fast-paced life-or-death scenario improves your chances of survival. The Hellcat U-Dot sighting system offers a level of confidence and ease that is ideal for a small defensive firearm.

Target acquisition is quick and easy in bright or low light. The Hellcat is equipped with strong steel sights, with a bright yellow tritium and luminescent front sight and U-notch rear sight. The U-Dot is intuitive — simply place the yellow dot inside the U-notch.

Loading the magazine of the micro compact 9mm Hellcat
Joseph was really impressed by the performance of the Hellcat at the range.

The adaptability of a red dot on the OSP (optic sight pistol) version and its co-witnessing capabilities with the U-Dot sights is exciting and definitely my next purchase will be an optic for it. Even without the use of a red dot, my Hellcat OSP’s target acquisition is quick and instinctive.

Final Thoughts

I have spent a lot of time at the range with my Hellcat OSP. It is my new favorite, and in my opinion the Hellcat is perfect for concealed carry and makes most 9mm subcompacts appear outdated and obsolete.

In many ways you could end the conversation about the Hellcat after listing its 11+1 and 13+1 capacity plus its 4” x 6” dimensions, and it would still rank high on the list of 9mm micros. Fortunately, the Hellcat offers much more.

Forward angle of the Springfield Hellcat 9mm
The OSP version of the Hellcat allows you to direct mount optics such as the compact SHIELD RMSc red dot.

The Hellcat offers the capacity to defend while maintaining the size and features you want in an EDC firearm. The U-Dot sights offer a quick and intuitive means for target acquisition. Its Adaptive Grip Texture technology offers a firm and secure grip that feels natural and fills the hand. The high hand grip promoted by the extended beavertail limits muzzle rise and offers a natural fit resulting in less hand manipulation and a more accurate shot. This short but distinguished list suggests that Springfield Armory has raised the bar for all future handguns as it is the best micro 9mm pistol. 

I recommend reading Mike Humphries’ thorough review of the Hellcat and then go try it for yourself. You will see there is more to the Hellcat than just its unbeatable size and capacity. Much more.

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Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual. These articles and videos are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Springfield Armory.

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Joseph Campbell, Ph.D.

Joseph Campbell, Ph.D.

Joseph is a freelance firearms writer and professor of political science. His writing focuses on informing his readers about the newest products and the significance of the 2nd Amendment. He serves as the Web Content Specialist for Primary Arms on a freelance retainer where he is continually gaining knowledge on the newest gear and products the industry has to offer. As a member of the Oklahoma City Gun Club and Civilian Marksmanship Program, he enjoys being active in the shooting sports. He spends his time teaching, writing, shooting and hanging out with his family.

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