I knew I wanted a Hellcat Pro as soon as it was released. I had been a fan of the original Hellcat since its launch, but the Pro added just about everything I could want to that solid micro 9mm foundation. With increased capacity and increased barrel length and sight radius — yet in a package just slightly larger than the smaller original Hellcat — the Hellcat Pro is an everyday carry (EDC) pistol that makes me feel extremely well-protected when I am carrying it.
But, those who know me know that I can’t leave well enough alone. Is the Pro ready to go for EDC right out of the box? Yes, most definitely. But, I love to customize my guns and gear. And why not? We choose our clothing based upon our personalities and lifestyles. We lift our trucks, lower our cars, manicure our lawns, style our hair, etc. Why? We do all these things because, at least to my mind, there’s always a better, cooler, or just different way of doing things based on what fits my needs.
This is particularly true for me regarding my firearms. From Cerakote finishes to optics, triggers, extended magazines, magwells and more, the list is just about endless. For me, I have fun guns, range guns, vault guns and my carry gun. Each of those has a different level of customization. For my carry gun, I am very strict on the brands I choose for any parts replacements or upgrades, as I trust this pistol with my life.
I also want my carry gun to reflect my personality and be unique to me while also being reliable. That last point is non-negotiable. For quality parts that not only enhance my pistol, but perform every time I need them to, I look to Apex Tactical Specialties for EDC mods. Apex has committed a lot of effort and attention to the Hellcat family since its launch, no doubt because they recognized it as a popular and extremely capable EDC pistol. The result is a line of rock-solid parts that can be trusted to work every time.
Custom Finish on My Hellcat Pro
I also decided to drop my Hellcat Pro off at one of my favorite Cerakote companies in the country, Koted Arms. Luckily for me, he’s only an hour drive away. When I work with J.D. over at Koted Arms, I like to give him a base idea and then let him “run with it” and exercise his creativity and artistry. My direction to him on this one was to do a desert tiger stripe camo theme, but to take creative liberty where he saw fit.
A week later, I got my Hellcat back looking better than ever. J.D. painted his version of the tiger stripe camo with great detail and a perfect palette of colors. I know the stock gun in black is just fine, but tweaks like this make me feel that much more connected to my EDC pistol. It’s mine, and there is none other like it.
Custom Parts from Apex Tactical
While the finish is certainly eye-catching and attractive, there’s now more to this Hellcat Pro than just its looks. Remember that I mentioned Apex?
Let’s circle back around to the new parts that I soon added to the Pro once I got it back from Koted Arms.
Threaded Barrel for the Hellcat Pro
The heart of the Hellcat is its barrel. The 9mm Threaded Barrel from Apex for the Hellcat Pro is a direct drop-in unit with 1/2×28 threads to accommodate standard muzzle attachments such as compensators or sound suppressors.
Apex manufactures these barrels from premium quality cold hammer-forged stainless steel blanks. The barrels use a standard 1:10 twist rate and are coated with a black Melonite finish for longevity and durability.
An Enhanced Trigger
The Apex Action Enhancement Trigger is the easiest and quickest way to enhance your Hellcat’s trigger system. The Apex trigger enhances the feel of the trigger pull without reducing factory safety values, which is an absolute must for any aftermarket trigger.
The Action Enhancement Trigger takes the trigger pull weight to about 5.0 lbs. after a short break-in period. The Apex Hellcat Trigger has a smooth uptake and reset, reducing overall travel and reset distance.
Apex’s Extended Takedown Lever
The Apex Extended Takedown Lever is machined from tool steel and heat treated for a lifetime of use. For those new to pistols, the takedown lever is the control you use to field strip your Hellcat.
The Apex Extended Takedown Lever offers a thumb rest for anyone who shoots with a “thumbs forward grip,” extending outwards slightly more than the factory option and featuring a serrated face for easier disassembly.
Extended Magazine Release for the Hellcat Pro
The Extended Mag Release from Apex is user swappable for left or right-handed shooters. The face of the magazine release is extended by 0.65” from the factory, giving you just a bit more positive purchase on the release for easier reloads.
The face of the Extended Magazine Release is serrated on the majority of the surface, ensuring positive grip even in adverse conditions. During testing, Apex reported over 10,000 fully loaded magazine drops with no issues.
The Apex Failure Resistant Extractor is machined from a billet of heat-treated stainless steel to create what Apex believes is the most reliable extractor in the world.
With decades of experience designing extractors, the Failure Resistant Extractor features Apex’s custom extractor hook geometry on the critical engagement surface. The Extractor is Melonite finished for enhanced durability.
Early Look: Extended Slide Lock Lever
I actually had a unique opportunity to get an early look at the Apex Extended Slide Lock Lever, which is slated for release in the first quarter of 2023. It is a direct replacement for the factory slide lock and offers increased purchase for your thumb to lock the slide to the rear. This makes field stripping and clearing malfunctions a little bit easier for the user. The Extended Slide Lock Lever is machined from heat-traded steel and then block oxide finished.
So, that’s a lot of fancy words to say that these parts are precision crafted from the finest materials by craftsmen that are obsessed with enhancing every aspect of the Hellcat experience. I’ve toured the Apex facility twice now, getting a peek at every process their parts go through, and it’s one of the reasons why I trust their parts with my life. Their dedication to quality without compromise is obvious in everything they do.
Hands-On Review of Apex Upgrades
Now that I had my Hellcat Pro back from Koted Arms, it was time to install the Apex parts. Another thing I truly appreciate about Apex Tactical is their customer service when it comes to installing their parts. The company produces in-depth install videos for customers that takes them through the entire process. So, whether you take your parts to a gunsmith or do it yourself, you are set.
The installation process of all the parts was smooth and easy for me, with the Action Enhancement Trigger being the most complex. But, with the video, it wasn’t nearly as daunting as simply reading the directions on paper. I joke with the Apex guys that their videos are like Bob Ross as a gunsmith explaining how to install happy little gun parts, but they truly are a huge help.
My Hellcat Pro was looking sleek and feeling good with all my custom parts, and now it was ready for some range time. When I run my Hellcat Pro at the range, I focus on my concealed draw and drills that focus on speed and accuracy under pressure. I want to push the limits of my mind and my gear to see where I need work and how my pistol performs. Better to find out an issue on a flat range than during a scenario that I hope I never find myself in.
Since I am testing my EDC, I also wanted to run my defensive ammo through it for the most realistic training. I’m using Nosler Asp 124-gr. JHP bullets, which I’ve found to be high quality, reliable and accurate.
During my range time, I realized the most noticeable change to my Hellcat Pro was the Apex trigger. Even though the Hellcat Pro comes with a great factory trigger, the Apex trigger makes it even better. With the reduced travel and pull weight, I notice my shots were a bit more accurate, especially when speeding up my shots. The trigger also just feels solid and comfortable on my trigger finger.
The new controls worked great, especially the extended magazine release. It allowed me to quickly and easily find the mag release — especially when my heart rate was up and my dexterity was being tested. The Cerakote added about 20 style points to my draw and made the range experience radical. As expected, the Nosler ammo was super accurate and consistent, with my groups at 7 yards being about 1.5”.
The Apex extended slide lock was a great addition, as well. The bottom portion of the slide lock is serrated for easy grip when locking back the slide, and the top is smooth with a little indent scoop built into it, giving you easy manipulation to drop the slide after a reload.
I’m not sure how many compensators there are for the Hellcat at this point, but having a threaded barrel ensures you are able to utilize them or to have some fun with a suppressor. I also happened to have a JK Armament CCX suppressor that I tested out. The cool thing about the CCX is that it’s so small and lightweight that it doesn’t need a booster. It was awesome to be able to run a small suppressor on the Hellcat Pro, which performed great while also being hearing-safe.
I had a blast customizing my EDC with some trusted Apex parts, as well as a totally custom look provided by Koted Arms. If you’re running a Hellcat, do yourself a favor and check out Apex Tactical for any of your aftermarket Hellcat needs. You can trust that they have your back.
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