The Armory Life Interviews: Ernest Langdon, on the Hellcat Custom
January 4th, 2022
5 minute read
Ernest Langdon is a name to conjure with in the world of the gun. A trainer of Marines and a world champion in practical shooting competitions, he turned his attentions to making firearms better and formed Langdon Tactical Technology.
A leading advocate of traditional double-action, semi-automatic pistols, his first Springfield Armory offering was Springfield Armory’s entry in that market, the XD-E. More recently, he has focused on Springfield’s striker-fired micro 9mm, the Hellcat.
We interviewed him on the topic.
The Armory Life (TAL): Please explain the genesis of this project.
Ernest Langdon (EL): LTT’s Hellcat project started when I looked at the gun in 2020. We bought 15 of them early in 2021, started shooting them and playing with them, and talked to Apex Tactical about what they’re doing to it.
Basically, we got some triggers in from Apex and did trigger jobs on half a dozen guns, playing with stuff they’ve already done a great deal of testing with: safety values, lots of drop tests, dropping them frozen, all of that.
Safety was our first concern; we didn’t want to dramatically lighten the trigger pull, but to make it slightly lighter and with reduced overtravel and an even shorter reset, to make it even more shootable at speed. That was the goal, and I think that’s what we accomplished.
TAL: We see an RDS (Red Dot Sight) sitting atop the Hellcats in the photos.
EL: We use C&H Precision adapter plates for 407 and 507K optics, without milling or otherwise changing the slide. The slide is built for the HEX Wasp/Shield footprint, that bolts directly on. It’s a four-post design. The 407K has two screws, two posts. It works quite well: a nice secure mounting solution. All LTT Hellcats so far are the carry optic plate guns.
TAL: Ernest, you didn’t used to be seen as a carry optic guy. What happened?
EL: I was very skeptical about red dots on concealed carry guns, but with well over a year shooting them constantly I’ve become a huge fan.
Now, I’m not saying they’re ideal for everyone. I have concerns about beginners. There is a higher level of maintenance and training, keeping track of batteries, keeping the lenses clean, and all of that. You want to keep track of carry optic guns on an almost daily basis.
One thing when you’re carrying a gun, the lens of your optics will get more lint on it. You see that on iron gunsights too, but a red dot is more susceptible. Check the gun every time you put it on.
TAL: You obviously recognized that not everyone has yet accepted carry optics and that in any case backup iron sights are essential with a glass-sighted carry gun. Tell us how you addressed that with the LTT Hellcat.
EL: The sights that come on the Hellcat are quite good straight from Springfield Armory. Their luminescent tritium front with green ring is very easy to find. I think green was the right color. A single glowing front sight with U-notch rear seems to work quite well. Their ring on the front post actually glows in the daylight. It’s photoluminescent. The glow fades in holster or drawer.
We offer Ameriglo sights on our Hellcat package. We will be getting a lime green outline front sight and plain black rear, slightly taller than those that come from the factory.
A 407K optic can barely catch the top of the iron sights, and I don’t think that works perfectly. I want to raise that sight up just enough to sit in the window and be most effectively usable. A true co-witness would be sight picture level with red dot. Most folks want lower third of window to have the iron sights in it. (Editor’s Note: Direct-mounting an optic like the HEX Wasp will allow the Hellcat’s U-Dot iron sights to co-witness with the red dot.)
TAL: The Langdon Tactical Technologies logo has become something of a status symbol among serious handgunners. Does the Hellcat package “bear the brand?”
EL: A red rear plate with the LTT logo engraved upon it is part of the package.
TAL: An excellent grip shape from the factory is one of the many reasons the Hellcat quickly gained popularity. Still, the grasping of a pistol is a very subjective thing. How did you address that element of the LTT Hellcat package?
EL: I’ve become huge fan of Talon grips. They offer a new material called their Pro-Grip, raised and textured but not like sandpaper. When you grip the pistol you can feel it compress. It has roughness and texture, but no skateboard stuff. People fall in love with that. It’s more comfortable next to skin, too. We will be selling those grips for Talon.
The Hellcat has already proven itself a reliable pistol (to see a 20,000-round test of the Hellcat, click here). Langdon put about 5,000 rounds through five of his, some getting more than others, with no issues. We didn’t run that many through the test sample, but we didn’t have any reliability problems in the shooting that we did.
Langdon is one of the many professionals who realize “good trigger pull” and “light trigger pull” are not necessarily synonymous. The trigger still has some take-up for a margin of safety and has a short, sweet roll to it, but no honest, knowledgeable person could ever call it “a hair trigger prone to unintentional discharge.”
Cost for this LTT custom pistol is surprisingly reasonable. Said Ernest, “Full retail is $629 for the pistol with the trigger job. The trigger is Apex, which earned a thumbs up from us by itself when tested here in the past, and Ernest adds, “We don’t just drop it into the gun. We disassemble it first, and polish everything before it goes into the pistol.” A “full house” job including the red dot mounted tops out at $923.
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