What Is the Best Hellcat for You?

By Richard Johnson
Posted in #Guns
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What Is the Best Hellcat for You?

February 21st, 2024

7 minute read

In the world of micro-compact handguns, the Springfield Armory Hellcat stands out as a remarkable feat of engineering and design. This pistol earned its place as one of the world’s best 9mm handguns for personal protection.

selecting a hellcat 9mm pistol
The Hellcat family offers a wide range of EDC-ready 9mm pistols. Hellcat Pro (left) and Hellcat in Desert FDE (right) shown. Image: Jeremy Tremp

Since the introduction of the original Hellcat back in 2019, Springfield Armory has expanded the line to include the RDP and Pro models. Additionally, each model can be had in a variety of packages and colors, offering a remarkable range of defensive-style pistols.

I’ve had a chance to shoot all three major versions in this line, and I’ve been impressed with every one of them. In fact, the guns have made such an impact on me that my two main CCW pistols now come from this family.

man carrying hellcat rdp
The Hellcat RDP (Rapid Defense Package) pistol features an extended threaded barrel topped off with a Self-Indexing Compensator. Image: Jeremy Tremp

Let’s take a look at what Springfield currently offers in the Hellcat line and see which one (or ones) might be the best fit for you.


The original 9mm Hellcat combines a remarkably compact size with unbelievable shootability. The pistol has a 3” barrel, something I decided years ago was just about perfect for a CCW gun. The Hellcat measures just 1” in width, yet packs 11 rounds of 9mm into a flush-fitting magazine.

Springfield Hellcat with bronze slide
Springfield offers a range of distributor-exclusive specialty color models in the line, such as this Hellcat 3” Burnt Bronze variant.

Housing the pistol’s hammer-forged barrel is a billet machined slide with a Melonite finish. [Be sure to read our article on gun finishes.] It has highly effective slide serrations to enhance your grip. Springfield includes two magazines with the Hellcat: one 11-round flush fitting mag and one 13-round extended magazine. The extended magazine gives you some additional surface area to grip in addition to the extra rounds.

[Catch the Springfield Armory Hellcat review from Mike Humphries.]

For me, reliability is the primary concern in any firearm used for self-defense. The good news is these guns are seemingly bulletproof in the reliability department. Every single one I’ve shot has been 100% reliable.

Springfield uses its Adaptive Grip Texture on the polymer frame. The texture is fairly aggressive and locks the pistol solidly in the hand. Yet, it’s not abrasive and won’t ruin a t-shirt or hurt your hand during an extended range session.

Springfield Armory Hellcat with Shield red dot sights
The Springfield Armory Hellcat is exceptionally good for CCW with or without a red dot sight. It is shown here with a Shield SMSc.

Another great feature on the Hellcat is the standard sight. Springfield Armory uses what I think are the best defensive sights offered on a factory gun today. Called U-Dot, the set combines a bright luminescent/tritium front sight with a U-notch rear for a fast and accurate sight picture. So, from bright daylight to the darkest night, the front sight is very visible in the wide rear notch.

[Read more on these Springfield Hellcat sights.]

The 3” Hellcat is offered in a wide range of variations. In addition to the standard model, there is also the Hellcat OSP (Optical Sight Pistol), with the slide cut to allow for direct mounting of a Shield RMSc/SMSC-pattern micro-red dot optic. That means no plates are needed. In fact, Springfield offers it with or without a Shield SMSc included. The SMSc features a 4 M.O.A. dot and a lightweight polymer body making it a good choice for concealed carry. In addition, you can get the OSP variant with or without an ambidextrous manual safety on the frame.

Springfield Armory offers low-capacity 10-round models for restrictive locales, as well as a California-legal version that adheres to that state’s stringent regulations. For those who like to mix up the colors a bit, Springfield also offers a range of options for those who want a different look. In addition to basic black, Springfield offers flat dark earth (FDE) as a standard color option. Add to that some exclusive distributor variants in colors like robin’s egg blue, burnt bronze, stainless and more, and you have an option for just about any need.

Weight18 oz.
Overall Length6”
GripsIntegral, polymer
Capacity11+1 (one magazine), 13+1 (one magazine)

Hellcat RDP

The Hellcat RDP (Rapid Defense Package) is a formidable addition to the world’s best 9mm micro-compact pistol line. This variant integrates a Self-Indexing Compensator with a threaded barrel as a standard feature. Additionally, all models are optics ready for direct mounting of micro red dot sights.

Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP
The Hellcat RDP is shown here equipped with a Surefire XSC weaponlight and fitted with an included extended 13-round magazine. Image: Jeremy Tremp

The barrels are 3.8” long and use the same hammer-forged process the standard Hellcat barrels use. Threading is a standard ½”x28, so you can easily add a suppressor to replace the standard comp. As with the other Hellcat barrels, this one has a Melonite finish for excellent durability.

[Don’t miss Paul Carlson’s Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP review.]

As with the standard Hellcat, these 9mm pistols are extremely thin, yet take full 11- and 13-round magazines. Likewise, the RDP guns have the high-quality Adaptive Grip Texture and superior U-Dot sights.

The basic Hellcat RDP 3.8″ Micro-Compact ships from Springfield Armory with a Shield SMSc red dot sight standard. Right out of the box, you have a complete gun that is ready for defensive service. You can also get the RDP without an optic. If you like the Rapid Defense Package but prefer to have a thumb safety, Springfield Armory has you covered. The company offers a manual safety version of the gun with and without the Shield optic.

For shooters in restricted states, Springfield Armory offers all versions of the RDP with 10-round magazines. That means you can get the standard RDP, RDP with an optic and the RDP with a manual safety, all with 10-round magazines.

Weight19.3 oz.
Overall Length7”
GripsIntegral, polymer
Capacity11+1 (one magazine), 13+1 (one magazine)

Hellcat Pro

The Hellcat Pro is a compact pistol that masterfully balances the performance of a larger handgun with unparalleled concealability. Chambered in 9mm, the Hellcat Pro is thin, but it still offers a 15+1 capacity with a flush-fitting magazine.

Hellcat Pro FDE
The Hellcat Pro OSP Threaded pistol features an extended 4.4” barrel with 1/2×28 threading and included thread protector. Image: Scott Conditt

In addition to the included 15-rounder, the pistol also comes with an extended 17-round magazine. The extended magazine also offers a little additional length for your hand. Folks with large hands are likely to appreciate that. The Hellcat’s Adaptive Grip Texture carries over from the original guns, so getting a good grip on the pistol should not be an issue.

[Be sure to read this Hellcat Pro review by Massad Ayoob.]

All of the Hellcat Pro models are OSP variants ready for the direct mounting of a micro red dot sight, and some models come from the factory with an SMSc attached. Of course, it maintains the effective U-Dot sights common to the line. They are also offered in black or Desert FDE.

The Pro has a longer barrel than the original Hellcat, coming in at 3.7”. This improves your potential accuracy and precision due to the increased sight radius. Likewise, the longer barrel allows rounds to achieve a greater velocity prior to leaving the muzzle. Additionally, you can get the Hellcat Pro with an optional frame-mounted, ambidextrous manual safety. This is available in either black or Desert FDE versions.

woman holding Hellcat Pro
The Springfield Armory Hellcat Pro is an excellent home defense weapon and CCW tool.

For me, the Hellcat Pro is the ideal CCW pistol. It’s compact enough to conceal in virtually any situation I am likely to find myself in. It keeps the same features and benefits of the original Hellcat, but adds a little more grip length for a better hold. The additional barrel length isn’t at all a problem to conceal when carrying inside-the-waistband, yet it offers the distinct benefits I identified above.

Beyond the basic Hellcat Pro, you can also get the Hellcat OSP Threaded model. Frankly, this may be the gun with the most fun potential in the line, yet it also has a very clear self-defense use due to its distinguishing feature. Springfield Armory fitted this pistol with a 4.4” threaded barrel. The hammer-forged, Melonite-finished barrel is ½”x28 threaded for the addition of a suppressor or comp.

blonde woman training with Hellcat Pro
As with any defensive tool, the Hellcat Pro works best with a well-trained user. Seek out competent defensive firearms instruction.

If you live in a restricted locale, Springfield Armory offers low-capacity 10-round models as well as a California-legal version that adheres to that state’s regulations. And as is the case with the Hellcat, Springfield offers the Hellcat Pro in additional color options including burnt bronze, robin’s egg blue and platinum gray.

And for those looking for a thoroughly kitted out Hellcat Pro, there is the Hellcat Pro OSP Threaded w/ Viridian RFX11 & CTL. This exclusive model features the Hellcat Pro OSP Threaded bundled with a factory-mounted Viridian RFX11 green dot optic and Viridian CTL light. These offer enhanced target identification and acquisition capabilities without the need to go through the process of finding all of the accessories you might need after buying a Hellcat Pro.

Weight22 oz.
Overall Length7.2”
GripsIntegral, polymer
Capacity15+1 (one magazine), 17+1 (one magazine)


So there you have it, a round-up of the entire Hellcat line. From the micro-sized Hellcat to the tricked-out Hellcat RDP to the nearly duty-grade — yet still quite concealable — Hellcat Pro, there is a EDC-ready 9mm for just about any need. I’ve been a fan of the Hellcat since its launch, and made the Pro my carry gun due to its excellent balance of concealability and performance. So, take a look and pick out the one that’s right for you!

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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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Richard Johnson

Richard Johnson

Having made many odd choices in his youth, Richard was left with two career choices: aerospace engineer or cop. After failing his second year of chemistry, Richard pursued a law enforcement career where understanding covalent bonds was not a requirement for success. Along the way, Richard discovered a passion for writing. Consequently, he hung up his uniform and now publishes GunsHolstersAndGear.com where he reviews firearms and other shooting gear to feed his frequently annoyed family.

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