Why the Hellcat Pro OSP Is Great for Old Eyes
August 4th, 2023
6 minute read
Aiming a handgun requires several skills and abilities, and these decline with time. I think I am qualified to have an opinion on this subject as I have recently exceeded six decades on this bright blue sphere. It has not been easy, but it’s better than the — ah, you know the rest…
I had a couple of theories in this arena I wanted to put to the test, and Springfield Armory became my enabler. The company loaned me a Hellcat Pro OSP, decked out with a Shield SMSc red dot optic sight and coupled with a BlackPoint Tactical DualPoint 2.0 IWB holster.
Now for a quick definitions section. Hellcat OSP: Optical Sight Pistol. SMSc: Shield Mini Sight compact. AIWB, Appendix Inside-The-Waistband. I know you know the last one, but I relish being thorough.
In recent years, I have had some issues with the annual qualifications for my police department-issued handgun. Not the weapon’s fault, but totally on me. First off was my grip. Over the years, I have developed arthritis in my hands. No, don’t worry, I’ll let you in on my HIPAA deficiencies if you swear to confidentially. I am more recoil sensitive than I was in the past. It affects my ability to get the gun back on the threat. I’ll deal with it. The Hellcat Pro’s generous and tactile grip was kind to me in this regard.
Second, and more importantly, my eyes have become obstructionists. Nearsightedness and astigmatism have pitted my handgun’s iron sights against a distant B21 target in competition for my focus. These have widened my groups. At 25 yards, a once-achievable fist-sized grouping of bullets has ballooned to minute-of-man.
On street patrol, I have always worn contact lenses to avoid the humid fog-over of glasses in balmy Florida, and also because I really don’t like getting punched in the eyewear while on duty. But contacts won’t give you the visual options of progressive polycarbonate lenses; your close-in gunsights can become blurry when your attention is on distant targets, or the downrange target disappears when you concentrate on the irons. Frustrating.
My intent was to evaluate the Springfield Armory Hellcat/Shield SMSc sight combination against a 25-yard target from the safety of the Rangemaster’s proving ground. He’s kind of like The Stig on the original Top Gear tv show if you get my reference. An awesome dude. There were a few things I had in mind with the RM and Hellcat. I was excited to throw the striker on a Springfield Armory Hellcat Pro and was anticipating what I was being sent.
Back to substandard organic optics. I had been wearing my reading glasses as “eye protection” for the last few years at state qualifications so I could see the previously blurry sights on the top line of my handgun. The converse was those longer-range bad guys would not be as sharp by comparison. I thought red dot sights might assist my old eyes.
Testing It Out
At the Rangemaster’s playground, we dry-fired the Springfield Armory Hellcat. I found pleasure in the pull of the trigger. Take-up to the next click was nicely short. The sight picture of the SMSc was bright and easily acquired. Punch the Hellcat out and the dot was right there every time. After these satisfying drills, I could not rein in the urge to run the blue target straight out to the 25-yard line. Bzzzzzzt. I had loaded 12 rounds into the first stainless steel magazine. Boom, boom, boom, spoke the Hellcat Pro.
My initial string went 12 of 12 in the state’s qual hit area. These were fired standing, Isosceles, and unsupported, which is where you may live in a gunfight. And I shot them as I would on the street with just my contact lenses (okay, and safety glasses), but no cheaters, unlike past range days. This was much better than my last 25-yard string at the range. Much.
The Shield-brand red dot advertises four MOA. I saw it as much less. The red glass floater was co-witnessed with the excellent U-Dot system of the Hellcat’s factory irons. I put my visual intent on the SMSc exclusively, though. After all dozen primers had been ignited, I used the range’s state-of-the-art touch screen to retrieve the target and backer. This state-certified police academy range had just undergone a $2 million upgrade to reach Florida’s new standards and I was ecstatic to be one of the first to abuse the facility.
The SMSc red dot optic brings the sighting mechanism and target together in the same focal plane for your eyes. Both coexist, unlike in the iron-sighting regimen of an aging shooter. The Hellcat’s ergonomics and trigger made the rest of a successful engagement possible. While the initial points of impact were a bit low and just left of high center chest, had this been a real threat, um, game over. A quick perusal of the SMSc QR-coded manual and a few quarter-turns of an Allen wrench later, the point-of-impact came into optimal lethality.
The BlackPoint Tactical DualPoint 2.0 IWB holster is compression-fit to the Hellcat OSP and offered a consistent point of draw. It can be worn AIWB or dominant-side IWB, with or without the optic. With a reassuring Kydex snap, the Hellcat seats itself. The dual metal clips are especially aggressive and would not surrender my belt. I appreciate a holster that retains the gun but resists overt removal attempts.
The BlackPoint holster has what they term a “trigger bump” that angles the butt of the gun toward your torso to keep it from printing. This is the raised section of Kydex to the left of the belt clips. The bump exerts pressure on the inside of the waistband and belt, causing the gun to rotate inward — and it works. I think the holster is a good piece of kit that comes in black, or Multi-Cam as a Springfield Armory exclusive. Price point, $89.99.
The Rangemaster and I sent a few hundred rounds of hardball and hollow point northbound through this virgin SA Hellcat and we suffered no failures to feed, fire or function. We were getting attached to this ’cat from the holster, hip, high-compressed ready and low ready. The gun felt balanced and reliable. RM put a two-inch group in the B21’s elbow at 10 yards en rápido.
We like to say it’s not the age, it’s the mileage. Decades of SWAT, K9 and road patrol, have exacted their toll on my working parts and shooting abilities. You may have labored as a soldier, sailor, maintainer, firefighter, rancher, farmer, lineman, longshoreman, factory worker, or Average Joe or Jo, but it’s all the same story. Life erodes us, so we adapt where we can.
At a total retail price of $859, the Springfield Armory Hellcat OSP with a Shield SMSc red dot optic sight can be a game changer for those of us with compromised capabilities. The right tool for the right job, our elders might say. Sound advice.
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