Howdy, Hellcat! First Impressions & Comparison with XD-S Mod.2 3.3.
Russ Chastain 10.01.19
Today, I got my first taste of Springfield Armory’s new Hellcat pistol… and so far I like it. It’s a nice small 9mm carry piece which accepts double-stack mags in a grip frame that’s not much if any thicker than many single-stack CC poppers. In fact, they call it “The world’s highest capacity micro compact.”
Once I got done with the requisite paperwork and skedaddled on home from the gun shop, I popped the top on the new box and dug in.
Con: It’s a cardboard box instead of a hard case.
Pro: A soft zipper case is included, which is much more compact than a hard case. Honestly, I have enough hard cases… and a carry gun doesn’t live in a case.
Two magazines are included: one 11-round mag with flat and pinky-extension bases, and one 13-round extended mag.
After giving stuff the once-over, I pawed my carry gun out of my waistband and started comparing… and I was immediately impressed. I’ve been toting SA’s XD-S Mod.2 3.3 single-stack 9mm for about a year, and I’ve enjoyed it. But I expected the Hellcat to be bigger and bulkier. Nope!
Here is where I must extend a hearty “Thank you” to SA’s marketing folks for giving this new gun a nice simple moniker. ‘Hellcat’ is one heck of a lot easier (and more fun) to remember — and to type — than ‘XD-S Mod.2 3.3.’ So for the sake of convenience, I’ll refer to this single-stack simply as the Mod.2 for the balance of this article.
The Hellcat’s overall length is less than the Mod.2, and even with the longer 13-round (!!!) magazine in place, the grip is not as long as the Mod.2 with 7-round mag and pinky extension.
While the grip is about the same thickness on these two pistols, the Hellcat’s grip frame is quite a bit smaller front-to-back. I’m not yet sure what I think of this as far as grip comfort, but it should print less during carry — and the vast majority of the time a CC piece is simply carried without incident.
The photo above is a tad “off” in perspective; the slides are more or less the same height. The Hellcat’s white-outline rear sight is a step up from the Mod.2’s unadorned serrated rear.
But the lead here is the grip width… the Hellcat’s grip is only marginally thicker than than of the Mod.2. That’s impressive.
You’ll also notice the lack of a grip safety on the Hellcat. I presume it was eliminated for two reasons: To save on weight and to allow the grip frame to be shortened front-to-rear. Some will bemoan its absence; others (myself included) won’t mind.
In looking these guns over to see what parts they have in common, the answer is “not many,” but it would appear that the front sights are identical, which is good. SA calls it “a high visibility tritium & luminescent front sight.” I like it.
The Hellcat’s rear sight is a Tactical Rack U-Dot, considerably nicer than the Mod.2’s serrated rear (although both have the “tactical rack” feature on front edge of rear sight).
While the Mod.2 has a loaded chamber indicator that can be felt as well as seen (it’s loaded in these photos for demonstration purposes), the Hellcat’s is nothing more than a hole at top rear of barrel. If you look in there and brass or nickel gleams back at you, it’s loaded. Hard to do in the dark, but life ain’t perfect.
In this photo, the Hellcat’s on the left for a change. Teardown of the pistols is accomplished identically.
As you can see, sight radius is a smidge shorter on the Hellcat, thanks to its shorter overall length. Also note the Hellcat’s more streamlined slide & frame (long bevels on the sides up front and long bevels along each side).
The Hellcat’s magazine release is not ambidextrous, but they do say it’s reversible. I found nothing in the owner’s manual about that, though. In comparing the two, I prefer the Hellcat’s mag release because it’s much more streamlined and less obtrusive, while still being easy to operate.
Trigger pull on both of these pistols is far from great, but the Hellcat requires somewhat less travel after taking up the slack. Pull weight is about the same. I prefer the familiar feel of the Mod.2’s curved trigger, but the Hellcat’s flatter bang switch is touted as a feature on the SA website.
The trigger guards offer about the same amount of room, but the Hellcat’s is quite a bit slimmer (side to side) than the Mod.2 trigger guard.
Weight of the empty pistols: Hellcat 16.1 ounces; Mod.2 19.6 ounces. This shows that Springfield Armory was serious about paring down the weight of the gun itself to help compensate for the added weight of the ammo.
How does she shoot? Well, you’re just going to have to stay tuned for the full review… but I can say that she goes bang every time and running a mag through this little rascal is not exactly hellish, if you know what I mean.
MSRP on the Hellcat standard model (this model) is $599.
UPDATE: I can’t help myself; I just have to add that, stoked with the same ammo (Federal Premium Hydra-Shok Deep 135-grain JHP), the Hellcat is still lighter! 24.9 ounces (Hellcat, 13+1 rounds) vs. 25.3 ounces (Mod.2, 7+1 rounds). Nice.