Springfield Armory Hellcat Pro: Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary

Springfield Armory’s Hellcat series has established itself as a dominant force in the world of concealed carry pistols. The original Hellcat and the Hellcat RDP upgrade have been widely praised for their compact size, impressive magazine capacity, and reliability. Springfield brought out the third iteration, the Hellcat Pro, over a year ago, an evolution of the Hellcat platform with promising enhancements and improvements. While a lot alike, these three pistols are very different in some major ways, with the Pro surprising me with how different it is.

Full disclosure before I get too far along: I have never been a fan of the Hellcat series. I didn’t think there were necessarily bad guns, just that I wasn’t impressed by them. The word “humdrum” came to mind. I thought they were okay, but that was just it: okay. Not spectacular, not great, and certainly not stellar. And certainly not worth the price they were asking right off the bat. I reviewed the original Hellcat and the RDP and found them both terribly lacking and gimmicky. Blah. Nothing to write home about. Thoroughly unexciting. So when I heard I was getting a Pro for review, I thought, here we go again. Same song, third verse. Prepare to not be impressed…again.

But I was wrong.

Dead wrong.

So wrong, in fact, that I now carry the Hellcat Pro as part of my EDC rotation.

Never judge a gun by its siblings. Fan or foe of the original Springfield Hellcat, the Hellcat Pro may be officially an extension of the line, but it acts like a whole new — and better — gun.

Why the change of heart? While the Pro carries over much of the same overall technology as its older but smaller (part of the problem) brothers, it’s different enough that it almost feels like a completely new gun, as if it had no ancestry, certainly not the heritage of the earlier Hellcat versions. Yet it does. But it doesn’t. That confusion will make a lot more sense as I get into why I like it so much better than its siblings.

Design and Ergonomics

The Hellcat Pro maintains the sleek and compact design that made its predecessors popular among concealed carry enthusiasts who didn’t share my opinions but introduced subtle refinements, mostly in how the gun feels, which matters a great deal when it comes to shootability and accuracy. The easier a gun is to shoot, the better and more accurately you’ll shoot it. Remember, 99.999% of a gun’s accuracy is not the gun; it’s the person holding the gun. I always giggle and shake my head a bit when gun reviewers tout a pistol’s accuracy as if accurate guns in the modern days of micron-level machining tolerances are a novelty. But I digress…

The Hellcat Pro carries over the legacy grip texture from the smaller versions, but the added length makes recoil much more manageable, with a complete three-finger grip.

The Pro’s biggest (pun intended) upgrade — one that makes a world of difference — is the longer grip. My pinky fell awkwardly off the earlier, smaller versions, making for a plethora of inaccurate shots and awful recoil management because it was hard to hold. However, the Hellcat Pro’s longer grip, coupled with the slightly longer slide, adds a new level of balance, making it much easier to shoot. As I said, it’s like a whole new gun, a dramatic departure from the family legacy. If someone put it in my hand with my eyes closed, I would think it was a completely different full-sized gun. It’s that much better.

Slide and Sights

The Hellcat Pro features the rugged, hammer-forged steel slide that has become synonymous with the Hellcat series. The original barrels were 3 inches, but the Pro is 3.7 inches, which makes the gun more shootable.

Like its predecessors in the Hellcat line, the Pro’s slide is optic cut (standard, not optional, as it was in the original) with a flush-fit plate that accommodates a variety of micro red dots, including Springfield’s proprietary Hex Wasp line.

Sights are really hard to photograph, but the front day-glow and rear notch are easy to see with the naked eye for quick target acquisition.

Not a red dot shooter? The Pro carries over the Hellcat series tritium and luminescent front sight paired with a tactical rack U-notch rear sight. The Pro’s slightly longer sight radius makes these excellent sights even easier to use.

Trigger and Controls

One of the standout features of the Hellcat series has been its Adaptive Grip Texture (AGT) and the trigger. The Hellcat Pro retains these features, offering a consistent and comfortable grip while maintaining a short, crisp trigger pull. The Pro’s trigger geometry is mostly the same as the original but with a slight hook at the bottom for even better trigger press and stability.

Triggers are a funny thing. They can make or break a shooting experience. The Hellcat Pro’s bang-maker features a trigger safety, crisp 5.5 lb. break, and tactile reset with zero grittiness.


The Hellcat Pro maintains an impressive magazine capacity, a hallmark of the Hellcat series. It comes with two 15-round steel magazines, mimicking many full-sized guns but in a compact package. The original Hellcat and Hellcat RDP were only 11 rounds standard, with an option for 13-rounders. You can even get a Pro 17-round magazine as an option, firmly landing it in the realm of the Glock 17 capacity or Springfield’s full-size lineup but still slim enough for easy concealment.

Concealed carry is all about size and concealability vs. capacity. Thankfully, the Hellcat Pro found the happy medium with 15+1 capacity (x2 steel magazines) in an easy-to-hide grip barely an inch wide.

Range Performance and Recoil Management

In terms of shooting performance, the Hellcat Pro exhibits the same reliability that users expect from the Hellcat series. The enhanced grip texture, extended beavertail, and upgraded sights provide a more comfortable and precise shooting experience. I’ve run various ammo brands and grains through my Hellcat Pro and have yet to experience a single malfunction. Do I guarantee you’ll have the same performance? Nope. But it’s been very reliable for me so far.

Recoil management on the Hellcat Pro is far better than the original Hellcat. The compact size within a larger gun feel (thanks to the aforementioned longer slide and grip) makes the Hellcat Pro a formidable choice for those looking for excellent controllability in a subcompact firearm.

Oddly, as popular as the Hellcat Pro has become, finding a holster for it can be a bit challenging. There are a few good ones out there, including this one from Crucial Concealment.

Parting Shots

The Springfield Armory Hellcat Pro builds upon the success of the original Hellcat and the Hellcat RDP, offering a refined and feature-rich compact pistol. The improvements in grip texture, slide serrations, optics compatibility, and magazine capacity make the Hellcat Pro a compelling option for concealed carry and personal defense.

While the original Hellcat and the Hellcat RDP remain excellent choices, the Hellcat Pro’s enhancements elevate it to a new level of versatility and customization. Whether adding an extended grip for improved ergonomics or upgraded sights and triggers, the Hellcat Pro addresses user feedback and evolving industry trends.

David Workman is an avid gun guy, a contributing writer to several major gun publications, and the author of Absolute Authority. A logophile since way back, Workman is a quickdraw punslinger and NRA RSO and Certified Pistol Instructor. He helps train new shooters on basic handgun skills and CCW requirements and is a strong advocate for training as much as practicable. "Real-world shootouts don't happen at a box range."

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