Firearm: Springfield Armory Hellcat OSP (MSRP: $599)
We’ve covered the Springfield Armory Hellcat OSP previously on “I Carry,” and with good reason. This micro-compact pistol’s size puts it in one category, while its capacity clearly puts it in another. Barely larger than pocket-size, 6-shot .380 ACP pistols, the Hellcat’s 11+1 round capacity with the flush magazine would be impressive as a .380 – except that it’s a 9 mm. While the debate rages on about the effectiveness of 9 mm, there’s no getting around the fact that today’s ammunition offerings place the 9 squarely in solid performance territory. With the Hellcat, having 12 rounds onboard is impressive, especially considering it’s roughly the same size as a 5-shot revolver.
On its own, the Hellcat is pretty remarkable. With the standard magazine in place, capacity is a healthy 11+1 rounds. A slightly extended magazine brings the total to 13+1 rounds, putting the little Hellcat very close to the capacity of guns significantly larger. Texturing completely encircles the grip, helping to control the small pistol on the range, and that texturing even extends to small indentations just above the end of the trigger guard – giving a tactile safe place to rest the finger when not shooting. Cocking serrations at the front and rear of the slide help with administrative manipulation, while a tiny nub of an accessory rail rounds out the dustcover. Two sets of sights are available: Both feature an interesting white “U” for the rear sight, but a red fiber-optic pipe or a tritium night sight with white outline are available.
Adding to the utility of this easily concealable pistol is the OSP configuration, which allows a micro-red-dot optic to be added to the pistol. It’s a very slight upcharge, and worth it if you plan on adding a red dot sight to this kit, as we have today. Also worth it is the Hellcat mounting kit hardware from Springfield Armory – for $5, you get the right-length screws to add the sight and the correct Allen key. The optics cut is designed so that common red-dot sights co-witness with the existing factory sights, so even if the battery were to die at an inopportune time, the sights are still quite usable.
There’s a lot to like about the Hellcat, and very few complaints. Capacity is excellent, ergonomics are good as well and the size is just about perfect for concealed carry. There’s a reason it’s become one of the benchmarks against which micro-9 mm pistols are compared.
Red-dot sights on pistols are hot and only getting hotter. Even small pistols like the Hellcat and SIG P365 are getting red dots, like this JP Enterprises JPoint4 we have here today. Originally designed for JP Rifles as a back-up, close-range sight for the company’s excellent 3-gun-oriented rifles, the JPoint quickly became a favorite for small pistols using the Shield RMS footprint. Models are available with either a 4-MOA dot like we have today or an 8-MOA dot for more rapid target acquisition.
There’s not much more to say about the JPoint, because it’s super minimalist. It has an ambient light sensor that adjusts dot brightness to account for existing light levels, so there are no brightness controls. The dot is always on, so there’s no On/Off button or switch – expect to change the CR2032 battery once a year or so. The JPoint on this Hellcat has been mounted and on for approximately 6 months now, with no noticeable decrease in brightness. Approximately 400 rounds have been fired without any change in zero.
Holster: Dark Star Gear Hitchhiker (MSRP: $80 stock, $90 as shown)
Brand new from Dark Star Gear is the Hitchhiker for the Hellcat – it’s so new, it hasn’t even been added to the website yet. The model we have here for this “I Carry” is a prototype, but the finished model is expected to look pretty close to what we have here. In any case, it’s chock-full of Dark Star Gear goodness, like the Dark Wing attachment that helps keep the grip in tight against the body, full-length sweat guard and twin-screw retention adjustment.
The most impressive part is the fit. This particular model, obviously, comes with the optics cut, and it literally passes a hair’s width under the slight overhang of the optic on the slide. A tiny flair around the magazine release prevents inadvertent release, while still holding fast on the trigger guard. Obtaining a full firing grip is possible with the Hitchhiker, and the Hellcat can be drawn and re-holstered smoothly. The attentive eye will note that the holster is longer than the pistol; this is done to help prevent the rig from rotating on the belt line.