Firearm: Springfield Armory Hellcat OSP (MSRP: $599)
Springfield Armory’s new Hellcat micro-9 mm pistol is a triumph of one-upmanship – literally. Other micro 9 mm pistols offer 10 rounds in tiny packages, but the Hellcat, to borrow a phrase, goes up to 11. With an overall length of 6 inches, a height of 4 inches and an unloaded weight of 18 ounces, the Hellcat’s size is closer to the Kahr PM9 than even the Glock G26 or Smith & Wesson M&P subcompact. It’s part of a relatively new class of handgun, shared with the SIG Sauer P365 and SCCY DVG1, among others, and brings near-full-size capacity to pocket-size pistols.
There’s a lot to distinguish the Hellcat from the rest of the crowd, though. Texturing is not aggressive, but prevalent – there’s texture on parts of the pistol you don’t normally see, like where the thumb pad of the support hand rests above the mag release, or ahead of the trigger guard as a finger rest. Controls are minimal – there’s a mag release, a slide stop and a takedown lever. There’s no grip safety. Or grip zone, for that matter. The trigger is flat-faced, has a bit of takeup and then a fairly consistent, not-terribly heavy pull. Reset is about middle-of-road: it’s not measured in microns, but it’s also not of the “throw your finger off the trigger to reset” variety, either.
Up top are not one but two surprises. First, the sights themselves are useful and distinct. A white-outline “U” comprises the rear sight, with the front sight having a yellow-outlined tritium vial. It’s quick to acquire in bright or low light, and the rear sight is of the ledge variety, if ever the pistol needs to be racked on an edge rather than via hand. With the nested recoil springs offering pretty stiff resistance, that might just be needed… The other surprise is the OSP: Optical Sight Pistol. For a whopping $30 premium over the non-OSP version, the Hellcat comes with a milled slide set up to accommodate a Shield RMSc or JPoint mini-red-dot sight. Even if you’re not a fan of red dots, that’s not a lot of extra cost should you ever change your mind.
On the range, the Hellcat is, well, a handful, but not as bad as you might fear. Sure, it’s a little snappy, but that’s going to be the case with pretty much any handgun in a serious defensive caliber that’s this small. There’s just not that much to hold onto. It’s not terrible, though, and certainly tame enough to allow some time on the range before you feel the need to take a break. And, with both 11- and 13-round magazines available (one of each is standard with each Hellcat), you’ll have plenty of time on the shooting line to get to know your Hellcat. And that’s a good thing no matter how you look at it.
Holster: Mission First Tactical Inside/Appendix/Outside holster (MSRP: $49.99)
With the Hellcat’s small footprint, it’s ideal for inside-the-waistband and appendix carry. With that in mind, we’ve chosen Mission First Tactical’s Inside/Appendix/Outside holster. Its simple construction allows the user to switch between inside- or outside-the-waistband carry as well as appendix-style – the Boltaron clip can be configured in a number of ways to suit the user. It can even alternate between left- and right-hand configuration. Precise molding and a retention screw keep the Hellcat squared away, and there’s even a recessed cut for optics. It’s a lot of holster for not a lot of money, and it’s also an easy way to try out different carry methods should you wish to try something new. Especially useful is the ability to convert the holster back to a more familiar method should you not care for the new one.
Light: SureFire Stiletto Pro (MSRP: $229.99)In keeping with the Hellcat’s theme of output far exceeding its size is SureFire’s new Stiletto Pro rechargeable LED flashlight. While small enough to fit in a pocket for everyday carry, this powerhouse puts out a whopping 1,000 lumens on its highest setting, with a run time of one hour. On the medium setting, 300 lumens are at the ready for an hour and a half, and should the lowest setting be employed, there’s 25 lumens available for slightly less than an entire day – 23.5 hours. Standard activation is through a side-mounted button, with a tailcap switch that toggles between high and strobe. Best of all, it recharges via a standard micro-USB cable.