Review: Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP Pistol

posted on May 7, 2021

Springfield Armory’s original Hellcat proudly holds claim to the title of the highest-capacity micro 9 mm on the market—at least for the time being. Now, the company has expanded the Hellcat line with the Hellcat Rapid Defense Package (RDP), which features Springfield’s new Hex Wasp micro red-dot sight (MRDS) and a self-indexing compensator.

Springfield is well-poised with the new RDP to answer the bell for shooters looking to fortify their personal-defense game plan. The new Hellcat variant hits the sweet spot for consumers looking for an optics-ready configuration in a compact handgun designed for concealed carry.

The Hellcat RDP has the same capacity as the original at 11+1 (flush-fit magazine) or 13+1 (extended mag), but has a longer overall length (7 inches as compared to 6 inches) because of the 3.8-inch long, threaded barrel. Width is still 1 inch, while the compensator adds roughly an ounce to overall weight. Height from bottom of grip to slide is the same as the original Hellcat, though the Hex Wasp adds less than its .86 inch of height to the overall dimensions.

Springfield made a concurrent announcement with the RDP that it would enter the red-dot marketplace with the Hex Wasp—the micro-size optic variant found on the new pistol—and the Hex Dragonfly, which is a full-size variant for larger-platform firearms. The Wasp is a perfect pairing with the Hellcat and helps maintain a low profile that’s ideal for use with cover garments and holsters for concealment. The Wasp features a 3.5-MOA red dot with an always-on configuration that runs off a single CR2032 battery touted to last for 65,000 hours. The auto-dimming brightness adjustment helps increase battery life and is ideal for covering a wide spectrum of lighting conditions. It’s a great option for simplifying concealed-carry use because, assuming you have battery power, shooters can simply draw from the holster and not worry about turning it on or off or manually adjusting brightness levels.

grip texturing, tritium sight, self-indexing compensator
Adaptive grip texturing helps achieve solid, yet comfortable purchase on the Hellcat RDP • The front sight includes a tritium insert surrounded by a yellow ring for fast acquisition when using the irons • Helpful for reducing muzzle climb, the self-indexing compensator easily mounts to the threaded barrel • Springfield’s Gen 2 trigger broke cleanly at an excellent weight for a CCW handgun • The Wasp MRDS co-witnesses withe the RDP’s iron sights.

Likewise, the Wasp can be easily adjusted in .5-MOA increments thanks to two Allen screws on the top and right-hand side of the sight. The one downside is that the battery sits underneath the sight, so removal is necessary for replacement. Meanwhile, a machined 6061 T6 hardcoat-anodized aluminum body is durable and features an extended front hood that allows shooters to rack the slide with the red dot while protecting the glass surface. The glass itself is scratch-resistant and features an anti-glare coating, and as testing demonstrated, is well-suited to all light conditions.

To help welcome its use with other pistols, Springfield also standardized a “Springfield Micro” footprint with the Wasp, which matches the Shield RMSc. The Wasp is IPX7 waterproof and features 1X magnification with parallax-free adjustment. 

The other key feature on the new Hellcat RDP is the patented Self-Indexing Compensator, which directs gas upward to help tame whatever muzzle rise the handgun produces. In turn, this allows for faster follow-up shots and rapid target acquisition. Because it is self-indexing, the compensator can be easily removed or reinstalled without worrying if it’s in the right position. The pistol ships with a 12x28 thread protector and can, of course, be used with a suppressor. Should you decide to go that route, the pistol becomes less of a concealed-carry option, but the fun factor increases when you’re banging steel at the range. 

Springfield also added the option to choose an ambidextrous manual safety with the RDP. Functionally, the safety does its job, but is shorter and therefore harder to manipulate than the larger thumb safeties found on 1911-style handguns. Other controls are identical to the original Hellcat, including left-hand-side magazine release and slide lock/release. The RDP also features Springfield’s upgraded Gen 2 trigger, which is a solid improvement upon the original Hellcat trigger and one that helps out in the accuracy department.

Generous slide serrations fore and aft make for easy slide manipulation, as does the Wasp red dot itself. Conveniently, Springfield designed the Wasp to co-witness with the tritium front sight and Tactical Rack U-notch rear sight, which not only allows for consistent training with iron sights, but also provides a reliable backup should the battery die at an inopportune time.

Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP shooting results

As testing demonstrated, the Hellcat RDP is an accurate option for common self-defense ranges. Testing was conducted alongside a first-generation Hellcat to get a feel for the aid of a compensator, and it does seem to help reduce muzzle rise. That said, the original Hellcat isn’t all that snappy as far as micro 9s go, and there is a trade-off with the additional length. The thumb safety gives peace of mind to those who seek it. The standout feature is clearly the Hex Wasp, which has an impressive build quality, maintains the low profile concealed carriers would be interested in and proved to be reliable in testing. As a stand-alone MRDS, the Wasp carries an MSRP of $299, while the Hellcat RDP comes in at $899, so it’s an excellent deal when you throw in the compensator basically for free.

Springfield Armory  Hellcat RDP
Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP specs


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