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By Mike Hardesty

I’m a fan of Springfield Armory’s guns for the most part. I get it – they made some poor political choices in the past and alienated a number of gun owners. But, that was then and this is now. I’ve owned several SA pistols over the years and have reviewed even more. I have always been impressed with their firearms, and the ones made in Croatia are top-notch.

So it was with great expectations that I awaited the Hellcat RDP. They sent the gun and the above-pictured Crucial Concealment IWB holster to review. Later, they sent me two 15-round extended magazines. That expands this gun’s purposes and missions. The 15-rounders give you GLOCK 19 capacity in a tiny micro package. More on those mags later.

What Does RDP Mean?

The Hellcat made its debut in September of 2019, in direct competition with SIG SAUER’s game-changing P365. The latest iteration is the RDP or Rapid Defense Package. The RDP adds two new features, one more in demand that the other among concealed carriers.

First is the HEX Wasp micro reflex sight with a 3.5 MOA red dot and self-dimming circuitry. The sight is always on, but has a rated battery life of 65,000 hours (more than 7 years or at least three of normal usage).

The other new item is a self-indexing muzzle compensator. It screws onto the barrel by pressing a lever on its underside while starting it onto the barrel. You can release the lever after a few revs and it will align itself to the proper position, clicking into place after being screwed on fully. Here’s what it looks like:

It’s pretty easy to remove – you just press the lever and rotate it off. I find it easier to hold the comp still and turn the gun, but as I said above I’m left-handed so…. At any rate, the compensator does a decent job of reducing muzzle flip. There is a thread protector included as well.

How I’d Use This Gun

Like the original, the RDP’s main purpose is as a concealed carry pistol. Here you have a gun that weighs but 19 ounces, just over one pound. It pack either 11, 13, or 15 rounds plus one in the chamber, and comes with a pre-mounted red dot. Add in the compensator and pistol’s one-inch width and you have a very effective package that begs to be pulled from the safe and added to your belt as you head out the door.

Having carried mine, it’s true that after a while, the comp and red dot don’t get in the way at all.

Another Option

With an 11- or 13-round magazine in place, the gun fits well in the concealed carry realm. Add the 15-rounder to the mix and now you have a gun that just accepted a new job assignment, that of home defense. With the built-in Pic rail, you can add a light to the Hellcat RDP and this little concealed carry pistol becomes a very viable nightstand gun.

Features

Here are some of the reasons I like the RDP…

Grip Texture Springfield calls it Adaptive Grip Texture. They say it consists of pyramidal shapes – the taller ones are flat-topped, and the lower ones are pointed. The marketing materials say their purpose is two-fold; when you first grip the gun, the taller flat-tops hold the gun in your hand. Squeeze it harder when you’re ready to shoot and the shorter, pointy pyramids press into your hands for a more secure grip.

All I know is the Hellcat RDP’s texture works. It allow me to keep a good grip on the gun. I like aggressive texturing and this qualifies, but isn’t over-the-top. It works. 

Sights The tritium front and rear U-notch iron sights that are standard on the Hellcat RDP are excellent if you’re not using the red dot.

The HEX Wasp is icing on the cake and given the seeming geometrically increasing adoption rate of micro red dots for carry guns, lots of buyers will like having one pre-mounted. 

Magazines You have three choices where magazines are concerned; 11-, 13- and 15-rounders.

All are readily available. Finger extensions are included on the 13- and 15-rounders.

Compensator Muzzle wasn’t a complaint many people had on the original Hellcat. That said, it’s noticeably reduced on the RDP.

It self-indexes and is a snap to take off or put on. 

Accuracy The targets below aren’t perfect but the accuracy potential for this micro nines is there. This is a better-than minute-of-bad-guy carry gun. 

Shooting The Hellcat

I do not have a ton of ammo to put through review guns – I’m still suffering somewhat from the long, but finally easing ammo drought. Still, I took some of what I have and set up three targets at 15 yards. Fiocchi 115gr target ammo isn’t exactly a wrist-buster on its worst day, but the compensator made it even more pleasant to shoot.

Not having sophisticated equipment with which to measure these things, I’ll just go with the “it-feels-less” measurement of muzzle flip and felt recoil. I have shot this Hellcat both with and without the compensator. The effect is there and it makes for quicker follow-up shots.

The Hellcat RDP’s under-six-pound trigger pull was crisp, without much take-up or creep, and broke cleanly. There was zero overtravel and reset is short. This gun is a shooter. 

I also shot a favorite handload of mine, a sized-as-cast Lee 124-grain round nose bullet over 4.8 grains of LONGSHOT. I get very good accuracy with this concoction and typical velocities in the 1100 fps range with barrels between three and four inches. 

Speaking of iron sights, the front tritium glows nicely at dusk, and its luminous outer ring stands out in daylight. I like the serrated U-shaped rear sight with its white outline. The HEX Wasp reflex sight lends itself to quick target acquisition and it’s nicely co-witnessed with the irons.

Here are some representative 15-yard targets . . .

Fiocchi Range Dynamics 115-grain FMJ
Fiocchi Range Dynamics 115-grain FMJ
Fiocchi Training Dynamics 115-grain FMJ
Handload

None of these groups are bad, considering the 11-degree weather and 6+ inches of snow we had the day I shot the Hellcat RDP. I don’t do my best shooting when it’s that cold, but the gun is a natural pointer for me, particularly with the HEX Wasp installed. 

 

After you shoot it, you gotta clean it. That’s pretty simple… 

  1. Remove the magazine and make sure the chamber is empty.
  2. Lock the slide back.
  3. Turn the takedown lever 90 degrees counterclockwise to 12:00.
  4. Return the slide to its forward position and pull the trigger.
  5. Pull the slide forward off the rails and remove the barrel and recoil spring.

Conclusion

Everything in TTAG’s original review of the Hellcat (here) applies to the new Hellcat RDP. Springfield’s entry into the increasingly competitive higher capacity micro nine market was and is easy to shoot, accurate, has great capacity, and it’s reliable…everything gun buyers look for in a concealed carry pistol. The RDP version simply tacks on a couple of added features that more people are looking for these days.  

Specifications: Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP

Caliber: 9mm
Overall Length: 7”
Overall Height: 4” with flush mag, 4.5” with 13-round extended mag
Weight: 19.3 oz. with flush mag, 19.6 oz. with extended mag
Slide: Billet machined, Melonite finish
Barrel: 3.8″ Hammer forged steel w/ compensator, threaded (.5 x 28), Melonite finish
Trigger Pull Weight: 5 lbs., 13 oz. (avg)
Width: 1” at the grip 
Magazines: 11-round flush fit and 13-round extended included; 15 round extended optional
Sights: Tritium/luminescent front, tactical rack U-notch rear, HEX Wasp red dot
MSRP: $962

Ratings (out of five stars):

Reliability: * * * * *
I had zero feeding or extraction problems with range, JHP or home-brewed ammo. Pull the trigger and it goes bang, the basic prerequisite in an EDC pistol. 

Accuracy: * * * * *
The gun shoots better than I did. It was accurate with both factory loads and my handload.

Ergonomics: * * * * ½
The Hellcat RDP naturally fits my hand well with either the 13- or 15-round magazine. The 11-rounder leaves my pinkie dangling, something endemic to micro nines. This is nothing new. I’d just carry it with an extended mag.

Concealability: * * * * *
Even packed with the 15-rounder, the Hellcat RDP sat out of the way inside the waistband. It hides well regardless of which mag you are using. Neither the HEX Wasp or the compensator detracted from the pistol’s concealability. It carries well in the holster shown and there are other options on the market. 

Customization: * * * ½
There aren’t a huge number of options here as the RDP comes from the factory with a good red dot sight and a muzzle compensator. Aside from a light or laser, there isn’t much more to do to it. 

Overall: * * * * ½
The Springfield Hellcat RDP is designed to be a complete, out-of-the-box concealed carry package. Unless you’re dead set on adding a light or laser to it, the pistol is good to go as soon as you bring it home. 

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51 COMMENTS

    • To be fair, my disinterest in this weapon isn’t solely due to the company that manufactures it, although that doesn’t help either. But weapons like this (to me, anyway) are like a Prius or maybe a #2 phillips screwdriver or crescent wrench. Sure, it will get the job done, in the most boring way possible. But why not review something that’s actually interesting, like an Uberti 1973 Cattleman birdshead in .45 Colt with a 5-1/2″ barrel? OK, maybe the Prius does have some advantages over a ’66 Mustang, but which would you rather be seen driving?

      • Agreed, but I wouldn’t use my ‘66 mustang for my daily commute. I’d trash that Prius and kick it to the curb. The same applies here. Collect the Cattleman, carry the “disposable” plastic-fantastic.

  1. shot my buddys hellcat a couple weeks ago
    it was cool
    but i like my xdm elite 3.8 compact better:
    funner to shoot
    easier to shoot well
    full ambi controls
    and concealable enough for my needs

    • Looks a bit “sophisticated” (insert “limp wrist” here) to me.

      Whatever happened to “keeping it simple”?

      Give me my Ruger SP101, Star BM or Star PD any day over this “fancy” (add “lisp” here) gun.

  2. I started off carrying a micro 6 years ago. Nowadays it either a G17 or an M&P 9. Micro only when deep conceal is required, or as a BUG. I simply prefer the improved accuracy over distance, the lower recoil, the higher capacity, and the more abundant grip purchase of a larger EDC.

  3. The compensator is kind of funny on this little dude. I put a magna ported barrel in my Glock 34. I didn’t feel any difference in muzzle flip, not until I loaded it with P+ ammo! With the high pressure ammo it was a nights and days apart. Which makes sense the higher the volume and pressure venting upwards means the more thrust generated to keep the muzzle down. Enough so to keep the gun completely flat with the hot loads. I think follow up shots may even been easier with the P+ than the normal loads.

    • Oh, for the love of…

      Really? How in God’s good name is my simple comment above worthy of being placed into moderation purgatory? Ya think maybe someone can tweak the filters a bit for the better, TTAG?

  4. I never carried a grudge against SA. Most of that passed over my head. Didn’t even hear of it until it was a done deal. I did, however, carry a couple of different SA 1911s in my duty holster. Both had a little custom work and both gave great service. They are gone but I have a 4 digit serial # M1-A rifle now and SA could never make me mad enough to get rid of that.

  5. I’m going to qualify the above. I’m not interested in this pistol. I have a 1/2 dozen plastic pistols, so, eh. What I’ll probably buy on sight is SA’s Hi-Power. Even though I already own a nice Hi-Power. You SA haters can sit in the corner and sulk if you want to.

    • I also once owned an SAR-48 Bush Rifle. If you have one you’d like to sell, please respond. I will pay a reasonable price. Same goes for an FN-FAL.

      • @Gadsden Flag

        Sold my FN-FAL HB over three decades ago with the thought that I could easily replace it…been kicking myself ever since. Best of luck in finding a good (authentic) FAL for less than a mortgage.

        (purchased from J&G Sales through Shotgun News back in ’83…them were the days *sigh*)

    • I have zero interest in this gun, and a general dislike for all Things SA….. I’m also not thrilled about supporting a Turkish manufacturer considering the current political climate over there….
      But i WILL be buying the first new hipower clone i see. Either the Girsan MC P35 or the SA-35. Whichever i find first.

    • Debbie, thank you for that link. I had never read the exact details of their actions for myself. Seems to me SA sold out the 2A rights of everyone else so they would have a leg up in IL.

  6. My only complaint about my BIL’s Hellcat in 2020 was muzzle flip. The compensator should make up for that, but at the price………

    I don’t see the advantage over my Kahr CW9 or Springfield XDS for deep conceal, or the G23/9mm or Springfield XD Mod2 3″ for higher capacity OWB carry.

    If I ran across one a bargain price or came into money, sure. Otherwise, I doubt it.

  7. Have the base model Hellcat. No optic cut or anything fancy.
    For deep Summer carry along with a Kahr K9 Elite.
    The Kahr just suffers from being a single stack and I’ve always like Springfield pistols.
    Not much of a red dot person so I’d pass on this.

  8. Springfield remains dead to me, as long as the leadership involved in the betrayal are still in power.

    I had one of their original XD guns, and while it was ergonomic especially for the guns of the era the trigger was terrible. I hear this one is better and maybe that’s true, but we still have that problem of leadership at Springfield all too willing to sell us up a river for their carve out profits

  9. “…they made some poor political choices in the past and alienated a number of gun owners. But, that was then and this is now.”
    yes, it is. and we’re still living with the results of those choices.

  10. come to think, i’m amazed that the illinois state rifle association always raffles rock river arms products.
    it don’t make sense.

  11. While the features may be “In Demand” there is some splaining to do. First, there are over 16 million new shooters now engaged in the market compared to just a few years back. They aren’t long time gun owners, and for the most part more easily influenced by advertising than those of us who still see polymer as relatively new. After all it took them this long to finally “get it” and realize the nation wasn’t actually going in a direction the way they were told to believe.

    The older shooters who are competing are now picking up RMR’s and muzzle devices for the range – having seen them work on the AR15 for the last ten years. They do contribute, but again, the older CCW aren’t following on so much. We’ve learned these devices are only incremental in improving things, not game changers, and having used normal sights and shot non compensated guns for much of our life we realize they aren’t absolutely needed. They are still just accessories – and they can fail. A set of iron sights and a plain barrel will put rounds down range as need with less problems in the long run associated with holsters, a draw sequence from concealment, or the need to add more weight to our belt when the change from six to ten rounds was plenty. That’s one less mag change in 20 shots fired now.

    How big a gunfight is this anyway? We just started carrying a spare mag a few years back as it was.

    So, are the fully tricked out guns selling? Sure, just like Detroit adopts some custom trends in cars and makes them stock. Having seen that for over 40 years I can say for the most part it’s marketing and sales. In the day, 4WD was actually a rare feature and if you had it you used it, now 4WD/AWD is common yet 95% of those owners never see dirt more than a few times a year. It doesn’t help when we’ve also been paving everything in sight another 3 decades. I have to drive an hour to find a dirt country road now.

    Guns are just the same – these fully featured firearms run great at a range where rings score and there’s no pressure – but on the street where the real engagement is a 18″ center of mass on a target that might shoot back, hits are the only thing that still count. A 7 could be better than a 9, too. Head or groin can stop, which is the specific reason to shoot. Not scores or trophies.

    A major factor in carry has been and still is weight, these tricked out pistols are heavy compared to the stripped .380s that were the hot thing five years ago. As time goes by, a lot of this accessorizing is going to slow down, the parts are coming off, and simplicity will be restored because the experienced users know a flash in the pan when they see one. And we are willing to say that because we don’t have a financial incentive to promote them. Ahem.

    Nice race gun for the target range. Carry, not so much. I see a lot of it in the gun media, I saw shackles, ladder bars and outside exhaust in the day, too. That fad passed, and so will this one.

    • Tirod,
      Have you given much practice to red dot pistols? They make hits on moving targets MUCH easier and faster.
      …most things you would need to defend against are likely to be moving.

    • Ok, let’s get you to bed grandpa.

      Red dots make sense on pistols – they are naturally faster target acquisition to anyone who has taken the time to learn, or to someone who is so new they didn’t learn the old way (and as you noted, we have loads of new comers to the shooting industry).

      You can also be more accurate with a red dot at distance. While not necessarily the common gunfight, it could happen.

      Red dots are the future, and I will never buy a handgun that isn’t optics ready unless it’s fulfilling some range toy or collector need.

  12. Yes, please, “TTAG Contributor”, tell us all about this product.

    This article has a strong “Hello, fellow kids” vibe to it, starting with the try-hard downplaying of the fact that the principal owner and CEO of Springfield armory is on record with documented proof both personally supporting and funding activism with the express intent of using the power of the State to disadvantage his competitors and infringe the rights of the fellow citizens of his state.

    No, I will not have anything to do with the products of this company as long as a single cent of my hard earned money ends up in his wallet. Why would I pay somebody to oppress and enslave me?

  13. “Magazines You have three choices where magazines are concerned; 11-, 13- and 15-rounders.”

    If there’s no option for a 10-round magazine, then this gun can’t be sold in NY, NJ, CA, MA, CT, RI, HI, and other ****hole states. At least the Ruger LC9 Max has a 10-rounder available.

    • It’s time for you to get the hell out, I did after 55 years, born and raised in south Hudson County, lived in NW Morris County for 25 years, worked in NYC, JC, Passaic, Dover, and now couldn’t be happier here in SW Virginia. Get out while you can and figure out a way to stiff the state on their “exit fee” like I did.

      • Thanks for the advice gramps.

        I’ll just fire my 22 employees, sell my buildings, sell my homes, uproot my kids from their schools, tell all my friends cya, tell my family I hope they visit soon, quit all of my volunteer positions and clubs and move to some other place.

        • You can still own a business and live out-of-state. Your homes? (You have a “shore house” don’t you?) Sell them with the provision that you get to stay in one until the “exit tax” time frame expires to avoid the penalty and/or commute home on the weekends. Your family? Well if they don’t make the effort to see you after you move just how “close” are/were they? Oh, “social events”, volunteer/clubs? It’s not like there’s anything like THAT outside N.J. (sarc). I’ll wager those memberships are more for self-aggrandizement. Last but not least, sure keep your children in the overly toxic and corrupt public school system, the most detrimental experiencd one could expose their children to.

          ….. and if you’re in the “trades”, plumbing, heating/A/C, electrician etc. there is a need for those services here.

    • It’s my understanding that Springfield ships 10-round magazines to those states that require them, so you should be good to go. Thanks for writing!

  14. It’s time for you to get the hell out, I did after 55 years, born and raised in south Hudson County, lived in NW Morris County for 25 years, worked in NYC, JC, Passaic, Dover, and now couldn’t be happier here in SW Virginia. Get out while you can and figure out a way to stiff the state on their “exit fee” like I did.

  15. “Buy this” says the advertiser’s shill.

    Ooh lookee here neophyte why it’s got a reflex sight and a compensator (Yippie, where’s the rest of the requsite “mall ninja” add-ons?)

    There’s nothing quite like having “bells & whistles” ie. extraneous crap to get snagged on clothing during a DGU.

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  17. The Hellcat RDP with comp, 15 round extended mag, and red dot is awesome. Need all 3 of those extra features. I got better groups then targets above first time I shot it without going to the range in 2 years. Wish I had a Hellcat instead of the 9mm the Army issued to me. My friend, used to be in the Navy, shot better than I did. My wife did great with it too. Way better than my XD-M comp 40S&W. Lighter, quick targeting, no recoil, easy to fire 3 rounds a second with good groups. Never buy a weapon without a red dot site!

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