The Hellcat RDP from Springfield Armory

The Hellcat RDP from Springfield Armory

A storied name is Springfield Armory. His genealogy extends back to than two hundred years before the origins of the Hellcat pistol today. Springfield Armory originally was designed by George Washington in 1777 and was a Massachusetts military weapon storage facility. In 1795 they added the capacity to produce weaponry to the military forces of the emerging nation and continued to operate for 173 years. The Hellcat RDP from Springfield Armory

Following the end of operations in 1968, a tiny weapon-maker in Texas began to take advantage of the reputation of the facility as a National Historic Site. In 1974, Springfield Armory, Inc. was formally converted and moved to Illinois by the L. H. Gun Company. Although the name is the only thing they share in substance, the modern private corporation nods the tradition of the past Military armor.

Hellcat RDP from Springfield Armory

RDP stands for “Rapid Defense Package”, and this version of the Hellcat comes as a full kit including the red dot and compensator as shown here.

The Springfield Hellcat @ TFB:

The compensator features an excellent self-timing design that allows for quick threading on or off, so you can easily switch to the uncompensated configuration shown here.

Springfield now sells multiple rifle and pistol lines. They revealed the new Hellcat handgun type before SHOT Show 2020. Springfield returned to his pals in Croatia, HS Produkt, with whom they had already partnered for the XD series, to design and manufacture this micro-compact. Springfield announced their newest gun “The highest micro-compact 9mm in the world,” shiping these miniature pistols with a 13-round magazine and an 11-rounder. The size of the Hellcat is comparable to the P365 or Glock 26 of the SIG SAUER and the two handguns are typical base mags using ten rounders. The Hellcat RDP from Springfield Armory

Shooter of these models are not unusual to use 12 or 15-round magazines optionally, so that they can fairly claim “greatest capacity” with a grain of salt. That said, maintaining a 13+1 9mm capability of just 4.5′′ by 1′′ is a respectable offer, and the market has taken note. This is a strong offering. Generally favorably received and its fair number of units was sold by the original Hellcat. Our own Adam Scepaniak loves it, and has been awarded some industry accolades.

While the pros and cons of comping a subcompact CCW are debatable, the easy on/off mechanism of this muzzle device is one of the gun's high points for me.
While the pros and cons of comping a subcompact CCW are debatable, the easy on/off mechanism of this muzzle device is one of the gun’s high points for me.

I felt a bit less enthusiastic about the First-gene Hellcat, although I didn’t detest this, than was my pal Adam. I thought it wasn’t bad, and I looked like doing a decent job, but it didn’t work better than (or, in certain circumstances, even more so) its competition. I could see why some of the shooters wanted one, but I didn’t. Some of its details like trigger or ergonomics I did not particularly appreciate. To be fair: I did not do lengthy personal Hellcat tests with less than 100 rpm firing. That was enough for me to essentially say, “All right, I got it, that’s all right.”

Springfield announced a new version in early 2021. The RDP model (and not the Red Dot Pistol as I saw the social media banter) has two noticeable improvements immediately from the original. The box comes with an optical factory and countervailer following new trends in the aftermarket upgrade section of handguns which have started making their way into the default offers of some manufacturers. The Hellcat RDP from Springfield Armory

Included in the box you get one 11-round 9mm magazine and one 13-rounder.

It became obvious (I think) that pistol optics will probably be here, thus several firms are now offering their arms with optional – or even standard – slides that are pre-cut to take little red dots. It becomes more typical for pistol shooters to treat their iron sights like backups, from Glocks to H&Ks to SIGs and more, in much the same way that many ARs are equipped. Springfield listens to its clients and offers Hellcats optical ready-to-use slides as well as a pre-loaded SMSc model or Shield Mini Sight small. The RDP has now doubled on the dots, with the addition of a completely new optic.

Though its auto-brightness function leaves something to be desired, the Hex Wasp optic’s physical design and construction gave good impressions.

After more than two years of Springfield development, Hex Optics just launched in February. They came out of the door with two models: the Dragonfly and its youngest brother, the Wasp, a typical pistol of red dot. The Wasp is the optique which fits and is placed on the Hellcat as a microcompact gun. The Wasp bears a $299 MSRP if it is bought alone. This 3.5 MOA red dot, suitable for smaller pistols, uses Shield RMSc footage and boasts a two year life span from a CR2032 in the real world.

Its aluminum 6061 T6 housing contains a well designed geometry including an integrated rear iron sight, light protrusion on the sides to assist in pinching your slide, and an extended front lens shield that protects your glass from impact or if you have to rack the slide straight away, e.g. on a tabletop.

Springfield includes a slide cover plate, in case you opt to remove the installed MRDS and just run iron sights instead.

The window, although a touch squaty, wasn’t unmanageable in comparison to some other handgun optics. The dot is constantly on, however a dimming sensor is provided that will adapt your luminosity automatically to ambient light. No buttons and no adjustment of luminosity on the unit. I regretted that this was a problem when I saw dramatically different circumstances of illumination. The Hellcat RDP from Springfield Armory

The Hex-optic could be difficult for the reticle to change from darker to brighter thus in the event of photonic barriers it takes a few beats. Manual brightness would help, but you can only get what you believe you want with the Wasp. Although that’s all right most of the time, it can be inappropriate. I would probably choose a 507k Holosun or Trijicon RMRcc for all other equality. Before buying a Hellcat RDP outfitted with it, make sure you like the Hex Optic. Instead of ordering vision unseen, I strongly propose an individual test to be safe.

The compensator adds approximately one extra inch of length, and the Wasp sits slightly under an inch tall.

Even though the wasp is a bit miserable, I will certainly give credit to the compensator of the RDP where due and credit is due. Prior to that, I installed other comps and it is a clearly improved self-indexing design. Various additional products on the market require shims, timing, screwdrivers, o-rings, rocking and/or Loctite according to the manufacture and model. They can be sophisticated to install and require permanent or almost permanent attachment to your barrel. Thanks to its outstanding self-timing function Springfield’s comp can do all that. It ensures fast and easy removal while remaining rock-solid.

This causes it to break down, clean and keep or switch the muzzle brake with the suppressor. No other component I’ve used is almost as good (or at all). While I’m generally not a favor of CCW running comps, it’s a wonderful method to do it, if you want.

In case you’re like me and don’t prefer the Hex red dot, Springfield sells Hellcat RDPs that come with a Shield SMSc optic installed instead.

Shootability is always one of my key concerns with any handgun in this category. In my experience, this is generally for the cost of some snapshot compared to its bigger siblings. Subcompact pistols give priority to cover-up. For that reason, I tend to want to wear a tiny gun. The installation of the compensator of the RDP could best serve to smooth the muzzle twist inherent in the short barrel of the gun and in its low weight. With and without the Comp installed, I tested this Hellcat, expecting that this is the case. The leveling benefits were negligible in my experience with a properly strong grip.

While some may have small feeling increases, I never felt a significant difference in accuracy, or quickness, and did not see any noticeable shift. However, the manner in which you hold and operate your pocket gun can be more useful to you than I’ve seen. In the end, I had expectations that my performance was consistent. In terms of live fire performance the Hellcat RDP was basically the same for me as its preceding model: acceptable. It’s a little more hidden, but less nice than firearms of the same size and largely equal to other guns. It is a matter of shooter preference whether that makes sense for you. The Hellcat RDP from Springfield Armory

The RDP carries an MSRP of $899, which is an increase of $289-$330 over the Hellcat models that don’t come with an optic or comp. Whether it’s worth that premium depends heavily on how well you like those two specific components.

The big question: is it a purchase? Oh, no to me. I can’t honestly claim that I am itching to add a Hellcat RDP to my collection after spending some time with one. With the RDP I got the overall notion, “not bad” was the same as the original Hellcat. The drawing of the optic given is not sufficient to sell me an MSRP of $899.

I’d probably forego the comp and get the OSP model if I were to buy a Hellcat and add an optics that I prefer than the Hex. Moreover, I don’t know I would select any model from Hellcat for another “pocket rocket” like the Glock 43x MOS or SIG P365X. I’d just like to shoot and feel some other like-minded weapons. That’s all, however: the operative term is “preferable.” My experience with that weapon has shown nothing that is objective or functionally poor compared to comparable subcompacts. It has been running perfectly and achieves what it wants reasonably.

While my personal preference in the subcompact space tends more toward SIG’s P365X or Glock’s 43X MOS, plenty of buyers will like the Hellcat RDP – and there’s definitely a valid case for those in that camp.

You might be, whereas I’m not a buyer for Hellcat RDP. This kind of package obviously has a market and I trust that Springfield will sell its fair share. If in the niche you want a one-stop-shop solution for a sliced and red-dotted, mini handgun, I have no hesitation in suggesting that you examine this gun. If you’re one of those purchasers for whom you tick boxes on paper, Hellcat can fit you better than it did to me.

If so, I think the operational features of the weapon you can trust. It is small enough to conceal effectively, yet it still gives the class with high capacity in the magazine, and it worked well enough at least in low-content tests. Whilst its competitors in the subcompact world may not be enough to replace them, the Hellcat RDP of the Springfield nevertheless guarantees place and consideration among them. See you on the range! See you on the range

Images courtesy of Springfield Armory and the author.

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