CCW Perfected: The Springfield Hellcat RDP
The Springfield Hellcat was one of the top selling guns of 2020 for good reason: with its diminutive size, high capacity, and excellent ergonomics the Hellcat offers a comfortable CCW option for those who are looking for something that isn't a Glock or Sig P365.
Looking to eat up even more of the CCW market share Springfield has released an updated and refined version called the Hellcat Rapid Defense Package, a fully loaded concealed carry system which includes most of the features modern gun buyers are looking for. We were lucky enough to pick one up and here are our first impressions.
Price and Availability of the Springfield Hellcat
The latest version of the Hellcat was released at the end of February. We went looking for it as soon as we received the announcement email without any luck. Then we contacted our LGS and they said it was on order, but had yet to receive a confirmation on when the gun would actually be available.
Itching to get it, we contacted Springfield directly. Customer service (who then called someone in sales/shipping while we waited) confirmed that the new Hellcat was indeed fully released, shipped, and available in both safety and non-safety models. No word on how many were shipped, but it's been a hard gun to find and our LGS which is pretty large still had yet to receive any so we went searching online.
A few online sites we came across who did have it in stock were selling it at 30% above the MSRP of $899. That's ridiculous but it is 2021 and the panic buyers have yet to fill up. We set up email notifications on Gunbuyer and got a notification that it was instock the next day at MSRP. Even though we are deal hunters, we knew that the RDP wasn't going to go down in price anytime soon so we placed our order. We checked inventory an hour later and it was sold out already.
If you're looking for the Hellcat RDP, or any other hard to find gun, setting up email notifications is a great way to get first dibs on what you're looking for. It's worked for us a couple times on Gunbuyer, and even though we don't get paid by them we fully recommend the site. The prices are fair, and your order is shipped fast.
What's Included with the Hellcat RDP?
The Hellcat RDP comes shipped in a pretty attractive presentation box which holds all the goodies. The gun itself is well protected inside a small padded case which is surprisingly nice. It's sized just right for the Hellcat and the internal magazine pocket is felt lined. Our gun isn't going to see a whole lot of time in the case, but we like it and think it definitely beats any of the generic foam lined boxes you get with a lot of other guns.
Hellcat RDP Magazines
Two magazines are included with the rapid defense package: an 11 round mag with pinky extension and a 13 round extended mag just like the standard model Hellcat. Ten round models are available for people in states who have their 2A rights suppressed. Springfield also offers a one time discount on magazines when you register the firearm if you want to stock up.
Hellcat RDP HEX Wasp Red Dot
The Hellcat RDP HEX Wasp Red Dot is a new option in the marketplace. While the Hellcat has previously been available with an optic, Springfield has begun manufacturing their own offering which comes mounted to the slide. That saves the time and expense of having the slide cut.
You can purchase a standard Hellcat that is optics ready but there are a lot of reasons to go with the Hex Wasp: it features a 3.5 MOA which is highly recommended on a CCW handgun. It's also housed in a durable metal housing and is glass which is hard to find in budget optics offerings.
Initial reviews on YouTube say that the Hex Wasp performs above its cost and works well. Some complain about the always on feature, but we think that the feature is actually pretty cool and saves some hassle. Springfield says that you can still expect in the neighborhood of 2 years battery life. If you are the worrying type, just change out the battery every year as part of your gun maintenance.
Though it is preinstalled and supposedly zeroed, our seems to be off just a bit. We will shoot it some more to be sure, but a tool is included to help with adjustments. So far, the dot is bright and clear. Red dots are controversial in the gun world, especially for CCW, but we think they are here to stay. Optics help you get on target quick especially if you haven't trained much (blame ammo prices), have poor eyesight, and can help build confidence in new shooters.
One of the more controversial features of the new Hellcat RDP is the compensator. Springfield has lengthened the barrel so that it can accommodate its innovative compensator. Naysayers think that comps on concealed carry guns is a waste. But there is enough research to convince us that a compensator helps you line up your next shot quicker. In a self defense situation, we will take all the help we can get. If you don't like the look, or don't want this feature, a thread cap is included.
If you are the type who likes to run a suppressor, the RDP is a perfectly ready to go base package. For current Hellcat owners who want to upgrade to the longer barrel, Springfield has said that they do not intend to offer the barrel/comp package separately. You'll need to pay for a new Hellcat.
The Hellcat RDP Trigger
The new edition of the Hellcat has what Springfield is calling a Gen 2 trigger. Really, it just fixes some of the problems owners had with the original release. The trigger face where your finger rests is a little wider to eliminate potential lock up issues.
In our quick testing, the trigger feels the same. It's a touch heavy though we didn't measure the pull. A heavier trigger is probably a good idea on a CCW gun and most say it's around 5.5 pounds. It feels closer to 6 but it might lighten up some after use. The break is crisp and loud enough to hear it.
What We Want to See on the Next Hellcat
Since the Hellcat competes with the Sig 365, we would have liked to see a third magazine included like with the P365 Tacpac. Another 13 rounder would make for a true "defensive" package. Luckily, Springfield does offer that discount which we will take advantage of.
Another thing that would make for a standout package would be a skeletonized trigger. Sure, it's mostly just a looks based feature, but a metal trigger with some styling cuts would cement this Hellcat RDP as a true top of the line CCW option. Some like flat triggers, and if our guess is right another model of the Hellcat will come along with further trigger refinement. For now, Apex and other manufacturers fill the need for aluminum trigger upgrades on the Hellcat.
Also, even though the presentation of the gun is nice, considering that the Hellcat RDP is at the high end of the spectrum for its category it would have been a knockout package if it came in a Vaultek Lifepod. Many pewtubers were sent a package like this when the original model was released.
To us, a $100 price increase to offer the Hellcat RDP in a Lifepod with 3 mags and a holster or light, along with a skeltonized trigger would have been a true top end look for what is quickly becoming the premier CCW gun on the market right now. Sure, $1000 is expensive but you would need nothing else.
The Hellcat RDP is not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but it's hard to dispute that Springfield is paying attention to what is selling and what modern gun owners want. We say modern because there are plenty of gun guys who don't like micro or sub compacts, don't like optics, don't like compensators, etc. In short - they don't like anything that isn't a tried and true Glock.
The Hellcat isn't for them. No, this gun is for a niche market that wants the latest features in a ready to go package. Not everyone wants to build guns, many prefer to buy it ready to go and get a factory warranty. Even better if all those features come in a well designed and thought out, ergonomic, dare we say sexy package. If Springfield keeps hitting homeruns like they have with the Hellcat, that niche is only going to grow.