I am sure that you readers have noticed how things cycle in terms of what is the "I've gotta have it" gun of the moment. I think that concealment handguns are subject to consumer preference fluctuations more than any other firearm category. The latest of these fluctuation's centers around a relatively new category of concealment handgun—the micro compact 9mm.
Take Springfield Armory's fine XD 3-inch Compact 9mm for example. The XD Compact offers a 13 round double stack flush fitting magazine in a cut-down XD package. It is easier to carry than the XD 4-inch Service Model due mainly to the shorter frame, but it still isn't a pocket or ankle gun. I carried one back in the early 2000's.
As more shall-issue concealed carry states came online, civilian permit holders began to demand more easily packable pistols—reduced capacity single stack 9's and .40's became the order of the day due to their narrow frame and lighter weight. Springfield joined the fray with their XD-S series of single stacks.
But for some, the single-stack solution wasn't quite what they were looking for. While consumers wanted the trim carry profile of the single-stacks, they were limited to 8-round (or less) magazines. A compromise was desired, and eventually appeared in the form of what is being called "micro compact" 9's.
Actually "Micro Compact" is a misnomer in my book, since it refers to two similar terms related to size—which isn't an accurate descriptor. I'd call this new generation of handgun a "Micro Hi-Cap" pistol, since its overall size is similar to a single stack micro-9 but mated to a 10 to 13 round magazine capacity. The Springfield Armory Hellcat is one of the latest examples of this concept—and it is very well executed.
Here are the Hellcat's vital statistics:Springfield Armory Hellcat
|Slide||Billet Machined-Melonite Finished Black|
|Barrel||3-inch length-Hammer forged Melonite Finished|
|Frame||Polymer with Adaptive Grip Texture|
|Overall Length||6 inches|
|Operating System||Striker Fired|
|Trigger||Flat Face-Lever type trigger safety|
|Magazine Capacity||Two Magazines Included-One 11 round Flush Fit/One 13 round extended|
|Sights||U-Dot: Tritium/Luminescent Front, Tactical Rack Rear|
Additionally, the Hellcat features a standard accessory rail, top covering rear slide cocking serrations, front slide serrations, a reversible magazine release button, and a loaded chamber indicator.
I took the Hellcat to a friend's backyard range for testing along with a quantity of SIG Sauers 115 grain 9mm 365 ELITE FMJ and V-Crown defensive loads, which were originally designed to mate with SIG's P365 Micro Hi-Cap 9mm pistol. It is loaded to 1050 FPS for reduced recoil in small pistols. It works great in any Micro Hi-Cap 9mm.
I had previously handled the Hellcat at Vance Outdoors, and was very impressed with its feel. Trigger pull weight is in the 5-6 lb. range and crisp. The Adaptive Grip Texture stippling is as good as it gets in terms of providing a non-slip grip that isn't painful under recoil. The 1-inch wide polymer grip frame simply melts into the hand, and is much more comfortable when firing than narrower single stack designs.
Saturday's test weather was nothing short of crappy—it was overcast with light drizzle. However, it proved to be ideal conditions "U-Dot" Sight setup. The U-shaped rear sight has a non-luminescent white outline, while the front-sight features a Tritium dot surrounded by a yellow-green circle for daylight use. The front sight was amazingly bright in the overcast afternoon conditions and stood out vividly against the target. It was easy and quick to align with the U-shaped rear and is everything you could want in a defensive pistol sight.
I loaded up the 13-round magazine with the FMJ ammo, and let my buddy take the opening shots. He immediately noted that the 365 ammo was perfectly suited to the Hellcat. Recoil was mild due to the design of the Hellcat and the test ammo. Test distance was 20 feet, and his shots grouped to the point of aim. Functioning was of course flawless. My buddy has larger hands than I, and was perfectly comfortable with the grip size.
I loaded up the next magazine with the 365 V-Crown loads, and was able to shoot a 13-shot group that measured 2.5 inches across. By that time, the misery factor of the weather had increased via a temperature drop and we called it quits. There was nothing we would change about it.
Testfire one at the Vance Outdoors Obetz Shooting Range. It may prove to be your ideal carry gun.