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