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First Look: The Hellcat Pro Comp 9mm

In today’s article, Jeremy Tremp introduces us to the new Hellcat Pro Comp 9mm pistol from Springfield Armory. The handgun used in this article was loaned to the author by Springfield for the purposes of writing this article.

I bet you’ve heard the saying, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too”. Well, with the Springfield Armory Hellcat Pro Comp model, you can eat all the cake you want — metaphorically speaking, of course. Let me explain.

When choosing a pistol, especially one you will utilize for a daily carry, it’s often an involved process of weighing size versus capacity, control, concealability, etc. With innovative advances in materials and design in recent years, we’ve slowly gotten just about everything we could ask for in a CCW pistol with the Hellcat family of pistols.

For those of you who might not be familiar with the Hellcat story, the original Hellcat 9mm pistol burst onto the scene back in 2019 and helped redefine an entire genre of micro-compact pistols. Five years later, we have what might just be the ultimate version of the pistol — the Hellcat Pro Comp.

[Don’t miss Massad Ayoob’s Springfield Hellcat Pro review for additional information on these handguns.]

Stepping Stones

But let’s back up a little bit. While the original Hellcat was a micro-sized 9mm that featured a short 3” barrel and a flush-fit 11-round capacity (13 rounds with the included extended magazine), Springfield Armory soon followed up with the 9mm Hellcat Pro.

The Pro variant bumped the length of the barrel out to 3.7”, and extended the grip frame to hold a flush-fit 15-round magazine (and the pistol also comes with an extended 17-rounder). The Pro is 6.6” long, 4.8” tall and only 1” thick. While only marginally larger than the original Hellcat, the Pro was intended to offer an ideal blend of size, performance and capacity for a carry pistol you can still actually carry.

[Catch Jeremy Tremp’s review of the Hellcat Pro 17 round magazine.]

The vast majority of the Hellcat family offerings come optics ready with the OSP (Optical Sight Pistol) system. The only exception is one basic black original Hellcat that is not optics-ready. The OSP system has the slide milled to directly accept micro red dot optics with the Shield SMSc/RMSc footprint, and comes with a cover plate.

The advantage of this direct-mount system is two-fold. Firstly, it reduces parts and therefore failure points, with no need for adapter plates. Secondly, it positions the optic low enough to allow the excellent U-Dot iron sights of the pistol to co-witness. If you are not familiar with the U-Dot system, it is made up of a high visibility tritium & luminescent front sight paired with a Tactical Rack rear sight with a U-shaped notch. The result is easy target acquisition in a wide range of lighting conditions. In addition, all Hellcats come with an accessory rail on the dustcover for accepting the light or laser of your choice.

[Get more on the Springfield Hellcat sight picture.]

Balancing Needs

While some might have thought the Hellcat Pro was at the pinnacle of EDC pistol design, the engineering maestros at Springfield Armory decided it was time to kick it up a notch — or down, depending on the context. The result is the new Hellcat Pro Comp, a 9mm EDC pistol with an integral compensator.

If you are unfamiliar with porting and its benefits, I will break it down quickly. Creating a port or opening in the barrel and slide — generally at the 12-o clock position near the muzzle — allows escaping gas to flow upward out of the port before fully exiting the barrel.

So, what’s the benefit?

The idea here is the escaping gases venting upwards will counteract muzzle flip by redirecting thrust downward as the pistol fires. In theory, this allows you to have quicker follow-up shots and less sight picture interruption when firing your pistol, especially when firing quickly.

Speaking of sight picture interruption, it was clear the designers at Springfield took this into account with the Hellcat Pro Comp. Rather than a port (or ports) located behind the front sight, the Pro Comp has the front sight move back a short distance to be positioned behind the compensator port.

Looking at the profile, you could almost miss that this is a new variant of the Hellcat Pro as it looks very similar to a stock Pro. But once you take a closer look at the slide and barrel, you can see the Springfield Armory engineers’ handiwork.

Familiar Territory

Being that the Hellcat is made for daily carry, Springfield made every design choice based around reliability, ease of use and intuitive handling. The heart of the pistol is the 3.7” hammer-forged and Melonite-finished barrel that is as durable as it is accurate. The slide has front and rear slide serrations for ease of manipulation regardless of conditions. The magazine release is also reversible for left-handed shooters if you choose. Another nice touch is the addition of a loaded chamber indicator made up of a port cut on the top/rear area of the barrel hood. The result is that, at a glance, you can quickly tell the condition of your pistol.

From a handling standpoint, if you appreciate the design of the Hellcat Pro, you will feel right at home with the Hellcat Pro Comp. Even with the flush fit magazine installed, you can easily get a tight and full grip on the pistol. Also, I tested it out, and the Hellcat Pro Comp easily fit into all my concealed carry holsters designed for the standard Hellcat Pro. That is going to make accessorizing for it a breeze.

While we are on the topic of concealed carry, the Springfield Hellcat grip features the company’s Adaptive Grip Texture, which is made up of tiny pyramid shapes of different sizes and flat and pointed tips. These little pyramids help your hands to solidly grip the pistol as you squeeze it, allowing you to keep a positive hold under a wide range of conditions.

Hellcat Pro Comp Specifications

  • CHAMBERING: 9mm
  • BARREL: 3.7”
  • WEIGHT: 21 oz.
  • OVERALL LENGTH: 6.6”
  • SIGHTS: U-Dot
  • GRIPS: Integral, polymer
  • ACTION: Striker-fired
  • FINISH: Black
  • CAPACITY: 15+1 (one magazine), 17+1 (one magazine)
  • MSRP: $699

Worth the Effort?

So, getting back to this porting business. Does it really make a difference?

I’ll be honest, I was excited to try out the pistol, but also a bit skeptical as to whether I would want to switch out my Hellcat Pro for the new ported version. I’ve shot my fair share of ported pistols, and while some of them blew me away with close to zero muzzle flip, some of them underwhelmed me and even hampered the function of the pistol.

So how would the new Hellcat Pro Ported fare in my hands? What gave me comfort is that this is a stock pistol released by Springfield Armory. If they’ve put their stamp of approval on it, then it should live up to the reliability and performance I’ve come to expect.

I hit the range to test out the port versus a stock Hellcat Pro. That way, I had a baseline from which to measure. For my ammo, I utilized basic 124-gr. ball ammo across the board to keep testing consistent.

I decided to shoot the Hellcat Pro Comp first and then the standard Pro so I wouldn’t have the bias of what the standard gun felt like first. I wanted a raw first impression without knowing the baseline in advance.

The first shots felt good. While this was still the Hellcat Pro I’ve come to know and love, it felt a tad different. The biggest difference I noticed was my return to target after firing a shot. It felt like I was back on target quicker, without having to try to strangle the pistol.

After a couple magazines through the Pro Comp, I switched to the stock Pro pistol. Was there a difference? Certainly. But it was a bit more subtle than I expected. The Hellcat Pro is a very controllable pistol in its own right. I’ve always appreciated and enjoyed shooting my Pro and training with it as I carry one every day. All that being said, the Comp version adds a touch more controllability to the platform, which is greatly appreciated.

I really noticed a difference on the Pro Comp when firing quick hammer pairs. The pistol was back on target quicker, and keeping an accurate target sight picture was just plain easier. It’s a bit hard to explain the feeling that the port provides except to say the pistol feels more controllable — and this perception gets reinforced the more you shoot it.

After a few hours at the range, I was convinced that the Hellcat Pro Comp pistol was a big enough advantage to switch out my stock Hellcat Pro. Digesting it after the fact, I really enjoyed the amount of reduction in the muzzle flip via the port.

One major thing I was looking out for was if my optic — a Shield SMSc — would be occluded by gas and debris from the compensator. With comps and ports in the past, I’ve seen them spew gases right into the red dot, ultimately rendering it useless. I am happy to report that the Shield SMSc was as clear as it was prior to shooting any rounds. This is a big deal for a pistol to which I am entrusting my life.

[Catch Dan Abraham’s Shield SMSc review to learn more about this red dot sight.]

I also wanted to ensure I wasn’t seeing fireballs fly up in front of my optic, which would be problematic for shooting at night. In the day it’s a bit hard to tell, but even on camera, I could tell it wasn’t belching flames from the port on every shot. This was a great relief and further proof that the Hellcat Pro Comp is a great option for an EDC pistol.

Conclusion

Keep in mind when training with a ported pistol to be keenly aware of certain awkward shooting positions you may encounter if, God forbid, you have to use your pistol in a defensive situation. Since there is concussive force escaping the top of the pistol, you want to ensure no body parts are near and or in the direct path of that escaping hot propellant gas.

My impressions of the Springfield Armory Hellcat Pro Comp are very positive. The performance improvement when shooting hammer pairs was the most evident. I also appreciate the subtlety of the new design. The pistol was clearly designed to perform under all conditions and to be something that could be trusted with your life. I believe Springfield achieved that with the new 9mm Hellcat Pro Comp.

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