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How would you like to own a complete self-defense handgun package, with red dot sight, tritium front sight, threaded barrel, superb flat trigger, and compensator all in one tactical package? Well, you can with the new Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP (Rapid Defense Package) 9mm pistol with those features. And it has a small footprint to consider for concealed carry.
Springfield Armory has improved the Hellcat design and introduced the new RDP, Rapid Defense Package, 9mm model that keeps the original Hellcat base features, but improves upon them and adds a compensator and upgraded micro red dot sight. I am fortunate to get an RDP to review and want to share my opinions with you about it. It features significant improvements, especially to the trigger with its flat style and Gen 2 performance upgrade. Other upgrades that grab your attention are the self-indexing compensator and the small footprint, constantly-on, and long-battery-life red dot optic.
Springfield Announces the Hellcat RDP Won “Best Compact Handgun” Award
Springfield Armory announced in February that the Hellcat RDP won the “Best Compact Handgun” award for 2021 and that Springfield Armory won the “Manufacturer of the Year” Editor’s Select Award from Ballistics Magazine. Ballistic’s “Best Reader’s Choice Award” for “Best Compact Handgun” was determined by its readers and there was a record turnout for 2021 for the RDP, according to the Digital Director for the company.
HEX Wasp Micro Red Dot Sight for the RDP
For this author, the new HEX Wasp Micro Red Dot sight works very well, is very practical, and is parallax-free. It is a major feature of this Hellcat RDP.
TIP: For a red dot or any sight to be “parallax free” it means that when the sight is on target and the shooter moves his head, the reticle (crosshairs, dot, pattern of lines) does not move. Usually, there is a tendency for the reticle to appear to move in relation to the target when the eye is moved behind the reticle. If the shooter’s head moves and changes behind any optic, the point of impact can and frequently does shift. Most optics experience varying degrees of parallax, depending on use and operating conditions.
Co-Witness Design of Wasp
Springfield Armory designed the new HEX Wasp red dot to co-witness with the tritium front sight and its black Tactical Rack U-notch rear sight. This co-witnessing allows for a reliable backup with the front iron sight and also consistent training if the battery fails in an untimely situation.
Small, Low-Profile Red Dot with Nice Features
The micro footprint Wasp red dot is just the right size for handguns and matches the popular Shield RMSc footprint and others. It is designed for low-profile direct mounting to concealed carry pistols. The Wasp is IPX7 waterproof, features 1X magnification, and is machined from 6061 T6 hardcoat-anodized aluminum. I like that it has a scratch-resistant, anti-glare glass lens. It is 1.6 inches long, .95 inches wide, .86 inches tall, and weighs only .7 ounces. I also like that the red dot is always on and has an auto-dimming sensor to adjust brightness light levels. The battery life is rated at 65,000 hours.
The MOA red dot is 3.5 and works fine, but I would like a slightly larger MOA for this compact pistol and for my up-close (usually less than 10 yards) defensive purposes and possible encounters. I like about a 6 MOA red dot size because it is easy for me to find the red dot and get quicker target acquisition in tactical, up-close defensive distances.
TIP: Most experienced shooters accept that the most popular size for a pistol-mounted red-dot sight for up-close and fast-moving self-defense targets is usually 6 MOA or so. Hitting three inches center mass at 50 yards is more than precise enough for self-defense. If you want a combination of close-up and longer-distance shooting, consider selecting a reticle between 3.5 and 6 MOA to meet both goals. Big enough for quick defensive target acquisition up close, while small enough for up to about 100-yard distance hits.
Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP Specifications
|Model||Hellcat Rapid Defense Package (RDP) Micro Compact|
|Barrel Length||3.80"; Threaded- .5 x 28; Steel; Rifled; Silencer Ready|
|Barrel Type||Hammer Forged; Melonite Finish; Black; 1:10 Barrel Twist|
|Barrel Material||Stainless Steel|
|Sights||Front: High-Visibility Tritium and Luminescent; Co-Witness |
Rear: Tactical Rack Black, Serrated U-Notch
Red Dot: HEX Wasp Micro; 3.5 MOA Red Dot; Waterproof; Always-On Configuration; CR2032 Battery- 65,000 Hours; Glass- Scratch Resistant; Anti-Glare Coating; Metal; Lifetime Warranty
|Slide||Billet Machined Steel; Melonite Finish- Black; Loaded Chamber Indicator|
|Frame||Black Polymer with Adaptive Grip Texture; Finger Index Memory Pads on Both Sides|
|Trigger - Type/Action||Striker-Fired; Gen 2 Flat; Single Action; Captive Dual Recoil Spring; Full-Length Guide Rod; Undercut Trigger Guard|
|Trigger Press||5.75 lbs. (as measured over 10 trials with my Lyman Trigger Pull gauge)|
|Magazines - Capacity||11 Rounds- Flush; 13- Rounds- Extended; Reversible Magazine Release|
|Height||4.00"- with Flush Mag; 4.5"- with Extended Mag|
|Length||7.00" with Compensator|
|Weight (Unloaded)||19.3"- Flush; 19.6"- Extended|
|Safeties||Trigger Blade Safety; External Manual Thumb Safety (Option)|
|Grips||Black; Adaptive Grip Texture; Polymer; Snag Free; Laser Engraving|
|Other||Self-Indexing (8082 Aluminum) Compensator (to reduce muzzle flip & recoil) Picatinny Accessory Rail; Striker-Racked Slide-Cocked Indicator; Limited 1-Year Warranty- from Date of Original New Purchase; Front & Rear Cocking Serrations|
My Criteria and Considerations
Here are the ten criteria and factors I use for evaluating any handgun for concealed carry, so I will use them for the new Hellcat RDP. In addition to my criteria, there are other subjective features that may be appealing for some, like smooth rounded corners, a certain style, mag release location, action, caliber, appearance, number of mags included, type of sights/modifications, bore axis, rail, grip angle, non-porting or porting, included extras like a holster and pouch, customer service, etc. So, I combined these into my last “Miscellaneous” criterion. I must admit that all gun-choice decisions involve tradeoffs, but I really want all of my criteria to be ideally met. I assigned a total possible point score of ten points for each of my ten criteria for a total possible score of 100 points. And a “Recommend” or “Not Recommend” at the end of my review. You can certainly add your own additional criteria, preferences or subtract any of mine.
Recognize that there are several features, characteristics, pros and cons, and personal criteria to include and consider. You make your own tradeoffs according to your priorities, preferences, goals, defined needs, and use.
Concealed Carry Drill
I used my standard “Col Ben’s Concealed Carry Drill” to test and evaluate a pistol after I initially thoroughly clean it. You can use my basic Concealed Carry Drill to test and evaluate your handguns. I like the realistic 5-yard and 7-yard distances best to match common distances for personal defense.
You can download and print “Col Ben’s Concealed Carry Drill” and targets by clicking on the link at my website at www.FloridaHandgunsTraining.com. Go to and click on the “More” Section on the far right of the Home Page and then click on “Carry Drill.” Drag a corner in to resize Drill to full coverage and print on full-size paper.
First Shots: Range Test Results with “Col Ben’s Concealed Carry Drill” and Various Ammo
I used my above standard Concealed Carry Drill and easily landed 14 of the 15 rounds (with one mag change) in the five various-sized circles at 5 yards and then at 7 yards. I bypassed the 3-yard trial for more of a challenge and shot 15 total rounds each distance and did this twice. I missed a couple since this was the first time I shot this red dot sight and had to learn to “find the dot” on this new model.
First, I fired rapid fire with the PMP 9mm Luger 124 grain FMJ and 14 of the 15 hits in their five circle targets, but the 2.5-inch circle was a challenge with the red dot for the first time. And it took me about 22 seconds time limit at 5 yards (see above target hits) and then again at 7 yards with the PMC 115 grain FMJ. I did, however, meet my short-range goals. Then, I decided to try a few rounds again of the PMP and repeated the drill at 7 yards. I had 12 hits within the 20 seconds at 7 yards this time with the new red dot. Of course, this was the first time I shot this red dot and I needed more practice time, but I found the dot and did moderately well. There were challenges for this old guy with weak eyesight (I have cataract surgery in 9 days), but I squeaked by and met my goals.
Use my drill at various appropriate distances for yourself, e.g. 3, 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 yards to challenge yourself and assess skill-level improvements, as you progress. At first, do not time yourself but safely practice, until you feel comfortable and safe with the drill. Hope my drill helps you.
Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP Range Results: Opinions and Evaluations for Each Criterion
After live-fire shooting with the Springfield Armory RDP pistol, here are my opinions and evaluations for each of my ten criteria.
1. Accuracy and Reliability – Score: 9
The Hellcat RDP 9mm’s accuracy was very fine, but I had to practice in a short time period to adapt to finding the dot on this new red dot sight pistol. It was a challenge, but I felt comfortable after about 50 rounds and did perform much better myself. It was very reliable at the close and medium distances of 3, 5, 7, and 10 yards, typical self-defense distances. Despite my less than average eyesight, colorblindness, and average marksmanship, this senior guy was able to meet the goals of my shooting drill. So understand that the pistol was not the primary factor in this accuracy challenge. Meeting the 80% goal for my drill for the 2.5″ circle hits was very challenging for this old codger. The trigger press was soft and very crisp, but was a little longer and harder than I expected, but worked well for defensive use. Excellent reliability.
The military-grade ammo brand that I used in this review was the PMP 9mm Luger 124-grain FMJ load, with a new reloadable brass case. It was effective for my testing and evaluation of this gun and I did not have any malfunctions or stoppages with it. It has an approximate muzzle velocity of 1,110 feet per second and a muzzle energy of about 335 foot pounds. Given the limited ammo availability now I only shot 150 rounds of new PMP 124 gr FMJ and 100 rounds of PMC 115 gr FMJ that I already had in storage, with a muzzle velocity of 1,150 feet per second and a muzzle energy of about 338 foot pounds.
PMP 9mm Luger 124 Grain FMJ Ammo
In Fort Worth, TX there is a distributor of fine worldwide ammunition which is very reasonably priced in today’s ammo market. I talked with Daniel, the Founder and Managing Director of Omusha Firearms company, and he had some impressive things to say about their imported PMP ammo. Thanks for providing the PMP 124 grain FMJ rounds for my field test of this RDP.
PMP, a division of Denel Corporation, has been the manufacturer of ammo since 1931. PMP is the holder of the ISO 9001 Certification for quality, the ISO 14001 for high environmental standards, and the OSHA 1800 for occupational safety and health. This PMP, Pretoria Metal Pressings, ammo is made in South Africa by Denel and is a state-owned company making defense, security, and related technology products. Denel is Africa’s largest manufacturer of world-class military and commercial ammo products and components, with 18 separate companies. It has been making ammo and related products worldwide “for more than 70 years.” Daniel said, “during World War II, Denel PMP produced around 45% of the .303 rounds used by the World Allied Forces, or about 768 million rounds of just that caliber.” At this time, other 9mm grain weights and JHP rounds are not available.
Compensator and Holster
I drew from the new and fine Urban Carry Lock Leather Hybrid, leather and kydex, OWB holster customized for tactical red dot sights and compensator. I used my Modified-Isosceles Stance, a two-handed grip, and shot various 115 grain and 124 grain ammo. I had no problems with any of the ammo and had no malfunctions or stoppages whatsoever. I do subjectively believe the compensator helped with felt recoil and muzzle rise with (roughly) about a 10-15% improvement. The compensator helped me shoot faster with less recovery time, to allow me to fire the next shot faster with less slide movement. The compensator can be easily removed if the shooter prefers.
Springfield says their proprietary compensator “vents gasses upward putting downward pressure on the muzzle greatly reducing muzzle rise for better control.” Their compensator is “self-indexing” which means that installation and removal are easy and do not require shims or additional parts for proper timing.
2. Trigger Press – Score: 9
Out-of-the-box the trigger press averaged 5.75 pounds without modification for the RDP, with 10 readings with my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge. I expected the press to be closer to or a little less than 5 pounds, but this is a new pistol with only about 250 rounds through it. I am certain with more ammo down-range and “break-in,” the press should definitely improve and the spring lighten. The press is just a little heavy and long for me, but it had a crisp reset and is comparable to other pistols. Certainly, this trigger press is acceptable and will get the job safely done.
3. Trigger – Score: 10
Overall, the Gen 2 trigger action was excellent. I could tell the improvement over the original Hellcat. The RDP flat trigger was crisp, smooth, and excellent, with minimal takeup, and had a short reset, for quick follow-up shots. It was easy to feel the definite reset. This stellar striker-fired trigger had a consistent and very similar press each time. After my learning curve improved for the red dot, I enjoyed shooting this smooth and relatively-soft trigger. It certainly will improve over time.
There are helpful finger index memory pads on both sides of the pistol. And there is an undercut trigger guard to help with a higher and better grip purchase.
4. Barrel Length – Score: 10
The cold, hammer-forged steel barrel has a strong Melonite finish, broad-cut rifling, and tight tolerances. The sturdy Melonite material helps with rust resistance. The barrel is cut with .5×28 muzzle threads that are compatible with most 9mm muzzle devices. A barrel thread protector is included. The fine 3.8-inch barrel helped with stability, accuracy, reliability, and minimal felt recoil, even more so than the original Hellcat OSP 3-inch barrel. Along with the added barrel length, the longer sight radius helps with accuracy.
5. Sights – Score: 10
I really like the newly-introduced Wasp Red Dot sight, the standard tritium front sight, and the black Tactical Rack U-Notch rear sight. Excellent. After practice finding-the-dot, this curmudgeon could find it and get nice hits. I like the auto-dimming feature and the always-on feature. At first, I was concerned about the battery quickly running out, but when I read it had a lifetime warranty and will run 65,000 hours on the low setting, my worries were resolved. And the brightness of the 3.5 MOA dot is regulated by a sensor so that it will automatically dim in low light and brighten in bright light.
A minor observation was that infrequently the red dot was sometimes slow to brighten when drawing from the holster. Also, getting nit-picky over a small detail, I would like a somewhat larger size MOA than the 3.5 to help me locate it. But my aging eyes can make it work. The front tritium sight really sticks out and is very easy to pick up and use. The red dot can co-witness with the iron sight. The Wasp can be easily adjusted in .5-MOA increments, with the two Allen screws on the top and right side. One negative is that the CR2032 battery sits underneath the sight for removal and replacement. But replacing the battery every 7 years or so is certainly doable. The Wasp has a machined 6061 T6 hardcoat-anodized aluminum body which is durable. It has an extended front hood that allows shooters to rack the slide with the red dot while protecting the glass surface, which is scratch-resistant with an anti-glare coating. Also, it has IPX7 waterproofing and has low-profile direct mounting for carry pistols.
6. Proper Gun Weight – Score: 10
The Hellcat RDP weighs only 19.3 ounces empty with the flush-fit magazine and 19.6 ounces with the extended magazine. The compensator adds only about an inch in length and about an ounce to the overall weight. The HEX Wasp adds less than its .86 inch of height to the weight and overall specs. I believe that this gun can be used for concealed carry and its weight is not a detriment.
7. Caliber – Score: 10
The Hellcat RDP in 9mm caliber was easy and fun to shoot and I managed the recoil well. Again, the compensator helped with muzzle rise. This gun and 9mm rounds are definitely soft shooting. I strongly favor shooting the 9mm caliber for self-defense and home defense. Of course, shooting 9mm ammo is much less expensive than most others and modern ammo with improved ballistics work fine… if you can find it now for a decent price. I prefer the lessened felt recoil and reduced movement for improved accuracy with the 9mm caliber.
8. Capacity – Score: 10
I liked the standard 11-round flush-fit capacity of the new Springfield Hellcat RDP 9mm included steel magazine, in addition to the included 13-round extended mag. This capacity builds on the RDP’s strength as one, if not the, highest capacity micro 9mm in the world. With the addition of the latest 15-round capacity available option, the RDP’s advantage is there for concealed carry for a smaller total package. The latest optional 15-round steel magazine comes in both black and Desert FDE colors and is priced at about $39.95, like the 13-rounder. I prefer at least two mags to be included as standard and they were. There are helpful round indicator holes.
9. Ergonomics – Score: 9
The ergonomics of the Hellcat RDP 9mm were excellent and I was easily and comfortably able to reach all controls like the slide lever and magazine release. A thumb safety is an available option, but I chose not to have one on my evaluation gun. Just by handling this gun I could tell it is a high-quality pistol with excellent craftsmanship. It fit and felt great in my medium-sized hands. And my wife loved the way it fit her small hands. The slide, frame, barrel, and smaller parts are all nicely fit to enhance accuracy and reliability. It felt very good to hold this small and thin, but powerful, pistol. The slide-to-frame fit was very solid and it was easy for me to rack the slide. The stainless-steel slide has forward and rear serrations. The RDP pistol also has a loaded chamber indicator.
10. Miscellaneous – Score: 9
I easily disassembled and re-assembled the Hellcat RDP before I shot it. The included operating manual was very detailed and there were very easy compensator removal directions, so my fears were misplaced about removing and replacing a delicate compensator. No problems at all removing it for cleaning and reassemblying it.
The flush magazine with the pinkie extension was my favorite, since it was so comfortable and helped with managing the controls and recoil. The RDP’s grip texture was just perfect for my medium hands, not too soft and not too aggresive, and easy and comfortable to handle. Not slippery at all. And the unique finger index pads really helped with my thumb and finger placement.
I believe that the RDP’s stout, dual captive recoil spring did help me control muzzle flip some. My layman understanding is that a dual captive recoil spring makes the pistol’s height lower because the springs are smaller in diameter. But I suspect this requires more machining and adds some cost. But, in the long run it seems to add recoil spring service life, some say to 15,000 rounds, but I doubt that much.
Included in the RDP box is a soft case, extra magazine, lock, loader, thread protector, extra base plate, tool, operating manual, and a cover plate with top serrations for when an optic is not present. I will probably add this fine Hellcat RDP to my carry rotation, but I must adjust to and practice with the red dot and compensator.
Urban Carry Lock Leather Hybrid Holster
Urban Carry has introduced a unique hybrid holster made of 100% American-made premium leather and kydex that is exceptional. They have said that “it provides the safety and security of kydex, with the comfort and durability of premium leather.” I believe them. One of its fine features is a definitive minimal “click” retention device that very securely and solidly locks your gun in the holster. You can hear its click to confirm that your gun is locked in place securely. Your gun will stay in the holster, even if you turn the gun in the holster upside down, like I did. I like that the holster has a reinforced opening to make sure the leather does not bend when inserting the firearm. Looks classy, first-class, and it works. Thick steerhide leather is used and the retention clip is designed to sufficiently cover most of the open area inside the trigger guard.
It is available in both “Outside-the-Waistband” (OWB) and “Inside-the-Waistband” (IWB) models, with tactical Optics Ready models for both OWB and IWB, with free shipping. They said that their “Optics Ready models can accommodate nearly any RMR, RDS, Red Dot Sight, laser, light, or thermal optic mount.” And can also accommodate compensators and threaded barrel guns. It certainly accommodated this RDP superbly. It comes in the standard black and the classic brown colors and is priced less than $70. The Urban Carry website says that their holsters come with a full 10-year warranty.
Total Points = 96 out of 100 Possible.
I certainly recommend this high-quality Springfield Hellcat RPD with red dot, compensator, and threaded barrel 9mm pistol for concealed carry, home defense, and fun plinking at the range. The attention to detail and its precise, finely-built craftsmanship is very evident and are the marks of an excellent pistol at a very reasonable price for what all is included. And you have a complete defensive package for just about every use you can think of for accuracy and reliability. The premium Urban Carry Lock Leather Hybrid holster works very well with this pistol with compensator and red dot optic. And the exceptional PMP 9mm ammo also worked well, with no malfunctions or stoppages. Sadly, ammo availability reduced my range test firing time and quantity and types of ammo used.
I was very impressed with the RDP pistol’s outstanding red dot and tritium sights, excellent trigger, fine compensator to ease muzzle flip, threaded barrel for possibly adding a silencer, just right aggressive grip texturing and grip comfort, 3.8-inch barrel length wih its longer sight radius to help accuracy, and its about 20-ounce gun weight for carry. The HEX Wasp Red Dot Sight has a high-quality build and its low profile helps the concealed carrier. Its capacity is superior and its very controllable recoil were extra advantages. Its many great, high-quality features as presented above are there, especially the accuracy and reliability. Carry on Friends!
Continued Success and Be Safe!
Geneseo, IL 61254
Urban Carry Holsters
Sanford, FL 32771
Fort Worth, TX 76102
Photos by Author and Springfield-Armory.
* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.
© 2022 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at ColBFF@gmail.com.
Accuracy and Reliability