Skip to main content

TRENDING: Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP 9mm & HEX Optics

The New Normal: From optic cuts to compensators, today's pistol shooters are reaping the benefits of a technological revolution; Springfield's new Hellcat RDP and HEX red dots are results of the trend.

TRENDING: Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP 9mm & HEX Optics

Springfield Armory pistols equipped with HEX red-dot optics (Guns & Ammo Magazine photo)

Shooters, as a whole, tend to be a rather conservative bunch. I’m not talking about politics; I’m talking about technology, which is understandable. When your life is on the line, you want to know your equipment works in the real world, not just in a laboratory or workshop. With the unprecedented information exchange allowed by the internet, shooters now have a much faster and more complete picture of what any given technology is actually capable of.

When I started shooting in the 1980s, there were still many shooters with combat experience that believed a semi­automatic pistol would get you killed on the streets. While they were ultimately proved wrong with hard-­earned experience, it took time for semi­autos to supplant revolvers. In today’s web-driven world, that time is compressed and shooters are able to share their experiences quickly. This unprecedented information exchange means that gun companies have to be responsive and more flexible than ever.

Recent experiences, both on the battlefield and the competition field, have taught us quite a bit during the last 10 years. There is a very good reason that modern pistols launch with optic-­ready models. It’s not to get you to buy optics; it’s because pistol optics work. If you don’t do much shooting beyond 10 yards, you might not see the benefit. If you start stretching your range, you’ll see the difference. Likewise, if you start shooting on the move, shooting moving targets, or shooting at targets that shoot back at you, you’ll appreciate an immediate improvement.

Open­class competitors have sought the advantage of optic­equipped pistols for decades. The very best of our warfighters overseas are also experiencing performance gains; members of the Special Operations community were among the earliest to adopt pistol­mounted optics.


Although it’s common for some shooters to dismiss features that aren’t geared toward their specialty, with optics, the fighters and the competitors both agree on their utility. When the best of both worlds agree on something, we should listen. Pistols with factory optic cuts are no longer optional. Optic­ready pistols are becoming the new standard.


Also, trending are 4­ to 5­pound triggers. Shooters have a much higher expectation of what constitutes an acceptable pistol trigger press. Then there’s grip modularity. All pistols seem to offer aggressive textures and interchangeable backstraps or grip sizes. Gone are the days where many of us expected to spend an extra hundred bucks on a brand new pistol to make it feel right. With the internet’s current flow of information, even modifications that were once the domain of specialized performance shops, such as porting and compensators, are now easily discovered online.

Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP 9mm Parts

The Hellcat RDP features a compact compensator for rapid-fire muzzle control. It is a self­indexing design that makes installation and removal easy. It does not require shims or additional parts for proper timing. (Guns & Ammo Magazine photo)

The latest example of this breed is the new Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP, or “Rapid Defense Package.” The RDP keeps the features that made the Hellcat a popular pistol such as an adaptive grip texture and excellent capacity for its micro­compact size. The RDP adds so much more though. It comes with Springfield Armory’s own Hex Wasp red­dot optic, pre­installed! (Did I mention that Springfield Armory is now in the optics business? “Hex” is their new line of red­dot sights.)

The Hex Wasp sits low, so low that it allows a co-­witness with the Hellcat’s U­notch rear and tritium­powered front night sight. More information will be forthcoming about the Hex Wasp, but in testing so far, it has performed well.




The trigger on the RDP is also new to the Hellcat. The original’s trigger was good, having a consistent break. However, the new trigger is both lighter and cleaner.

Springfield’s new Hellcat barrel is still hammer-­forged and Melonite coated, but it is now slightly extended to 3.8 inches and threaded 1/2x28 at the muzzle. This allowed Springfield to introduce and include its new single-­chamber compensator. This 8082-­aluminum carry comp is self-­indexing and can be easily removed and reinstalled by the user. It comes hard-­coat anodized to resist corrosion and allows for cleaning.

Compensators help shooters get back on target faster. That’s not an opinion, it’s a fact. Getting back on target faster means that a shooter can gather information faster — and make decisions faster. Winning a gunfight or a match often comes down to making the right decisions quick. In a self-­defense situation, knowing whether or not you need to make a follow-­up shot can save your life.


The ½x28 thread pitch on the barrel’s muzzle is the most common for attaching 9mm suppressors, so for shooters with the inclination, the new RDP could also host a can. If compensators or suppressors aren’t for you, you can always install the RDP’s thread-­protecting cap.

The RDP is also available with a thumb­safety. There are many shooters who prefer a manual safety, especially those who appendix carry, so the option makes good sense to capture a larger market. If you don’t want the safety, you don’t have to buy it; it’s an option. The safety, however, is low-­profile and easily operated with either hand.

The RDP includes two magazines, an 11­rounder with a ledge for the small finger, and a slightly extended 13-­rounder. Unlike some compact magazines, I’ve found that the Hellcat magazines are easy to load to capacity. (Remember how it hurt to push the last couple of rounds into a mag?)

Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP 9mm Trigger and Thumb Safety

The Hellcat RDP introduces the new Gen 2 trigger, which was recontoured for a more comfortable and predictable trigger press. Also, a manual, low­profile and bilateral thumb safety is now an available option. (Guns & Ammo Magazine photo)

The Hellcat RDP represents where defensive handgun design is heading. It’s not only cut for an optic, standard, it equipped with one! It’s comp’d for better recoil control, and has a great trigger out of the box. Add a small light like the new Surefire XSC or Streamlight TLR­6, and you have a micro pistol that compares favorably to many duty guns. Despite many of the issues that gun owners are now facing, these unfamiliar standards will usher in a golden age of so-­called “stock” pistols with capabilities that will recalibrate the handgun market.

Springfield Armory Hellcat RDP 3.8” Micro-Compact 9mm w/ HEX Wasp Specs:

  • COLOR: Black
  • BARREL: 3.8" Hammer Forged Steel w/ Compensator, Threaded (.5 x 28), Melonite Finish, 1:10
  • SLIDE: Billet Machined, Melonite Finish, Optics Ready
  • FRAME: Black Polymer w/ Adaptive Grip Texture
  • SIGHTS: Tritium/Luminescent Front, Tactical Rack U-Notch Rear, HEX Wasp Red Dot
  • RECOIL SYSTEM: Dual Captive Recoil Spring w/Full-Length Guide Rod
  • GRIP WIDTH: 1"
  • MAGAZINES: (1) 11-Round, (1) 13-Round Extended
  • WEIGHT: 19.3 oz w/ Flush Mag, 19.6 oz w/ Extended Mag
  • LENGTH: 7"
  • HEIGHT: 4" w/ Flush Mag, 4.5" w/ Extended Mag
Springfield Armory HEX Dragonfly and Wasp Red Dots

Springfield Armory has launched Hex optics, which include the Dragonfly (left) and the Wasp (right) 3.5 MOA red­dot sights. The Wasp uses the same Springfield Micro footprint as the Shield RMSc sight. (Guns & Ammo Magazine photo)

Springfield Armory HEX Wasp Red Dot Specs:

  • OPTIC TYPE: Standard Red Dot
  • DOT SIZE: 3.5 MOA
  • MAGNIFICATION: 1X
  • WEIGHT: 1.2 oz.
  • DIMENSIONS: 1.90" (L), 1.14" (W), 1.01" (H)
  • FOOTPRINT: Springfield Standard
  • BODY: Machined 6061 T6 Hardcoat aluminum, IPX7 waterproof
  • LENS: Glass, scratch-resistant & anti-glare coating
  • OPERATION: Manual adjustment, eight settings
  • BATTERY/LIFE: One CR2032, three years
  • MSRP: $249

Springfield Armory HEX Dragonfly Red Dot Specs:

  • OPTIC TYPE: Standard Red Dot
  • DOT SIZE: 3.5 MOA
  • MAGNIFICATION: 1X
  • WEIGHT: 1.2 oz.
  • DIMENSIONS: 1.90" (L), 1.14" (W), 1.01" (H)
  • FOOTPRINT: Springfield Standard
  • BODY: Machined 6061 T6 Hardcoat aluminum, IPX7 waterproof
  • LENS: Glass, scratch-resistant & anti-glare coating
  • OPERATION: Manual adjustment, eight settings
  • BATTERY/LIFE: One CR2032, three years
  • MSRP: $249

Looking for Handguns?

Check prices, read customer reviews or buy it at Everest

Check Prices

Current Magazine Cover

Enjoy articles like this?

Subscribe to the magazine.

Get access to everything Guns & Ammo has to offer.
Subscribe to the Magazine

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Which Sight Is Faster - XS Sight Test

Which Sight Is Faster - XS Sight Test

Jeremy Stafford traveled to Gunsite Academy to compare the speed of stock sights against express, three-dot, suppressor-height and red dot sights.

Air Gun Reviews: Why Shoot Airsoft?

Air Gun Reviews: Why Shoot Airsoft?

In this Guns & Ammo TV segment, Gun Tech Editor Richard Nance and Pro-Shooter Jim Tarr discuss the benefits of airsoft training for uniformed professionals and armed citizens alike.

Red vs. Green Lasers: Visibility in Bright Light

Red vs. Green Lasers: Visibility in Bright Light

In this segment of “At The Range,” Handgunning Editor Jeremy Stafford and contributor Patrick Sweeney compare the visibility of red and green lasers in outdoor, sunny conditions.

Umarex Air Ruger 10/22 Rifle Review

Umarex Air Ruger 10/22 Rifle Review

In this segment of "Guns & Ammo TV," Gun Tech Editor Richard Nance and Pro-Shooter Jim Tarr head to the range to wring out the Umarex Air Ruger 10/22.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The Browning X-Bolt Hell's Canyon Speed Long Range McMillan is arguably the best production-grade precision hunting rifle available.Browning X-Bolt Hell's Canyon Speed Long Range McMillan Review Rifles

Browning X-Bolt Hell's Canyon Speed Long Range McMillan Review

Joseph von Benedikt - March 25, 2019

The Browning X-Bolt Hell's Canyon Speed Long Range McMillan is arguably the best...

Don't mortgage the homestead to get into PRS, this is what's available from the likes of Mossberg, Tikka, Savage, Howa, Bergara, Weatherby and Remington.Starter Rifles for Under $1000 Rifles

Starter Rifles for Under $1000

Aaron Carter - May 09, 2019

Don't mortgage the homestead to get into PRS, this is what's available from the likes of...

The Hornady 6.5 PRC (Precision Rifle Cartridge) is a 6.5 PRC - Magnumized 6.5 Creedmoor Rifle

6.5 PRC - Magnumized 6.5 Creedmoor

Tom Beckstrand - August 01, 2018

The Hornady 6.5 PRC (Precision Rifle Cartridge) is a "magnumized" 6.5 Creedmoor. It offers...

The United States Army has adopted the SIG Sauer Tango6T 1-6x24mm as its new dedicated optic for squad designated marksmen.SIG Sauer Tango6T 1-6x24mm Review Optics

SIG Sauer Tango6T 1-6x24mm Review

Tom Beckstrand - December 31, 2020

The United States Army has adopted the SIG Sauer Tango6T 1-6x24mm as its new dedicated optic...

See More Trending Articles

More Handguns

Taurus, manufacturer of defense, hunting and sport-shooting handguns, has announced the next iteration of the TaurusTX 22 semi-automatic sporting pistol. The new TaurusTX 22 Competition builds on the original TaurusTX 22 with a slide assembly engineered for optic compatibility.New for 2021: TaurusTX 22 Competition Optic-Ready Pistol SHOT Show

New for 2021: TaurusTX 22 Competition Optic-Ready Pistol

Guns & Ammo Staff - January 27, 2021

Taurus, manufacturer of defense, hunting and sport-shooting handguns, has announced the next...

Natural Selection: The Walther PDP 9mm rises to the top.Walther PDP 9mm Pistol: Full Review Handguns

Walther PDP 9mm Pistol: Full Review

Eric R. Poole - February 16, 2021

Natural Selection: The Walther PDP 9mm rises to the top.

Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc. has introduced the Ruger-57 pistol, a full-featured handgun wrapped around a standard capacity, 20-round steel magazine, chambered in the high performance and low-recoiling 5.7x28mm caliber.Popular: Ruger-57 Pistol 5.7x28mm SHOT Show

Popular: Ruger-57 Pistol 5.7x28mm

Guns & Ammo Staff - January 27, 2021

Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc. has introduced the Ruger-57 pistol, a full-featured handgun...

Stoeger brings an earned reputation for durable, dependable shotguns to the world of semiautomatic pistols with the new STR-9S Combat.New for 2021: Stoeger STR-9S Combat Semi-Auto Pistol SHOT Show

New for 2021: Stoeger STR-9S Combat Semi-Auto Pistol

Guns & Ammo Staff - January 27, 2021

Stoeger brings an earned reputation for durable, dependable shotguns to the world of...

See More Handguns

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Guns & Ammo App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now