October 19, 2021
It was a dreary January day when I wrote this article, but nothing brightens a day like reviewing a new gun and some new gadgets. Springfield Armory added some sunshine with its brand-new Hellcat RDP and new Wasp and Dragonfly red-dot sights. Shooting Times got early samples of the new items, and here’s the lowdown on them.
HEX Marks the Spot
Before I get into the details of the new Hellcat RDP, I’d like to give you a quick look at the new HEX Wasp and Dragonfly red-dot reflex sights that Springfield has just announced. The Wasp is available by itself and also already installed on the new Hellcat RDP (that’s how our sample arrived). The Dragonfly fits Springfield’s standard footprint, so we opted to use the Springfield XD-M Elite 4.5 OSP pistol that was introduced in 2020 as the platform for this report.
According to Springfield, HEX is a “special project to develop superior optical support for firearms.” These reflex-type red-dot sights are built to exacting specifications from premium materials, and every HEX optic is thoroughly tested and backed by a lifetime warranty. If the optic is rendered damaged or defective, Springfield will repair or replace it at no cost to the customer. HEX sights are designed to provide intuitive target acquisition, faster follow-up shots, and everyday dependability.
Springfield says the 1X, parallax-free HEX Dragonfly is the most versatile reflex sight and is suited for pistol, rifle, and shotgun applications. It is machined from 6061 T6 hardcoat-anodized aluminum and comes with a scratch-resistant, antiglare glass lens. It is 1.9 inches long, 1.14 inches wide, and 1.01 inches tall. It weighs 1.2 ounces, and it fits Springfield’s standard footprint as well as Vortex Venom and Burris FastFire footprints. The sight has a 3.5-MOA red dot and eight manually adjusted brightness settings. There are 160 MOA of elevation and windage adjustment. Power is supplied by a CR2032 battery, and battery life is rated at more than 100,000 hours on its lowest setting (average real-world-use battery life should be somewhere around three years). The unit has a manual shutoff as well as a 16-hour auto-shutoff. It has IPX7 waterproofing. MSRP is $249.
Like the Dragonfly, the 1X, parallax-free HEX Wasp is machined from 6061 T6 hardcoat-anodized aluminum and comes with a scratch-resistant, antiglare glass lens; it has a 3.5-MOA red dot; and it has IPX7 waterproofing. At 1.6 inches long, 0.95 inch wide, and 0.86 inch tall, it is smaller and fits Springfield’s Micro footprint and the Shield RMSc footprint. It weighs 0.7 ounce. The red dot is always on, but the unit features an auto-dimming sensor that adjusts the brightness level to ambient light conditions. There are 90 MOA of elevation and windage adjustment. Powered by a CR2032 battery, battery life is rated at 65,000 hours. The Wasp is designed for low-profile direct mounting to concealed-carry pistols and offset rifle mounting. MSRP is $299.
The Hellcat RDP
RDP stands for Rapid Defense Package, and Springfield says the new Hellcat RDP is the highest-capacity micro 9mm pistol in the world. Can you sort of hear somebody saying that in Clint Eastwood’s inimitable Dirty Harry character’s voice?
The Hellcat RDP is paired with 11-round and 13-round magazines, a new single-port compensator, and the new HEX Wasp micro red-dot reflex sight. The idea is to provide rapid target acquisition and fast, accurate follow-up shots.
Most readers are probably already aware of the Hellcat’s basic features, but for any who aren’t, the Hellcat is a recoil-operated, striker-fired polymer-frame semiautomatic pistol chambered for 9mm Luger. The new RDP version has a 3.8-inch, hammer-forged, carbon-steel barrel with a threaded muzzle. You can have the pistol with or without an ambidextrous manual thumb safety. Our sample RDP has the safety.
The new Hellcat RDP is one of Springfield’s OSP (Optical Sight Pistol) models, and that means in addition to the U-Dot rear sight and the tritium-dot front sight, it has a mortise machined into the top of the slide that provides a snug fit for a micro red-dot sight. Like I said earlier, ours came with the HEX Wasp already installed, and the open sights can be viewed through the Wasp. The sight radius of the open sights is slightly less than 5.0 inches.
The carbon-steel slide has forward-slanting, wide-but-shallow grasping grooves at the front and the rear. The pistol has a loaded chamber indicator in the form of a notch on top of the barrel chamber and slide. The slide and the barrel are finished in black melonite.
The black polymer frame has Springfield’s Adaptive Grip Texture stippling all the way around the grip and up on the frame in a couple of spots where the thumb of the support hand would go when using a two-hand, thumbs-forward grasp. They are located on both sides of the pistol’s frame. There also are shallow finger grooves on the grip’s frontstrap, and the dustcover portion of the frame has a short accessory rail with one cross-slot.
A steel chassis inside the polymer frame contains steel slide rails, striker housing, passive safeties, sear, locking block, and trigger components. Speaking of which, the RDP pistol features the new Gen2 trigger. It still has a blade safety in the center of the finger piece, but the trigger has been recontoured to enhance its ergonomics. Trigger pull on our pistol averaged exactly 6.0 pounds over 10 tests with my RCBS trigger scale.
As I said, the Hellcat RDP comes with two magazines. They are stainless-steel double-stack magazines, and they come with three magazine bases: one flush-fitting, one “pinkie” extension, and one extended-capacity. The magazine capacity of the flush-fitting base and the pinkie extension base is 11 rounds, and the magazine capacity of the extended base is 13 rounds. While the pinkie extension base does not increase round count, it does provide a nice, comfortable extension for the pinkie finger, allowing me to get all of my fingers on the grip (I have medium-size hands).
Perhaps the most visual change to the Hellcat RDP is the patent-pending barrel compensator. It’s a self-indexing, square-shaped compensator with one port on the top, one port on the right side, and one port on the left side. All ports are positioned so as to vent gases to the top, thereby reducing muzzle rise. It’s made of 8082 aluminum and anodized black. Installation and removal are easy, and no shims or other parts are needed for proper timing. It measures 1.09 inches long by 0.79 inch wide by 0.87 inch tall.
Before I get to the summary of how the new Hellcat RDP performed in my shooting test, a few words about the 9mm XD-M Elite 4.5 are in order. As I said earlier, this pistol was introduced during 2020, and it features a standard-length slide and 4.5-inch, hammer-forged barrel with a threaded muzzle. It accommodates Springfield Armory 20-round magazines, and two magazines are included.
The U-Dot Tactical Rack rear sight has a U-shaped, white-outline notch, and the front sight has a black post. They are dovetailed into the slide, and they are suppressor height. The slide has large grasping grooves at the rear and at the front (four grooves on each side at the rear and three grooves on each side up front). In addition, the slide is contoured in an angled and streamlined fashion that aids the shooter’s grasp when racking the slide.
Other cool features of the XD-M Elite 4.5 include an ambidextrous slide release, an ambidextrous magazine release, a tactile and visual loaded chamber indicator on top of the slide, a cocking indicator on the rear of the slide, and a three-slot frame rail. And, of course, it is optics ready and readily accepts the new HEX Dragonfly reflex sight. The pistol is offered in matte black and Flat Dark Earth finishes.
The pistol’s polymer grip frame features a wide magwell that assists in rapid magazine changes and Springfield’s Mega-Lok texturing. The square trigger guard is spacious, and its front surface is textured. Our pistol’s trigger pull averaged 5 pounds, 12 ounces over a series of 10 measurements with my RCBS trigger pull scale.
The XD-M Elite also features the hallmark grip safety that prevents the gun’s trigger from being squeezed and the gun’s slide from being racked to the rear unless the safety is fully depressed.
Ergonomic, Intuitive & Accurate
Every regular reader of gun magazines probably knows by now that the Springfield Hellcat is a surprisingly good performing small pistol, and the new RDP version is no exception. As you can see from the accompanying shooting chart, it was very accurate. The pistol is remarkably thin but was easy and comfortable to shoot. Even more importantly, it felt like a natural extension of my arm during the shooting session. All controls were within easy reach of my thumb, and the thumb safety was low profile and unobtrusive. With its high-handhold grip frame and effective compensator, muzzle rise was mild. The HEX Wasp reflex sight presented intuitively for quick target acquisition and undoubtedly was an aid in shooting tight groups from the bench. The same can be said for the HEX Dragonfly optic on the XD-M Elite 4.5 pistol.
I must say the new Hellcat RDP with HEX Wasp red-dot reflex sight and the XD-M Elite 4.5 with HEX Dragonfly sight are well-thought-out, well-designed, and well-made striker-fired pistols. They shoot really well and come with a lot of features that improve pointability and performance.
Hellcat RDP Specifications
- TYPE: Recoil-operated autoloader
- CALIBER: 9mm Luger
- MAGAZINE CAPACITY: 11 and 13 rounds
- BARREL: 3.8 in.
- OVERALL LENGTH: 7.0 in. (with compensator)
- WIDTH: 1.21 in. (outside ambidextrous thumb safety)
- HEIGHT: 5.4 in. (with extended mag)
- WEIGHT, EMPTY: 19.7 oz. (with extended mag)
- GRIPS: Integral to polymer frame
- FINISH: Matte black
- SIGHTS: Tactical U-Dot rear, tritium-dot front, HEX Wasp red-dot sight
- TRIGGER: 6.0-lb. pull (as tested)
- SAFETY: Manual thumb safety, trigger safety
- MSRP: $899
- MANUFACTURER: Springfield Armory; springfield-armory.com