Springfield Armory’s Hellcat was the first micro-nine to challenge the SIG P365 as a pocket gun chambered in 9mm and capable of holding as many rounds as those classified as “compact”. The Hellcat upped the ante by cramming eleven rounds into the flush-fitting magazine instead of ten. Insert your favorite line from Spinal Tap here. Since then, more hats have been tossed into the ring – damned good hats, too. In this latest frenzy to be best in class amongst tiny nines that hold 10-plus, we – the consumers are the winners. Choices are good.
But when it comes to choices, Ernest Langdon appears to make his carefully. If you are not yet familiar with Langdon Tactical Technologies (LTT), it’s a name you need to know. Founder, Ernest Langdon seems to ferret out the guns in the marketplace that have all the marks of excellence but can be improved to perfection with his Midas touch. And the latest offering from LTT is its treatment of the Hellcat. Langdon is best known for trigger jobs, from drop-in upgrade kits to fully customized overhauls. Those carefully selected guns have been double-action/single-action models – and hammer fired… until now. To my knowledge, the Hellcat represents the first striker-fired gun to wear the coveted LTT logo.
But what does that all mean? Let’s take a look at what is different about a Hellcat after Langdon Tactical is finished with it:
- Upgraded and improved trigger – this is the meat in the sandwich. Langdon’s specialty, and what you’re paying a bit extra for is that yummy trigger pull. And we’re not necessarily talking about weight reduction – a common misconception. LTT replaces the stock Hellcat trigger (which is arguably a good one anyway) with an Apex trigger. The buyer has a choice of black or red for the visible trigger shoe. Other improvements are more nebulous, and result in a buttery smooth trigger pull and reset, as well as about a pound less pull.
- Optional Talon grip – the second most important element to great trigger control is a solid grip on the handgun that does not slip. Talon pioneered the concept of the DIY-installed grip enhancement, and this writer has been a big fan for years. Langdon Tactical also recognizes the value of this modification and offers the custom fit Talon Pro grip on request.
- Optional Ameriglo sights – these sights will sit a bit higher for more universal co-witnessing through a red-dot optic.
- Optional Red-dot optic – at the time of this writing, the SIG Romeo Zero is available in two reticle sizes, but other options like Holosun are offered as market availability allows.
- Optional Laser Stippling – the Springfield factory pattern is increased to cover all the smooth areas and extend the grip to virtually anywhere your hand will touch, including the forward index points.
There are other ala carte options like extended mag release buttons, back plates, and optic mounting adapters. Building an LTT Hellcat can range from about $685 to $1,028 depending on how many boxes you tick. But omitting the trigger and its special tuning is not an option – that is what you go to Langdon for.
Why not just drop in an Apex trigger yourself? That’s the ‘elephant in the room’ question, isn’t it? I’ll give you my opinion on that – after all, it’s my name. I have installed an Apex trigger in a Springfield Hellcat. It was not overly complicated and anyone with average DIY skill can do it. It’s a very nice trigger, but it is only part of the equation. It still has a tiny bit of grit during the pull and reset – you can feel it and hear it. Not bad by any means, but if you’re a trigger princess it might be the pea that is under your mattress. The LTT installed trigger with Langdon’s magical pixie dust treatment has no perceivable grit whatsoever. But it still has a pull weight of just over 5 lbs. (as measured on my Lyman digital gauge), which remains very CCW appropriate. So, my short answer is – because just changing parts is not a full trigger job.
Our sample gun came with the black trigger, but it is also available in red for an additional $5. The sample also included the laser stippling package – a $145 option. It does a nice job of extending the grip texture higher and covers the otherwise smooth space behind the mag release button. It feels very good and is highly effective at increasing the grip friction while shooting.
The LTT Hellcat only comes as an OSP, meaning optic-ready. So, even if you don’t opt to add an installed red dot when you buy, you can do that later. Such was the case with the test gun – and I did range work with and without an installed red dot. When I decided to add the optic, I went with the Springfield HEX Wasp – which made good sense to me, as it requires no adapter plate.
Basically, you can spend just a few dollars more than a factory Hellcat OSP and Apex trigger kit, to get it pre-installed and tuned. What appeals to me about this is that I hate to send things away for any work once I have them in hand, and so being a procrastinator, I often just don’t. This lets me buy the brand-new gun with the new trigger job from the start. The more options you add, the more it makes sense to do it that way.
SHOOTING THE LTT HELLCAT
The Hellcat is a very shootable micro-nine pistol, and I’ve put thousands of rounds downrange through them. Like any tiny gun shooting full-power ammunition, it is snappy. But that recoil is well managed by the springs and ergonomics of the gun. Adding a Talon grip has always been a no-brainer for me because that extra friction makes a big difference in not only recoil management, but also in a steady grip that can result in better shot placement. That option is available from Langdon, and you can get the Talon grip in the box with the gun – convenient! If you want to go with a permanent grip enhancement and don’t mind spending the money, the laser stippling offers every bit as much friction. Just be sure – because you can’t change your mind once that’s done.
All of the other elements come into play as well – the sights, ergonomics, and most of all – the trigger. Since our sample gun had the stock U-Dot sights (one of my very favorite factory sights), that was a non-factor.
The ergonomics are still the same, with the addition of the stippling. Which leaves the trigger. And after all, if you’re talking about a Langdon Tactical handgun – you’re talking about the trigger. The smoothness of the trigger through its entire stroke can’t be over-emphasized. The reduction of pull weight helps, but the crispness and absence of grit is – I believe – what makes you shoot better.
Tested with two basic FMJ range ammo brands, Magtech and Herter’s, shot off-hand at a distance of 12 yards the gun produced very good groups, consistently placed around (in inside) the bullseye. The HEX Wasp red-dot helped me a better aim, but it was the trigger that allowed me to break the shot clean without pushing the gun low-left (my most common error) or pulling the shots down, as often occurs with a stiffer or gritty trigger. It is also a great trigger for follow-up shots at any speed, due to the short and ultra-crisp reset.
JUST MY OPINION
The Springfield Armory Hellcat is a self-defense handgun, meant for concealed carry. On that point, I think we can all agree. When it comes to modifying carry guns, we can be treading on thin ice if that gun is ever used in self-defense and the nature and purpose of those modifications is called into question. It is my belief that modifications made to carry guns should be done by professionals with industry recognized parts.
Beyond that, it simply makes sense to get the experts to do the work. And when the low cost of that upgrade from Langdon Tactical is factored in, the decision just about makes itself. The improvements to the trigger are noticeable and, in most cases, will help the shooter make better shots. That means more safety in defensive situations because it reduces the risk of shots missing the threat and finding unintended targets. The other reason to consider the LTT treatment on the Hellcat is that of the competitor who wants to shoot in Backup Gun categories and have a lighter, crisper trigger as well as laser stippling and upgraded sights, etc. The ala carte selection method of LTT’s Hellcat treatment allows you to configure it just the way you want it – making a very good micro-compact handgun even better.
Take a closer look at this pistol here: LTT Hellcat