A few more new models of firearms have just hit the shelves. Well, new isn’t really accurate, as they’re just additions to existing model lines. Ever since Sig Sauer released the P-365, everyone has been rushing to keep up. It was probably the best selling handgun for 2018, 2019 and possibly 2020.
The closest competition Sig had was the Springfield Hellcat. In my opinion, the first generation Hellcats were rushed into production. They had slides that weren’t smooth and a trigger that was worse. The second run of Hellcats were much better. But now Springfield Armory has introduced the Hellcat RDP.
RDP stands for Rapid Defense Package. It’s essentially an optics-ready version of the Hellcat with a compensator and a micro red-dot sight. For those of you not familiar with a compensator, it is a device that pins or threads onto the end of your barrel to reduce muzzle flip when firing. This allows for faster follow-up shots.
One of the bad things about compensators is that they have to be installed a certain way in order for them to work. That’s called indexing, and it’s usually accomplished with shims. The Hellcat RDP has a self-indexing compensator, making it easier for the end user to remove and install.
I don’t believe it’s a great plan to take a weapon intended for concealed carry and make it bigger by hanging things off the end of the barrel. Springfield should have just followed in the footsteps of Sig and created a slightly longer version of the Hellcat with a ported barrel.
I am becoming a fan of putting red-dots on concealed carry handguns, though. At first I wasn’t. But we put one on my wife’s SCCY because of issues she was having with her bifocals, and I have fallen in love with it. It takes a little time to get used to it — but once you do, target acquisition is much faster. The faster you can be in a gun fight, the better your chances of surviving it.
The downside to the Hellcat RDP is its price. The MSRP with the red-dot sight is $899. I’m sorry, this gun just isn’t worth almost $1,000. You can get a Sig Sauer P365XL for about $650 and put a Sig Sauer Romeo Zero red-dot on it. You’ll come in $100 cheaper than the RDP, and you’ll have a weapon thatg’s much better built.
The next is the Smith & Wesson Shield Plus. Not much has changed here except for capacity. It is now a 13+1 capacity in the exact same size as the Shield you’re already used to. The Shield Plus comes in several models, with or without a manual safety.
S&W redesigned the inside of the handgrip to take a double-stack magazine without changing the external dimensions of the grip. They also knocked a little aggressiveness off the handgrip. That 80-grit sandpaper grip of the Shield 2.0 was a complaint of many shooters.
There’s also a Performance Center version which gives you the option of a manual safety and either the standard 3.1-inch barrel or a 4-inch barrel. And all Performance Center Shields, Plus or not, come with fiber-optic sights. Right now it’s chambered only in 9mm, but knowing Smith & Wesson, I would say other calibers will be on their way. The MSRP on the Shield Plus is $553.
Another new gun on the market is the SCCY DVG-1. This one is $400 with the red-dot. And while it looks pretty much exactly like SCCY’s older models, it’s an entirely different pistol. The CPX models were double action-only pistols with the hammer hidden in the slide, and they had long, hard trigger pulls common with DAO weapons. The new DVG is striker-fired version. I’m glad SCCY has finally joined the 21st Century.
Most shooters pooh-pooh handguns under $500. But I’ve owned three SCCYs, and I’ve enjoyed them all. My wife currently carries one. The one thing you will find with SCCY is their machining is second to none. Take the slide off a multi-thousand dollar 1911 and you’ll see small swirl marks from the machining process. You won’t find that on SCCY firearms. Firearms are their side gig. Their day job is making aircraft parts, so they know how to machine things and finish them properly.
Capt. Cayle Wills is a USCCA-certified firearms instructor and gunsmith at Higher Power Outfitters (1826 Tamiami Trail, Punta Gorda). Contact him at 941-916-4538 or Cayle@HigherPowerOutfitters.com.