2020 Handgun of the Year: Springfield Armory Hellcat

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posted on February 13, 2020
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At the end of last year, American Rifleman editors and contributors got together and discussed the guns, ammunition, optics and gear that emerged from the marketplace throughout 2019. From these conversations emerge the Golden Bullseye award winners for 2020, and such has it gone since the first Golden Bullseye awards decades ago. For more details on the criteria considered in selecting a Golden-Bullseye award winner, check our list below. The winner of our 2020 Golden Bullseye Award for Handgun of the Year goes to the Springfield Armory Hellcat.

The category of the "micro-compact handgun" came into being with the launch of the SIG Sauer P365, which used a unique stagger-stack magazine to increase on-board ammunition capacity. The result was a handgun that matched the slim profile of many single-stack handguns while adding 4 or 5 extra rounds in a flush-fit magazine. Springfield Armory took this one step further in 2019 with the launch of its Hellcat, which expanded capacity even more while retaining the same slim shape as many of today's polymer-frame, single-stack pistols. Here's what Executive Editor Joe Kurtenbach had to say about the pistol in his Hellcat review:

After shooting the gun and living with it, even for a short time, I can say with confidence that I want one, and I want it yesterday. The standard Hellcat is slated to wear an MSRP of $569, so the gun is going to be priced competitively at retail. Better still, the OSP model is only $30 more—that’s the option I’d go with. (Watch Springfield's Hellcat video here.)

This review has been interesting for me because I don’t usually get very attached to evaluation guns. I see a lot of them in the course of a year. But this time around, the Hellcat made a mark. The only other guns I have felt so strongly about have been high-end, hand-fit M1911s—and then it was for very different reasons. The Hellcat isn’t a smooth-cycling wonder-gun that feels like an extension of my arm, possesses a feather-like trigger and is capable of bullseye precision. Nor is it a gun I envision keeping in the safe until I pass it on to my children.

Simply stated, I want the Hellcat because the gun is an animal, and it’s bred to fight. It’s equipped with the latest technology, and its design meets my needs as an armed citizen. It’s small and light enough to carry and keep on me—always—and it’s potent enough to save my life if necessary.

You can read the full review here.

To qualify for consideration for a Golden Bullseye Award, a product must have been:

  • Recently introduced and available to consumers prior to the selection of the Golden Bullseye Awards;
  • Used/tested by a staff member or regular contributor to the magazine and/or affiliated media;
  • Reliable in the field, meeting or exceeding the evaluator’s expectations;
  • Innovative in design and function;
  • Readily perceived as a value to the purchaser; and
  • Styled in a manner befitting the shooting and hunting industry and, perhaps more importantly, its enthusiasts.
“Selected by a six-member committee consisting of editors, graphic designers and veteran NRA Publications staff, [these products] epitomize what NRA members seek in their shooting and hunting equipment—outstanding performance, innovation and value," said Doug Hamlin, executive director of NRA Publications. "Congratulations to those who have created the industry’s best new products.”

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