by J.B. Wood
In the growing group of very small .380 pistols, there is an interesting new one called the Hellcat made by I.O. Inc, in Monroe, NC. While several of the pistols in this category have some similar design points, the Hellcat has a few important differences.
One of these relates to the matter of “felt-recoil.” More about this in a moment! Right now, the numbers: With a grip-frame of high-tech polymer, a sub-frame of aluminum alloy and all other parts steel, it weighs 9.4 ounces. The overall length is 5.16 inches, height 3.6 inches, and width is 0.825 of an inch. Actually, if you ignore the head of the take down pin, the thickness is 0.785 of an inch.
Barrel is 2.75 inches. For all-day carry in pocket, purse or holster, those are nice numbers.
In a .380 pistol that weighs just a little over nine ounces, you expect the felt-recoil to be noticeable. The Hellcat design works on this in several ways.
First, there is the slide. Using heavier bar-stock, an extra expense in manufacturing, they arrived at a slide weight of 4.7 ounces, nearly half the weight of the pistol, and yes, this had an effect on the recoil force.
Like several of the other small .380 pistols, the Hellcat has a classic falling-barrel locking system, which also helps in taming the recoil. And, the grip-frame shape also contributes.
A magazine floor plate extension allows ample space for two average fingers at the front. There are two concentric recoil springs, and the spring guide rod is steel.
The trigger is well-shaped, and I’m glad to report that it has no vertical ridges, a proper feature for any DA only system. The pull is quick and easy, between 7 and 8 pounds. If you pull slowly, there is a hesitation-point at the end that lets you use the good square-picture sights, if that’s ever necessary. The front sight has a green dot. The internal hammer is reset by slide movement.
The only external control is the magazine release, and it is low-profile, with positive engagement.
The six-round magazine is particularly strong and well-made, and has numbered counter holes on both sides.
A subtle design touch at the bottom— a rectangular recess on both sides of the floor plate that gives a good extraction grip. A little window above the extractor lets you see the brass of a chambered cartridge.
I tried out the Hellcat with high performance loads from Con-Bon and Speer, and it had no problems with the hollow points. At seven yards, with a two-hand hold, it kept all of the hits in the 8-inch black of the Champion VisiColor target. The group-size average was 4 inches. For its intended personal-protection purposes, more than adequate! Qua1tiy and manufacturing care are obvious, and the suggested retail price is reasonable at $279.95.
For any further questions, contact: I.O. Inc., 3305 Westwood Industrial Dr., Dept. TGM, Monroe, NC 28110
Phone: 888-968-4437; online: ioinc.us