Range Review: Guncrafter Industries Hellcat X2
Written by Guest Contributor,
in Section Gun Reviews
Guncrafter Industries is best known for the company's 50GI offerings, but the Guncrafter team also makes a wide variety of designs in more conventional calibers. Long recognized as one of the best pistol makers in the world, Guncrafter Industries makes both "jewelry-grade" and what look like service-grade guns. The Hellcat X2 looks like a service-grade gun on the outside, with Cerakote battle-worn finish over Melonite and a blended, thin-textured aluminum grip frame and squared off lightening cuts on the slide. A closer look reveals that the jewelry-like precision is all on the inside. Each pistol comes with fitted, tuned, flush-fitting magazines.
With firearms, all manufacturing approaches involve trade-offs. A loose-fitting gun would likely work despite low manufacturing tolerances but would be neither accurate nor durable. A bad stacking of tolerances could make it dangerous to the user. A tight-fitting pistol manufactured with loose tolerances probably won't work at all. The best of both worlds, a tight-fitting firearm manufactured to the exact dimensions outlined in its design would be both accurate and durable—at the cost of more labor, better materials and greater production competency required. The Hellcat X2 takes that concept to the maximum logical conclusion, resulting in a weapon that will have minimal wear over decades of heavy use. That approach ensures both reliability and accuracy and, as a bonus, an unusually pleasant handling.
The pistol feels like a natural extension of the hand, with no shifting of the grip needed to reach any of the controls. The checkering had enough texture to promote solid retention without abrading skin. All surfaces in the line of sight are textured to prevent glare. The trigger texture is just enough for tactile feedback, having a 3.8-pound pull and short reset.
A match-grade, stainless-steel barrel with gold-tone TiN coating is the only flashy detail of the design. The railed frame allows the use of full-size light/laser modules without exposing the front of the light to the muzzle blast. A proprietary Battle Crown bushing protects the recessed target barrel crown and provides more consistent lockup in the front, all without requiring tools for takedown. The Gunfighter Hellcat X2 weighs only 35 ounces, thanks to a light aluminum gripframe housing an all-steel receiver. The gun feels lighter yet in the hand, thanks to the good balance and grippy yet non-abrasive surface. The lightening cuts in the slide reduce friction on the inside surface of holsters without compromising retention.
The proof is always in the performance. Sighting proved quick and positive, with the red fiber-optic front sight sized just right to fit perfectly into the U-notch of the snag-free Bomar rear sight. Recoil-handling is likewise very easy, between the 9 mm cartridge and the full-size 2011-style platform, making for easy rapid and accurate hits on target at extended ranges. The gun has a slightly beveled magazine well, and the use of double-stack, single-feed 17-round STI International magazines add up to quick reloads.
A test target included with the gun showed three overlapping bullet holes shot from a 15-yard test firing off sandbags by a better shooter than I. My own results from kneeling were in the 2-2.25-inch range, with no one load showing consistently better groups than the others. My limitations as a precision-pistol marksman negated the mechanical accuracy of the pistol. But even in my hands, the Gunfighter Industries Hellcat X2 still allows consistent strikes on a tennis ball at 30 yards. For some reason, I found hitting 3D objects much easier than being consistent on paper.
Reliability was predictably perfect. I have yet to see a Guncrafter pistol of any model or caliber malfunction at all. The stories of 1911- or 2011-style handguns requiring a break-in period all stem from tight guns with inconsistent tolerances, while the X2 shot properly from the start. The chronograph and accuracy testing involved about 200 rounds of all types and weights of ammunition, none failed in any way. Rapid-fire and handling familiarization involved another 100 rounds, again without any glitches. That's what the higher-end handgun buys you in the case of Guncrafter: the confidence in the functioning and the accuracy. Maybe it doesn't look fancy enough for a BBQ party, but that's not what it's for. It's built to do its job and do it exceptionally.
Guncrafter Industries Hellcat X2 Specifications
Height 5.5 inches
Length 8.75 inches
Width 1.25 inches (grip); 1-inch slide
Weight 35 ounces
Barrel length: 5 inches
Magazine capacity: 17 rounds
This article first appeared on Shooting Illustrated by Oleg Volk