All About Guns You have to be kidding, right!?!



Some think the 1911 is outdated — too “old school” to be effective today. They’re not only wrong, but spectacularly wrong. It’s like looking at a Model A Ford from 1931, then, because we still drive cars, proclaiming today’s models to be “antiques” and “outdated” and anyone driving a contemporary car must be a duck-billed dinosaur from the cretaceous period.

Technology being what it is — and enthused designers and engineers doing what they’re wont to do — things generally change. Today’s high performance, economical, utterly reliable cars are like that Model A in the same way a 1911 circa 1915 is to a modern 1911. Both cars have four wheels, seats and a steering wheel — and the similarities pretty much end there.

The 1911 mirrors the situation. There’s a slide, frame, trigger and other bits, but each part on a modern 1911 is vastly different than the original. There is, indeed, a Grand Canyon-like abyss occupying virtually every category between the two. And Guncrafter’s Hellcat X2 Commander in 9mm rides the wave of “modern” right at the very top.
The shape is familiar — but the differences are monumental.

The Reasons

Alex Zimmerman and his team craft carefully handmade 1911 series pistols of many sorts. From the ground-breaking HOSS, a beefy, burly virtually indestructible “454 Cubic Inch-sized” 1911, to his attention-getting .50 GI guns — and to this elegantly lightweight, 18-round 9mm — Guncrafter spares no time or energy in making things exactly right. They also embrace, endorse and take advantage of new technology in materials and design to help them achieve their goals.

Alex has been chasing the 1911 design for 37 years now and the constant pressure he puts on himself to push the envelope for the basic 1911 design seems never-ending. That’s because it’s — how shall we say this — never-ending?

As Alex explains, “The Hellcat X2 came about by taking some of the best features from our single stack Frag and Hellcat pistols and combining those features with a hi-cap frame and grip.

“We took the design of the original Hellcat controls and BattleCrown muzzle treatment, then machined the Frag pattern into an aircraft-grade aluminum hi-cap grip. Presto, 17+1 rounds of 9mm of your choice.” I could “hear” him smiling on the phone — but he wasn’t done yet.

“Then we lightened the slide with a series of racy cuts, both for appearance and function. The lightening of the slide is important since the X2 is designed around the 9mm round. You see, with the slide of the 1911 being designed for the .45 ACP it’s heavier than ideal for the 9mm. Lightening the slide allows us to run heavier recoil springs, ensuring reliable function across the wide spectrum of 9mm loads.”

That’s something I’d not thought of before. If you’ve fired a steel-slide 1911 in 9mm you may have noticed the slide sort of goes “Ka-Chunk, Ka-Chunk” in recoil. It appears you can almost feel the various stages of the recoil cycle. Most function fine, but they do feel different from a .45. The lighter spring needed to allow the 9mm to cycle the heavy slide, also slows the forward snap of the slide back into battery as it picks up another round. I think that’s the “Ka-Chunk” you feel.

The lighter slide on the X2 offers a snappier action, for lack of a better word. The gun runs fast, cycles smoothly and goes into battery with a snick — not the “Chunk.” You can feel it and sense it immediately.

“For concealed carry,” offered Alex, “we offer a Commander-sized version with an aluminum frame and Tritium sights — your test gun. The empty pistol weighs 28 oz. and has that 17+1 round capacity.”

Yet, I noticed the grip frame is very manageable. Without separate grip panels to add girth, even my very average medium-sized hands fit comfortably with no stretching for the trigger. Eighteen rounds — and still reaching the trigger comfortably — is a new thing for me. When I was a cop, I was always the single-stack SIG P225 guy while most others carried the 16-round P226.



Alex continued, “We also offer a steel-framed 5″ Government version with an integral light rail, adjustable rear sight and fiber optic front sight. It’s about perfect for competition, at the range or self defense.”

At 35 oz. empty, but with the same 17+1-round 9mm capacity, the all-steel version puts felt recoil in the .380 range to me. If you’re older, infirm or are simply tired of being beat-up with recoil, this is the gun for you. You could shoot it for fun, plink, shoot targets at the indoor range, enjoy a weekend match or defend your family — all with the same gun. And you’d be very comfy while you did it.

You’ve undoubtedly noticed the finish. According to Alex, the use of Cerakote gives Guncrafter a lot of flexibility to come up with some really stunning and durable finish combinations. From “hot” colors to more sublime combinations, you can pretty much get what you dream about.

The Mechanics


An extremely heavy duty barrel bushing precisely following the entire outside contour of the slide is eye-catching and business-like. The lower one-third is angled back giving it a distinctive, clean look — a bit racy almost. An extra-thick flange protects the muzzle crown to an unprecedented level here. The barrel is heavily countersunk and has an extra deep crown agreeably blended with the flared opening of the Battle Crown. It’s all beveled, with absolutely no sharp edges to interfere with holstering. It’s a distinctive, impressive look but with a high degree of functionality. It’s an original design by Alex Zimmermann, I might add.

The slide stop is machined from hardened chrome moly steel bar stock, with a slightly enlarged lever — easier to find even when wearing gloves. It’s wide and deep, having lengthwise serrations for a non-slip engagement. The built-in detent eliminates false slide locks — a great idea. I especially appreciate the machined lead-in serving to guide the slide stop during installation. You’ve likely seen the “idiot mark” on some guns where the slide stop has ridden up the side of the frame, leaving a trail to the cut-out hole? Don’t be that guy.

Even the hammer is special. Made of hardened tool steel, it has a solid web for strength, deep serrations for no-slip manipulation, a beveled exterior with no sharp edges and a “hook” geometry for optimal sear engagement. The relocated hammer strut pin hole — along with the other touches — add up to a crisp safe trigger pull. Both the slide stop and the hammer were designed by Christopher Provost of Cerberus Tactical.

There are slide top serrations some might say stop glare but I think they’re just to look good — and what’s wrong with that? A genuine match-grade 9mm barrel contributes to accuracy and reliability and plays well with the match-grade trigger and, as Alex calls it, the “Extreme Reliability Work” done.

The Guncrafter Tritium sights assure you can find ’em when you most need to. The rear is both fixed and burley, with enough height to offer a way to run the slide if you need to by hooking it on something handy.

There’s a lot of attention to detail, and while it’s pretty, most of it also does double-duty one way or another. The ball-end mill cuts offer a certain charisma, while also performing the needed lightening process. The full de-horning done makes perfect sense in a defensive pistol and also simply makes any gun feel better.

The flush-cut slide stop (on the right side) is not just tidy, it also won’t interfere with a finger held alongside the frame. Some say a shooter might inadvertently press the pin out somehow, but I confess in 50 years of shooting conventionally configured 1911s I’ve never seen or had it happen. Nonetheless, I do like the uncluttered look of the mod — and hey, it can’t hurt.

The Hellcat X2 comes with two fitted and tuned magazines and a black Guncrafter Industries Cordura case and test target as part of the package.

The Hellcat’s “wide” frame allows 17-round mags while still fitting most hand sizes.

Lightening cuts in the slide and the aircraft-grade aluminum frame keep the Hellcat light and easy to carry.

Range Thoughts


I really enjoyed this gun, and for many good reasons we’ve talked about. We’re fortunate here at Handgunner because while we get to see the mundane, certainly, it’s counter-balanced by the often exceptional guns we meet. The Hellcat X2 is in the exceptional category. I put upwards of 400 rounds of various loads through it and not surprisingly it ran perfectly. I happen to own a Guncrafter FRAG 9mm so I balanced my impressions of the X2 with my experience with the GI brand.

The Frag is an all-steel 5″ 1911 — scary-accurate — and is very likely the epitome of the breed. I’ve also got a good deal of experience with many of GI’s guns in the past and found them all to be absolutely reliable and carefully built. I wasn’t surprised by how the X2 conducted itself.

Like the FRAG, the X2 was extremely accurate. In my hands, with very careful rested shooting using 147-gr. sub-sonic 9mm loads from several manufacturers — loads always accurate, it seems — groups of 1.5″ or a tad bigger at 25 yards were amazingly easy to shoot. A careful trigger press is the order of the day here, and a consistent sight picture. I have no doubt this is a true 1″ gun in a Ransom rest, and I’d call it more of a “one ragged hole” I’m betting. This is the sort of gun you can shoot at 50 and 100 yards and have some real fun with it.

All of the loads shot well and I honestly didn’t find a bullet weight the Hellcat X2 seemed to like over the others. I settled on the 147’s for accuracy testing due to habit, but I think the “124 and heavier” stuff would all work fine. It’s honestly a moot point with today’s ammo, so just buy what you like and then practice. You’ll be fine, especially with the Hellcat X2.

The delightful, crisp trigger weighs in right at 3.5 lbs. — an ounce or two either way from pull to pull on the digital gauge. The great ergonomics, bold sights and sure-footedness the gun delivers makes the Hellcat X2 a shooting machine at every level.

At about $3,895 you get a level of build quality seen only at the very top of the craft. There’s an undeniable sureness and poise in the X2, obvious when the gun is in-hand — and pride of ownership would be over-the-top. Oh, you also get a pistol built by hand — and backed with Guncrafter’s Lifetime Satisfaction Assurance.

Before you wring your hands at the price, keep in mind that’s about the cost of three “decent” quality factory guns of one sort or another — guns you’d likely see in every gun store and at every range you go to.

Why not be different — and better for it?

For more info:, Ph: (224) 321-5044,

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