Got a Springfield Hellcat you want to squeeze every bit of performance possible out of?
I recommend taking a look at the Action Enhancement Trigger from Apex Tactical Specialties. This user-installable kit promises to retain all of the safety of the stock trigger while improving the break, pull and reset.
In this Apex trigger review, I installed the Action Enhancement Trigger kit on my Hellcat OSP.
Did Apex deliver?
They did, but I think you need to read the full story to understand why.
Why Change the Factory Trigger?
There are two main reasons I see to upgrade your factory Hellcat trigger to the Apex Action Enhancement Trigger.
The first reason is the most common: you are looking to improve the feel of the trigger pull.
Apex is well known for offering user-installable trigger kits to upgrade popular guns. It would seem to be a no-brainer for the company to take a shot at improving the sought-after Hellcat micro-pistol. In a way, it’s sort of like adding a red dot sight to your Hellcat: it is designed to improve your ability to put rounds accurately on target.
The second reason is my main reason: to “fix” the issue with the trigger safety on the Hellcat.
Several people reported that the Hellcat trigger can “bind” if you place any lateral force on it. Not everyone has this issue, and I suspect that the number of people affected by this is small.
Unfortunately, I am one of the people who have problems with the factory Hellcat trigger. As near as I can tell, the problem is directly related to my short fingers. They aren’t Lisa Simpson stubby, but short enough to run into occasional trigger problems with a variety of pistols.
You can read my Springfield Hellcat review for additional information on my experiences there. I did not have any other Hellcat problems – in fact, I like the gun a lot.
Regardless, I like the Hellcat, and Apex seemed to have the solution I needed to make the pistol ideal for my CCW needs.
What Does the Apex Trigger Do?
According to Apex, the Action Enhancement Trigger is designed to do the following:
- provide a simple to install solution to improving the overall trigger performance on the Springfield Armory Hellcat pistol
- maintain all of the factory safety values
- reduce the trigger pull weight to a range of 5.0 – 5.5 pounds after a short break-in period
- smooth both the take-up and reset of the trigger pull while maintaining a crisp break
- reduce overall travel of the trigger during the pull and reset
No fitting of the parts is needed, so put away the files and Dremel tool. The installation process is very easy and the company provides a detailed video on completing it. I cover the installation of the Apex kit below.
The kit contains:
- striker spring
- sear spring
- action enhancement trigger
The base version of the kit (all black) will have a MSRP of $79.95. Other versions, including those with a red trigger or Thin Blue Line will sell for a little more: up to $89.95.
The trigger safety on the Hellcat pistol helps to prevent accidental discharges including when the gun is dropped. Duplicating this functionality was a priority for Apex when developing the Action Enhancement Trigger.
According to the company, Springfield Armory “sacrifice[d] a handful of Hellcat pistols” for extensive drop testing of the new trigger system. Multiple drops were made from 27 different orientations onto cured concrete from a height of 6′. Additionally, the drops were conducted in extreme cold (down to -10? F) and heat (up to 150? F) in addition to typical room temperatures. All testing was filmed with high-speed cameras to analyze potential problems.
The Apex Hellcat trigger kit passed every single drop with no safety problems.
Installation of the Apex Trigger
Installation of the Apex Action Enhancement Trigger on the Springfield Hellcat is straightforward. If you have just a few tools and a bit of patience, you should have no difficulties in upgrading your Hellcat.
Disclaimer: Any actions you take to upgrade your pistol are on you. I do not accept any responsibility for your actions. If you have any doubts about what you are doing, take your gun to a local gunsmith. He or she can complete this and other Hellcat upgrades for you at a reasonable fee.
- 1/16″ pin punch
- 3/32″ pin punch
- light gunsmithing hammer (this kit has a hammer and both punches)
- bench mounted vise
- roll of masking or painters tape
- gun oil such as Break Free or Breakthrough
Apex provides a very good video to walk you through the trigger upgrade:
I followed their method. Here are the steps to install your trigger. Corresponding video timestamps are in parenthesis. [Note: Apex updated its video, so the timestamps may not be 100% accurate.]
- Ensure the gun is clear and all ammunition has been removed from your work area.
- Gather your tools and work on a soft mat with good lighting. (00:38)
- Field strip the Springfield Hellcat. We will work on the frame first.
- Remove three pins from the frame. From the back to the front, they are the sear housing pin, locking block pin and trigger pivot pin. (00:55)
- Remove the locking block. By pulling up slightly on the locking block, you should be able to pull the take down lever out. Be careful not to lose the spring. (01:16)
- Remove the slide lock lever. (01:34)
- Remove the sear housing and trigger assembly. Push slightly forward on the sear housing so its tabs clear the rear of the frame and everything will lift out in a single piece. (01:38)
- SPECIAL NOTE: One of my readers pointed out that the sear housing contains a sear housing pin safety (part #20 on pages 30-31 in the Hellcat manual here) that could come loose during this operation. Make sure you do not lose this part and that it is in place during reassembly. You can read more of Don’s note in the comments section below. Thanks Don.
- Remove the magazine blocking lever. (01:44)
- Remove the trigger bar from the sear housing. To do so, pull the trigger bar forward and then gently wiggle it back and forth until it pops free. (01:46)
- Remove the pin holding the sear spring in place. This will free the spring and sear from the housing. (02:00)
- Rotate the sear spring off of the sear. There is a gap in the spring head that allows you to do this. (02:17)
- Remove the trigger from the trigger bar by tapping out the top pin in the trigger assembly. I recommend tapping it out only halfway. This will make it easier to reinstall the factory trigger should you ever want to. (02:39)
- While everything is apart, I suggest cleaning the parts. I’ve been using the Breakthrough solvent after Paul Carlson of Safety Solutions Academy recommended it to me. It works extremely well.
- Installing the new Apex trigger onto the Hellcat trigger bar is simple, but it is critical to get all of the parts aligned correctly. Failure to do so will result in a crushed or misaligned trigger. (03:24)
- Cut a 1/4″ strip of light cardstock to act as a shim. The insert in the Apex Action Enhancement Trigger packaging is perfect for this.
- With the cardstock shim, insert the Hellcat trigger bar into the Apex trigger. Carefully align the holes. It is crucial to get the alignment correct.
- Place the trigger flat against one side of the vice jaws. The pre-started trigger pin should face the other vise jaw.
- Slowly close the vise jaws so that the vise is applying even pressure to the pin. The pin should slide home and connect the trigger to the trigger bar.
- Once the pin is in place, the trigger bar should rotate easily.
- Remove the cardstock shim. The trigger should loosely move on the bar.
- Note: I use heavy gaffers tape on the jaws of my vise to prevent marring of the parts. You can use masking tape or the leftover cardstock from the Apex package for the same purpose. Just make sure everything is kept flat so the pin will not go in at an angle.
- Install the sear spring onto the seer. The Apex sear spring has a funnel shape. The smaller end will have a gap in the hook that you will use to connect to the sear. (06:15)
- There is a felt core in the center of the Apex sear spring. Add a drop of oil to the felt. This will extend the spring’s life. (06:46)
- Apply lube to the sear surfaces where it contacts the striker and sear housing. (07:13)
- Using the sear housing pin, attach the sear spring to the sear housing. Note that the pin has one end that is larger than the other end. Make sure you are installing the pin in the correct direction. (07:36)
- Apply lube to the side of the trigger bar where it will connect to the sear and the disconnect surface. (08:25)
- Rotate the sear into the sear housing. While keeping the sear housing pin in place, pull the sear toward the front of the housing and expose the trigger bar slot.
- Insert the trigger bar into the sear. You will need to keep tension on the sear with one hand while the other hand inserts the trigger bar into the sear. Once the trigger bar is partially inserted, you will need to pull forward and wiggle slightly to properly seat the trigger bar. When the trigger bar is seated flush against the sear housing you are in place. (09:00)
- Move the sear spring is attached the small ring on the sear housing pin. You may need to move the spring hook with your punch to properly seat it. (09:41)
- Replace the magazine blocking lever into the frame. (10:10)
- Insert the trigger and sear assembly into the frame. Lead with the trigger and then seat the sear housing. Make sure the tabs at the back of the housing mate up with the rear of the frame. (10:24)
- Place the slide lock lever into the frame. (11:05)
- Place the slide lock lever spring into the locking block. (10:50)
- Slide the locking block into the frame. There are small notches in the frame that match rails on the locking block. If they align, you should be in the correct position. (11:12)
- Insert the trigger pivot pin. This is the large pin that was removed during the initial disassembly. As you are inserting it, you will need to adjust the position of the slide lock lever so that it is captured by the pin. (11:29)
- Insert the locking block pin into the frame. Caution: the locking block pin has two rings on it. The sear housing pin has three rings. Do not confuse the two pins. (12:16)
- Insert the sear housing pin. You will need to hold the sear housing down for proper insertion. (12:48)
- Insert the takedown lever. You will need to roll it around as it moves through the locking block. (13:11)
- Conduct function checks (13:55)
- Remove the backplate from the slide assembly. (14:51)
- Caution: There are springs under tension. Be careful when removing the backplate. I recommend wearing safety glasses.
- Remove the striker assembly. (15:17)
- Disassemble the striker assembly by removing the two spring cups that hold the striker spring in place. (15:25)
- The entire circular cup is made from two half-circle spring cups. They are small and a pain to grab. Take your time.
- Insert the Apex striker spring onto the striker assembly. If you get the springs mixed up, the Apex version is slightly longer than the stock version. (15:43)
- Install the striker assembly and backplate. (16:18)
- Function check the slide assembly. (17:05)
- Lubricate the barrel, rails, etc. (17:34)
- Reassemble pistol.
- Function check the gun. (19:55)
If you follow the company’s instructions, you should not have any issues. However, I’ve found that Apex Tactical Specialties has superb customer service. You can always reach out to them for assistance.
So, how does it work?
To start with, my issue with the factory trigger binding on me completely disappeared. The Apex design completely resolved the problem and gave me 100% reliability.
Beyond that, the Apex Action Enhancement Trigger felt significantly better than the factory trigger. The pull was smooth with an even pull throughout. The reset was short with an obvious click.
One of the things I like the best about the Apex trigger is the more forceful trigger return. In other words, there seems to be more force pushing the trigger to reset as you release your finger pressure.
I’ve always appreciated a strong return spring on my revolvers. While the Apex Action Enhancement Trigger isn’t at nearly the same strength as my Magnum wheelguns, it does have a more positive return.
After firing about 150 rounds, I measured the Apex trigger’s pull weight as 5 lbs, 6 ounces (5.375 pounds). Not only is this right in the range Apex states you should expect, but it is also considered in the preferred weight range of many duty self-defense and law enforcement handguns.
For comparison, the stock trigger measured more than 6 pounds after a break-in period.
Not that it should be an issue, but I tested the pistol after the trigger swap in a number of Springfield Hellcat holsters and all of them worked without issue.
Bottom line: the Apex trigger upgrade fixed the only problem I encountered with the Hellcat pistol and improved the otherwise good trigger pull.
The Apex Action Enhancement Trigger makes the Hellcat useable – for me – in a self-defense role. As I’ve stated elsewhere, the Springfield Hellcat is a very capable pistol and might be the ideal micro-compact personal protection gun.
However, the trigger problem I experienced with the Hellcat created a concern. The Apex trigger completely eliminates that problem.
Additionally, the trigger pull feels significantly improved. The pull is smooth and even with an 11.5 ounce reduction in pull weight. Further, the reset is short and crisp.
If you have a Hellcat, this Apex trigger kit might be the upgrade for which you’ve been waiting. I recommend it.
Last update: June 4, 2021
As with all of my reviews, I share all of the information that can have an impact on how I write it up.
Apex Tactical Specialties is not a sponsor or advertiser. I was not paid to write this article. Further, Apex did not request a positive review of the product.
The Hellcat trigger kit was provided by Apex for review with the only stipulation that I wait until August 10 to publish my article. All of the opinions expressed in this article are my own.
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