21 May 22
Springfield Armory’s Hellion Rifle, Initial Run
I took my copy of SA’s Hellion Rifle to the Range yesterday for the first time.
As expected, it runs just fine!
“Hellion” (after a Marvel Comics character) in the name given to SA’s import-version of the Croatian-built bullpup VHS Rifle (for “Višenamjenska Hrvatska Strojnica,” loosely translated: “Multifunctional Automatic Rifle”), first introduced by well-respected Croatian arms manufacturer, HS , in 2007.
It’s chambered for 5.56×45, and my copy runs equally well with Magpul, Lancer, and STANAG magazines.
An improved version, the VHS-2, came out in 2013 and has since been thoroughly tested and ultimately adopted by the Croatian Army. There have since been a few military sales to other nations.
In January of this year, SA began importing their “civilian version,” of the VHS-2. I’ve had my copy only a short time.
I was attracted to this rifle mostly because of its compactness.
I fly commercially many times every year (mostly on SW), and I include my M4, XCR, FAL, or CETME in checked baggage. My rifle fits into a “hard case,” (per TSA regulations), and the case then fits within my ordinary-looking (Eagle Creek) roller duffel.
The CETME, with it telescoping stock, fits right in, but I have to separate the upper from the lower on my M4 and XCR in order to get either in.
Like the CETME, the Hellion fits in without having to disassemble anything!
The hard case is flat (it’s the 32-inch case the Beretta CX4 comes in, with molded-in dividers removed) and even though my M4 and XCR have folding stocks, when folded, the stock makes the whole thing too bulky to fit into the case.
When I get to my destination hotel, I take the rifle out of the hard case, when necessary put it back together, and then place it into a nondescript soft case (Sneaky Bag, Savior Bag, tennis-racket case). Then, I can go in and out of my hotel, while garnering scant scrutiny!
In order to get my Hellion ready for this kind of service, I asked my wonderful local gunsmith to mount a co-witnessed Primary Arms RDO (MD-RBGII) on the integral P-rail, a coaxial Surefire Scoutlight on the M-rail on the left side, and a two-point BFG sling. I also had him grind-off the manual safety paddle on the right side, since I don’t use it, and it otherwise gets in the way.
I prefer RDOs forward-mounted, but I calculated that mounting it there would interfere with operation of the charging handle, so my RDO is mounted just in front of the integral rear BUIS.
Fold-down BUIS that come with the rifle are excellent. No replacement necessary.
Top-mounted charging handle is convenient, ambidextrous, one-way, non-reciprocating.
One can switch from right to left shoulder without getting hit with ejected cases, as brass-deflectors are built-in, on both sides.
Trigger is fine. Breaks at 6/7 lbs. Reset is brisk. Very acceptable for a rifle intended for serious purposes.
The bolt locks-open on an empty magazine (Western style), but the manual bolt hold-open switch is on the inside of the magazine well. No problem, once you get used to it.
However, there is no bolt forward-assist, which means one can’t load/reload silently, nor can one perform a chamber-check silently.
The option for silent operation has been considered important since our Pacific Campaign during WWII. In fact, lack of the option for silent operation is what got the otherwise-popular FAL rejected in favor of the M14 in the 1950s!
For my domestic use, I don’t consider this a deal-buster, yet it is something both SA and HS should think about!
My Hellion will be my constant companion, probably for the rest of the year. I’ll be driving and flying with it to many places, and my students and I will be using it heavily!
More to come!