In 2022, Springfield unveiled their semi-automatic version of the Croatian VHS, to which they bought patent rights – they called named it the Hellion.
This 5.56mm NATO rifle utilizes a bullpup design that’s been used by several militaries across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Today, the rifle is available on the American market.
Is it worth your money, though? Time to find out.
The VHS-2 rifle, on which the Hellion is based, started production in 2009 and it’s been in service of the Croatian army (among others) ever since. Springfield’s Hellion is essentially a modified version of this rifle.
The rifle fires the standard 5.56x45mm NATO round (or the .223), it’s 26.2 inches long, with a 16.1 inches long barrel. The gun is no heavier than 7.3 rounds with 30 rounds fitting in the magazine.
The rifle accepts HK G36 magazines as well.
Maneuverability and adaptability
If there’s one thing that can be said about the Hellion, it’s that the gun is crazy adaptable to the user and easy to maneuver in close spaces. This is the gun’s main selling point.
Since the gun’s design is based on the VHS-2 K (K standing for kratki, Croatian for ‘short’), the bullpup design is overall short, while the barrel itself is still long.
This means that the design doesn’t sacrifice accuracy for maneuverability or vice versa.
The gun is adaptable to the user in several ways. The stock of the gun can be moved forward or backward, adjusting to the user’s arm length – so the gun fits both short and tall people.
Keep in mind that the gun was originally designed for the Croatian Armed Forces and a single design had to fit an entire army.
The second small detail you’ll notice is that the gun is entirely ambidextrous. The charging handle can be pulled both to the left and to the right, while the safety mechanism is located above the trigger on both the left and the right side of the weapon.
The ejection port is usually open on the right side, but you can easily close that port down and open the left port by disassembling the weapon.
On top of the barrel, you’ll find a Picatinny rail – perfect for mounting optics, while the underbarrel is covered with an M-Lok handguard to which you can add accessories.
The iron sights on top of the Picatinny rail are foldable so they don’t get in the way.
With all of this in mind, the Hellion can be described as a weapon that’s easy to maneuver, but with a barrel still long enough to provide long-range accuracy.
The attachment rail lets you add a scope, so you can increase that accuracy, while the gun is totally adaptable to both tall and short, left-handed and right-handed people.
Let’s talk performances. Officially, the Hellion is designed to engage in close, medium, and long-range combat (to a degree). It’s supposed to be a jack-of-all-trades type of weapon, and it certainly succeeded in that regard, but a few changes could be made.
One of the first things you’ll notice when you shoot this gun is that the trigger is a bit tough. This is understandable, given that it’s designed for warfare – not for civilian use – but this is something that could be adapted for the civilian version.
The trigger isn’t terribly painful to pull, but it’s not smooth either.
Secondly, the magazines are plastic. This might sound like a great thing initially, less weight and whatnot, but they’re frail and the first time one of your magazines hits hard ground – it will crack.
For someone who’s never seen a bullpup rifle before, the weapon initially looks a little bit weird. However, that changes when you start shooting.
If you know what you’re doing, you’re going to hit the target with this gun, no matter the distance.
If you do some reflex shooting drills or tactical courses, you’ll notice that the gun is very light and that it’s very easy and quick to move around because of its short barrel.
What is the Hellion good for and is it worth your money?
Hellion has three things going for it – it’s highly-adaptable to any shooter, highly-accurate, and highly-maneuverable. This makes it a great weapon for the range, but also a good home defense weapon if you know what you’re doing.
Normally, I wouldn’t recommend a semi-automatic rifle for home defense, but the bullpup design keeps it short and easy to move.
What it could do better is the trigger – once again, it’s not terrible, but it’s not as smooth as I’d like it to be.Aside from that, there are no glaring faults I can point out, and I think the NRA called it the Tactical Gun of the Year for a reason.