I play hardcore quite a bit in BO2. It's the 1st COD since COD4 where I've enjoyed playing this mode, as I prefer the slower pace over core.
I just think the mode would be a little more fun if it would take 3 or 4 bullets to kill rather than 2. Not a dramatic change to gameplay. Someone who gets the drop on you or faster trigger finger will still down their opponent easily, but maybe it'll take more of an effect in certain circumstances like heading for cover to cover etc. Sniping with pistols would just be a tad harder
I could also open up attacking gameplay a little bit, rather than 90% defensive gamestyle . I don't think the pace suffer too much. It'll still be hardcore
I don't know what core fans would think about raising the core health so I'm only suggesting HC. Upping HC to 50% tho would give a better experience imo, closer to the way it was in cod4.
Is it possible for the devs to change it + test it for a while without the need of a patch? I'm sure I read somewhere they can change/tweak most things with a hotfix this year.
Hardcore is essentially dead. Other than a few transferred game modes, don't expect much to go on within hardcore.
Fact is, there has been progressively less people playing hardcore since CoD 4, and I think something like 12% of the people online at any given time are playing hardcore. That number will be down under 10% at the end of this game's life cycle.
Onto your question - 90% health, or "three or four" bullets = Modern Warfare 3 core damage profile. Is that what you want? If so, then I would suggest either switching back to MW3 or moving over to core. Honestly, if you want to improve in CoD, then core is the way to go. You are up against similar to better players, and it's a faster experience, especially team based matches that you play as a group.
Hardcore is largely filled with people with limited skill, who play "defensively" because they truly can't play any other way and they just aren't smart or sharp enough to understand the way the game plays in core.
Make the switch. I did after Black Ops, and I love it. Don't miss hardcore at all, and especially won't when it completely dies.
Your math is a little off about HC percentages... right now, 41,000 in HC out of 270,000... So, 41,000 / 270,000 = 15%
What you need to keep in mind is that, this percentage would be up around 20% (if not much higher), assuming there was more than one playable HC gametype (imo, FFA in general, is broken with it's absolutely atrocious spawns)...
A lot of the people playing Core: KC/DOM/HQ might rather be playing HC, but considering that HC versions of those game-types don't exist, they're stuck with playing core...
Btw.. hardcore is for people who want to play tactically & want a hint of realism in their games... Not because they aren't smart or have limited skill (that's just ignorant of you)...