Springfield Armory XD-S 4.0 in .45—Even Better for Concealed Carry

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xds 6By David Higginbotham
Springfield Armory USA XD-S
http://xdspistol.com/
Ballistics By the Inch
http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/45auto.html

There are multiple ways to approach concealed carry. You can go the minimalist route and tuck away a .380 (or an even smaller caliber like a .25 ACP) and simply hope for the best. You can pay close attention to your wardrobe and attempt to conceal a full-sized handgun or a larger compact. Or you can go with a gun that’s built specifically for concealed carry. The Springfield Armory XD-S is built for those who want a full-sized caliber in an easily concealed package. The XD-S 4.0 in .45 ACP looks, performs and presents like much larger pistol. With its four-inch barrel, it isn’t a backup gun. Yet it isn’t as obtrusive as most duty weapons. For those of us who only carry one handgun, the XD-S is a great choice.

Springfield seems to be slowly filling in the gaps. The XD-S in 4.0, in either 9mm or .45 ACP, is bigger than the 3.3-inch versions and thinner than the double-stack XD line. The XD Compact in .45 ACP has a 4.04-inch barrel and holds ten rounds of .45 ACP. When comparing the whole family tree, at least within the same calibers, the XD Compact and the XD-S 4.0 seem to cover a lot of the same ground. The real distinction is the width. The single stack XD-S pistol fits very flush against your hip and hides well. The XD Compact, though, won’t run dry quite as quickly.

The original XDS and the longer 4.0 are both incredibly thin guns. They come in at just under an inch, which is part of their appeal for concealed carry.

The original XD-S and the longer 4.0 are both incredibly thin guns. They come in at just under an inch, which is part of their appeal for concealed carry.

The XD-S 4.0 in .45 ACP is likely to weigh a touch less than the 9mm version (as they remove a little bit more from the barrel to accommodate the larger round). The 9mm weighs in at 25 ounces, empty. The XD-S 4.0s are seven inches long and built on the exact same frame as the 3.3 inch XDS. The trigger pull is advertised to be between 5.5 and 7.5 pounds. This one came in at 7.2 pounds.

Many who carry polymer framed pistols lament the material’s lack of texture. A smooth piece of aluminum or steel will still provide more grip than some textured polymers. If I knew more about physics, I’d talk about the coefficient of kinetic friction. I don’t. I do know that a seemingly textured piece of polymer can still feel slick, especially when wet. The XD-S’s frame has a pattern of jagged rectangles that bite into your hand like knobby tire treads and allow the small gun to be held confidently.

The only external safety features are built into the trigger and the grip. That may be one or two more safeties than some would like, but it is an effective combination for concealed carry. There’s no additional manual safety to drop as you present the gun. The trigger safety and grip safety combination, especially on the 3.3-inch XD-S, make pocket carry more reliable but are naturally disengaged when the gun is gripped. That said, the 4.0 isn’t going to fit in many pockets.

The XDS (the original, with the 3.3 inch barrel) and the XDS 4.0 both use the same frame.

The XD-S (the original, with the 3.3 inch barrel) and the XD-S 4.0 both use the same frame.

Why a 4.0?

The existing XD-S line has a 3.3 inch barrel. What would the additional .7 of an inch do for the gun? The most immediate answer seems to be velocity. Handgun rounds are often tested from five-inch barrels. The longer the barrels allow for more powder to combust behind the bullet, pushing it out faster. Adding less than an inch of barrel can eek out a bit more punch, and that’s important for a round that’s as lethargic as the .45 ACP.

There’s a good resource out there for those really looking for concrete numbers. Ballistics By The Inch. The site compiles data by taking chronograph readings from a wide variety of ammunition types. They start with 18-inch barrels, and document the results (as they chop off an inch at a time) all the way down to two inches.

BBTI’s methodology is more scientific than most of us will ever get. When looking at a three-inch fixed barrel (one without a blowback action behind it), you can expect velocities somewhere near the 900 fps range. That’s decent for a .45 ACP. Add an extra inch, and velocities climb up to closer to the 1,000 fps range. Not a huge difference, but not bad. If you average them out, it comes out to about 100 fps more.

bbti1Hornady’s 185 grain XTP averaged 926 fps from this 4.0. This (or their Critical Defense) is my preferred spring and summer carry load. The XTP is advertised at 970 fps from a five-inch barrel. Critical Defense .45 ACP is a bit hotter than that (1,000 fps), and the Critical Duty is even punchier (220 grains at 975 fps).

Velocity is one feature, but capacity is often more of a concern. Ever since the XD-S’s initial launch, some have questioned the rather limited capacity of the single stack magazine. The smaller of the two magazines that ship with the 4.0 only holds five rounds. With one in the barrel, the 4.0 gets the same gas mileage as most snub-nosed revolvers. I’m not one to complain. A four-inch .45 ACP will produce more foot-pounds of force than a two-inch .357 Magnum. And it will be easier to conceal. Still, there are those not willing to sacrifice capacity, and the XD-S is clearly not for them.

One of the biggest benefits of the extra length on the barrel can be felt when wearing the 4.0 inside the waistband. I’ve got a high-ride Multi Holster IWB for the XD-S 3.3. It is a great holster, and it holds the pistol right where I need it, so long as I’m standing up. But I’ve never been one to wear my pants too tight, and I’m not going to be caught dead in skinny-jeans. If I bend over, or sit too quickly, the holster tends to get pushed up. The holster has never come out of my pants, but the 3.3 doesn’t have enough barrel to keep it down. It wants to ride over my belt and out (sort of turning my belt over in the process). It isn’t the fault of the gun or the holster. Both do exactly what they’re designed to do.

The trigger safety is one of two external safeties that have to be manipulated before the gun will fire.

The trigger safety is one of two external safeties that have to be manipulated before the gun will fire.

The 4.0 has just that much more length. While I haven’t gotten the exact same style holster (yet) to test my theory, I think the extra length will help mitigate that problem. It would be even better to have the whole holster slightly deeper, with more coverage by the waistband. When you’re dealing with guns with this much mass (close to 2 pounds, loaded), and very little real estate, placement is everything. You need to be able to hide it and hold it securely (i.e. sink it deep inside the waistband), and yet be able to access it quickly (which puts the grip above the waistband).

It can get complicated, but it is worth getting right. The XD-S is a hard-hitting pocket rocket. This gun seems smaller than it is. It is thin, compact and not as heavy as many .45s. The extra barrel length of the 4.0 with the narrow grip and the five-round magazine makes for a tremendous IWB gun.

Shooting the XD-S 4.0

I’ve heard some complain about the XD-S’s recoil impulse. As it is compact, there is a sharp muzzle flip. Because it is thin, the XD-S is harder to hold than some full-sized .45s. As someone who reviews a lot of pistols, I don’t mind shooting the 3.3-inch XD-S. It isn’t as sharp as some pocket .380s I’ve shot and much better than derringer-sized guns in 9mm or .45ACP. I’d never even considered the recoil to be a liability until I heard others grousing about it.

The XDS offers a good grip for at least two fingers. It isn’t ideal, but you won’t notice it during a defensive handgun use.

The XD-S offers a good grip for at least two fingers. It isn’t ideal, but you won’t notice it during a defensive handgun use.

The good news is that the 4.0 is even easier on the hands. The extra length and weight make the gun that much less likely to kick. It isn’t going to glide like a steel-framed 1911, but it is easy enough on the hands that you aren’t going to lament practice time. Slap in the extended seven-round magazine and work through basic shooting drills. Put the short mag in and work from concealment. I put more than 200 rounds through this one on its first outing, as fast as I could load magazines, and had no residual pain in my hand or wrist. My split times are marginally faster with the 4.0 than with the original XD-S, too.

And yet…. I’m still not in sync with the pistol. When I really slow down and aim for pinpoint accuracy, I’m pulling left. I’m connecting a good three inches left and as much as five inches low. I can’t pinpoint what I’m doing wrong. My trigger control is good. I’ve got both eyes open. My grip is solid. My stance is effective. I’m pounding the target low and left, consistently.

After running through a couple of boxes, I tacked up new targets and handed the 4.0 to the range master. He carries an original XD-S in .45ACP, so he knows the gun. He lined up exactly where I was and dumped five rounds right in the center of the target. We talked through his grip, pull and sight picture, and he gave the gun back. I shot the rest of the morning, low and left. I think it has something to do with my use of the trigger. When I worked from the holster, my shot placement was fine. But I was point shooting and hitting the trigger emphatically.

The extended magazine and its grip extension make the XDS 4.0 feel like a much larger gun. The extension picks up two more rounds of .45ACP.

The extended magazine and its grip extension make the XD-S 4.0 feel like a much larger gun. The extension picks up two more rounds of .45ACP.

The good news is that the 4.0 ate everything and had almost no malfunctions. The slide failed to lock back once. That was it. The gun ate Hornady’s carry loads and American Eagle 230 grain ball, Blazer, even some hand-loads. Nothing failed to feed, and the XDS kicked out the brass into a wide circle perpendicular to the barrel, about eight feet to the right.

Even though I’m not yet bull’s-eye accurate with this 4.0, I am with my original XD-S. I like that gun so much that I own two, one in .45 and one in 9mm. Here’s a story I tell about the XD-S line to anyone who will listen. I was standing on the edge of a deep ravine working on a shotgun review. I’d been shooting (at) clay pigeons that were drifting down, about 100 yards below me, into the muddy silt on a riverbank. The clays landed there, unbroken. From the rim, the little orange spots on the bank were too insulting. They had to be broken. I had a couple of boxes of slugs with me, and I dutifully ran those through the shotgun. The fat slugs came close, but I never connected. The mud just sucked them down. I grew more frustrated as I ran out of ammo. But I had a .45 ACP XD-S on my hip. I pulled out the gun, aimed, fired. The first round hit just low. At that distance, and from that elevation, there was very little hold-over needed. The clays didn’t stand a chance. I nailed them.

That’s how the XD-S line is. It is capable. If I demonstrated anything during the review of this 4.0, it is that the gun is more capable than I am sometimes.

The price on the 4.0s should be the same as guns in the original XD-S line, most of which are selling close to $500. It is a solid investment. I spend too much time in gun stores, and I’ve yet to see a used one for sale.

{ 27 comments… add one }
  • Bill July 5, 2017, 11:53 am

    Debating on buying the Smith MP Shield 45 vs. the Springfield XDs. Held the Springfield 45 cal 4″ yesterday. Can anyone give me first hand experience on the extra inch on the Springfield for accuracy and carry ability / concealment. I have not yet shot them so I know I need to do so before making a decision. Any comments would be appreciated. I currently carry the Glock 43 and love it but would like the 45. My Glock carries 7 +1 and I still want at least that capacity in the 45, if possible.

  • pete September 30, 2016, 9:24 pm

    I BOUGHT A XDS 9MM 3.3 AND I HAVE TO SAY I HATED SHOOTING THIS GUN, IT WAS A GREAT GUN BUT NO MATTER WHAT I DID IT WOULD SHOOT LOW AND LEFT WHAT THE HELL. WE ADJUSTED THE FRONT SIGHT AND REAR SIGHT IT DID HELP A LITTLE. I HAVE SMALLS HANDS AND SHORT FINGERS, I’M THINKING THIS MAY HAVE SOMETHING TO DO WITH IT BUT I’M NOT SURE. THE WORST PART OF THIS I’M A FIRE ARMS INSTRUCTOR AND TRYING TO FIGURE THIS OUT IS VERY FRUSTRATING.SO WHAT I DID I SOLD MY 9MM 3.3 AND JUST ORDERED THE 4.0 45ACP I HOPE THIS IS BETTER BUT AFTER READING SOME OF THESE REVIEWS I MAY HAVE THE SAME PROBLEM…….

    • John October 24, 2016, 1:20 am

      Pete,

      Low left means that you are anticipating the recoil and flinching down to compensate for the muzzle flip of the gun. Try dry firing more and practicing with a surprise break in the trigger. You’ll get the hang of it. Good luck.

  • Big E February 14, 2016, 4:21 am

    I rented a 3.3″ the day I read this article along with other compact 45s for comparison. One printed low and left regularly. Guess which one? I could tighten groups with effort but still low and left. I attributed it to the light weight along with their horrible trigger, pulling it offline. Love the guns but an aftermarket trigger improved my full size xd accuracy immensely. I think it will make the s perfect.

    • jim June 23, 2016, 7:30 pm

      springfeilds are nothing but high priced Tauruses after owning fns glocks and M&Ps and several 1911s xd is at the bottom of the list over rated guns

  • Donald Walters June 3, 2015, 10:28 am

    I have always been under the impression that you measure a revolver barrel from the forcing cone to the end of the barrel not just the rifled part of the barrel. Is that incorrect ?

  • Steve April 23, 2015, 10:36 am

    …A four-inch .45 ACP will produce more foot-pounds of force than a two-inch .357 Magnum

    Not sure I agree with this statement. If you’re just looking at the numbers at BBTI, it seems like this is true, but remember how barrels are measured in semi-autos versus revolvers. In a semi-auto, the chamber and rifled barrel are measured as one unit to determine barrel length (which means the data collected at BBTI should be accurate), but a revolver just includes the rifled portion of the barrel where the bullet is accelerating. The 2 inch ballistics for .357 Magnum look horrible because the cartridge itself is over 1.5 inches long, leaving just half an inch of real barrel. To approximate what a .357 Magnum is really doing out of a 2 inch revolver barrel, you’d have to figure out the velocity it’s achieving out of a 3.5 inch test barrel (to include the chamber length).

    Here are my calcs based on BBTI’s data, interpolating velocity based on the average between the 4 inch and 3 inch barrel for .357 Magnum. As you can see, they’re close, but the .357 snubbie easily holds it’s own (except for Cor Bon’s 110 gr load).

    Caliber Bullet Wt Velotiy Kinetic Energy
    .357 Mag 110 1197.5 350.2
    .357 Mag 125 1376.5 525.8
    .357 Mag 140 1283 511.6
    .357 Mag 158 1197.5 503.0

    .45 ACP +P 165 1163 495.4
    .45 ACP +P 185 1109 505.1
    .45 ACP +P 200 1042 482.1
    .45 ACP +P 230 983 493.4

  • Nathan February 11, 2015, 7:35 pm

    I would like to chat with u Dave higginbotham about these guns my email is cardsfan6@me.com thanks

  • Brandi Smith December 29, 2014, 12:57 pm

    Interesting. I carry the XDs daily. As a southpaw, I am always a bit low right, no matter how I press the trigger. However, during a timed holster-draw match (appendix carry), I was much closer to the center of the targets. ????
    For defensive work, no issues at all. I added a Pierce magazine base, which gives us a place for the third finger.

  • Brandi Smith December 29, 2014, 12:56 pm

    Interesting. I carry the XDs daily. As a southpaw, I am always a bit low right, no matter how I press the trigger. However, during a timed holster-draw match (appendix carry), I was much closer to the center of the targets. ????
    For defensive work, no issues at all.

  • Ivan May 7, 2014, 7:07 pm

    @Norm Morris: the XDs’s (both the 3.3 and the 4.0 barrel versions) use the same mags, 5+1 or 7+1 on .45 ACP, or 7+1 and 9+1 on 9mm

  • Brandan May 6, 2014, 10:09 pm

    For those of you that are shooting low left; have you tried adjusting your trigger finger? With such a slim grip I have to almost place the trigger at the first joint of my finger. This is one thing that has me questioning single stack pistols all together. I’m afraid I will default to the pad of my index finger under stress and not be accurate. But none of this is the firearms fault. Quality is supurb.

  • TJ May 5, 2014, 5:53 pm

    Would be nice if they would sell just the slide, barrel, and recoil spring / guide rod assembly for those who already have the xds 3.3 seeing as how the frame is the same. Would like the option instead of purchasing another complete firearm.

  • ty summersett May 5, 2014, 1:28 pm

    I own the 3.3 and I find I had similar results at the range with accuracy. If I really buckle down and focus I can hit well, but my shots seem to pull low and left on paper.

  • JohnJ May 5, 2014, 11:29 am

    Mr. Hig…I love my 3.3, and the sights are adjustable to compensate for ergonomic deficiencies. Don’t fight it…chang’em. I did. I even bought a different front sight from Spgfld, @ $22.95! I cut finger grooves in the grip…cut a concave in the front edge of the trigger guard…blocked the grip safety, smoothed down the knobby tires, rounded the butt at the mag well. 155g Glaser Safety Slugs @ 1450 fps are explosive in flesh. Why? I live 2 miles from the sieve known and the Mexican Border, in deep S.E. Texas, and my 3.3 has been out of the holster twice in defense of my well being. I frequently carry two guns…the second is a diminutive KelTec .32 ACP with Glaser’s also. I have an early 3.3 and concur with others about heavier trigger pull and less accuracy post recall.
    Why modify the grip safety? When my gun hand was twisted sideways I still had my finger on the trigger, but couldn’t fire since I couldn’t squeeze the orange…now I can! Remember…when he stops bleeding…walk (run?) away.. and if queried later plead “shock” and no memory of the event! Unless absolutely necessary (a witness)…DON’T CALL A COP!!!!!!!!!!!! Why? Because the first thing he will do is arrest you for murder!

  • Norm Morris May 5, 2014, 11:22 am

    Great review, and very helpful thank you. Nice pics and detail, and the BBTI info is a plus I’ve never seen before in any other article.

    Not sure on the low/left issue with aimed fire. The only variable I can see is that you are probably point shooting more, instinctively, from the timed holster draws. (?) You are obviously an expert shooter, but when I see students doing this I watch them so see how their grip, stance and sight picture varies from one set to another (point shooting vs. slow aimed fire.) You may be unconsciously adding pressure to one side of the pistol or other as you squeeze your shots as opposed to snap shooting. ?

    Definitely comparing this 10 rd. .45 XD-S 4.0 to the new Sig 227, also 10-rd..45 ACP, which also has a 4-inch config available IIRC. I love Glocks, and know the Springfield XD series is top-notch (my brother has an original full-size .45 XD and it is scary accurate), but really like the classic SA/DA Sig look and operation. (I believe this one might be a fraction thinner though, not sure…)

    Still, since both are currently illegal for civilians to own here in the People’s Republic of CA, (not on the DOJ “approved” list, even though I have one of their Instructor ratings), I’ll have to see if an LEO will transfer one to me, or just move to a real State once and for all…

    Thanks again!

  • Adam May 5, 2014, 11:18 am

    Ugh, I just bought the XD-s 4.0 in 9mm, as the .45 ACP was not out yet. Figures 🙂

  • Travis May 5, 2014, 8:39 am

    Did the author actually fire a XDS 4.0 in .45? The arrival read a little funny?! Any word when it will be released to the general public?

    • Dave Higginbotham May 5, 2014, 10:06 am

      It should be shipping soon, if not already. And yes. I had one of the first ones released to writers.

      Dave

  • John O'Toole May 5, 2014, 6:22 am

    Low and left with an XD-S 4.0 .45 ACP ? – I had the same trouble with my Glock 19 because I have an abnormally short trigger finger. I could not obtain proper trigger finger placement and when I tried, my trigger finger would rest against the right side of the slide. When I would pull the trigger, my finger would inadvertently push against the slide and my shots would go left, although not left and down. My solution was to move the rear sight to the right. I have an XD-S 4.0 9mm coming and I will see if I can duplicate your problem. If you are interested my my results, feel free to send me a test email to which I can reply later on.

  • Dr. Strangelove May 5, 2014, 6:07 am

    My XD-S .45 3.3 was dead on until I sent it back for the recall. With the trigger mod it now seems to shoot low and to the left. Coincidence? IDK, but it seemed easier to shoot before.

    • BostonDavey May 5, 2014, 9:05 am

      Same here Dr. S. After recall/returned, once at the range @ 10 yards, I’m not seeing it hit anywhere on the target. Cant be that far off. I’ll try again when I have more time and ammo to waste. Not happy with it anymore,

  • David May 5, 2014, 5:46 am

    Where was the price list for these at?

    • gary May 5, 2014, 8:09 am

      I’d like to know that too

      • William Harrington May 5, 2014, 11:31 pm

        The writeup states that the price should be close to the original which sell for $599 here in GA.

    • DBCooper December 29, 2014, 12:03 pm

      Your target results are exactly the same as my results shooting the 3.3 barrel XDs 45. For the life of me I can’t figure it out, my results are unique to that gun.

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