Today’s concealed carry handgun market runs the gamut of design features. You can find big guns, little guns, metal guns, plastic guns, high-capacity guns and low-capacity guns in virtually every mainstream handgun caliber. Options are good, so these are good days. Some days, however, you see a unique combination of design features, such as those found on this older Springfield Armory XD-S. Chambered in .45 ACP, this skinny gun sports a 4-inch barrel and an overall length of 7 inches, so it is reminiscent of the CCO style of handguns. Its flush-fit magazine holds only five rounds. A few other noteworthy function and design details make this a great candidate for this week’s Love & Hate review.
With a grip width of less than an inch, the XD-S is as skinny as many of the slim
nines .45s available today. You might argue that this dimension is not critical to successful concealed carry, but I would simply insist that every eighth to sixteenth of an inch counts. At some point, thin can be too thin, but I think the XD-S gets it right with its current dimensions. Plus, the 4-inch barrel takes nothing away from concealability but rather adds to the potential overall accuracy. Note also that the height of the gun (another key dimension for concealed carry) is only 4.4 inches with the flush-fit magazine. So, carrying the XD-S — especially in a Crossbreed Supertuck Deluxe holster — is superb.
Love: .45 ACP
We have very, very good self-defense ammunition available to us today. Even the smaller .380 rounds enjoy significant performance improvements over their predecessors. While 9mm guns and ammo seem to be all the rage, it is good to note that all mainstream handgun calibers have benefited from technological advances. This, of course, includes the venerable .45 ACP cartridge, a stalwart in the caliber wars and a perennial favorite for those interested in self-defense handguns. With the XD-S and its two magazines, you have the potential to carry 12 rounds of .45 ACP on your person. But…
Hate: Only Five Rounds
The flush-fit magazine carries five rounds; the extended magazine carries six. Six rounds has unofficially been the standard for the minimum number of rounds for an autoloading pistol. Five rounds was and is the round count of backup revolvers. So, to go down to five rounds for the magazine that you will use most for concealed carry seems like a step backward. And herein lies the compromise: One less round means a shorter magazine, and a shorter magazine means a bit more ease in concealment. That actually makes the gun a better choice for concealed carry, right? Well, at least it’s five rounds of .45 ACP. Still bugs me though.
Hate: Hard on the Hand
The other thing about this gun I’m not too keen on is how hard it is on the hand. Don’t get me wrong; there is plenty of purchase, the gun is a natural pointer, and the controls are excellent. However, the plastic checkering is very aggressive, and the stocks feel like a piece of wood in your hand. Moreover, firing rounds from this gun (a relative lightweight at 23.5 ounces) also is hard on the hand, despite the taming effect of its excellent recoil management. You will get on target easier, but you will also take a bit of a beating — especially where the backstrap meets your palm — as you fire through magazine after magazine. It is not anywhere near the brutality of firing a .357 Magnum cartridge from a snub-nosed revolver, but it is significant. I can train through all these things and make it work; I just wish I that did not have to. Again, this is the compromise of carrying a larger caliber in a smaller gun.
With most guns, factory daytime sights are usually the least inspiring part of the gun and often the first thing to get upgraded, usually to low-light or night sights. However, the three-dot sights on the XD-S are excellent. You get two bright white dots on the rear and a red dot on the front. The fiber-optic front sight gathers whatever light is available and channels it through the red piping to make it as bright as possible. With the gun being easy to point naturally, the sights do their job to make target acquisition as simple and easy as possible. Despite the bark of the .45 ACP rounds, getting back on target is relatively easy thanks to the bright sights and the aggressive checkering on the stocks.
This gun is not a part of Springfield Armory’s current lineup, which is updated constantly. However, it is available on GunsAmerica and is a worthwhile gun for those who are comfortable with only five rounds and a bit of bark with each shot. It is a great gun for those who love having a slim .45 ACP with great sights out of the box.
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