It’s Hammer Time! Springfield’s New 9mm XD-E – Full Review.

The XD-E is a unique addition to the XD line in that it is a hammer-fired DA/SA pistol.

Springfield Armory has taken their mastery of small gun ergonomics in a new direction with the release of the XD-E. The E stands for external hammer, which is a feature many people look for in a carry gun. If you are in the “don’t trust strikers” crowd, this gun was absolutely made for you.


  • Chambering: 9mm
  • Barrel: 3.3 inches
  • OA Length: 6.75 inches
  • Weight: 23 oz
  • Frame: Polymer
  • Sights: Fiber Optic front, low profile rear
  • Finish: Melonite
  • Capacity: 9+1, 8+1
  • MSRP: $519

A unique feature of the XD-E is the addition of a manual safety with the external hammer.

The XD-E was made to be used as a carry gun. The easiest comparison is to its older brother, the XD-S. This is a snap for me, since the XD-S has been my carry gun for almost four years. Both have a 3.3 inch barrel and the slides are the same width, one inch. This will probably be the only time you are happy to be sporting one inch in your pants. The XD-E features an external hammer as the name implies, and works as a double action/single action (DA/SA) trigger system. The XD-E also features a combination safety and decocker. Push down for decocking, and push up to lock the safety on. The XD-E can be carried in single action or double action mode with the safety engaged, or in DA with the safety off. The hammer can also be manually cocked with the safety already on. The other primary difference in frame from the XD-S is the grip. Gone is the grenade-style checkering, which was extremely aggressive. In its place is much lighter basketweave-style checkering on the front and back straps. Also gone, which I am very happy about, is the grip safety. With paws my size, I have failed to engage that before on my XD-S.

So why these changes, and why go to a DA/SA trigger system? I think it has a lot to do with who buys CCW guns. Some people think that a long trigger pull on the first shot is both safer and less likely to end in legal liability. I come from the “keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to fire” school, but I also have the benefit of a lot of practice ammo from the taxpayers. One might even say, a metric grundle of that practice ammo. The DA trigger on the XD-E is certainly a long trigger pull, and it takes some force. In fact, one of my few complaints about the gun would be how far forward the trigger sets in DA mode. It’s a little odd for me, but smaller handed individuals really have to reach for it. Off The Reservation 6 is 5’2”, and she was less than impressed by how she had to reach for the trigger. The single-action trigger is predictably much better and is pretty crisp by carry gun standards.

Takedown of the pistol is simple and straightforward and does not require pulling the trigger.

One place the DA/SA system absolutely shines is in manual of arms for newer shooters. Some people are just never going to trust sticking a locked and loaded striker-fired gun in their pants. And let’s be honest about a “trigger safety.” That doesn’t really count. This is a comfort and peace of mind issue, and there’s nothing wrong with it. If you insist on a mechanical safety, that is your prerogative. My issue with the safety on most carry guns before this was that they are too small. The one for the XD-E is big enough to use reliably, and old hat for you 1911 shooters. Same place, same motion. Unlike a 1911 though, on the XD-E you can move the slide with the safety engaged. That means for a new shooter, you can load and press check the XD-E without ever putting the gun into a mode that could result in a negligent discharge.

Note the ambidextrous magazine release of the pistol.

Also a huge benefit to those with less upper body strength, the slide is easier to rack. Springfield Armory calls this a Low Effort Slide, or L.E.S. You can put the safety on, manually cock the hammer, load the pistol, and decock if you choose to carry hammer down. This results in a 27% reduction in force needed to move the slide, and should make some of our readers’ lives a lot easier. The decocker/safety is ambidextrous, as is the magazine release. On that same issue of safety, you can fully disassemble the XD-E with the safety engaged, and never need to touch the trigger.

The ambidextrous safety operates like that of the 1911 and has a similar location. Where it is unique is that it also acts as a decocker when it is swept down.

The XD-E retains the steel sights of the XDS, with a fiber optic front and white dots in the rear. Something I just thought about opening the box on the XD-E, seeing the spare fiber optic rods that are included. In four years of carry, not only have I never even considered changing the sights out, I have never changed the fiber optic. These just work, unlike some guns where you have them switched before you even leave the gun store. It might be nice to see Springfield Armory offer a factory tritium option, but I am not complaining about the standard model. The fiber optic rod on the front is larger than most, making it a cinch to pick up in a hurry.

The pistol features a dual-nested recoil spring system.

The slide and all the metal parts are melonited, which is a fantastic finish for a CCW gun. Tough as nails and corrosion resistant, you will really appreciate that if you live in the Southeast and carry in the summer. The safety/decocker is slightly larger than the slide release on this gun, and they are spaced far enough apart you won’t mistake one for the other. Not once in shooting this gun have I missed the safety when I remembered I needed to disengage it (striker fired habits die hard).

Springfield opted to first release the XD-E in 9mm, a departure from the XD-S which came first in .45 ACP. I think this also is deliberate to push this gun toward shooters with less grip strength. The magazines are single stack, which gives you 8+1 or 9+1 depending on the magazine. The “magazine X-Tension” also gives you a bit more grip space for your fingers, which I prefer. I have often wondered with my XD-S, if I had purchased later, what caliber I would choose. I don’t feel outgunned with 9mm, and certainly in these smaller guns I am faster with it. Training ammo is cheaper, and you can get a longer training day in before you need to soak your hands in ice water.

The sights are made up of a fiber-optic front unit matching up to dual white dots at the rear.

The real question with any new gun is, how does it shoot. I have said many times before that I liked my XD-S because I found it the perfect balance of small enough to conceal, and big enough to fight with. I can actually get two hands on the gun, it has real sights instead of a suggestion of which way to point, and I don’t feel like I have a boat anchor shoved in my underwear. The XD-E fits exactly this same bill. And it shoots like a house on fire. This is a gun you absolutely have to shoot to appreciate. My first six shots with the gun, I melted down a plate rack starting in DA mode. This was faster than I could do with my XD-S, and faster with a carry gun than I would have thought possible. I shot hundreds of rounds with this gun, and it continued to impress all day long. The recoil system categorically eats 9mm recoil, and with the SA trigger you can burn it down at a speed that is almost magic. If you have a local gun store with rental guns, I hope this one makes it to the counter soon.

Between us girls, I wasn’t excited when the Springfield guys told us it was an external hammer gun. I am jaded on DA/SA guns from years of having to teach Army guys two trigger pulls on the M9. But shooting this gun changed my opinion quickly. If you are thinking about a new CCW gun, shoot this one first.

For more information, visit

About the author: Clay Martin is a former Marine and Green Beret, retiring out of 3rd Special Forces Group. He is a multi-decade and -service sniper, as well as 3-Gun competitor and Master ranked shooter in USPSA Production. In addition to writing about guns, he is the author of “Last Son of The War God,” a novel about shooting people that deserve it. You can also follow him on twitter, @offthe_res or his website,

{ 49 comments… add one }
  • Fred Gorham March 20, 2019, 7:42 pm

    Hi. Quick question. I’m getting conflicting answers. Does the XDE 9MM have double strike capability? Thanks. Fred G.

  • Lars December 12, 2017, 1:49 am

    My first pistol was a Beretta 92FS, and then I acquired the Sig P220, the P229 in .40 S&W, and the CZ P01. So I “learned” my way around handguns with the DA/SA models. Years later, I picked up a Springfield XD Sub-Compact in .40 S&W, and I loved the way it shot, so I bought a couple more XD Sub-Compacts in 9mm. Then the XDs came out, and I thought my concealed carry prayers had been answered. I got one, and had nothing but problems with it at first. It’s shooting better now, but I still don’t trust it completely. So when the XDE came out, I decided to try it. Personally, I like it – much better than the XDs. Worked great right out of the box, no malfunctions yet. I don’t mind the slightly heavier SA pull – to me, many pistols have too light of an SA pull. I think the XDE has it just right. I don’t have any aversions to striker-fired pistols, but I DO find a comfort zone with the DA/SA models. I like my XDE.

  • DiamondJoe75034 December 11, 2017, 11:16 am

    I was also excited to get my hands on this. Especially when Springfield was running the extra mags promotion. I have a number of XDs and XDS\’. That being said, I can\’t express in words how bad the trigger is on this. Not only is the pull ridiculous, the odd curve of the trigger itself, for anyone with medium or larger hands, makes it just odd and uncomfortable to shoot. I\’m taking trigger finger uncomfortable, not shooting hand. I generally love most things Springfield but this one actually rated a miss for me. Two other shooting companions corroborate this opinion. Up against the also new PPS M2 at the range that day, the Walther was the clear favorite. Yes, I know it\’s a striker. Anyway, try one before you buy it, you may find your opinion on the trigger completely different.

  • DiamondJoe75034 December 11, 2017, 11:15 am

    I was also excited to get my hands on this. Especially when Springfield was running the extra mags promotion. I have a number of XDs and XDS’. That being said, I can’t express in words how bad the trigger is on this. Not only is the pull ridiculous, the odd curve of the trigger itself, for anyone with medium or larger hands, makes it just odd and uncomfortable to shoot. I’m taking trigger finger uncomfortable, not shooting hand. I generally love most things Springfield but this one actually rated a miss for me. Two other shooting companions corroborate this opinion. Up against the also new PPS M2 at the range that day, the Walther was the clear favorite. Yes, I know it’s a striker. Anyway, try one before you buy it, you may find your opinion on the trigger completely different.

  • BSTOCK July 8, 2017, 3:40 pm

    I prefer hammer fired pistols over striker. I do own two Shields, 9 for summer .40 for winter in NE. Carry them in DeSantis cozy IWB and don’t even know I have it on. Great EDC pistols but still miss the 1911 feel. I wanted a hammered fired pistol for carry for years, just did not want to go over the 1″ slide with or 25 oz. weight. Picked up the XDE last week and just got it to the range. Very long and hard DA pull but when the adrenalin is running I still get the first shot off accurately. If I think of the long hard pull it gets me off target but not when I just raise the pistol and pull like in a combat situation. XDE was a dream is SA. SA tells you it has a 6 o’clock hold and they mean it. With that in mind I started at 10 yards and after a few shots every shot was in the black. Moved back to 15 then 20 and just about the same. I have seen many experienced shooters hook a Glock trigger on a holster fold or piece of clothing and had a ND. When I carried my striker fired I always had them on safe until they were holstered then disengage the saftey. I am really impressed with the XDE. Shoots well, carries well in a DeSantis cozy IWB etc. No need for safety in DA mode but if I get into a sketchy area I can always put the safety on and cock the hammer with one quick unnoticeable motion. Then I have it 1911 style read for quick SA shots. I have been a shooter for almost 60 years and am really impressed with everything about this pistol except the trigger guard. Could be a little bigger but I have small hands so it’s not a problem. Thought about the HK P30 SK but did not want a carry gun with a 1.37″ slide.

  • Drew Dowdy July 4, 2017, 10:13 pm

    Wow. It really sucks that the decocker dubs as a safety instead of decock only. The only thing I wanted for safety purposes was a hammer and decocker. If the safety accidentally slips into safety mode during crunch time it could cost me my life. I’ll have to stick with my striker fire weapon. Not impressed.

    • BSTOCK July 8, 2017, 4:06 pm

      The decock and safety are in two different positions. Up for safe, level for fire, press down for decock. Once the decock is activated the pistol automatically goes back to fire. The safety is not going to slip anywhere. Very positive engagement and disengagement. I am very surprised the military went striker fired with the Sig. I am waiting to see how many grunts are not going to be able to hit chit with the striker. That’s if you don’t count themselves.

  • Donald St. Clair June 29, 2017, 3:55 pm

    i have a emp4 conturd on order for three weeks is springfield having problems making then

  • Ninja number nine May 5, 2017, 7:13 am

    Wow…. 🤔sounds like way to many steps to think about when it’s time to point and shoot.. Springfield must know there’s a lot of dumb as people in the world so why not make idiot proof pistols🍿. GLOCK for life…👍

    • Michael Brohl August 12, 2017, 8:28 pm

      It is idiot proof. If you don’t like the manual safety then don’t use it.

  • CJ May 2, 2017, 11:30 pm

    Its a piece of crap. Think xds (witch i like) with a hammer – grip safety with mod 2 grip zone. Da is almost 12 lbs sa about 6 with a huge creep. Come on Springfield..

    • Michael Brohl August 12, 2017, 8:29 pm

      Let me guess, you have never fired this pistol before yet you are on here making all kinds of judgements on it.

  • Kurt F May 2, 2017, 8:27 pm

    Springfield’s mastery of small gun ergonomics? I could agree if Springfield actually produced this, but they don’t; they buy it from HS Produkt where it’s known as the HS2000. Springfield couldn’t innovate itself out of a wet paper bag with both hands and a pack of badgers.

  • Maury Fisher May 2, 2017, 12:33 pm

    When i checked out the gun at the NRA convention, i thought the DA pull was okay but the SA was too long compared to other DA/SA guns i own. I like Springfield Armory and own an xds an xdmod2 and an xdm. This own is not for me.

  • FirstStateMark May 1, 2017, 9:36 pm

    When I see the trigger pull, it looks like the trigger is all the way back to the trigger guard before it goes bang. Looks like a very long trigger reset also. When the first LCP from Ruger came out, I refused to buy one just because of the trigger pull. This gun looks very similar to that. I like everything else about the gun.

  • Wayne Clark May 1, 2017, 6:08 pm

    I’ll stick with my Beretta PX4 Storm Compact. DA/SA, decocker only, no magazine disengage, second strike capabilty & great shooter. Heavy & long D/A first pull is all the safety needed because you KNOW when you are about to go bang.

    • Zupglick May 2, 2017, 3:04 am

      Hope you never disengage the thumb safety with a round in the chamber!

    • Drew Dowdy July 4, 2017, 10:23 pm


    • Tom G August 12, 2017, 8:36 pm

      The xde does not have a magazine disengage safety and is thinner and lighter and shoots great. I have both guns. Like them both but the xde is much easier to carry.

  • Charlie May 1, 2017, 2:25 pm

    Try the HK P30SK Before deciding on the Croatia made XPE I like the German made HK much better. Which ever Practice-Practice.

  • don comfort May 1, 2017, 1:51 pm

    I read a lot of comments here about this safety or that safety. The Best, Fail safe safety is KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER UNTIL YOU MAKE A CONSCIOUS DECISION TO FIRE! I have carried a locked and cocked 1911 style pistol sense 1968 and so far it never goes BANG until I disengage the Safety and insert my finger into the trigger guard and intentionally squeeze the trigger. However I understand choosing a firearm for personal defense is a Personal choice and one man’s dream is another man’s nightmare.

  • don comfort May 1, 2017, 1:39 pm

    This weapon sounds like it is geared toward newer shooters.As a dyed in the wool 1911 shooter,in using a pistol with the same downward sweep off safe/decocker, I could not stop at safey unlock,but instead sweep all the way down making the hammer go to the decock position.I feel more experienced shooters need to check to see if this will be a problem for them also.

    • Tom G August 12, 2017, 8:40 pm

      It’s not a problem. I have swept my thumb over that safety hundreds of times and never once even came close to decocking it by accident. It’s just not gonna happen. If you picked one up and used it you would understand how very extremely unlikely that would be.

  • Zupglick May 1, 2017, 12:42 pm

    Could someone please explain to me the technical/safety reasons I would want a hammer?

    • cisco kid May 1, 2017, 1:29 pm

      There are more accidents with striker fired safety-less guns than any other design. Carrying such a gun is exactly like carrying a revolver with the hammer cocked back. Very dangerous. An accidental snag of the trigger sets the gun off. Even attempting to put such a gun in a holster can set it off if part of the holster lip folds over and catches on the trigger.

      Now on the other hand this new Springfield gun is way safer to use. Most sensible people will carry it with the hammer down and safety on but it can be carried with the hammer at full cock with the safety on and a leather strap of the holster placed between the hammer and the frame. Again a way safer method of carry than the safety-less striker fired gun.
      Remember too that people who are inexperienced with firearms or children that get ahold of the safety-less striker fired gun usually immediately end up shooting themselves or someone else when they pick up a safety-less striker fired gun.
      Remember too the hammer fired gun is easily and visually apparent when the hammer is cocked. With the striker fired gun one can accidentally assume the gun is not cocked when it actually is, which is another accident waiting to happen and often does.

      The hammer fired gun with a safety like the new Springfield can be more safely loaded and unloaded with the safety in the on position. The safety-less striker fired gun can be accidentally fired when performing either process. An unsafe design all the way around.

      Lets face facts, sane people know that an accident can happen very quickly to anyone as everyone is human and to say that all you have to do is keep your finger off the trigger is to shout to the world your total ignorance of reality and your arrogance in believing you have never made a mistake in your life and never will. Its people with this type of attitude that end up in the morgue much sooner than later or worse yet accidentally shoot some innocent person.

      I think the new Springfield gun was long overdue and I highly recommend this gun for most people as most people are not gun experts that practice incessantly 7 days a week with a handgun but in their rush and hurried lives are lucky to shoot their guns even once a year. For them this new Springfield gun is indeed a panacea and just a plain common sense weapon to safely carry and handle.

      • The Great Gearoni May 2, 2017, 2:52 am

        I agree 100%. I do not a plastic pistol at all, and will not own a semi-auto pistol without a hammer. I want to ALWAYS know the state of that hammer. I can see it (or feel it in the dark) if there is any doubt.
        I carried 1911s, Commanders and Hi Powers for years, cocked and locked, of course. Since the 90’s ….Astra A-75s in .40SW and .45ACP. What do they look like? Steel, DA/SA, semi auto, Browning fit, finish, quality AND an external hammer with decocker.

        I may actually look at the XD-E now that they have a hammer (if they come out in at least 40S&W, .45ACP or 10mm, even better – no 9s), otherwise, no thanks!

        • JungleCogs May 5, 2017, 11:31 pm

          I do not bother to argue about what I prefer and I prefer hammer pistols over strikers. Though I do own one striker, it has a safety. No matter how ‘experienced’ one says he is, a striker with one in the chamber has a greater potential for an accident and we do not plan accidents well. But, as always, each to their own is my guide.

      • TheONE August 17, 2017, 8:52 pm

        No truer words have ever been typed. 100% agreed.

      • Jack Gordon November 6, 2017, 9:43 pm

        Yours is an excellent post that sums up admirably the problem with striker-fired pistols.

  • Brooks Austin May 1, 2017, 10:06 am

    Let me first say I like all of Clay Martin’s reviews. He is the best reviewer on GunsAmerica and he has forgotten more about guns than I will ever learn. That being said I have to disagree with him about the fact that he is glad there is no grip safety on the XDe pistol. The grip safety combined with the trigger safety is what has always made the Springfield Armory XD line of pistols the very best choice for a conceal carry weapon in my opinion. The two safety combination allows me to carry my XD cocked and ready to fire without any worry of an accidental discharge. But the most important reason for the grip and trigger safety combo is simplicity and speed when under stress. I hope this never happens but if I am ever in the situation where I have to draw my weapon as fast as possible and defend myself or someone else in a super high stress life or death moment of truth the last thing I would want to have to think about is switching off the manual safety. So thanks but no thanks to any pistol that has a manual safety if my life might someday depend on it. Give me my choice and I will choose my XDm compact 9mm over any other pistol made.

    • Cal August 12, 2017, 8:45 pm

      If you don’t like the manual safety then don’t use it.

  • Dean May 1, 2017, 9:01 am

    “Also gone, which I am very happy about, is the grip safety. With paws my size, I have failed to engage that before on my XD-S.” If this is true, why would this be your carry gun for 4 years?

    • Chad May 1, 2017, 9:15 am

      First thing I thought as well!

    • clay martin May 1, 2017, 9:15 am

      because i figured out how to engage the grip safety. because I train with my gun, I don’t just stick it in my pants

  • Qhorse13 May 1, 2017, 8:45 am

    I can’t believe they dumped the palm safety. That really sucks. I like the palm safety. To me that that given Springfield their uniqueness. The hammer is ok but to dump the palm safety is almost like changing your name. It’s a signature for the XD series. I’d like for them to develop a variant of the XD-E with the palm safety. This is a nice looking firearm they have come up with. I wasn’t aware that there were so many people that “feared” the striker though. The striker has been around for a very long time. It’s a tried and true development.

  • Darwin Hopper May 1, 2017, 8:21 am

    Where is the GRIP SAFETY ?????????

    • Paul Helinski May 1, 2017, 9:38 am

      The whole point of the grip safety is that the trigger pull is so light that it could fire from anything entering the trigger guard, so the grip safety makes sure that your hand is on the gun. A double action first pull makes it not needed whatsoever. Stop in a gunshop and try it. If you have never experienced a first shot double action you’ll understand instantly when you try it.

  • Ran O'Neill May 1, 2017, 8:09 am

    Good point…. Maybe buy Marlin lever action + S&W + Coonan.
    I was thinking xdm of new xdg .45acp but may look at S&W M&P instead.

  • Tom Benton May 1, 2017, 7:52 am

    Interesting concealed carry option. I have carried a Kahr PM9 for 8 years. Thank God, I have never had to use the weapon but have been completely satisfied with having it if needed and completely satisfied with the gun. Never a hiccup with boxes of different ammo and is now loaded with 124gr HST. None the less, I enjoy the single action mode of my Browning High Power.
    Like many, I do not feel comfortable carrying the Browning cocked and locked. As of today, I have not found a DA/SA gun that was sized to carry and posessed the ergonomics of the Kahr. Additionally, I have always been concerned about placing a first shot accurately with a DA mode having a heavy trigger and then inadvertantly firing a second shot with a light trigger pull. I think the DA mode pistols, Glock, Springfield, Smith M&P, Kahr have flourished because of their reliability and consistentcy of trigger pull. You do not have to read very far to understand the difficulty of discharging a handgun accurately when under the ultimate distress of defending ones life. For an average citizen to master a DA/SA action and perform under duress is too much to ask.
    The lead in to this discussion highlights gun owners fears of striker fired pistol reliability. How many complaints have been filed regarding Glocks, M&P, Springfield and Kahrs not firing. The popularity of these firearms is that They Are Reliable. They just work. It you fire a hammer pistol against your body at close range, can clothing jam the hammer and cause a malfunction ?
    Though striker fired pistols do not, and probably never will have the feeling of a single actiom automatic, improvements in trigger action have made them the go to guns for concealed carry. They are safe and reliable in a crisis. I await the SA/DA gun that will change my mind and will definitely give the E model a try. But I bet I will end up with the Kahr.

  • Terry McKnight May 1, 2017, 7:14 am

    I also hate auto correct…

  • Terry McKnight May 1, 2017, 7:09 am

    Does it have repeat strike capability?

    • Ran O'Neill May 1, 2017, 8:15 am

      Reload with light primers and rarely an issue. If so check firing pin.

    • clay martin May 1, 2017, 9:38 am

      yes it does

  • Stu May 1, 2017, 5:38 am

    I am a fan of DA, but not a fan of the trigger pull on this pistol. It’s a long, stages and not a crisp clean break. It tried it at my favorite gun shop and at the NRA convention. I am not impressed. Lawyer trigger by design?

    • Ran O'Neill May 1, 2017, 8:19 am

      You have to start wondering as trigger is almost back to frame.
      Then finger size and placement issues cross your mind when other more pressing issues need be front and center.

    • Paul Helinski May 1, 2017, 9:38 am

      Have you ever shot DA autopistols or just revolvers?

  • poopoo May 1, 2017, 2:33 am

    griiip ZOOOOOOOONEEE!!!

    • Ran O'Neill May 1, 2017, 8:25 am

      If you cannot hold onto this then be glad you did not go with glocks it takes two hands to handle a whooper. (20-21) models.

    • Lee May 1, 2017, 10:42 am

      Good god, seeing “Grip Zone” like who’s genius marketing idea was that. It looks retarded. The whole hammer thing, is stupid.

      Can you say Market Flop…. who’s taking bets?

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