The 5+1 .45ACP XD-S micro-pistol has been called a “game changer” since it was introduced at SHOT Show 2012. We were among the first to see and shoot the gun, and it is indeed going to change the small pistol market forever.
It may outwardly look a lot like the double stack XD and XD-M series, but this single stack XD-S most likely doens’t even share one part with them. It is a whole new gun.
We tested all of these types of both range and carry ammo, as well as white box Winchester and some Hornady Steel Match. No matter how the gun was held, it was impossible to get it to fail with any ammo at all. And a pounding of over 300 rounds including the hottest carry loads didn’t seem to phase the XD-S at all.
Most six round groups were like this, about 2.5-3 inches, and it did seem to shoot better with the lighter range rounds than the hot carry rounds, but that is generally to be expected.
Of all the ammo we tried, the only one that left you saying “Wow, I wonder if that left a mark” was this Winchester Supreme Elite. Yep, it did.
The trigger pull was consistently around seven pounds. The reset on the XD-S is a little longer than the XD-M, about 2/10ths of an inch, and very smooth and natural, unlike our previously favorite pocket pistol the Walther PPS, which is cratchy and hard.
The XD-S comes with its own line of XD gear, including a slightly smaller backstrap, an extra mag, a belt holster and a double mag holster, as well as the nifty hard case.
The 7 round extended mag is available in the Springfield online store, as well as hopefully your local gun dealer.
The XD-S gear is a compact little package for off duty LE and those who like a belt holster but don’t want a lot of weight. I prefer a pocket holster for the XD-S.
Like the XD-M guns, the extended mag comes with a sleeve that matches the interchangable smaller backstrap for the XD-S.
There is no cocked indicator on the XD-S, but the loaded chamber indicator makes it not needed, as there is no second strike capability on any of the XD guns.
Springfield Armory XD-S
Soooo, we finally got a Springfield XD-S to play with and shoot. To to make a long story short, it’s really thin, really nice, a pleasure to shoot, completely reliable, and go buy one. The XD-S, as we said back at SHOT in January, is a slam dunk for Springfield and the gun is everything you could want in a concealed carry firearm. You get six rounds of .45ACP in a tiny package – 4.6 inches tall, 6.3 inches long, and all of an inch thick. Big hands, small hands, fat hands and tall hands will find the XD-S easy to shoot and surprisingly not punishing.
We had these revelations back at Media Day at the Range before SHOT Show in January, but after putting over 300 rounds through our little XD-S today, not only did we verify that the gun is manageable with full snot carry rounds, it is also just like the rest of the XD & XD-M line from Springfield in reliability. You can’t make the gun fail no matter how you hold it, or what ammo you put through it. Everyone called the XD-S a game changer back at SHOT, and now we will all get to see how it changes the game. The MSRP is $599 for the all black Springfield XD-S, and $669 for the bi-tone version.
Our test gun weighs 21.4 ounces, and this should correct some incorrect information we and everyone else gave back at SHOT Show when the specs were released at 29 ounces. The true 21.4 ounces is, coincidentally, the exact weight of my 9mm Walther PPS, so if you have heard that the XD-S is heavy for its size, it isn’t. In fact, based on our testing of the XD-S, the PPS is the only fair comparison of the gun in terms of reliability with different types of ammo. In reality, a fair comparison can’t be made at all because the XD-S is a .45ACP, compared to a 9mm or .40S&W in the PPS. This would hold true for comparing it to the Shield, Nano, Solo, P290 or the rest of the field of sub-caliber pistols that just don’t match up ballistically to the Springfield XD-S. Glock has a single stack .45 – the 36 – but it is thicker, longer, and wider than the XD-S and has had mixed reviews.
There are actually a lot of 9mm and .40S&W ultra-compacts in the market now, but with the XD-S we are talking about a .45ACP – second only to the .357 Magnum as a famous manstopper cartridge – and preferred universally as the best caliber for personal and home defense. There is no true apples to apples comparison in this class of firearm. When Springfield comes out with their own 9mm and .40S&W versions of the XD-S, we’ll be able to talk about them head to head as compared to the other guns out there, but for now, the Springfield has leap frogged the rest of the gun industry by coming out first with a tiny .45ACP. It has no equal. And that is why people are getting on lists for them at the gunshops now that they are finally shipping.
Are you an early adopter type? That is the issue with the XD-S, because it signals a milestone for Springfield Armory. This gun is a whole new invention. Until now, the entire XD line was based on a gun that was made for the Croatian military called the HS2000, which was licensed by Springfield back in 2002 for the US market. You won’t see an article on the XD series pass here without an armchair expert having to put a note about that in the comments, because it makes them sound smart or something…we don’t know. But now we get to the XD-S. It’s still a striker-fired polymer pistol and it does have the telltale 1911’esque web-of-the-hand grip safety, yet that is where the similarity ends with the XD and XD-M guns. I would bet that there is not one common part between the XD-S and the other guns, and making everything work reliably in such a small package was quite a task I’m sure.
This is going to make the more cautious consumer wonder if it’s wise to jump in and spend most likely well over $500 street price on a new and untested gun. Shooting over $200 in ammo through the gun today, that was the question we were trying to answer. We couldn’t break it. That’s pretty much all I can say, and as someone who has carried for years – both an AMT Backup .45ACP, and a Para P10 .45ACP – and broken both of them, that is saying a lot. If you think about the other companies that have come out with new ultra-compacts in the last few years, very few of them got good early reviews, and some even had recalls. I can’t recall Springfield ever having this problem. I also can’t recall any report of an XD or XD-M failing. If the same engineers who designed the original are the same ones who designed the XD-S, I don’t think we have anything to worry about. We are buying this little XD-S from Springfield for sure, and once I get our friends at Double Tap to make me a pocket holster for it, it is finally going to retire my S&W Airweight which has rusted to the point of embarrassment.
If I have any complaint about this gun, it is that it doesn’t come with a pocket holster. You get all the XD gear, specially made for this gun which is pretty sweet, but it comes with a belt holster. If I am going to carry a gun on my belt and have to deal with an overgarment, I am going to carry that XD-M Compact .45ACP we did an article on a while back. I’ll take the additional 5 rounds, thank you very much. The beauty of a pocket gun is that you don’t have to feel like you are carrying an extra appendage, and with the XD-S, you get real firepower in a manageable and small package. That belt holster may be a good purse holster with the right purse, and it certainly could be sewn into a side lining so you don’t get stuck carrying one of those dreadful concealed carry purses…Just saying.
And that brings us to the issue of recoil and manageability. As I explained back in the first article on this gun, right after Media Day at the Range when we got our first look and first shots with the XD-S, you will be shocked at how easy this gun is to handle. In most small .45ACP guns, you feel totally unhinged firing it, like the gun is going to fly out of itself. With the XD-S you don’t get this at all. With roundball range rounds like the Speer Lawman you see here, as well as the Winchester white box, you can shoot the gun all day. Some full snot carry rounds like Hornady Critical Defense and especially the Winchester Supreme Elite left a nice print in the hand of the grenade style grip panels, but it didn’t pinch or hurt.
The explosion in small concealed carry guns has given rise to a wealth of new guns that finally fit small and female hands. The ergonomics of the XD-S tames the recoil far better than the two guns mentioned above – the AMT and Para – which are both steel, and thus, heavier, and should make for easier shooting than the XD-S. You have to shoot the XD-S to believe it, so if you are considering a gun for small hands, try to get your local rental range to inventory an XD-S for you now that they should be able to get one. You simply will not believe you are shooting a .45ACP.
Does that mean that big hands won’t like the XD-S? No. As I said before, big hands, small hands, fat hands and tall hands. The difference is that if you have a big hand, you are already used to being able to shoot small guns well, because your two finger grip supplies adequate recoil area. A big hand gets two fingers on a .357 S&W J-Frame, and it gets two fingers on the XD-S without the extended mag (we’ll get to that). A small or female hand, can’t get three fingers on a J-Frame, but it can get three fingers on the standard XD-S grip. Try it, you’ll see.
And yes, for those of you who asked on the old articles here, there is an extended magazine for the XD-S that holds 7 rounds, for a total of 8 in the gun for concealed carry. The extended mag is a full 3 finger grip for even big hands, and the extended mag comes with slide on bottoms to match the two different grip profiles on the XD-S. The standard insert that comes installed on the XD-S is slightly thicker than the optional one that comes in the case. To swap them requires the removal and replacement of one spring pin.
Other things you’ll notice on the XD-S, and that you’ll see in the pictures here, are that it comes with a fiber optic front and two dot rear sight system. Both are made of steel. The gun has a loaded round indicator, but no cocked indicator. Since the XD-S has no second strike capability, this would be redundant. If there is a round in the chamber and you haven’t pulled the trigger, the striker is cocked. You do have to pull the trigger to take down the XD-S for cleaning. It’s generally a pretty good idea to check the chamber before pulling the trigger on a gun you don’t want to shoot something with regardless, so let’s not go there in the comments please. The magazine release on the XD-S is ambidextrous, like the XD and XD-M guns. Also similar to the other XD guns, the slide, barrel and frame are all serialized with the same number. Springfield makes their own magazines for all of their guns, as well as all of the XD gear.
The conclusion on the XD-S, as we learned back in January – Go buy one. You couldn’t get one until now, so ask your dealer about it. There is no a gun in the XD line from Springfield that you will be disappointed with and the XD-S is no different. Springfield has all but taken over the polymer pistol market and for good reason. These are great guns that will all stand the test of time. When do we get to see the 9mm and .40S&W XD-S, Springfield? We know they must be coming!