XD-E- Now Available In Men’s Sizes.

XDE 45 during field testing

Last spring, we got our hands on the XD-E for the first time, an all new concealed carry size gun from Springfield Armory. In a move that many would see as backwards regression in gun design, the E in XD-E stood for External hammer. However, there are many good reasons for this design. You can see our full review of the 9mm version here. I am not going to rehash all the design features, since today we are looking at the same gun, now available in 45 ACP. But I do want to talk specifically about the XD-E family of guns, and some reasons to like it that have occurred to me since the initial release in 9mm.

XD-E 45 as shipped

After the release of the XD-E, I put one in my CCW rotation. That is an easy change to make, since the XD-E has the same footprint as the XD-S, and they fit the same holsters. I have long preferred the XD-S as my carry gun, for a variety of reasons. It is big enough to fight with and shoot well, but still small enough to fit in my pants. It manages recoil well and gives me a capacity of 7+1 in the uber manly 45 ACP. I like both guns, and could not honestly tell you which I prefer. So I can answer the first question I had when I saw the XD-E, “ Why on God’s green earth did they put a hammer on it?”


XD-E compared to XDS

In a word, safety. Now don’t get your undies in a twist if you carry a striker fired gun with no manual safety. So do I, at least half of the time. Perhaps a better term is the perception of safety. Look, what is good for you might not be good for everyone. We all have our own calculus for acceptable risk, and determining that is your own cross to bear. I use to exit high-performance aircraft while in flight and ride the breach into buildings full of angry armed terrorist that may or may not have been wired to explode, so maybe what I term acceptable risk is actually stupid. And obviously, I mean both the building and the terrorists wired to explode. My point is, everyone has some kind of bias when it comes to firearms. If there was a complete consensus, there would be one company making only one kind of gun. But that is not how the world works. The more people we have carrying guns, the more our rights are protected. We should be totally motivated when a company makes a CCW gun that may actually encourage more people to carry them.

So in a nutshell, all of the reasons to carry the XD-E I might not necessarily agree with. Some of them don’t apply to me specifically. But I can understand why they were done. If nothing else, I feel safe carrying the XD-E for one reason. I can shoot this gun really, really well. It is amazing to shoot, and I recommend you try it. But these arguments are valid as well.

XD-E ships with two magazine lengths


A Double Action/Single Action ( DA/SA) gun has a longer trigger pull for the first round, which means you are less likely to have a negligent discharge. True. If you are in the habit of putting your finger on the trigger before you have a firing solution, I will buy that. Is that an excuse for a Soldier or Policeman? Not even a little bit. But for the guy who owns a gas station and just wants a piece for walking to his car? I find that answer acceptable. Like it or not, most people that buy a gun are never going to get professional training with it. And they aren’t going to burn a pallet of ammo every year staying proficient. Without some serious training, that dude is probably going to be scared when he needs to use his gun. And he might start putting pressure on the trigger before he is sure he needs too. I think it works for everyone if that takes a bit more pull.

While we are talking about the DA/SA trigger, the counter argument is that such a system requires more training to use well. That is also true. Personally, I hate DA/SA on duty weapons. I had to teach a generation of Soldiers on the M9 ( Beretta 92F), so I am not exactly new to this. The problem with DA/SA is that you have to teach two trigger pulls. One for the heavy first shot and a different one for the crisp break of every follow on shot. The first round out of the gate is likely to either be slow or miss. Both are suboptimal in a combat situation. I am not as hard on it in a carry gun for this reason. At typical civilian gunfight ranges, the snapshot from the draw is less likely to be an issue. When I tried the DA trigger fast on a B/C zone from 12 meters, yes, it was difficult. And I chucked some into the berm. How about on a full-size torso at 3 meters? Not a chance. In either case, the drawbacks to a DA/SA system can be overcome with training time. If this is your primary carry gun, I would encourage you to run drills with it.

Hammer back, safety off

The real magic of the XD-E system is that the ambi safety is also a decocker. This opens up a lot of options. If you like 1911’s and want to carry cocked and locked ( hammer back), you can do that. The safety is in the same place as a 1911, and is a similar downward press motion. The single action trigger pull on the XD-E is amazing for a gun in this class, it makes hitting things easy. If you are used to striker fired guns or CZ style guns, you can carry safety off hammer forward. This is how we carried the M9 in the Army, and it makes sense. The DA pull is long and heavy enough to count as a safety by itself. If you are new to the game and you want to carry super duper extra mega safe, you can carry hammer forward, safety on. Something for everyone.

Also on the safety front, the backstrap safety from the XD-S family is gone. I like this because I have actually not engaged it on my XD-S, and that is no bueno. For the XD-E, applying the safety actually disengages the trigger completely. You will know immediately if the safety is up, the trigger feels like it is 10 ounces when you press it. Unlike a 1911 however, you can still manipulate the slide with the safety on. This is great, especially for new concealed carriers. First, you can fully load or unload the gun without ever taking the safety off. Actually, you can even disassemble the gun without taking the safety off. We have all seen the new guy, that is afraid his gun is going to go off when the slide goes forward to load. And we were all that new guy one time, even if we were a child. This feature can go a long ways toward making people less afraid of the gun, and that also puts people in our camp.

It also offers another benefit for older people, or anyone else lacking grip strength. With the safety on, once you manually cock the hammer, manipulating the slide becomes much easier. Every shooter feels better knowing they can load or unload their gun at will, and again this helps us win people to our side.

9mm vs .45

So, now that we spilled a gallon of ink on the reasons for the XD-E, what do I think of the guns in 9mm and 45 ACP? That is pretty easy since they are nearly identical. The 9mm is 2 ounces heavier, due to the smaller bore. The 9mm capacity is 8 or 9 +1 depending on the magazine, and the 45 ACP is 6 or 7+1. In a shocking turn of events, the 45 ACP has more recoil. Just like the XD-S, the XD-E does an amazing job of soaking up recoil in a tiny platform. But side by side, the 9mm obviously recoils less. Also, water is wet and the sun rises in the morning. Either is an excellent choice, I will leave the caliber debate to another day. Carry what you are comfortable with.

For more information about Springfield firearms, click here

***Check out GunsAmerica for your next Springfield Armory XD-E.***


Trigger disconnect engages when safety is on

Trigger re-engages with safety off

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, Off-The-Reservation.com

{ 35 comments… add one }
  • MojoMitch September 18, 2018, 5:27 pm

    Great article, thank you.
    I think you fellas should play carpenters for an afternoon and build yourselves a shooting shed or sumpt’in like that, maybe ask the “this Old House” crew to come out and build you something, so you can set stuff down, etc, have a more sturdy bench than Dave’s wobbling table or you having to put stuff on the ground. Have a camera view from behind as well.
    You deserve better!
    Retired Former LE, Corporate Security/etc, I, personally am a 1911 45 acp CC w/hammer down and safety on, unless for I see something or get bad vibe, high crime area or a special operation, then it’s cocked n locked and loose goosy in holster. While stored or carrying something different/etc, empty chamber and locked up when there are teenagers with a mile, lol. One thing that I either missed or didn’t see covered was how the trigger moved to a SA position after removing the safety?
    Or does the hammer come down and you go into DA mode or does the safety/decocker work in two positions, sorry I don’t get it? Your DA dump is fantastic, your quick with those DA’s and I enjoyed watching the manageable recoil.
    Very impressive!
    Myself, I feel ” off ” using them and prefer a revolver myself, but to each their own.
    Concerning striker gun’s? The best striker trigger I ever felt was in my grandad’s 300 Savage, that he fed his family with for many years and was it hung horizontal in the house on buck horn rack built from one of his kills for many years.

    Thanks again fellas!

  • Kevin May 31, 2018, 10:40 am

    Great write up about the XD-E. I have been considering a DA/SA type auto handgun with a de-cocker for a while and there are very few on the market. So far this gun seems to have it all. I would like to know if the XD-E has a magazine disconnect. I know that is another debatable feature, but for myself I would prefer NOT to have one. I am concerned that I might accidentally hit the mag release button in a tense situation thus rendering my gun useless. Without a disconnect, if I did hit the mag release button by accident at least I would have one in the pipe to defend my self with! Thanks!

    • Larry October 19, 2018, 5:49 pm

      Kevin, I agree wholeheartedly about the magazine disconnect safety. I think that it was the French who requested that feature on the Browning Hi Power, and that is a good enough reason (in my opinion) to still dislike the French government to this day.

  • driving directions March 13, 2018, 2:43 am

    I am often to blogging and i really appreciate your content. The article has really peaks my interest. I am going to bookmark your site and keep checking for new information.

  • Anthony March 7, 2018, 7:22 pm

    I bought the 9mm XD E a couple months ago one reason is because of the hammer. Not being that familier with guns and this being my fist gun and wanting to get my ccw i feel safe with this gun. Having the hammer gives me a liitle extra feeling of saftey till i become more comfortable with it, and when that time comes i might buy a stricker style or stay with the hammer ill have to wait and see.

  • tom March 6, 2018, 7:25 am

    I have to say it, Clay…it’s looking like there’s less room in your pants for an IWB holster than there was just a year ago. I’ve been reading your reviews for years and either the CCW’s are getting bigger or you are. Your review of the XD-E 9mm is why I got one for my wife (she loves it) but the next time you jump out of an aero-plane it’s gonna have to be a heavy-lift configuration. Know whut ah mean, Vern? Less intake, more action, Man. I want to keep reading your reviews.

  • JCitizen March 5, 2018, 10:32 pm

    Dad gummit! Now I might have to trade my XDS in for one of these! I do like having a hammer to work with!

  • Chamele0n March 5, 2018, 10:02 pm

    Dave is a dummy. Rednecks like us know more about guns than anyone! Just listen to the educated media or liberal elites to learn about how stupid they are in regards to gun laws. BTW, this redneck has 2 bachelor\’s, a master\’s, and is a public school principal by day and a Sheriff\’s Deputy by night. My 2nd favorite past time is building ARs. Clay is my favorite author and I always look forward to his articles! Great article. I was looking at Beretta Storm for DO/S.A. safety issue. I\’m considering this now. Do you have a Storm review?

    • Bill April 19, 2018, 9:21 am

      Take a look at the Beretta PX4 Compact Carry. A fantastic compact that has been designed in coordination with Eric Langdon, one of Beretta`s professional shooters. It has one of the best DA/SA triggers of any gun. The MSRP is $895 but you can get them for around $700. Beretta put about $800 worth of extras in this pistol, including a competition trigger, tactical decocker, and slide stops,grey slide,night sights, metal trigger, and Talon Grips. The only thing I added is a stainless steel guide rod and spring. This gun with its rotating barrel is accurate as hell and has very low recoil. The rigger is smooth as butter.

  • Mark Wynn March 5, 2018, 5:12 pm

    Still like the XD-S with backstrap safety, no need for other safety, for concealed carry. Have rented the model in 9mm and liked it … but now waiting for the just introduced XD-S Mod 2 .45 to try, before purchasing an XD-S … something ….

  • Dave Brown March 5, 2018, 1:28 pm

    Very good explanation of DA/SA trigger system, and of course the safety switch, plus just imagine you can carry it without the safety engaged, just remember to do so in DA period. Since I started shooting regularly at 13, and hunting before 16 I can tell you we were not allowed much use of any firearm that did not have a safety or a long heavy DA trigger. Thus I have used safeties all my life, and I prefer them. Do I own others, of course, and yes even a Glock. Here is the rub, install a safety on your Glock. You can switch it to safe, Holster it, and take the safety off. Why you say. Well many an accident happens as the pistol is being holstered. Well just be careful you say, yes, but my way takes all the risk out of Holstering. Plus, lets say you are running, or hanging onto a Evil Person, and you want your other hand free. Well you could beat him with The Block Glock until he settles down, and then holster, works for me. Or, in a high stress time you can flick er on safe, Holster, flick er off safe, and you now have 2 free hands Safely. /// On a side note, I am luck that I do a lot of shooting off a Range. At The Range you really do not have a clue who you are shooting with. I spend more time watching the other shooters just to see you might not be up to Safety, and yes The Range Master has that job, but main a Range has lax rules for who can be a Range Master. /// Very Good Review and extra free info on how many a pistol works.

  • William Fox March 5, 2018, 12:05 pm

    Where’s the .40 ?

    • MonkeyesMan March 5, 2018, 8:16 pm

      .40? What is .40? 🙂 I had two pistols in .40 and ended up selling them both. .40 is a good round for what it is, but I always have preferred 9mm or 45acp over .40.
      To be honest, .357 Mag is all time favorite round.

  • Norm Fishler March 5, 2018, 11:31 am

    The DA/SA trigger must be mastered with pistols like these. Spend some time shooting your pistol, two rounds only at a time. First with the long DA pull and that second shot that goes to SA. Shoot your pistol until you can get those two rounds to lay right beside one another on the target, not several inches apart. I first learned this with a Walther P-5 and perfected my technique with a CZ-75. I have read a number of masters state that in a gun fight your first shot will invariably go wild and what with your hand having to change position on a DA/SA pistol, shot #2 will undoubtedly do the same. Practice that changeover from shot to shot on your first two down the pipe . . . you’ll be glad you did.

  • Casper March 5, 2018, 10:59 am

    Good job as always, Clay. I also like the XDE – a lot. My first experience with the 9MM was when I was training a prospective shooter. We had a variety of handguns on hand for her to try and see which felt best for her. Before I handed her the XDE, I ran a couple of mags through it, as I hadn’t shot it yet. I impressed the hell out of her (and myself) because quick shooting yielded small groups in the center of the target. I always like to have a few striker and hammer-fired examples on hand so I can demonstrate the differences in trigger pull and safety. Ultimately she decided the SIG P938 was the gun for her (she was pretty petite and also loved the SIG trigger) – but we both left that session impressed with the XDE. I also have XD-S in all calibers and really like the .45 for how well it shoots – guess I’ll have to get the new XDE in .45 as well.

  • Ernie March 5, 2018, 10:32 am

    I often wonder if the people who leave some of the comments actually read the entire article, or they just want to trash the gun or you. The whole Big boy or man gun thing I don’t get. I am an avid shooter. I have 9mm on every platform. Double stack pistols, Large capacity M-31 semi, Tiny ankle size, and several AR-9. I go to the range with 4 guns, one ammo. I can take 2-3 practice shots for the same cost as 1 5.56, .223 or 45. That said, being able to put lead down range accurately is all that really matters in the self defense situation. I liked the review of the XD-E. It helped me decide on an iwb carry gun. It was very easy & comfortable to shoot and carry. Out of the box I managed 3 to 4 inch groups at 30 ft thru a 50 rd box. Very happy with this gun & would recommend it to anyone who wants the added visual safety features this one has.
    Thanks for your reviews.

  • FirstStateMark March 5, 2018, 10:05 am

    Good review Clay. Thanks!

  • Winston March 5, 2018, 9:34 am

    The soap dispenser designers at Springfield Armory again stamped that amateurish and stupid looking “grip zone” reminder into the “grip frame zone”. Did they forget to place a “muzzle zone” reminder and a “trigger zone” stamping? In case one forgets where the bullets are to be loaded, perhaps “cartridge loading zone” should be stamped onto the “magazine body zone” near the “feed lips zone”.

    • USMC5964 March 5, 2018, 10:43 am

      You must have a very low threshold of aggravation. I imagine you are just as upset with Glock for engraving “Glock” on the slide of their handguns, after all everyone will recognize it with or without the logo.

      • Winston March 5, 2018, 1:33 pm

        No, it’s just what bling-amused marketing dept. personnel do that who not own guns. Have trouble with others’ opinions?

  • TailGunner March 5, 2018, 8:57 am

    The best discussion of DA/SA, Decocker/Thumb safety, Striker/Hammer that I have seen. “In a shocking turn of events”…..good job.

  • Bison Bud March 5, 2018, 8:20 am

    Being a competitive cowboy action shooter, I’m quite good with a single action trigger, even with one in both hands, and really appreciate the value of a light, crisp trigger. However, I still prefer a DA/SA, hammer drop style, trigger and safety on my semi-auto pistols and a new Mini-9 set up this way is something I’ve been looking for a while now. A single action revolver has no manual safety, but one can always load 5 and put the hammer down on an empty chamber, which can not go off until the trigger is pulled and the cylinder rotated to a live round, the safest carry method I know of with any handgun, but for a gun carried with one in the chamber, I will always prefer a manual safety and the hammer resting on a hammer block in case the weapon is dropped. The longer trigger pull for the first shot still makes the first round accessible without having to rack the slide and one can teach himself to release the manual safety during the drawing procedure and still be just as quick. If one really hates the long trigger pull, then simply cock the hammer and you’ve got the lighter, crisper pull from the get go, while effectively having a very safe “carry one in the pipe” scenario, not to mention the lighter, crisper, single action trigger for all the remaining shots. Frankly, I give Springfield Arms a big thumbs on on this one and will be looking for one in the local gun shop soon!

  • Chuck March 5, 2018, 8:13 am

    Clay what is the preferred method to communicate with you, through these comments or is there an email address?

  • Dave March 5, 2018, 8:12 am

    You apparently write articles the way you speak. That is scary because rednecks do not belong in the gun industry talking about any weapon.

    • Clay Martin March 5, 2018, 9:32 am

      Have you seen the gun industry? And why are you on this sight? Shouldn’t you be playing tennis at Connecticut country club right now?

    • Jaque Bauer March 5, 2018, 1:33 pm

      Dave is a good name. My name is David but everyone called me Dave, except my wife. With her it’s “DAVID” as if she caught me ordering another pistol, which I had. I too write like I talk. Those who write like they don’t talk are usually communists. Like the other Dave. That Dave writes in limp wrist style. Like communist girlie men gun grabbers do. I am also a redneck. Florida born and raised. 2nd generation redneck too. Was Raised on catfish and milk. My necks red from the sun. Not red from Marxism as in the other Dave’s case. No country club living here. Its Everglades mud and a stand of pines to pitch the tent. The Reds of the communist kind pop up in our fun Gun domains to troll us. They never win. So if the Red Dave is still reading Clays well written write as he talks Gun reviews he is welcome here. Its fun writing like I talk. Its the redneck way.

    • Winston March 5, 2018, 1:41 pm

      Dainty, holier-than-thou globalist Ivy Leaguers from the northeast who talk condescendingly to the 99% are too arrogant and insouciant to run the country but should instead stick to funding NPR, BLM and other philanthropic fetishes.

    • Chamele0n March 5, 2018, 10:00 pm

      Dave is a dummy. Rednecks like us know more about guns than anyone! Just listen to the educated media or liberal elites to learn about how stupid they are in regards to gun laws. BTW, this redneck has 2 bachelor’s, a master’s, and is a public school principal by day and a Sheriff’s Deputy by night. My 2nd favorite past time is building ARs. Clay is my favorite author and I always look forward to his articles! Great article. I was looking at Beretta Storm for DO/S.A. safety issue. I’m considering this now. Do you have a Storm review?

    • Robert March 6, 2018, 10:51 am

      Is that your lame attempt at humor or are you trying to be the poster boy for the meme “Better to keep quiet and have people think you’re ignorant than to open your mouth and erase all doubts”. Good job, poster boy.

  • Bad Penguin March 5, 2018, 6:04 am

    Personally, I think for most people safeties are great. Go to any range and you will see that at least half of the people cant seem to keep their booger pickers off the trigger. When police departments first went to Glocks 20+ years ago lots of cops had unintended discharges even in their dressing rooms because they were still following revolver manual of arms. Unintended discharges still happen regularly because of careless handling and other head space and timing problems which would not have happened if the weapon had a safety.

    • Nomad March 5, 2018, 8:57 am

      I’m pushing 40 years of carrying and qualifying. I learned on SA autos and revolvers. Today I carry a 1911 because I can and I shoot one well. I cannot get my head around selling the general public a striker fired gun without a serious training course including what happens to the human body when struck with 400ftlbs plus’s of kinetic energy delivered by 124-250 grans of various metals, and insurance. Here’s two problems with striker fire: first, if you think no one else can ever get ahold of your handgun you couldn’t be more wrong. second, if you think you can never make a mistake you are deluded. When lightening strikes you and you fall dead and a kid picks up your prize pos striker pistol all the crap your spewing goes out the window. It’s more than personal choice it’s an obligation to all other people you better be as good and perfect as you think you are! For me I won’t have a glock or any of its clones on my property. They are “unsafe at any speed.”

      • Robert March 6, 2018, 10:56 am

        Do you think you could eliminate all that personal bias and actually make a point? Personally, I read the comments to try to get an opposing point of view based on facts, not conjecture.

  • Dr. Strangelove March 5, 2018, 4:15 am

    Never could get used to the DA/SA trigger on the Beretta 92. I learned on striker fired and single action pistols for the most part. I like my XDs .45 4.0 and I’ll stick with it for summer carry.

    • Tee March 5, 2018, 7:33 am

      Dr. I am just the opposite, I learned on DA/SA and just can’t get comfortable carrying a striker fired pistol. I have a Beretta 92 and also the XDE in 9mm. I like the XDE because I am so use to packing a 1911 cocked & locked and I do the same with the XDE, when my wife let’s me have it. She has an XDS but likes my XDE better because of the ease of racking the slide. I’m going to solve that problemby trading her XDS for me a XDE .45acp.

    • Chris Roberts March 5, 2018, 3:39 pm

      I love mine wouldnt trade it for nothing

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