Have you ever thought of how your hand specifically interacts with your gun? When you draw, when you point, one hand, two hands, under recoil, as the action slams the next shell home? That is the thinking that went into Springfield Armory’s newest entry into the XD line of polymer striker fired pistols, the XD Mod.2. They’ve overhauled their double-stack subcompact, 13+1 in 9mm and 9 + 1 in.40SW. The size is about the same, but the feel of the gun is totally different. The XD Mod.2 is the new cutting edge of firearm ergonomics and usability. We got to shoot both the 9mm and .40SW for this review.
If you remember, the 3″ subcompact was the only model in the XD line that didn’t come out in the XD(M) configuration. This XD Mod.2 is leapfrogging the XD(M) guns with new features, and is really made for the new educated consumer. The original Springfield XD was the first of the polymer pistols that many shooters thought actually felt good in their hand. Two generations later, with an entirely new level of ergonomic firearm science, this XD Mod.2 is going to be the gun to beat when it comes to naturally shooting a handgun as an extension of your hand.
“A Whole New Feeling” is what Springfield calls the Mod.2. Our first experience with the gun bore that out. It does feel different, and we shot it really well. The Mod.2 divides the grip of the gun up into zones, called the Grip Zones(TM). These zones to react with your hand in all modes of use, draw, point, fire, followup shots, and if you look at the pictures here, you’ll see that there are subtle differences in the grip surface in these zones, barely visible to the naked eye.
Springfield explains it very simply:
“The Grip Zone(TM) has improved grasp performance and stickier grip characteristics so that your hand will be less prone to torque, wrench and flip when shooting. The pistol will naturally stay in position due to the increased traction of the innovative textures. Additionally, you’ll be applying less force to the frame. This is ergonomic science applied where it matters the most – to the interface of the shooter and the firearm.”
The original XD design was specifically meant to be an extension of your hand, but it was made of smooth polymer. This is definitely a stickier version of that same concept.
The New XD Mod 2 Subcompact
- Caliber 9mm or .40 S&W
- Barrel 3 inch hammer forged
- Length 6.25 inches
- Width 1.19 at the slide drop
- Height 4.75 inches
- Height 5.25 with extended mag
- Weight 26oz–empty
- Capacity 13+1, 16+1 (9mm) or 9+1, 12+1 (.40)
- MSRP $565 (black) $599 (Bitone)
The question I always ask myself is “where does this gun fit in the firearms market?” A 3″ doublestack 9mm subcompact is one step up in concealed carry from a traditional pocket pistol or small waist pistol or revolver. I’m partial to 9mms, and the original XD Subcompact provided tremendous performance in a very compact package. This stickier Mod.2 Subcompact is mostly the same dimensions as the original, but the edges are slightly rounder and the slide has been greatly improved. For me, as a fan of another Springfield CCW gun, the 9mm XD-S I was an instant convert to the XD Subcompact after I shot it side by side with my XD-S for the first time back in August. Sadly, I had to send the Mod.2 back immediately after the testing. Springfield is sending us another gun for the giveaway.
The New Grip–Grip Zone
Look closely at the photos below. What you will see are three distinct areas, or zones. The most aggressive texture is on the front and back of the grip (Grip Zone 1). These two places are where most force is applied by your hand. The nubs of the XD are gone, replaced by these hashes, these miniature rice like blades. Hard to describe, easy to understand. The smaller texture fits better into the grooves of your hand. The nubs bent the skin into submission. This texture acts more like Velcro. Your hand sticks to the texture. As you can imagine, I’ve shot a lot of polymer pistols, ranging from perfectly smooth to something like skateboard tape to actual skateboard tape (ouchies on that one) and after putting a good deal of brass in the air with the Mod.2 I feel that the textures are aggressive enough to make a big difference, but not too aggressive so that you are waiting for that sandpaper dig by the 5th shot of the magazine. Perhaps that is why they split up the textures into different zones for parts of the hand.
On the front, your fingertips will reach around and fall right where the texture pattern ends–this is Grip Zone 2. For my somewhat average hands it is a perfect fit. The area where your fingers and palm don’t connect are not as highly textured, but still aren’t slick. What looks like slick plastic here feels more like suede or felt (Grip Zone 3). It still provides positive grip. This, in my opinion, is where a few guns go wrong by having too aggressive a texture on the most sensitive part of your hand, so that it “bites.” It is a difficult difference to put into words, but the Mod.2 doesn’t have that bite.
Another point, and one I feel that is also crucial, is that the grip isn’t so tacky that you can’t move your thumb off the grip to get to the mag release. Some poorly thought out grips are so rough that it becomes difficult to slide from a shooting hold to a manipulation hold to drop the magazine or the slide.
Kind of an oddball test I thought of for the gun was something I have experienced while shooting all afternoon at summer training facilities. I get sweaty and guns get hard to hold onto. To my surprise, the new Grip Zone is also effective while your hands are wet. It is as if water or sweat (or even blood or oil, for that matter) is forced down into the grooves. The hashes stay above the liquid and still provide grip.
And the other improvements?
The slide has also been redesigned, and as a fan of the original XD Subcompact, I see a huge difference in usability with the Mod.2. The ridges at the rear of the gun are deep and allow for easy manipulation. I thought the original XD was good. This is even better. Racking the slide is very easy, and again, even with wet hands.
I also feel that the new slide design lends itself to a more positively aligned draw stroke. Look at the lines on the slide and frame. These will make holster fit even more exact in the way it clicks in. The shelf that runs along the slide will act like rails, keeping the gun in line.
Below the slide, the Mod.2 has a new trigger guard profile. The convex front edge is gone and the guard is now more like that of a 1911. This is a style issue, for sure, but some shooters have a bad habit of wrapping up on a convex guard and using that position for leverage. The problem is that the pressure exerted there tends to torque the gun, ever so slightly, which makes some people pull shots.
And closer to the grip, the guard connects with at a steeper angle, so you can get the hand higher up on the grip. The result is a fully thought out platform. Your shooting hand connects well with the gun. The support hand is free of structural impediments.
Springfield has also upgraded the sights. The rear sight has a two dot pattern set in black. The sight itself has a slight ridge that allows it to be used as an assistive racking device. Slap it against your holster, or pants pocket, or boot heel, and push. Just about any training routine should include one handed drills, and though this may be a tiny and rarely mentioned feature, being able to rack the slide one handed is a big deal when it comes to actual gunfights.
The front sight has been upgraded as well, to a red fiber optic in a steel frame. Both sights are adjustable, and the combination of the two is an improvement over the old three dot system. The glowing red dot is much easier to pick up for most shooters.
I think the the Mod.2 also points very well, and I think that the garish red at the muzzle helps that. The fiber optic picks up light well. It isn’t a glow in the dark tritium night sight, but it is still highly visible in low light situations.
How does it shoot?
We ran through 200 rounds of .40, and close to 500 rounds of 9mm during two long days with these pistols. During that time, we ran drills from concealment. We shot from point blank out to 100 yards. We pushed the guns and got them dirty. I shot with dry hands and with wet hands, left handed and right handed, two handed and one handed. I even tried to induce limp wrist stovepipes.
There were no malfunctions. This is typical for the Springfield line. Anything else and I would have been disappointed. We shot every grain weight 9mm we could find. This included high performance rounds like Hornady Critical Defense and Critical Duty, all the way down to the steel case junk 115 grain. Everything worked well.
As both of these targets show, I have a tendency to pull left when I’m drawing from the holster. Despite all of my practice, I still get too much finger on the trigger and squeeze like a mad man. Still, I had no difficulty getting the Mod.2 free from concealment and on target. I was running about 1.8 seconds from the beep to the round on target at seven yards, and that’s from a couple of sufficient (but not perfect) holsters. From outside the waistband, I’m typically closer to 1.25 seconds, so I’m happy with 1.8.
And when I slow it down and take staged shots, I have no problem hitting point of aim. The 9mm is ideal for me, and I can call shots to within an inch. That’s not bad from a gun with a 3 inch barrel (which counts the length of the case and bullet in that 3 inches). The .40 has a bit sharper recoil, and my guess is that I was anticipating it–and pulling the gun off. So I guess I need to carry two! One .40 for defensive shooting (see target above, right) and one 9mm for more precise shots (left target below).
This isn’t the end. It is only the beginning!
The Mod.2 is a great new addition to the Springfield line, and though I am a fan of the XD(M) guns, the Mod.2 is much better. If you want to carry a 9mm, or .40, or a .45, Springfield has to be in the conversation. Their concealed carry guns continue to push boundaries. The Mod.2 XD Subcompact is very concealable. And the capacity is admirable. The grip is the best stock grip on a polymer pistol on the market. It rivals the feel of exceptionally well executed grip modification.
If the Mod.2 is any indication, we can expect to see even more functional design changes down the line. I’d love an XD-S with this texture. And the increase in control offered by the Grip Zone would be even more effective on a full-sized pistol. The XD(M) guns are already very easy shoot flat as compared to other striker, as well as hammer guns. With the Grip Zone technology we are going to see the rest of the pistol world running to catch up.
I shoot a lot. I review a lot of guns and truth be told, I love most of them. It has been said many times in the pages here at GunsAmerica Digest that we are living in the golden age of firearms. There are a ton of great pistols, and many of them are also great values for what you get. In such a crowded field of great guns it is hard to stand out, but I think that Springfield has done it with this new Mod.2. If you are just reading this as the article is published, Springfield is running a Hit The Range promotion at hundreds of shooting ranges across the country, and many of them will have this gun. We’d love to hear your thoughts.