What I Love & Hate About the Springfield Armory XD-S in .45 ACP

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.

Love: Slim

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, I have the potential to carry 12 rounds of .45 ACP on my person. I should add there is a 7-round magazine that you can get from Springfield as well, which would give you a total of 13 rounds. But…

Hate: Only Five Rounds

The flush-fit magazine carries five rounds; the extended magazine I have 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.

Love: Sights

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.

***Shop for an XD-S on GunsAmerica***

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.

Discover how you can join more than 200,000 responsibly armed Americans who already rely on the USCCA to protect their families, futures and freedoms: USCCA.com/gunsamerica.

About the author: Mark Kakkuri is a nationally published freelance writer who covers guns and gear, 2nd Amendment issues and the outdoors. His writing and photography have appeared in many firearms-related publications, including the USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @markkakkuri.

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Gary owens December 8, 2020, 8:33 pm

    I have a Taurus PT 24/7 in 45 and I call it my Cadillac because it fires so smoothly I also have a Springfield Armory XDS in 45 which I call my Ferrari because it’s a moody little bitch but I love it

  • BluNos August 12, 2018, 12:18 pm

    Mark: Insert 5 round magazine into XDs. Release slide chambering a round. Drop magazine. Load an additional round. Reinsert magazine.Voila, its called 5+1.

  • Ted A August 12, 2018, 12:08 pm

    Love my xds 3.3 in .45. 5 + 1 with a backup clip of 7 rounds not 6. If you need more than that, you shouldn’t be there.
    Remember it’s a concealed carry pistol not a go into battle pistol!

  • og August 10, 2018, 4:09 pm

    Lots of good things about this firearm but I agree about recoil. I think it would be interesting to have this firearm made in a steel frame. I can deal with carrying the extra weight and I think it would shoot a lot better if there was a bit more weight to it..

  • Tom FORD August 10, 2018, 10:43 am

    I bought the first XDs 45 I found and carried it until my pre-ordered XDs 45 mod2 was delivered. I still have and carry each depending on clothing. The Army trained me to shoot a M1911 in 1967 and I still love that gun and caliber. I was 6 ft and 130 lbs and had no problem with the recoil then or now that I weigh a lot more. The XDs and XDs mod 2 handle very much like a M1911 and feel familiar, just more modern. I have other guns, but I will always keep these two.

  • Jonathan Cole August 10, 2018, 10:22 am

    It sounds to me like you are a potential customer of a 9 mm version of this fine pistol. From my perspective shot placement is the most important aspect of any concealed carry scenario. Which means much practice is needed, and since 45 ACP recoil potentially limits your desire for practice, a 9 mm version should be the prescription to your ailment

  • Scotty Gunn August 10, 2018, 9:54 am

    Yes, I don’t love the round cut, either, but at least it is a 45.
    I think it’s pleasant to shoot and recently put over three hundred rounds through mine in one session. I have never heard anyone complain about abusive recoil before on these. I put sticky grips on it, that might help you.

  • Scott Smith August 10, 2018, 9:26 am

    The use of round capacity as an evalution criterion for this particlar handgun is silly … as is the comment about having to adjust to recoil. There are countless reviews of the XDS by experts that laud it for its shooting charactersrics and design. Also, although the 2nd iteration is now on the shelves, I would consider this an “older” design.

  • Doug Tally August 10, 2018, 7:08 am

    Hi Mark, I carry the XDs .45 and don’t have the same experience with the grip or backstrap. If you don’t use ear protection at the range the bark is… but in self defense no bark is heard. 1 in the chamber provides 6 or 7 total. For trained folks i.e. police, military, citizens trained at Front Sight skill level there is no need for greater rounds. My insight is without training there comes a point at which too many rounds gives a false sense of security and sprayed (unsigned) rounds are fired v using the front sight, trigger control and center mass. A trainined mindset for backdrop safety and ‘will to fight’ is preferred to greater number of rounds. I have no data but my ‘guess’ is for concealed carry (not police) the greater trained select and use fewer rounds in self defense v less trained select greater rounds, use them in self defense, will be less accurate, cause greater risk from misses and be no more safe (less injured) than the trained. I do cringe as I suspect any trained concealed carry professional would to think of citizen concealed carry with no more training than it takes to get a CCW permit.

  • scott beverly August 10, 2018, 7:04 am

    I guess to each their own. I’ve been carrying my XDS 3.3 in 45 acp for years and absolutely love it. The stock as you put it is aggressive, but that is one of the best features, especially during the hot sweaty summer shooting sessions. There’s no chance of it slipping from your hand or not getting a good purchase on the gun. I agree on the 5 + 1 or the 6 + 1 and the newer technology for ammo choices. In my opinion the XDS was a game changer in the conceal carry market when Springfield introduced them and it is still one of the best carry option to date. Bottom line those folks who take responsibility for their own personal security will carry the gun they feel most comfortable with, the gun that they shoot well and feels good on their hip, ankle, or where ever they decide to carry on their persons. For me, it’s the XDS in 45 ACP IWB. I know the little pistol and have complete confidence it will work every time.

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