Springfield’s XD series of pistols could just very well be the ugliest handguns that I can think of right now. It’s almost as if some Croatian Mad Scientist pulled a Doctor Moreau by genetically spliced a warthog with a 1911 and a Glock. Sure, it’s effective in what it does, but man is it ugly. Fortunately, the more you handle an XD, the more it grows on you. The craggy, ugly looking beast becomes almost handsome. Much like Tommy Lee Jones in any given movie.
I have been a huge fan of the XD line before there even was an XD line. It used to be called the HS-2000 and it was excellent even back then. The XD is said to Out- Glock the Glock. Whatever the hell that means. In reality, the HS-2000 was a solid performer then and it’s even better now. The HS-2000 gained a reputation amongst owners for reliability, decent accuracy and for being a joy to shoot. Size wise, the HS-2000 and the XD Service model is on par with a Glock 19, a gun known for its versatility. Concealable, while at the same time, rugged enough and big enough to be carried on duty as a primary sidearm. The Sub-Compact XD is just a little bigger than the Glock 26.
When Springfield took over importing the HS-2000, everyone shrugged and commented about the gun doubling in price. That might be true, price wise, but it gives us something else. Stability. Parts and service are no longer a concern…something that was keeping many shooters away from these excellent, yet ugly looking pistols. The biggest benefit to a new XD owner is Springfield’s excellent customer service and lifetime warranty. You see, Springfield wants you to be happy with your gun. They will do everything they can to make sure you are. If you have any problems, just call them up toll free and they’ll hook you up. This is something that early HS-2000 owners didn’t always get. I wish an auto maker would operate like that!
Such support may never be needed for the XD. Kudos to Springfield for backing up its new product so well…but it’s just frosting. The XD is so rock solid that you’ll probably never have to call them. The XD is just that good. It comes in 3 flavors and 3 sizes. 9MM or .40; Sub-Compact, Service and Tactical (Which works out to be 3, 4, or 5 inches in barrel length, with the Sub-Compact being shorter in the grip as well). My discussion is focused on the Sub-Compact 9MM version.
The trigger is fantastic. 4.5 pounds on my example. It’s crisp with little creep. The trigger looks like it could have fallen out of a Glock, but that’s only on the surface. The two actions differ greatly. The Glock’s safe action is often called a double action by some. It catches a portion of the mainspring’s tension allowing the trigger pull to feel lighter. Well, on the XD, the system is a true single action so it take up all of the spring’s tension, just like a 1911. The gun is always cocked unless you pull the trigger. This is why so many people regard the XD of having a better trigger. Don’t worry about the safety issue. The XD is a perfectly safe pistol. There are internal safety mechanisms as well as the two you can see, the one on the trigger and the one on the grip. This gun is only going to fire when you take a grip on it and pull the trigger just like a proper gun should.
This little gun is really something else. 10+1 capacity, super compact, yet offers excellent shootability and even a good grip… contradictions to the normal Sub-Compact experience for a good reason. This isn’t your normal subcompact handgun. This gun combines some of the best features of the Glock, SIG, 1911 and other guns. The Glock resemblance is obvious to most. The grip safety is another feature that I like, and I love the take down…it is very SIG-like in my opinion. Regardless of its short grip, the shape and proportions lends itself nicely to a firm grip by most hands. Really, I know of only one cat who doesn’t like the grip, but he can palm an NBA regulation basketball and to him, a full sized HK USP .40 was too small.
Shooting the XD is a lot of fun. It’s small, so using regular loads you would expect this little puppy to be snappy. It isn’t, thanks to dual captive recoil springs which really tame even hot loads. It shoots very much like a full sized XD, and that’s not bad at all. At reasonable ranges, hitting with it is not hard at all either. At the 15 yard line, 2 and a half to 3 inch groups are normal with most loads I’ve tried. The longer XD’s are easier to hit with, but as far as sub-compact handguns go, this is probably the easiest one out there to make good hits with. This is most likely due to the good trigger, good sights and a very ergonomic grip that fits most everyone, even people with very small hands.
My choice of carry ammo is the excellent, but discontinued, Federal Nyclad 124gr 9MM. They look like plastic blue toy bullets, but really they are quite excellent defense rounds. The nylon coating makes the bullets a little slick, letting them run up into the chamber with little resistance. Not that the little XD needs any help. The rounds are held very close to the bore axis, so it’s pretty much a straight shot into the chamber like most highly reliable guns are. I don’t like guns that make the bullet do acrobatic contortions to get into the chamber. In this little XD, the round is as close to being in line as possible. In case the round meets the feed ramp, the ramp is nicely polished for perfectly smooth feeding. Out of all the different 9MM loads, I’ve yet to find one that this gun won’t feed.
A couple features that I really like are the loaded chamber indicator and the little button that shows you that the striker is cocked. These two things allow you to check the gun’s status instantly by touch. You can tell in the dark what the deal is. This could be a critical feature in a high stress situation at night. You can quickly check this with your non-firing hand by dragging it across the top of the gun and running your thumb over the back. There is no need to Press Check to verify the gun’s condition or anything like that. The loaded chamber indicator at the top of the slide is sometimes mistaken as an extractor, but it holds no tension against the case. With the indicator removed, the gun would still function properly.
Another feature that is important to note is the light rail. Springfield has a nice little light for it called the “Springfield XML” for a hundred and thirty bucks MSRP. It puts out a decent 50 lumens, which is surprisingly bright for such a little light. It uses a 3 volt battery and a Xenon bulb to keep the size down and brightness up…of course, the trade off is burn time. But, for a tactical situation, it will be sufficient. Generally, I’m not a fan of light rails unless they are on a gun you intend to put a light on. With the XML on, this little compact auto is able to perform big gun duties. And since you can use full sized XD mags in the little XD, you can have all the firepower you want on tap with a mag change (The service model 9MM comes with 15 round mags). Of course, the longer mags would stick out the bottom and look ugly, but it’s not like that would hurt the XD’s looks anyway. If you decide to get one of these little XD pistols, spring for the light as well, it’s just that cool.
Taking all the features into account, the polymer frame and all that jazz…the XD is the most advanced new handgun design around. I say new because looking at other popular handgun designs that have been around since the 30’s, the XD remains the new kid.
This is a working gun and not some shelf ornament for your safe. Carry guns, unless they are stainless, SHOULD show some holster wear.
This Mini-XD is one of the best CCW choices out there right now and I wouldn’t say that unless I absolutely believed it. As far as polymer framed handguns go, the XD series is my favorite. I can find no downside to these guns. If you don’t like 9MM, get the .40 version. In the larger sizes, you also get a .357 SIG option. Rumor has it that Springfield will be putting out a version in .45GAP one of these days. I’d like to see that in a Sub Compact, but I won’t hold my breath and I’m not sure if I would ever buy it…but I would still like to see it.
Some say the finish is prone to wear. Feh! Who cares? This is a working gun and not some shelf ornament for your safe. Carry guns, unless they are stainless, SHOULD show some holster wear. Personally, I like holster wear and it gives the gun some character. It’s like a pair of jeans or good boots, the worn in look just makes it more comfortable. But, if you really are worried about the finish, you can get these with Stainless Steel slides that always look good. Springfield has pretty much made the XD so that you can have it any way you want it, even with an ogre green colored frame. For more information: www.springfield-armory.com
[ George Hill is an NRA Certified Pistol and Personal Protection instructor and the writer and publisher of MadOgre.com. Visit his web site for more information on Mad Ogre. (http://www.madogre.com) ]
Photography by Deveni.