From a 1911 to a Springfield XD…
I first came across the Springfield XD about 3 years ago. After attending the Aegis Academy’s Instructor course, I retired my faithful 1911 and dove into the world of striker-fired guns. I had tried out a Glock 17 in the final days and with much fanfare and ribbing admitted that I enjoyed how it shot. So catching up to the 21st century I started shopping. Sitting in the display case I noticed the XD. My first thought was I liked the grip safety, it was familiar like a 1911 or maybe I was thinking of my manhood should I decide to appendix carry concealed. I picked up the 4” service model and it felt good, I liked the size and features. While not as pretty as some other guns, it feels and looks solid. Springfield was offering a military and Law Enforcement discount at that time as well. I was sold and 10 days later (thank you CA) I picked it up and carried it daily on the range until this year. I have shot between 8000 and 9000 rounds conservatively. The majority is American Eagle, but PMC, blazer and reloads as well. Feeding has not been an issue with any ammunition and malfunctions have been more shooter induced than mechanical. It is a reliable platform. We will have a great review on another of its rivals the M&P coming soon so for the most part I am comparing it to the Glock.
Springfield has a pedigree that goes back to the founding of our country. With that kind of history, and a small but solid line of products their reputation speaks for itself. That name definably played into my decision process 3 years ago. Call me old school, but like Chevy I stick to what I know (its ironic I drive a Ford Mustang at the moment but that’s another story) That being said, polymer and striker fired pistols is a new game for a company known for their M1 Garand, M14 and 1911 designs. The XD started out as the Croatian PHP and cut its teeth in the Yugoslav war. After teething issues, it was re-released in 1999 as the HS2000. In 2002 Springfield licensed the design and marketed it as the XD-9. Diving head first into the world of striker guns dominated at that point by Glock’s fine products. In my opinion, Springfield hit it out of the park. They took a solid design and backed it with their name, quality and technology. With a hammer forged steel barrel and steel Melonite coated slide it can take some abuse, and its ergonomics were more thought out than Glock’s laconic exterior Springfield was awarded the title of handgun of the year for its XD-45 by American Rifleman in 2006 and 2009, and has developed a loyal following. It can come in the standard all black, a stainless steel slide or OD green/black slide frame, as well as two newer XDM and XDS offerings.
– Full size, light polymer lower frame
– Trigger pull is smoother than a standard Glock trigger at a weight of 5.5 to 7lbs. (opinion)
– Adjustable front and rear sights.
– Ambidextrous magazine release
– Integrated rail for accessories.
– Striker cocked and chamber loaded indicator
– Universal Safety Assurance Action trigger system and firing block
– High polish stainless steel magazines
– Long reset length on the trigger, bit of mush at the break.
– Slide will not lock to the rear unless grip safety is engaged.
– Slide serrations are rather bland. Sweaty hands need a bit more purchase and incapacitation manipulations can be interesting. The blocky slide compensates a bit but I would prefer some more angles.
A few things come down to personal preference, and I either did not include them as pro/con or parts of it as both.
I for one love the grip safety. As I stated above my reasons are purely personal. A grip safety is an “active” safety, but for most shooters, experienced or not, establishing a firm grip on the back-strap of the gun is intuitive and with coaching most shooters can work it out. It does add a “unnecessary” extra level of safety on a striker gun, but lets be honest, for a adult gripping the gun I could easily argue that it is a passive action and therefore very unlikely to cause a issue. It does piss me off during manipulations with my small hands that it has to be depressed to lock the slide to the rear.
The grip angle between 505-107 degrees is similar to their old standby the 1911. To me this fits more naturally than the Glock’s steeper angle of more than 110 degrees, so I point more naturally with it. The width of 1.20 inches fits most hands comfortably, The height of the slide above frame is a ¼ inch from the back strap, The square slide is a block at almost 1 inch thick which should lead to more muzzle climb, but with the dual springs and full-length guide rod, recoil is smooth and manageable. I have a 9mm, but shot 200 rounds through a .45 ACP model with little difference in felt recoil. I have yet to try the .40SW or .357 SIG
I did list the trigger as both a pro and con. It pulls smooth, but the slack and break are un-refined. At a distance of ½ an inch with slack of another ¼ an inch on reset, I have been known to “short” the trigger on occasion. I have read some forums discussing the same issue on a Glock, but I have no issues with them myself, or heard many Glock shooters complain about it. Pat and Chris just giggle at me and wonder when I will buy a Sig Sauer. I respond with “Its not the gun it’s the shooter” and carry on. There is a bit of mush at the break with a 1/8 of slack after, and understand why some shooters dislike it. For me, with many years on many triggers I am not that picky. I personally would keep the trigger pull weight and distance, shorten the reset and slack a bit as that seems to be my biggest issue. I guess the short explanation is they just feel smoother than a Glock trigger despite its shortfalls. I will note that mine is a stock first generation XD and there are several options for trigger kits you can choose. Make sure you get all your work done through a certified Springfield armor.
The magazines do work well, releasing smoothly and dependably. I have had issues with two of mine with the slide relatedly not locking to the rear on empty. I took both apart and cleaned them checked the springs and followers. I do not know if this is a common trend with their magazines yet, but they function and are well made.
The sights are functional, your standard dovetail castle with big white dots front and back. I would replace the front sight with a High Viz dot and black out the rear ones. I use the front dot as center mass rather than the top tip, so my groups are about ¼ to ½ high on a 1inch dot at 5-7 yard bullet or ragged hole drill. Center mass in a 8” chest is repeatable both stationary and on the move. Using the dot I have hit repeatedly at distances of 25 yards and beyond on steel plates. (I wouldn’t bet you a case of beer on it)
The 4 and 5-inch service models come in most calibers including 9mm, .40SW, .45ACP and .357 Sig.
The 3-inch sub compact only comes in 9mm and .40SW while the 4 and 5-inch compacts only come in good old .45 ACP.
They offer two models with an additional thumb safety in 4 and 5-inch sizes. Both are .45 ACP.
Springfield followed up with the XD-M and XD-S series to capitalize on the designs success. The XD-M adds adjustable sized grips and aggressive frame texturing as well as a ported slide. The XD-M competition model adds adjustable rear sights and a fiber optic front.
For the concealed market their XD-S line takes the same features of the XD-M series and puts it into a small single stack. They offer 3.3 and 4” sizes in 9mm and .45 ACP
As for price you are looking at between $650-750. Military and Law Enforcement will cut about $100 off that price so it’s comparable with its rivals, Standard equipment includes the case, two magazines and the cable lock. It also comes with a decent two magazine pouch, speed loader and a horrible holster, but kudos for all the extra swag.
I have enjoyed my XD since I bought it and continue to use it. I as a shooter am known to stick with something and I do not have a large collection of guns in my safe. I do however, shoot Glocks, SIGs, S&Ws and H&K regularly and can say with assurance you will find the XD just as good if not better than its contemporaries. I do not consider it a “Glock killer” but I prefer it to most stock 17 and 19s. I have both coached and competed with it and think it was a great buy. I highly recommend it as an alternative to a Glock.
~ Aegis Academy Staff