Gun Review: Springfield XD-S 4″ .45 ACP

TFB-Springfield-XDS-4inch-45ACP-featured

When I first picked up the XD-S from my FFL, I felt like some sort of British spy getting kit issue from ”Q”. It came in a huge composite case, foam lined with cutouts. The package contained a holster, magazine holder, grip extender, alternate backstrap, two magazines, and the standard silly cable lock. Oh yeah, and a sub-compact .45 ACP Pistol.

Did "Q" issue this?

Did “Q” issue this?

Sub-compact. With a 4“ barrel. In .45 ACP. I know that ”sub-compact” refers to the grip and profile, but I had a good chuckle anyway.

Construction

It is a single stack pistol with the option of a 5 round magazine or a 7 round magazine with their “X-Tension” grip extender. Being single stack, it was super thin. It was 75% the width of the Taurus Millennium G2 that I recently reviewed and was basically the same width as my Kel-Tec PF9. For that matter the height was a mere tenth of inch higher than the PF9. So, as crazy as it is, the XD-S is basically the same size as my Kel-tec (with the exception of having a total length roughly an inch longer). Clearly there is some violation of the laws of physics.

Note the length of the barrel--the backs are as aligned as I could get them

Note the length of the barrel–the backs are as aligned as I could get them

Widths are darn similar

Widths are darn similar

The XD-S looks wider but that is because the top is flat (opposed to curved)

The XD-S looks wider but that is because the top is flat (opposed to curved)

The grip looks a lot more uncomfortable than it is. While I have grown quite fond of the stippling on my Glock–17, I found the XD-S to be comfortable and functional.

TFB-Springfield-XDS-4inch-45ACP-Grip

There are three main safety devices installed on the XD-S: the trigger safety, the grip safety, and the striker block safety. The trigger safety is a lever pretty much just like the one you find on Glocks. The trigger can only be pulled when depressed simultaneous with the safety lever. The grip safety is similar to what you would find on a 1911, though not nearly as wide. You have to have a solid and positive grip on the frame, depressing the safety to allow the gun to fire. Both the trigger safety and the grip safety, when disengaged, allow the third safety, the striker block to disengage. It also has a loaded round indicator…

Round indicator is tall...

Round indicator is tall…

Disassembly is a lot easier than, say, with a Glock. The XD-S has a disassembly lever (rather than that obnoxious little tabbed slide lock as on the Glock). You rotate it to 12 o’clock (of course after verifying clear and safe, with the magazine removed), after locking the slide back. After engaging the disassembly lever, you gently release the slide stop until tension is off of the spring and while holding the slide gently, pull the trigger. This completes the unlocking of the slide from the frame and you can slide the entire assembly forward. To reassemble, you slide the upper back onto the frame until you can engage the slide lock. After that you disengage the disassembly lever and you can drop the slide.

Regarding the accessories it came with… The holster is “meh”. Pretty much a simple form fit polymer holster. The dual magazine holder is similar. It is nice that it comes with it, but like anyone that carries, I have holsters that I prefer based on the activity I’ll be performing with the pistol, or the environment I will be in.

Yes, there was a safety recall of the previous XD-S (regarding the action) that was initiated last fall for the 3.3″ versions. Basic problem had to do with the position of the sear and the engagement of the grip safety, and resulted in a double fire or unintended discharge. I’m not going to rehash the numerous discussions here; feel free to Google for them. The biggest complaint from the masses was that a number of people did not like the way it was handled by Springfield. Springfield issued the safety recall before they had a upgrade/fix solution in place and some people experienced a significant delay in return of their firearm. Understandable complaint, but you probably shouldn’t be shooting it anyway with that kind of a defect, so sending it in or keeping it in the safe should have the same net effect.

This model does not appear to suffer from that issue. The trigger is crisp and drops the hammer as expected. I attempted to “create” the problem as outlined in a post on XDTalk, but was unable to do so. I did not actually do a full disassembly and inspect for the placement of the “correction” pin which was the apparent fix (I just performed a field strip).

Shooting

My first time out with it I just played around, getting a feel for it. My initial impression was favorable with the exception of the grip. It was really, really small (though the grip extender helped). I was disappointed by the feel of the weapon with the 5 round magazine. I felt like I did not have a good grip–it was just a tad too short for me with the forward weight (it is nearly twice the overall weight of the Kel-tec). With the 7 round magazine and extender, it felt a lot more stable (though I would not recommend shooting a 7 round magazine WITHOUT the extender–it feels awkward).

TFB-Springfield-XDS-4inch-45ACP-Sight-and-Indicator

The front fiber optic sight was great. It was very bright and easy to pick up, and the contrast between it and the rear dots made alignment quick. The additional length on the slide also makes it more mechanically accurate due to the sight radius geometry.

This pic doesn't do the fiber optic justice; if you've shot one, you know  what I mean...

This pic doesn’t do the fiber optic justice; if you’ve shot one, you know what I mean…

I ran my El Presidente drills with the XD-S the second time I took it out. The problem was that I had two different magazines, that both interfaced with my hand in two different ways. I used the 7 round as the primary magazine (fully loaded), and modified the drill by firing all 7, then switching to the 5 round magazine (rather than the traditional 6 and 6). The first couple of sets were a bit strange since the third target got 3 rounds before switching magazines, and the 5 round magazine just feels different (as well as being shorter). Ultimately, I was able to put my 12 rounds on target, and it actually made the drill a little more interesting since I wasn’t able to game it by counting rounds.

Overall my times were not much different than with the Taurus G2. I had an average of 11.28; not quite as fast as with my Glock 17, but decent enough. And with the added benefit of .45 ACP, opposed to 9mm. I had a spread of about a second between my fastest and slowest times–which I feel was a pretty consistent measure. Being able to put well placed rounds on target at an average of one per second, including a magazine change, is pretty decent in my opinion.

TFB-Springfield-XDS-4inch-45ACP-timer

I found the pistol to be accurate–shots went where I asked them to go. And, really, these days, guns are well enough manufactured that I would expect nothing less.

Reliability

I ran less than 200 rounds through it so I can’t give you a true reliability measure. I did not have any failures and I did run the crappiest ammo I had.

Conclusion

I’ve always been a 1911 fan in the .45 ACP category. A full-size Colt Commander was the very first gun I bought when I was able to do so, and I’ll always have a love for her. But, I have to say, this XD-S was a fun shoot. It fired well, and placed the rounds where I wanted. The ability to carry a .45 in the same basic space as my Kel-tec is a very intriguing. Giving up two rounds in trade for the upsize in caliber is a fair exchange in my opinion (i.e. I don’t anticipate the Battle of Fallujah in my daily life). After the initial unboxing, the accessory kit turned out to be not as cool as I hoped–it is a nice touch for Springfield to throw it in, but not really necessary in my opinion. I’d rather see the package offered with choice in magazines of the same capacity.

If you like .45 ACP and want a small concealable package, the XD-S is not a bad choice–just get same-same magazines and ones that fit your primary grip hand the best.

Pros

.45 ACP
Tiny Form Factor
Great sights
Comes with a nice accessory kit

Cons

Gun feels front heavy with 5 round magazine
Gun comes with a 5 round and 7 round magazine

MANUFACTURER SPECIFICATIONS
Model Number: XD-S94045B
Action Type: Ultra Safety Assurance (USA) Action Trigger System
Caliber: .45 ACP
Capacity: 5 Rounds (7 Rounds, With Mag X-Tension)
Length: 7”
Barrel Length: 4.0“ Steel, Melonite®, Hammer Forged
Height: 4.4” / 5.4″ With X-Tension
Width: .9”
Weight: 23.5 ozs. / 24.5 ozs. With X-Tension
Trigger Pull: 5.5 – 7.7 lbs
Sights: Fiber Optic Front & Dovetail Rear (Steel)
Price: Street ~$550

Just before this review was scheduled to go live on the blog, Springfield let us know about a promotion this month in which they are giving away $100,000 worth of prizes, including Springfield XD-S pistols.



Tom is a former Navy Corpsman that spent some time bumbling around the deserts of Iraq with a Marine Recon unit, kicking in tent flaps and harassing sheep. Prior to that he was a paramedic somewhere in DFW, also doing some Executive Protection work between shifts. Now that those exciting days are behind him, he has embraced his inner “Warrior Hippie” and assaults 14er in his sandals and beard, or engages in rucking adventure challenges while consuming craft beer. To fund these adventures, he writes medical software and builds websites and mobile apps. His latest venture is as one of the founders of IronSights.com; a search engine for all things gun related. He hopes that his posts will help you find solid gear that will survive whatever you can throw at it–he is known (in certain circles) for his curse…ahem, ability…to find the breaking point of anything.


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  • Cymond

    As much as a I like my XDM, I must say that the entire XDM/XDS series seems to be a bit heavy for what they are. Also, it may be the same thickness of the PF9 but it looks a lot bulkier.

    • USMC03Vet

    • Menger40

      That surprises me. Unloaded, an XDm 4.5″ in 9mm is 3.5oz heavier than a Glock 17.

      Is that a lot? It doesn’t seem like a lot. Maybe the weight distribution is different?

      • ozzallos .

        Metal trigger. Metal sights. A bit more in the slide.

      • Cymond

        Well the Springfield Armory website indicates that the XDm 4.5″ 9mm is 29 ounces unloaded. I’m not sure how much the G17 weighs, one source says 22 ounces, another says 25.
        .
        I had it in my head that it was 32 ounces vs 22 ounces.

        • Cymond

          Update: After moving out of California, I got my XDm out of storage, and weighed it compared to my 3rd Gen G34. The G34 weighs 26.06 ounces with an unloaded magazine. The XDm weighs 28.5 ounces with an unloaded magazine.

          So yeah, the XDm is a quarter-pound lighter than I thought.

  • Sam

    How was the felt recoil/muzzle flip on the 4.0…the 3.3 version I heard was very snappy.

    • Doc Rader

      It was not bad. The extra weight at the front is likely the factor. I’ve never fired the 3.3″ version. The biggest issue for me was the size of the grip with the 5 round magazine.

      • Beju

        I could see that. I’ve shot both the 4″ and 5″ XD45 models, and while neither was ‘snappy,’ my follow-up shots were faster with the 5″ model, which has an extra 3 oz up front.

      • Rob

        I have the same pistol…after putting the Pearce pinky extension on the 5 round mag it feels perfect in hand..although I love the option of just throwing in the 7 round for that extra solid grip. I’m hoping as it gains popularity maybe someone will make a plus one for the 5 round mag

    • wicked_bear

      IMO, it’s not that snappy. I have a Kimber solo, and firing it next to my XDs, the solo is way more snappy.

  • Zachary marrs

    Good review, but I refuse to buy anything from Springfield armory, they can take their false heritage elsewhere

  • wicked_bear

    I have the 3.3in version In .45acp and I love it. I have big meaty hands and was concerned about firing it with the 5rd mags, but surprisingly it feels good in my hand despite barely being able to get 3 fingers as my grip purchase. I bought some shooters specialties aluminum mag base plates and while they don’t allow for +1 rd, they are a little taller than the factory ones and give me a few “hairs” of mag extension that I feel confident firing it. I like the idea of the 4″ barrel, but am concerned that it wouldn’t be as concealable as the 3.3″

    • Rusty Shackleford

      I would have preferred a 3.8″ barrel like the one on the XDm compact, although I assume they went with a 4″ to avoid any possible mishap from someone trying to put and XDm slide on an XDs.

    • Doc Rader

      For me it felt a bit unbalanced. Just my subjective observation…

      It is certainly not a pocket pistol… 🙂 That said, I didn’t find it really challenging to conceal in the 5 round configuration (I should have taken some pictures with it concealed).

      I think the real utility of the gun is being able to switch it from an “S” to an “M” with the magazine extender.

  • Odeezy Liita

    No thanks, I’ll stick with my 29sf

  • Fool

    Would have been perfect if they released it in 6rd mag.

    • Six would certainly make me feel better about it. I was actually looking at a 3.3 in 45 acp yesterday and giving it some serious thought. I just couldn’t go with a 5 rounds capacity in a primary pistol when I have the Sig 938 with a 7+1 capacity in 9mm.
      Also my Sig C3, my primary carry pistol in summer, shoots 45 acp and holds 7+1 in an Officer model frame. At least for me the C3 is no more difficult to conceal than the Springfield. The thin profile of the C3 along with the shorter Officer frame makes a big difference in the ability to conceal it.

      There is always speculation and back and forth discussion on the Glock vs. XD’s. I would have to choose the XD because of not only size but the fact it has a grip safety which I feel more comfortable with.