Springfield Armory has released pre-cut, optics-ready slide kits for the XD series of handguns. This makes it a breeze to add a red dot sight to your gun, without having to ship it off to a machine shop. How does XD optics-ready slide kit hold up in practice?
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Most of the XDs out in the market were produced before the rise of the pistol-mounted red dot. XD owners who wanted to put a red dot on their pistol have limited options for shops to machine their slides. Changing the iron sights on the XD is also very difficult, even with a sight press. Springfield’s solution to these issues is an elegantly simple one: sell a pre-cut slide, with or without a red dot, to drop onto the XD already in your safe.
This review will not focus on the XD itself. There are many thousands of them in circulation already, and most people who want to use one have used one and formed their own opinion by now. This review is limited to the slide kit itself.
The MSRP of the optics-ready XD slide only is $270. The slide/barrel/recoil spring assembly kit costs $396. The addition of the Crimson Trace red dot sight to any of the two options will increase the price by $99.
The terms of this review were very simple. Springfield sent out an XD and the slide kit. TFB paid for ammo. The gun and slide kit went back to Springfield at the end of the review.
The replacement slide comes in a small box. This review sample included a Crimson Trace red dot and the appropriate mounting plate. The red dot does not come installed on the slide. There are no printed instructions in the box, but there is a QR code that links to an instructional video. That video (with a most intense narrator) walks through the steps of swapping the slide onto the gun. Essentially, you field strip the gun and replace the slide. Very simple.
However, the video does not address the installation of the red dot onto the slide. It is not difficult to figure out how to put it all together, but specs like recommended torque on the screws and whether or not thread locker should be used would be helpful.
Here is a short step-by-step installation how-to:
- Remove the cover plate from the new slide
- Install the adapter plate
- Install the sight onto the adapter plate
- Field strip the gun
- Swap the barrel and recoil spring into the new slide (if required for your slide kit; some slide kits include a barrel and recoil spring)
- Reassemble the gun with the new slide
There are a few good and bad things to note about the installation process. The screws that hold the cover plate and adapter plate on the slide are Torx-headed, but no Torx bit is included. Other screws use an Allen key, and the appropriate sizes were included. The included adapter plate does not fit onto the gun upside down, so it is very easy to know it is assembled correctly. Also, the red dot is not marked in any way to show which way the battery should be installed. If you do it wrong, just flip the battery over and the sight will turn on when you get it right.
Shooting the XD replacement slide feels like shooting an XD but now with a red dot. If you want your XD to be the same, but with better sights and a red dot, you will like the slide kit.
The included iron sights are suppressor-height and co-witness with the red dot. The rear sight has a white U-shape around the notch, and the front sight has a fiber optic tube and a serrated finish to reduce glare. Shooting with the irons is easy and is a step up from the basic white dot sights that come on the base XD.
The performance of the Crimson Trace red dot was more mixed. The sticker describes it as a CTS1500 model, which does not appear on the Crimson Trace website. Zeroing the red dot was fairly simple. Using the included Allen wrench, I moved the dot to sit roughly at the top of the front sight with the iron sights aligned. I then fired the pistol from a rest at 15 yards, and made small adjustments. The adjustment screws do not have clicks or reference marks. With a little trial and error, I was able to put the groups where I wanted them, and they stayed in place.
While zeroing was easy and the general use of the red dot was fine, it is not very robust. A small, plastic-bodied sight like this is not intended for extreme duty use. But it should be robust enough to hold up to the wear and tear that happens on the range. I dropped the (unloaded) gun and sight onto the range floor from the height of the shooting bench to see if it would survive an accidental drop. This was not a Sage Dynamics shoulder-height drop onto a rock or a Garand Thumb-esque fling across a field. It fell from about three feet onto a cement floor. The result? The lens cracked in the lower left corner and the point of impact shifted by three inches at 15 yards, but the sight continued to function. I re-zeroed the dot and it continued to hold zero for the remainder of the review. Do not expect this red dot to emerge unscathed after a fall from a range bag or out of a holster.
If you are an XD owner, and you want the fastest, easiest way to mount a red dot on your pistol, this slide kit is the product for you. The Crimson Trace red dot is not duty grade or even recreational grade, and I would not recommend purchasing one. But this slide itself, paired with a different optic, could be an easy way to add modern features onto that XD sitting in your safe.