One of the most anticipated handguns to come along, is the new Springfield Armory XDs, single-stack, 5+1 shot, .45ACP pistol. This gun was due to be released in March of this year, but there were production delays that had to be worked out. And, I am grateful for a company like Springfield Armory, who won't release a gun until it is what it is supposed to be, instead of releasing the gun sooner, and then facing a recall of thousands of guns down the road because of some kind of glitch. Still, people want what they can't have - and the demand for the all-new XDs was there - people were placing orders with their local gun shops for the gun, long before they were due to come out. Some people always must have the newest guns, or be the first on their block to own a new gun model. I have to admit, I was always hounding Deb Williams, at Springfield Armory for my sample. I know that she got sick and tired of the weekly e-mails, asking when the XDs was coming out. She has a job I don't want!
Okay, the new XDs arrived, and to be honest with you, it was more than I expected - the gun was nicer in all respects than I anticipated from the press releases and the web site. I like it when I'm pleasantly surprised in a good way. Since Springfield Armory first came out with the XD line of handguns, it has been a real hit for them and the consumer. And, along the way, there were improvements made, as well as smaller compact and sub-compact models, and even newer models, like the XDm - which has also been a big hit. So, I was expecting something super-kool with the XDs, and I wasn't disappointed in the least.
With so many folks getting their concealed carry licenses, there is a vast market for small, concealable handguns that can stop an attack. If you've read any of my articles on SurvivalBlog for any length of time, you know I don't like the .380ACP as my main concealed carry gun - I think, at best, the .380 ACP is a marginal manstopper. I prefer something in 9mm or .38 Special an larger. And I think the .40 S&W and .45ACP are even better manstoppers. The market is flooded with itty-bitty .380 ACP handguns, and to be sure, they are really nice guns, well-made and very small for concealed carry. I carry a Ruger LCP .380 ACP in an ankle holster. But I carry that as a back-up to whatever my main carry gun is.
Make no mistake, I love the .45ACP as a manstopper, so I knew the new Springfield Armory XDs was gonna find a new home in my meager firearm collection, even before it arrived. Okay, what we have with the XDs is a 5+1 shot sub-compact .45ACP pistol. The gun only weighs 21.5 oz, and that's light for such a powerful round. Part of the lightness comes from the polymer frame. The frame has aggressive checkering on it, for a secure grip. The barrel is only 3.3" long - about as small as you can get, and still have a gun work reliably in this caliber. Overall height of the gun is only 4.4", with an overall length of 6.3", and the width is only 1" - we're talking a VERY concealable, and powerful handgun here, folks. The slide is Melonite coated, for a long-lasting and durable finish - and a bi-tone model is also available, with bare stainless steel slide.
I like the sights on the XDs, the front sight is a red, fiber optic one, and it really stands out, even under low-light. The rear sight is a combat-style, with two white dots - the front and rear sight are very fast to pick-up when you raise the gun to eye level to shoot it. The barrel is Melonite coated and it has a fully supported ramp, too - for easy of chambering a round from the magazine. The slide is forged stainless steel, too. The gun comes with two, 5 round mags, but there is an optional 7 round mag you can get, too. For carry, I'll go with the 5 round mag, and use the 7 round magazine as my spare, in a pouch on my belt.
The USA trigger system is on the XDs - this is what Springfield Armory calls their Ultra Safety Assurance trigger system. There is a little lever in the face of the trigger, that acts as a safety - the gun won't fire if you don't have your finger on the trigger. There is also a grip-safety - and you have to have a firm grip on the gun, that allows the grip safety to be depressed before the gun will fire, too. There is also a striker safety, that locks the striker in place - so the gun won't fire if dropped. There's a loaded chamber indicator on top of the slide, too. A fail-safe disassembly procedure makes certain that you can't disassemble the gun with a round in the chamber. As already mentioned, there is aggressive checkering on the polymer frame - it was so popular on the XDm line-up, that Springfield Armory made it even more aggressive on the XDs for a sure purchase on the gun when firing.
One thing I'm really big on is, how does a gun feel in my hand? If it doesn't feel right or fit my hand, I'm simply not gonna shoot it as well as I could shoot it. The XDs comes with two backstraps - that allows you to customize the frame of the gun to fit your hand best. This is a great idea, and more gun companies are following suit in this regard. The XDs just feels "natural" in my hand. I mean, this baby really feels good - I don't know how else to spell this out. There is also a Picatinny rail on the frame of the gun, for mounting a laser or light - most sub-compact handguns don't have this feature. Another plus in my book for the XDs.
The XDs is really small, and when laying in my hand, it's hard to believe that this is a .45ACP handgun - I have sub-compact 9mm and .40 S&W handguns that are bigger than this - and many .380 ACP full-sized pistols are even bigger than the XDs is. The XDs is made in Croatia, and they are doing this gun up right for Springfield Armory. Being made in eastern Europe helps keep the cost of the gun down.
So, how does the XDs shoot? Glad you asked, bet you thought I was never gonna get around to that, didn't you? Well, with all the super-kool features on this gun, I wanted to point some of 'em out to you. I had a good selection of .45ACP on-hand for testing, this included the Winchester 230 grain FMJ white box USA load - which is always a good round for target practice and function testing. I also had Black Hills Ammunition's new steel cased 185 grain JHP ammo, as well as their steel case 230 grain FMJ load. Also from Black Hills Ammunition, I had their 185 grain all-copper Barnes TAC-XP hollow round, which is rated +P. From Buffalo Bore Ammunition I had their 185 grain Barnes all-copper TAC-XP load, that is also +P rated, and their 230 grain JHP +P load, and their 255 grain Hard Cast FN +P load. So, I had a good variety of .45ACP to test in the next XDs. Deb Williams, at Springfield Armory asked her husband Dave, who heads-up their Custom Shop, and Robbie Leatham, who is their Ace competition shooter, how well the XDs would handle +P loads. They both said it wouldn't be a problem, but they told Deb to tell me, that I wouldn't enjoy shooting +P loads in the little XDs.
I did my accuracy shooting from 15-yards, which is a fair distance, for such a small pistol. And, all the loads mentioned above kept my rounds inside of 3" or less - and more often than not, most of the rounds were always in the 2" to 2 1/2" range. So, how did the XDs like the +P loads? Well, there were no problems with any of the +P loads - the gun functioned 100% of the time - not a hint of a bobble. The Black Hills Ammunition 185-gr Barnes TAC-XP load that is +P rated didn't feel bad at all, nor did the 185-gr JHP steel cased load, or their 230-gr FMJ steel cased load. The Winchester 230-gr FMJ load felt like it "kicked" a little more than the Black Hills 23-gr FMJ did - could just be my imagination, though. The Buffalo Bore +P loads - they just weren't any fun to shoot in this little gun. Of course, I was getting tired, after firing more than 200 rounds in my first shooting session, and my hand was getting a little sore. The Buffalo Bore 255-gr Hard Cast FN load - that one was a real killer in the little XDs - you don't want to fire more than one 5 round mag of this stuff. Still, the little XDs just perked along without any problems. Buffalo Bore ammo isn't for wimps, and their 185-gr Barnes TAC-XP +P load really caught my attention, as did their 230-gr JHP +P load. I think I'll reserve these loads for larger guns. While the XDs devoured everything I put through it - the Buffalo Bore loads were just too much for me to shoot a lot. I've fired these loads through full-sized 1911s, and didn't feel the recoil I felt in the XDs - then again, we're talking a 21.5-oz sub-compact pistol here.
To be honest, I was surprised the XDs handled such a wide variety of ammo, from standard pressure loads, to the hotter +P loads, without any problems. I thought for sure, that the hot +P loads, especially those from Buffalo Bore, would cause the gun to burp a little bit - it didn't! This is not an indication that you can't or shouldn't use Buffalo Bore +P loads in your XDs - just be advised, these loads are really gonna get your attention in short order. My preferred load in the XDs would be, hands down, for everyday carry, the Black Hills Ammunition, 185-gr Barnes TAC-XP +P load. This load didn't "kick" as hard as the 230-gr FMJ load from Winchester in my humble opinion - and keep in mind, this IS a +P load. The Buffalo Bore 185-gr Barnes +P load is loaded hotter than the Black Hills 185-gr Barnes load - that's why it recoiled a lot more. If I were out hiking in the boonies, I'd stoke the XDs with a full mag of the Buffalo Bore 255-gr Hard Cast FN +P - to take care of large critters that I might encounter. You probably wouldn't feel the excessive recoil of this heavy and hot round, when your life depended on it.
I really liked the short trigger pull on the XDs, as well as the very short trigger re-set after your fire a round. I can't think of any other double-action type pistol, that has such a short re-set on the trigger than the XDs has - unless you compare it to the XDm - which is the same trigger design. Of course, the XDs comes in a very nice, foam-lined carrying case, along with a holster and double mag pouch. Why other gun companies aren't doing this is beyond me. One of the hardest things about new gun models, is finding a suitable holster - other than going with a cheap generic type soft-side ballistic Nylon holster. Holster makers take a wait and see attitude - they want to want and see if a new gun model is gonna be popular and stay around, before committing to making holsters for new guns - I can't blame 'em, either. However, Springfield Armory has taken care of that for you by providing a polymer holster and double mag pouch for you in the carry case.
In three shooting sessions with the XDs, I managed to put slightly more than 400 rounds down range, with not a hint of a problem. I will say though, that in my last shooting session, I restricted myself to mostly Winchester's USA white box 230-gr FMJ ammo. I didn't want to burn-up all my JHP ammo. I did fire more than enough rounds of JHP ammo, to ensure the XDs wouldn't choke on these rounds. And, you should always put enough rounds through you gun, of the particular brand and type of ammo, that you are going to carry for self-defense, to make sure the gun will function 100% of the time with that ammo.
So, what was my overall impressions of the new XDs? Well, as I stated at the start of this article, the gun was actually more that I thought it would be. I really liked the way it felt in the hand. I like the look of the gun, too - just imagine you are a bad guy, looking down the business end of this little gun - all you are seeing is that great big ol' .45 caliber hole in the end of the barrel. I loved the sights on the XDs, too - they were fast to pick-up, even for my aged eyes. The safety system - what's not to like - they are all passive, you simply have to hold the gun in a proper shooting hold, and all the safeties take care of themselves - nothing to think about.
I could get 2-3/4 of my fingers around the grip when firing - and this was more than enough for a sure grip on the gun. However, I'm sure Pearce Grip will come out with one of their dandy magazine floor plates, that will allow all three fingers to get a purchase on the frame of the gun. I don't need to add an extra round - like some of the Pearce Grip adaptors allow - like on the Glocks. But I'd like just an itty-bitty more to hold onto when I grip the XDs. My wife shot the XDs and the smile on her face said it all - I had to beg for a second sample for her - which she will pay for, out of her own pocket.
One thing I don't like seeing is, some gun dealers are selling the XDs for more than retail right now. (I see the guns on Gun Broker for more than retail.) And, I think this is shameless if you ask me. They are taking advantage of people who want this gun right now, instead of waiting a month or so, for supply to catch-up with demand. I believe that if your local gun shop is doing this that you should take your business someplace else. If they are willing to take advantage of you in this respect, they will take advantage of you some place else in their business dealings.
Full retail on the XDs, all black model is $599 and even at that price, this is a great bargain, for so much gun. If you carry concealed, and want big-bore power, the XDs might be just what you're looking for.
I don't usually make predictions, however, I dare say that, Springfield Armory will sell tens of thousands of the XDs - if not hundreds of thousands of these dandy little guns. The price point is right where it should be, and the quality is there, too. You could buy a lot less gun, for a lot more money - but why? Check out the new XDs at your local dealer - I think you're gonna really like it - I know it was more than I was expecting. Make sure to visit the Springfield Armory web site, for full details and photos of the XDs - you're gonna agree, that this little gun has a lot going for it.