Springfield XDs 9mm Mod 2 Red Dot, by Pat Cascio

In 2016, I reviewed the then-new Springfield Armory Mod 2 version of their outstanding XDs 9mm pistol – and it was, indeed, an improvement over the original version. Springfield is not a company to sit back and enjoy what they just did, they are always improving on various guns, and in many other cases, they are coming out with completely new versions and model. I like that about a company, if you sit back, you will get left in the dust by competing companies.

I’m sure many readers will remember the first Terminator movie, and the “Long slide .45 with laser sighting.” Truth be told, that laser was huge, and what you didn’t see in the movie was that the battery was actually not on the gun, instead it was on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s body, with a wire running up his jacket sleeve, from the laser. We’ve come a long way, since then! Back in 1990-1993, I worked for the late Colonel Rex Applegate, and he gave me some lasers to test for him, on various handguns. And, I just didn’t see any practical applications – they were too big. Well, as we all know, handgun mounted lasers have come a long way, and are micro in size now, and many major holsters makers are manufacturing holster to fit handguns with lasers mounted on them. So, I became a fan of handguns with lasers on them – not all handguns, but many.

The first red dot sights go back many, many years, and like laser sights they too were huge, and they weren’t practical for use on handguns. Today, there are micro or miniature red dot sights, and now they can come from the factory mounted on some handguns, and we’re talking sub-compact pistols, too. Who’d a thunk it? Crimson Trace has been a major player in the laser field for handguns, but now they have expanded into red dot sights. A red dot uses a powerful light-emitting diode (LED) that cast the dot on a “screen”  that you look through.

The Springfield Armory XDs Mod 2, 9mm is currently being offered with or without a Crimson Trace red dot sight on the slide, and we are talking a very small device – I can’t wait to see how red dot sights evolve over the next 5-to-10 years – but I’m sure they will be even smaller and possibly manufactured so they are an internal part of the gun – with just the small “screen” showing on the slide. In any event, the XDs Mod 2, 9mm – has a tiny Crimson Trace Model CTS 1500 mounted on the rear (top) of the slide and it is quite the feat of engineering. The CTS1 1500 is mounted into the rear top of the slide in a milled out area, and it sits about as low as you can possibly go (at least these days.)

The Crimson Trace CTS 1500 only adds a fraction to the weight of the gun, too. It comes with a plastic cover, so you can keep the “screen” from the elements, too. This cover fits nice and tight – unlike some other covers that would easily fall off the red dot sight. Crimson Trace says this is a “smart” red dot sight. It has no on/off button – it automatically turns itself on when the gun is moved – even a fraction of an inch, and turns itself off when not in use. Plus, it will adjust the brightness of the red dot automatically – if you are in low light, the red dot is a little dimmer, in bright sunlight, it will adjust itself so that it is brighter and easier to see. Wow!

Long Battery Life

In the not too distant past, red dot sights didn’t have a long battery life, and that was a big detractor. The CTS 1500 operates on a single button battery, a CR2032 and that is a very common battery. You might even have a spare in your pocket right now–in your car key fob. If the CTS 1500 would stay on, it has a battery life of more than two years – and that’s a good long time before you’d have to change batteries. And, that brings me to changing the battery – you have to remove the CTS 1500 from the XDs slide – because the battery is installed under the sight itself – there is no battery compartment that you can unscrew on the top of the sight itself. This isn’t really a “problem” if you ask me, because if you just mark your calendar and after every two years or so, replace the battery, before it dies on you. However, if the red dot should quit on you, you still have back-up sights on the slide on of the XDs 9mm. The front sight has a white dot, and the rear is all-black with a “U” notch in it – easily seen through the red dot screen. These batteries are very inexpensive, so stock-up on them and swap out the battery every couple of years and this won’t pose a problem.

Just a quick run down on the XDs Mod 2, 9mm is in order. For a full report on this pistol, see my my 2016 review. As already mentioned, this little powerhouse is chambered in 9mm, and it will handle all the hottest ammo you care to feed it, because of the heavy-duty dual recoil spring set-up. The barrel is only 3.3-inches long and it is a forged barrel – will last a lifetime of shooting. The slide is also forged steel, with a Melonite finish to help repel the elements. What is new over the original XDs model is the Enhanced Grip Texture on the polymer frame. It is a vast improvements over the original checking on the first model, and it is comfortable under recoil. The XDs Mod 2 only weighs in at 21.5-ounces with the 7-round magazine with the installed pinky catcher on the mag, and 22.5-ounces with the extended 9-round mag – and this gun comes with both mags – the 7-round and 9-round mag.

The extended magazine catch is full-time ambidextrous – no switching it from side-to-side – very nice. There is a Picatinny-style groove for mounting a laser or light on the gun. Many sub-compact handguns don’t offer this feature. We have a passive 1911-style grip safety on the frame, another nice touch. The trigger pull on my sample XDs Mod 2 was right at 5.5-pounds and smooth – no “hitch” in the git-along, as they say. Thie made for accurate shooting and consistent hits.

My Range Tests

I did my accuracy testing at 15 yards, because this is a sub-compact pistol, and that’s a fair distance for self-defense work. I also took some shots are targets out past 25 yards – and hit everything I was aiming at. Now, one thing you have to learn, when using a red dot sight is that you don’t close one eye when aiming – you keep BOTH EYES OPEN and you can easily see the red dot “floating” out there – just put that red dot on whatever you want to hit, and it will get the job done. This takes some re-training, from what you are used to doing, when aiming a firearm, but it is easy to learn.

Due to the ammo shortages we are facing, I didn’t have all the ammo that I usually use in my testing. So I restricted my shooting to only 200 rounds. From the folks at Black Hills Ammunition I had their 115-grain FMJ, 124-gr JHP +P, 115-gr EXP (Extra Power) HP and 124-gr JHP – some of this ammo was from my own personal stash, too. There were zero malfunctions with the XDs – every type of ammo fed and functioned without any problems. At 15 yards I could get groups at about 2 inches or a little more, with the 124-gr JHP load, all other ammo, was slightly above that – so this little powerhouse can shoot.

It is almost like “magic” the way that red dot seems to float out there and on your target – Springfield Armory’s top shooter, Rob Leatham, who also runs a shooting school, says that everyone can shoot better with a red dot sight – and I believe him. It is faster on-target, too – once you master shooting with both eyes open. This  is “the” trend right now – red dot sights on handguns, and it will surely grow and grow if you ask me – especially since prices have come way down on red dot sights, and more and more gun makers start offering their handguns with slides already contoured to accept a red dot sight. Springfield includes a poly black cover, if you remove the CTS 1500 and what to shoot the gun without it – only takes a few minutes to remove the sight and install the cover. But I don’t see any need for this – the gun works great with the red dot sight. I carried this XDs for a week in a nice hip-hugging holster from Craft Holsters and forgot I was carrying the gun. You need to check out their web site – it takes a little longer to get a holster from them – because they are made in Europe, but prices are more than fair and the quality of their holsters is simply outstanding, I find myself using their holsters more and more these days – they are that good.

So, don’t shy away from a handgun with a red dot sight on it – check one out at your dealer, if you can find one. Not only are we in an ammo drought, but a handgun drought as well – and ARs of any kind are hard to come by, too. But if you find an XDs Mod 2 9mm with the Crimson Trace red dot on it – don’t put the gun down, or the guy next to you will buy it. Full retail is $549 with the red dot on the gun, and a hundred bucks less without a red dot. But mu=y advice is to spend the extra money and get the XDs with the red dot on it!