Quite some time back, I wrote a review of the Springfield Armory XDe in 9mm. It was an outstanding little gun, all things considered. I wanted to test this particular model, because it was hammer-fired, instead of striker-fired. I had no real complaints on the XDe 9mm, other than I was wondering, why it was so “big” compared to the XDs 9mm. Okay, maybe “big” isn’t the right term, but it is bigger than the XDs models in 9mm and .45 ACP. However, I wasn’t about to second guess Springfield Armory on this. After all, the XDe is hammer-fired, and thus it had to be a little bit bigger than the striker-fired models. But still, I wondered.
I decided to take the plunge and requested an XDe in .45ACP — and it all respects, other than the caliber, it is the same exact gun as the XDe 9mm is. Not to go over too much of what I already reported on the 9mm version, I wanted to touch on some of the salient features of the XDe that sets it apart from the XDs. As already mentioned, it is hammer-fired. Many people shy away from striker-fired handguns for some reason — I don’t understand it myself. However, in the case of the XDe, there are a number of different ways you can carry this gun, once its loaded. You can insert a magazine, and chamber round, and from there you can press down on the ambidextrous thumb safety to decock the pistol and carry it that way. Or if you prefer, once decocked, you can apply the thumb safety, by pushing it up, and when you need to fire it, you simply press down on the decocker and the gun is ready to go. Personally, I don’t see the need to put the XDe in “safe” once you have decocked it. Then, as another option, you can chamber a round, and the hammer is cocked, and you can apply the safety (by pushing it upward, just like a good ol’ 1911) and carry the XDe “cocked tn locked.” This is my preferred carry mode. But of course don’t carry it cocked without the safety in the “on” position.
Moving along, we have what Springfield Armory calls “point and shoot” ergonomics, and I sure can’t find fault — this gun points naturally, when you bring it to eye-level. This gun is only I-inch wide, too, with it’s 3.3-inch barrel. Another unique feature is the L.E.S. — which stands for Low Effort Slide, and according to Springfield, this means, that the slide is much easier to retract to chamber a round. Springfield literature states that it “takes 27% less effort to chamber a round.” Of course, I had no way of measuring this, however, I will readily admit that, it is much easier to chamber a round with this pistol than similar guns. The one fear that I had was that, there would be even more anticipated recoil, with a slide that was so easy to retract to chamber a round. Such was not the case, and I’ll have more on this later.
Safe Carry Methods
Some shooters are hesitant to carry a striker-fired handgun in their purse or waistband, and I wouldn’t recommend carrying that way, unless the gun is also in a holster. You are only inviting trouble carrying a striker-fired handgun this way, without it being in a holster, since something can press against the trigger, causing a negligent discharge. So, NEVER, EVER carry any striker-fired handgun on your person or in a purse, without it also being holstered. Now, with the XDe, this isn’t a problem, once you have chambered a round and de-cocked the hammer, the gun is indeed safe to carry without a holster. However, you can also apply the safety for an added security/safety measure. Or, if carrying cocked ‘n locked, you simply apply the safety and the gun is safe to carry without being in a holster.
On top of the slide is a loaded chamber indicator, and when a round is in the chamber, this little lever sticks up a tiny bit, you can either see it, or in low light, you can feel it, to know that you have a chamber that is loaded. The 3.3-inch barrel is Melonite coated, so it isn’t reflective, and it helps protect the barrel from rust.
The grip frame is made out of black polymer and it has active grip texturing, and the way it is applied during the frame molding process is outstanding — the gum grips your hand back if you ask me, no way it is going to slip out of your hand under any weather conditions, Springfield calls this the “Grip Zone” and it sure grips your hand. The front of the trigger guard is squared, I can take or leave it, because I don’t wrap my off-hand finger around the front of the trigger guard this was popular many years ago. We have the ambi safety, that is easy to manipulate, too. The slide has a red fiber optic front sights, steel — and the rear sight has two white dots on it— and it is made out of steel — no plastic, as many gun makers put on their guns these days. There are slide serrations on either side of the rear of the slide for sure gripping when chambering a round. And, of course, we had a hammer, that is visible instead of a hidden striker.
This little .45 ACP only weighs in at 23 ounces. That is light considering that it is chambered in .45 ACP. And, here is where I was sure that between the L.E.S. and the light weight of the polymer frame, was going to be “that” recoil I was sure it was going to have. Such was not the case — not even close to what I was expecting in the recoil department. I don’t know how Springfield managed to pull this off— how can you possibly have a slide that requires 27% less effort to retract, and a gun that only weighs 23 ounces, and it not have some punishing recoil? Well, there is a captured dual recoil spring, however, that still doesn’t explain why the slide is 27% easier to retract. Hmmm???? I don’t understand it, but I’m not questioning it — it works.
I managed to get mine on a special offering — that is now concluded— with a total of five spare magazines. Unfortunately, they were all 6-round mags, I was hoping for one or two of their 7-round mags, but not complaining in the least…it also came with a holster and double mag pouch, plus the gun came in a hard case, and inside the hard case was a soft case, for easier range carry.
A word on the 6-round mags, I have hounded Springfield Armory for years and years, to supply their XDs and XDe handgun mags with a Pearce Grip, pinky catcher on the bottom of the mag, or include it with the mag, and leave it up to the user to pick which mag base they wanted to use. Well, someone listened to all my complaining about this, and two of the mags that came with the gun came with a pinky catcher on the mags, but its not a Pearce make, it is slightly smaller than those made by Pearce, but they work just as well. I had some Pearce pinky catchers at home and put them on the remaining 6-round mags. When holding the gun in your shooting hand you can’t really feel the difference between the Pearce and the Springfield pinky catcher mag bottom. They are quite close to being the same.
Seven Round Magazines
Now, as to the 7-round round extended mags, I purchased several of them, and guess what? They are only every so slightly longer than the mags with the pinky catcher on them. We are talking a mere fraction of an inch. So, I don’t see why you just can’t carry the XDe .45ACP with the extended 7-rd mags — it gives up nothing when it comes to concealing this gun — nothing! So, we are looking at a compact .45 ACP, that can take 7-round mags, just like a traditional full-sized 1911 did — although many come with 8-round mags these days, and the XDe is much smaller than a full-sized 1911, and much smaller than a Commander-sized 1911, but it still can take 7-round mags…and it is about the same size, but still smaller in many respects, than “Officer-sized” 1911s — and once again, you can have those 7-round mags in the gun, or go with the 6-round mags — your choice.
My Range Testing
From the generous folks at Black Hills Ammunition, I had the following ammo on-hand for testing in the XDe .45ACP — their famous, HoneyBadger 135-gr +P all-copper load, and this is not a hollow point, instead the bullet is cut in a way you have to see, to understand, and it is not dependent on expanding like a hollow point is, but does just as much damage if not more. This is my preferred carrying load. We also had the Black Hills 230-gr FMJ, 185-gr JHP, 230-gr JHP +P and the 185-gr Barnes +P all-copper hollow point. So, I had a great assortment of ammo to run through this gun.
I got totally addicted to shooting this gun sample and I burned through more than 500 rounds ammo. And, the best part is, the lower than anticipated recoil. The BHA 230-gr JHP +P load is a handful, even in my full-sized 1911s — it lets you know you touched off a hot round. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be in the XDe. I was totally shocked! The BHA 230-gr FMJ has always been a good round for me, for accuracy. All accuracy testing was at 25-yards, and no groups were over 3-inches — not even close.
The accuracy winner was the Honey Badger, coming in under 2.5 inches if I did my part… Wait! What? A 3.3-inch barrel .45 ACP was shooting under 3-inches at 25 yards and it could beat out one of my full-sized 1911s? Yep, you read that right. Head shots pumpkins no problem at 25 yards at all, seriously! And, on top of it all, low recoil? What is there to complain about? Other than, this sample isn’t staying in my hands. I will find a way to pay for it — later on!
Full-retail on the XDe .45ACP is $580 and if you paid that amount, you would still be getting a great gun. Check one out. If you want a 9mm, you can have it that way, too. But for my money, I’d instead look at the XDs or XDs Mod.2 in 9mm, and go with the XDe in .45 ACP.