Like its “big brother,” the XD-S 45, Springfield Armory’s 9mm XD-S 9 makes a first impression. The model I received for review wasn’t a striking two tone (like the .45 model I reviewed previously), but the all-black pistol has a sleek, but rugged, aesthetic. Even the neat black case looks like something M would slide across his desk toward 007. Having previously reviewed its .45 predecessor, I had some expectations of the XD-S 9 when I first brought it to the range. It exceeded them.
Both XD-S models feature Springfield’s aggressive “all terrain” grip texture on the grip face, as well as on the front and rear straps. Incidentally, the backstrap of the XD-S is interchangeable (one size comes mounted on the gun with the other size in the case). The limited real estate of the pistol lends to categorizing it as a sub compact pistol. As anticipated of most pistols of this class, the grip is less than full size. When grasped, this reviewer’s pinky extends somewhat over the bottom edge of the grip. So, anyone with burly man hands will likely want to consider picking up the extended mags that Springfield will offer for this pistol. In addition to extending the grip size by about an inch, it also increases the XD-S 9’s capacity to 9+1 (beyond its standard 7+1 rounds of 9×19). As with Springfield’s other pistols in the XD line, the XD-S 9 features a grip safety that must be depressed in order to depress the trigger and fire the gun.
The Springfield XD-S 9’s streamlined slide features rollmarked engraving, denoting its model name and the length of the barrel it houses: 3.3in. On the top of the slide lies the loaded chamber indicator. When a round is present and ready to fire, the indicator visibly protrudes from the slide. On the sides, close to the rear of the slide are the XD-S’s cocking serrations. What is unique about them is in how they extend from the slide face on to the top of the slide, but are also rounded. This element provides a surface with strong traction for racking the slide while minimizing surfaces on the slide that can snag during draw from concealment. Continuing the concealed carry design implements, the Springfield XD-S 9 is topped with dovetailed low profile three dot sights. The rear sights are white dots while the front sight is fiber optic. The front sight in place from the factory is a bright red/orange color, but there are fiber optic replacements in the case in both red/orange and fluorescent yellow/green. There are no tritium “night sight” elements on the XD-S, but the front sight is still fairly easy to track in low light conditions. However, a concealed carrier may wish to also mount a light or laser on the XD-S 9’s frame integrated Picatinny accessory rail for additional aim assistance. The slide is completed with a Melonite finish (the barrel has a Melonite coating as well).
In addition to the features covered above, the Springfield XD-S 9 also has an ambidextrous magazine release (it is both functional from the left and right sides of the firearm without alteration). For those who shoot with a finger extended on the outer edge of the trigger guard, the outside edge of the front of the trigger guard is checkered.
Comparison – .45 vs. 9mm
When comparing two monotone XD-S pistols, the .45 and 9mm models seem identical. After all, their both 6.3in long, 4.4in tall, and 1in wide, feature the same aggressively checkered grip. They also both feature 3.3″ barrels. However, a closer inspection reveals the rollmarked engraving on the slide, declaring each pistol’s caliber. And, although I expected the XD-S 45 to be somewhat weightier than the XD-S 9, the new nine measures about an ounce lighter (the unloaded XD-S 45 with mag inserted weighed in at 21.7oz, but my scale read 22.5oz with the unloaded XD-S 9 with mag). That weight difference may have something to do with the addition of two ribs inside the XD-S 9mm’s magazine well (which allows the frame of the .45 to accommodate the smaller 9mm round). Although, once fully loaded, the weight of each is nearly the same (when weighed with 7+1 rounds of 115gr Hornady XTP rounds, the XD-S 9 measured 25.7oz. When the Springfield XD-S 45 was weighed with 5+1 rounds of 200gr Hornady XTP, it measured 25.6oz).
The biggest difference between the Springfield XD-S 9 and XD-S 45 is in how they handle at the range. It isn’t surprising that the XD-S 9 has less kick than its .45 counterpart. What is surprising is just how much less the perceived recoil is. The XD-S 45 is a small handgun that packs a punch, in the figurative sense of what it would deliver an attacker, as well as in the kick it directs back into the shooter’s arm while firing. Another subcompact with a notable recoil experience is the Beretta Nano. The Nano (unloaded with empty mag seated) weighs 20.0oz with a 3.07in barrel. The size differences between it and the XD-S 9 are slight (5.63in long, 4.17in tall, .90in wide), but difference in felt recoil is considerable. The Nano is a snappy little thing, but I’ve come to expect that from lightweight subcompact polymer framed concealed carry pistols; however, that is not the experience with the XD-S 9. While rapidly expending rounds, shooting as quickly as I could, the muzzle rise was detectable as a minor wobble instead of the more pronounced jump that the Nano’s shooting experience offers. My accuracy and shot groupings with the new pocket XD reflected an improved ability to manage recoil. And, after burning through a couple hundred rounds, my palm did not bear the red tattoo that the Springfield XD-S 45 caused after firing the same round count.
One feature the two XD-S models share at the range is their reliability. While thus far, I have only shot about 600 rounds (mostly Armscor jacketed hollowpoints, Federal FMJ ammo, and some flat nosed lead reloads) through the Springfield XD-S 9, I have yet to have any errors with feeding, ejection, or any other malfunctions. Pull the trigger… bang – every time.
Another identical feature of the XD-S 9 and 45 is its short resetting trigger. Neither model possesses an external frame or slide mounted safety, but they do have a long trigger pull. The pull is nothing to write home about, but nor is it so uneven or heavy as to detract from being able to shoot well. Both the Springfield XD-S 45 and XD-S 9 have 6lb 12oz pulls. The first shot has a light initial takeup, and then a heavier pull til it breaks nearly at the rearmost extent of the trigger guard. Any subsequent shots reset back to what would be the halfway point of the first trigger pull’s travel.
Both the resetting trigger and the hi vis front sight contribute to maintaining small group sizes. The bright color of the front sight is easier to track between shots while the shorter trigger pull required to fire rounds after the first pull help to keep the pistol aligned during fire. However, as mentioned previously, the XD-S 9’s lesser kick lends itself to improved recoil management, and therefore improved accuracy and precision with less effort than does the punchy XD-S 45. That isn’t to say that it is impossible to achieve the same degree of accuracy and precision with the larger caliber model, only that it takes more physical effort.
Due to this pistol’s small footprint, slight weight, and snag-free body, I would predominately consider the Springfield XD-S 9 for concealed carry. However, its ease of operation and recoil management recommend it for additional range use and training. Up to this point, I’ve generally brought my Beretta M9 to training events. However, after discovering what a solid performer the XD-S 9 is, I’d consider bringing it (and a few extra mags) instead. It’s more effective compromise between a practical [concealed carry] pistol and a handgun that I can still operate quickly and effectively.
The size and design of the XD-S 9 seem to reflect considerations for concealed carry. It is small, slim, and easy to control. As a single stack, it offers the benefit of a slim profile that is easily concealable, but concedes the additional capacity that wider double stack pistols possess. However, the smaller cartridge allows the XD-S 9 to tote an additional pair of rounds than what is capable with the XD-S 45. The Springfield XD-S 9 presents a new lightweight pocket pistol that can hold its own against other 9mm polymer-framed single stacks already on the concealed carry market, such as the Beretta Nano, Kahr CM9, or S&W M&P Shield. Aside from its CCW potential, the Springfield XD-S 9 makes a fun, reliable little hole puncher at the range that looks as good as it shoots.
Caliber: 9×19 Parabellum
Weight: 22.4oz (unloaded)
Frame material: polymer
Slide material: forged steel
Barrel length: 3.3in.
Overall length: 6.3in.
Overall height: 4.4in.
Note: At the time of this article, Springfield has not announced when the XD-S 9 will release, or what the MSRP will be when it does. Although, at SHOT, the Springfield expressed the goal of releasing it later this year (hopefully with a MSRP not far off from that of the XD-S 45 models).