Springfield Armory’s XD-S .45 is a bad ass carry gun in a sleek, small package. The XD-S packs 6 rounds of .45ACP into a 21.5 oz firearm. With dimensions smaller than the Kahr CW45, Glock 36, Kimber Ultra Carry 1911s, and Para Carry Safe 1911s, it is one of the most miniscule .45 on the conceal carry market. While this fine .45 is tiny, the kick pushes straight back, allowing for excellent recoil control with only a 3.3″ barrel. Easy to hide, easy to shoot, with a lot of bang for your buck, the XD-S has made a smashing entrance into the CCW market.
While the XD-S is an addition to Springfield’s already well-established XD line of pistols, the XD-S has several features that distinguish it from its polymer predecessors. This lightweight single stack .45 has several features that contribute to grip ergonomics, including: a narrow polymer frame (1″ thick), generous checkering integrated into the grip, and interchangeable (checkered) backstraps. The pistol measures 4.4″ in height and 6.3″ in length. Between the slender grip and modest dimensions, it is smaller than the Austrian single stack .45, the Glock 36, which measures 4.7″ tall, and 6.8″ long at 1,1″ wide. The two petite pistols are similar in heft, with the XD-S weighing in just .4oz heavier than the 21.1oz Glock.
Looks aren’t everything… in fact, they’re nothing when the pistol in question is designed to be concealed. But a little pretty never hurt, and the XD-S has just that. The bi-tone’s stainless slide lends the pistol a classy vibe, while melonite-finished monotone gives the XD-S a more “tactical” appearance. The smooth contours and textured grip make the pistol look efficient and purpose built without feeling boxy or uncomfortable. The slide is smooth overall (all the edges are beveled), but features cocking serrations that continue onto the top surface of the slide. Also on the top surface of the slide is the XD-S’s loaded chamber indicator. The short slide (6.8″) houses an even shorter barrel (3.3″). On both models, the barrel is treated with the melonite finish.
Some of the design elements that contribute to the carry ergonomics of the XD-S are safety features. For example, the grip and inline trigger safeties help to prevent negligent discharges by ensuring that the shooter has a firm grip on the pistol and must depress the trigger in order to fire a round. The grip safety has a component that presses on the sear, so while the safety is engaged (meaning, the grip is not being depressed), the sear cannot drop and release the striker. The trigger has a bar extension that connects with the locking block. When the trigger is pressed, the trigger bar rises, allowing the striker to move as the trigger is pulled the rest of the way. Additionally, neither of these safety mechanisms are obtrusive or in any way detract from the ability to carry the XD-S concealed.
Other features that contribute to the design of the XD-S for use as a CCW pistol are the single-position Picatinny rail, snag-free controls (including slide release, slide stop, disassembly lever, and ambidextrous mag release). The Springfield XD-S also includes low profile fixed sights, with dovetailed two dot rear sight and fiber optic front sight.
This small Springfield is a lightweight at 21.5oz. And with only 3.3″ of barrel for the large .45 caliber bullet to traverse before it exits the muzzle, it is not surprising that the XD-S has some fairly stout recoil. What was somewhat unexpected, however, was how little it detracted from being able to keep the rounds on target. The force of recoil back into the shooter is more pronounced than the muzzle flip that pops the front sight momentarily off target. So, while the XD-S has some kick, it is easily managed with a firm grip. In keeping with the grip options of the XD(M) pistols, the XD-S’s interchangeable backstraps allow for the pistol to accommodate a wider range of hand sizes; however, the grip only allows for two fingers. Fortunately, Springfield also sells extended magazines for the XD-S with two sizes of baseplates. These extended mags have the added benefit of increasing the capacity from 5+1 up to 7+1. The grip texture helps the shooter hang on to the XD-S during fire. Springfield has taken the enhanced texture from the XD(M) series pistols, and made it more pronounced for the small XD-S. While the raised square nubs help keep a firm grip, even with moist palms, they have the unfortunate side effect of creating distinct impressions on the shooters palms after a box or two of ammo.
The trigger pull of the XD-S is heavier than the famously light Glock trigger, but lighter than the long heavy pull of the Beretta Nano. It has a relatively short takeup with a distinct break. Due to the striker firing mechanism, it doesn’t compete with the clean crisp snap for which 1911 triggers are known, but neither is it mushy or unpredictable. The short resetting trigger aids in keeping groupings tight. The high visibility sights (bright red-orange fiber optic front sight, and white dots steel dovetail rear sights) are easy to track in most lighting conditions. But, in low light/dark environments, they are more difficult to pick up. At the time of this review, Springfield custom shop offers a few sets of night sights that fit the XD-S including, original Trijicon night sights ($129) and Heine ledge sights (also $129). The Trijicon HD sights for SIG pistols ($150) also fit the XD-S. In addition to sights options, the XD-S’s single position Picatinny rail allows for the attachment of laser or light aim assistance pistol accessories.
With the ammo tested for this review (see chart below), the XD-S fired without error. This reviewer had only one issue with the handgun: after a couple boxes of ammo, the XD-S left a distinct red imprint of the grip checkering on her palm. Shooting with gloves, or simply having rougher hands than this 23-year-old college student, would likely prevent this issue, however. As a short-barreled handgun, this firearm does not have the same accuracy that many of its full-size counterparts boast. However, within self-defense range (between 5-10yds), it is not a difficult task to keep groupings within the 9 or 10 ring.
[Brand (bullet type) – bullet weight, muzzle velocity, #of rounds fired]
PMC Bronze (FMJ) – 240gr, 830fps, 400rds
Federal (FMJ) – 230gr, 830fps, 400rds
What is the best conceal carry pistol? Between balancing ease of concealment (size and weight), capacity, and caliber, there is no one solution that satisfies all individuals looking to carry in all situations. For example, a pistol that offers a high round count sacrifices ease of concealment because it must be larger to accommodate more ammunition. Whereas, smaller pistols, namely single stacks like the Beretta Nano and Kahr CM9 (9mm “pocket” guns) concede more ammo in exchange for less real estate. The Nano, CM9 and XD-S are each only an inch, or less (the Beretta and Kahr are each only .9″ thick), with comparably small dimensions. (The XD-S is a bit larger than the mentioned 9mms with a height of 4.4″ and length of 6.3″. The Nano measures 4.2″ tall by 5.6″ long, and the CM9 4.0″x5.4″.) Unfortunately for those who value higher cap over narrower frame, they also feature similar limitations in capacity (XD-S: 5+1 rds of .45ACP, Nano: 6+1 rds of 9mm Luger, CM9: 6+1 rds of 9mm Luger). Another point of contention inherent in Springfield’s compact pistol is the lack of grip surface. The meager frame does not allow for a full size (3 finger) grip, which would allow for increased stability. And while SA sells extended magazines at $40, they must be purchased separately. Should you decide to fork over the extra cash, you’ll also increase the XD-S’s capacity from 5+1 up to 7+1. That boost brings it into the realm of capacity of some full-size 1911s, but still falls short of its full sized XD brethren round count (13+1). The 4″ compact XD45 surpasses the XD-S’s cap at 10+1, and the earlier mentioned Glock 36 carries 6+1 standard. On the other hand, none of those other .45 auto handgun options are as easy to conceal as the notably lighter, smaller, XD-S.
Springfield has produced another handgun that adds to the XD line’s established solid reputation. The XD-S lies on the end of the CCW spectrum that favors ease of concealment and light weight over increased capacity, and larger bulk. Its streamlined design is well suited for carry, namely the snag-free sights, inline safety components, and small footprint. Despite the diminutive dimensions, the XD-S is still controllable. The effect of recoil, large hi-vis sights, and short resetting trigger contribute to quick target acquisition between shots. The grip only allows for two fingers, but the lack of purchase for the pinky doesn’t directly equate to an inability to aim steadily. For a polymer frame .45 comparable in size to some 9mm pocket pistols, it offers a larger cartridge without sacrificing the ability to easily conceal. In the continually expanding market for sub-compact polymer pistols, Springfield Armory continues to distinguish itself with the XD-S, delivering CCW pistol-seekers a powerful handgun in a discreet size.
Caliber: .45 ACP
Weight: 21.5oz (unloaded)
Frame material: Polymer
Slide material: Forged steel
Barrel length: 3.3in
Overall length: 6.3in
Overall height: 4.4in
MSRP: $599 – all black, $669 – two-tone