Springfield's Gets little
January 03, 2011
Springfield's line of X-treme-Duty polymer-frame auto pistols has been extended to include five-inch-barreled versions, ported models, and a brand-new
three-inch Sub-Compact pistol.
Guns were going off. People were yelling. Dust clotted the air, and hot, empty cartridge hulls were raining down. Was it a border gunfight? Nope. It was just another day at Raahuage's Norco, California, gun range with the folks from Springfield, Dept. ST, 420 W. Main St., Geneseo, IL 61254; www.springfieldarmory.com.
Last fall, a group of gun writers gathered at Raahuage's to examine and shoot most of the Springfield stable of new guns and to look over the range that was set up for the Springfield/PMC XD "X-treme Duty" Skills Challenge. The course of fire was designed by the Shooting Sports Alliance and consisted of five stages of fire on more than 100 steel reactive targets. As a preview of the match, gun writers were invited to run the course, shooting various versions of Springfield's popular XD pistols. We also enjoyed a visit with Rob Leatham, Springfield's shooting pro. Watching Rob clean the steel plates with his XD Tactical pistol was impressive. And it was good to discover that Rob is a great guy, just as personable as he is skillful.
The XD Sub-Compact's three-inch barrel makes it truly compact, yet it's very manageable for the shooter. Note the light rail for mounting a tactical light.
Some time back (Shooting Times, May 2002) I tested the four-inch XD pistol in 9mm. Since then, I've had a chance to examine and shoot the five-inch Tactical Model and the brand-new three-inch Sub-Compact. And I have to tell you that I am impressed with this growing family of XD pistols.
Springfield's XD pistols are of striker-fire design. They also incorporate a USA Action Trigger Safety that must be depressed before the pistol can be fired. In addition, they all have an internal firing pin safety that prevents firing in case the pistol is dropped. Most importantly, the XD pistols also have a grip safety. This grip safety must be fully depressed before the pistol can be fired. The grip safety also must be depressed before the slide is activated.
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One problem with other striker-fired pistols is the danger of taking the slide out of battery during the act of holstering the pistol. When it comes time to fire that all-important first defensive shot, these pistols will not fire if the slide is not all the way forward. Springfield's XD pistols solve that with their grip safety. When the shooter is holstering his XD pistol, he simply does not depress the grip safety, and therefore it cannot come out of battery.
The Springfield XD's frame is made from a proprietary polymer that has been proven to be a tough, durable, lightweight material. Certain parts--the slide stop and slide rails, for example--are manufactured of heat-treated steel and incorporated into the polymer frame.
The review Tactical pistol in .40 S&W preferred Winchester's 165-grain SXT load, which produced 25-yard groups of 2 1/4 inches.
Springfield has gone to a good deal of trouble to design the polymer grip frame so that it accommodates even small hands. The upper portion of the grip is thin and tapered for a comfortable fit while the backstrap has a slight arch to it, much like the arched mainspring housing on a 1911. The ergonomic design of the XD pistol ensures that the grip safety can be easily, and positively, depressed. It also allows quick access to the ambidextrous magazine release buttons that are located in the frame behind, and on either side of, the trigger. All XD pistols are available with steel combat sights of the popular three-dot system. And in the very near future, Springfield will offer particular models of the XD with tritium night sights. While running the Springfield/PMC steel course, I found the combat sights very quick to get on target. At the close ranges that we were shooting, it was a simple matter of following the old adage, "Front sight, press. Front sight, press."
All models of the XD family have oversized, heat-treated slide rails. Slides are fully machined, forged, and heat-treated. And they utilize a captive, dual-recoil spring guide assembly with a steel guide rod.
Another interesting feature of the XD family is that they all have light rails on the front of the pistol frame. These light rails will accommodate many pistol accessories, such as a conventional light or laser light. Springfield has joined forces with InSight Technologies to produce the Springfield MTV whitelight, a very small yet effective light that can be attached to all of the XD pistols, even the short three-inch pistol. This little light uses lithium batteries, dual activating switches, and a very positive locking system. For those who like to have a light fastened to their pistol, or want that option when needed, this is an item that is worthy of consideration.
The four-inch-barreled XD Service gave good service pistol accuracy and produced five-shot 25-yard groups measuring between 2.5 and 4.0 inches.
Every Springfield XD pistol has front and rear cocking serrations so that the shooter can make use of the ch
arging technique he is most familiar with. In addition, all steel parts are coated with a proprietary Bruniral finish, a matte-black coating that seems to wear very well. And while this is the standard finish for the XDs, Springfield also offers the same pistols in an OD green finish. The XD Tactical pistol features a five-inch barrel and is available in .40 S&W and .357 SIG calibers. The five-inch barrel gives a 6.1-inch sight radius and an overall length of eight inches. In either caliber, the magazine holds 10 rounds, but 12-round magazines are available to law enforcement and military. The weight of the XD Tactical is only 31 ounces, but this does not create a problem with recoil. At Raahuage's gun range I fired the Tactical in both calibers and found the recoil quite manageable.
Comfortable & Accurate Shooters
Following the shooting seminar, Springfield sent me a Tactical in .40 S&W for further evaluation. Home in West Texas, I tested the pistol using ammunition from Aguila, Cor-Bon, Pro-Load, Remington, and Winchester. Cor-Bon's popular Pow'R'Ball ammo features a 135-grain bullet that averaged 1362 fps out of my five-inch Tactical. Aguila's offering also featured a special 95-grain frangible bullet and averaged 1485 fps. All of the .40 S&W ammo gave good accuracy, but the Winchester 165-grain SXT loading topped the list. It had an average velocity of 1110 fps and 25-yard group sizes averaged 21/4 inches.
The Sub-Compact was pleasant to shoot. It was quick to get on target and does not sacrifice effectiveness for a small size.
The XD Service Model has a four-inch barrel. It is available in 9mm, .40 S&W, and .357 SIG. Its sight radius is 5.9 inches and has an overall length of seven inches. The grip length is the full size, the same as the XD Tactical Model. This four-inch XD weighs 25 to 27 ounces, depending upon the caliber selected. And it also has a 10-round magazine capacity; 15-round magazines in 9mm and 12-round magazines in .40 S&W and .357 SIG are available to law enforcement and military.
My review of the XD Service Model was done with a 9mm pistol using ammunition from CCI, Hornady, Pro-Load, Winchester, Federal, and Aguila. Velocity averages ran from 1294 fps using the Cor-Bon 125-grain JHP load to 1024 fps with the Hornady 147-grain JHP ammo. The best group sizes were 2 1/2 inches and were obtained with the Aguila 124-grain FMJ ammo and the Federal 124-grain Hydra-Shok load. Again, I found this four-inch XD a pleasure to shoot. I liked the fact that it had a full-size grip frame that gave a comfortable grip and with room for all of my fingers.
Rob Leatham (L), Springfield's shooting pro, put the new XDs through a rigorous workout.
The newest addition to the XD family is the XD Sub-Compact. The Sub-Compact has a three-inch barrel, a 4.1-inch sight radius, and an overall length of 6.26 inches. In 9mm, it weighs 20.5 ounces.
The Sub-Compact maintains the 10-round magazine capacity, but its grip is much shorter than the previous two XD pistols. This, of course, is to allow better concealment. And I have to say that the short grip does not have a negative effect on recoil control and handling. Like the rest of the XD family, the Sub-Compact has a light rail on the forward end of the pistol's frame for mounting a tactical light. (A fact Springfield notes: "The shortest carry pistol in the world features the only light rail in its class.")
Currently, the XD Sub-Compact is only available in 9mm. However, after visiting with the staff of Springfield, I'm sure other calibers will soon be forthcoming. At the California shoot, I used the Sub-Compact on steel plates. My ammo was the PMC 124-grain FMJ load. This little pistol was very dynamic on the plates and did not give up any effectiveness to its small size. Like the other XD pistols, it was quick to get on target and functioned very reliably.
Here at home, I continued to test the XD Sub-Compact with a variety of loads. I used ammo from Hornady, Pro-Load, Cor-Bon, CCI, Black Hills, and Aguila. The highest velocities were obtained with Cor-Bon's 125-grain JHP load that gave an average velocity of 1204 fps. Best accuracy over the sandbags at 25 yards was obtained with the 124-grain JHP loading from Black Hills, which uses the Speer Gold Dot bullet.
The XD Sub-Compact was pleasant to shoot. Its small size makes it a natural for use as a personal-defense gun where concealment is critical. It is the newest addition to the growing family of XD pistols and a valuable one at that.
Dependable Duty Guns
I found the XD family of pistols to be very reliable. And in shooting a variety of ammunition through the guns, there was not a single malfunction. All controls were easy to access and manipulate.
I purposely didn't spend any time cleaning the guns between testing sessions because I wanted to see how the XD pistols handled when they were full of dust and powder residue. The results were extremely good and qualify the design for service use.
Occasionally, the pistols' slides would not lock back after the last shot was fired. In evaluating the situation, I found that my high-thumb hold was the culprit. The slide release is located so that my right thumb would occasionally engage it during the firing cycle. Should the shooter find that this is the case, he can simply roll his shooting thumb down, as we do when firing a DA revolver, and the trouble goes away.
For the law enforcement officer the family of XD pistols offers some excellent choices and allows him to select the pistol best suited for his job. In uniform work, the five-inch Tactical pistol is an excellent choice. Its longer barrel, longer sight radius, and slightly heavier weight are all the things that a service pistol need. The uniformed officer can also make use of the Service Model and the Sub-Compact as a backup piece or for off-duty carry.
Plain-clothes officers will find that their needs are met with the four-inch Service Model or the three-inch Sub-Compact. They have slightly less weight, shorter barrels, and, in the case of the Sub-Compact, a shorter grip length that will be an aid in concealment. Again, combinations of the XD guns will meet the investigator's needs. I can see plain-clothes officers packing a four-inch Service Model on their hip while the Sub-Compact is stashed away as a backup piece. Applying the XD family to civilian use offers the same variety of choices. The five-inch Tactical pistol, in whichever caliber you choose, makes good sense for a house gun, car gun, or competition piece. The same pistol can serve a variety of purposes and can be mated to your carry pistol so that there is no confusion when switching from one to the other.
Springfield's XD Service Mod
el gives the shooter a handgun that can be easily carried and concealed under a jacket or sweater. The Sub-Compact gives even deeper concealment and is a good choice for carrying in warm weather, when options for concealment clothing are limited.
You can expect Springfield's family of XD pistols to continue to grow. Already, it has added a four-inch ported model in .40 S&W and .357 SIG; the ports further dampen the felt recoil. After talking with Dennis Reese, a cochairman of Springfield's board, I can report that serious consideration is being given to including the .45 ACP cartridge in the XD line. And I wouldn't be surprised to find that Springfield might soon offer an even smaller version of the pistol for deep-concealment use.
Currently, the XD Tactical Pistol and the new Sub-Compact Pistol have a suggested retail price of $512. The four-inch Service Model goes for a suggested price of $489, and the four-inch ported model is priced at $512. Based upon the interesting time I've spent with Springfield's family of XD pistols, I'd have to say that's a lot of gun for the money.