By Mark Keefe, American Rifleman
The first gun in Springfield’s XD series with a single-stack magazine—and chambered in .45 ACP—the Springfield XD-S notched the 2013 American Rifleman Golden Bullseye Award for Handgun of the Year. The editors felt the gun’s .45 ACP chambering set the XD-S .45 apart from its contemporaries among the past year’s bumper crop of new striker-fired, polymer-frame, short, thin pistols designed for discreet carry. The size and width of the gun were similar to others, but the XD-S delivered the punch of the .45 ACP cartridge. In his article “Small Wonder: Springfield’s XD-S,” Senior Executive Editor Brian C. Sheetz hinted that “those who find its other attributes enough to recommend it will be pleased to know that Springfield has plans to produce the pistol ‘in other popular calibers.’”
We knew demand was high and were prepared to wait awhile for the next gun in the line to emerge. So imagine my surprise when Springfield Armory’s competitive shooter, Rob Leatham, handed me an XD-S in 9 mm Luger as the first gun I fired at a very chilly range day in January. Welcome to “other popular calibers.” Not only does it look identical—you’ll need to put your reading glasses on to see the subdued inscription on the slide’s left or the chambering stamped on the barrel’s rear—but its size and weight are pretty much the same.
Leatham explained “With the 9 mm, every dimension’s the same. The barrel length, the slide length, the width, the heights of everything, and the barrel’s outer diameter is the same. Of course the hole in the 9 mm is smaller, so there’s more metal in the barrel’s wall. The nine actually weighs fractionally more that the .45 does, until you load them.”
Height for the XD-S in 9 mm Luger is 4.41 inches, the frame is 0.975-inches across—with the widest point being 1.09 inches at the takedown lever—and the gun is 6.34-inches long with its 3.3-inch barrel. Even the opening for the barrel in the side’s front is within a thousandth. Outer barrel diameter is 0.862 inches for both guns, but because the bore diameter barrel thickness is 0.31 inches vs. 0.14 inches. Comparing weights of the two guns, unloaded, the .45 comes in at 21.6 ounces, while the 9 mm is 22.5 ounces—a difference of 0.9 ounces. When loaded with five 230-grain, .45 ACP cartridges, the .45 weighs 25.4 ounces, and the 9 mm with seven 124-grain cartridges weighed 25.6 ounces.
To go over the XD-S’s basic operation, it is a polymer-frame, recoil-operated, striker-fired semi-automatic pistol in which the striker is pre-cocked for most of its travel when the slide is cycled. Much of the trigger pull weight results from clearing the multiple safeties built into the design. There is no manual safety, but there is a grip safety in the backstrap that must be depressed. There is also an articulated blade safety in the front face of the trigger that must be depressed in order for the trigger to move fully rearward. There is no cocking indicator, but there is a loaded-chamber indicator to the rear of the barrel on the slide’s top; if it protrudes at its front, a round is present.
Sights are dovetailed into the front and rear of the slide, and the front is a red fiber-optic pipe, while the rear has two white dots. The front of the rear sight base is proud, allowing it to be used to retract the slide against a hard surface in an emergency.
Positioned on the frame at the rear of the trigger guard, the magazine release is bilateral. Its face angles forward slightly and is cross-hatched. Because of differences in cartridge dimensions, there are obvious dimensional differences in the magazines. The .45 ACP is 1.260-inches deep by 0.56-inches wide, while the 9 mm is 1.375-inches deep and 0.56-inches wide. If they are built on the same frame, how is it that the 9 mm magazine doesn’t wobble? Springfield molded in two tapered lugs to the inside rear face of the magazine well, spacers if you will, that take up 0.261 inches but leave plenty of room for debris to pass by them. Magazine height is the same, but the 9 mm accepts seven rounds, as opposed to five with the .45 ACP. The stainless steel magazine body has the Springfield logo on its front and witness holes on either side marked from “2” to “7” for the seven-rounder. Each gun comes with two seven-round magazines, and extended nine-round-capacity magazines are available. The latter has a collar that mates with the contour of the grip frame and, when installed, takes the gun’s overall height from 4.4 inches to 5.31 inches. Magazines are ejected with authority, although molded into the bottom of the frame and the top of the collar are recesses on both sides that give the shooter enough purchase to rip one free if necessary. In my more than 400 rounds through the gun, it wasn’t.
Next, why a 9mm when you have a .45?