By Dick Jones, Gun Digest
One way I make my money is in teaching the North Carolina Concealed Carry certification course. I enjoy teaching the classes, and I’m overjoyed that so many people who take my classes are new gun owners.
These folks see the value of firearms ownership as a way to take a proactive part in defending themselves against crime. They are refreshing to teach because their minds are open and they’re willing to accept new methods and equipment.
There’s a whole generation of new pistols for concealed carry, and I’m impressed with the thought and engineering that’s gone into many of them. Recently, I assisted in a test of four .45 ACP single-stack concealed carry semi-autos. I was impressed with the XDs then and when I got a chance to test one myself more extensively, I jumped on the opportunity.
Springfield Armory’s line of XD pistols has been a smashing success. The features of these striker fired guns make them unique in that they are ambidextrous and feature a grip safety, a valuable asset in a striker fired gun that allows a lighter, shorter stroke trigger with a similar or greater level of safety.
Living Up to Its Reputation
I used a Springfield XDs 5.25 in last year’s Bianchi Cup. My choice was based on the XDs’ reputation for accuracy and reliability so when my editor suggested shooting production class, the 5.25 was an easy choice.
Made in Croatia and parented by the first Croatian pistol manufactured, the PHP, the XD series of pistols have become viable contenders for the civilian as well as police and military markets. My XDm has yet to malfunction through thousands of rounds.
Like other XD series guns, the XDs is well finished for a utility gun. The controls are similarly placed with the takedown lever and slide release on the left side and an ambidextrous magazine release. The sights are really good with a driftable two-dot rear and a hi-vis front. The trigger is indistinguishable in pull from the larger XD pistols, which is to say it is very good. There is a fairly short initial travel and a distinct second stage that breaks consistently and cleanly.
The standard magazine holds five rounds and there’s an available extended seven round magazine. While the seven round magazine is handy for range use, it increases the profile of the gun considerably. With one in the chamber, 6 rounds is reasonable in a concealed carry handgun. If you can’t do it with six, you should practice more.
Striker fired, with no manual safety, the XDs relies on a blade in the trigger and a grip safety to prevent accidental discharge. Carrying a round in the chamber is, in my opinion, a prerequisite for using a semi-auto for concealed carry and with a holster that protects the trigger, I’d feel perfectly safe carrying this gun with a round chambered.
At 21.5 ounces, the XDs is not a lightweight. With a loaded magazine, it approaches the empty weight of some service level pistols. While it occupies about the same profile as a J frame S&W, it weighs more empty and considerably more loaded.
What this pistol has going for it is that it’s a .45. It is thinner in profile than a small revolver and it carries a lot more punch. That punch also translates itself into recoil. In a recent range session where I fired 300 rounds with the XDs and a couple of other compact .45s, I managed to escape without having a sore hand the next day, but this is not a gun for the fainthearted.
On the Range
Operation of the XDs is both simple and convenient. The magazine is fairly easy to load, the slide operates well and may be easier to manipulate than some of the larger XD series guns with slides that taper towards the top. The controls are where they should be, making the gun easy to adapt to. With a good trigger and good sights, I expected it to perform well, and I wasn’t disappointed.
I don’t bench test carry guns because the short sight radius makes it difficult. My test is to determine reasonable accuracy for the purpose for which the gun is intended. At 10 yards, two hands, with a magazine change, I managed a 2.5 inch, 10-shot group that was centered in the target. Recoil recovery is slower than larger or less powerful guns, but it was reasonable and the good sights and trigger aided greatly. I fired this with the five-shot magazines because I see the seven shot magazine as too large for every day concealment.
Overall, this is a very good concealment gun for those who feel the need for serious power. It’s larger and considerably heavier than the gun I carry every day, but every aspect of concealed carry firearms choice is a tradeoff between effectiveness and concealability.
This gun is as powerful as any concealed carry gun needs to be. It’s also extremely reliable and accurate. It’s also quite safe to carry in normal carry situations. It’s not a gun for those who have problems dealing with recoil. Once loaded, it’s heavier than I’d want to carry every day, but you simply can’t argue with a gun this small with this kind of power and accuracy.
Springfield Armory XDs
Caliber: .45 ACP
Capacity: 5 + 1, and 7 + 1 with the extended magazine
Magazines: Two aluminum five round furnished with the gun.
Barrel: 3.3 inches
Sights: Steel Dovetail rear, drift adjustable with white dots, front fiber optic.
Slide: Forged Steel
Weight: 21.5 oz.
Options: Seven round extended magazine
Suggested Retail Price: $689