Concealed Carry & Home Defense

Gun Test: Springfield Armory XD-S 9mm 4.0

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By Jay Grazio, Shooting Illustrated

Springfield Armory introduced the groundbreaking XD-S in .45 ACP at the 2012 SHOT Show. Realizing the diminutive—but full-power—semi-automatic was a hit, the company introduced a 9 mm version at the NRA Annual Meetings in Houston in 2013. Not content to rest on the success of the two pistols, Springfield rolled out the XD-S with a slightly longer barrel at the SHOT Show this past January.

“A lot of people asked us for an option that would allow for a longer sight radius, and people always want something easier to shoot,” explained Springfield Armory Advertising Coordinator Chad Dyer. He continued, “What we came up with is a solution that doesn’t affect most carry styles, but makes it more comfortable to shoot.” 

An extra .7 inch might not seem like much of a difference, but when Springfield Armory visited NRA headquarters earlier this year, it brought along three XD-S models (3.3-inch barrels in 9 mm and .45 ACP, and a 4-inch barrel in 9 mm). Putting the two 9 mm versions through a rapid-fire test at 10 yards, the difference in accuracy was striking—while the 3.3-inch version kept all 14 rounds (two magazines) inside a fist-size area, the 4-inch version accomplished a tighter group by half.

This extra barrel length has minimal impact on how the XD-S carries. Even when carried outside of the waistband, the additional .7 inches isn’t going to be the final straw that prevents the pistol from full concealment. Assuming a company produces a pocket holster for the 4-inch-barrel XD-S, it should still be possible to carry the small semi-auto in most pockets. It will certainly work with any number of inside-the-waistband holsters, as the change in barrel length should pass unnoticed by the concealed carrier.

When Springfield Armory introduced the 9 mm version of the XD-S last year, one of the selling points was it was designed specifically to fit the same holsters as the .45 ACP offering. The longer barrel is obviously not a concern with open holsters, especially since the Melonite finish is impervious to corrosion and stronger than chrome when it comes to wear resistance. Holster manufacturers like CrossBreed offer a wide variety of inside- and outside-the-waistband models for the XD-S.

Springfield Armory, XD, XD-S, 9 mm

Safety is promoted through a 1911-esque grip mechanism, and an extended magazine (included) brings capacity to 9 rounds.

A common concern arises from the grip safety, with a certain contingent worried that, under the stress of a defensive use, the safety might not be fully engaged. At no point in testing were there any failures of any type, between charging the pistol, firing or ejecting spent cartridges. The grip safety proved no harder to engage than the safety on the trigger, providing multiple assurances against unintended discharges.

Springfield ships the XD-S with an impressive amount of gear. In the molded plastic case with the pistol comes a polymer holster, a polymer double magazine holder, a lock and two different backstraps that can be installed on the firearm. The X-tension 9-round magazine also has a second baseplate to accommodate the different backstrap sizes, so the firearm can be fit to the shooter’s hand, even when the extended magazine is employed. Add to the standard features a single-position accessory rail and a fiber-optic front sight, and the XD-S is well accessorized right out of the box.

For a small handgun chambered in a major caliber, the XD-S proved easy to shoot. The trigger pull, while heavier than the claimed 7.7 pounds, was even and featured a short reset, a welcome component on a defensive pistol. Accuracy was excellent, with groups that could be covered by a closed hand achieved at 25 yards. Targets engaged at more conversational distances were easy to acquire with the red fiber-optic front sight, and accuracy even under rapid fire was superlative. The weight difference between the 3.3-inch barrel and the 4-inch barrel is only 2 ounces, but in a small handgun, that extra weight can help reduce the time between shots and bring recoil to more manageable levels.

The only downside encountered centered on the high hold on the grip leading to abrasion on the shooting-hand thumb. One hang-up with the Hornady XTP ammunition was discovered the first time the ammo was chambered in the XD-S, but this was not repeated with subsequent rounds from the same box or with other tested loads. American Eagle FMJ ammunition, surprisingly, gave the best accuracy results, although all three brands were extremely close in both velocity and group size.

Springfield Armory, XD, XD-S, 9 mm

An accessory rail allows instant attachment of a laser sight, weaponlight or other accessory item.

It’s difficult to imagine how Springfield could have improved on the original XD-S. The small size presented a near-ideal handgun for concealed-carry, and changing the equation by adding more length and weight out at the end was a gamble under the best of circumstances. Whether the longer barrel adds enough to the overall design in the form of increased shootability and accuracy to offset the additional weight and length is a matter of preference to the individual shooter. In any case, the XD-S 9 mm comes well-equipped and is a solid performer no matter which barrel length you prefer.


ManufacturerSpringfield Armory; (309) 944-5631
Action Type: Recoil-operated, semi-automatic
Caliber: 9 mm
Capacity: 7 rounds
Frame Material: Polymer
Slide Length: 7 inches
Barrel Length: 4 inches
Rifling: 6 grooves; 1:10-inch RH twist
Sights: White dot rear, fiber-optic front
Trigger Pull Weight: 8 pounds, 10.5 ounces
Length: 7 inches
Width: 1 inch
Height: 4.4 inches
Weight: 25 ounces
Accessories: 7-round magazine, 9-round extended magazine, extra backstraps, magazine holder, holster, hard case, lock
MSRP: $669


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Shooting Results

Load Velocity Group size
Smallest Largest Average
American Eagle 115-grain FMJ 1,182 2.01 4.4 3.31
Hornady 124-grain XTP 1,130 3.26 5.34 3.99
Remington 124-grain Golden Sabre JHP 1,188 1.88 4.87 3.36

Velocity measured in fps at the muzzle for 10 consecutive shots with an Oehler Model 36 chronograph. Temperature: 66 degrees Fahrenheit. Accuracy measured in inches for five consecutive, five-shot groups at 25 yards from a benchrest.

NRA American Rifleman