Last January, during the hoopla that is SHOT Show, I got wind of a new single stack 45 ACP from Springfield Armory. Their spokesperson waxed enthusiastically about the pistol in the many YouTube videos taken during media day. I remember it being called a "game changer" for Springfield since it was designed specifically for those folks looking for a trim, slim, carry pistol chambered in 45 ACP. I was interested, but not enough to aggressively pursue tracking one down and paying "new release" top dollar price just so I could be one of the first non-industry people to review it.
Earlier this week I posted that I was graciously offered a new Springfield XDs to review. I was really looking forward to the opportunity to get the pistol out on the range after spending some time cleaning it and getting familiar with the feel and handling characteristics of the pistol.
On paper, the pistol specifications look great. I grabbed the latest specs from the Springfield Armory website so I could compare them to my own data. It's interesting that back in January the original published weight was 29 oz. This struck me as odd since it was heavier than other single stack 45 polymer pistols on the market, yet only held 5 rounds in the magazine. That error was corrected and the 21.5 oz weight now published is correct.
|CAPACITY||5 + 1 RDS|
|BARREL||MELONITE® Fully Supported Ramp|
|SIGHTS||STEEL DOVETAIL REAR
FIBER OPTIC FRONT
|MAGAZINES||2 STAINLESS STEEL SINGLE STACK|
Rather than rehash my initial observations from my Un-boxing Review Part 1, you can read that HERE.
It was a great weather day yesterday. I woke up to find that the weather had turned and the forecast called for clear skies and temperatures in the high 80's rather than the 100's we've been having for the last several weeks. The winds were also down so I was glad I wouldn't have to battle wind noise in my videos for a change. I followed my standard pistol review process and it's all in the video below. There are some key points I'd like to include here that are not covered in depth in the video.
One of the most frequently asked questions I get about a pistol is "how's the recoil?". Earlier this Summer I invested in a cheap high speed camera that allows me to provide some visual data along with my subjective answers on recoil being "not bad", "painful", or "didn't even notice". I shoot 5 aimed shots against a 2" x 2" grid board that has a 45 degree red stripe running corner to corner. I capture a frame from the 3rd shot of the string with the pistol at maximum recoil travel and call that representative of the pistol's recoil. In the picture below you can see muzzle rise is about 45 degrees, which is really good for a pistol this size that only allows 2 fingers on the grip (my pinky rolls under the magazine baseplate during firing). There is a slight radial twist to the left which you can also see in the video. This pistol is very controllable with full power 230 Grain defense loads.
I also do a velocity benchmark to see how much velocity is lost when shooting through a short barreled pistol. For the test, I used Hornady TAP 200 Grain +P with a published muzzle velocity of 1055 fps. In our test I measured 916 fps average velocity for the 5 shot string. That's 373 ft/lbs of energy. Obviously, you are going to lose some velocity in the shorter 3.3" barrel vs. a service length pistol. This may have been a bad choice for testing so I'd like to run some different loads through in the future to see if velocity drop would be less significant with other ammo choices.
I tried to keep up with a detailed round count as I worked through the review. I've got a pretty good idea on the ammo I shot.
20 Winchester White Box 230 Grain FMJ
25 Federal Bulk Pack 230 Grain FMJ
50 Sellier and Bellot 230 Grain FMJ
5 Hornady TAP FPD 200 Grain +P XTP
92 Remington Golden Saber 230 Grain BJHP
I experienced zero malfunctions of any type in testing. During the video you can see I tried as many different shooting styles as realistically possible. I also tried all 3 magazines I had on hand. The pistol responded well to anything I threw at it.
I happened to have a Crimson Trace Rail Master available so I wrapped up the range test with a laser test. It was great to see that small grouping with the laser attached. This pistol has plenty of inherent accuracy potential that's just waiting on the shooter to discover.
I knew I was going to like this pistol even before heading out to the range. It just felt really good to me. For those that follow my blog, you all know I'm a fan of small pistols. You may have even noticed a couple small 45s in my group of test pistols that I use in my ballistics testing work. I really don't NEED another small single stack 45, but I just couldn't help myself when I recapped my range test by proclaiming that "I gotta get one of these". Really, I think my mind was made up after shooting the first 10 rounds on a target. If the target below is the worst I will ever be when shooting this pistol, I can only imagine how well I will be able to shoot with it after practicing with it for several months.
As I transitioned from testing the pistol to learning how to shoot it and discovering if it would be a good carry choice for me, I set up a very basic course of fire and ran thought it several times. Rather than exclusively using range ammo for these drills, I also used full power defense loads. When the dust settled, I was really pleased to learn that I could improve my shooting accuracy with a little bit of practice with the pistol. After this part of the review was done I felt inspired that if I had my own XDs, and spent some time training with it, I would be a better shooter. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like I'll be picking one of these up anytime soon. I did see one available yesterday at an on-line seller, but it was out of stock this morning when I checked it again. If other reviewers are saying similar things about the XDs that I am, I imagine these pistols will be a hot item for quite some time.
If you would like to see the Range Test video, it's included below.
I intentionally avoid reading and watching reviews on pistols that I plan on reviewing. I like to head into a review without biases that I picked up when watching or reading the work of other reviewers. Sometimes I just can't help picking up a tid-bit or two from various forums that I read. Going into the review I basically knew nothing about the XDs other than Rob Leatham's early comments about it. "Game Changer" just stuck in my head when I remember his description and enthusiasm about the pistol. I like "game changers" because to me that means innovation and improving the status quo. This pistol does that, and does it well.
Is the XDs flawless? Nope. I did pick up on a few things that I'd like to make you folks aware of. I found it impossible to chamber a round from a full magazine by slingshotting the slide. I could only load the chamber by sling shotting if the magazine had 2 or less rounds in it. The problem is resolved by always loading the chamber by depressing the slide lock. This is SOP with some other pistol manufacturers and works great with the XDs, but be aware that you may need to change your habits to adjust to the pistol. It was also very difficult to eject a live round from the chamber with or without the magazine in place. You could do it, but the ejection port is small and even with a vigorous yank on the slide the round still wants to hang in the ejection port. This happened with the FMJ and JHPs we were working with. I say we because the pistol's owner stopped by to see how the review was going and he experienced the same things I did when slingshotting and clearing the chamber. In fairness, this may improve as the recoil springs take a set over more break in rounds. Between the two of us the pistol may have 250 total rounds through it at this point.
I found the 5 round magazines to be great for carry, but my pinky didn't have enough purchase for a full 3 finger grip. Springfield has come out with a 7 round extended magazine that provides plenty of room for all 3 fingers. I would love to see a 6 round extended magazine. For me it would be the perfect length to allow me to get all three fingers on the grip while not adding too much more overall length to the grip and possibly spoiling concealability.
So is this XDs a "game changer"? I think it is. Shipping with 2 magazines, the XD Gear, factory fiber optic front sight, and two sizes of back straps, you get quite a bit of value for your money. With this specific XDs, it was so great to be able to pull the pistol out of the box, clean it, and run about 200 issue free rounds through it using every realistic hold I could think of. A drama free day. Just like it should be. Being able to focus on the nuances of the pistol instead of any problems.
Yes, I will get one and I hope Springfield continues to change the game by expanding the line with additional options. This platform would be dynamite as a 6+1 or 7+1 9mm as long as reliability and shoot-ability stay similar to the 45 version. Dare we hope they could make it even slimmer than the 45? Game on!
UPDATE 8/29/2013: Mandatory Safety Recall Issued on XD-S Pistols. Read about it here.