In this Springfield XDS review, I take a look at the most recent version (and the smallest yet) of the XD pistols which is imported from Croatia by Springfield, with final assembly done in the U.S.
The history of the XD pistol begins with IM Metal, Croatia, which, in 1991, began manufacturing a 9mm pistol (and a subsequent version in 1995) for the Croatian military and police. In 1998, based on this successful design, IM Metal then created the polymer and steel HS2000 which also received favorable reviews, but, for whatever reason, when imported into the USA, its distribution wasn’t widespread and the guns didn’t have a chance to catch on with U.S. gun owners. Springfield then took over the U.S. marketing and backed the gun with its excellent reputation and a lifetime guarantee for the pistol which was renamed the XD (Extreme Duty) and often referred to as the XD Extreme. The rest is history.
In appearance, the Springfield XDS borrows a bit from other handgun designs. For example, in overall design, the shape of the frame follows that of the Walther 99, the original DA/SA SIG SAUER, and GLOCK handguns. The XDS, like the XD, shares features such as being striker-fired; having a trigger mounted drop safety; and having a firing pin safety which Springfield labels the USA (Ultra Safety Assurance) Action Trigger SystemTM.
The new XDS maintains features of the XD Extreme line with some modifications. Right off, the XD-S uses a single – not double – column steel magazine which has a removable polymer base plate. Two magazines are supplied. An optional seven round extended magazine is also available (more on this later).
Other XD features carried over to the XD-S are a left side mounted slide catch and takedown lever, a manual grip safety and an ambidextrous magazine release. Also, a safety lever is centered in the wide, grooved, metal trigger. The trigger moves about .50″ in take-up before encountering a measured resistance of seven to 7.25 pounds. When pressure is applied to the trigger, the trigger bar moves the sear down and away from the firing pin which had been previously captured by the sear when the slide was retracted.
While the Springfield XDS is technically single-action, Springfield and its Croatian partner use innovative spring selection which controls trigger movement and trigger pull weight to the extent that the result is a trigger which feels as though it is a very smooth, but short, double-action. Thissample’s trigger reset is relatively short, audible and easily felt.
The XD-S weighs 21.5 ounces, has an overall length of 6.3″ and stands 4.4″ tall. It has a barrel length of 3.3″ and is one inch thick.
The large ejection port has a spring powered external extractor in its lower right rear, while the spring powered, loaded chamber indicator “arm” has been placed at the top center rear of the port. The front of this arm is raised by the presence of a chambered round such that the arm can be seen or felt.
Retracting and releasing the slide retracts (cocks) the striker firing pin against its surrounding striker spring. This action also causes the rear of the striker to protrude from the slide’s steel back plate, where it then serves as a tactile and visual indicator of the gun’s status. There is no second strike capability, as the slide must be retracted to reset the striker.
The gun used in this Springfield XDS review, the frame is polymer and colored black. Its gripping areas, including the forward face of the ample and rounded trigger guard, are covered with an improved version of Springfield’s “all-terrain” texturing, with the more highly raised gripping rectangles having their top edges slightly rounded. Thedustcover has a Picatinny accessory rail on which I was able to easily place and remove an Insight Technology X2 subcompact LED light.
“Target” thumb rests can be found at the top of the grips. These are matching depressions which can function as a thumb rest. The reason for these on this gun is the result of handgun import regulations where arms are only permitted if they receive enough points for having “sporting purposes” features – and the XD thumb rests are officially recognized as being for target or sporting purposes and, thus, get Springfield needed points. For those choosing not to use them, they don’t interfere at all with an alternative gripping method.
The lower rear of the backstrap has a hollow pin retained removable insert, two of which are supplied. Each insert is arched, with one having a taller arch in order to aid a wider range of handsizes to be able to get and keep a good, solid grip on the pistol.
If you purchase the aforementioned seven round magazine (MSRP $39.95), two spacing collars are furnished which provide a continuity of gripping surface with the otherwise protruding body of the magazine. The rear of the collars is dimensionally shaped to provide this continuity, regardless of which grip insert is used.
The XDS grip safety serves two functions. The first is preventing the trigger from being pulled unless the grip safety is fully depressed with a firm grip. The grip safety also locks the slide so that it cannot be operated unless the same full depressing of the grip safety is done. A good idea, but first timers to the XD may find a need to alter how they manipulate the pistol for immediate action and onehanded malfunction clearing drills.
Back up top, the all steel machined and Melonite finished (an EPA approved U.S. version of a Tenifer type metal treatment) slide has six diagonal and wide spaced grasping grooves at its rear. Sights are dovetailed into the slide of the Springfield XDS and are windage adjustable, both front and rear. The XDS uses a fiber-optic front sight and spare inserts –one red and one green – are supplied. A red insert is in the mounted sight. The Novak-style rear sight has white dots on either side of its square notch.
The XD-S front sight is new, as well as being fiber-optic. This choice of sight is the first negative thing I can say about the whole package. Not for nothing do users of fiber-optic sights carry a small supply of replacement tubes! To the good, the sight does stand out and, as noted, Springfield supplied two extra inserts, along with instructions in the owner’s manual on how to install them. Negatively, the brightness of the rounded rear of the insert made for a poor sight picture when I was shooting groups. By the same token, this brightness helps pick up the front sight under less than ideal lighting conditions.
The blued, hammer forged barrel is conventionally rifled. The barrel locks up into the slide at the front and rear. The front of the barrel has a slightly enlarged annular band and the chamber hood fits into the ejection port window.
A captive dual recoil spring is used with the front “head” of the recoil spring guide protruding slightly from the face of the slide. Four rails guide the slide, with the two front rails as part of the steel locking block and the two rear rails molded into, and part of, the polymer frame.
Disassembly of the Springfield XDS
The other controls are equally simple. The large, grooved, all metal takedown lever is on the left forward section of the frame. To operate this for disassembly, the front portion of the lever is moved up through a corresponding relief cut in the slide. The metal slide stop on the upper left center of the frame is slightly protected by a molded ledge beneath it (more on this a little later). The round and circularly grooved magazine catch is ambidextrous and easily releases the magazine.
The XD-S disassembles just like the XD. However, with the XDS, the disassembly lever cannot be manipulated with a magazine in the pistol. Additionally, when the disassembly lever is up, a magazine cannot be inserted into the pistol.
Gun disassembly is easy, though. You simply remove the magazine; double-check to be sure the chamber is empty; and, while depressing the grip safety, retract and lock the slide open. Now, for me, I fumble this otherwise simple action, as theslide stop is quite flush to the frame and the frame has a raised ledge surrounding the lower portion of the slide stop, as noted earlier. I had to make a conscious effort to get more finger beneath the slide stop to lock it back. Also, it took me a few times to remember to depress the grip safety as part of the disassembly during this Springfield XDS review.
After the slide is locked back and the grooved takedown lever raised, allow the slide to run forward gently against the recoil spring pressure. The slide halts its forward movement after returning to just about its original position and will not come off the frame until the trigger is pulled to release the firing pin striker from the sear. As in other guns in which the trigger must be pulled prior to disassembly, it is obviously very important to doubly insure that the gun is empty. Also, you can’t get the slide off with a magazine in the gun.
Not to be overlooked are the accessories which come with the XD-S purchase. The shipping box is a quite sturdy, hard-sided, lockable polymer case with a removable foam lining and a gun cable lock – good for storage or transport – along with a bore brush. The best part, though, is the polymer paddle holster and a belt slotted dual magazine carrier.
This Springfield XDS review would not be complete without a trip to the range. On the indoor range at the Lower Providence Rod & Gun Club in Oaks, PA, the gang and I shot at 15 yards using Black Hills 230-grain JHP, Magtech 230-grain JRN and Winchester White
Box 230-grain JRN. The best five shot groups I fired were in matching order of the above mentioned ammo: 3.5″, 3.46″ and 2.75″. And, we obtained similar groups with the X2 light installed, as the bullets’ point of impact was not affected. During this test, we had no malfunctions of any sort.
I also tried out the concealment paddle holster and mag carrier. Both did their job well. One “nit” to pick is that one of the two pouch holders was a very snug fit for the magazine. My fix for this was exposing the full carrier to strong sunlight for a few hours which loosened it slightly. (I didn’t heat the material, as I’ve created a mess more than once doing so!)
What’s the bottom line? We all liked the gun and, perhaps best of all, the Springfield XDS is supported by a lifetime guarantee.
About the Author: Upon receiving his BS degree from Carnegie Tech and completing service as a Special Agent in U.S. Army Intelligence, Walt Rauch was a Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service and an Investigator with the Warrant Unit, First Judicial District, PA.
Rauch is also a writer and lecturer in the firearms field. He is published regularly in national and international publications.