Staff Gun Review: Springfield XDS 45: Part 1
By Staff Writer: Cary Kieffer
Today I got my hands on the Springfield XDS, after a long, long wait I finally have the pistol I asked Mike Coker to buy me if he could at SHOT Show. I pre-ordered this pistol right when we first saw it at SHOT. My dealer finally got one! At a good price too after looking at the price-gouging going on with this model. So for $530 I brought home the Springfield Armory XDS 45acp. It is a SWEET little single stack subcompact. I’m the first guy in town to get a Springfield XDS and there’s a long wait for it here.
Let’s talk some initial impressions of the Springfield XDS. After recently having had it said I had my mind made up before my review I’ll cover that quickly. In the past I have had some idea of what was going to happen before I tested stuff – who wouldn’t? If you have done any shooting at all and have some experience with different things oftentimes you can guess pretty well what is going to happen. I write these articles with no bias though. Even when I’m prepared to dislike something I state that clearly in the review. Look at the AK-47 and Smith M&P reviews of mine. I told you flat out I didn’t like them but I do factually review products whether the results support my opinions or not. I wanted that AK to jam but it didn’t and I told you so. I’m not paid for this and whatever happens I tell you. I have nothing to gain by misleading anyone. That having been said I am totally prepared to LOVE this gun. People who know me know I swear by the XD line. I think XD’s in general are the handgun to end handguns (for me at least). If the XDS acts up in any way you will hear about it.
First impressions: It’s a beauty! She just looks really nice. The gun has a nice shape and a good feel to it. I have very large hands and it, like any other single-stack subcompact, tends to roll around in my hand a bit. No different here but I think that most people won’t have that problem. The Springfield XDS just has a good feel to it.
The front fiber optic sight (red) shows itself well and was easy to track. White dots in the rear. The grip serrations are nice, similar to the XDM style not the standard XD serrations. The mag release in ambidextrous, the mags drop free. The springs in the mag are good and strong. I suspect they need to be because of the short, fast-cycling slide. The gun is a tad stiff as far as the mag release and slide release goes but I figure they will loosen up a bit after a few rounds and mag changes.
She came with all the usual stuff in a nice hard case with a holster, mag pouch, paperwork, lock, that sort of thing. I like the holster, I’m pretty sure it’s a Fobus as it is made in Israel (but is marked Springfield Armory). It is also marked 45/40/9mm so I’m sure the other two calibers will be along soon enough! The holster is adjustable for tension which I like. You can get that perfect spot where it stays put but draws easily.
The feed ramp is mirror polished. I always polish feed ramps in nearly everything I buy but no need here as it was perfect from the factory. The trigger is better than any XD I have bought so far. Springfield removed the “mush” in it! It is crisp and clean. I am thrilled about that. So far I am loving this pistol. The Springfield XDS engineers got this right.
Shoot 1: 6-29-12. 95 degrees and sunny. It is my intention to get 500 rounds in this weekend before I post this review. I just shot the first 170 rounds. 100 rounds of 230 grain Ultramax, 50 rounds of Remington UMC 230 grain ball and 20 rounds of Hornady 200 grain XTP hollowpoints. As I suspected the mag and slide release buttons loosened up quickly. They are smooth as silk now. The pistol fired flawlessly, no malfunctions of any kind. No hint she even thought about it. This girl has some ejection! I tell you I was walking all over picking up brass. Some of them were twenty feet away. Most were roughly twelve feet from me. Kicks the empties out well and feeds smoothly. The recoil is VERY manageable. I expected worse. The groups with the Ultramax were good, same with the Remington. 230 grain ball with both brands were printing 3-4 inches shooting fairly fast at 15-20 yards. Oddly the premium Hornady 200 grain didn’t shoot as tight. I don’t really care, I’ll just try some Critical Defense for a carry load next time out. This pistol is accurate. No doubt about that. I was impressed. It’s also very pointable. I ran several drills where I just drew and shot without using sights. Right where it needed to be. I’ll try some rest shooting later to see how tight I can group them but this first session was great. An awesome carry gun I think. Only cons I have is that six rounds go pretty fast and towards the end of the first hundred rounds I started to lose the top of my thumb and webbing in my hand to the slide, a little blood, no big deal. That’s common for me and small autos. Last it needs the rear sight drifted just a smidge. All rounds were hitting 2.5 inches left depending on range but elevation was perfect.
Shoot 2: 6-30-12. 91 degrees and sunny. Today we will shoot 100 rounds of American Eagle 230 grain ball and another 100 of Ultramax as well as 20 rounds of Hornady Critical Defense. I drifted the rear sight just a tad bit so we’ll see if it was enough. I’m also going to do some weak-hand shooting. Just back in and the rear sight still needs to be drifted a bit more. All ammo pretty much fired the same 3.0 – 3.5 inch groups. I was pleased with everything I fired. The XDS is definitely an accurate and consistent shooter. I’m going to draw the line at 390 rounds though. I lost more skin off the top of my thumb and I’m beginning to flinch. I don’t expect most will have this problem. Regardless, I still love the gun. You won’t need 100 rounds for a self defense situation anyways and it took 100 rounds or so for it to start tearing me up. Today it was flawless in operation as well. I really believe we have a winner here!
Well let’s wrap this up. It was well worth the wait! AWESOME pistol. Accurate. I settled on the Critical Defense as my carry load. It’s small and thin: For a .45 REALLY thin at one inch. It was 100% reliable and smooth as silk after a few rounds. Best trigger in an XD so far and I have 7 others to compare it too. There’s nothing I don’t like about this little beauty. My regular carry Sig 290 just got a spot cleaned out for it in the safe. The Springfield XDS is a pocket powerhouse! Don’t be afraid to get one you won’t regret it.
As always thanks for reading and train often.
8/18/12 Update: This pistol I think is my favorite one ever, 700 plus rounds down range and she is just perfect! So very accurate and user friendly. I see the 7 round magazines with grip extensions are now available so that’s something we’ve been waiting for. They come with two grip extensions, one for either backstrap you choose to you. So that’s pretty cool. They are available on gunbroker for $31 and some change. That’s pretty good considering most places are asking $47.99. Either way it’s a ridiculous price but $14 is $14. Three of them to my door were $109.90 with shipping. So check out gunbroker.com. Last I set mine up with TruGLo sights and they are awesome. Standard XD style from Botactical for $79.99. Fiber optic AND tritium rolled into one. You’ll love them.