For the past few years I have carried a Springfield XD-9 Service (4″ barrel) model handgun as my primary carry gun.
I chose the XD because it is a solid and proven platform. Reliability is a key factor in choosing a tool you trust your life with, and in my years of carrying and the thousands upon thousands of rounds through the gun — including many high-level/intensity training classes — I’ve had no issues with this gun.
I will say, my gun is not a factory gun. I have replaced the sights with Dawson Precision sights (0.100″ red fiber optic front, 0.125″ plain black rear). I think these sights are far better than the factory sights; in fact, I think the factory sights are little more than slot-fillers and anyone that wants to seriously consider this gun (or really, most any handgun) should consider upgrading their sights. This gun also has an improved trigger from Scott Springer of Springer Precision. The factory trigger isn’t bad, but there’s room for improvement. Scott’s work is top-notch and you can’t get a better trigger on this gun.
What I appreciate about the gun is the reliability and shootability. It works well. Feels good in the hand, tho someone with smaller hands may have troubles with the thicker double-stack magazine-sized grip. The 16+1 capacity of the gun is another appreciated factor. Speaking of ammo, I have fed this gun various ammo from high-quality self-defense ammo, to just about any sort of cheap plinking ammo you can think of. Never a problem, narry a hiccup. In fact, my handloads perform quite well out of this gun, grouping about 2.5″ at 25 yards (benchrest); speaks well to the quality of my reloads and the gun.
The gun is also fairly friendly to lefties, given there is a magazine release available from both sides of the gun. While some guns may offer a way to switch, that still mandates the gun as preferring one hand. The XD’s full-time ambi mag release is an advantage since anyone can shoot the gun without having to perform surgery to make it friendly to all shooters.
One feature some may have an issue with is the grip safety. Yes, there have been a few times in practice where I flubbed the draw, didn’t get a good grip, and failed to depress the grip safety — means I need more practice. The only time I’ve actually found the grip safety to be a pain is practicing malfunction clearing drills, such as setting up a stovepipe. You must depress the grip safety to pull the slide back, and that can make setting up a stovepipe a little cumbersome, especially if you don’t have strong hands. But this is a minor quibble. In general use the grip safety has been a non-issue for me; it’s as if it’s not even there.
Another possible downside, tho only relevant if you wish to compete in IDPA matches with this gun, is that the XD is considered “single action” and thus cannot compete in the SSP division (it must compete in ESP). Some may find this a downside, others may find it motivation to just shoot better than everyone else at the match. 🙂
All in all, the XD is a fine choice for a self-defense handgun. It’s solid, reliable, shoots well, easy manual of arms (both operation and maintenance). There’s a fair aftermarket for parts and improvements. To choose the XD or not will really come down to personal fit (e.g. someone will small hands may not be able to use it) and personal preference.
By: John C. Daub
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