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Springfield Armory XDs 4.0 Review

by G&A Staff   |  August 26th, 2014 10

Springfield_Armory_XDS_4.0_FFriends, we are living in a golden age of concealed carry. States across the nation are being forced to ease policies, quality holsters have never been more comfortable, and now we have firearms manufacturers that are listening to customers. For years, the carry community has been clamoring for a reliable compact, polymer, single-stack 9mm. While there have been decent offerings over the last several years, Springfield Armory is challenging the polymer single-stack standard.

The engineers at Springfield Armory obviously did their research, and deciding on the 4-inch barrel hit the sweet spot between portability and shootability. The extra length of the slide provides a full-size pistol’s sight radius while doing nothing to reduce the pistol’s concealability. During this evaluation, the XDs was carried in the appendix inside-the-waistband position (AIWB) in a Blackhawk adjustable suede IWB holster. The holster fit this new pistol very well, which isn’t always the case with a nonspecific holster. The adjustable clip fit securely over a web belt, and the entire package disappeared beneath an Under Armour T-shirt, which is no easy task due to the shirt’s athletic fit.

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Clearing the pistol from concealment is smooth and fairly fast, given that AIWB is never going to win any IPSC matches. On the PACT Club Timer, the G&A staff was able to stay well below 1.3 seconds, drawing from concealment and getting a good hit on torso-size steel at 10 yards. We worked the draw-and-shoot drill for more than an hour, building from one shot to a failure drill (traditional, two to the body and one to the head). During these drills, evaluators had the opportunity to perform dozens of reloads, and while it is certainly faster with the angled lead of a double-stack magazine, reloads with the XDs were very serviceable. Only one shooter fumbled a magazine onto the deck, and that was simply due to outrunning his headlights, not a fault of the pistol.

This repetition gave G&A the opportunity to make some observations. The first is that we really like the fiber optic front sight. It jumped right out and really helped with the quick, ballistic nature of the drills. Conversely, we did not care for the rear sight. The notch was a bit tight, and its angled shape renders it useless during one-handed manipulations. The nice thing? Springfield Armory had the foresight to put both sights in dovetails, making them easy to swap out to the user’s taste. Given this pistol’s raison d’être, we’d put a set of the fantastic Trijicon HD sights on it and call it good.

The second thing that really jumped to our attention during the drills was that we really like the aggressive, molded, “grenade”-style texture of the pistol. The entire G&A staff worked out this little XDs in the heat and humidity of the Academi training range in Moyock, North Carolina, and it never moved in our grip, despite the fact that most of us were sweating profusely on a hot range and our hands were slippery. Oftentimes, the trade-off for secure purchase of a pistol is hands that are red and raw after firing several hundred rounds. That wasn’t the case here, as our hands were fine after firing more than 400 rounds apiece. We tested this model with the large backstrap in place, but if you have micro-paws, a smaller backstrap is available to fit your hands better.

The last thing that really stood out was that the trigger was more refined than in previous versions of the XD. The trigger breaks clean but a bit hard at 7.1 pounds. In use and at speed, the 7-pound break didn’t seem to slow us down at all. The trigger has a very short and defined reset, which is generally preferred in a business gun. We’re aware that there are many who don’t think that “shooting to reset” is all that it’s been made out to be, but we’ve seen and experienced way too many issues with shooters transitioning from one platform to another to believe that the “muscle memory” or conditioned trigger press doesn’t have at least some bearing on a shooter’s ability to fire a pistol fast and accurately.

The XDs feels amazing in the hand and points naturally at the target. The forged stainless steel slide of the bi-tone model cycled smoothly with a soft recoil impulse. The front sight barely comes off target when really driving this pistol with an aggressive stance. Absolutely zero malfunctions were experienced, even when limpwristing.

In fact, we didn’t see any malfunctions until way over 350 rounds into the test. It was a failure to go into battery from the sandbags at the 25-yard line, more than likely a combination of a dry, dirty pistol and thumbs dragging along the slide, retarding its movement. Some shooters have indicated a problem with their thumbs bumping the slide-lock lever into the Up position during firing, locking the slide to the rear with rounds left in the magazine. We didn’t observe this phenomenon. The XDs always locked back on an empty magazine and ejected spent brass consistently and with authority to the 4 o’clock.

At the 10-yard line, shooting from the off-hand position, the XDs just chewed holes in the target, regardless of bullet weight. From a sandbagged rest at 25 yards, the pistol’s performance was on par with what we’ve seen from full-size service pistols, with the biggest group average from the Federal American Eagle offering, measuring 4.2 inches; the Remington Ultra Defense coming in at 3.4 inches; and the new Winchester Defender leading the pack with a tight 2.8-inch average.

G&A’s test sample definitely preferred heavier projectiles than the lighter loads. If we were taking it into harm’s way, we’d be looking to feed it quality hollowpoints in the 147-grain family.

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