Ringfield Armory .45 XD Pistols: One Size Does Not Fit All

Front of the XD. Heidi Smith finds it easy to shoot even with small hands.


Almost everyone reading this will be familiar with the Springfield Armory name and their products, so no history lesson is required. Springfield Armory is synonymous with M1As, 1911s and most recently their imported Croatian pistol, the XD.

I have seen the XD on the market and in training forums over the years and never owned or used one, mostly because they were at the time making pistols chambered only for 9mm and .40 S&W. I am not bashing these calibers; I simply was never mandated to use them and most of the time my lifestyle has allowed me to use the .45 ACP cartridge and 1911 platform. I guess I’ve been none the smarter—or dumber—your choice. Over the years I have simply chosen steel guns and big bores.

Recently the folks at Springfield have introduced the XD in .45 ACP and, between the caliber and the five-inch version of this piece, I was intrigued. I personally like bigger guns, and my physical size and style of dress—if it can be called style—have always allowed me the luxury of carrying a big handgun. Springfield has not only introduced the XD in .45 caliber, they have also added several size variations of this pistol and caliber to their product line. Since not everyone is built like me nor does everyone want to carry a large-sized handgun, these are welcome additions to the Downsize department, yet they retain the larger bore many favor. I have all the versions and have shot them quite a bit, so an overview of this exposure might be helpful to others.

Even in full recoil, the .45 XD is controllable.


THE SYSTEM

The system of how the gun works and what it is capable of is consistent throughout the size variations. The slide, even though one inch shorter or longer, still has fixed sights that are set in dovetail cuts front and rear and would allow for drifting to match individual shooter’s eyes if required. The pistol slide has cocking or system-check cuts front and rear that are not over-done in size or texture. The slide contains a loaded chamber indicator on top and a cocked pin on the rear face of the slide in case you like this. These chamber indicators and cocked pins are nice touches, but personally, I prefer visual or tactile checks of the chamber before holstering up to go to work, so to speak.

The plastic frame has an ambidextrous magazine release. The slide lock and disassembly lever are mounted on the left side. The frame also contains the trigger that is the finger on, safety off type seen on several other pistols made today. Somewhat out of the ordinary, XD pistols include grip safeties that need to be disengaged for the pistol to fire—a feature I like. The frame in all the sizes has a rail for lights or lasers, and each frame has roughened areas front and rear on the grip area to assist in maintaining a solid hold while firing.

Small portion of ammunition fired in testing of the three pistols.


Interestingly enough, the measured reach from the back strap to the trigger is shorter than a 1911 with a short trigger. Most important to me is that the grip thickness is only slightly wider than a 1911 with the current vogue, slim line stock panels. This is a pretty slick deal, as the all-metal hulled magazines hold 13 rounds of .45 compared to the seven or eight of a standard 1911. I may be old and I may be set in my ways, but if I can have a pistol with twice as much ammunition and only a minimal increase—and I mean minimal increase—in size, I am going for more ammo. As stated, I may be old and I may be dumb, but I am not stupid.

When I got my first XD, I admit I wasn’t taken by it. Thinking I was missing something, I let almost every student in class shoot the thing to see what the hell I was missing. Funny thing, almost to the person, what people commented on was the size of the grip and the comfort of said grip, for a pistol that holds a pretty substantial amount of ammo.

The pistol grip and frame shape make me recall the Bren Ten design promoted by Mr. Jeff Cooper during the early 1980s. Even though the Bren Ten didn’t go over well, the design and feel of the XD remind me of that Bren Ten look and feel.

Three .45 XD pistols together for size comparison.


FULL HOUSE

Up front I’ll admit the full-size five-inch version of the XD is my personal favorite.

Since the pistol is carried concealed, the extra inch of barrel is not a burden to me in the concealed carry mode, as it is used in an inside the pants style holster. That said, I do like the extra inch when the gun comes to play on the target. I think some of this might be the focal plane that my older eyes work in while firing. The longer length of the full size grip allows me to have my hands on (or more importantly, the heel of my hand to contact the lower part of the frame) while firing. Mostly I think this barrel length thing is a personal issue, and I expect others might disagree based on their experience.

I notice very little muzzle rise with my standard load of 230-grain full metal-jacketed ammo and only a bit more rise with hot Cor-Bon DPX loads.

Even though a large pistol, it is still easy to hold the pistol and a hand-held light.


CHOPPED FULL SIZE

This is a nifty rendition of the full size XD. In this version, a solid three-quarters of an inch has been chopped off the bottom of the frame. This is a good place to chop a handgun, as the height of the pistol often affects how the pistol butt prints when the handgun is being carried concealed. Of the three dimensions—height, length and width—I believe height is first, width is second and length is not relevant unless someone is being goofy and carrying an eight and three eighths barreled something down their trouser leg.

This chopped version has a five-inch barrel, which I like, and in this format carries a ten-round magazine. The Springfield people also issue a nifty 13-shot magazine with a correct spacer attached to the bottom of the magazine, so when it is inserted, it all matches up to form a solid full size grip and full size magazine. If the chopped XD is carried concealed, the shorter ten-round magazine could be in place and the 13-round magazine could be used for a reload—that will probably be a welcome addition if you’ve already shot 11 rounds and the fight isn’t over.

When firing the chopped version with the ten-round magazine in place, I note a tendency for the muzzle to be a bit whippier for me. If I load the extended magazine into the pistol, the full size grip comes as part of the load and I notice that recoil is again minimal.

Magazine comparison, top to bottom: full size, full size with spacer for cut-down grip, ten-round capacity magazine for chopped grip version.


CHOPPED

The XD is also offered in a Service Model that has a four-inch barrel and overall slide length of seven inches. In this version the frame height is five and a quarter inches. In the chopped Service Model, the barrel and slide length stay the same and the height is shortened by a nominal three quarters of an inch. The magazine set up is for a ten-round and then 13-round magazine with filling spacer, the same as the full sized chop job.

The bride of the house favors this one over all the others, as her hands are pretty small with almost no thumbs. In her words, “It feels better,” so who am I to argue. It is a small package to carry, and if the big spacer magazine is loaded, there is a whole bunch of good stuff to hang on to even if you have big hands.

THE BIG PICTURE

Springfield has done a great job of chopping the sizes of their XDs down yet maintaining a viable and effective fighting platform. Already knowing I like these, it should not surprise anyone that I sold my other .45-caliber plastic guns. And between hers and mine, we have a covey of XDs, so we’re stuck with them—and we like it.

I do believe my wife has left some XDs for other people—I think. You might look at one if you haven’t done so already, before she buys them all.

SOURCES:

Springfield Armory
Dept. S.W.A.T.
420 West Main St.
Geneseo, IL 61254
(800) 680-6866
www.springfield-armory.com

Discussion
  • (will not be published)

No Comments