When Springfield first announced the single stack XDS it created quite a buzz. The shot show simmered with excitement and the waiting lists grew. It wasn’t until October that I finally got my hands on one and, at first, I was luke-warm to the pistol:
I referred to it as “not pleasant to shoot”. I said it was “not fun and it was just a little bit painful”. It shot several inches to the left and did not group all that well for me.
Even with all that said it had a couple of things going for it:
- It is of a size that makes it easy to carry and have with you when you need it. It fits well in most pockets and in those that it doesn’t it is easily concealable in a tuckable inside-the-waistband holster.
- It is a .45 ACP and no one want to be on the business or receiving end of the cartridge that has the historical fight stopping reputation that has served our military since 1911.
I have greatly changed my tune since that evaluation. I owe that to a police Sergeant whom I had lunch with in early December. He had purchased one and had glowing things to say about his XDs. Well, there are three things I do not argue with police officers about; how fast I was going, what gear works, and where to eat (and his opinion was correct in that regard as well).
Before we go any further let’s look at the specs and compare it to its natural competition, the Glock model 36.
|Barrel Length||3.3 Inches||3.78 Inches|
|Overall Length||6.3 Inches||6.97 Inches|
|Height||4.4 Inches||4.76 Inches|
|Weight||27 ounces||27 ounces|
|Sights||Fixed, 2 dot rear, red fiber optic front||Fixed, 3 dot|
|Capacity||5 +1||6 +1|
As you can see from above, and the width photos below, the XDs is shorter in both height and length as well as width.
One of the things I mentioned in my earlier examination was that if I ever got one for myself I would put some sort of a grip sleeve on it to increase the width of the grip and help alleviate some of the pain in shooting it. Upon purchasing the XDs I remembered that I had a grip sleeve playing hide and seek on my workbench. Without too much of a search I was able to find a small Pachmayr Tactical Grip Glove lurking under a lead removal cloth. Although my luck does not usually run this way it fit perfectly and the rear side of the glove did not interfere with the grip safety on the back strap. It was a tad too long but a little clumsy surgery with a razor blade and it was now very workable. Unfortunately I was in a hurry and used an old, dull blade so the surgery was not my best work but it is very functional so I am not inclined to get another one and try again. In shooting it, the Pachmayr Tactical Grip Glove did exactly what I wanted it to do. It took the bite out of shooting the pistol and the increased width provided a better trigger reach. All of this decreased the size of my groups and moved them closer to center. I would recommend this to anyone buying an XDs. The next and last enhancement was to purchase a Pearce Finger Extension. Now my little finger had a place to rest and the groups got smaller and even closer to center. The Pachmary Tactical Grip Glove retails for $13.98 and the Pearce grip extenders are $9.95 each; so for about $40.00 with shipping you can turn the XDs into a comfortable and formidable self-defense pistol.
One of the features that you might overlook is the loaded chamber indicator on the top of the slide just behind the ejection port. It allows you to visually see if there is a round in the chamber and if you are in low light you can always feel to determine if the indicator is in the up position.
As the back strap curves up the XDS provides a slight beaver tail. This abbreviated appendage allows you to get a higher grip on the pistol without it being ridiculously long and over-sized as seen on too many 1911 pistols. The photo below also shows the top of the Pachmayr Grip Glove so you can see how it does not interfere with the grip safety. I am usually not a fan of grip safeties but on a pocket pistol I think it makes a lot of sense. On any pistol carried in the pocket you want to make sure that nothing snags on the trigger and discharges it as you place it into your pocket. The grip safety would require that the trigger snag at the same time something depresses the grip safety. It is not foolproof but is another level of safety.
The front sight had a very good red fiber optic insert that enhances the sight picture in all but low light. (I could not decide which front sight photograph I wanted to use so you get both). From a cosmetic standpoint I like the clean imprints of the information stamped into the slide, especially the classy Springfield logo on the top just in front of the ejection chamber.
The rear sight is of the low profile, drift adjustable, two white dot variety. This photo also shows more of the clean lines and full cuts that make up the slide grasping indentations at the rear of the slide.
And here is the XDs all snug in it’s Remora holster. I have said it before but part of the genius of the Remora holster is the ability to use it as a pocket holster or inside-the-waistband holster. It is versatile and it securely holds the pistols upright in the pocket while covering the trigger. While in its IWB function, it holds the pistol securely in place so that it does not slip when moving around including running, doing shoulder rolls, and handstands.
OK, But How Does She Shoot
All targets below are fired at 30 feet. This first target was fired with the Pachmayr Tactical Grip Glove in place but without the Pearce finger extension. This target shows the results of 20 rounds of Winchester 230 Grain full metal-jacketed ammunition.
This target shows the results of the pistol at the same range, with the same ammunition and number of rounds but the finger extension has now been added. Note that the group is tighter and not off to the left.
Now we get to the Defensive Ammunition. Again all rounds were fired at a distance of 30 feet:
Now, I have heard people deride anyone who desired one of these pistols chiding them that the low capacity puts it on par with a “J” framed sized revolver. However, there are differences and I am happy to point them out:
- It’s a .45 not a .38 Special. I wouldn’t want to be shot with either but the .45 is bigger, heavier, and more likely to stop the assault faster.
- It gives you a total capacity of 6 rounds over the five shot capacity of the J frame revolver. It’s only one round more but it there if you need it.
- It is easier to reload. A spare five round magazine takes up little space in your pocket and magazines can be dumped and replaced a lot quicker than you can eject your five rounds from the snub nosed revolver’s cylinder and replace them from loose ammo, a speed strip, or a speed loader. I know that Jerry Miculek is lightening fast in in reloading his revolver with a speed loader but two things: A. He is using a large “N” framed revolver not a small “J” framed handgun and B. You are not Jerry Miculek.
- The XDs has better sights.
- The XDs has a better trigger.
- The XDs has a better grip frame/angle
- The XDs is easier to shoot and more accurate than your little J framed revolver.
I just cannot really ask a pistol to do more than the XDs is doing for me. The Hornady TAP +P ammo is hot stuff and when I squeezed off the first round I questioned whether it would even hit the paper. I was astonished that it was the topmost round in the 11 O’Clock position. I was further astonished as each additional round hit right next to the last one.
And for those who want to know about the knife pictured with the XDs, it is the Massad Ayoob designed folder for Spyderco. It is perfectly designed for maximum slashing and stabbing potential. It is now discontinued but in just checking, there are seven listed on eBay. Good Luck!
By Randy Ferris