by Col (Dr) Ben Findley*
Col Ben examines the Springfield Armory XD-S 4.0 Pistol and evaluates its application as an everyday weapon for Concealed Carry.
USA -(AmmoLand.com)- There are quite a few compact single-stack, striker-fired polymer 9mms out there now, but what about a reliable and accurate one?
Well, Springfield Armory has one such handgun and some believe it is ahead of the standard and expectations. The XDs comes in 9mm and .45ACP calibers and in 3.3″ subcompact and 4.0″ compact barrel versions. I wanted to see how the Springfield Armory XDS 4″ compact model in 9mm with the extra slide length and longer sight radius did on the range, so I had to test it for myself. I also wondered how the 4″ barrel would be for concealed carry.
This review will explore the Springfield Armory XD-S 4.0 pistol in 9mm.
We all select a handgun based on our personal criteria and preferences, so what one prefers and wants is different from another. So, we all should know what we want in our gun and specify that for ourself up front, rather than just haphazardly bouncing from one gun to another. What are your criteria and preferences? My criteria may differ from your criteria and that is OK. Mine are not better than yours and yours are not better than mine because it is a very subjective process based on individual factors. What follows are just my opinions and I am trying to be as objective as I can within my own criteria, parameters and preferences. First, I'll give the XDs' specifications, then my criteria, then my range testing results, and finally my conclusions and recommendation to purchase or not.
Specifications For The Springfield Armory XD-S 4.0 Pistol (from manufacturer):
Here are just 10 of my Criteria and factors I use for evaluating any handgun, so I will use them for the XDs. I did not customize my criteria to fit any one specific gun. In addition to my criteria, there are other subjective features that may be appealing for some, like a certain style, mag release location, action, caliber, appearance, number of mags included, type of sights/modifications, bore axis, rail, grip angle, non-porting or porting, included extras like a holster and pouch, customer service, etc. So, I combined these into my last Miscellaneous criterion. I must admit that ALL gun-choice decisions involve tradeoffs, but I really want ALL of my criteria to be met. I assigned a total possible point score of 10 points for each of my 10 criteria for a total possible score of 100 points. You can certainly add your own additional criteria and preferences or subtract any of mine. Here are mine:
(1) Accuracy and Reliability- Performs well without reoccurring malfunctions and stoppages and results in consistent, accurate target hits with a 3″ inch hit group or so at 5-15 yards for concealed carry;
(2) Trigger Press maximum of about 5.5-6.5 pounds – lessens force applied for less movement & better accuracy- and press that is crisp and identifiable (TRAIN to be Trigger Safe);
(3) Trigger with short travel distance (a short travel distance increases the speed the trigger can be fired) and easily identifiable and short reset point; Trigger with a smooth consistent press for every shot (less need to transition between presses & make adjustments);
(4) Barrel length of 3.0″-4.5″ (primarily for concealed carry);
(5) Sights that are basic & simple (easy to use & see–I like Fiber Optic fronts); fast target acquisition; for my purposes– adjustable for windage; Night Sights for low-light situations;
(6) Proper Gun Weight to minimize recoil (I prefer about 25 oz. or less for carry- but there are tradeoffs);
(7) Caliber match to my needs, characteristics & abilities (consider medical & physical limitations); 9mm is my preference for carry;
(8) Capacity -adequate for use & feature tradeoffs- usually prefer at least 8-10 in a 9mm magazine for carry (but can carry a spare mag or 2 sometimes);
(9) Ergonomics – Hand Comfort and Grip Fit, controls easy to work and easily accessible; rounded, low-profile;
(10) Miscellaneous – Overall Finish, fit, & quality appearance & workmanship; mag release location; ambidextrous controls; accessory rail as required; grip angle; bore axis; competitive market price; excellent customer service with friendly & helpful representatives; ease of disassembly-assembly; Hard Case; Extras (like a third mag, holster, pouch, extended & flush mags); warranty length & extent; etc.
Range Test Of the Springfield Armory XD-S 4.0 Pistol in 9MM
Before my range field testing, I disassembled it easily, cleaned it before I shot it, and used various FMJ and HP ammo of 115 and 124 grain weights at close-up distances of 5, 7, and 10 yards. I want you to know that Springfield is not paying me for my review or opinions and I am not on their payroll for any reason. They also didn't pay for my ammo. We all recognize that ANY gun we are betting our life on should be “broken-in” with about 400-500 rounds or so for a better evaluation of its performance, especially before carrying that gun. I did not shoot that many rounds, but did shoot about 200 rounds. (I accept ammo money anytime. Ha!) Remember, the gold standard is for you to actually shoot the gun yourself and learn your accuracy with it, its reliability, trigger, etc., like I did. Let me say up front that for me for ANY gun, ACCURACY and RELIABILITY are most important. I can certainly influence that with my training, understanding of the fundamentals, practice, and application of basics, but the gun itself does play a critical role. Closely related to that is the handgun's trigger, so I focused on it and its characteristics and control, as well as other criteria. Know that I used my Lyman Electronic Digital Trigger Pull Gauge and averaged 10 readings to measure the press. Cost was not a consideration, because there are different prices in the market for you to buy the gun. But, the XDs 4.0 MSRP is $599. for the black and $699. for the two-tone I tested.
When testing a carry gun, I want it to be accurate with consistent hits and tight groups at various up-close distances. To this old geezer, the varying distances and continuity of hits proved that this was a reliable handgun. I shot tight groups with rapid-fire hits on an eight-inch sized target at 5, 7, and 10 yards, 11 hits each, with no malfunctions or stoppages.
My Criteria & the Springfield Armory XD-S 4.0 Pistol Performance
(1) The accuracy and reliability of the Springfield Armory XD-S 4.0 were very good for me at close distances of 5, 7, and 10 yards. My rapid-fire groups were all 4.0 inches or so for the first time I ever fired the gun “out of the box” drawing from the holster it came with in the hard case. I used a Modified-Isosceles Standing Stance, a two-handed grip, and shot 115 grain FMJ and 124 grain HP. Not great marksmanship, but acceptable for an old geezer with diminishing eyesight… 10.
(2) The trigger press out of the box averaged 7.2 pounds without modification, with 10 readings with my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge. I was hoping it would be in my preferred 6.0 to 6.5 pound range, but it is a new pistol with no break-in. The trigger was smooth, but harder than I prefer. Probably more rounds down range will certainly help…8.
(3) The trigger was very crisp, had a short travel distance and short reset, so I could get off quick follow-up shots easily and keep on target easier. The trigger was consistent each time. The reset was clearly identifiable… 9.
(4) The 4-inch barrel was just right, not too short and not too long, aiding recoil control. The longer sight radius helped for very good hits and the felt recoil was very manageable. It was made of strong Melonite with a fully-supported ramp. It was similar in comparison to my Glock 19 with a 4 inch barrel, my M&P 9C with its 3.5 inch barrel, my Ruger SR9C with its 3.5 inch barrel, my HK P30 with its 3.8 inch barrel. But, I did notice that the XDS's 4-inch barrel did perform slightly better than some, with less muzzle rise. (Incidentally, the XDs 3.3″ barrel version has exactly the same dimensions as the XDS 4.0, except the Springfield Armory XD-S 4.0 has a 4 inch barrel…10.
(5) My aging eyes really like the fiber optic front sights, although wish they were setup with green because of my color-blindness. I can see green better than red, like most folks. It did come with extra replacement rods in green and red. The bright fiber optic front sight did jump out for me, even on the overcast day… 10.
(6) The weight of the gun was almost exactly 25 ounces without a magazine in place. This is manageable for concealed carry and right at my upper limit for carry weight. Its weight was more than the Glock's 21 oz, the M&P's 22 oz , and the Ruger's 23 oz. I do like a slightly heavier gun for better recoil control and accuracy… 9.
(7) Given my carpal tunnel, cost of ammo, less recoil, accuracy influence, etc., I strongly prefer the 9mm caliber for my primary carry gun, with the .45 being my next preference, as you probably know from the reasons in my other articles. So the Springfield Armory XD-S 4.0 met this requirement… 10.
I Believe That A Shooter Should:
Choose the biggest caliber handgun that they can comfortably shoot AND make fast, ACCURATE followup shots with. This applies for concealed carry, self defense, home defense, and even competition. Of course, you want a gun that you like, can control, and WILL carry and not leave at home, if carrying concealed.
(8) The capacity of the Springfield Armory XD-S 4.0 was 7+1 with the standard flush fit mag or 9+1 with the extension mag. These were acceptable, but I was disappointed and wanted an extra round for this compact gun. I wish it had more capacity, but it is a single stack, has a nice thin grip and smaller grip frame, so tradeoffs must be made. The 9-rounder felt better in my hand and I shot better with it in the gun, but I know the advantage of the 7-rounder for carry. So for carry, I would use the 7-rounder and hope to get the job done carrying an extra mag. It has an ambidextrous mag release, interchangeable backstraps, and a grip safety upgrade that includes a visible roll pin in the grip assembly…9.
(9) I really like the Ergonomics of the XDs 4.0. The XDs felt comfortable and great in my medium-sized hands. The width measured less than 1 inch at about .94″ and was similar to the width of my Shield at about .95″, but less than my Glock 19 at 1.18.” The height of the Springfield Armory XD-S 4.0 with standard flush mag measured 4.4 inches, compared to my M&P-9C at 4.3 inches, certainly acceptable for concealed carry. One comment is that I believe the aggressive grip texturing did get slightly irritating to my palm after I fired close to 200 rounds. Then with more shooting later, it did again irritate my palm. So just one factor to think about, but the pros far outweigh the cons and skin toughness varies. I like the two-tone finish and classy, quality appearance of the XDs 4.0. While not a major factor, I do consider it. To me a gun that fits me personally (ergonomics), feels good, has a quality look, and matches my purpose and criteria is always the best choice and you can be proud of it… 9.
(10) Miscellaneous. The Loaded Chamber Indicator is helpful and eliminates the need for frequent chamber checks. Also you can verify visually and by touch as to if there is a round in the chamber. It comes with a nice hard plastic case which includes a holster, 2 magazines (7 round and extended 9 round), a double mag pouch, small backstrap, grip sleeve for full-size extension for range use, extra fiber optic replacement rods (Green & Red), a lock, bore flag, and manual.
The XDs was very easy to disassemble, but know you cannot move the disassembly lever with a mag in the gun. Also, when the disassembly lever is up a mag cannot be inserted, for safety. The USA Safety Assurance Trigger System (firing pin safety) protects against negligent discharge from dropping or bumping. The trigger is hooked until direct rearward pressure is applied to the trigger and the grip safety is firmly grasped. There is no external manual safety. It has a rail for a laser or a light...9.
Springfield Armory XD-S 4.0 Pistol Recommendation
Total Points = 93 out of 100 Possible. I definitely RECOMMEND this handgun for one of your concealed carry guns, especially because of the fiber optic sights, accuracy, and trigger. Also, its reliability, excellent ergonomics, and reduced muzzle flip were impressive. This is just my personal opinion, so try it for yourself. I hope this review of the XDs compact 4.0 single-stack 9mm has helped you gain some information you did not previously have. Consider that this is just my point of view with limited live-range fire and shooting only 200 rounds of ammo. Like always, I recommend that you shoot any handgun yourself before you purchase it. Decide on your criteria, how you will primarily use the gun, and what features are important to you ahead of your range time. Then critically evaluate the gun YOURSELF per your criteria and purpose, with standard drills (several mentioned in my book), with various ammo types and brands, over an extended break-in period of about 500 rounds. Remember, safety first always.
Contact: www.Springfield-Armory.com, 1-800-680-6866.
Photos by Author and Springfield-Armory.
* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.
© 2016 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at [email protected]
About Ben Findley:
“Col Ben” is retired with 30 years service in the U.S. Air Force, with joint services Special Ops duty and training, and is Air Force qualified as “Expert” in small arms. Ben is an experienced NRA-Certified Pistol Instructor, NRA Range Safety Officer, and FL Concealed Carry License Instructor.
Ben recently wrote the book “Concealed Carry and Handgun Essentials for Personal Protection” with 57 comprehensive Chapters about concealed carry and handgun principles, techniques, and tips for both experienced and new shooters.