I did a lot of research and fired a lot of rental guns that seemed to fit my requirements and some that did not, but in this case, I had decided to open the search field a little wide. There are; after all. A lot of concealable pistols on the market – some within my means and a lot outside of my means.
The Springfield XDs 3.3 had been on the market for a while in both 9mm and .45 acp. Eventually, the search led me to purchase the .45 acp version of this pistol. Shortly after I purchased the XDs 3.3, Springfield Armory introduced the XDs 4.0 version. I knew what I had to do, since I consider the “Commander” length barrel an excellent size for both concealment and accuracy at reasonable pistol distances. I desired the XDs 4.0 simply because of the barrel length; the capacity is the same as the XDs 3.3.
I weighed the possibility of having the XDs 4.0 in 9mm rather than .45 acp. After all, a couple of extra rounds at my disposal cannot be a bad thing. However, the XDs 4.0 in .45 acp is now my favorite concealed carry. The purpose of this article is to reveal my rationalization for my current carry, caliber notwithstanding. Hopefully, if you are looking for a concealed carry pistol of sufficient caliber, the article just might stray you in the direction of the Springfield XDs series of pistols.
Carrying a concealed handgun calls for a lot of tradeoffs when it comes to size and weight; the firearm must have the right balance of each and must instill confidence in the operator should he or she have to expose and operate it in a time of need. Let’s face it, we are not created equal in regards to body shapes and personal preferences and I am not going to say that the Springfield XDs series of pistols is right for everyone. There may be aspects of the pistol that some do not like and that’s fine. I would; however, like to mention some of those aspects.
The grip of the XDs pistol is thin and short with the standard magazine. It matters not which caliber, as the frame size if the same for 9mm and .45 caliber versions. For someone who wears and XL work glove, you may be challenged by the width of the grip; I was at first, but I have become accustomed to it. If you have small to medium sized hands, the grip will fit you well. With that said; however, the grip texture may seem to be too much; texturing is aggressive. When I practice at the range, I normally wear shooting gloves to protect the nerves of the hand while fully realizing that I will not be wearing gloves while engaging a bad guy. Small, light guns of sufficient caliber recoil a lot and it is better to protect my hands during practice so that I can use them when the flag goes up.
The rounded back strap of the pistol allows the hand to nestle nicely right where it should; I can shoot the XDs well with one hand; whereas, with a two-handed grip it does get a little crowded. With the short grip, the little finger can hang off of the grip. That can be cured by the use of third-party magazine extension, which does not affect the concealment factor, or by using the longer magazine that Springfield provides with the pistol, which may affect concealment due to the longer grip length. With that said anyone who has ever fired a single-action revolver knows that sliding the little finger under the grip does help steady the firearm and also helps to control the rise of the muzzle during recoil.
For those who prefer a crisp trigger with little take-up may be disappointed with the XDs; the XDs trigger pull is somewhat spongy according to some – including myself. However, I like it. I prefer a little slack before the hammer (striker) falls. I have, during practice, had to back off of the trigger just before it breaks. Sometimes, I realize my breathing is just not right, I want to simply change my point of aim, or I simply do not want to shoot at that moment (I practice not shooting probably as much as I do actually shooting). Having some leeway in the trigger allows me to make a split-second decision to shoot or not and that is something that you may be faced with in a defensive situation. By comparison, the Springfield XDs trigger falls somewhere in between the Glock and the Ruger triggers, in my opinion. Trigger reset is very short and that is important in fast fire situations. The XDs takes a good grip for its operation; press the grip safety and properly press the trigger while having a good, firm grip on the pistol will result in a projectile going downrange every time.
This all leads me to the final topic, caliber selection for the XDs 4.0 (or 3.3” version, for that matter). There are currently two choices of calibers for the XDs; 9mm and .45 acp. Personally, I like both calibers. However, I found something surprising about the XDs that is probably true of most pistols of this type; the XDs in 9mm weighs more than the .45 acp version with a full compliment of rounds, but only marginally.
Granted, that you have 1-8 rounds (7+1) of 9mm at your disposal with the standard magazine as compared to 1-6 rounds (5+1) with the standard .45 acp version, but the pistol weighs more when loaded with 9mm. Granted that the XDs will recoil less when shooting 9mm ammunition, but the recoil under the .45 acp is very manageable. The difference in recoil could be compared to a push (9mm) verses a shove (.45 acp). The short magazine is a bit of a problem in the harder-kicking.45 acp, but the addition of the Pierce magazine extension, as with the longer magazine, aids in recoil control – with both calibers.The longer sight radius of the Springfield XDs 4.0 series, as compared to the XDs 3.3” version, adds accuracy and velocity regardless of caliber. Personally, I have found that the 124-grain 9mm and the 185-grain .45 acp rounds have worked well out of each versions while not having that much of a difference in relative energy, although velocity will be greater with less felt recoil in the 9mm version. Granted, this is a generalized statement about the ammunition available for the XDs at best.
To put it into context, the Springfield XDs is at home with either caliber. Replace the sights with a set of tritium night sights, add a magazine extension for the short magazine, and you will have a have an excellent, and concealable, defensive pistol for many years to come.
XDs 4.0 9mm and .45 COMPARISON
Review of the XDs 3.3 and 4.0 .45 acp: http://guntoters.com/blog/2014/09/28/little-big-brother-and-the-baby-boomer/
XDs 4.0 Review by American Rifleman: http://www.americanrifleman.org/articles/2014/8/22/size-matters-springfields-xd-s-40/