As much as I hate to use a software metaphor to describe a handgun, this version of the brilliantly designed Springfield Armory XD-S series is called the 4.0 and it is literally an upgrade to the 3.3 series. If it were a computer program, you would definitely want it!
The new 4.0 XD-S .45 ACP has the same lightweight, ultra-compact polymer frame as the groundbreaking 3.3 XD-S .45 ACP and XD-S 9mm series, combined with the XD Service Model’s 4-inch barrel and a longer slide. What you end up with is the best possible combination to extend sight radius and increase accuracy, and a little more weight out front (2 ounces) to reduce muzzle rise, all without compromising the XD-S subcompact’s shorter grip frame.
Next-Gen Pocket Pistols
The XD-S 3.3 .45 ACP (introduced in 2012) pretty much rewrote the book on what defines large-caliber pocket pistols by becoming the smallest .45 ACP semi-auto ever produced. With a polymer frame and modest weight of 21.5 ounces (empty), a 5+1 capacity, a 3.3-inch barrel, an overall length of 6.3 inches, height of 4.4 inches, and slide width of just 0.9 inches, the XD-S 3.3 .45 ACP immediately fit into multiple concealed carry categories, from subcompact to pocket pistol. Springfield Armory followed that overnight success with a 9mm version on the same platform and 7+1 capacity. Now we have the slightly longer 4.0 models that add 0.7 inches to the barrel length. The 4.0’s slide measures 6.75 inches in length, almost half an inch longer than the 3.3, but otherwise the guns retain the same exterior dimensions. When you say 0.7 inches it doesn’t sound like a lot, but in the world of handgun design a 4-inch barrel moves the Springfield XD-S one step up in size, and that usually means greater dimensions overall. The Springfield XD-S 4.0 models bridge that traditional gap by only growing in one direction.
The XD-S 4.0 models include the recent upgrades to the XD-S trigger and internal safety operation, which is signified by a small roll pin added to the grip safety. Earlier XD-S models returned to Springfield for the upgrades (recommended by Springfield Armory) also bear this exterior change, so eventually all XD-S models will be indistinguishable.
The 4.0 XD-S models might feel a little nose heavy, but they have excellent balance in the hand, particularly when using a two-handed hold since there is a little more slide out front. The extended length also means more room ahead of the dust cover rail for a tactical light or light/laser combination. In all other respects the 4.0 XD-S models maintain standard XD-S features, including the Ultra Safety Assurance blade trigger safety and the secondary 1911-type grip safety. To discharge any XD-S model both safeties must be engaged simultaneously. This makes it an excellent choice for concealed carry.
Another advantage is the absence of a magazine disconnect, thus the gun will fire a chambered round with the magazine removed. Most individuals who rely on a firearm for personal defense (as opposed to target shooting or hunting) favor semi-autos that can operate if a situation arises where the magazine cannot be reloaded in sufficient time or has been lost or damaged. Granted, it’s an uncommon scenario, but knowing that the gun can fire even if the magazine is gone has to go into the plus column in my book.
Like all XD-S models, the 4.0 models use a striker-fired system fine tuned to reduce trigger take-up and provide a short reset. Including engaging the blade trigger safety, there is about 0.5 inches of travel, and the trigger pull remains crisp and consistent from shot to shot. Average pull on the test gun was a nominal 7.3 pounds on the 9mm and an even 8 pounds on the .45 ACP.
Being a striker-fired design, there is no second-strike capability. However, the quick-reset trigger mechanism only requires the slide be pulled back a mere 0.25 inches to re-enable the action. Along with maintaining the same standard capacity, the 4.0 models inherit the 3.3’s reduced recoil through Springfield’s own recoil spring and plunger design, which is built to mitigate the significant degree of felt recoil typical of polymer-framed handguns. With an extra two ounces out front, the 4.0 XD-S models are even quicker to get back on target and easier to handle, particularly with heavy hitting personal defense and law enforcement ammunition.
All XD-S models, past and present, have a clean, uncluttered profile with a slightly raised and protected slide release that has a molded-in lip surrounding the underside and a progressively beveled takedown lever. Both are on the left side of the frame. Absent are any edges likely to catch on clothing or impede your draw or re-holstering. The XD-S’ ambidextrous magazine releases are angled for easier use. There is also a loaded-chamber indicator that rises upward 0.03 inches from the top of the slide (just under your line of sight) whenever a round is chambered. And in the event a visual inspection isn’t possible, it is easy to feel by running a finger over the top of the slide.
Springfield supplies its guns with a complete set of accessories, including an XD Gear PH1 injection-molded thermoplastic retention paddle holster that’s form-fit to the gun. The paddle rig is easy to position around the waist for a comfortable fit and maximum concealment. It has a slight forward cant for ease of carry and draw, but since the injection-molded rig is not adjustable for cant, it will not work as a crossdraw. It is also only available in a right-handed version at present. The same holster works with 3.3 and 4.0 XD-S models.
One of my favorite methods of carry, with either the 3.3 or 4.0 models, is the Bianchi Model 101 Foldaway holster (size 16 for the Springfield XD-S). It is an open-top design built to accommodate a variety of larger firearms, including the Springfield XD-S series. It is almost no holster at all, as the 101 provides only the outer half of the holster pouch, with the wearer’s belt providing the back portion. The shape and cut of the 101 (roughly equivalent to a Yaqui or JAK Slide profile) covers a considerable part of the upper frame, the slide and the entire triggerguard, leaving only the grips exposed. This ensures that the gun is held securely and very close to the body, actually as close as your belt. One reason the Foldaway works so well with the XD-S series is because the gun’s protected slide release and beveled takedown lever won’t catch on the edge of your belt, so any draw is clean and unimpeded. I would recommend a heavy duty 1½-inch-wide leather holster belt, and I like this combo worn at the 4 o’clock position for best concealment. If you need to enter a building where concealed carry is not permitted, simply remove the gun and press the 101 flush to your belt. No gun, no holster. This is simplicity defined. It’s less than twenty dollars and also comes in a 101 two-pack with one tan and one black Foldaway for thirty-five dollars.
The XD-S 4.0 models feels more substantial in the hand than expected. They still have a good-sized grip frame, with the little finger tucked easily under the base of the standard magazine floorplate. (The optional extended-capacity magazines add two rounds and 1 inch of additional length for a full-hand grasp). The grip safety engages easily and the center of balance shifts only slightly forward with the longer barrel and slide. There is also the undercut triggerguard that allows the middle finger to rest higher up when gripping the guns.
For the range test of the 9mm, the target was set out at a combat distance of 7 yards. Ammo selection was Federal Premium Law Enforcement 124-grain Hydra-Shok, Hornady Critical Defense 115-grain FTX, and Speer Gold Dot 115-grain GDHP. Federal cleared the ProChrono chronograph’s traps at an average of 1,097 feet per second (fps), Hornady at 1,199 fps and Speer at 1,225 fps. Hornady Critical Defense 115-grain FTX, one of the most accurate rounds in subcompacts, did not disappoint, with a best five-round group measuring 1.8 inches in the 8, 9, and 10 rings at 3 o’clock. The heavy hitter in the test was another self-defense favorite, the Federal Premium Hydra-Shok, with a best five-round group measuring 2 inches in the 9, 10 and X rings. Federal and Hornady hit within 0.5 inches of point of aim (POA). Speer Gold Dot grouped five rounds at 1.75 inches in the 10 ring. The temperature was 41 degrees with a prevailing crosswind averaging 15 mph. All rounds were fired in rapid succession using a Weaver stance and a two-handed hold.
With the longer barrel, I wanted to chronograph the XD-S 4.0 .45 ACP with the same ammunition used when I reviewed the 3.3 model, and at the same range of 15 yards. Ammo selection was Federal Premium Law Enforcement 230-grain Hydra-Shok JHP, Hornady Critical Defense 185-grain FTX and Speer Gold Dot 185-grain GDHP. The heavy hitting Federal 230-grain cleared the ProChrono chronograph at an average of 838 fps, which was 38 fps faster; the 185-grain Hornady measured 950 fps, an increase of 10 fps; and the Speer 185-grain matched the results from the original test, which was 938 fps with the XD-S 3.3 .45 ACP.
The best five-round group measured 1.5 inches with the Speer load. The Federal Hydra-Shok returned a slightly wider spread measuring 1.85 inches center-to-center, with two overlapping, and Hornady came in just a fraction under 2 inches. Overall, from 15 yards, the .45 ACP XD-S 4.0 put all its rounds inside the center body mass of the B-27, and that’s what a defensive subcompact handgun is meant to do.
As a defensive handgun, the XD-S 4.0 models’ extra barrel and slide length take little away from the 9mm or .45 ACP versions in regards to concealment. The added length does, however, provide improved handling and better accuracy. Given the modest weight of the 4.0 models, an overall length of 7 inches and the same height and width as the 3.3 versions, the new Springfield XD-S 4.0 models provide another tactical advantage with an already proven design.
For more information, visit http://www.springfieldarmory.com or call 800-680-6866.
This article was originally published in CONCEALED CARRY HANDGUNS 2015. Subscription is available in print and digital editions below.