The idea of scaling down a .45 ACP to pocket-pistol dimensions has been kicked around for decades. A few remarkably compact 1911s have been built over the years, but they can be very expensive and recoil is, as expected, brisk. The smallest contenders in the ultra-compact .45 class have long been the Glock 30, G30 SF, G36 and new G30S, the latter two being slightly narrower single-stacks. But nothing in .45 ACP has ever come close to what Springfield Armory has accomplished with its new XD-S.
A continuation of the XD series, begun in 2002, the XD-S builds on the foundation of the .40 S&W XDM Compact introduced in 2011, which not only became the heavyweight among Springfield’s Compact models but also raised the question, Could this be done in .45 ACP? A year later, Springfield Armory not only stepped up with the legendary 1911 Government Model’s caliber but created a gun that was even smaller, putting the scaled-down .45 ACP squarely into the “pocketable” category.
With its 5+1 capacity, excellent weight and balance and impressive recoil control, you’ll wonder what just happened after you pull the trigger the first time. From a physical standpoint, the XD-S should have very harsh recoil given its modest weight (21.5 ounces empty) and small size—an overall length of 6.3 inches, a height of 4.4 inches and a slide width of only 0.9 inches. Add to that a lightweight polymer frame (which traditionally increases recoil) and you’ve got a gun that should have a very hefty kick. When that doesn’t happen, it’ll give you a moment of pause. The XD-S has a weight, balance and internal design (recoil spring and plunger) engineered to reduce a significant degree of felt recoil, making the gun more manageable and quicker to get back on target than many larger and heavier .45 ACP subcompacts and ultra-compacts. In terms of overall size, only the infamous, collectible and very expensive Semmerling .45 ACP, slide-action pistol has smaller stats—and not by much.
The XD-S has a short 3.3-inch barrel and a clean, uncluttered profile, with a slightly raised slide release and a simple takedown lever that are both on the left side of the frame. Neither control has an edge that’s likely to catch on clothing or impede drawing or reholstering. The checkered, ambidextrous magazine release is slightly angled for easy activation. The XD-S has no magazine disconnect, so it will discharge a chambered round with the magazine removed.
The gun’s dual safety system (pioneered by the XD series) utilizes a Glock-style trigger toggle, which Springfield calls the USA (Ultra Safety Assurance) trigger. It works in concert with a 1911-style, frame-mounted grip safety. The trigger and safety work together to prevent an accidental discharge if the firearm is inadvertently dropped. Firing the XD-S requires that the grip safety be fully depressed and the trigger toggle moved rearward in unison with the trigger. Any deviation and the gun will not fire. There is also a loaded-chamber indicator that can be seen and, more importantly, felt should you find yourself in a situation that impedes a visual check. The loaded-chamber indicator is located behind the ejector port, on top of the slide. The leading (front) edge projects upward just enough to see it under your line of sight, or it can be felt by running a finger over the top of the slide.
The XD-S, like all XD models, comes with everything you need, including a paddle holster and dual spare-magazine pouch. Also standard are drift-adjustable front and rear sights (red fiber-optic front and white-dot rear), ambidextrous indexing thumb rests and two interchangeable backstrap panels. The XD-S comes with two standard five-round magazines, and an extended seven-round magazine is available as an accessory.
As with all XD models, the XD-S uses a proven striker-fired system, which Springfield Armory has fine-tuned to reduce trigger take-up and provide a short reset. Including engaging the safety, there is about 0.5 inches of travel, and the trigger remains crisp and consistent with every shot, requiring a nominal 6.59 pounds on average for our test gun. In essence, when in battery, the striker is only partially cocked. Pulling the trigger retracts the striker further until it is released from the sear. As such, there is no second-strike capability if a primer fails, but, because it is not fully cocked, there is nothing to decock. In all, the gun has an incredibly easy method of operation that beginners can pick up quickly and it’s a very safe pistol to carry. If you want the proven stopping power of a .45 ACP in a truly pocketable pistol, there is nothing else on the market like the XD-S. It is in a class of its own.
My test protocol for guns with 3.3-inch barrels is a measured distance from the target of 15 yards. For ammo, I chose Federal 230-grain Hydra-Shok, Hornady 185-grain FTX and CorBon 160-grain DPX loads, providing three very different grain-weight bullets. All shots were fired off-hand at 1-second intervals using a Weaver stance and two-handed hold. Federal cleared my chronograph at an average of 800 feet per second (fps), Hornady at 940 fps, and the CorBon DPX at a smoking 995 fps average (with a high of 1,105 fps). Recoil was most substantial with the Federal and CorBon ammo.
The most accurate and manageable load in the XD-S was Hornady’s 185-grain FTX, which twice placed five consecutive rounds all overlapping at 1.2 inches in the 10-ring at 10 o’clock. An almost identical group was achieved with the heavyweight Federal Premium Hydra-Shok, with five rounds in a 1.5-inch group in the 9- and 10-rings at 9 o’clock with three shots overlapping. The higher-velocity CorBon took a little time to nail down on earlier test targets, as it consistently hit 3 inches above point of aim at 15 yards.
After compensating for aim, consecutive hits were achieved with a best five-shot group in the X-ring, measuring 1.75 inches with three overlapping dead center in the X. The trigger reset on the XD-S was instantaneous, and recoil was lighter than expected, even with heavy-hitting rounds. Sight reacquisition was nearly seamless from one shot to the next, making this an easy gun to handle despite its small size and large caliber.
The XD-S has every essential attribute that makes a semi-auto desirable for personal- and home-defense needs, but with the added stopping power of a .45 ACP and a size small enough for pocket carry. That is a formidable combination. The ease with which the XD-S can be handled and manageably fired, even with heavy-hitting personal-defense ammo, makes it an outstanding choice as a pocket pistol. Given Springfield’s history for excellent quality, the XD-S will no doubt find its way into pockets wherever CCW permits are issued. For more information, call 800-680-6866 or visit springfieldarmory.com.