Springfield is a name that rings familiar to the American shooter’s ear–and with good reason. It has been with us for a long time. Our present generation of shooters knows that the name belongs to a family-owned, Illinois-based maker of a diverse assortment of quality firearms. The company’s current catalog shows several variations of the M1A and M1 Garand rifles, some high-end scopes, a really wide array of M1911A1-style pistols and a growing family of XD autos. But with Springfield, a company that obviously believes that standing still means getting run over, there’s always room for more products.
That’s why I jumped at the chance to attend a Springfield writer’s seminar held at Raahauge’s shooting park near Norco, California, last October. At this gun-friendly venue, Springfield unveiled a number of special new products. It also held the inaugural, open-to-the-public XD Challenge, a pistol match intended to display the virtues of the Springfield XD pistol. After four days of shooting Springfield’s guns and watching the professionally managed match, I came away with a great respect for the company’s product line. These folks are making some great guns.
The biggest news is another variation of the explosively popular XD pistol. This new gun joins the already-available XDs in full-size 4-inch and long-slide 5-inch format. It is a much smaller 9mm pistol with a 3-inch barrel and a shorter butt that accepts a 10-round magazine. This little pistol, called the XD Sub-Compact, is in the same size class as the Glock G26 and G27 guns. Obviously, it is intended to go head-to-head with those popular models. The handgun maker who offers an effective police service or civilian defense automatic pistol is always well advised to abbreviate the gun in length and height; the resulting firearm makes an attractive companion to the bigger gun. That’s exactly what we are looking at with the XD Sub-Compact.
Initially available as a 9mm only, the newest XD is intended to be a backup gun for a police officer or other service handgunner or a primary concealed-carry piece for anyone who habitually goes armed. With a short, 3-inch barrel and slide, it’s small enough to carry easily in a parka pocket, purse or fanny pack.
In the hand, the XD Sub-Compact is a solid, chunky pistol that almost seems a bit top-heavy. There’s enough space on the butt for about 21⁄2 of my chubby fingers. Nevertheless, I found that I had enough grip to control the gun reasonably well in fast shooting exercises. It is more of a problem now that the pistol is becoming available in .40 S&W. As a 9mm, the recoil impulse is short and snappy, which mandates a strong grip and locked wrist for fast repeat shots.
My initial shooting evaluation of the Sub-Compact was at Raahauge’s during the writer’s seminar. This situation did not afford me a chance to do a proper accuracy evaluation of the gun, but the informal plate shooting we were doing did not cause me to believe an aimed shot from the new XD was going to strike anywhere other than where I aimed it. If you can do your part, it sure looks like the gun will cooperate.
This pistol is like all XDs in that it has a tough-to-classify trigger operation, which Springfield refers to as the “USA” (Ultra Safety Assurance) system. When the slide cycles, the pistol’s internal striker is loaded, which leaves the shooter with a short-arc trigger pull of some seven to eight pounds. It’s on the creepy side with a certain amount of overtravel. But the trigger pull is also exactly the same for every shot, and that feature makes for both speed and continuity of operation.
There is no external manual safety, but there are both a trigger safety in the form of a pivoting lever on the face of the trigger and a grip safety high on the backstrap. The grip safety must be depressed by a firm grip of the shooter’s hand. If this isn’t done, you can’t manipulate the pistol in any way. There is also an internal striker blocking safety. I consider this system to be safe to handle.
The trigger system requires that the slide cycle to set the striker. Slide lock and takedown levers are on the left side of the gun. Note the grip safety on the backstrap.
Lots of shooter amenities are on the XD Sub-Compact. There is an obvious effort to build an ambidextrous pistol. To begin with, the magazine catch is a push-in button at the rear of the triggerguard. When pushed from either side, the button will permit the magazine to drop clear of the gun.
On the rear face of the slide, there’s a projecting end of the striker, which extends out only when the striker is fully set–a cocked pistol indicator. And centered on the top of the slide at the rear edge of the ejection port, you’ll find a small lug. It projects upward to tell you there is a round in the pistol’s chamber.
This is a gun with a somewhat oversized triggerguard, which is handy when the shooter is working with gloved hands. This feature has a disadvantage in that it leaves only a short distance from the face of the triggerguard to the front end of the receiver.
One of the currently popular features of a tactical pistol is a dust-cover rail on which to mount a white light. The XD Sub-Compact has a very short rail, but Insight Technologies showed us a miniaturized light with easy-to-work switches. It fits the new XD perfectly and does not project forward of the pistol muzzle.
The XD Sub-Compact is a thoroughly modern pistol design manufactured with the most up-to-date methods. The receiver is molded polymer and the upper is machined steel, all done up in a flat black color. Slightly modified Beretta 92 magazines will work in the gun should the purchaser have any left from the high-capacity days.
There are many advantages to this new pistol design, not the least of which is the backing of a major American firearms maker. It’s sort of a dark horse, but the XD family is one that Springfield will ride into the 21st century.
Thanks to Wiley Clapp of Guns and Ammo Magazine for contributing this review