Why I chose the XD-S 3.3 as my sole sidearm

American Survival Guide - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - By Dana Ben­ner

Let me start off by say­ing that I have never been a big fan of hand­guns.

How­ever, I be­lieve they do have their place in the arse­nal of any­one in­ter­ested in pro­tect­ing them­selves, their fam­ily and their sur­vival stores. When it comes down to it, I would rather use a 12-gauge shot­gun for home-de­fense; but away from home, a shot­gun draws a great deal of at­ten­tion (typ­i­cally un­wanted at­ten­tion).

My thoughts on sidearms changed be­cause of the nu­mer­ous shoot­ings tak­ing place at schools, shop­ping malls and the like. Today, more than ever in our re­cent his­tory, there is a need to not only have the means of pro­tect­ing your­self in public, but also for know­ing how to use those tools.

Be­cause I didn’t own a hand­gun, I needed to do some re­search to de­cide which model would be the right fit for my needs. Per­sonal se­cu­rity wasn’t the only rea­son I would carry this gun, so I needed to take a lot of fac­tors into con­sid­er­a­tion. Read­ing about how I went through this process might help first­time hand­gun buy­ers find the best op­tion for their own needs.

The main pur­pose for my firearms is hunt­ing—which means I have ri­fles and shot­guns, not hand­guns. While some peo­ple do hunt with pis­tols, I never have. I hunt pigs here, in New Hamp­shire, and


some of my friends who hunt pigs in other parts of the coun­try asked me what I was us­ing as a sidearm. When I told them I didn’t use one, they rec­om­mended highly that I get one. I thought about it, re­al­iz­ing a long gun would do me no good when trail­ing a wounded boar or bear into thick brush.

So, now the search was on. Which hand­gun would give me the knock­down power I needed—but at the same time, would be light enough to carry all day?

I vis­ited gun shops and asked a lot of ques­tions. I looked at .44 Magnums and .357 Magnums. I looked at re­volvers and semi­au­to­mat­ics. Af­ter a great deal of search­ing, I found the Spring­field XD-S 3.3 in .45 ACP. I liked its feel. It was just the firearm I was look­ing for.


There are plenty of re­ally good hand­guns on the mar­ket today in ev­ery style and cal­iber you can think of, so the choice was hard to make. When search­ing for this gun, there were cer­tain things I was look­ing for: First, it had to be light enough to carry all day in the field on hunt­ing trips. Sec­ond, it needed to have enough punch to stop a wild boar or a bear in an emer­gency sit­u­a­tion. And, third, I needed a firearm my wife could pick up and use in an emer­gency. The XD-S fit the bill.

Dur­ing my search, I asked a lot of ques­tions. I spoke to friends who hunt wild boar in Florida and Mis­sis­sippi. I talked to bear hunters and with the peo­ple at gun stores. I got dif­fer­ent an­swers. Some pre­ferred semi­au­to­mat­ics, while oth­ers liked re­volvers. One thing that they all agreed on is that I needed some­thing with a lot of knock­down power and noth­ing smaller than a .357 Mag­num.

I spent 12 years in the U.S. Army, for which my is­sued sidearm was a 1911 .45 ACP; my per­sonal sidearm was a Smith & Wes­son Model 27 .357 Mag­num. Both guns have the power to do what I want, but they are heavy, and weight and size are is­sues. Be­cause I was also look­ing for a firearm my wife would feel com­fort­able us­ing, I also looked at .38s, .38 Spe­cials, .380s, 9mms and .40s; these were small enough to meet most of my needs and they are great peo­ple-stop­ping rounds, but they would do lit­tle on a wounded boar or an en­raged bear.

The Spring­field XD-S 3.3 was the per­fect gun for my needs. It weighs 21.5 ounces (with­out a fully loaded mag­a­zine), mea­sures only 4.4 inches high when

fit­ted with the com­pact five-round mag­a­zine and has an over­all length of just 6.3 inches. The poly­mer frame de­sign, sin­gle-stack mag­a­zines and 3.3-inch bar­rel all work to­gether to re­duce weight and over­all size. Spring­field pro­duces this sidearm in .45 ACP, so I was able to get the knock­down power I was look­ing for.

De­spite the pos­i­tives, there are a few draw­backs to this firearm. First, the stan­dard five-round mag­a­zine makes this firearm hard to han­dle if you hap­pen to have large hands. In its de­fense, the XD-S is de­signed to be a con­cealed-carry firearm, which re­quires the small size. There is a six-round mag­a­zine avail­able that makes gun han­dling much eas­ier and user friendly. The sec­ond draw­back is that be­cause of the very na­ture of its de­sign, the avail­able mag­a­zines don’t al­low for the num­ber of rounds many peo­ple are used to.



I am a firm be­liever in gun safety. Noth­ing up­sets me more than hear­ing about some­one be­ing shot—and the ex­cuse given is that some­one was clean­ing the gun and it went off. Guns don’t just “go off.” The ques­tion is, Why were they clean­ing a loaded gun?

With that be­ing said, I liked the XD-S be­cause of its safety fea­tures. While no gun is truly safe un­less it is un­loaded, the XD-S is about as id­iot-proof as you can make a gun.

The au­thor’s pre­ferred sidearm—the Spring­field Xd-s—along with Amer­i­can Ea­gle rounds and a Black­hawk! hol­ster

Be­low: Au­thor Ben­ner prac­tices shoot­ing his XD-S right handed.

The au­thor’s pack with the XD-S and Ger­ber Stron­garm knife. These two help keep the au­thor safe in the field and when he is away from home.

Be­low: Load­ing a mag­a­zine with Amer­i­can Ea­gle FMJ rounds

Right: Ze­ro­ing in on the tar­get at the Manchester Fir­ing Range at 30 feet Be­low right: Tak­ing aim with his new XD-S, the au­thor was six for six with hits at 40 feet.

Above: The au­thor shoots his XD-S left handed at an out­door range.

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