SPRINGFIELD ARMORY’S XD-S MOD.2 FEATURES A NEW GRIP FRAME, ENHANCED SHOOTING QUALITIES
Springfield Armory's XD-S Mod.2 features new grip frame, enhanced shooting qualities.
By Brad Fitzpatrick
We want it to be just right.
When it comes to a defensive handgun, most buyers want a gun that’s large enough to shoot comfortably, but compact enough to carry and conceal even under light clothing. When you start narrowing the field of new striker-fired guns that meet those criteria, you quickly winnow out the number of potential pistols considerably.
Guns in Springfield Armory’s XD-S line fit neatly into those Goldilocks proportions. The XD-S guns are built around the same basic architecture as Springfield’s other XD striker-fired guns, but the S-series pistols are single-stacks, which means they are lighter, thinner and easier to conceal than their beefier double-stack stablemates. The newest member of the XD-S line is the XD-S Mod.2, an updated and revised version of the original guns chambered in .45 ACP.
To be clear, there is nothing wrong with the original XD-S. I reviewed an early model and was impressed by the gun’s build quality, accuracy, safety features and compact size. But the team at Springfield Armory wasn’t content to simply rest upon
the past successes of their earlier models and instead decided to tweak the XD-S’s features to turn it into an even more appealing sidearm for personal protection.
All XD-S guns come with a narrow polymer grip, but the texturing on the XD-S Mod.2 has been upgraded for improved comfort and control. The standard XD-S has square texturing on the grip surface that is very aggressive. It kept the gun planted in the hand, but it wasn’t as comfortable as some competing models.
The XD-S Mod.2 has a new grip design with molded finger grooves and a new texturing that is less aggressive and more comfortable. That doesn’t mean that this new gun is prone to slipping out of the hand, though; the well-thought-out design has just enough texturing to keep the gun in position without gnawing at the shooter’s hand.
Additionally, the grip allows shooters to maintain a higher grip on the gun, and that makes shooting this compact .45 more pleasant. Positioning the hand higher on the pistol allows the rearward force of recoil to travel through the arms, where it can be absorbed. Alternatively, a lower hand position translates to more muzzle flip and less control, and that, in turn, results in slower follow-up shots.
The beavertail has also been narrowed and together with the grip angle also aid in a secure hold on the gun. Undoubtedly, the engineers at Springfield worked to make this compact .45 more manageable, and the new grip design and higher handhold make this a surprisingly mild .45, especially given its compact size. The new XD-S Mod.2 has a thinner slide than the previous XD-S model. The slide measures about 0.9 inch wide, excellent for concealed carry. The grip width is 0.975 inch, so this certainly is a slim .45.
With the included flush-fit magazine, the pistol measures 4.4 inches high. With the extended mag, the total height is just 5 inches. Overall, the length is 6.5 inches, and the pistol weighs 21.5 ounces to 22.5 ounces with the flush-fit and extended mags, respectively.
Adding to that, the slide is treated with a Melonite thermo-chemical treatment that won’t rust or flake, so this gun is equipped to stand up to the rigors of carry (primarily corrosive perspiration) without wearing. The Melonite finish gives the gun a matte black finish that WINTER 2018 • CONCEALED CARRY HANDGUNS
matches that of the black polymer grip. The 3.3-inch barrel also receives a Melonite treatment.
Controls on the XD-S are straightforward and simple. While they’re minimized to ease carry and reduce the odds of hanging up during a rapid draw, they’re also large enough for everyday use at the range. There’s a magazine release button, a serrated slide stop and a rotating takedown lever.
There’s no manual safety, but Springfield has incorporated a lengthy list of safety features into the gun. For starters, it comes with a grip safety. Before the gun can fire, the shooter must depress the safety with the hand. It’s less complicated than it sounds; when your hand is in proper position on the grip, the safety will be depressed automatically. But, until that happens, the gun will not fire—a simple safety feature that is virtually foolproof and one that I’m surprised more pistol manufacturers don’t incorporate into their guns. There’s a bladed trigger safety that requires a straight pull to fire, and there’s also a loaded chamber indicator that pops up slightly along the top of the frame to provide instant visual verification that there is, in fact, a round in the chamber.
There are a number of other features that help the XD-S stand out in this crowded field. For one, it comes with very good sights. The XD-S Mod.2 I tested came equipped with the Ameriglo Pro-Glo green tritium front sight inside a luminescent yellow circle and a black, serrated steel U-notch rear sight. The “tactical rack” rear sight has a flat front service that allows the gun to be effectively racked on a hard surface using just one hand—an excellent feature on any defensive pistol—and both the front and rear sights are dovetailed into the slide.
Springfield also added their Posi-Wedge rear slide serrations to the XD-S Mod.2, and it’s a nice addition. Trim single-stack semi-autos can be hard to rack, especially for new shooters. The Posi-Wedge design offers a better grip on the slide for more positive manipulation.
Overall, build quality is excellent; there’s a heavy-duty extractor, the magazines (five-round capacity for the flush fit, six for the extended) are made from stainless steel, and the dual captive recoil spring design is robust.
Takedown is simple; there’s a rotating lever on the left side of the frame that, when rotated 90 degrees, allows for simple takedown of the pistol for routine cleaning and maintenance. There’s also an accessory rail under the barrel if you choose to mount a light or laser.
A GOOD SHOOTER
To test the XD-S Mod.2, I fired five five-shot groups at 15 yards from a fixed rest using five different brands of .45 ACP ammunition. The ammo was a mix of three target and practice FMJ loads and two dedicated defensive
rounds. The results were pretty good considering the XD-S’s compact size.
The most accurate load tested was Hornady’s Critical Defense 185-grain ammunition and that was followed closely by Winchester’s new Super Clean Zinc 160-grain core. The best five-shot groups hovered around 2 inches, and none of the loads tested averaged more than 3 1/2 inches.
All of the loads tested functioned perfectly well in the XD-S, although the slide failed to stay open after the last shot on two occasions with two different loads.
The Springfield’s trigger breaks at around seven pounds with a fair amount of uptake, but the short reset allows for really fast follow-ups.
Shooting from practical positions—standing, walking, kneeling, lying down and so forth—at typical defensive ranges of 1 to 10 yards, the XD-S Mod.2 shines. Sure, there’s some uptake on the trigger, but when firing fast double-taps, you’ll care less about the uptake and more about the short reset that allows for a quick one-two punch.
That bold yellow and green front sight, a little large for benchrest shooting, is perfect for defensive shooting at close range in any light. The newly designed grip surface is comfortable, and the high hand position does help manage recoil.
The .45 is a snappy round, especially when fired from a 20-ounce, inchwide polymer pistol. For this reason, it might not be the best choice for a new shooter. But, the XD-S Mod.2 is manageable, and you can get off two fast-aimed shots with this pistol in a hurry.
The Springfield Armory XD-S Mod.2 effectively balances portability and shootability. And even though it’s relatively powerful for a small gun, it’s not abusive like some carry guns. And shooters with large hands will find there’s enough room on this pistol for all their digits. All in all, this Mod.2 has all of the quality of the original, with excellent upgrades to truly improve its performance by making the gun easier to shoot well. CC
“THE SPRINGFIELD ARMORY XD-S MOD.2 EFFECTIVELY BALANCES PORTABILITY AND SHOOTABILITY.”
There was nothing wrong with the original XD-S, but Springfield added updates to the new Mod.2 version that include a redesigned beavertail, a trimmer slide and new grip texturing. Springfield Armory photo
02) The XD-S Mod.2’s trigger breaks at 7 pounds. The very short reset allows for fast follow-up shots. 02
04) Though it’s a bit course for target work, the Ameriglo green tritium front sight is ideal for its primary purpose— rapid target acquisition at defensive ranges in any light conditions. 04
01 01) The XD-S Mod.2 has a new grip design with less aggressive texturing, finger grooves and architecture that places the shooter’s hand higher on the gun for better control.
03 03) The XD-S Mod.2 has a serrated steel rear sight with a tactical rack design. The Posi-Wedge serrations make gripping and maneuvering the slide simple.
Right: Both the slide and the grip of the XD-S Mod.2 measure less than an inch wide—great for carrying concealed. Despite its narrows dimensions and relatively small size, the XD-S is surprisingly comfortable to shoot. Springfield Armory photo
Above: The XD-S Mod.2’s barrel and slide are protected by a Melonite finish. The accessory rail is small, but it will accommodate a light or a laser such as the Crimson Trace Rail Master shown here.
Below: The XD-S Mod.2 is reliable, well-built and relatively affordable, considering the long list of included features. Springfield Armory photo