Gun Review: Springfield XD 9mm (Service Model)

The Springfield XD first saw the light of day as the HS2000, a semi-automatic handgun manufactured in the middle of Croatia’s War of Independence. Quality went up as the war wound down. In 2002, America’s Springfield Armory cut a deal with Marko Vuković’s mob to import ten versions of the battle-tested handgun into The Land of the Free. Sales of Springfield’s perfectly priced polymer pistol soared, giving Gaston Glock’s stylish products (/sarcasm) a solid run for their money. While TTAG’s reviewed just about every incarnation of Springfield’s eXtreme Duty, our canon doesn’t include the standard Service Model. Only now it does . . .

As my recent review indicated, the Glock 17′s like that girl in high school whose personality and, uh, experience more than made up for her aesthetic shortcomings. In comparison, the Springfield XD needs a paper bag to cover its head. In fact, the XD is right at the top of my list of ugly heaters; just above the Desert Eagle and below the Hi-Point.

And then I picked it up (so to speak). The brick-like XD’s grip swell fit my massive paws like an Israeli military uniform on Agam Rodberg. (Better actually.) A quick survey discovered that the Springfield XD fits lesser handed newbie shooters with equal ergonomic excellence. The basic XD’s slicker handgrip is easier on my soft girly hands than das Glock, and the trigger is right where it needs to be for a perfect pull. Geographically speaking, at least.

Fixed onto that honking handle: a grip safety. Glock’s “combat gun” ain’t got one; Springfield’s polymer pistol does. I believe the XD’s grip safety gives gunners a little extra peace of mind—especially welcome in a firearm with a “safe action” style trigger. Detractors consider the grip safety one more thing to go wrong. Equally, they can’t imagine a scenario where they’d need it; dubbing the grip safety an ingenious solution to a non-existant problem.

I’m a metal gun guy. While I recognize that manufacturing some of the less important bits of a gun out of polycarbonate offers reliability and cost benefits, some things should never go Barbie. Chief amongst them: barrels and magazines.

The XD’s metal mags are fantastic. They’re quick to load, feed perfectly every time and drop out of the mag well at the push of a button. The XD mags’ composition makes them thinner than their plastic fantastic Austrian competitor’s cartridge holders, which allows the Croats to build a thinner magazine well.

The XD’s slide is a LEGO-like homage to 90 degree angles, except for the slightly offset serrations. I prefer the more aggressively angled and grippy serrations, actually. That said, in practice, the XD’s thick, block-like slide is about as easy to grab as a brick—as long as you’re practicing a combat rack (off-hand over-the-top) rather than a slingshot (from behind).

All of the most popular polymer pistols have serrations behind the ejection port. I’m not so sure about the utility of the front serrations. Press check, sure. But is it a good idea to grip a gun near the business end of the muzzle when you’re racking the slide? Probably not. Are there some circumstances where that might be your only option? Yes, but—you can’t rack the slide without depressing the grip safety. So . . . it looks pretty cool.

There are two more features on the slide, required in some locales by law, that suck: the Springfield XD’s loaded chamber and cocked indicators.

The loaded chamber indicator sticks up sharply on top of the XD’s slide, which makes it easy to check in the dark or see from a distance. But it also adds one more thing for the gun to get hung up on. I prefer the way Glock mounted their chamber indicator: side-mounted on the extractor. Then again, that’s one of the reasons the new Glocks aren’t for sale in Massachusetts (except to police, of course, who can sell them into the civilian market). That, and the whole Bay State lack of freedom thing.

Then there’s that cocked indicator gizmo. I’m not really sure what to call it. It’s a dealy that sticks out when the firing pin is in the half cocked position, ready to roll. It’s nifty — I guess — but in a gunfight am I really going to check to see if my gun is cocked? Wouldn’t one assume that if the loaded chamber indicator is raised, that’s good enough? It pretty much defines superfluous. It also reminds me vaguely of a pimple.

The XD’s trigger looks and feels like every Glock-inspired striker gun on the market. Saying that, the flat blade of the XD’s trigger is both meatier and more smoothly textured than Gaston’s go pedal. But the mechanics are awful. There’s more slack than RF’s jaw contemplating Oriah Zrien at a pool party. The break feels more like a wet sock than a piece of glass and the reset takes FOREVER. In short, it sucks.

Then again, one can’t argue with the results. That’s a tighter group than I got out of the Glock (ignoring the flier), which is pretty impressive. For slow fire, the XD is damned accurate. For rapid fire . . .

The XD’s barrel (bore axis) is higher above the top of your hand than the Glock and other contenders. That gives the Springfield some mechanical advantage for your grip but makes significantly increases felt recoil. So as you fire faster, getting back on target is tougher and takes longer.

Then again, just like the Glock, you can fire an XD all day every day until the end of days without worrying about the pistol going click instead of bang. And that means you can practice morning, noon and night and get to the point where neither the sloppy trigger nor the [relatively] flippy barrel will make any difference to your shooting skills.

I can see how the Springfield XD Service Model fits in with a law enforcement operation. It has all the features that police departments want, rock solid reliability, metal magazines to not die for and a grip safety (FWIW). The priced-to-go plain Jane XD stands accused of being a flippy, sponge-triggered “me too” Glock. But if the firearm fits—a supposition that does not apply to Gaston’s gun for a great many shooters—you must acquit.

Specifications:
Caliber:              9mm Parabellum
Barrel:                4″
Overall:              7.3″
Weight:              28 oz. empty
Capacity:           16
Price:                 $432 (Buds)

Ratings (out of five stars):
All ratings are relative to other similar guns, and the final score IS NOT calculated from the constituent scores.

Accuracy: * * * *
I was actually pleasantly surprised by this. The gun is pretty good in the accuracy department, but the Sig 2022 still beats it.

Ergonomics (Handling): * * * * *
Handling is actually pretty good. Things are where they should be, and there are no finger ridges to mold my hand to fit.

Ergonomics (Firing): * *
Crappy trigger + high bore axis + crappy trigger (I say it twice because it’s bad before and after the gun goes off) = meh.

Reliability: * * * * *
We’ve touched on this in the past. Admittedly it’s ancient history for us, but still valid.

Customization: * * * * *
There are already tons of accessories, many made by Springfield themselves and thoughtfully included with the gun. The accessory rail makes adding stuff easy as pie.

Overall Rating: * * *
Not my first choice for a handgun, but it goes bang every time and hits the target. There are some that do it better, but for the price and considering the competition, it’s about average. Like I said, there really isn’t anything about the gun to make it stand out in a field that includes Glock and S&W.

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About Nick Leghorn

Nick Leghorn is a gun nerd living and working in San Antonio, Texas. In his free time, he's a competition shooter (USPSA, 3-gun and NRA High Power), aspiring pilot, and enjoys mixing statistics and science with firearms. Now on sale: Getting Started with Firearms by yours truly!

33 Responses to Gun Review: Springfield XD 9mm (Service Model)

  1. avatarg says:

    So if you had to pick one, would you pick the Glock gen4 or the Springfield XD?

  2. avatarfreeport56 says:

    XD hands down. I was an early purchaser of the 4″ Service 9mm. Right out of the box great ergonomics, easy take down, and impressive accuracy. I have out-shot a Walther, Glock, and a couple of other 9mm in a head to head. I just cannot say enough about that XD 9mm. It is such an impressive firearm, I bought the 4″ Service model in .45 ACP when it came out !

  3. avatarMike S says:

    Very happy with my XD9 subcompact. Glocks are fantastic firearms. XDs just fit me better.

  4. avatarMichael B. says:

    Dude, you’re not even 30 and you sound like an OWFG that’s 60+

    “DERN PLASTIC GUNS!”

    Good review, btw. :P

  5. avatarMark S Wild says:

    Nick,
    The Good: I have an XD .40 and a Glock 17 Gen4, so I’m amused by your reviews this week of things I (basically) already own. Your description of the awful trigger on the stock XD is dead on; it’s just awful. Not to mention that the XD outweighs the equivalent Glock model by a good number of ounces.
    The Bad: Did your model not have the ambidextrous mag release? I see that as the mildest of advantages.
    Other notes: On the open market, the XD is some $100 less than a Glock if purchasing the Essentials package, which does not include the holster and magazine holders.

  6. avatarMTYD05 says:

    Depending on the model the M&P has forward cocking serrations and the FNS 9&40 both have it. It’s intended to make it easier to press check the weapon.

  7. avatarMike S says:

    Yeah lets not forget this gun can be had for under $450. Take the difference, and slip a drop-in trigger upgrade into her. Shoot. Enjoy. Repeat.

    • avatarHSR47 says:

      XD wise, the cheapest I’ve ever seen was 335 for a pistol that was almost a safe queen.

      Glock-wise the cheapest I’ve seen is their only-one pricing; you can get one for under 500 out the door with factory night sights.

  8. I guess there’s no accounting for taste but to me the Glock trigger feels like it takes a week to get the job done and my Springfield XD 9mm just purrs like a kitten. I’ve had mine for two years, have shot the hell out of it without a problem or failure.

    Though I do agree on the single shot/multiple shot issue.

  9. avatarMark N. says:

    My first handgun purchase was an XD and NOT a Glock. The Glock ergos did not suit . I have never regretted the decision. It has NEVER failed to go bang thousands of rounds later. I don’t know why you get all upset about the LCI. There is no way it can hang the action since it is nothing but a lever operated by the presence of a cartridge, it does not interfere with the sights or the draw, and it just stays the heck out of the way. What’s to hate? If you don’t like it you can just ignore it. I agree that there’s isn’t a whole lot of use for the “cocked” indicator, and current models have dropped it–but again, it isn’t something you even notice when you are shooting.

  10. avatarAnother Marylander says:

    Where’s the review for the 2022? I ask because I am torn between that and the Glock 17/19 as my first handgun.

  11. avatartdiinva says:

    A little history of the grip safety, The orignial design of the M1911 did not have a grip safety. The Cavalry Board wanted to make sure the gun was safe when in was secured to the cavalryman by a lanyard. They were concerned that when the safety was off the gun could discharge while it was flapping around. Their soluition was the grip safety.

    • avatarMark N. says:

      According to Denis Prisbrey, writing for Guns and Ammo for the “Complete Book of the Model 1911″ in 2007, the thumb safety is what was added at the insistence of the cavalry to the original 1910 design, allowing a trooper to safe his weapon without dropping the hammer to half cock while riding.

    • avatarGerald Kuntze says:

      Not quite so. Browning added the grip safety at the army’s request so the pistol could be fired “without manipulation,” meaning that the user wouldn’t have to cock it or work the slide. When the grip safety was added, it was the only safety. The thumb safety was added later as a redundancy.

  12. avatarCaseyBenton says:

    For a long time, I hated Glocks (where “glock” meant any striker-fired polymer not-1911). Then I actually gave one a shot.. and I REALLY hated it, but now with specific reasons. About 6 months ago I went through the (fun, educational, expensive) exercise of renting every single 9mm gun the LGS has for rent and doing 50 rounds per.

    Immediately after that comparison (which involved a lot of Glocks), I went and bought an XD Subcompact (I have big hands, but compact-sized grips just do it for me. I don’t know why) and have been shooting the crap out of it ever since. I just recently took it through a 2-day tactical pistol class, and have to say I felt no disadvantage when it came to checking our hits.

    As for the trigger, I dunno.. I feel what you mean, certainly, it’s not a clean snap break. But it is a consistent squish, where as most Glocks I’ve shot have had a shorter but oddly-stacking pull. The newer Glocks were definitely better (and these being rentals, we can’t rule out that they were just ill-kept), but between the two I’d go XD any day.

  13. avatarAlphaGeek says:

    I am fully capable of press-checking my H&K USP without lasering my off hand or pointing my gun in an unsafe direction. It’s the people who have not conscientiously developed a safe, well-practiced method for doing so, IMHO, that are a danger to themselves and others.

    I prefer to use the overhand press-check for a loaded chamber so that I can train in a completely different motion (slingshot) when I want to properly cycle the slide. This ensures that I am much less likely to eject a round inadvertently when checking the chamber, and conversely, that I will properly and fully cycle the slide when that’s what is required.

  14. avatarAndrew H says:

    The first gun I ever bought for myself. Mine has thousands of rounds through it and the only problems I remember having have always been ammo related as far as I could tell. I have had plenty of newbies shoot it and do very well. For under$450 it’s extremely hard to complain. I think having the higher bore has actually made me concentrate on fundamentals which transfer well into other pistols.

  15. avatarAccur81 says:

    That’s a seriously hideously hideous gun – and I’m somewhat of a Glock fan.

  16. avatarJake in AK says:

    The first handgun I bought for my self was an XD-
    Ugly as sin but fit me well. As for the battle between glocks and xds- my personal opinion is that they both work darn well, and which ever one fits you better is the one for you.

  17. avatarCarlosT says:

    Considering the loaded chamber indication angles in both directions when it’s up, is flush otherwise, sits halfway between the front and rear sights, and is about a third as tall as either, I think it’s pretty unlikely it’s going to get hung up on anything.

    As for the grip safety, the logic behind that is unlike the Glock, the XD is basically single action. When the pistol is c*ocked, the striker is set at 100% spring tension, and all the trigger does is release it. The Glock, on the other hand, is kind of double-action. C*cking sets the striker at somewhere between 1/3 or 1/2 spring tension (I can remember exactly), and the trigger completes the action of tensioning the striker spring, then releasing the striker.

    • avatarIng says:

      I was going to say something about the loaded-chamber indicator, too…I’ll just add my bit to yours.

      No way is it going to ever get snagged on anything. As small as it is, and with its smooth sloped profile, nothing’s going to get hung up on it.

      It’s the best loaded-chamber indicator I’ve ever seen. Visual and tactile, so there’s no guessing in light or dark, and no need to resort to a clumsy, potentially risky “press check.” It was one of several things that tipped the balance in favor of the XD/XDm when I was shopping for my first pistol.

      Between ergonomics, simplicity, safety, reliability, comfort, and performance, the XD set the bar so high for me that pretty much nothing (except the XDm) can beat it.

  18. avatarKR says:

    The solution for the XD trigger is the same as it is for Glock and M&P: aftermarket trigger parts. Springer Precision makes drop in replacement parts that dramatically improve both trigger pull and reset. Of all the polymer striker fired pistols I’ve worked with, the XD w/ Springer parts has the most 1911-ish trigger of any of them.

    There’s nothing wrong with the bore axis height of the XD. It’s roughly the same as Glock, M&P and 1911, much better frame design than SIG, which forces the hands too low on the pistol. (Nobody in any pistol sport wins using the SIG DA/SA design. Just thought I’d mention that, to annoy all the SIG lovers. CZ, with it’s higher bore axis, is currently the dominant DA/SA style pistol in competition). So you are 100% wrong to say that “high bore axis” is an undesirable feature.

    A common problem with the XD that you failed to mention (and the main reason I dumped mine for an M&P) is that if you use a proper high grip, with your firing hand thumb up at the height of the slide (where it would be if your thumb was atop a thumb safety on a 1911), it’s easy to put pressure on the slide stop, and that prevents the gun from locking back on the last round. Springer also makes a replacement slide stop that allows a proper high grip on the pistol and lets the slide lock back.

    Another issue you failed to notice – the real problem with the grip safety is that you can’t rack the slide unless the grip safety is pressed. That’s different from a 1911. The reason the grip safety is part of the XD design appears to be because the striker is more than 50% cocked (which is why the BATFE and IDPA both consider the XD a “single action” pistol), and the grip safety is probably needed to make the gun drop safe.

    I was an XD lover until I spent a week at the famous Rogers school in Georgia, shooting 2500 rounds, 25% R hand only, including reloads, and 25% L hand only, including reloads. The slide lock problem, the relatively hard to press mag release (compared to Glock and M&P), and the “can’t run the slide unless the grip safety is pressed” issue were constant impediments to running the gun easily. I was 3rd overall in our class. The two students that earned their Advanced rating (takes IPSC Grand Master level shooting) shot a Glock and an M&P.

    • avatarEric says:

      KR-

      Just want to say thanks for the above post. As an owner of over 30 guns I’m new to conceal and carry work. Safety is always 1st on menu, then safety after that, then personal protection. Safeties on XD from my research are top notch. I don’t care if I’d take 3rd in shootout class! With proper and constant use of gun, I realize you’d only get 3rd in class due to attributes of pistol. However to some people like myselft a split second or 2 more is worth saftey issue. I’d love to see comments stats regarding safties. I’m sure your 3rd place in shooting school yeilds you a 90% + better shooter than any villian you’d ever come up against!

    • avatarIng says:

      Bringing this discussion back from the dead, as it were, but I do have something useful to add…

      I met a guy at the range a couple weeks ago who owns several Springfield pistols, and he has a one-handed method for working the slide — rotate the gun so that the grip safety sits in the web of your hand, fold your fingers over the slide, and pull the slide back by closing your hand like you’re going to make a fist. Really ingenious.

      The only catch is that it takes a fair amount of hand strength to do it. I can’t quite manage it on my XDm 9mm, but I can just barely do it with my wife’s XD-9 subcompact; it’s easier for me to get a good grip on the smaller slide (plus, a bout of tendinitis is interfering with my grip strength…at least that’s my excuse).

      So, if you’re willing to practice the particular technique, “can’t operate the slide one-handed” doesn’t have to be a drawback.

  19. avatarSundance says:

    No comment, but a question. I’m wanting to get my daughter a pistol for concealed carry. She has really small hands and a small wrist. She’s also as skinny as a rail which is gonna make concealment an issue, but I didn’t say that. A friend recommended the XD. Would one of you experts weigh in on this and for either the 9mm or .45, or for another gun entirely?
    Thanks, in advance.

    • avatarMarc says:

      sundance,
      I she is as small as you make her out to be, Petit, I would certainly not consider a 45 for her.

    • avatarSean Novack says:

      Sundance, bring your daughter to the range and find out what is comfortable for her. My wife is a fairly small woman, and she ended up choosing the Beretta M84 Cheetah .380. I know a lot of airheads out there say that is “too small” for a self defense round, but I call bullshit on that. 70% of all Defensive Gun Uses end without the defender firing a shot (the attacker runs away), and with the proper ammunition a .380 can certainly be lethal at self-defense ranges (30 feet and closer).
      The best gun for defense is the one you have, and you should have the one you can control. Proper training, practice, and shot placement count for a lot more than a big heavy bullet. Also, the .380 is a lot more concealable.
      My 2 cents

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