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.

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.