The Springfield Armory XD semi-automatic pistol entered the U.S. market eleven years ago. It was a leap gun for a leap year. The Croatian “X-treme Duty” handgun matched the all-conquering Austrian GLOCK 19 in never-say-die reliability, but cost less, looked better and pointed more naturally. The XD also offered shooters a grip safety, a smoother, more controllable trigger; a way cool briefcase and plenty o’ accessories. What was not to love – other than a handle harder to hide than Madoff’s millions? That was the question facing Springfield when they gave the gun a makeover . . .
The previous XD’s blocky design reflected the gun’s HS2000 utilitarian roots, presenting a profile not dissimilar to a double-decker bus. Detractors of the freshened Mod.2‘s have focused on the words GRIP ZONE on the gun’s honking handle, annoyed at Springfield’s decision to draw constant attention to a piercing glimpse into the obvious. But other than that appeal to rappers’ brandophilia the Croats have done an excellent job modernizing the gun’s graphics, cut angles and ergonomics. The Mod.2’s a much sexier pierce than the previous pistol.
Springfield’s CAD-CAMmers relocated the XD’s nameplate and re-drew the lines connecting the slide and frame. The new gun looks cleaner, more vertical, less like English public transportation. The gunmaker ditched the indent behind the trigger and rounded the trigger guard. The indent aligned and supported the shooter’s trigger finger; the square trigger guard offered secure purchase for a shooter’s support hand’s index finger (especially when gloved). The new XD’s trigger guard design is still stippled and only slightly less useful, but there it is. Or isn’t.
In a similar nod to fashion, the Mod.2 replaces the old XD’s straight-up rear sight [left] with a slinky, low-profile extended sight [right]. The gunmaker touts the replacement as snag-free and holster friendly. Fair enough, but the old design enabled a one-handed slide rack against a belt, shoe or dead comrade. The new sight, not so much.
Before dismissing the Mod.2 as a yuppified mil-spec XD, celebrate the new gun’s slimmer slide [above right]. Combat-racking the Mod.2’s “posi-wedge” serrations is a lot easier for operators operating operationally working to secure life and liberty for all and sundry and people who prefer to operate vending machines to secure spicy nacho Doritos for a pre-lunch snack.
Springfield also re-contoured the XD’s frame, including a slimmer takedown lever for increased snaglessness. More importantly, the “high-hand beavertail” positions the shooter’s hand closer to the XD’s sky-high bore axis. (Practical benefits described below.)
The most obvious change from old to new: the GRIP ZONE. The Mod.2’s strategically-positioned stippled plastic panels come in three flavors: aggressive (at the handle’s front and rear), slightly miffed (around the edges) and back on their meds (on the sides). While I had no gripes with the old XD’s chunky checkered grip, the Mod.2 builds on the XD’s ergonomic excellence to create a gun that feels almost as hand-comfy as a Walther PPQ.
The Mod.2’s ergos deliver where it counts. The test gun is an ideal combination of size (7.3″ nose to tail), weight (27.5 ounces unladen), sight radius (4″) and caliber (9mm). It’s perfectly balanced for slow-fire accuracy, quick double-taps and rapid fire mag dumps. That said, I’m not a huge fan of the XD’s trigger. The take-up is as long as Brideshead Revisited (without the compensatory bounteous bodices) and the reset lives in the Kingdom of Far, Far Away. On the positive side, the XD’s go-pedal is blissfully free of GLOCKish grit and the breaking point is sharp, clean and predictable. Again, double-taps are easy peasey perp-stopping squeezy.
This is no small point. Most people buying the XD Mod.2 in the Service Model configuration will keep and bear the firearm for self-defense. If push comes to shove, they’ll likely point the XD at the bad guy and pull the trigger a bunch of times, unleashing a barrage of barely aimed fire. Doing so with the Mod.2 at five to 10 yards creates a group size that is, at worst, minute of bad guy. With the pistol’s high-hand grip reducing felt recoil and the XD’s natural pointing prowess, shooters can reacquire their sight picture and return to target with life-saving speed and efficiency.
The Athena Gun Club target above reveals the results of [a notoriously lousy shot] firing Winchester White Box at 10 yards in both slow fire (small silhouette) and double taps (head shots). To quote Arthur Hoggett, that’ll do pig. Which is no longer a suitable anthropomorphic description of the XD’s looks. Springfield’s mainstay now looks – and acts – more like a well-trained, family friendly Rottweiler. It’s kind, gentle, faithful and deadly when needs be.
The XD Mod.2 isn’t a vast improvement on ye olde XD. But the brutish-looking pistol didn’t need vast improvement. It needed exactly what it got: greater aesthetic sophistication and increased controllability. It’s still a better buy than a GLOCK 19.
Springfield Armory XD Mod.2
Caliber: 9 X 19mm
Capacity: 16 + 1
Frame: Black Polymer with GripZone texture
Sights: Red Fiber Optic Front and Low Profile Combat Rear
Slide: Forged Steel, Melonite Finish
Barrel: 4″ Hammer-forged / 1:10 twist
Recoil System: Captive Recoil Spring with Captive Guide Rod
Grip Width: 1.2″
Weight: (w/empty magazine): 27.5 ounces
Action type: Striker-fired
Street Price: Around $470, often seen for $399 via Brownells
RATINGS (out of five stars):
Accuracy: * * * * *
Not as accurate as the XD(M), but minute-of-bad guy all day, every day. Hi-po self-defense help.
Ergonomics (handling): * * * * *
Already one of the most natural pointing polymer pistols, made better by a slimmer frame, “high-hand beavertail” and GripZone panels.
Ergonomics (firing): * * * *
The trigger’s longer and mushier than a chick flick but just as predictable. Recoil mitigation is top-notch.
Reliability: * * * * *
Fed it 500+ rounds of whatever I could scrounge from my range bag and the back of the sofa and 50 rounds of really expensive hollow-points. No problems of any sort.
Customization: * * * * *
Plenty available: better triggers, one-handed racking-compatible night sights, snout-mounted lights and lasers, etc.
Overall Rating: * * * * *
If you’re a trigger snob, deduct one star and head over to FN and Walther. If not, the XD Mod.2 Service Model’s a total no-gripe zone.