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(This is a reader-submitted review as part of our gun review contest. See details here.)

By Daniel English

The Springfield XD series of handguns evokes a wide range of feelings in the gun community. For every person who appreciates the XD series as a viable handgun option, another person will claim they refuse to buy one because they see it as a fancier GLOCK without a significant value-add. Personally, I’m a fan—one of my first handguns was a 4.5” 9mm Springfield XD(m), and I’ve always had good success shooting it. For that reason, when Springfield announced the single-stack, nearly pocket-sized XD-S carry handgun, I immediately wanted to take a closer look.

Springfield offers the XD-S in a variety of configurations, differing only by barrel length and caliber. The smaller 3.3” model is available in 9mm, .40, and .45ACP, while the larger 4.0” model comes in 9mm or .45ACP. The model used in this review is a 3.3” 9mm version with an MSRP of $499.99, and this particular gun is a post-recall XD-S.

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I’d like to make a quick note about that recall before discussing any other aspects of the XD-S. In August 2013, Springfield issued a recall of both the 9mm and .45ACP XD-S models for an issue where it was possible for the gun to fire while chambering a round. This is obviously not something that should ever happen with a modern firearm, and Springfield rightfully received a torrent of criticism from the gun community for both the necessity of the recall and their handling of it. That said, by all accounts the problem has been successfully resolved by Springfield. Users who had both a pre-recall and post-recall XD-S have generally reported that the trigger pull feels smoother, albeit slightly heavier than the original version of the gun. Needless to say, there is plenty of discussion in the online community about the recall, and I won’t cover it in any more detail here, but my personal opinion is that the post-recall version of the gun is as safe and reliable as any other gun I’ve handled.
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Size and Feel

My first impression upon seeing the XD-S is that it looks like a serious tool. Springfield ships everything in a heavy-duty molded plastic case with foam cutouts for the gun and included magazines, paddle holster, and magazine holder. The frame is molded in an aggressive way that gives the shooter a firm grip on the gun, and the slide consists mostly of straight lines with a series of cocking serrations along the rear.

Overall, it looks like it’d be home in a gritty, slightly futuristic thriller. Function aside, I can appreciate a cool-looking gun and the XD-S certainly fits the bill in that regard. The design is functional as well—I feel like I can get a very strong grip on the gun due to the way it’s designed.

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However, the physical design of the XD-S leads to one disadvantage: it makes the gun a bit less concealable than other guns of a similar size. In my experience, the blocky slide and rough grip texture make the gun more likely to “print”, or show a visible shape, under clothing. It’s still a small gun, and is fairly easy to conceal, but I have a hard time singing the praises of this design for concealability with other choices like the Ruger LC9s Pro and Smith & Wesson M&P Shield providing more concealable options for this class of gun. For a handgun intended for concealed carry, I think Springfield should have deviated from the trademark styling of the XD series a bit to round the edges of the XD-S.

As far as the rest of the physical design, the XD-S includes an ambidextrous magazine release, which is a welcome addition on any handgun. The slide stop and takedown lever on the left side of the frame are both low-profile to avoid snagging on clothing or holsters.

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The XD-S (and the rest of the XD series) also includes a grip safety. I’ve seen widely differing opinions on the idea of a grip safety, with some shooters choosing the XD-S specifically for the added safety feature and others avoiding it for the same reason. I’m indifferent about it; in my testing I was unable to grip the gun in such a way that I would be able to pull the trigger without also depressing the grip safety, but I can understand the complaints about it adding another point of failure to the weapon.

One other bonus Springfield included on the XD-S is a standard accessory rail on the front of the gun. I’m appreciative of this feature because it allows me to mount a standard weapon light rather than needing to purchase a special model made specifically for the XD-S. I had no trouble mounting a Streamlight TLR-1 on the rail and like having the option of doing so.

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Loading and Firing

My XD-S came with a seven-round flush-fit magazine and a 9-round extended magazine. Although I’d carry the gun with the seven-round magazine inserted due to its smaller size, I’m particularly happy with the extended magazine due to the way the extended portion matches the frame of the gun.

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Unlike extended magazines for some other guns I’ve used, the 9-round magazine essentially makes the XD-S feel like a full-size handgun. I’m satisfied with the grip I can get on the gun with the flush-fit magazine, but the gun is more pleasant to shoot with the extended magazine inserted.

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Another standout feature of the XD-S are the factory sights. The gun features a fiber optic front sight with a two-dot rear sight, which is a configuration that provides excellent rapid target acquisition and adequate performance in lower-light situations. Springfield even includes spare fiber optic tubing, allowing the owner to choose between a red or green front sight. The sights are probably the best factory sights I’ve seen on a concealed carry pistol, and the XD-S is one of the few guns I’ve purchased where I didn’t immediately want to swap the sights out for an aftermarket set.

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The trigger on the XD-S has similar qualities to other striker-fired handguns I’ve fired, with the take-up being a bit shorter than average. I did feel that the trigger pull on the XD-S was a bit heavier than it needed to be, but the trigger breaks smoothly and resets quickly with a tactile and audible click.

In general, I felt that the trigger was easy to shoot quickly with, but the heavier-than-necessary weight was amplifying the mistakes I tend to make in my handgun shooting form, which caused me to have a bit of trouble shooting the gun at long distances. However, I was easily able to achieve “minute of bad guy” accuracy at normal defensive handgun range and I have no doubt that a better handgun shooter could achieve impressive groupings with the XD-S.

I enjoyed shooting the XD-S at the range more than I have with other handguns of this size. For a single-stack 9mm carry gun, I’ll typically be tired of dealing with the recoil and small grip of the gun after firing a box or two of ammunition at the range, but I didn’t feel that way with the XD-S. The extended magazine provides some welcome extra real estate for gripping the gun, and the XD-S generally seemed to recoil a bit less than other handguns in this size class. If you’re looking for a single gun to pull double duty between concealed carry and range use, the XD-S would be particularly worth considering.

Reliability

I’ve been pleased with the reliability of the XD-S. I experienced no failures in my testing, and have tested the gun with a few different types of defensive rounds such as Hornady Critical Defense and Winchester PDX1 +P jacketed hollow points. The XD-S fed both types of rounds (as well as normal FMJ practice ammo) reliably and was accurate with all types of 9mm ammunition.

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For maintenance and cleaning, the gun can be easily field stripped using a takedown lever on the left side of the frame. There were no surprises upon taking the gun apart; the internals are very simple and are similar to every other polymer striker-fired handgun, with the exception of the extra components related to the grip safety. I would have no concerns about the continued reliability and performance of the XD-S for defensive carry.

Closing Thoughts

The Springfield XD-S gets a lot of things right, but misses the mark in a few areas. It’s a solid offering in the single-stack carry handgun space, with excellent sights, above-average firing ergonomics, and reliable performance. However, the blocky design detracts from concealability, and the trigger pull is a bit heavier than I prefer for this type of gun. Overall, the Springfield XD-S performed very well in my testing, and while I do not currently use it as my daily carry weapon, I’d have no qualms about doing so.

Specifications: Springfield XD-S 3.3” 9mm

Caliber: 9mm
Height: 4.4” with flush-fit magazine
Width: 0.9”
Length: 6.3”
Barrel: 3.3” with 1:10 twist
Weight: 23 oz. with empty magazine
Slide: Melonite-coated steel
Frame: Polymer
Sights: Fiber-optic front, 2-dot rear
MSRP: $499.99

Ratings (out of five stars):

Concealability: * * * *
It’s a single-stack 9mm handgun with a barrel slightly over three inches, so it’s small, but the aggressive design hurts concealability a bit. You won’t want to wear a tight shirt over the XD-S.

Ergonomics: * * * * *
The gun feels great to hold, especially with the extended magazine. Recoil feels a bit lighter than other handguns in this size class, making the XD-S pleasant to shoot at the range.

Accuracy: * * * *
Excellent sights and a relatively good trigger, but the pull was unnecessarily heavy. I was noticeably less accurate with the XD-S than some of my other handguns, but it’s certainly accurate enough for defensive use.

Reliability: * * * * *
Zero concerns here, and the gun worked great with every type of ammo I used. The XD-S has had a recall in the past, but I didn’t experience anything in my testing to suggest that any issues exist in current versions of the gun.

Overall: * * * *
The XD-S is a solid performer that is accurate, reliable, and fun to shoot. However, it’s not the best in its class in terms of concealability, so if you’re particularly concerned about the size or comfort of your carry gun, you may want to consider other offerings.

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34 Responses to Gun Review: Springfield Armory XD-S 3.3″ 9mm Pistol

  1. Good review. My wife has a 3.3 in .45 as her main CCW piece, she loves it. I need that extended mag for it to really fit my hand.

    • The XDs 9 mm single stack mags are the easiest mags I’ve ever loaded – very easy by my standards. My XD Mod.2 9mm are not that easy at round 15-16. Tool needed beyond about 12-13 rounds, otherwise it gets pretty uncomfortable on the fingers. I can get it full, however, with the tool without much of a problem.

  2. I guess what I have is the double-stack equivalent, the XDm(c) 3.8″, also 9mm. My biggest bitch is loading the mags, which I haven’t seen reported on, and I don’t know if the single stack would be the same. I absolutely can not fill the mags (either 13-rd or 19) without a tool, and no tool accompanied my model. Is the single-stack the same?

    • I have the same model as you (and I love it), but mine came with a mag-loader tool, which was virtually essential for a while. Those magazine springs are really stiff — which is good, I guess, cause hopefully that also means they’ll last a long time.

      It’s easy to reload them by hand now, but I’ve put them through I dunno how many dozens of cycles in the meantime.

      • Thanks, guys, that gives me some hope, and the loader was not so expensive as to be prohibitive and will work with other mags if the issue comes up again.

        And yeah, the gun is great, otherwise. First time I looked in the breech and saw a feed ramp that looked like it was chromed, I was in love.

    • The XDs 9 mm single stack mags are the easiest mags I’ve ever loaded – very easy by my standards. My XD Mod.2 9mm are not that easy at round 15-16. Tool needed beyond about 12-13 rounds, otherwise it gets pretty uncomfortable on the fingers. I can get it full, however, with the tool without much of a problem.

  3. I wouldn’t be so concerned about accuracy at long range. Subcompact carry guns are for close in personal defense or backup to a larger gun. If you are ever unfortunate enough to encounter the dreaded rifle armed active to shooter you are going to be even more outgunned than if you were carrying a full sized handgun. All you want is “minute of bad guy” at ranges inside of 10 yards.

    Good observation about block vs round edges. 1911s, and Berettas are much more concealable because of their soft edges. Rounded edges also enable accuracy because your eyes naturally follow the barrel. However, unless you live in a no open carry state I wouldn’t worry about printing. Most people are too oblivious to notice an openly carried gun let alone one that may seem to be printing.

  4. I like my 4″ 9mm XD-S. It carries very nicely IWB because of the longish slide and short grip.

    I do find that when ejecting the mag from the short grip, the mag is blocked by the heel of my hand wrapping around the base of the grip. Some practice was helpful.

    Also, I really like the pinky extension on the 7 round magazines that you can get from Pearce Grips:

    http://www.pearcegrip.com/Products/Springfield%20Armory/PG-XDS

    I get an excellent grip and the concealability is better.

  5. Bought one two weeks back for EDC. Is replacement for S&W .380. Really like the XDS 9MM. After training on S&W BG, this gun is a dream. Not too bulky, either. ISWB Kydex, almost forget that it’s there…almost.

  6. Mehhh. Had one. Definitely great sights, great match barrel, I really liked the grip safety for re-holstering… For me though, the grip was just the exact wrong length where the lip of the mag bit right into the middle of my pinkie finger. It just didn’t fit me. The trigger is a bit heavy too, and the gun overall is a bit heavy. I ended up with a PPS M2 and love it. Sleeker, little lighter, the grip is awe-some and the trigger is awe-some. The trade-off is one less round (in the flush mag) and the stock sights aren’t as nice (that won’t be an issue much longer though). The M2 feels like a BMW, it’s built that well and is a soft little shooter (for a SS9). YMMV, as it always does.

  7. How did you get a holster in your box? I just ordered one last w3ek with the “essentials” package, and it only had the gun, two mags, and a lock.

    • The “essentials” package is supposedly just the “essentials.” You’re better off to take the bit of money saved and go buy a good after market holster. I have the XDs in .45 and I carry it every day in an Alien Gear Tuck 3 IWB holster. Really like the gun and I would say that all of what the review says about the 9mm is true of the .45.
      It does start to hurt the web of my hand if I shoot too much during one trip to the range.
      Also, mine went back to Springfield for the recall. It is fine now and does shoot and feel better than before the recall.

  8. Second on the Meh factor. These are substantially longer and heavier than a Ruger LC9S which is top shelf in the single stack 9 category and alot lower price. Also the recall taints these things. Having shot em all, the XD45 is the only Croatian version of Glocks worth a look because it was purpose designed for the 45 cartridge. All the other XD, XDS and XDm offerings are just meh.

  9. The wife has an 8 round extended magazine that seems to be the sweet spot of handling comfort and concealability. About the same grip length as the 7 round magazine with the Pearce extension.

  10. I have the S&W Shield, Glock 43 (with Ghost Edge trigger), PPS M1, and XDS. It took buying the XDS before I felt I found the right one for me. The shield’s and glock 43’s triggers make it hard not to jerk the sights off target unless you give the gun a death grip, and the PPS M1 had failures to eject unless giving the gun a death grip, as though I am limp wristing. So the XDS in 9mm is right for me, and it’s so easy to be very accurate with it. Like the nutnfancy review on the XDS 9mm says, it’s a 60 yard pocket pistol. The trigger doesn’t jerk the sights off target at all. I believe its trigger is as good as the PPS M1’s trigger.

  11. Am I the only one who can’t activate the trigger safety with a high hold?

    You read me right: trigger, not grip. My finger usually rides the frame. Are there any trigger-face replacements on the market?

    • I’m of the opinion that those little trigger dinguses are nearly-useless, anyway. Nearly anything that is going to snag the trigger enough to discharge the gun is probably going to depress that stupid “safety”, too.

      It’s doubly stupid on a gun that already has a grip safety. Belt and suspenders?

  12. Nice review.
    I have this gun and would give it four stars. I have thought that if I could only have one gun, this might have to be it–flush fit mag for CC and extended mag for home defense (with a weapon light).
    Pluses:
    * Easy to conceal, though the stipling can be uncomfortable against the skin when using an IWB holster–wear a T-shirt.
    * The trigger is a bit heavy, but it is crisp and repeatable and has a great reset.
    * It is accurate.
    * Good sights.
    * I don’t feel undergunned with 7+1 in the holster with the spare 9 rounder in a pocket holster.
    Minuses:
    * If you are right handed and a thumbs forward shooter, it is very easy to inadvertantly press the slide release and prevent the slide from locking out after the last round in the magazine. You will either have to retrain your thumbs or accept that it is likely to happen and train yourself, after hearing the “click,” to drop the empty mag, load a new one, and rack the slide.
    * requiring the grip safety be depressed before you can rack the slide. This causes occasional problems when removing a loaded cartridge from the chamber. I would prefer the grip safety only affect shooting and not also block slide racking.
    * The aggressive stipling can make long range sessions painful if you don’t use shooting gloves.

  13. Did you measure the trigger pull in pounds?
    I have a 45ACP version and the trigger pull on it is 7.1 pounds. And a 9mm Shield was 6.5 pounds.

  14. I carry the .45 in a cross draw holster . I find my gut sticks out further than the grip . So not too much printing if I wear a proper shirt . I do not really look at these guns as pocket pistols however . I still carry a .380, 38snub, or 357 Ruger lcr for a pocket pistol . What I think Springfield needs is a .327 federal mag in a pocket pistol . Connan makes a 357 mag that shoots a full 357 round , not a 357 sig . But I am surprised more small handguns for pocket carry do not go for the 357 sig even . How about a 357 federal mag semi auto cartridge and a pocket pistol to match from Springfield ? About the size of a glock 42 or smaller ?

  15. I agree with several writers about the springs in the clips,about 5 rounds with my old thumbs is all I can load. When I bought my XD I compared itto 3 other top brands and picked the XD over the three and would do it again

  16. I have owned & carried an XDs in either 45 or 9 for over 3 years. ZERO concealment issues! As for magazine loading, buy yourself a “Maglula” brand mag loader. It works for all of my magazines, including Ruger P90, P89, 1911 (45), Springfield XD (45), XDs (9 & 45) and even a Taurus double-stack 45. In my opinion, the XDs in 45 is the very ultimate in a concealed carry gun. Put a spare 7-round mag in each front pocket & leave your shirttail not tucked. I live where HOT & HUMID is the weather pattern for a good 7-9 months per year. Like I said – ZERO concealment issues! With +P loads, there are also no lack of power issues AND no control issues with loads exceeding 500 ft lbs energy.

  17. I really like my XDs-9 as well. I like the styling and the fact that it is slightly heavier than the competition (helps reduce felt recoil). It’s 100% reliable and fairly accurate for such a short barreled gun IMO. As a comparison; I shot a Glock 43 yesterday with upgraded sights and ghost trigger connector. That gun had significantly more recoil than my XDs. The G43 trigger pinched my finger at the end of the squeeze, and the serrations on the trigger were really uncomfortable. I shot it OK though but wouldn’t buy one after yesterday’s experience. Advantage Springfield XDs-9.

    Size wise, the two guns were very similar. The G43 slide was slightly narrower and slightly shorter (in height) than the XDs slide. The XDs frame seemed slightly thinner, or very nearly the same size as the G43. The slightly larger slide of the XDs makes the gun heavier and probably is the reason for less recoil. Again, I don’t mind the extra weight; I can handle 5 extra ounces on my gun belt. Advantage (in my book) the XDs because of the extra weight.

    The G43 slide serrations were not as aggressive as the XDs and I found that it was a little harder to get a good grip to rack the slide compared to the aggressive slide serrations of the XDs. Another point for the Springfield in my book.

    I really appreciate that Springfield provided an extended 8-round magazine in the case. I carry the gun with the 7 round mag inserted (7+1 for 8 rounds), plus 8 rounds in my magazine pouch. Advantage XDs.

    Style: XDs no doubt.

    • This gun has been my EDC for nearly four years and I agree on all fronts.

      It’s heavier, sure, but that helps me control the recoil on my .45 version so much better and it’s not so much more weight as to be obnoxious. I never feel outgunned (in the single stack realm, anyways) as I usually run the 7-rounder (+1, of course) in my gun without the plastic sleeve and my other sleeveless 7 rounder in my pocket. Conceal-ability is a non-issue and I sometimes forget it’s even on me.

      It’s an absolute tack driver at its intended range and can put together some impressive groups at longer ranges for a 3.3″ barrel. Hundreds of rounds down range from various JHP, brass, aluminum, and even steel case ammo and not the first malfunction. The common compliment from my range buddies is usually, “Damn, that little gun will eat anything.”

      The ONLY very minor gripe is the grip safety. I can’t think of a realistic scenario where I would fire a gun with only one finger without some resisting force against the grip of the gun.

      The reason it’s a gripe is because of that very same reason. There’s only one time I could think of that a grip safety could help and that would be on the re-holster…maybe, which you SHOULD be training to make sure is clear of obstruction in the first place. And even then, your hand is likely depressing the grip safety anyways. It’s just unnecessary is all and can even get pretty gritty if dropped in sand (experience).

      If they made a version without a grip safety and everything else remained the same, I would trade mine in in a heartbeat. All in all it’s a 4.9 out of 5 gun for me. Take off that grip safety and it’s as close to flawless as you can get in a single stack pocket .45.

  18. Not a good experience. Guess I’m the only 1%er on this forum. That is what Springfield’s customer service says are the number of XDS 9mm 3.3s that have consistent light fires and failures to return to battery, even after over 200 rounds of break-in. There are Youtube videos on dealing with the problem. Springfield pays shipping both ways to fix them. They’ll still say it’s probably your grip on the safety though. It’s the one feature I felt was a selling point vs. a Glock, and it supposdly needs babying. Also, the lightstrikes were hopefully solved by running solvent through the striker area to work out built up grit (Springfield’s suggestion). Check all yours on that as well. Will see how Springfield did fixing the failure to return to battery problem and report back. Nice article and thanks for the opportunity to leave a viewpoint.

  19. I have the XDs in .45 and have the 9mm on order. I do like the grip safety, one thing i have against my Glock is the safety ! I know people say they are completely safe, but i guess i’m old fashion i like manual safety or the Grip safety. I’m not into the fast draw contest. If i was at my age i would come up slow. I have been with guns for 62 years and so far thank God no accidents, hope that continues.

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