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The Springfield Armory XD-S and the Glock 36 are two single stack pistols — made in Croatia and Austria, respectively — that shoot America’s favorite big-bore cartridge. Aside from their steel and polymer composition and caliber — the venerable .45ACP — the two pistols don’t share much in common. Still, if that Shakespeare guy could compare an unknown prom queen (or king) to a summer’s day, I guess an old gun writer can compare these two pistols one to the other . . .

Hey, Look Me Over

Glock devised the compact G36 in 2000 to be a slimmed-down, Jenny Craig-ish alternative to the G30. And the G36 has remained in the Glock catalog ever since, so Glock USA must be selling enough of them to keep the offering profitable. Still, the G36 isn’t the most popular Glock offering for reasons known only to Glockophiles.

Close up, the G36 looks totally Glockian, meaning it’s black and seems purposeful, not flashy, and not aesthetically pleasing. It’s an assault weapon, I tell ya. Well, maybe not, since the mag holds but six rounds.

The G36 appears to be well-made and, like most Glocks, exhibits excellent fit and finish. Our tester belongs to TTAG commentator Joe Matafome, who upgraded Glock’s plastic sights with super Truglo TFO night sights. The TFOs are easy to see, even in the inferior lighting of an indoor range, and represent a big step up from Glock’s traditional sights.

The XD-S was introduced at the 2012 Shot Show and generated more buzz than a swarm of gnats. In fact, TTAG has featured this pistol several times in response to the great interest shown by the gun community in subcompact pistols generally and this one in particular.

The visual treats start with the oversize, overbuilt case. According to Springfield Armory, the rugged plastic box is easily repurposed and is large enough to hold a laptop computer. I checked, and SA is correct. The box can hold a laptop. It will also handle several large Subway meatball sandwiches and a bag of chips or a small rectangular pepperoni pizza, so the case really is as versatile as Gypsy Rose Lee. Nobody buys a gun to get a box, but the nifty container is still a quality touch.

Our two-tone XD-S tester is a handsome piece. It boasts a stainless slide with a sexy platinum-like finish that doesn’t scream “bling,” and deep striations in the rear of the slide only. There’s deep checkering on the handle, a large pop-up loaded chamber indicator atop the slide and a fiber optic front sight. Springfield calls the sights “low profile.” I call them small. Still, fiox is fiox, right? Not so fast my friends. Read on.


Grabbing Two Handfuls

One of the reasons for the popularity of Glock pistols is that if you like the handle and trigger on one, you’ll like the handle and trigger on all. On the downside, many people do not like the handle on one or all. Glock’s 4th generation pistols come with replaceable back straps that permit shooters to find a comfortable grip. The Gen 4s finally make Glocks accessible to the hands of people other than bricklayers or NBA centers. Our tester, however, was a Gen 3 and sported Glock’s blocky handle and upright grip angle.

My medium-sized hands usually disfavor the Gen 3 handle, especially its deep finger grooves. I typically find my digits riding the high points, which is supremely uncomfortable. Not so with the G36, though. For whatever reason, my fingers slid comfortably between the ridges and nestled cozily into the grooves. While not ideal, the grip was quite comfortable and secure, and the pistol balanced beautifully. The controls are exactly where you’d expect them to be, and worked just fine.

Most noticeable about the handle of the XD-S is the “aggressive” checkering that SA boasts of in its literature. The checkering is indeed aggressive – in the same sense that the IRS or an angry pit bull with a toothache could be called aggressive. A good squeeze of the handle left my fingers and palm with a waffle-like imprint that did not fade for several minutes.

I’m sure I could cover the handle of the XD-S with a liberal coating of Crisco and shoot it without any noticeable slippage, but let’s be blunt here – if you enjoy grasping a handful of dull razor blades, you’ll probably adore the handle of the XD-S. Otherwise, you won’t. My first impression was not favorable, but the pistol’s balance was perfect, so I decided to reserve judgment on the cheese grater checkering until it came time to shoot.

Shooters who prefer a pistol with a manual safety will rejoice in the XD-S’s grip safety. Just like a 1911, the XD-S won’t fire unless the shooter has a firm grip on the pistol, fully depressing the grip safety. Just grip it and rip it. I’m no fan of safeties, but this one is very unobtrusive, requires no practice to deploy and won’t be forgotten in the heat of the moment.

Stripping the Pieces

Field stripping either pistol was a breeze, with a few provisos. First, pulling the trigger is necessary in order to release the sear on both pistols. That’s not a good system. Yes, carefully unloading a pistol and checking it again should be an automatic part of the cleaning process. Yes, leaving a round in the chamber prior to cleaning is negligent, even stupid.

Nevertheless, it’s the manufacturers’ responsibility to design a firearm that is as user-proof as it can be, and a takedown system that requires an intentional pull of the trigger isn’t even close to user-proof. SA mitigates the problem somewhat by requiring the user to remove the magazine in order to field strip the XD-S. Still, I prefer a system like Smith & Wesson’s M&P line, which features an internal sear release lever and requires no trigger pull.

The G36 field stripping process is pure Glock and need not be repeated here. If you’ve cleaned one Glock, you’ve cleaned them all. The XD-S’s takedown lever is located on the left side of the dust cover and needs to be switched upward to the 12 o’clock position, rather than downward to the six o’clock position. Otherwise, it’s as easy as pie to open her up. There’s just no excuse not to keep these pistols clean. However, for purposes of the shootoff, I kept them dirty.

Penetrating the Targets

I grabbed a mixture of Winchester white box, Remington UMC, Selier & Bellot and Blazer Brass ammo. I also had a few Wilson Combat rounds left over from the Glock 21 vs. SIG P220 face-off that I wrote earlier this year. I wanted to lay my hands on some cheap Russian steel-cased bargain-bin stuff, but I couldn’t find any locally and seem to have misplaced my Russian visa .

The XD-S five round mags were brand new, because the tester was factory fresh. I also had the benefit of a seven-round extended mag, which provided not only two extra rounds, but also a full-fingered grip. The G36 mags has less than 200 rounds of use since the gun was so new to Joe’s inventory.

I never handled an XD-s before, so I was anxious to get started. SA claims that the XD-S is zeroed at 25 yards. Leveling the XD-S and taking a traditional 6 o’clock hold at 20 feet, I fired off five well-aimed shots — low into the top of the nine ring. Adjusting my point of aim by holding the front sight so that it almost covered the x-ring, this is what I got. Take that, Glock.


The G36 is a mature piece and I’ve fired this model before. Therefore, there was no “getting to know you” period. I loaded, aimed and slow fired. In the dim light of the range with my ancient eyes, I could not see the x-ring of the TTAG target since there’s no contrast between it and the rest of the black center mass. I was forced to estimate where the middle of the target might be, using a technique that I call ‘squint and pray.” I must have estimated well, because accuracy was very good. Measuring from the inside edge of the one flyer, I shot a sub-2” group under adverse conditions. Tossing out the single errant shot, I could have covered the entire group with a nickel. Take that, XD-S.

 I was very pleased with such tight groups from such small pistols. The recoil of both pistols seemed manageable, although the Glock was significantly less snappy than the XD-S. The Glock trigger was very nice, fairly light, but a little spongy.

The trigger of the XD-S was heavier, clickier and more positive in both directions. I preferred the Glock trigger. The chalk-and-cheese triggers made a significant point — there’s no such thing as the one trigger to rule them all. Both triggers enhanced accuracy in different ways, and both were eminently shootable.

After popping off 50 rounds with each pistol, I found that the XD-S and I would consistently fire off tighter groups, but not by much. However, the XD-S won the slowfire contest hands down because the G36 failed to feed more frequently than an anorexic rabbi at an all-you-can-eat chitlin’ buffet. Joe and I checked the mags carefully, believing that the jams might be magazine related. We noticed some odd wear on the almost-new mags and guessed that mag failure was indeed the nature of the problem. As it turns out, we were wrong.

The jamming problems continued during the rapid fire drills. Here’s a string of 16 shots – four five shot groups — rapid fired from the Glock at 20 feet. Why 16 shots? Did I have four misses? No, I did not. What I did have: four jams, forcing me to hand-eject four misfed rounds. The accuracy of the Slimline Glock at 20 feet was admirable; the reliability, or rather the lack thereof, was completely unanticipated and equally unacceptable.

Based on its slow fire performance, I expected that the XD-S would win the rapid fire competition hands down, but that’s where things got all wonky. In our man Ryan Finn’s August XD-S review, he mentioned that the XD-S has a lot of recoil and called the pistol “a jumpy little thing.”

Ryan was being polite. During rapid fire, the XD-S vaults about like a hopped-up Chinese acrobat, making accuracy as unlikely as discovering a new species of unicorn. My first rapid fire string resulted in two clean misses. Not of the bullseye, of the target. This pissed me off to no end, and I warned RF that I would move heaven and earth and spend every dollar of TTAG’s money for enough practice ammo to master this little twisty fiend of a pistol.

With enough trigger time, I deduced that while the XD-S is unruly, the source of the problem wasn’t only the bucking-bronco nature of the pistol, but rather its tiny front sight. Keeping track of the fiox pipe, which is thinner than a cocktail straw, engenders the same degree of eye strain as neurosurgery with a 2X handheld magnifier.

It took me 500 rounds of practice to shrink my groups down to a personal best of 6 3/8”. Not terrible, but not even close to the way the G36 performed with little practice — and a far cry from what I can do with my beloved Smith & Wesson 642 with midget sights and a 1 7/8” barrel. I might have continued and shot better groups, but by that time both of my eyes were ready for a warm bath in a dilute solution of boric acid.

What would you do if you tested two guns, one with below average rapid-fire accuracy but flawless reliability and one that  stopped more often than the crosstown bus but shot deadly groups?

Post Coital Impressions: Likes and Dislikes

Joe brought his G36 to gun-swami Dave Santurri, who diagnosed the problem as defective recoil springs. Recoil springs have been a recurring problem for Glock. So bad was the problem that the company instituted a “Recoil Spring Exchange Program,” which is kinda like a recall but without the embarrassment of admitting that Perfection ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Santurri handled the “exchange” and, according to Joe, the gun is now the soul of consistency.

So what’s hot and what’s not about these little guns? What I liked best about the XD-S was its wonderful slow fire accuracy and equally wonderful concealability. The XD-S is the belly gun of .45 pistols, and a dyed in the wool pistolier who abjures the use of revolvers such as Airweights will enjoy toting this little bugger.

What I disliked most is a tossup between the skin-grating handle and rapid fire inaccuracy caused by its too-small sights and too-big recoil. The latter problem can be overcome with a lot of practice, or a swap of the sights for something like the Truglo TFO that Joe added to his G36. The former will need a bastard file or a palm sander.

I liked the G36 ‘s accuracy in both slow and rapid modes, even though (as expected) groups tended to expand with speed. The gun dampens recoil about as effectively as one can hope for in a small pistol. What I liked least about the G36 was the constant, repetitive failure of the gun to feed. Joe says that the problem seems cured now, but who knows if it will remain so.

RF asked me which one of these pistols I would prefer to carry. Answering for me and not for anyone else, I’d choose neither.

SPECIFICATIONS: Springfield Armory XD-S

Caliber: .45ACP
Magazine capacity: 7 & 5 rounds
Materials: Stainless steel slide and Melonite® barrel, polymer frame
Weight empty: 21.5 ounces
Barrel Length: 3.3″
Overall length: 6.3″
Sights: Steel dovetail rear, fiber optic front
Action: Striker fired
Finish: Two tone
Price: $669 MSRP

RATINGS (out of five stars): Springfield Armory XD-S

Style * * * *
Styled to be pretty as well as purposeful, the XD-S is well proportioned and handsome. Fit and finish look great and, at first sight, the pistol begs to be held.

Ergonomics (carry) * * * * *
To keep things in context, the XD-S is barely larger than the M&P Shield, which means that in an IWB, OWB or pocket holster, the XD-S will disappear like next week’s paycheck.

Ergonomics (firing) * * *
The USA Action Trigger System is a love it or leave it proposition. The trigger worked well, but I wasn’t a fan of its feel. Other shooters loved it. The sights and the pistol’s short sight radius worked like a dream during slow fire, making this pistol scary accurate. During rapid fire, the prodigious muzzle rise and tiny sights made accuracy impossible. The grip safety was so unobtrusive that I forgot it was there. The grooves cut deeply into the handle make this pistol act like a hungry Chihuahua with an attitude. It begs you to hold it and then bites you when you do.

Reliability * * * * *
Flawless with all types of ammunition, both hardball and hollow point. I had no reliability issues of any kind.

Customize This * * *
It has a little rail that is very cute and will remind older guys of the H-O gauge train set they received for their eighth birthday. But since this little pistol emphasizes small size and concealment above all else, the one-position rail should be left unadorned. Replaceable back straps will allow owners to fine-tune the grips.

The XD-S is slightly heavier and a smidge smaller than the G36, but the real difference between the two is the thickness of the XD-S. The little Croatian charmer is flatter and disappears on the body. It’s the 642 of semiautomatic pistols, and fires a bigger round to boot. Upgrading the sights might add as much as a whole star to this pistol’s score.


Caliber: .45ACP
Magazine capacity: 6 rounds
Materials: Stainless steel slide and Melonite® barrel, polymer frame
Weight empty: 20.11 ounces
Barrel Length: 3.78″
Overall length: 6.77″
Sights: Fixed plastic front and rear (Truglo TFO night sights on the tester)

Action: Striker fired Safe Action®
Finish: Black Tenifer slide, black frame
Price: $554 MSRP

RATINGS (out of five stars): Glock G36 (Gen 3)

Style * * *
Style is not a characteristic that normally comes to mind when discussing Glocks. Still, this Slimline pistol has a balanced look that’s, well, handsome in a utilitarian sort of way. In fact, comparing the G17 to the G36 is like comparing an Austrian Pinzgau cow to Miss Austria.

Ergonomics (carry) * * * *
The G36 is light enough to be easily totable and nicely concealable, but it’s just a smidge on the bulky side compared to the XD-S. A loose cover garment does wonders.

Ergonomics (firing) * * * *
The handle of the G36 could use a bit more rake. Glock’s “Safe Action” system is has attracted devoted followers since the dawn of the polymer age, and for good reason. The G36’s traditional Glock trigger is fairly light but a bit spongy, and I preferred it to the XD-S’ clickier trigger. While there was enough recoil to remind the shooter that a big old slug is exiting the muzzle, recoil is controllable and the Truglo TFO sights facilitated accurate follow-up shots.

Reliability zero
As noted, stoppages were frequent, annoying and potentially lethal had they occurred during a fight.

Customize This *
The Gen 3 G36 lacks the interchangeable backstraps of Gen 4 models. Sensibly, there is no rail for attaching a light, laser, bayonet or bottle opener. For laser devotees, a guide rod model is available for not much less than the cost of the pistol itself. Expect to pay over $300 for the guide rod laser. There’s also a laser grip available that will cost about $200 for the privilege of illuminating a target with a tiny red dot.

The G36 is slightly lighter and a bit larger than the XD-S, almost as accurate and remains concealable. However, without replacement of the recoil springs, the pistol would be useless except as a club. I was unable to test the gun with the new springs installed. Assuming that the replacement springs would cure the FTF problem without adversely impacting the pistol’s finer qualities, and with the excellent Truglo TFO sights installed, I would change the overall rating to a solid * * * *.

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    • Indeed! I’ve been looking at smaller guns for when my CCP finally comes in, and since I currently have the XDm 4.5 in 9mm, a 9mm XDs is very interesting. Love to see that compared to a Walther PPS.

      Of course, I may find out that a double stack doesn’t really bother me for IWB, which may render the whole thing moot, but I’ll just have to see.

      • I’ve been thinking of the XDs as my pocket gun for home carry. Slip it in a pocket holster, and you might be able to carry it around even in a bathrobe.

        • And that right there solves at least half of my potential home carry complications.

          A $600 solution, perhaps, but a solution. 😀

  1. Have y’all heard anything official about an XD-S in 9mm? I’ve heard by the end of this year, but y’all may have a more direct line about these types of things.

  2. So I was really looking forwards to getting my hands on an XD-S. I own and love my XD 45, but its not a good concealable pistol. My thinking was to get the XD-s and enjoy the fact that its the same caliber, same muscle memory, and same take-down as my XD, but in a smaller package.
    At a recent gunshow in Austin, I finally got my chance to get my hands on one only to have all of my enthusiasm completely drained the second i picked it up. To say i was disappointed is a huge understatement. Seriously, I was looking forwards to it that much.
    The grip felt absolutely horrible. The checkering, the grip width, and even the grip length, all hit me wrong. I know its a compact, but many compacts still let my grip the bottom of the magazine because of their angle, but not the XD-S. With my trigger finger extended along the side, it left a very unsure two-finger grip to hold on with – and the checkering actually made me feel less sure on top of that. I couldn’t imagine pulling this pistol from a concealed position with any confidence – and it pains me horribly to admit that to myself.
    The width I could get used to. It was without a doubt the slimmest sleekest 45 I have ever seen or held. And I am a huge fan of the XD’s control layout and safeties, so much so that I might have bought an XD-S even if only mildly turned off by the ergonomics. I have never wanted to like a gun this much that it amazes me still that I was so disappointed with the way it felt that I have completely changed my mind about ever owning one.
    I am now considering a small framed DAO revolver as my concealed carry.

    • Having never fired a 2 finger grip gun yet, I’m concered about how it’ll go, but I’ve heard the Pearce grip/mag extensions (probably other brands I don’t know about yet, too) can do wonders for getting a good grip without compromising concealability too much.

      • As far as I’ve seen (which admittedly isn’t very far), it really depends on which gun you have your two fingers on. My hands are not small, so the short grip on my Springfield XDm subcompact is effectively a two-finger deal. A two-fingered hold feels rock solid, and I shoot it just as well as anything with a full-length grip. However, it’s a fat double-stack pistol, which probably helps in the gription department.

        The one time I fired a *really* small pistol (back when I was too new to know or remember exactly what model it was), it was less than awesome. I felt like most of my hand had nothing useful to do, I was worried that I was going to drop the thing, and it snapped and kicked unpleasantly. I do remember that it was chambered in .40sw, which wouldn’t have helped the problem. That experience is part of the reason I ended up with a 9mm on a shortened full-size frame.

        I’m really curious to see what these thinner single-stacks feel like.

      • I shoot the XD-S just fine with a two finger grip one handed with my off hand. The recoil is the same as my full size all steel 45 that weighs almost twice as much, +P’s do have a noticeable increase in recoil though.

    • After running the XD for years, I finally got tired of fighting with the grip safety when I wanted to lock the slide open, and having the slide not lock back when I gripped the gun with a high thumb. I switched to the M&P. Get the standard 4.25″ model in 9 or 40, install a $25 Apex sear, and carry it like you would carry a Glock 19, in an IWB holster. I spent about 15 years carrying IWB year round in Austin, first a 5″ steel 1911, then a 5″ XD, then a 4″ M&P.

      On pocket guns: I’ve taken over 1300 hours of training with various well known handgun schools. Every instructor at every school I’ve trained at in the past 20 years says “carry a J frame” as a pocket gun. Many of them can spend hours with tales of small semiautos that don’t run on class day.

  3. Aw dang, I was so looking forward to this battle of tiny .45’s, can’t believe the G36 choked on ya. Good article though, I really enjoyed it.

    • I have a Glock 36 with a lot of rounds through it , over 2000 at least . When new (under 200 rounds) it would jam on occasion , never more than 1 or two per session ( with TMJ ammo ) , replaced the factory recoil springs with Wolff springs and avoided TMJ ammo.
      Gun sings like a Lark now – ( that means never jams ) .

      Guns are like cell phones for me – there comes a point when they can be too small. Glock 36 fanboy here

      • Me, too, Franks. Haven’t experienced reliability problems. An amusing fact is that when I lend friends pistols at the range, 1911’s, larger Glocks, they shoot the G36 more accurately than the other .45’s (relatively inexperienced people). I have no idea why. With the right pocket holster it seems to me a great pocket carry piece. I have no revolver training beyond people saying “here, try my X-brand .357.” Which I do. But I don’t shoot them well.

    • I enjoyed the read, but the review of the 36 is of limited use, and thus so is the comparison. Without getting too scientific, you can’t compare your buddy’s pistol with an unknown, but likely substantial, number of rounds shot through it and a weakened recoil spring, to an out-of-the-box gun. While it’s fair to remark on the spring issue, it raises more questions than it answers, beginning with “is the problem real?” Presuming it is, has Glock fixed it? (You admit this gun would have scored much better, if the spring was repaired as your friend indicates.) It’s, of course, fair for readers to wonder how many rounds were put through this gun before the test. This review gets ***. Had it respected the apples to apples axiom, it would have gotten ****.

  4. I’m really surprised that the XDs requires a trigger pull to disassemble. I’d have thought they would go with the same system in their XDm pistols, but I guess not. Maybe not enough room.

  5. Ralph, do you have experience with the larger XD(M) pistols? If so, would you say that the checkering on the XDs feels more aggressive under fire/during use than the XD(M)’s, or about the same? I haven’t had a chance to shoot one yet, but in the store it really didn’t feel all that different to me.

    Thanks for the writeup.

    • Matt in FL, I haven’t shot any Springfields for maybe two or three years as they are difficult to find in MA. I could be wrong, but I think that SA pistols cannot be sold by a dealer in MA, although they can be bought and sold between non-FFLs and they are legal to own or use. I don’t recall any issues with the checkering on older models, but I can’t find my notes.

      • Thanks, Ralph. Subscription system got messed up on this one, too, so no emails.

        I forgot you were in MA, and I was surprised to learn from that “Help a MA guy buy his first gun” post that there are zero SA’s on the list. Is that likely because SA just doesn’t want to pay to have their gun put through clearance?

        I’d send you mine to shoot, but I don’t have a suitable replacement for it during its absence.

        • Is that likely because SA just doesn’t want to pay to have their gun put through clearance?

          Probably, although SA might object also to making the trigger MA compliant.

        • SA saw the way Glock got jerked-around by MA (we liked the loaded chamber indicator but now that you’re selling guns here….we change our creepy, collective minds) and decided it just wasnt worth the hassle.

    • Matt in FL,

      I have a G17 Gen 4 and an XDm 3.8 Compact in .40. The XDm grips are more aggressive than the XD grips. I have shot the XDM in a same day 320-350 round class and I’ve done the same with the G17. The stippling on the G17’s “back strap” area caused me the most abrasion on the web between my thumb and forefinger. No problems at all with the XDm. I do not believe the XDm grip is dull razor like. However, I have not handled an XDs.

      happy shooting, dv

  6. Those are not Tijicon Night sights pictured on the G36 those are TruGlo TFO’s they have a fiber optic pipe with a tritium tube inbedded in them

  7. FWIW, I own a G36 and haven’t run into malfunctions you mentioned – I can recall one FTF over the course of ~1000 rounds of Sellier & Bellot practice ball ammo, and none when testing with 100 Hornady hollow point rounds.

    Otherwise I pretty much concur on the rest of your review, alhtough a trigger pull to disassemble the gun doesn’t bother me as much. I typically practice shooting at 25 yards, and can hold a 4″-5″ group in slow fire. I also replaced the sites, but with a 10-8 performance tritum night site, which I like.

    I added grip tape ($8 from a skateboard shop for a lifetime supply) around the sides of the grip. I found that the tape actually helped out with the recoil, at least in terms of felt-recoil, as keeping the pistol better under control kept more of the force going straight back. As to recoil, it is definitely less snappy than a 40 caliber glock 23, but significantly more than a 9mm glock 19.

    • At a recent GSSF match the GLOCK armorer there when I presented my G36 and my G17 he took a look at it and immediately replaced the recoil spring on my brand new GEN 4 G36 and my GEN 4 G17 stating that there is a known issue with the GEN 4 pistols and recoil springs

      The G17 and G36 had both had issues with FTF and I had been under the impression that it was just me. Once he changed the recoil springs I have not had an issue with FTF. This happened on 09/08/2012 so it is a recent issue and may not happen on older Glocks

      • It’s also a gen 3, so per the comments above, fixing the spring may indeed make the problems go away. But you have to test what they ship out, so caveat emptor.

        • MikeB, Glock has experienced a lot of problems with Gen 4 springs and for a while was handling the problems by swapping out the Gen 4 springs for Gen 3s.

    • I carry both the 36 and the 30. First thing I did on both of these weapons was to replace the OEM springs and rod with the Wolff units.
      I’ve experienced no failures whatsoever with these two pistols, thousands of rounds fired.

  8. My Glocks (27 & 35) are much more reliable than that, but they are .40s, and thy are also Gen 2. I was expecting the Glock to “win” the comparison.

    Is there a post-fix rematch in the future?

    That being said, it’s refreshing to hear about a gun malfunctioning. They tend to function flawlessly in the gun mags. Heck, just flip a few pages for a full – page add of the same gun!

    • My 642 is my hot-weather EDC because it slips nicely into a pocket (with a holster, natch) and I can shoot it very well — especially with the Apex kit installed. In the winter when we wear heavy clothes in here in MA, I can easily conceal a larger gun.

  9. Snappy recoil could easily be solved with 200 grain rounds, or even 185 grain wad cutters. And at sd ranges-typically less than 10 feet, this little Springfield would not be a problem at all. But I’ll never know–they are not Ca compliant because they do not have a separate manual safety. (We don’t get the XDm either, only the XD series that were grandfathered in from when manual safeties were not mandatory.) For single stack pocket pistols, I am limited to Kel-tech, Kahr, or the Ruger LC9. (No, we aren’s allowed G4s either.)

    • @MarkN, I shot a mix of loads, including 200 gr. Wilson match. All of them were snappy. None of them hurt like a full-on .357 from an Airweight, so softening the feel would not help cure the problem. I agree that, at close-up SD distances, the XD-S would be effective, which is why I called it the 642 of pistols. It would be a damn effective belly gun.

  10. Hmmm…disappointing. As a current owner of an XD and a subcompact XDm (well, what Springfield calls a subcompact, anyway), I’m a big fan of their ergonomics and reliability, so I was hoping the new little guy would have all of that without the bulk.

    But not too disappointing. I’m not a .45 fan (mostly because it’s way too expensive to shoot frequently), so like CarlosT I’m interested in the current XD-s mostly as a harbinger of what’s to come. 9mm might be a better cartridge for this gun anyway.

    I’m wondering about Ralph’s dislike of the Springfield’s aggressive grip checkering. It’s the same pattern as the double-stack XDm, which I love. Maybe the narrower grip makes the deep-cut grooves feel sharper than they would on a full-thickness handle. Or maybe Ralph just isn’t a fan of that kind of gription. The shops in my area can’t get the new Springfields in (backordered from here to forever), so I haven’t been able to judge the grip for myself.

    Maybe someone who’s handled both the XDm and the XDs could shed some light?

    • Ing, I had a XDm in .40 and really liked the pistol. It was one of the most accurate I had. The XDs is a bit different but I think it’s because it is just a 5 round magazine as opposed to the double stack in the XDm. With the 5 rounder in, you do have to grip the pistol solidly and I think that’s where the grip texture will dig in. You had to grip the grip on the XDm solidly too but you had more grip to play with. I got the 7 round with the extension and it has made a world of difference. A place for my little finger to grip and a more solid grip. I also think it is a matter of the grip being narrower. Narrower grip, more solid grip with your hands because it’s a .45 and the texture add up to an unpleasant experience for some, especially if you’ve never handled a Springfield before.

  11. The G36 failed again this weekend and it’s no longer my carry gun. I went back to the 30SF because it always works and it’s nice to have the 10 round mags. I’ll be trading in the 36 this week and hopefully I can get a nice reliable slingshot in trade. I really liked shooting the XD-S, and it’s going to be my next gun.

    • Joe: For nearly four years I’ve kept a pair of G36’s as, one at a time, my pocket gun, and more recently a G30 as my concealed holster gun. I’ve never had feed problems with the G36’s or the G30. The spare is just for that case in which, someday, the pocket gun fails a function check and goes off for repair while the other one fills in. I pocket carry more than carry holstered. I can’t imagine why mine virtually never fails to feed but yours does. I keep a very light film of grease on the rails and innermost slide areas as I haven’t fully transitioned from 1911’s. Too much grease would, of course, be a risk to my clothing. It’s odd that Model-T manufacturing would yield such a fluke. Send the gun to Glock. It’s cheap.
      Ralph: Great review despite the feed issue.

      • This G36 seems to be a lemon and Glock or a gunsmith may be able to fix it, but I would never trust it as a carry gun. I don’t want to have to hope that it may work when I really need it, so it’s going away.

  12. As I need or want a concealable gun like these, I keep my S&W Shield with Novak sights and Apex trigger kit. Best of all worlds.

    Owned a G36 – too fat for me. Why Glock did not just extend the frame, as opposed to that dumb. big boot on the magazine, is a mystery.

    Handled an XDs at a gun shop. Interesting. Very interesting. I like the caliber.

  13. I wonde how well Kahr’s line of compact .45s would hold up against these two. Have you had a chance to handle a Kahr cw45 or one of the p’s?

  14. The sights on the XD-S are set up the way just about all the top competition shooters like their sights: a solid black rear with a narrow fiber optic front. Most factory front sights are fat (0.125″) and block out the entire notch. Bullseye shooters decades ago, and IPSC shooters in more recent years, have learned that when you have a narrower front sight, that allows you to align it more precisely within the notch, and it covers up less of the target. A high quality fiber optic front sight will hold up to recoil. The brands you are most likely to find in a blister pack at your local retailer, probably not so much.

    More than likely, the narrow front sight did not cause “rapid fire inaccuracy” as much as trigger control did. Given that IPSC GM level shooters win or lose on tiny margins, they would not all choose to run narrow front sights on their pistols if it wasn’t the fastest possible high speed shooting sighting system.

    Most people that try the solid back rear/fiber front combo like it and shoot better with it than with 3-dots or the horrible Glock factory sights. Several other popular sight sets, like the Warren, Sevigny and Heinie sights all come with a narrow front sight also.

    • Narrow sights are just the ticket for target pistols running handloads. For a self-defense pistol with full-power ammo, not so much.

      • When you come back with data or science backing up your opinion, I’ll be interested in it. Nothing I’ve read, heard, or learned firsthand, and certainly no data that exists on gunfight performance or competition results, supports your statement.

      • Ralph think about it, in SD shootings you want speed and accuracy, thin front sights that draw in your attention will allows you to shoot better when you need too

  15. Great write up! Sometimes good information consists of learning what you would NOT buy… sounds like either gun would not be a good fit for my needs.

    Maybe the next head to head match-up, y’all can review 2 different, small frame revolvers in something like 357 magnum / 38 special?

  16. Recoil springs have been a recurring problem for Glock.

    …for some time now. Reliability issues might be tolerable in a target pistol or range queen, but a carry pistol has to go BANG every goddamn time.


    Right on. Looks like I’ll be hanging on to my Gen 2 until Glock gets their $h•t together.

  17. I own both of these weapons and I find them both good. I have had no reliability issues with either pistols. They both have their pros and cons. Accuracy, i’d have to give the nod to XDS but the Glock is pretty accurate too. Handling would definitely go to the Glock. The XDS is jumpy whereas the Glock handles the .45 alot better. I shot both of these a day ago and was pleased with their performance. I fired the Glock rapidly and could not get it to jam. The XDS is not hard to rapid fire either but it does spray the rounds around a little. The sights are good on the XDS and decent on the Glock. This is my 1st Glock that I have owned and it might take a little getting used to. Gripping both of them wasn’t a problem (I got the 7 round extension for the XDS) but the aggresive texture of the Springfield made me want to shoot the Glock more. I would have to give the style edge to the Glock even though most people find them ugly and blocky. To me the Glock just looks like a badass. Concealability, definite XDS. This weapon just disappears and I only carry it in a Blackhawk IWB holster. The Glock is slim but not as much as the XDS. Triggers are a toss up. I have owned other Springfields and liked their trigger but as I said, this is my 1st Glock. I didn’t have any problem with either and they both felt good. I carried the Glock once and it felt comfy but i’ve carried the XDS more and it felt a bit better. Mind you, the holster for the Glock is just a bit bigger than the one for the XDS and yes, both are Blackhawk IWB holsters. I own a number of pistols and they all get shot and carried. These two are just additional options if I choose them to be. Me personally, I would carry either one. What is my EDC weapon? S&W Shield 9mm (warmer weather) and S&W M&P .40c when I have the hoodie on but I occasionally switch to other weapons when I feel like it.

  18. I just noticed something about the recoil spring assembly last night. I was giving my weapons a once over in hopes that I might do some shooting this weekend when I stripped the Glock and the recoil spring was sitting at a slight angle and not bedded down where it should be. I kinda scratched my head and then put it back toether. I racked the slide a few times to make sure everything was in good working order and proceeded to the next weapon. This one was my S&W M&P 40c. Field stripped it, checked it out and then got to thinking about the recoil spring. I looked at the S&W spring and there it sat straight as an arrow. I field stripped the Glock again and the recoil spring was slightly at an angle. Hmmmm. I know some parts of pistols and rifles but i’m not sure what to call the part of a pistol barrel that holds the recoil spring assembly. It’s definitely different on the Glock than on the rest of my weapons. I have a plan to really put the Glock through some tests this weekend, weather permitting. I don’t want to see it fail because I like the weapon but do want to make sure it’s going to do what it’s supposed do. It will work or it will be put away/sold period.

  19. It worked with no failures. I don’t know if I got a reliable one or if it’s just one of those things. That being said, my cousin came shooting with me and liked the Glock so much he bought it from me. I still noticed that when I cleaned it that the recoil spring was slightly at an angle and not seated straight with the recess cut out for it to be in but it still functioned. I loaded both 6 round magazines and as soon as one was shot, the next one went in. Pressed the slide lock lever down and shot some more. I used 230 gr. Blazer, 230 gr. Hydra Shocks and it ate them up. I guess i’m on the lookout for another slimmer .45 now.

  20. Something is mechanically wrong with that G36 to have that many FTFs. Mine will go through 300 rounds of Tulammo, an worse, with no problems. Check out the Gen 4 recoil spring assemblies.

  21. I shot the xds, and then shot the glock 30 sf. I know these 2 are not really in the same category really, but, I stopped shooting the xds after 20 rounds. I had 2 ftf’s and 2 double feeds. This gun was very unreliable. Would not even think of buying it for SD. I thought the xds was uncomfortable for me. The glock 30 sf had no problems, with half the recoil of the xds. Don’t read into the hype of this gun (xds)like I did. I was very disappointed with the xds. I shot various +p ammo , and the 30sf still was easier to control. As far as extras for any gun, this gun is for concealed carry. People worry way too much about rails, lasers, lights etc. If some ahole tried car-jacking you at a traffic light, would you take the time to turn your laser on. Too much crap to deal with. Keep the gun simple. Make sure it feels good, find ammo that feeds consistently, and practice, practice, practice. Always be aware of your surroundings. There are so many egomaniacs trying to trick out their guns. Trust me, when the shit hits the fan, you have no time for toys!

  22. Gunnut45, if you want to dump the unreliable XDs45, drop me a note – I’d be happy to give it a go. [email protected]

    I had a G30 and really just did not like it, I wear a large glove and my hands never fit right around the G30 grip, but they married my XD45’s years ago and have never looked back. Different strokes, right?

  23. Both look like they been beat by a ugly stick. And here comes that striker nightmare again, tonight. Thanks a lot.

  24. I have the Glock 36. NEVER had a FTF with it since new, even when I stupidly broke the ejector by trying to straighten it with a Leatherman! (My son actually didn’t know I’d broken it and loaded and fired a couple clips, we fired over 180 more rounds that day, and I fixed it for $8.80 for the replacement part from Glockmeister!). After a lifetime of being a 1911 guy I bought this pistol on a dare from my local shop and never regretted it. In a pinch I think I would grab my P14-45 as a primary and the Glock 36 as a back up. It’s just that good.

  25. I have not had this issue with my G36, I do know that some people who have. It almost ALWAYS is an issue with LIMP WRISTING. Suprised I have not seen that mentioned here. Tighten up your grip boys, bet that fixes the problem

  26. My G36 has never had a FTF or FTE since I took it out of the box. 3800 rounds and going strong. Added TFOs, a grip wrap and a Glock Block. The Model 39 was Glocks effort to undo their screwup with another screwup. Seen it , shot it and wouldn’t trade. I put the 45 GAP in the same boat as the 40 S&W, haven’t found a good use for either one yet. They were trying to put a 45 in a 9mm form factor which they finally did with the SF models. You would be hard pressed to tell much difference between a 45 GAP and a 45ACP but when was the last time you saw a box of 45 GAP on a store shelf?

  27. My Glock 36 has never jammed, has been completely reliable and accurate. The recoil is low and maintenance is a cinch. Never shot the XD but based on the recoil issues I probably never will. The Glock is my first and last handgun. It fits my hand perfectly and is comfortable and I do not have giant hands. I do wish it held more then 6+1 shells but seriously with .45 cal you generally don’t require more then one shot.

  28. Ralph,
    I appreciated your review of the Springfield XDS vs the Glock 36. I’ve shot the Glock 36 a few times and although I didn’t experience any jams, I prefer the Springfield XDS hands down. I find the trigger pull on the XDS about as close to perfection as any handgun I’ve ever fired. Some features that I appreciate on the model include the overall size for conceal carry and the thinness of the weapon. I appreciate the dual safeties, the chamber indicator, ambidextrous magazine release, the adjustable back straps, and the fiber optic front site (3 included). I also appreciated the hip holster and waist band clip holder included with the gun case. When I carry I prefer using the 5 round magazine and I use a Remora holster I actually forget that I’m carrying it because it is so comfortable. When practicing at the range, I use both the 5 round and 7 round magazines. I’ve gotten used to the 5 round magazine, and I don’t feel the recoil overwhelming at all. I also compared this gun to a Smith & Wesson Shield .40 and the trigger pull and overall feel of the XDS is far superior in my humble opinion. I don’t have an overwhelming pistol collection by any stretch of the imagination but I have fired dozens of compact and sub-compact pistols, and the XDS is my favorite by far because of its slimness and weight for conceal carry, the smooth trigger pull, and the knock down power of a .45.

  29. Wow. Clean your weapon and magazines! I have carried and shot my Glock 36 for a decade. I have had ONE feed jam in that time (during a combat weapons class after more than 300 rounds w/o cleaning). Accurate? Yes. Reliable? Yes. It’s just plain easy. The only complaints I have are; I cannot find any high cap mags (similar to those 30+ sticks for the Glock 9mm’s) but alas no one seems to make them, & the only threaded barrels available put me back to traditional lands & grooves. Great weapon!

  30. Springs aren’t a “recurring” problem for Glock. Only in early model Gen 4 releases, after repair work perfectly fine.

  31. Wow, surprised on the G36 issues. Mine is 3 years old has approx 2 K thru her and runs like a champ. I can not ever remember any issues.
    Friend has one also with approx 800 rounds thru her and he has had not problems either. Guess we are lucky…

  32. The Springfield was never selected as a working gun for law enforcement because is has a fully tensioned striker like the Jennings and Bryco. They will become equally dangerous when there is slide to frame wear and will result in unintended discharges. This why Glock is preferred by more that 68% of LEO up and including the FBI that issue the Glock 23 to new agents.

    There is Glock and now everybody else trying to copy Glock.

  33. I wonder if the fact he was unable to proof read his article had anything to do with the performance of the SA ; or the other way around. Jes say’n, lol

  34. I own both pistols, Owned the XDS @ a year, the G36 for 12+ years. Hands down the XDs 45 is a MUCH better pistol. The G36 is ammo finicky, some ammo causes stoppages, even most 230gr ball. I have not had this level of failures from my G30SF.

    The XDs has never hiccuped once with any ammo – and unlike the glocks, I can shoot shot loads to get rid of snakes by the pond and my cast lead reloads (saves TONS of $$$). It is also far more accurate in any situation – although I thought the opposite would be true just due to longer barrel in the glocks. It’s thin, it points similar to my 1911s – very natural. The fiberoptic front sight lights up and is VERY visible. The author used a 6 o’clock sight-in, which used to be very common for rifles, particularly for long range shooting – I still use this method myself but for defense pistol, everyone I know sights in dead center of the target.

    I know this is an old article but I got my XDs for $495.

  35. Traded my Glock collection for xdm collection. 3.8 in .40 cal. 4.6 in 9 mm. And 5.25 in .40 cal. We absolutely hammer these toys and love them. Easy to clean and easy to love!

  36. I looked at both and bought the Glock 36. The XDS grip felt too small in my big (XL gloves) hands. The 36 felt good and shoots well for me and I haven’t had any FTF issues using a variety of cheap practice ammo and Hornady’s Critical Duty rounds for carry. I do like Glocks in general though, the big G20 feels great in my hands. I have a G29 too – it’s lower mates perfectly to the G36 slide, add a couple of G30 magazines and presto, higher capacity! I don’t carry it like that though, if I’m willing to carry the bulky G29 lower I’d rather have the 10 mm rounds.

  37. QUOTE FROM ARTICLE: “And the G36 has remained in the Glock catalog ever since, so Glock USA must be selling enough of them to keep the offering profitable.”

    Well, yeah, it’s all about sunk costs. GLOCK has already spent the money to make the mold for the polymer frame, and the rest of the steel parts are either machined on a CNC machine or just batch ordered from contractors. It costs GLOCK literally nothing to keep the mold sitting in their factory until they need it. Then they spend a day or two doing a production run of G36 pistols, and put the mold away until their stock starts running low. There is literally no reason for GLOCK to ever discontinue this pistol once they’ve spend the money to start production.

  38. Both “good” pieces.
    I have a few Glocks & I have the XDs .45. Tho a hard-&-fast 1911 guy, the XDs is so very concealable, there is no excuse to leave it home.
    Coupla’ things:
    – quit whining about the grip – you obviously need it.
    – put a Pierce extension on the mag. Grip control solved.
    – put a new light-pipe on the front – green! – & “smush” out the front, making it 2-3x the size. Remember it’s a fiber-optic & will transmit to the entire pipe. Front sight solved.
    – the ergonomics of the piece will allow you to slip into the front pocket of your pants or jacket easily w/o a “pocket holster”. CCW solved.
    My rating: ***** stars!!!!!

  39. I have fired the XDS 45 twice and it is way too snappy for me. In fact it is the only gun that hurts my hand when I fire. I’m thing about buying the Glock 36 for concealed carry. I’m sure in 2015 the spring extractor problem has been solved.

  40. I love my .45 XD-S, IMHO it’s a perfect CCP, however I wouldn’t recommend it for a long session at the range, but then again, that’s not what it’s designed for, is it.


  42. I have never fired a .45 Glock, but I’ve put around 300 rounds through my XDS. I absolutely hate the factory grip, and so far that’s th only complaint I’ve ever had about it. It carries like a dream and is indeed very simple to maintain. I have tried several different ammos through it (Hornady Critical Duty, PMC, Winchester, Freedom Munitions re-man, and some really old corroded stuff I don’t know the name of) and have not had any issues. I have average sized hands and grip the gun well; however too many years of wearing gloves at work have made my hands too damn soft, so my trade off is when I’m at the range, I wear an open finger workout glove. Also I just installed the TALON grip a few days ago (and although it feels a lot better) I haven’t had a chance to range test it yet. My guess is that it will still suck as a range gun. But I can also say that *if* I had to fire the gun ‘in anger’ I would not be so concerned about checker-boarding my hand because of the factory grip, and I can guarantee I’d still have control of it. Since I hope I never have to do that, I’ll continue to use a glove for practicing at the range.

    I’m planning on doing a round of rentals the next time i’m at the range and plan on trying a few others out. The only other .45 I’ve fired besides the XDS is my 1943 RR 1911, which I won’t carry until I find out how much it’s really worth… however, love the way it shoots.

  43. I know this is an old test and post but, several of our current security personnel that handle executive details asked for authorization to switch to g36 from either 1911 officers or Walther.
    Not one was able to qualify, all had carried g30sf or g23’s with previous agencies, private & federal. We had nearly a 40% failure rate, swapped recoil springs, magazines and nearly every part possible several times on the springs. After that they changed their minds about Glock’s in general 30 gen 3 is still carried by a few but it’s amazing after 300 rounds in a P99 that extra few mm of size don’t get noticed. ANY pistol that your life depends on needs to be 100% reliable not hit or miss. Any weapons that show failures after a break in period need to be relegated to a junk bin not a protective role.

  44. I have the xds 45 and experienced many jams with various brand rounds especially mag tech .
    I have found a brand that works but I’m not happy that the gun is such a fussy eater . I think I will sell it and go with something more reliable.

  45. Did you recently take a creative writing class? There was more creative bullshit than information. Laptop and meatballs?? Are you serious!
    The comparisons were weak and uninformative.
    Your conclusions were lacking and in the end the information is weak at best.
    Joe Semper Fi


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