About a decade ago, I was married to my Ruger P90 for EDC and chained to my Berretta 92FS for duty. A friend brought out his brand new XD in .45ACP. I assumed the XD would shoot like a GLOCK. The gun would run fine, but I wouldn’t shoot it well. I was grossly mistaken. I shot the XD more accurately than the 92 (I had that P90 down pat) or a GLOCK, with zero malfunctions. I’ve been crowing about the XD line ever since. Enter the Mod.2 9mm Sub-Compact . . .
Unlike the GLOCK’s ratty lunchbox packaging, the XD Mod.2 Sub-Compact arrived in a range-worthy custom case with all the ancillary bits precisely laid out. Lipstick on a pig? The Mod.2 Sub is a stubby, fat, oddly angular thing. The handgun’s two-tone tan frame and black slide highlight the “plastic-ness” of the firearm and the slide’s sky-high bore axis. All made worse by the large letters proclaiming “GRIP ZONE” on handle.
My GRIP ZONE gripe: the graphics-for-dummies embellishment makes the gun look cheap. This from a guy who loves the lines of classic revolvers, 1911s and High Powers. If you like the industrial look, you’ll like this one plenty. And none of that has anything to do with how the Mod.2 Sub performs.
There is no thumb safety, but there is the typical long trigger pull of these types of pistols with the added security of a built-in grip safety. The safety is small; you might even say dainty. Some may worry that when you need it most, a poor grip may keep the gun from going bang. Try as I might, though, I couldn’t hold the Mod.2 Sub in any kind of a way that would not disengage the safety, enabling the gun to fire.
The XD Mod.2 Sub-Compact is easily concealable in an inside-the-waistband holster — for me. If you’re the proverbial TTAG OWFG you’ll want to carry this little guy in an outside-the-waistband holster. Either way, the pistol’s short stature disappears under an untucked shirt.
A pocket pistol it is not. I’m not exactly sure what makes a pistol sub-compact vs. micro. Although the Mod.2 Sub-Compact is small, this one is far larger than the Ruger LCP’s and Kahr PM9’s of the world. From either IWB or OWB, the gun draws quickly, nothing snags, and I had no problem getting the fiber optic front sight right on target.
Speaking of which, I’m only half happy with the Mod.2 Sub-Compact’s sights. The front sight is great: a small but brighter-than-daylight red fiber optic. It stood right out. The rear sight was also cut well, giving me space around the front sight to still see my target on either side. This is helpful in both slow fire for accuracy and fast fire to keep sure of the target’s exact location.
The fail is on that “snag-free” rear sight. This is clearly a carry gun designed for self-defense. Guns designed for this purpose need to have the rear sight cut to be able to rack the slide on a pocket, belt, something for one-handed manipulation. If I purchased this gun, that’s the first — and only — thing I’d change.
The large and deep serrations on the back of the slide provided a solid grip for manipulating the slide. There were no front serrations, but on a slide this short my palm covers pretty much the whole thing, and they aren’t really necessary in the first place.
I put 550 rounds through the Mod.2 Sub-Compact in two days. I shot American Eagle 115gr FMJs, Winchester White Box 115gr FJMs, Team Never Quit 100gr Fangible Hollow Points, Gold Dot 147gr pills, and Ruger ARX +P 80gr polycase rounds. I sprayed a little Hoppe’s #9 lube into the breach prior to starting the testing and never cleaned or lubed the gun again.
My course of fire included about 100 rounds of night fire, which more-or-less blinded me [ED: with science!]. On the third flush fit magazine the Mod.2 Sub-Compact’s slide failed to lock back on an empty chamber. On about the 200th round of American Eagle 115gr FMJs, I had one weird malfunction on the last round of a magazine. The round failed to fully eject; it was caught by the slide moving back forward. I didn’t encounter any other malfunctions.
Suspecting operator error, I tried to limp-wrist the Mod.2 Sub-Compact. I held the gun low across my body, pulled the trigger quickly and purposefully loosened my wrist. I can often induce a malfunction in a GLOCK 17 with this method; it virtually guarantees a malf in a G42. I couldn’t get the XD Mod.2 to jam by limp-wristing it.
With the Mod.2 Sub-Compact’s extended magazine, all of my fingers found a solid grip on the gun with a full wraparound of my support hand. There was no slippage at all during fast fire with either a single- or two-handed grip. It was different story with the flush fit magazine. I felt some shift in my hand during fast fire with the flush mag inserted. At seven yards, shooting as fast as I could get the sights on target, my groups opened-up in those last couple of rounds, as the gun slightly shifted in my hands. Slow fire was not a problem.
So what’s not to like? The trigger. It’s long with a good amount of take-up followed by a squishy and uneven pull. Follow that up with a reset that’s just horrible. The reset is almost as long as the original pull, and it really slows shooting down. This was especially noticeable on single-handed shooting.
To shoot more quickly, I had to adopt an old strategy I use with double action revolvers: forcibly pushing my trigger finger forward quickly and back, in a swinging motion. In two-handed fire, I would find my sights back down on the target prior to the trigger being ready to fire again.
The Mod.2 Sub-Compact is a small gun with a high bore axis. And little recoil. I had no problem getting the sights back on target quickly and I certainly wasn’t chasing the gun around. Credit its heft. Although the Mod.2 Sub-Compact is small, it’s not particularly light. With the flush fit magazine empty, it weights 26 oz. making it a full 10 oz. more than my PM9 and a surprising 2 oz more than an aluminum-framed STI Officer 1911 with a 3.25″ bull barrel.
Although the billboard trademark Grip Zone is ugly, the grip itself is exceptional, which made a big impact on how well the gun recoiled, or I should say, didn’t. Better yet, what you gain in weight you also gain in capacity. Both of the aforementioned guns are relatively small round count pistols. The flush fit magazine on the XD Mod.2 Sub-Compact, though, holds 13 rounds. The extended a full 16 rounds. That’s a whole lot of rounds for such a small gun.
I perform all of my accuracy testing at the end of a review. I like to have a good feel for the gun and I like the gun to be dirty before I see what kind of groups it will fire. Starting about the 450 round mark, I switched from steel to paper and started measuring. All of my tests were five-shot groups fired seated off a front bag at a target 25 yards away, with as long as it took to get a solid shot.
The first couple of groups didn’t surprise me with the Winchester White Box FMJ and American Eagle FMJ’s printing 4″ and 4 1/4-inch groups, respectively. They opened up a bit with the heavier 147 grain Gold Dot to 4 3/4 inches.
If this were where the review ended, I’d call those groups adequate for the size of the gun. But the 100 grain Team Never Quit HPs shot a much better 2 3/4 inches for the entire 20-round box. Not bad at all. The big surprise: the Ruger ARX 9mm+p 80 grain round. It printed solid 1 1/2- inch groups. No group I shot with this round — and I shot the whole box — shot to even 2″. That is outstanding accuracy from a gun with a 3-inch barrel.
The Springfield Armory XD Mod.2 Sub-Compact is not the world’s most beautiful gun — unless you judge beauty based on function. In that case, the Mod.2 Sub-Compact is a stunner: a concealed carry gun that packs a lot of rounds in a small package and delivers them with more-than-merely-adequate accuracy. Change the rear sight for one-handed racking and it would be ideal.
Springfield Armory XD Mod.2 Sub-Compact
Recoil System: Dual spring with full-length guide rod
Sights: Dovetail front and rear (steel) 3-dot
Weight: (with empty magazine) 26 ozs. with compact mag, 27 ozs. w/ X-Tension
Height: 4.75″ with compact mag, 5.5″ with X-Tension
Grip width: 1.20″
Slide: Forged steel, Melonite finish
Frame: Black polymer
Barrel: 3″ Hammer forged, steel, Melonite / 1:10 twist
Magazines: 1 13-round compact, 1 16-round w/ X-Tension
MSRP: $508 at galleryofguns.com
Ratings (out of five stars):
Appearance and Style * *
The Mod.2 Sub-Compact is particularly ugly in two-tone. The Grip Zone stamp is absolutely horrible. If you want to make it look even worse, you can hang a light on it.
Reliability * * * *
With only two malfunctions in the whole string using many different types of rounds, the gun is certainly reliable. I’d trust it with my life any day. But it wasn’t perfect.
Accuracy * * * * *
Good with most rounds, better with some rounds, exceptional with one particular round. If you have this gun, you owe it to yourself to get a box of Ruger ARX and see what it does for you. I was blown away.
Overall * * * *
A great sub-compact at a reasonable price. It’s a little wide and not light, but the Mod.2 Sub-Compact packs a lot of rounds in a small, accurate package.