September 24, 2010
I'm a big-bore fan. I was delighted when the Springfield XD 45 was announced. I grabbed one as soon as it was available but was disappointed to discover that the grip size of the .45 version is slightly bigger than that of the .40 caliber version I'd carried for years. In fact, it proved to be too big for my small hands. Proof was in my overly large groups; I was not able to properly control the gun.
Knowing that shot placement is far more important than bullet size, I reluctantly gave in to the fact that the gun was simply too big for me. My XD 40 went back into my holster as my primary firearm. I didn't realize it, but the solution—Springfield Armory's Custom Shop—was right under my nose.
I had the chance to speak with Dave Williams, head of Springfield's Custom Shop, and mentioned that the grip of the XD 45 was a little too large for me. He suggested that the Custom Shop could reshape the grip into a smaller configuration. I was delighted.
Heinie's Straight Eight sights feature tritium inserts, reduced glare and permit one-handed cycling of the slide.
Checking its website, I saw that the Custom Shop does trigger work, frame work and installs match barrels along with myriad other services.
I contacted Dave and discussed a host of options. I wanted a four-inch base gun without the thumb safety. The primary modification was to reduce the grip circumference in order to shorten the trigger reach. I also asked him to undercut the trigger guard to help lower the gun in my hand.
For increased purchase, especially when my hands are slippery with sweat, I asked Dave to stipple the grip to a sandpaper-like surface. And while I'm happy with the factory trigger on my current XD, a little smoothing out couldn't hurt.
As for sights, I wanted night sights with the ability to belt-rack the slide. We bantered back and forth a bit and decided upon the Straight Eight design by Heinie.
The sights consist of a tritium dot in the front sight post and a single, slightly smaller tritium dot in the rear sight. The proper sight picture is created by placing one dot on top of the other to form an elongated figure 8.
The gun arrived in four weeks, exactly when Dave said it would. The grip reshaping did the trick. It felt exactly like my XD 40. I placed the customized .45 on top of my .40 and visually confirmed that the grips were indeed now the same size.
Upon first inspection of the stippling, I was disappointed in the texture. It was not as coarse as I had anticipated. The workmanship, however, was quite nice. The entire underside of the trigger guard was stippled as well as all the way under the rear of the frame right through to the beavertail.
The Springfield Armory Custom Shop stippled the entire grip up to the beavertail. The light texture greatly increases purchase on the grip but is not harsh on skin and fabric.
The stippling of the thumb insets was a nice touch. The texture was so consistent that it was hard to believe it had been done by hand.
As pretty as it was, what really mattered was how well I could shoot it. Over two range sessions I fired 500 rounds. Within the first few shots, I knew that the gun not only felt like my .40, it handled like my .40.
I shot from three feet to 25 yards, concentrating much of my shooting at about 20 feet with single-shot holster draws and multiple shot routines. Unlike the problems I had shooting my original, unmodified XD 45, my groups and split times were great.
While initially disappointed in the grip texture, shooting it proved me wrong. The texture, while light, was sharp enough to give me the additional purchase required and had the added benefit of being less harsh on my skin and clothes.
This was my first experience with Heinie sights. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the line texturing on the sight—designed to decrease glare—also helped in visually acquiring the front sight. The Straight Eight design takes a bit of getting used to, but I expect it will work out just fine.
Springfield Armory's Custom Shop did an outstanding job. The smaller grip size, combined with the texturing, tamed the gun for me. Suffice to say the XD 45 is my new carry gun.