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Review: Springfield Armory XDS Mod 2

Review: Springfield Armory XDS Mod 2

There are currently 16 million CCW permit holders in the United States, and that number is growing every year. To meet the needs of this growing market, pistol manufacturers have been working overtime to develop the perfect carry gun—if such a thing exists. Springfield Armory is one of those gun makers that’s set its sights on the carry gun market, and its lineup of single-and double-stack striker-fired guns has been well received by the CCW crowd.

But the carry gun market is evolving quickly, and there are always new competitors in this already crowded field. To keep pace, manufacturers must have a revisionist attitude. To that end, Springfield examined its single-stack polymer-framed carry guns, the XD-S family, and decided that, despite its popularity, the gun was due for a refresh. The company updated its trim carry pistol and added some upgrades to create the XD-S Mod.2, a real competitor for the top spot in the skinny 9mm marketplace.

The updated XD-S Mod.2 does not represent a major departure from the original XD-S, though. It’s still a striker-fired gun, and it still offers the concealability of a single-stack magazine, comes with a Melonite finish and features two passive safeties on the grip and trigger. The dimensions of the original XD-S and XD-S Mod.2 are fairly similar, and most casual shooters might not be able to tell the two pistols apart.

Grooves on either side of the grip improve comfort and control when firing, and the combination of the undercut frame and the beavertail promote a high grip, which also helps tame muzzle rise.

But there have been some minor but important upgrades, and they start with the grip texturing and ergonomics. The Mod.2 ditches the original XD-S’s aggressive texturing design in favor of a more comfortable yet no less functional texturing pattern—the most readily visible difference between the original and Mod.2 versions of the pistol. The Mod.2 also features a higher hand grip for better control of the gun when firing and a trimmed-down slide that makes this gun easier to conceal under light clothing.

The new Mod.2 offers multiple iron sight options, including a fiber-optic front sight and a white dot steel rear sight, or you can opt for a Pro-Glo tritium/luminescent front sight with a tactical rack serrated rear sight. There’s also a model with a Viridian laser. Both iron sight models come with an under-barrel accessory rail should you want to add a laser or light down the line.

Originally, the XD-S Mod.2 came in .45 ACP with five- and six-round magazines, but the company recently added a 9mm version available with seven-, eight- and nine-round mags.

The version I tested was the new 9mm XD-S Mod.2. Like the .45 ACP version, the 9mm has the new grip styling that is, to my thinking, a worthwhile addition. Original XD-S pistols were fine for casual shooting, but put more than a couple hundred rounds downrange without gloves and you’d begin to wonder if that toothy surface was really necessary.

The most noticeable upgrade on the Mod.2 is the new, less-aggressive grip texturing, which makes it a more comfortable gun to shoot.

Apparently, Springfield’s engineers wondered the same thing, and that prompted the new texturing design. The altered grip ergonomics place the hand higher on the gun, and this too is an upgrade you’ll appreciate more after a few hours on the range.

I previously shot the .45 ACP version of the Mod.2 and found it was much easier to control than you’d expect from a lightweight polymer .45. The 9mm is even more manageable, and while experienced shooters may guffaw at the notion that any 9mm is unpleasant to shoot, it’s important to remember a sizable portion of the XD-S Mod.2 9mm’s target audience are new shooters who’re new to both concealed carry and shooting.

With a proper grip, the XD-S Mod.2 doesn’t produce excessive recoil or muzzle rise with hot defensive and target loads and will allow new shooters to feel confident with this pistol. More experienced shooters will appreciate the new design because the Springfield’s short-reset trigger and higher grip allow you to deliver fast, accurate follow-up shots.

The ultimate carry gun should be trim enough to conceal under light clothing, and Springfield has reduced the dimensions of the XD-S so it’s easy to hide under summer clothing. With the seven-round magazine with finger extension in place, the Mod.2 9mm has a height of roughly 4.6 inches from the base of the magazine, to the top of the slide. If you opt for the flush-fit magazine the figure drops to just 4.3 inches.

With its 3.3-inch hammer-forged barrel, the pistol measures 6.3 inches long, and the width is 0.975 inch. For comparison, the Glock 43 single-stack 9mm measures 1.06 inches wide and 6.26 inches long.

The XD-S Mod.2 weighs 21.5 ounces with an empty flush-fit magazine, which is three ounces heavier than the Glock and within one ounce of the Smith & Wesson M&P9. In practical terms, all three of these pistols are close in terms of size and weight, but the XD-S Mod.2 is the only pistol offering a nine-round capacity.

The XD-S comes with a push-button ambidextrous magazine release that’s well-positioned so there’s no need to cant the pistol at an awkward angle during mag changes. The slide stop is tucked neatly against the side of the gun. It’s just the right size and is easy to operate with the thumb yet not so large that it would hang up during a draw.

Two recessed grooves on either side of the polymer frame accommodate the thumb and trigger finger, and there’s a rotating takedown lever on the left side of the pistol. To fieldstrip the gun, make certain it is unloaded, drop the magazine, lock the slide open and rotate the lever clockwise 90 degrees. Afterwards, releasing the slide and pulling the trigger allows the slide, barrel and captured recoil spring to be removed.

Some people like grip safeties, some don’t. Fitzpatrick is fine with the one on the Mod.2 and didn’t have any trouble with it.

There are two passive safeties on the XD-S Mod.2, a grip safety and a trigger safety. The grip safety is located below the beavertail and prevents the trigger bar from releasing the sear until it is depressed, and the bladed trigger design prevents sudden impacts from firing the gun. There’s also a striker safety that blocks the striker channel to further protect against accidental discharges when dropped.

An indicator bar on the top of the slide gives a visual and tactile cue when a round is in the chamber. The XD-S Mod.2 does not have a magazine disconnect safety, so it can be fired if there is a cartridge in the chamber even if the magazine is not in place.

I spent several days carrying the XD-S Mod.2 and found the gun lives up to its billing as highly concealable. Worn at the appendix position with the thumb extension seven-round magazine in place, the XD-S Mod.2 disappears under a light t-shirt.

Even with the nine-round extended magazine in place, the pistol could be concealed, though it’s much more likely to print when wearing athletic clothes. With a light jacket or button-up cover garment, though, the XD-S is concealable with every available magazine option.

Grip safeties seem to be a polarizing feature. Detractors ask why while fans ask why not, but I’m a fan of the passive design and I’ve never found a reason to fault grip safeties on carry guns. The minimized controls on the XD-S Mod.2 won’t jab or poke your belly while you’re carrying the gun.

Carry a pistol close to your body in the summer in Ohio and you’ll expose it to plenty of perspiration. Even when damp the grip offers enough texturing to keep the gun firmly planted in the hand, and the Melonite ferritic nitrocarburized finish is durable and appears to stand up well to the rigors of daily carry. Not all carry gun finishes are created equal, but I’ve always had good luck with Melonite pistols that I’ve carried in the past, and there’s no indication that the Mod.2 will be any less corrosion and scratch-resistant than the pistols that have come before it.

The rear slide serrations—Springfield calls them Posi-Wedge—are deep enough and aggressive enough the gun can be racked with wet hands. That failing, the dovetailed rear sight is designed for one-handed racking of the pistol.

Despite its compact size the Springfield is not only manageable to shoot with defensive loads, it’s plenty accurate as well.

Springfield claims the XD-S Mod.2 can go 25,000 rounds without stoppage. I didn’t quite hit that number, but I did put a few hundred rounds of varying bullet weights and energies downrange without a single hiccup. There were no failures to feed, and the beefy slide-mounted extractor takes a healthy bite onto the cartridge case and pulls empties free from the chamber reliably. I fired the pistol one-handed and from a variety of kneeling, sitting and standing positions and there were no issues.

If Springfield is serious about planting their flag on the top of the heap of carry guns available today, reliability is critical. Concealed pistols have to work with a variety of different loads under any conditions, and based on my range tests with the XD-S Mod.2, this pistol functions properly with a wide array of loads.

Accuracy test protocols indicated that the XD-S Mod.2, with its 3.3-inch barrel, should be tested at 15 yards. From that range on a fixed rest, this pistol is quite accurate for a compact carry gun. The best five-shot group of the day measured 0.63 inches, and there were a handful of five-shot clusters that hovered just above an inch. Average group size ranged from 1.3 inches up to 2.6 inches at that range.

The XD-S shines when being fired in practical fashion. If I were buying this gun, I’d stick with the tritium front sight and black rear. The front sight is plenty bright to see in any lighting conditions and offers a bold, easy-to-locate aiming point that allows for fast and accurate shooting.

Speed is further increased by the pistol’s short, positive reset. The trigger broke at an average of 7.1 pounds, which isn’t particularly light but is predictable. There’s a fair amount of trigger travel before the break.

Notes: Accuracy results are averages of four five-shot groups at 15 yards from a fixed rest. Velocity figures are averages of 10 shots recorded on a ProChrono digital chronograph placed 10 feet from the muzzle. Abbreviations: FMJ, full metal jacket; JHP, jacketed hollowpoint; TSJ, total synthetic jacket

Does the perfect carry gun exist? Not so long as there are two shooters to argue about the topic. But the XD-S Mod.2 is a solid option with some user-friendly features, and, most importantly, it’s reliable. If you’re in the market for a single-stack 9mm, the XD-S Mod.2 warrants a hard look. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the evolution of Springfield’s trim carry pistol.

TYPE: striker-fired semiauto
CALIBER: 9mm Luger
CAPACITY: 7+1, 9+1
BARREL: 3.3 in.
OAL /HEIGHT/WIDTH: 6.3/4.7 (flush mag)/0.975 in.
WEIGHT: 21.5 oz.
CONSTRUCTION: Melonite-finished steel slide, polymer frame
GRIPS: textured polymer
TRIGGER: 7.1 lb. pull (measured)
SIGHTS: Tactical Rack rear, Ameriglo ProGlot tritium front (as tested)
PRICE: $586 (as tested)
MANUFACTURER: Springfield Armory, 

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