October 17, 2007
Springfield shrinks the grip frame to make the XD-45 more suitable for concealed carry.
Gun manufacturers are always striving to meet consumers' demands, and as more states adopt shall-issue concealed carry laws, law-abiding citizens are carrying guns for self-protection. This increases demand for suitable concealed carry firearms, and while some are satisfied with small-caliber, lightweight guns, others just are not comfortable without a substantial piece in the old reliable .45 ACP chambering. Certainly, there is no shortage of fine .45s on the market, but getting just the right one can be a challenge, especially if you are fond of a particular manufacturer's model and that model is too big to be the perfect solution.
Five years ago Springfield Armory introduced its very popular XD line of pistols. Made in Croatia, they were available only in 9mm, .40 S&W and .357 SIG. In 2005 .45 GAP was added, and then in 2006 the XD-45 was unveiled in .45 ACP. It instantly became a hit in both the four-inch-barreled Service Model and the five-inch Tactical version. But unlike the other XDs that were available in full size and subcompact with a shortened barrel and grip, there was only one grip size for the XD-45. It was long enough to accommodate 13-round magazines, which was good, especially considering that the grip circumference was only slightly greater than the smaller-caliber versions, but it made the gun more difficult to conceal.
To remedy the situation, Springfield decided to shorten the grip length and lopped off about .7 inch from the four-inch-barreled Service Model. With a height of 4.9 inches, the XD-45 Compact still holds 10 rounds of .45 ACP cartridges but is easier to conceal under a shirt or jacket because the butt is less likely to create a tell-tale bulge.
Like all XDs, this Compact .45 has a polymer frame, which reduces weight considerably and adds to its desirability as a carry gun. There is also a grip safety that must be compressed to allow the trigger to function or the slide to open. Springfield's USA (Ultra Safety Assurance) trigger system employs a lever that prevents the trigger from moving unless the shooter's finger first depresses it in a deliberate attempt to fire the gun.
A loaded-chamber indicator protrudes from the top of the slide and provides a visual and tactile warning that a round is chambered. When the striker is cocked, an indicator extends from the back of the slide and can be seen or felt to indicate the gun's readiness to fire.
The all-polymer grip is heavily checkered front and rear and is textured on both sides to offer a good non-slip surface. Although the XD-45 Compact's grip is comparatively short, it still affords ample area for a good solid hold. Some with larger hands might find their little finger hanging in mid-air below the bottom of the grip, but with my medium-size hands, my little finger still found a purchase, and even with hot +P .45 ACP defense loads the gun was pleasant to shoot. In fact, I think the circumference required to accommodate the double-stack design and the heavily textured surface would make the grip acceptable even to those with large hands.
The barrel is actually slightly over four inches long, but I'll call it four inches for practical purposes, and it is rifled with six lands and grooves. Overall length of the gun is 71?4 inches, and weight unloaded with the 10-round stainless steel magazine is 291?4 ounces. Height of the Compact is 4.9 inches with the 10-round magazine in place compared to 5.6 inches for the Service Model XD-45.
Springfield also supplies a regular 13-round stainless steel magazine with a sleeve that slides snuggly over it, making the Compact's grip equal in length to that of the Service Model XD-45. It's really a pretty good concept. With the 10-round magazine in place, the gun is more easily concealed, but with a spare 13-round magazine, there is plenty of backup firepower available.
The Compact has a standard accessory rail for lights or lasers molded into the dustcover, and the slide is nicely finished in an attractive matte blue that goes well with the black polymer frame. If Springfield follows its normal pattern in the XD line, I expect it will soon offer the Compact with a stainless slide and frames in OD and Flat Dark Earth.
XDs are recoil operated using the familiar modified Browning locked-breech design. The slide and barrel are locked together during the first fraction of an inch of recoil until the angled surface on the barrel lug contacts the locking block on the frame. This causes the barrel to cam downward and unlocks the breech, allowing the spent cartridge case to be extracted and ejected. The recoil spring then drives the slide forward, stripping a fresh cartridge from the magazine, and feeds it into the chamber. When the last shot is fired and the magazine is empty, the slide is held open by the external slide catch.
The magazine release is ambidextrous and is easily operated with the thumb or trigger finger, allowing magazines to drop freely from the gun. Magazines are double stack and are therefore tapered at the top, making them easy to insert into the beveled magazine well. Speed reloads are a snap.
The XDs come standard with very functional, highly visible, drift-adjustable three-dot sights. Heinie or Trijicon tritium night sights are optional. Standard is a hard-sided, padded carrying case packed with XD gear consisting of a polymer holster, magazine pouch and magazine loader. A bore-cleaning brush and cable lock are also included.
XD TAKEDOWN SEQUENCE
Takedown and cleaning are very simple. As always, remove the magazine and double-check to make sure the gun is unloaded. Keeping the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, retract the slide and lock it to the rear by pressing the slide catch up into the slot on the slide. Remember that to retract the slide, the grip safety will have to be fully depressed.
When the slide is locked to the rear, rotate the takedown lever on the left side of the frame 90 degrees clockwise so it is straight up. Maintain a strong grip on the slide, and retract it slightly until the catch disengages, allowing the slide to move forward completely off the frame. The trigger will need to be pulled during this part of the operation in order to release the slide, so again, keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
Once the slide is free of the frame, turn it over and push the rear of the recoil-spring assembly slightly toward the muzzle to free it from the barrel lug. The spring assembly can then be lifted out as one unit. The barrel then is lifted from the slide, and all parts can be cleaned and lubricated. Assembly is in reverse order.
The XDs are duty and carry guns, not target pistols, so a very light, crisp trigger pull is just not a realistic expectation. The trigger on the XD is sort of a double-action-only design, except the trigger pull is not particularly long or heavy as one expects with a DAO revolver. The test gun had a short, light takeup followed by an 8.4-pound break as measured on my Lyman trigger-pull gauge. Specifications call for a trigger pull of 5.5 to 7.7 pounds, but the heavier pull on the test gun was not at all troublesome. However, I suspect that the trigger pull will become less after a short break-in period.
ON THE FIRING LINE
I tested the XD-45 Compact with four different loads, and the gun worked perfectly every single time the trigger was pulled. This is what I have come to expect of XDs. Recoil off the bench when testing for accuracy, or offhand when conducting tactical drills, was very controllable even with heavier-recoiling self-defense loads. In fact, I could not discern a difference compared to the Service Model XD-45 with full-length grip.
Using a Predator Shooting Rest at 25 yards, all loads proved to be plenty accurate for self-defense purposes. The best average of three five-shot groups was 3.84 inches with Black Hills 185-grain JHPs. Velocities and accuracy results are shown in the accompanying table.
After completing the accuracy test, I tried out the Compact on rapid-fire tactical drills and again found the Compact to deliver just like the four-inch-barreled Service Model XD-45 does. Recoil was easily managed, and the gun returned to target rapidly, delivering rounds to point of aim.
Springfield tells me the XD-45 Compact will be in dealer display cases by the time you read this. My guess is that the gun will prove to be a pretty popular choice.