October 3, 2012

Springfield Armory XD40 .40 S&W

While older designs, such as the double-action revolver and the 1911 semi-automatic pistol, continue to prosper through new materials and manufacturing techniques, the polymer-framed pistol may be at the forefront of pistol development. The .40 S&W is the leading round chosen by today’s local and federal law-enforcement professionals. Compact .40s (3.5- to 4.25-inch barrels) bridge the gap between plainclothes duty and civilian concealed carry, and of these, the lightweight “plastic” pistols lead the way.

Gun Tests magazine took a look at Springfield Armory XD40 .40 S&W, a striker-fired pistol very much like a Glock, but with a grip safety added. We tested a 9mm HS in the April 2001 issue of Gun Tests, and again in May 2002 after Springfield Armory bought into the company and renamed the pistol the XD, an acronym for “Extreme Duty.”

Here's what they had to say:

Springfield Armory XD40, $489

The XD pistol frankly exceeded our expectations. We’re not sure just what changes have been made in production since Springfield Armory took this pistol under its wing, but from the very start we felt the Croatian HS pistols have been underrated. Most people see these pistols as an attempt to cross a Glock with a 1911. We assume this is because of the addition of a grip safety and Colt-like ergonomics, such as the operation of the magazine release.

Gun Tests October 2002


The XD pistol exceeded our expectations. Most people see these pistols as an attempt to cross a Glock with a 1911. We like the result.

Certainly the melding of a Glock with a 1911 pistol is intriguing and quite possibly the next step in the evolution of the handgun. This means a short-action trigger on a gun that can be mass produced at low cost. It would thus consist of a vacuum-formed polymer frame that is light in weight, durable, weatherproof, and easy to fit without tedious and time-consuming labor. This describes a Glock, to some degree. The XD adds safety features such as the grip safety, a loaded-chamber indicator and a cocking indicator in the form of a section of the striker that protruded from the rear of the slide. The striker was shielded from hitting the primer by a blocking device, controlled by a hinged piece within the trigger face.

The XD is a large pistol. This meant more weight and a larger grip with which to control recoil. It also meant a longer sight radius for easier alignment. We thought the Springfield’s longer slide, with its greater mass and range of motion, offered additional reliability over a wider range of ammunition than anything shorter or lighter. A case in point was the firing of the 46-grain MagSafe ammunition. While recoil was more akin to that of a .22 Magnum Rimfire, we never suffered a moment’s doubt as to its reliability in the Springfield. At the same time, the heaviest-recoiling rounds we had with us were easily controlled.

Gun Tests October 2002


The XD adds safety features such as the grip safety, a loaded-chamber indicator and a cocking indicator in the form of a section of the striker that protruded from the rear of the slide.

Accuracy from the ultra-fast MagSafe round was consistent, averaging 2.4 inches for all groups fired. This so far outclassed the ability of other tested pistols to handle this round that we didn’t bother firing the MagSafe 84-grain Defender in the XD. Usually, defense rounds are punishing to shoot, but the 46-grain MagSafe SWAT was the lightest in recoil of any round we’ve tested in recent memory. This same pistol is also available with a ported barrel, but with this pistol we didn’t think porting would be necessary.

The Winchester loads in the XD produced the only sub-2-inch groups of the test. While our best average (2.1-inches) was with the 165-grain Winchester round, the Springfield’s best group measured only 1.4 inches with the 180-grain Q-load.

Gun Tests October 2002


The striker assembly on the Springfield gun is simplicity itself. Here, you see the XD's firing pin in the cocked position. The firing pin spring pushes the pin forward like a battering ram.

We thought the Springfield XD was more likely to be carried in a holster than in a pocket or purse. Certainly the XD is lighter than most pistols and a very good candidate for civilian or plainclothes concealed carry. We also feel that the XD was the best choice for a duty gun for uniformed police.

Gun Tests Recommends

Springfield Armory XD40, $489. Best Buy. We can’t think of another handgun selling for under $500 that offers so much. We got accurate fire from a short, consistent trigger, an extra safety that won’t slow you down, plus big, clear sights and a mag release you can find quickly. We thought it was a most practical pistol.