August 2006

New Semi-Auto Power Pistols: Springfield’s XD 45 Is A Winner

The Springfield Armory XD 45 Service Model is a Best Buy, in our view but wed still like a thumb safety. It overshadows S&Ws M&P .40 S&W, which shot flyers in our tests.

Two recent pistol introductions have been much-ballyhooed in the gun press and firearms industry: Springfield’s XD 45 and the Smith & Wesson M&P 40. At the NRA annual meetings in Milwaukee May 19-21, the new XD pistol in .45 ACP won Handgun of the Year notice from NRA’s American Rifleman magazine, and it won Handgun of the Year at the Shooting Industry Academy of Excellence awards. The S&W M&P .40 was likewise nominated for the Shooting Industry award, and another NRA publication, Shooting Illustrated, named the M&P as its 2006 Handgun of the Year.

Because interest seems high, we wanted to weigh in on which pistol we thought was the best, so we acquired a $559 Springfield Armory XD (Extreme Duty), and a $624 Smith & Wesson M&P (Military and Police) pistol. Of course, both were designed to provide an effective weapon for law enforcement and military use, but they certainly will serve as personal defense guns for civilians that are durable, easy to maintain and within most budgets.

The XD is based on the Croatian police sidearm that Springfield Armory has adapted to the American market. Chambering the XD for .45 ACP is the latest volley aimed at landing the XD in the holster of every policeman. The XD is a proven design, but we wondered how the power and size of .45 ACP ammunition would affect the integrity of the machine as well as the friendly ergonomics that have attracted so many buyers in other chamberings. The Smith & Wesson M&P 40 S&W is the result of research and development that included consultation with the law enforcement and military training community. Starting with a clean slate, Smith & Wesson has risked much more than Springfield Armory by having to spend money on tooling up. Was it worth the investment?

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