July 2008

45 ACP Polymer Pistols with Thumb Safeties: Buy the XD45

In our opinion, Spring?eld Armory’s excellent XD45 with an “on-off switch” still leads Smith & Wesson’s M&P45 and the Taurus OSS, a promising gun that malfunctioned during our evaluation.

Everyone loves the big bullet. But one of the reasons why the models in this test are in production probably has more to do with a recent announcement by the United States military. A proposal was made to move away from the Beretta M9 and substitute a 45 ACP pistol with thumb safety and higher capacity than the traditional 1911 Government model. Plans to adopt such a pistol prompted several manufacturers to produce prototypes. Subsequently, the military decided to stand pat with the Beretta.

Nevertheless, participating gun makers thought they might as well let the public decide if these new designs were worthwhile. Thus, all three pistols in this test, the $623 Taurus OSS No. 24/7-OSSDS45B, Springfield Armory’s $571 XD45 No. XD9661HCSP, and the $743 Smith & Wesson M&P No. 109107, can be made safe by lifting a thumb-operated safety.

Some of the questions we wanted to answer had to do with carry options and ergonomics. To withstand 45 ACP recoil, these guns were bigger and built heavier than the 9mm and 40 S&W models generally associated with polymer design. Would adding a full load of heavy ammunition make the guns too much to carry? What about reliability? Would the magazine springs remain strong enough to lift the final rounds into position? To test this last proposition, one magazine of each gun was left fully loaded with the 230-grain Black Hills JHP +P rounds for 14 days.

What about the thumb safeties? Did they interfere with maintaining a natural grip? Would they slow the shooter down in an emergency? Did the thumb safety cause malfunctions? Did we think the addition of the thumb safety made the gun safer to handle both tactically and administratively?

For this test, we fired indoors at Houston’s Top Gun Handgun Training Center (topgunrange.com). There we tested from a distance of 15 yards from a sandbag rest. We also garnered comment from members of the public thanks to testing alongside one of the many corporate functions hosted by Top Gun staff. Test ammunition included three prime examples of 45 ACP ammunition. For a light-recoiling target round we chose Winchester USA’s 185-grain FMJ loads. Next, we tried Federal Premium 230-grain Hydra-Shok JHP rounds, and for maximum power 230-grain JHP +P rounds from Black Hills Ammunition.

Here’s what we learned:

To continue reading this article you must be a paid subscriber.

Subscribe to Gun Tests

Get the next year of Gun Tests for just $24. Don’t wait another minute to get the knowledge you need to make the best possible firearms investment. Our offer is guaranteed. You can cancel at any time and we'll send a full refund for any unmailed copies. No strings, no hassle.

Or get 12 months of Gun Tests Digital. You get unlimited access to everything on the site including all current and past monthly issues in PDF format.

Subscriber Log In

Forgot your password? Click Here.

Already subscribe but haven't registered for all the benefits of the website? Click here.