Ported guns are loud, and some say they are dangerous. But porting makes it possible for the shooter to practice more often and fire more rounds with more comfort, especially if the caliber of the weapon is big and bad.
The concept of porting is simple. The expanding gases that drive a bullet out of the barrel can also be redirected at such an angle that it fights muzzle flip and reduces felt recoil. Some guns are designed to weigh more, specifically to absorb recoil. But in the case of polymer-framed guns such as the Springfield Armory XD, this is not the case. The use of polymer construction created an all-weather lightweight carry gun, but when faced with the pressure and power of 40 S&W caliber ammunition, making the gun more comfortable meant porting was a desirable option.
Weve tested the XD several times in several sizes and caliber. But we had to know if adding holes to the barrel would be a plus or a minus to the XDs performance, so we got an XD Service Model 4-inch V-10 Ported XD9702HCSP06 in 40 S&W.
The V-10s barrel was perforated with 10 holes, five on each side of the bore centerline. The first hole (approximately 0.1 inch in diameter) was drilled just less than 0.9 inch from the muzzle and there was about .08 inch between each hole. What effect did it have on performance?
Compared to the 40 S&W XD, recoil was greatly reduced. Our new model with the ported barrel was able to smooth out the recoil of any cartridge, even those topped with 180-grain bullets. The reduced movement of the front sight enabled us to visually track the sight as it returned to the rear notch ready for the next shot. We did not fire this gun at night, but with the gases exiting in a V-shape, concentration on the front sight should be possible despite the obvious flash, which is inevitable with or without porting.
The reduction of recoil also helped us at the bench by allowing us to maintain a consistent hold throughout ignition. In fact, two of our three test rounds (Speer 40 S&W 165-gr. GDHP and MagSafe 84-gr. Defender #40D, not shown in table) shot average group sizes of 2.1 inches and 1.8 inches, respectively.
With the powerful “Q” load, our ported gun did register a smallest group of 1.0 inches, but the important number is that the largest group shrank to 1.7 inches. More than any other factor, this reflects the shooters ability to control the gun as it fires.
Our Team Said: There are tradeoffs between the standard and the ported model. The ported XD is much louder than the standard model. Is that a problem? At the range, no, you can wear additional hearing protection. If you spend a lot of time in a car, you might be wise to avoid carrying a ported gun. In an enclosed space not only would the decibels be elevated, but also the possibility of collateral damage due to debris and even flame from the ports. But in our experience, the XD chambered for the powerful 40 S&W cartridge was nothing but improved with the addition of porting. You can decide if it is right for you.