In European countries, it is not unusual for police to work with a dog on a leash. That is one reason why many Euro-pistols favor single-hand operation.
The XD9 is a simple pistol. It has a polymer frame with an accessory rail in front of the trigger guard and button magazine release available from both sides of the pistol. There was no active mechanical safety that switches the gun off or on, but there was a lever located in the center of the backstrap that must be compressed for the gun to fire.
There is also a lever inside the face of the trigger that must be compressed to clear the striker. The slide was topped with three-dot sights dovetailed into place front and rear. Cocking serrations adorn the slide fore and aft. Field-stripping begins with removing the magazine and locking the back the slide. This all but guarantees the chamber is empty. A latch on the left side of the frame is rotated clockwise 90 degrees. The slide can now be released, but before the slide can be completely removed, the trigger (with the grip safety compressed) must be pulled to the rear. Under the slide we found a dual-spring plunger-style guide rod and the barrel.
When we measure the circumference of the grip we list the maximum number. We wrap the measuring tape around the widest part including any palm swell or undulation in the grip. But it can be argued that the most important dimension of the grip is the circumference covered by the thumb and middle finger. This is the strongest point of support and control supplied by the human hand and it is here that the XD9 excelled in providing a balanced grip.
Loading the pistol for our bench session two additional safety features became apparent. A lever atop the slide leading from the rear edge of the barrel hood showed that a round was in the chamber. A silver pin poked through the rear face of the slide to show the striker was cocked. Of controversy is the matter of whether or not the XD is a double-action or single-action pistol. Once the striker is ready to be launched pressure on the trigger results in a very small rearward movement of the striker before it was released toward the primer.
From the bench we were able to achieve an average five-shot group measuring just 2.2 inches with both our hollowpoint defense loads. Our $18 per 20-round Federal Hydra-Shok loads showed less variation in group size than our $15-per-hundred-round Remington budget ammunition but each round produced sub-2 inch groups. The XD9 finished second firing the Winchester rounds.
Given the short smooth trigger and the ease of control from the grip, the XD9 was the top performer in our action tests. Average elapsed time freestyle was 0.75 seconds to the first shot and 1.15 seconds in total time respectively. All shots were found on paper and the consistency of our first shot times bears mentioning, (in order, 0.79, 0.75, 0.75, 0.73, 0.73 seconds). Strong hand only shooting was slower, (0.84 seconds first shot, 1.47 seconds total elapsed time). But the XD9 was the only gun with which we completed the action test without a single miss.