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Years of consumer purchases, including all manner of firearms and accessories have left me often feeling a product only adequately met its mark.  When the XDs .45 ACP was announced and demonstrated at the 2012 SHOT show, it had all the makings of a well marketed firearm but the bar was a set pretty high, with a lot of promise.  To be fair, I have an XDm .45 ACP, and a SOCOM 16 M1A.  So called ‘pocket’ guns are getting a lot of attention from numerous manufacturers, and the recent offerings by S&W, Ruger, Kahr, Beretta & now Springfield Armory are definitely driving a competitive market place. The XDs .45 ACP is going to fill a definite consumer demand.  

Good luck finding one.

The XDS is in high demand.  Whether that is deliberate on S/A’s part, or they’re just being snapped up by people eager to add a .45 backup gun to their rotation is not clear.  What is clear is gun shops are lucky to get what they get and they are selling very fast.  I called several local shops, then went to a large gun show, stopping at 20 different FFLs.  Thinking I’d gone to them all, at least twice I was going to pick up a red dot for a rifle when I decided to give a very lonely looking XDs a forever home from an unknown to me FFL from North Carolina. I could tell the gun wanted to come home with me, sitting there all alone amidst the 1911’s.  20 minutes later I was on the way to the range.  A brief inspection later, we had the first rounds downrange and it was good.  

Fit, finish, function all have a good and solid feel.  The gun comes with 3 dot sights, the front is a fiber optic.  The XDS comes with a red front insert, but they include a spare red and green tube, with instructions on how to change the front inset.  The ergonomics of the gun are excellent.  The gun fits in average sized hands with a small 1911 type feel, but with no thumb safety to fumble with.  The checkering is very aggressive, but you get used to it.  

This trigger is weird.  At first when dry firing the gun for the first few times, I thought ‘I overpaid for this thing’.  The trigger has a lot of take up, then abruptly becomes very heavy by striker fired gun standards, it’s a bit vague in this part of the pull, but then breaks consistently.  It’s not a heavy trigger pull, nowhere near double action revolver weight, but at first it seems  surprising.  On top of that, the trigger does not return until the slide cycles.  I think this is the only gun I have that does this.  This only comes up when dry firing.  Mercifully, S/A have empowered this little gun with a very short reset like the XDm series.Then I fired it with live ammo and for some reason it just made sense.  I find this trigger different, but comparable to the Beretta Nano, and far easier to manipulate precisely.  I made good hits from 10 feet to 35 yards.    

Ok, so maybe the trigger isn’t weird.

Packing this kind of .45 payload in the XDS is so full of win.  The closest my inventory comes to a less than full size .45 ACP is a Smith & Wesson 325PD; an N Frame, moon clip revolver.  It’s big.
There are surely other .45 ACP guns out there smaller than the N frame but the XDS almost as compact as the Nano.  It will fit in the same pocket holster with some difficulty, and will get its own holster eventually.  The XDs is a little on the heavy side for pocket carry, but not prohibitive.  Compared to the “gold standard” scandium J Frame S&W, the XDs is downright portly at about 20.5 or 21 ounces unloaded, the scandium 360 is hovering right at 13 ounces.  The Beretta BU9 Nano is about 17 ounces.  The Kel-Tec PF9, which compares favorably with the BU9 is a little lighter, carries an extra shot and the trigger I hate the most in the firearms world.  This gun will fit in 99% of the scenarios that the BU9 or PF9 will fit and due to the ergonomics on the XDS, the little .45 is surprisingly easy to control.  

The XDS grip from the rear The J-Frame grip from the rear The Nano grip from the rear

It’s still a .45 

‘Surprisingly easy to control’ doesn’t mean it is like shooting a Browning Buckmark .22 pistol.  This comment is made in the context of other pocket or backup style guns from tiny .380 ACP pistols with barely enough grip to get 2 fingers on, through J Frame Smith & Wesson examples and the new 9mm class of pocket guns.  The XDS has a grip that people with medium, adult sized hands can effectively grip, allowing a little more control to be exerted over the gun.  

 

Here are some more pictures of the grip:

  

There is one thing a little disappointing.  There’s hardly any muzzle blast.  The XDs sort of goes about putting rounds down range in kind of a business like manner.  The BU9, especially in +p offerings at least offers a satisfying flash.  Nothing, however compares to the flamboyance of .357 magnums launched from the tiny J-Frame Smith & Wesson.  With a sound that only a magnum round can produce and muzzle flash that will warm your shooting range neighbors in 100 degree heat, it just feels like more of an accomplishment to score hits with the J-Frame.  Of course, the recoil can be quite pronounced, particularly from the Scandium models.  Many of which will unseat bullets from their cases, even crimped magnum rounds.  

So maybe the XDS isn’t really disappointing.  Actually it’s quite good.  

 

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