The XD was introduced a few years ago as the Croatian HS-2000. I saw the guns and even shot a few and I thought they felt okay, but I was not initially enamored. US marketing and rights were eventually taken over by Springfield Armory and shortly thereafter I saw the XD guns showing up at Texas IDPA matches mostly in .40. Admittedly, I simply don’t like that cartridge or the guns that launch it, but I am sure that is something that will take years of therapy to overcome, because the .40 has a very distinguished following. Once I moved to the east coast, I saw more XDs being shot at local IDPA matches, and the guns ran. That impressed me.
I picked up a somewhat compact pistol, at a local show, and found that the grip felt very nice in the hand, and then I realized that it was a .45ACP with a double stack magazine. I thought that the trigger was a bit long, but really nice for a stock gun. The gun had about a 4-inch barrel and an abbreviated grip, but it had a 10-round double column magazine.
Now I had to get one and play a little to see if I really liked it or not. I reached out to my friends at Springfield and told them that I was going to test the gun with the intention of treating it like an anvil. To my surprise, they felt confident and I received that familiar plastic box from Illinois shortly thereafter.
Along with my Compact XD .45ACP pistol came one standard 10-shot magazine, as well as two 13-shot magazines that are a little longer to accommodate the other three rounds, but still fit in the gun. The bigger magazines had a sleeve to match the profile and contour of the grip. The XD Compact .45ACP has boxy, utilitarian 3-dot sights on top, and it balances really well. For the most part, my first observation of the XDs has always been that they felt odd because they have a very high bore-axis but this one didn’t feel that way, and it pointed well.
More playing revealed that the magazine button actually rotates a wee bit under my thumb when depressed. Checking that closer, I saw that it rotates because the button is ambidextrous, and the catch on the inside of the magazine well locks up on a notch in the front of the magazine and the latch cams, making the button rotate. So you can carry the gun with the short, 10-shot magazine for CCW, and use the larger magazine for on- or off-duty carry. So far, I like it. Did I say it feels really good in the hand?
This gun is only slightly bigger than the smaller caliber XDs, but its grip is incredibly slim and it is a double-stack .45ACP. In the hand, this gun feels like a 9mm.
The pistol has a trigger safety much like the Glock and Steyr M9 pistols, and also has an internal firing pin/striker block that helps prevent the gun from firing without the trigger being pulled. Upon close inspection, I saw that the pistol also has a recess in the slide that precludes the sear from being disengaged when the gun is not in battery. This gun also has something that many people appreciate, and that is a grip safety.
This grip safety is located in the same place as one would find it in a 1911, and I never had a single problem engaging it (even when performing draws under the pressure of a timer). It should be noted that this grip safety must be engaged before the slide can be moved fully rearward.
The gun also has a loaded chamber indicator on the top of the slide, just aft of the chamber. This indicator is pushed upward by the cartridge, and can be clearly seen, or simply felt with a fingertip if the operator is in the dark. A second indicator that the gun is loaded is the back of the striker, which protrudes from the back of the slide.
Since the gun I was sent is blued, this stainless steel striker contrasts clearly, and can also be felt with a fingertip if it was dark and could not be seen. The magazine is steel with a plastic follower and floor plate, and has witness holes to keep track of how many bullets are in the magazine.
So I went to the range to put the XD through its paces. The first thing I found was that the gun fit in the hand and felt like it should be a 9mm instead of a .45ACP. Next I found that the gun, despite its high bore axis, is really soft shooting. The gun prints tight groups, considering it is a combat pistol with plain, fixed sights. I mean it shoots really tight groups. The XD Compact .45 worked flawlessly with everything I put in it, and it had no malfunctions and no surprises, except that it is really accurate for a 4-inch tube. How’d they do that? The only complaint was that the trigger was a little stiff.
A few weeks later, IDPA competitor Chris Konicki had mentioned to me that he had been doing some work on the XDs, and that he could hook me up. So we met a few weeks later, and he installed the “Springer” sear in the gun. What a difference it made in the trigger. It is still a bit long on the stroke and re-set, but it is a combat gun with a really good trigger.
But what about that high bore axis? No worries there. The slow-moving .45ACP bullets and the slide with slightly more mass make the recoil impulse more of a push than a whip, and the gun comes back on target quickly with little effort. The gun, being a compact, has a short slide that cycles quickly, and the gun draws fast and points well between multiple targets making transition drills a snap without over-swinging.
I got a holster from my old friend “Wild Bill” Bowden, of Wild Bill’s Concealment. I have had Bill make holsters for me before, and I have had great results with his gear. This time I got a simple belt slide holster and magazine pouch for the XD, as well as a double-thickness leather gunbelt to match. Bill’s gear is as utilitarian as it comes, and I can attest that I have used his gear for other guns for more than a decade and it is no worse for wear, and I expect no less from his current patterns. His holsters are for hard use, and in that regard, they excel.
The belt slide is well molded to match the contours of the gun, and has no manually operated retention device, simply because it is not necessary. The gun rides securely but releases as needed without any hang-up. Being canted a bit, the holster rides slightly behind the hip, and the gun is as comfortable in this rig as any combination I have. Wild Bill’s often has “combination specials” where you can buy a holster, magazine pouch and belt, often for the same as some folks charge for a holster alone. I cannot recommend his gear enough.
A friend suggested that I also reach out to the good folks at Center of Mass (COM), and get one of their kydex holsters so I could run the XD in a match. I, having been a kydex connoisseur before kydex was cool, did exactly that. The holster arrived and I was very impressed. It is made from thick kydex, has a front sight track, and uses Allen screws to adjust retention. The edges are properly finished, and the forward edge is sloped a bit lower to facilitate a faster draw. This holster, according to the folks at COM, will also fit the other XDs with the same slide/barrel length or shorter. This makes for one highly versatile holster.
The XD Compact .45 conceals very well, and even people with small hands like the feel of the gun, despite its caliber and high capacity. I like the ability to carry the gun for street use, and then go to a local match and shoot the same platform. Shooting regularly and under uglier than pristine conditions gives one a true appreciation for their gear, and a higher level of confidence than they would have had before. If there is any doubt as to the ruggedness or utilitarian nature of these guns, I was told that Thunder Ranch, run by Clint Smith, has replaced all of their other polymer “house guns” with XDs for student use, if they don’t bring their own guns or if their gun breaks during a class. That’s a pretty impressive endorsement of the XD.
All XDs come with a lockable carry case, which contains a polymer holster and double magazine pouch. It has everything you need to get started. The XD compact .45 is a really neat package that can work as a duty gun, concealed carry gun, home defense gun, or even a weekend game gun. It is compact, shoots accurately, works every time, and is a true point and shoot interface.