Back in the day, when legendary Colt’s exhibition shooter and law enforcement consultant J. Henry FitzGerald wrote, “A pocket holster is a good place to carry a revolver…” the Colt Model 1911 .45 ACP semi-automatic was the most highly regarded U.S. military sidearm since the Single Action Army; but it was not a gun suitable for FitzGerald’s advice on concealed carry practices. His reference to a “revolver” was predicated on the small frame Colt Detective Special and Banker’s Special .38 caliber models, specifically ones he had modified with a bobbed hammer and cutaway triggerguard suitable for pocket carry. A “pocketable” .45 ACP semi-auto did not exist in 1930, nor would it for another 82 years!

Gun Details

The Springfield XDS is literally a gun that took a century to evolve. The XDS is more than achieving a benchmark in size reduction; it is about building a .45 ACP semi-auto that is strong enough to handle modern defensive ammunition, yet controllable enough to be accurate.

The XDS is the latest within Springfield Armory’s modern variations of .45 ACP semi-autos. The earlier XD and XDM Series had already established a new standard for multi-purpose semiautomatic pistols. While the larger XD series available in 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP have found great acceptance within the general firearms community over the past decade, the XDM has become one of the most popular semi-autos for personal protection and concealed carry needs. The still smaller XDM Compact, introduced last year, raised the bar for a .40 S&W model with its standard match-grade 3.8-inch barrel, shorter grip frame (like those on the XD Sub-Compact X-Treme Duty model), making it an excellent choice for concealed carry.

What everyone wondered when the .40 S&W model XDM was introduced, was could this gun be made slightly smaller and at the same time stepped up in caliber to .45 ACP, something that no gunmaker has been successful in accomplishing. And before you say Semmerling, it was not a true semi-auto. In January 2012, Springfield Armory answered the question with the unveiling of the XDS .45 ACP 3.3. To everyone’s astonishment, Springfield had seemingly done the impossible—scaled down a .45 ACP semi-auto to dimensions that fit squarely into the “pocketable” Pocket Pistol category and do so while maintaining a reasonable 5+1 standard capacity, excellent weight and balance and more significantly, recoil management that goes beyond expectations.

From a purely visual standpoint, the XDS should be a very hard gun to handle given its modest weight (21 ounces empty as tested), overall length of 6.3 inches, height of 4.4 inches from the base of the magazine to the top of the rear sight, and slide width of 0.9 inches. Add to that a lightweight polymer frame (which usually means harsh recoil) and you have a gun that should have a very hefty kick when you fire it. The first time you pull the trigger and that doesn’t happen… there is a moment of pause. The weight, balance and internal design (recoil spring and plunger) mitigate a significant degree of felt recoil, making the XDS more manageable and quicker to get back on target than even larger .45 ACP Subcompacts and Ultra Compacts. In terms of overall size, only the Semmerling LM4 slide-action .45 ACP pistol is smaller—and not by much. Thus, the XDS has literally established a class of its own.

The XDS is in effect a scaled down XDM, however, making the step up in caliber from .40 S&W to .45 ACP makes this a much more demanding firearm for internal operation given the higher pressures developed by modern defensive .45 ACP rounds combined with a shorter 3.3-inch barrel, versus the XDM ’s 3.8-inch barrel.

The XDS has a clean, uncluttered profile with a slightly raised slide release and a simple takedown lever, both on the left side of the frame. Neither has an edge likely to catch on clothing or impede draw or re-holstering. The checkered ambidextrous magazine releases are slightly angled and require a firm press to eject a spent magazine. There is no magazine disconnect and the XDS will fire a chambered round with the magazine removed. Since “cocked and locked” (even though there is no manual safety lever to “lock”) is the only way to carry the XDS with a chambered round, Springfield utilizes dual safeties, which employ a Glock-like pivoting trigger toggle (known as the USA or Ultra Safety Assurance trigger system), combined with a 1911-type frame-mounted grip safety. Each without the other leaves the gun inoperable and both are quickly deactivated by the natural action of gripping and firing. There is also an indicator for a cycled action and loaded chamber that can be seen and, more importantly, felt should one be in a situation that makes a visual check impractical. The loaded chamber indicator is located behind the ejector port on top of the slide. The leading edge projects upward just enough to either see it from the side, under your line of sight, or surreptitiously feel it by running a finger over the top of the slide.

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  • JKnobby

    So I owned my .45 XDS for about 3 months before I heard about the recall. I sent them my gun on September 19th and still do not have it back. I just got off the phone with them and they said they’re hoping to have it to me by December 31st. To me, that’s ridiculous. I understand they have a lot of guns to fix and a government shutdown took place within that time as well but still. They shouldn’t have requested the guns be sent to them without having an idea of the problem and how to fix it. I mean they practically “owned” it longer than me already.

    I asked if I didn’t have it back before next year if I could just receive a new gun and they said that’s not an option. I loved my XDS while I had it and miss having it to carry big time but to me, about 3 month to fix a recall is a joke. I hope not too many other people are having such a pain with this as well.