The idea of scaling down a .45 ACP to pocket-pistol dimensions has been kicked around for decades. A few remarkably compact 1911s have been built over the years, but they can be very expensive and recoil is, as expected, brisk. The smallest contenders in the ultra-compact .45 class have long been the Glock 30, G30 SF, G36 and new G30S, the latter two being slightly narrower single-stacks. But nothing in .45 ACP has ever come close to what Springfield Armory has accomplished with its new XD-S.

A continuation of the XD series, begun in 2002, the XD-S builds on the foundation of the .40 S&W XDM Compact introduced in 2011, which not only became the heavyweight among Springfield’s Compact models but also raised the question, Could this be done in .45 ACP? A year later, Springfield Armory not only stepped up with the legendary 1911 Government Model’s caliber but created a gun that was even smaller, putting the scaled-down .45 ACP squarely into the “pocketable” category.

With its 5+1 capacity, excellent weight and balance and impressive recoil control, you’ll wonder what just happened after you pull the trigger the first time. From a physical standpoint, the XD-S should have very harsh recoil given its modest weight (21.5 ounces empty) and small size—an overall length of 6.3 inches, a height of 4.4 inches and a slide width of only 0.9 inches. Add to that a lightweight polymer frame (which traditionally increases recoil) and you’ve got a gun that should have a very hefty kick. When that doesn’t happen, it’ll give you a moment of pause. The XD-S has a weight, balance and internal design (recoil spring and plunger) engineered to reduce a significant degree of felt recoil, making the gun more manageable and quicker to get back on target than many larger and heavier .45 ACP subcompacts and ultra-compacts. In terms of overall size, only the infamous, collectible and very expensive Semmerling .45 ACP, slide-action pistol has smaller stats—and not by much.

The XD-S has a short 3.3-inch barrel and a clean, uncluttered profile, with a slightly raised slide release and a simple takedown lever that are both on the left side of the frame. Neither control has an edge that’s likely to catch on clothing or impede drawing or reholstering. The checkered, ambidextrous magazine release is slightly angled for easy activation. The XD-S has no magazine disconnect, so it will discharge a chambered round with the magazine removed.

The gun’s dual safety system (pioneered by the XD series) utilizes a Glock-style trigger toggle, which Springfield calls the USA (Ultra Safety Assurance) trigger. It works in concert with a 1911-style, frame-mounted grip safety. The trigger and safety work together to prevent an accidental discharge if the firearm is inadvertently dropped. Firing the XD-S requires that the grip safety be fully depressed and the trigger toggle moved rearward in unison with the trigger. Any deviation and the gun will not fire. There is also a loaded-chamber indicator that can be seen and, more importantly, felt should you find yourself in a situation that impedes a visual check. The loaded-chamber indicator is located behind the ejector port, on top of the slide. The leading (front) edge projects upward just enough to see it under your line of sight, or it can be felt by running a finger over the top of the slide.

The XD-S, like all XD models, comes with everything you need, including a paddle holster and dual spare-magazine pouch. Also standard are drift-adjustable front and rear sights (red fiber-optic front and white-dot rear), ambidextrous indexing thumb rests and two interchangeable backstrap panels. The XD-S comes with two standard five-round magazines, and an extended seven-round magazine is available as an accessory.

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