On occasion, I have been criticized for my admiration of the 9mm Parabellum cartridge. In fact, among my fellow scribes in the firearms media, I may be one of the cartridge’s most ardent fans. So, before we go any further, let me once again state the reasons for this partisanship.

First of all, thanks to the use of modern propellants and high-tech projectiles, the 9mm’s on-target performance has been dramatically improved. Secondly, the cartridge’s size means that pistols chambered for it can be smaller and lighter in weight. In that same regard, its smaller size allows the use of a larger capacity magazines without increasing the girth of the grip. The 9mm also produces less recoil, which makes it a good choice for training new shooters or those who are recoil-shy. And lower levels of recoil mean you can shoot faster and more accurately. Finally, 9mm ammunition is cheaper than most other chamberings, which means you can practice more.

For these reasons and others, the 9mm Parabellum has become the most popular centerfire pistol cartridge in history, and even in the “big-bore loving” U.S., more 9mm ammunition is produced today than any other offering. So, as far as I’m concerned, the 9mm is a win/win situation. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s look at one of the newest and dare I say most practical compact 9mm pistols I’ve encountered in quite some time: Springfield XD-S 9mm.

Big-Bore Brother
In 2012, Springfield Armory introduced an addition to its extensive line of XD and XDM pistols that also happened to be the smallest polymer-framed .45 ACP pistol on the market, the XD-S. This handgun was designed to provide licensed civilians and undercover/off-duty police officers a large-bore pistol that could be easily concealed under light clothing and carried for extended periods of time in complete comfort.

I was lucky enough to obtain an early-production XD-S, and with the enthusiastic assistance of several of my shooting buddies, we ran it through a series of grueling tests to see if it could do what needed to be done. In short, it did. In one day alone, we ran in excess of 600 rounds through it without a single failure to feed, fire or extract. By the time I returned it to the factory, almost 1,400 rounds had been fired through it without any cleaning or maintenance other than normal lubrication—and I was still waiting for the first malfunction.

But, as was to be expected of a pistol of this size, firing large quantities of full-power .45 ACP ammunition proved to be a bit of trial. In fact, it could be downright painful, which led me to opine, “I sure wish they made this in 9mm.” Well, the folks at Springfield must have had the range bugged and heard us, because they introduced the 9mm XD-S in early 2013.

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