There is an old saying in the automotive world: “There’s no substitute for cubic inches.” Most people who prefer high performance from their automobiles will agree, as will the majority of handgun owners who abide by another old axiom embraced by the U.S. Special Forces and numerous law enforcement agencies, “There is no substitute for the stopping power of a .45 ACP.”

This philosophy has been a guiding principle at Springfield Armory, which began by building custom-crafted, high-quality versions of the venerable .45 ACP Colt Model 1911 design. Springfield also established a second reputation for innovative approaches to .45 autos with its XD series of handguns and the benchmark 3.3-inch-barreled XD-S 3.3 .45 ACP, introduced in 2012 and hailed as the smallest .45 ACP semi-automatic pistol in the world.

The XD-S 3.3 .45 ACP put Springfield center stage in the more than half-century-long race to create a semi-auto pocket pistol chambered in .45 ACP. Using the first XD-S platform the company introduced a 9mm version, and this past January saw a new 4.0 model chambered in 9mm. As the “4.0” suggests, it has a longer overall length, designed to accommodate a longer 4-inch barrel without altering the rest of the gun’s dimensions and short grip frame. The new 4.0” XD-S .45 ACP completes the process by bringing this latest (and perhaps best ever) XD-S model to market in the heavy-hitting .45 ACP caliber.

Gun Details

With its longer barrel, the 4.0” XD-S offers superb combat accuracy and handling.
With its longer barrel, the 4.0” XD-S offers superb combat accuracy and handling.

By extending the slide length to just a fraction under 6.9 inches and the barrel from 3.3 inches to 4 inches, the new .45 XD-S offers a longer sight radius and 0.7 inches more barrel. Overall, it doesn’t sound like a lot, but look at the 4.0” XD-S .45 and you can see it and feel it in your hand. The gun balances differently and feels just a tad nose heavy compared to the 3.3 because it weights 2 ounces more with the added weight out front. But, this falls in the plus column when it comes to shooting .45 ACP.

The 4.0” XD-S .45 ACP is certainly a pocket pistol, though with the longer slide it is a bit more challenging to conceal because the entire gun is resting about 1 inch higher in the pocket. It is manageable, but not as easy in, say, a jeans pocket as compared to looser-fitting men’s trousers. The 4.0” still has the same XD-S-style short grip frame, dual safeguards with blade trigger and grip safety, lightweight polymer frame construction and an energy-absorbing, dual-recoil spring and plunger design to help reduce muzzle lift.

Springfield has a proven formula for the XD-S series based on established designs, and this latest addition has all the recent upgrades to the trigger and internal safety operation (signified by a small roll pin added to the grip safety). The XD frame design has an uncluttered profile with a slightly raised and protected slide release that has a molded-in lip surrounding the underside to prevent inadvertent contact, along with a progressively beveled 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 newest model also employs the same proven striker-fired system as earlier models; it’s been fine-tuned to reduce trigger take-up and provide for a short reset. Average travel for an XD-S trigger, including engaging the blade safety, is 0.5 inches, making it crisp and consistent with zero overtravel. The 4.0” XD-S’s quick-reset trigger mechanism only requires the slide to be withdrawn to the rear 0.25 inches to re-enable the action, so a second chance with a failed primer ignition is almost as quick as pulling the trigger on a double-action pistol.

The extended seven-round magazine gives the XD-S 45 4.0 an extra inch of grip length.
The extended seven-round magazine gives the XD-S 45 4.0 an extra inch of grip length.

While maintaining the same standard capacity of 5+1, for home security use or as an optional reload the XD-S 4.0 .45 ACP is available with an extended seven-round magazine that also increases grip length by 1 inch for an even more secure hold. The gun has checkered ambidextrous magazine releases that are slightly angled and easy to activate with either the support-hand thumb or trigger finger. The 4.0” XD-S also features a loaded-chamber indicator that rises up from the top of the slide just under your line of sight. The indicator can also be easily felt before drawing from the XD Gear holster or in a low-light situation. The indicator is forced upward when it touches the back of a chambered shell. If the chamber is empty it remains flat with the surface of the slide, so there is no second-guessing if an XD-S is ready to fire.

Testing the 4.0” XD-S.45 ACP I used the XD Gear paddle holster worn at the four o’clock position. The XD Gear is easy to mount anywhere around the waist, but it is limited to right-handed shooters and will not work for crossdraw carry because there is no way to adjust holster cant. Since the only variance with the 4.0” is overall length, the injection-molded thermoplastic paddle holster works with all models. I like the paddle rig not only because it comes with the gun, along with a double magazine pouch, but also because it is comfortable to wear and keeps the gun close to the body, well concealed, and is secure but still easy to draw from.

The 4.0” is very easy to conceal with modest cover, such as a shirt or open jacket. The extra barrel and slide length are almost negligible, but when it comes to accuracy they’re welcome enhancements, adding an extended sight radius and barrel length and reducing recoil/muzzle lift. The .45 version still weighs in at a modest 24 ounces (empty), has an overall length of 6.87 inches, a height of 4.26 inches from the base of the magazine to the top of the rear sight, and a slide width of 0.9 inches.

Range Time

Along with the trigger safety, the XD-S sports a 1911-style grip safety.
Along with the trigger safety, the XD-S sports a 1911-style grip safety.

The XD-S grip safety is easily engaged, and the blade trigger safety requires no additional effort. It is all very intuitive, but remarkably secure if either safety is not properly engaged. In terms of operation, the 4.0” XD-S .45 ACP is fully ambidextrous. The dovetailed white-dot rear sight is easy to pick up and aligns quickly with the red fiber-optic front blade sight under a variety of lighting conditions. The contrast between the front and rear sights also makes target acquisition on light or dark surfaces easier. The gun’s center of balance shifts only slightly forward with the longer barrel and slide, and the undercut triggerguard allows the middle finger to rest higher up when gripping the gun for a solid hold.

For subcompact handguns with barrel lengths of 4 inches or less, the standard target test distance is 15 yards (45 feet). All tests were fired off-hand using a Weaver stance and a two-hand hold. The target was a standard Speedwell B-27 silhouette.

The author placed multiple shot groups inside the 9, 10 and X rings from 45 feet.
The author placed multiple shot groups inside the 9, 10 and X rings from 45 feet.

With the longer barrel, I wanted to chronograph the same ammunition used with the 3.3 models. Ammo selection was Federal Premium Law Enforcement 230-grain Hydra-Shok JHP, Hornady Personal Defense 185-grain FTX, and Speer Gold Dot 185 grain HP. The heavy-hitting Federal 230-grain cleared the ProChrono Chronograph at an average of 838 feet per second (fps), which was 38 fps faster, the 185-grain Hornady at 950 fps, an increase of 10 fps, with matching velocity from 185-grain Speer, which originally clocked 938 fps with the XD-S 3.3 .45 ACP.

On a bright spring day, the Springfield 4.0” XD-S produced a best five-round group measured 1.5 inches with Speer Gold Dot 185-grain HP. The heavy-hitting Federal Premium 230-grain Hydra-Shok JHP returned a slightly wider spread measuring 1.85 inches center to center, with two overlapping, and Hornady’s 185-grain FTX came in just a fraction under 2 inches. Overall, from 15 yards, the big-caliber XD-S put all its rounds inside the center body mass of the B-27, and that’s what a defensive subcompact handgun is meant to do.

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