My Time with an XD

Between August 2014 and May 2015 I put 4387 rounds through an XD 9 Tactical. That included a 3 day class (in the rain and mud) with Ben Stoeger that saw 1877 rounds without cleaning. With that in mind I thought I would offer my first hand experience an XD.  This is not so much a review as what I learned about the weapon with a sample size of one.

springfield xdm 5.25

I know it is fun to bash them, but it was my competition gun during the time I owned it. Now I must be 100% honest; when I first decided to get into competition I bought a Glock 34 Gen 4 to shoot IDPA SSP.  Glock makes dependable, reasonably accurate guns, but I don’t shoot them well and I hate the trigger.  After 400 rounds, I sold it and went looking for something else. I was looking for a gun I could use for both games and for self-defense. In my mind I thought I would NEVER go full gamer. I was wrong, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Why an XD?

To be honest, prior to owning one, I never have given the XD’s much thought. I knew that many well-known tactical instructors poo-poo them, Caleb bashed them and they had the grip safety, which by all accounts would get me killed in the streets immediately. Nevertheless, I held one in a gun store, it felt good, pointed naturally and the trigger was serviceable. Springfield had one of their promotions going on so I got a voucher for 3 extra mags for FREE. That sweetened the pot enough that I lay down greenbacks and walked out the door.

I was the owner of a new XD Tactical in 9 mm; what had I done!

I did briefly consider a 4.5 inch XDm, but frankly the difference between the regular XD and the XDm didn’t justify the price difference, at least to me.

Now, as I said, my original goal was to keep it rather stock and usable as a defensive weapon, but, well… gamer. Before I sold it I had put way too much into it and modified it.

What mods?

Let’s see:

  • Talon Grips (No brainer here; the factory grip is slicker than a wet newborn)
  • Dawson Precision Sights (reasonably priced Fiber Optics, why not)
  • XDm Slide Release (It just felt better)
  • 15lbs recoil spring (One pound less than stock. I heard rumor that if you go too light the striker spring will pull the gun out of battery. I don’t know and I didn’t want to risk it)
  • Springer Precision Ultimate Trigger Kit. (Because Race Gun)
  • Titanium Stiker Indicator (seemed like a good waste of money)
  • Lightened striker spring (too match the lighter trigger)

When it was all said and done, I had a decent gun to compete in SSP or Production and one I would no longer use for a self-defense scenario. Oh well, the best laid plans…

So, in my time owning an XD, what did I learn about the gun? Plenty!

Grip Safety – Let’s start with the apparent anti-tactical, instant Ninja death grip safety. I have heard stories of their failure. The 1911 has a grip safety and didn’t cause immediate disembowelment, so what was the catch? With a Level 3 Trauma ER standing ready I set out to see how it could fail. It didn’t take long to make it fail, once I learned its weakness. How do you make an XD grip safety fail? Three simple steps:

  1. Unload the gun (this keeps the Ninja’s away, they don’t attack during practice).
  2. Take a zip tie (or bamboo skewer, or long Q-tip or a twig) and insert it in the cavity at the bottom of the grip.
  3. Try to active the grip safety and discover neither it nor the trigger move.

You may also notice the slide will not move either.  Since the grip safety must be depressed for the slide to move the gun is now completely locked up until the offending item is removed from the cavity. Now let’s be realistic. In a carry gun, the odds of this happening are EXTREMELY rare. Plausible? Yes, but still rare. For my purposes I decided this was a non-issue. If I was using this as my sidearm while storming the beaches of Endor trying to defeat a Mongol zombie uprising, then yes, I would choose something else.

Accuracy – It was decent, not the most accurate pistol I have ever shot, but it wasn’t bad. Not nearly as bad as some internet commando’s lead on. Maybe it shot bad because their accuracy isn’t as great as they tell people on the internet? But I digress. No problems here, plenty accurate for IDPA and USPSA.

Reliability – In a word, Great! I had zero malfunctions in the time I had it (aside for the grip safety experiment). Granted 4037 rounds isn’t a ton, but I would wager most people that have bad mouthed them have put less than that through them. For the most part I did perform proper maintenance and cleaned the gun every 500 rounds, aside from the class with Ben Stoeger. Again, I am not planning on being in a real life Twilight 2000 scenario, so a gun that can go 20K rounds without cleaning means nothing to me.

An Unexpected Positive – I sent an email to none other than Rob Leatham asking about the gun he used to win USPSA Production in 2006 and about Springfield’s XD accuracy work.  I expected a response but not the novel back. It was truly awesome that someone with his credentials would offer me such detailed assistance. For those that follow drag racing, it would be the same as Warren Johnson helping the local street racer tune his engine before a Friday Night Grudge Match. Frankly I found it bad ass and still do

Where there negatives? Yes.  Of course!

  • There is the grip safety that can jam and cause instant seppuku, but whatever, any gun can be made to jam.
  • Some people say they are ugly, but that is subjective. I am indifferent on the XD.
  • To me, the biggest issue is the price point. You can buy equally good guns for less money.  In my opinion, Springfield set their price point too high.

Now, for the crux of the issue.  Would I own another one?  Yes, but only if I got a smoking deal.

So why did I sell it? I needed to fund either a CZ Shadow or a Tanfoglio Limited Pro; as everyone knows they ship with a USPSA Grand Master card. In all seriousness, I wanted my competition pistol(s) to be all metal.  That was a move I am glad I made and a post for another day.

To summarize, If you own an XD, you can ignore the naysayers. If you are looking at one and the price is acceptable, buy with confidence. As I have noted before this is a sample of one, and my experience didn’t mirror the great many Chairborne Rangers of internetville; however, I wonder how many of those same naysayers have shot one beyond the bowling alley range, much less put near 4500 rounds through one.

As I have noted before; I deal in facts. If you have had failures with an XD (not XDS) please post in the comments with the approximate round count.

Probatur verum. (Proven truths)


  1. My first pistol was an XD in .40. I purchased it knowing nothing other than being convinced that I needed a .40 (because of “over penetration” and capacity with .45 and a “lack of knock down power” in 9mm… ah, the ignorance of first time gun buyers…). I initially was going to buy a Glock but I didn’t like the way it felt in my hand (I think I struggled to reach the slide stop or magazine release? I dunno.) and I liked the idea of a grip safety. I put roughly 1,000 – 1,500 rounds through it, zero issues. I shot decently with it. Eventually I learned more about ammunition & ballistics, decided to go to 9mm, sold the XD and bought a P30.

    I don’t miss the XD at all, but I don’t regret owning it either. I probably would have liked it much better in 9mm.


  2. Owned an XD 9 Service. Only addition was a Springer Precision trigger job (before you could just buy the parts). Used it as a carry gun, Production, and 3Gun. I had around 10k through it, never a problem with it at all. I failed the gun however, in that I consistently shot left of center on my second shot. Ignorance sucks… I do miss that pistol and wish I had never sold it. Really, my biggest issue at the time was I never could get my thumb off of the slide lock, so it never would lock back on an empty magazine. I have since learned that I just have that problem with most guns that have it located there, so worked around it. Oh, I had one of the earlier guns with the Brunial finish that wore off and the gun started to very slightly rust. SA fixed it with Armory Coat, no charge.

    My son bought an XDm 5.25 9mm for USPSA and 3Gun. After 30k rounds the only failure has been the rear sight pin. We broke 3 of them before finding from Springer Precision to use a roll pin instead. Personally, I do not like the XDm grip, and while the slide lock is better (as in smaller), I still have that issue. Still, the frame is just not my style.

    My biggest gripe with the XD series is parts availability. There are more out there now, however you really have to send the gun to SA to get any major work done. I will say that SA customer service has been outstanding the few times I have had to use them. I have considered getting an XD Tactical for use in competition, but went with a Glock 34 for next year as I had not tried that yet.

  3. The only reliability issues I’ve ever heard of w/ an XD is that they have (used to have?) trouble if they got crud in the magazines. I’ve seen this be a problem in a class that I took where a bunch of dusty dirt was blowing around. Maybe they fixed it, IDK.

    1. It’s funny how people think I hate XDs, even though I’ve had…three or four? And I’ve put north of 10k rounds through them, with the XDM 5.25 being by far my favorite. But whatever, because I point out what I think are bad design ideas (stupid grip safety) OH NO CALEB HAET XD

  4. The first pistol I purchased was an XD45. I really loved how it felt and shot, and put about 2K rounds through it without ever having one hiccup. The only reason I sold it was to purchase a 1911, cause everyone knows if you don’t own at least one 1911, your not a real pistoler, right?? That’s what all the gun mags taught me anyways. A few years later I sold the 1911 to fund a Glock build “I just had to do”. I still own the Glock, but of all three of the pistols I wish I had the XD the most. My wife still carries a XD40 subcompact occasionally, and I still think they are great guns, but nowadays I tend to gravitate towards the S&W MPs.

  5. I’ve got three XDm’s. I have over 15k rounds through my 9mm 5.25 and about 10k through a 3.8. Ultra reliable. My 5.25 just got cleaned after 6000 rounds when everything started moving a bit slow. Always oiled it of course. No mag problems after dumping on concrete floors or gravel hundreds of times. The only thing that really sucked was the trigger which was fixed with a Powder River Precision drop in kit. Oh and they cost to much. But they fit me better than a Glock so I’ll keep using the heck out of them. The grip safety has been a non-issue unless I’m using gloves then it sucks without a perfect grip.

  6. I’ve got maybe 200 rounds the XD 5.25 that I won at a match. If it ever failed, I don’t remember it. 🙂 It’s a fine gun, I hate the grip safety because it’s stupid head. It shoots very nicely. It’s a great game gun that I would play with if I wasn’t a complete SIG fanboy. 🙂
    I should really sell it, but I’ve never heard anybody say “Boy, I sure do wish I’d sold that gun.”

  7. I’ve got ~4500 rounds (4438 according to my range log) through my XD 9 4″. I love it. Yes, it was the first pistol I purchased, but that was only after I put a couple hundred rounds through my brother’s XD .45. I’ve not had any problems with mine, other than minor feeding issues. I had a couple failure to feed after I had put ~3000 rounds through the magazines without cleaning them. After I cleaned them, they work like a champ. I usually don’t have any issues with concealing a full-size pistol, but I usually use the XD for range time and home defense. My wife is very comfortable using the XD, so I usually end up dragging my LC9 with me for carry.

  8. When it comes to shooting XDs, I don’t particularly care for them. They just don’t do it for me but that’s 100% subjective and pretty much irrelevant. As far as failures go, I’ve seen the striker retaining pin walk out (or fall out, whatever), though unless the pin falls into the important trigger group bits the gun will still function just fine without it AFAIK. Also the grip safety and magazine release are a potential weak point when it comes to FOD. Based on one example where both systems where completely inop, due to the pistol having been dropped in a lake.

    Lesson learned: If you drop your pistol into a lake be sure to hose it out a bit before trying to shoot it.

    They may not be quite to my tastes but they work just fine and I wouldn’t lose sleep if I were issued one. That said, I think the XDms are all stupidly overpriced.

  9. I have an XD9 Tactical with about 8K rounds through it, bone stock. It was my competition, practice and primary class-taking gun. I do not recall a single stoppage that was not deliberately induced. I don’t shoot it much since my wife claimed it as hers but I’ll never sell it.

  10. I’ve owned four, two .40 XDMs, .45 XDM, and a 9mm Competition. I still own all but the 9mm, which I traded almost immediately for a custom 9mm LoneWolf. I have shot one of the XDM .40s extensively, putting several thousand rounds of any ammo I could find through it. (It’s my Obama gun, bought the morning after his first election). I cannot recall a single gun related issue so far. It’s reliable enough that I allow my younger brother to carry and use it for home defense. The second .40 has been through a high volume class and likewise had no failures I can recall. It has a laser/light combo on it and is my “bump in the night gun”. The .45 fell into my lap for $400 with only 50 rounds down the pipe. I just recently got it, but no failures so far in a couple hundred rounds. Interestingly, it’s factory trigger sucks, and will be replaced soon. It’s trigger is an aberration in my experience, as all my other guns have/had very serviceable triggers. The 9mm had no non ammo related issues while I had it. I shoot the LoneWolf in competition, my trunk gun is a Glock 20, and my nicest shooter is a rebuilt Para 14-45 that runs like a top, so I have no real fanboy tendencies!

  11. “To summarize, If you own an XD, you can ignore the naysayers.”

    I do already.

    The mouth foaming from certain quarters is interesting to watch.

    “If you have had failures with an XD (not XDS) please post in the comments with the approximate round count.”

    The only failures in my two (XD40 Service and subcompact) were from some cast lead handloads that wouldn’t fully chamber. A Lee FCD fixed that.

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