By July 31, 2010

Impressions on the Springfield Armory XD 45 Compact Pistol

While a lot of the people I knew got drunk when they turned 21, I bought my first hand gun and applied for a concealed carry permit. I still have that Glock 27, but as the years have passed I have acquired a few more pistols. Some I loved, some I hated, and some I wanted to love but wound up hating anyway.

I liked the simple operation of the Glock, and its basic design. Disassembly and reassembly were easy, and my 27 has been super reliable. I have probably put 8000 rounds through it without a single issue.

However, it was hard for me to shoot. I have a few ergonomic issues with the grip. The most important one is that the frame rubs on the top joint of my thumb, and after about 200 rounds it wears through my skin. I also found the recoil of the .40 S&W cartridge to be a bit too much for me to shoot at a faster speed.

Fast forward to last year. I acquired a Rock Island Arms 1911 Government pistol and fell in love. I became very accurate with the pistol, partly because the ergonomics of the 1911 were better for my particular hand, and partly because the metal frame and slide absorbed a lot of the recoil from the .45ACP the RIA belched towards my targets.

There were two problems, though: the Government was quite large and heavy in comparison to my other CCW pistols, and the magazine capacity was much lower than I’d desired. Sure, you can carry extra magazines but that adds weight and reloading under pressure could be an issue for some.

I purchased a 1911 Rock Island Arms Officer’s model a few months later, but after about a 1000 rounds the handgun suffered a catastrophic magazine latch failure that scared me off from using it as an every day carry (EDC) piece.

I wanted something that had the dependability and ease of maintenance like a Glock, but the ergonomics of a 1911. I started doing some research. If a Glock 27 and a 1911 met up at a block party and made passionate love, their baby would be the Springfield Armory XD45 Compact. Would the polymer-framed handgun be the answer I was looking for?

Sort of.

Features and Design

As you can see, the Springfield XD45 Compact shares a lot of common elements with the Glock and the 1911. The grip angle and grip safety are very similar to a 1911. While the frame is made of polymer instead of steel, the top of the grip is very similar in position and style to my 1911. It is squared off like a Glock, but the dimensions of the grip relative to the slide are straight up 1911 GI-style. My particular XD45C does not have an extra external thumb safety, but some do — just like a 1911.

On the other hand, the XD45 has a lot of nifty features that I loved from my G27. I already mentioned the lighter, polymer frame. The XD45 has a safety trigger like the Glock. Disassembly is super easy — you rotate a lever on the left side of the frame and pull the slide off. The recoil spring came off easily, and the barrel lifts out like a Glock. No barrel bushings, no slide release levers to line up, no recoil spring cylinders that rocket off into the living room.

The safeties on the XD45 are also a blend between a 1911 and a Glock. There are four safeties on the XD45C I owned: a grip safety, a trigger safety, a firing pin alignment safety that prevents an accidental discharge in case the pistol is dropped, and an out of battery safety that keeps the handgun from firing unless the slide is fully forward.

The XD also has a loaded chamber indicator, something not found on either pistol until Glock’s 4th Generation line came out earlier this year (2010). There is an indicator on the back of the slide that lets you know if the XD is cocked.

Standard Equipment

Springfield Armory provides a nice starter kit when you buy an XD pistol. My XD45C came with the following at no additional charge:

  • Cable lock and two keys
  • Polymer belt holster — sort of in a Yaqui slide style
  • Polymer double magazine belt carrier
  • Reloading tool
  • Cleaning snake and brush (not pictured)
  • One 10 round magazine that fits flush with the XD45 Compact
  • One 13 round magazine and grip sleeve so the XD45 Compact can use full-sized XD45 magazines (my spare is in the photo). If you live in California or another high-capacity restricted state you probably get two 10 round magazines. I’m not sure.
  • Safety manual and warranty card (lifetime warranty if you’re the original owner)

Shooting and Reliability

I had some problems with my Rock Island Officer shooting factory reloaded ammunition. The Springfield XD45C ate everything I put into it. I was also able to shoot it quite accurately with limited adjustment. Here are my first 23 rounds at 7 yards:

Perceived recoil was somewhere in the middle between my Rock Island Government model and the Rock Island Officer model. It was much easier to manage than shooting the smaller, higher-velocity .40 S&W from my Glock 27.

Trigger slap was non-existent, unlike some of my smaller pistols such as my Kel-Tec PF-9 or the North American Arms Guardian I used to own.

Overall, the XD45 Compact was easy for me to shoot, was reliable after about 400 rounds, and I shot it pretty well right out of the box.

The problem? Concealing it.

Size, Weight, and Concealed Carry

Based on raw measurements, the XD45C was close enough to my Rock Island Officer that I thought I could use the XD for appendix carry. I was particularly surprised to measure that the RIA was actually thicker at its thickest point than the XD. The 1911 is a single stack magazine, and the XD is a double stack. I expected the XD to be much thicker in the grip.
A blurry picture showing that while thicker, the XD45C is still pretty close to the slim 1911 Officer.
Please note I am holding the XD45C completely by the grip and do not have my finger around the trigger.

Here are my numbers, based on measurements taken with a digital caliper:

XD45 CompactRock Island 1911 Officer
Length from barrel to end of frame7.25″7.25″
Grip width at thickest point1.21″1.26″
Height, from top of slide to bottom of
grip, magazine inserted

In practice, I couldn’t get the XD to conceal enough for my tastes. The frame thickness and length of the grip conspired against me. I printed quite badly whenever I carried the XD45C. It got to the point that I only carried the XD45 Compact when I wore a few shirts that were loose enough to conceal it. I wound up carrying my Kel-Tec PF-9 more instead, and that sort of defeated the purpose of owning the XD.

How was that possible? It measured smaller than my Officer, which I had no problems concealing. What happened?

I think that while the Officer was thicker at its thickest point, the overall grip was smaller than the XD, which was consistently thick throughout. I have since sold my Officer, so I can’t go back and redo the measurements. However, I think I should have measured several points along the grip as opposed to just the thickest.

I am 6′ 0″ tall, have a size 33 waist, have a size 42 chest and weigh about 175 pounds. Your appendix carry experience may be different based on your build.

You may find the XD 45 Compact to be concealable — as long as you carry in the more traditional “back of hip” carry (4 o’clock for righties) or “small of back” carry like my pops uses. However, I find the retention and speed advantages of appendix carry to be more important to me, so I ran into my first and only problem with the XD.

I tried several different holsters made from different materials. I tried the Dale Fricke EHUD, the Don Hume H715M, and the BlackHawk inside the waist band holster. The BlackHawk fared the best from a concealment perspective but I have been trying to move away from soft holsters that collapse after the draw.

Despite how much I loved the XD’s simplicity and how much I liked shooting it, the concealment issue made it dead in the water for me. I was unwilling to switch to another carry position, and sold the XD two months later.

I would recommend the XD series if you carry your pistols “behind the hip.” Otherwise, depending on your build you may need to look for an alternative.

In a strange twist of fate, I’m back to my Glock 27 … with a few adjustments.

Posted in: review

7 Comments on "Impressions on the Springfield Armory XD 45 Compact Pistol"

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  1. Brice says:

    Excellent review.

  2. Tom says:

    Have you looked into the Kahrs? Very small and slim and come in 9mm, .40, and .45, Quality handguns!

  3. Brice says:

    The Kahrs are nice, almost as good as a PF9 for concealed carry. Unless you want a .40 or bigger.

  4. David in MS says:

    Another one you might want to take a look at is the Glock G36. Single stack 45, so you only get 6+1, or 7+1 with a mag extension. It’s dimensions are 6.8″ long by 4.8″ high by 1.13″ wide. It fits extremely well at the 4 O’clock position. I never tried it for appendix carry. There’s a chart I put together at comparing 6-7″ autos back when I was trying to decide what to get in that range. It’s no substitute for actually holding and comparing in person, but it does give you a sense of relative dimensions between a bunch of pistols.

  5. Rene says:

    I carry an XD 40 tactical and it doest bother me.

  6. DrFaulken says:

    Rene, how do the dimensions of the .40 cal grip different from the XD .45? I know my Glock 27 grip is much thinner than a double stack 45.

    Also, do you carry your pistol appendix, or some other method?

  7. Chris S. says:

    Fantastic review!! Icurrently carry a Springfield Ultra-compact .45 with a Hogue grip. Im a fairly large fella at 6’2″ and weigh 275. I carry IWB at the 4 o’clock position. It conceals pretty well for me. I just purchased the XD Compact. the next holster I am looking to purchase is the Crossbreed Tuckable holster. a little more expensive than most, but by all reviews is way easy to conceal.