OK, I’ve had this baby at the range and am pretty darn happy with it. I’m going to give it a thorough rundown. First of all let’s talk about price. You can get this guy from $300 to $500 (Don’t pay more than $500 for it; you can get it just about anywhere for less than $500). It comes in two kits, The standard kit (Reviewed below) and the “Essentials” kit which drops the Holster, the reloading tool and the magazine belt pouch. (See further down on the review for those components). I’d recommend getting the essentials kit at a much lower price and getting your own personal preference in magazine and holsters.
Let’s start with the magazines, this kit came with one 13 round mag (Flush) and one 16 round with grip extension. I have large hands and the 13 round mag turns this into a 2 finger gun for me. My wife has small hands and all 3 of her grip fingers are on the grip with the 13 round mag. So I did pick up a Pierce Magazine extension. This adds the length to the forward part of the grip to equal a full size mag, but still tapers back down to reduce the butt signature of the weapon to a point about ½ way between flush and full mag extensions. This is a great compromise for me, still keeps the weapon small enough to carry easily while providing a full size grip for control. Pierce grips are about $10 on Amazon. See the two pics below for the visual difference with and without the pierce grip extension. The magazines are stainless and slide like butter into the mag well of the -XD. Also the mag well is beveled very nicely and makes magazine swaps very quick and easy. I did notice that the mag with the pierce grip extension was a bit harder to seat at first, but after a couple dozen mag exchanges it’s straightened out and works as well as the others.
The extras that come with the full kit are ok, but not top line. The mag holder is ok, good retention control, and would be ok for IDPA competition but it’s a bit bulky for Concealed carry. I prefer IWB (Inside the waistband) carry myself so this may just be my bias. The holster has a tension adjustment, but being plastic, it feels a bit “Soft”. I just didn’t like the feel of holster. Both the holster and the mag pouch have rails to hold the reloading tool. This was an interesting idea for a range tool, but it didn’t really add anything to convenience for paper punching at the range. Maybe a competition range where you would have to load mags would make good use of it. But just didn’t get used that way. The Reloading tool is great and a must have with the VERY strong magazine springs. However after loading about 400 rounds, I noticed that the bottom edge of the rail protruded a tad bit past the curve and the top of your thumb would hit it on each “Lift” of the tool. This was quickly remedied with a file in about 10 seconds. All in all, I’d recommend getting the cheaper “Essentials” kit, and put the extra money toward your own choice of holster and mag pouches. Money better spent on custom gear.
On to the gun. Where do I start? This is an excellent piece of hardware. One of the things I’ve been struggling with is a manual safety. I’ve always liked the idea of a manual safety, just adds that extra little bit of “Oops” protection. But once you study enough shootings, you realize that even the best trained may miss a safety on draw so us “Average guys” may have the same issues. I like Glocks, they are good guns, but the trigger safety as an only safety device made me wonder. Anything that pulls the trigger will set the gun off, a stick shoved into the holster walking in the woods, a slight catch of the holster as you re-holster the weapon and BANG, it can go off. So I was going back and forth in the debate for a manual safety. The -XD solved this dilemma for me by adding the grip safety as well as the trigger safety. There is no manual safety on this model, but it has both a trigger safety and a grip safety. The gun should not fire if both are not pressed. (Note, the -XD cannot be charged if the grip safety is not depressed). This little added bit of safety has no impact
on drawing and firing the weapon. But when holstering or handling the weapon, this added bit of safety could help prevent an AD (Accidental Discharge). Everyone says keep your booger hook off the trigger and you won’t have a problem, which “Technically” is true. But we are all human beings and even the most highly trained can have momentary lapse. And a fraction of a second or distraction as we re-holster can happen. So this extra bit of safety is just what I was looking for. So I don’t have to worry about a safety, but feel much more secure in the weapons safe storage and handling. Best of both worlds!
The next feature I’d like to talk about is the loaded chamber indicator. Some people like them some don’t give a damn. I’ve never been a fan of “press checking” a weapon. It can increase the possibility of leaving the receiver unseated. As well as take the users focus away from danger and looking down at the gun. For this reason, I’m not a big fan of “Visual” indicators because again, they distract from the situation to check. The -XD has a little lever that racks up and is easily felt with both bare skin and through gloves (I was shooting with neoprene gloves when I checked). Just slide a finger down the chamber and you’ll know immediately if there is a round chambered.
Same thing goes for the striker. The -XD striker actually sticks out the back of the slide when the weapon is charged. This is also easily felt with a gloved or ungloved hand. With the right holster, you can slide your thumb and index finger down the gun and immediately know if it’s loaded and armed. No need for press checks.
The sights are good. They are pretty standard sights. Easily visible in daylight, the point of impact out of the box was dead on center just above the sight radius. Can’t ask for better out of the box accuracy. I am going to get night sights though, The sights all but disappear in the dark. One upgrade recommended by my friend the shooter (Thanks Goatdog) that I will be implementing. This gun easily shot as well as I could shoot it (And will only get better as I get used to it). Anyone says a 3 inch barrel isn’t enough for 25 yard accuracy will be pleasantly surprised by this gun.
I set up 2 targets. One at 10 yards, and the other at 25 yards. (Rough estimates based on pace). I didn’t include the 3 steps from the bench to the edge of the shooting pavilion so these were about 9 feet longer than I was intending.
This gun points as naturally and ergonomically perfect as the M&P or 1911’s. The grip is rounded better than the earlier Glocks (I haven’t had much time on the Gen 3 or later guns). The scallop for the thumb groove is done so well that regardless of your hand size, your thumb just rolls into it for a perfectly natural grip. Trigger pull is a solid but slightly less than a full double action. No grit or drag, clean but it could be a tad crisper. If it was a competition gun, I’d get some work done to it, but for a carry gun, it’s absolutely fine out of the box.
The -XD isn’t going to win any beauty contests (Check out the Kimber Solo for pretty little carry guns), but it is about as perfect ergonomically as it can get. Function over form will always be my motto.
The first 5 shots at 10 yards, new gun, not used to the sights yet, still working figuring out the best grip. This gun is every bit as accurate as I can be.
The next target was at 25 yards. You’ll see the spreads are little higher, but still easily on target. (The upper right and lower left quads are my 12 year old sons, one of the center shots hits was his but I don’t know which one). The Upper left, lower right and center are mine. Shooting 5 and 10 round groups. I am more than happy with this gun. (By the way, it was 18 degrees out with a wind-chill of 22, putting us below zero. This always makes shooting and reloading more difficult so I’m expecting to see better groups as it gets warmer).
Since I don’t generally carry a spare mag unless I’m heading somewhere I don’t want to be, I like having a double stack with some extra rounds. The short stack is 13 + 1 in the chamber. And if I do carry a spare mag, it adds 16 more shots. The double stack does make the grip wider than some of the other slim carry guns, but the extra 1/5 inch or so doesn’t detract from the ease of carry of this gun, but the extra rounds could be worth their weight in gold.
Breakdown is simple and easy. Lock the slide back, turn the take-down lever up, release the slide back to battery, pull the trigger and pull the slide off. SIMPLE.
Reliability of the -XD’s is right up there with the Glock and M&P. This turned out to be the perfect carry gun for me. Your mileage might vary but all in all, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in this weapon.