The 2014 Springfield-Armory XDS 4.0 for Concealed Carry: A Review

The 2014 Springfield-Armory XDS 4.0 for Concealed Carry: A Review

The 2014 Springfield-Armory XDS 4.0 for Concealed Carry: A Review

There is NO perfect handgun, NO single, towering great manufacturer above all others, NO best caliber, NO magic bullet, and NO best barrel length. There also is NO ideal weight for everyone, NO trigger press that everyone can handle, and NO sights for all uses. I have not read a decree that says only pistols or only revolvers for all shooters. “It depends” is not a cop-out or way of avoiding making a decision or giving an opinion, but rather a recognition of reality when evaluating and using a gun. So, it is up to you to personally select the best handgun for yourself based on YOUR personal criteria that are important to you and for your defined use. My criteria may differ from your criteria and that is OK. Mine are not better than yours and yours are not better than mine. This is not meant to be negative, but to let you know that choosing a handgun is very subjective for any individual, so what follows is just my opinion and I am trying to be as objective as I can within my parameters and preferences.

Thin Profile of XDS 4.0

Thin Profile of XDS 4.0

The Purpose and use for the gun is probably a criteria that binds us together and the most important initial factor. You know a handgun can be used for concealed carry (cc), range plinking, competition, home defense, long-range precision shooting, pocket carry, hunting big game or varmits, etc. This review considers the new Springfield-Armory’s XDS 4.0 single-stack striker-fired pistol for the concealed carry purpose. I disassembled it easily, cleaned it before I shot it, and used various FMJ and HP ammo of 115 and 124 grain weights at close-up distances of 3, 5, and 7 yards. Springfield is not paying me for my review or opinions and I am not on their payroll for any reason. They also didn’t pay for my ammo. You are suppose to laugh or at least chuckle now. One caveat we all recognize is that ANY gun should be “broken-in” with about 300-400 rounds or so for a better evaluation of its performance. I did not shoot that many rounds, but did shoot about 200 rounds. My discoveries may not be true for you, but hopefully will help you in your decisions. Remember, the gold standard is for you to actually shoot the gun and learn your accuracy with it and things about it, like I did. So here we go. Let me say up front that for me for ANY gun, ACCURACY and RELIABILITY are most important. I can certainly influence that with my training, understanding of the fundamentals, practice, and application of basics, but the gun itself does play a critical role. Closely related to that is the handgun’s trigger, so I focused on it and its characteristics and control, as well as other things on my list below. I used my Lyman Electronic Digital Trigger Pull Gauge and averaged 15 readings to measure the press. Additional factors considered were fit and comfort to my hand and fingers, gun weight, felt recoil, gun width and height for easy concealability, caliber, capacity, safety features, and appearance. Overall length was not a criteria, except for its relationship to sight radius and reduction of felt recoil, because it does not significantly affect carry. Cost was also not a factor. The XDS 4.0 MSRP is $599. for the black and $699. for the Two-Tone.

Here are My 7 Physical-Mechanical Criteria for the handgun itself for evaluating ANY gun and I will apply them for my concealed carry purpose here. These are the physical gun attributes. You may recognize these from my USA Carry article- “Handgun Attributes to Help Improve Accuracy” – January 23, 2014.) 

1. Trigger Press maximum of about 6.5-7.0 pounds (for double-action or striker-type triggers for cc)- lessens force applied for less movement & better accuracy- and which is crisp;

2. Trigger with short travel distance (a short travel distance increases the speed the trigger can be fired);

3. Trigger with consistent press for every shot (less need to transition between presses & make adjustments);

4. Barrel length of 3.5″-5.0″ (a longer barrel lessens felt recoil, means higher muzzle velocity & means more distance between the sights which enhances accuracy);xds-40-front-barrel

5. Sights that are basic & simple (easy to use & see, fast target acquisition- like fiber optics for aging eyes);

6. Proper Gun Weight to minimize recoil (I prefer less than 30 oz & closer to 25 oz or less loaded for carry); and

7. Caliber match to your needs, characteristics & abilities (consider medical & physical limitations).

Here are the SPECIFICATIONS FOR THE XDS 4.0:
4-XDS 4.0-- SPECS from Website

Here’s what I discovered after shooting and observing the XDS 4.0. First, it met 6 of my above 7 Physical – Mechanical (equipment attributes) Criteria.

XDS Holster Included

XDS Holster Included

1. The accuracy and reliability of the XDS 4.0 were very good for me at close distances of 3, 5, and 7 yards. My rapid-fire groups were all 4.0 inches or less for the first time I ever fired the gun “out of the box” drawing from the holster it came with in the hard case. I used a Modified-Isosceles Standing Stance, a two-handed grip, and shot 115 grain FMJ and 124 grain HP. Not great marksmanship, but acceptable to me.

I want my carry gun to be accurate with consistent hits and tight groups at various up-close distances. The varying distances and continuity of hits proved to me that this was a reliable handgun. I shot tight groups with  rapid-fire hits on an eight-inch sized target at 3, 5, and 7 yards, 11 hits each, with no malfunctions or stoppages. 

3 Yards Rapid Fire

3 Yards Rapid Fire

5 Yards Rapid Fire

5 Yards Rapid Fire

7 Yards Rapid Fire

7 Yards Rapid Fire

2. The trigger press out of the box averaged 7.2 pounds without modification, with 15 readings with my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge. I was hoping it would be in the 6- 6.5 pound range, but it is a new pistol with no break-in. For comparison, my Sig 938 has a 7.1 pound press; my Ruger SR9C, Glock 19, and M&P 9C all have about a 6.0 press; my Springfield EMP a 5.8; and my Colt XSE Commander (.45), Kimber (.45), Sig (.45), and Taurus (9mm) 1911s have about a 4- 4.5 pound press each. Although my brain is my best safety, I do not want a too light trigger for concealed carry, nor do I want a heavier one either. All of these are close to my desired range.

3. The trigger was very crisp and very good, had a short travel distance and short reset, so I could get off quick follow-up shots easily and keep on target easier. The reset was identifiable.

4. The striker-fired, double action-type trigger (I know they are different) made for consistent and reliable shooting with pretty much the same press each time. It was a harder press that I am accustomed to, since I mostly shoot 1911s and single actions. I know my HK P30 as a double action-LEM-V1 has a 5.5-6.0 press.

5. The 4-inch barrel was just right, not too short and not too long, aiding recoil control. The longer sight radius helped for very good hits and the felt recoil was very manageable. It was made of strong Melonite with a fully-supported ramp. It was similar in comparison to my Glock 19 with a 4 inch barrel, my M&P 9C with its 3.5 inch barrel, my Ruger SR9C with its 3.5 inch barrel, my HK P30 with its 3.8 inch barrel. The M&P Shield has a 3.1 inch barrel. But, I did notice that the XDS’s 4-inch barrel did perform slightly better than my others, except for the HK, with less muzzle rise than the others. Incidentally, the XDS 3.3 has exactly the same dimensions as the XDS 4.0, except the XDS 4.0 has a 4 inch barrel.

Fiber Optic Front Sight

Fiber Optic Front Sight

6. My aging eyes really like the fiber optic front sights, although wish they were setup with green because of my color-blindness. I can see green better than red, like most folks. It did come with extra replacement rods in green and red. The bright fiber optic front sight did jump out for me, even on the overcast day. None of my other carry guns have fiber optic front sights, except my Sig 938.

7. The weight of the gun was almost exactly 25 ounces without a magazine in place. This is manageable for concealed  carry. Its weight was close to the HK’s weight of 26 oz, but more than the Glock’s 21 oz, the M&P’s 22 oz , and the Ruger’s 23 oz. I like a slightly heavier gun for better recoil control, comfort, and accuracy.

8. Given my carpal tunnel, cost of ammo, less recoil, accuracy influence, etc., I strongly prefer the 9mm caliber for my primary carry gun, with the .45 being my next preference, as you probably know from the reasons in my other articles. So the XDS 4.0 met this requirement. I believe that a shooter should:

Choose the biggest caliber handgun that they can comfortably shoot AND make fast, ACCURATE followup shots with. This applies for concealed carry, self defense, home defense, and even competition. Of course, you want a gun that you like, can control, and WILL carry and not leave at home, if carrying concealed.

XDS 4.0 compared to XDS .45- the SAME

XDS 4.0 compared to XDS .45- the SAME

XDS 4.0 Width is Less Than 1 Inch

XDS 4.0 Width is Less Than 1 Inch

9. The width of the XDS 4.0 measured less than 1 inch at about .94 and was similar to the width of the Shield at about .95. The XDS .45 has the exact same width as the XDS 4.0. This compared to these other widths for my other guns… the Glock 19 at 1.18, the M&P 9C at 1.20, the Ruger SR9C at 1.27, the HK P30 at 1.37, and the Sig 938 at 1.10. I also compared it to my carry EMP SAO 9mm with 9-shots at 1.10 inch width, and 23 ounces, but the EMP has a 3 inch bull barrel.

XDS 4.0 with Extended Mag

XDS 4.0 with Extended Mag

 

10. The capacity of the XDS 4.0 was 7+1 with the standard flush fit mag or 9+1 with the extension mag, as compared to 15 for the HK and Glock, 12 for the M&P, 10 for the SR9C, 7 for the Sig 938, and 7 and 8 for the Shield. This is one factor that disappointed me. I wish it had more capacity, but it is a single stack, has a nice thin grip and smaller grip frame, so tradeoffs must be made. For carry, I would use the 7 rounder and hope to get the job done. It has an ambidextrous mag release, interchangeable backstraps, and a post-recall grip safety upgrade that includes a visible roll pin in the grip assembly.

Standard 7 & Extended 9 Mags- with Small Backstrap and Mag Sleeve

Standard 7 & Extended 9 Mags- with Small Backstrap and Mag Sleeve

11. The height of the XDS 4.0 with standard flush mag measured a great 4.4 inches, compared to my M&P-9C at 4.3 inches, my SR9C at 4.6 inches, my EMP at 4.8 inches, my Glock 19 at 5.0, my HK P30 at 5.4, and the M&P Shield at 4.6 inches. All are acceptable for concealed carry, with the smaller numbers, of course, being more advantageous. The picture above shows the XDS with an extended mag in place.

12. I like the two-tone finish and classy, quality appearance of the XDAS 4.0 and it looked really good in my hands. While not  major factors, I do consider them. To me a gun that fits me personally (ergonomics), feels good, has a quality look, and matches my purpose and criteria is always the best choice and you can be proud of it.

Loaded Chamber Indicator

Loaded Chamber Indicator

13. The Loaded Chamber Indicator is helpful and eliminates the need for frequent chamber checks. Also you can verify visually and by touch as to if there is a round in the chamber.

XDS Hard Plastic Case

XDS Hard Plastic Case

14. It comes with a nice hard plastic case which includes a holster, 2 magazines (7 round and extended 9 round), a double mag pouch, small backstrap, grip sleeve for full-size extension for range use, extra fiber optic replacement rods (Green & Red), a lock, bore flag, and manual.

15. It was very easy to disassemble, but know you cannot move the disassembly lever with a mag in the gun. Also, when the disassembly lever is up a mag cannot be inserted, for safety.

16.The XDS 4.0 has a medium to medium-heavy grip texture on the backstrap for a nice secure grip. I have to say, however, after shooting about 200 rounds in the XDS 4.0, I did have a blister on the palm of my shooting hand. I do grip handguns very firm and had the large backstrap on. Probably should have changed to the smaller backstrap.

17. The USA Safety Assurance Trigger System (firing pin safety) protects against negligent discharge from dropping or bumping. The trigger is hooked until direct rearward pressure is applied to the trigger and the grip safety is firmly grasped. There is no external manual safety.

18. It has a rail for a laser or a light.

There are a lot of attributes to consider and you make your own tradeoffs accoring to your priorities and defined needs and use.

Here are some things that influence my tradeoffs among handgun factors:

  • Larger guns with more weight and a longer barrel are more accurate than smaller ones, due to their reduced felt recoil, reduced movement, fit to the hand, and longer sight radius (but shoot it to see if you can control it & it fits well.)
  • Smaller, short-barreled guns are easier to conceal and are lighter to carry (a tradeoff.)
  • Smaller calibers mean less recoil, which in turn means faster and more accurate follow-up shots, but generally, less energy and force (It may take more well-placed shots to stop the bad guy/gal.)
  • Reliability and accuracy are both VERY important attributes of a defensive firearm and override other considerations.
  • Instinctive shooting and preferably flash-sight picture shooting are more important than precision sighted accuracy shooting, when considering VERY CLOSE (within about 10-12 feet or so) self-defense encounters. (However, this is a very controversial point among self-defense and concealed carry shooters.)

I hope this review has given you some information you did not have about the new Springfield-Armory XDS 4.0 9mm single stack pistol. It is a very nice striker-fired pistol, with mostly pros. Decide if it is for you, based on your desired features, the gun’s attributes, tradeoffs, and your use and needs, but TRY IT BEFORE YOU BUY, like any possible handgun purchase.

Continued success!

Photos by Author and Some Courtesy of Springfield-Armory.

* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever. 

© 2014 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at [email protected]

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  • Paul E. Belsinger

    I like the compactness of the XDS 40 but on several occasions at the range I experienced miss-feeds resulting in the weapon jamming. The cause was due to the extended magazine aftermarket spacer. When firing the spacer causes the magazine to detach from its seat resulting in a stove piped round. I was using ball range ammunition. My concern and ultimate abandoning the XDS 40 is will the weapon let me down in a critical situation when I have to defend myself or family member.

    • zrick01

      I’ve had my XDS for about 15 months now and it has never given me any problems.
      My XDS is a .45 in black with the 3.3 barrel. It took longer than I had hoped it would to do the recall, and I really missed carrying it. I carried my Commander size .45 while the recall was being done. When Springfield returned my XDS, they included an extended mag at no charge, which I thought was nice of them. Since it has good accuracy, is light weight, easy to control and even fits in one of my older leather IWB holsters quite well, it is now my favorite carry gun.

  • zrick01

    I normally only use Hornaday ammunition. I have never had any trouble in my 9mm, 40, or .45s with it. From everything I have read and seen, Hornaday seems to be the best quality ammo for me. I have not had any trouble with misfires, jams, stove piping, etc. with it.

  • Wayne Warner

    Great review! Wish you had the G42 and the Remington R51 to compare.

    • The FACTS

      The Remington R51 is a total disaster… the Company pulled it from their catalog… AVOID this pistol!! Also, why compare a .380 with a 9mm or .45??

  • Dr. Dillner

    How am I to know this gun’s caliber if it does not say it in the article? I guess it is a 9mm.

    • Wayne Warner

      Yeah, I didn’t see that either but it’s definitely 9mm.

    • Jim Schneider

      Silly Rabbit…. refer to the “Here are the SPECIFICATIONS FOR THE XDS 4.0:” table that is in the article….

      • Dr. Dillner

        Darn, read it too quickly. Thanks.

    • Brian

      I think they are making them in both calibers, but the article mentions several times that it has a 7+1 standard mag and a 9+1 Extended Round Mag. This is for the 9mm. The .45acp has a 5+1 standard and 7+1 Extended Mag

  • Jim Schneider

    I LOVE my XDs in .45 ACP. I am hoping that Springfield will release the XDs in .40 S&W soon!!!

  • Pat

    I hate to be the buzz-kill, but I take slight exception to the following statement: “Overall length was not a criteria, …, because it does not significantly affect carry.” Perhaps length indeed does not matter for inside the waistband carry, but it certainly does for outside the waistband. In my opinion, a longer gun = compromised concealability, thus longer cover garments and caution when lifting one’s arms.

    • I understand your point, Pat. I agree that every dimension of the gun affects carry in some way. Some dimensions affect it more significantly than others. I believe it’s why the author noted that length does not SIGNIFICANTLY affect carry. And, I think he’s right as long as we reasonably exclude long-slide semi-autos and 10 barreled revolvers.

      In my personal and very humble opinion, overall length affects weight more than concealability, in that I’m happier to lose a tiny bit of slide weight while the length makes no difference. For instance, I don’t have any cover garments that will conceal a G19 but not a G17. I dress around both guns.

      And, when you consider carrying with a weapons light, the over length between many guns is no different since the light itself extends past the end of the muzzle. For instance, a G19 and G17 light bearing holster is typically the same length. The reason for carrying the G19 would be the shorter grip which reduces printing pretty significantly at the expense of 2 rounds rather than for a shorter barrel/slide.

  • James

    I have had nothing but great experiences with my XD. Light, reliable, easy to carry. I think its the best of the plastic fantastic’s for CC and HD.

  • Frank

    Could you tell me if the EMP mags fit the xds

    • littlefoot12

      They will not work, they may be able to be modified to work, but from the factory they won’t. The catch is the wrong shape and in the wrong place.

  • Chuck

    One slight correction. The XDs 4.0 dose not have the exact same dimensions as the XDs 3.3. The XDs 4.0 is 7″ long and the XDs 3.3 is 6.3″ long. Depending on how you carry it, that may or may not be an issue. I have an XDs 3.3. in .45 which is my EDC weapon and I love it. I would not want the extra .7″ but that is just me.

    • ChewYonionz

      So the guy ordered the wrong version of the XDS. I wanted the 3.3 and received the 4.0… Long story short I have never had a CCW and would like to know what anyone thinks would be the best way to carry or suggest I am a lefty.

  • blackbelt3

    I have the XDs9mm with the 3.3 barrel. From what I read my gun is not in the recall since I bought it 2 months ago – June 2014. I love the feel of the gun and have put 250 rounds thru it with no problems. Fabulous gun – would recommend to anyone. Didn’t shoot this specific gun before buying but shot 2 other Springfield’s and Glocks – very similar. I like the back-strap safety on this gun and the single stack. I have bother the 7 and 9 round magazines. Use the 7 round when conceal carrying and the 9 round when at the range.

  • Deliverance

    I love this gun but I’m having a problem concealing it. Unless I am standing straight up, it will print through my shirt and you can see I have something underneath which is illegal.

  • ExLonghorn

    Has anyone seen a measured muzzle velocity/energy comparison between the 3.3″ and 4.0″? Particularly in 9mm?

  • dave hardan

    I don’t know where this ” longer bbl & sight radius means better accuracy ” started. But I do know it’s not true. Please guys, stop parroting this myth.

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