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Guns I Hate Part 2: The Springfield Inc. XD

nb: In the case of butthurts, please take a moment and reread this post. Also see Part 1: The Ruger SR. tldr: That your singular pistol works fine and you are happy with it is not a statistically relevant piece of information. Without the magnitude of numbers involved in police contracts or competitive pistol leagues, it’s impossible to make a judgement on how good a particular design is. If what I have to say hurts your feelings, I don’t care. But if you could demonstrate how I’m wrong, I’d appreciate it.

The pistol currently known as the Springfield Inc. XD was originally introduced to the US market as the HS-2000 in 1999, and was renamed the XD when Springfield Inc bought the rights to the design in 2002. The XD is a polymer framed double-stack Browning style short recoil autoloader that was designed in Croatia during the Yugoslavian Civil War. It is available in all common service pistol calibers and a variety of slide and frame sizes and finishes. It features a single action trigger, a grip safety lever and an internal key lock. It has not been issued by any major domestic police organization, but it is on the approved list for a few and has been sold to some undemanding foreign customers. It is not popular in competition, although Springfield Inc. does pay some shooters to say good things about it.

Derp within Derp.

Derp within Derp.

There are two main problems with the XD: It was designed wrong, and it is built wrong.

Apart from general sloppiness in manufacturing and spotty quality control, the XD has a number of design faults. The first deal-breaker is that the grip safety not only locks the trigger and prevents it from moving, but also locks the slide and prevents it from moving. This means that the shooter needs to maintain a perfect firing grip in order to clear malfunctions or perform remedial actions. An additional risk is that if the grip safety breaks or gets debris under it (both of which have been frequently documented), the gun is out of commission until it can be fixed.

Unique among modern service pistols, the XD can be assembled wrong. There are pins that can be inserted such that they need to be drilled out, the slide can become locked open hard enough that it needs to be hammered apart, and it’s even been observed to malfunction when loading.

The trigger is also a puzzle. Although it features a Glocklike trigger-on-a-trigger and has a long, mushy trigger pull, the only function of the trigger is to trip the sear and release the striker, which is held back under full spring tension. Unlike real designs, the XD offers the feel of a trigger-cocker with the lack of failsafes of a single action pistol. This is why IDPA classed the gun in ESP for many years.

All of these would make the pistol unacceptable even if it wasn’t assembled poorly, which it is. For many years, Springfield Inc. refused to sell replacement parts for the gun, requiring the pistols to be sent back to the importer for even small parts breakages. This is because the gun-to-gun variance in dimensions was so great, parts had to be selected and fitted to the individual gun. The Croatian geniuses at HS/Springfield hadn’t even managed to master early 20th century parts interchangeability, previously featured in the Colt 1903, 1911, and M1 Garand. This problem was somewhat improved in the XDm redesign, although lack of QC is still an issue and its design faults remain untouched. There are several other designs that retail for about the same price and do not have these faults, and are popular in competition and police service. Choose one of those instead.

I have been accused of being an “elitist” (if encouraging people to spend the same — or less — money and get a better gun makes me an elitist, so be it), so perhaps my motivations aren’t clear. I honestly do not care what an individual shooter shoots. What I do care about, and offends me greatly, is when companies choose and are rewarded for a cynical marketing strategy that puts their customers lives at risk. Instead of putting their money into designing, building and shipping the very best pistol they can, a pistol that could be depended on to work right, the first time, out of the box, Springfield Inc. supports the XD series with a lavish, expensive advertising campaign. Their ads are in all the magazines, and they’ve bought more than a few awards for their derpy gun. Springfield Inc. thinks you’re dumb enough to prefer advertising over quality. I’d like you to prove them wrong.

{ 10 } Comments

  1. Bruce | April 21, 2014 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    I dislike the XD for all the same reasons. However, it is very popular in competition in Montana. I see more XDs that Glocks at almost every match.

  2. TheCapulet | April 21, 2014 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    The XDm is a big improvement over the XD in my experience. It might have actually earned some of the awards it got.

    I will say this though: I shoot better groups with my XDm than any other pistol I regularly shoot. And it produces considerably less shooter fatigue over any Glock I’ve spent time with.

  3. Tam | April 22, 2014 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    Rob Leatham has your number. You have been warned.

  4. Spacemonkey | April 22, 2014 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    “I shoot better groups with my XDm than any other pistol I regularly shoot.”

    +1

  5. Tony Muhlenkamp | April 22, 2014 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    In addition to your police force and competition criteria I suggest talking with professional trainers. They see thousands of pistols and hundreds of thousands of rounds per year and usually have a pretty good idea about what doesn’t work and why. The good ones won’t recommend a gun, but if you’re polite and don’t get all butt hurt they will usually help you steer clear of the ones that are dangerous. Just don’t start arguing with them, even if you disagree. Great series of articles BTW, thanks.

  6. Not 4 Me | April 23, 2014 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    I borrowed an XDm from a coworker, to let my wife shoot. I was thinking of getting her one, for everday carry. However, she shot about four rounds, and put it down and looked at me and said she did not think so… ” I like my 1911″. so then I let me neice shoot it and she picked it up and tried to shoot it… she had a pour grip… so it would not fire… then i got my wife to just pick it up and try to fire without thinking about grip as if it was in Life or Death event… it would not fire… so if you have small hands and poor grip… not good combo…

  7. ASM826 | April 29, 2014 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Another issue, for some, is the known problem with shooting lead bullets. Because of the sharp angle of the magazine, rounds in the magazine present an interference to the empty case on extraction. I had problems with reloads in an XD .45 and spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out what was causing the jam. The reason is that the extracting case hits the bullet, they do this on every round, however round nosed jacketed bullets are hard enough and present enough of a curve to slide off and eject. The edge of the base of the extracting case digs into the softer nose of a lead bullet and sometimes, not every time, causes a jam. This jam usually is the empty case falling back forward into the chamber followed by the next round stripped off the magazine. It is a tight jam and holding the slide back, dropping the magazine, and then clearing the case is the only way I have found to clear it. Here is a link to a CAD drawing (not my work) that shows a good representation of the problem. https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/crsjLZRabJHXWtpp3POwzNv_10M-gIusq3VevridkK4?feat=directlink

  8. Pop In Fresh | May 1, 2014 at 12:19 am | Permalink

    I work at a local shooting range and I’ve seen more Xd’s lock up with an empty case stuck in the chamber than any other pistol malfunction. Also had to hammer a slide off an XD 45 when it locked up. At a recent two day 600ish round pistol class 2 XD’s (there were 15 shooters with various pistols) were locked up to the point they had to be taken off the line to get running again.

  9. Dan Patterson | May 4, 2014 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    Excellent post and comments, as usual.
    Is the 1911 in a carry version the best route, you think? I am not happy with cocked and locked carry condition, and I cannot trust the time delay to work the slide. J-frame? The LCP works fine as a pocket carry (no print, decent bullet performance with the right load, DA trigger…). Any other thoughts?

  10. pdb | May 7, 2014 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Is the 1911 in a carry version the best route, you think? I am not happy with cocked and locked carry condition, and I cannot trust the time delay to work the slide. J-frame? The LCP works fine as a pocket carry (no print, decent bullet performance with the right load, DA trigger…). Any other thoughts?

    If you’re comfortable with the size and weight and cost and maintenance overhead of the 1911 and it just turns you on, go for it. If you’re not comfortable with cocked ‘n locked carry then it’s really not for you.

    Honestly, the only no-BS sure thing in the duty pistol market these days is, IMHO, the H&K polymer guns. Yes, they’re expensive and ugly, but I think they offer the best odds of working 100% out of the box. Glocks are probably still a close #2, but you have to immediately replace the sights on them and the scuttlebutt is that the Gen 4s are still not all the way there yet. I know the S&W M&P is very popular, but the 9mm versions are sometimes hilariously inaccurate, and people seem to want to spend another $150 to get a Glocklike trigger on them. The Walther PPQ is probably a decent alternative on paper, but they have a lot of work to do to rebuild their reputation in the police market after the complete and utter clusterfuck the P99 / SW99 was. SIG’s QC lately has been crap, but if you get a good one and can work with the slide release location they’re worth considering. Beretta ships a good gun but I can’t recommend them until the G-model decocker only is back on the menu.

    FWIW, YMMV, IMHO, etc.