Guns Review: Springfield XDS 9mm MOD.2 Tamara Keel July 22, 2021 Join the Conversation For the last couple of years, it’s felt like all the attention in the concealed-carry world has focused on increasing capacity in subcompacts. The SIG P365, Springfield Armory Hellcat, and the Glock 48/43x duo have been getting all the headlines. Because of this, it can be easy to overlook the fact that the original slim single-stack subcompact nines, in many ways the forebears of their double-stacked kin, are still out there and putting in yeoman work in holsters across the land. Springfield Armory jogged our memory with the recent launch of the OSP variant of their single-stack subcompact XD-S Mod.2, with a slide milled to accept red-dot sights and available right out of the box with a factory-installed Crimson Trace CTS-1500 red-dot optic. The red-dot cut precludes the usual XD loaded chamber indicator, so you get a witness hole instead. OUT OF THE BOX So, is the classic micro single-stack still relevant in the age of the Hellcat? Springfield Armory sure seems to think it is, so let’s open the box and find out. And when we say “open the box,” we mean that very literally, because the packaging for the XD-S Mod.2 OSP is a semigloss black cardboard box, about the right size for a personal pizza, except with the Springfield crossed-cannons logo instead of a Domino’s one. Lift the lid on the box, and the interior contains a zippered black nylon pouch, also logo’d, that contains the pistol and magazines, a separate compartment under a folded cardboard lid for the mandatory lock and accessories, and some “Defend Your Legacy” moto ad copy on the inside of the box lid thanking you for your patronage. A nice touch, actually. Unzipping the nylon pouch reveals the pistol itself, with its Crimson Trace dot already mounted. There’s also a sewn-in pocket holding a spare magazine; in the case of our test gun, a nine-round ’stendo with an adapter collar textured to match the grip of the pistol. The flush-fit magazine holds seven rounds of nine. DESIGN The Mod.2 version of the frame is a lot more aesthetically restrained than the original. Gone are the huge molded-in “XD-S” billboard and the giant pyramids of texturing that made the grip look like a frag grenade. In their place are panels of a subtly molded coarse texturing reminiscent of that currently found on the grips of SIG’s offerings. A little longer than a Hellcat, the XD-S Mod.2 is still a small pistol. This grip texture, shared with the XD-E series, looks grippy, but isn’t nearly as aggressive as it looks. This can be good and bad — good in that it doesn’t chew up clothing with the aggressiveness of skateboard tape (or the old pyramidal texturing) and bad in that it can get a little squirmy in sweaty hands, even if you clamp down on it. Other than the textured areas on the grip, the rest of the frame is blank, matte black polymer; it’s subtly styled, low-key looking, and devoid of labels indicating which zones are to be gripped. Stylistically, this is one of Springfield Armory’s better efforts in the polymer department. The takedown lever and slide release are suitably low-profiled, the latter protected from inadvertent actuation both by its beveled shape and a low, molded-in “fence” on the frame. The magazine catch is easily reached and completely ambidextrous. The frame is railed but mostly just leads to dashed hopes. Due to the stubby 3.3-inch barrel and a single cross slot, light selection is limited. Even compact offerings like the TLR-7 from Streamlight and the SureFire XC1b are too long, so illumination will be left to options specifically intended for the XD-S. There was a coupon in the box with the test gun good for a discount on a Viridian laser that, ironically, mounts to the trigger guard and not the rail. The slide differs from the non-optics-ready version in two notable ways. The first is, obviously, the optics cut. The optics mount directly to the slide, rather than using an adapter plate system, and the footprint will accept any optic using the Shield mounting hole pattern. The sights on the pistol don’t co-witness with the optic, but they’re visible in the lower edge of the window and could be used in a pinch. Night sights aren’t standard on this model, just a black serrated U-notch rear and white dot front. The other difference in the slide, necessitated by the optics cut, is that the pivoting loaded chamber indicator familiar to longtime XD aficionados is gone. In its place is a simple witness hole in the rear of the chamber hood, allowing a glint of brass or nickel if there’s a round in the pipe. WHY SINGLE-STACK? The slim magazines give up four rounds of capacity to the fatter Hellcat mags, so what do you get from the XD-S? It’s a smaller, lighter gun, right? Well, not really. It’s taller, longer, and heavier than the Hellcat. It’s not any lighter, either. The test sample weighed 21.5 ounces empty with the flush-fit magazine inserted, right on the nose of Springfield’s ad copy. That’s around 3 ounces heavier than an unloaded Hellcat, although the extra ammo in the latter might close the gap when both are loaded to capacity. There are some less obvious points in favor of the single-stack, though. The slim flush-fit magazine holds seven rounds, and a factory stendo is included. For starters, while the ad copy claims only a tenth of an inch difference in the width of the grip, this understates the actual difference in the hand between the two guns. The grip on a double-stack gun is, by necessity, much more … square, for lack of a better term … in cross-section. The XD-S, on the other hand, is noticeably more svelte in the hand, especially at the front and back straps. That slenderness applies to the entirety of the frame and slide, too. The XD-S is a seriously skinny pistol. While the height is listed at roughly a half-inch taller than the Hellcat, that’s largely attributable to the pinkie-rest molded into the magazine floorplate. Combine that rest with the aggressive high-hand relief at the rear of the trigger guard on the Mod.2 XD-S frame, and even owners of grown-up-sized hands can get most of their paw on polymer without their fingers feeling excessively crowded. Unless you wear XL gloves, this is a legitimate three-finger grip. Finally, the spec sheet says that this pistol is roughly a third of an inch longer than the Hellcat, but all of that length is barrel. Especially when using +P ammunition, every little bit helps in getting efficient velocity out of a 9mm projectile. FURTHER FEATURES There are other features of the XD family of firearms that the XD-S has that are absent from its Hellcat stablemate. Not least among these is the truly ambidextrous magazine release. While a reversible magazine catch is common as dirt on service pistols these days, an ambidextrous catch, which can be used from either side without having to disassemble or reverse anything, is much less common. While the duty autos from FN also sport this feature, the setup on the XD is arguably superior and much more difficult to inadvertently actuate with an aggressively high grip. Lastly, and probably most controversially, the XD-S Mod.2 sports a grip safety like its larger kin. The one on the XD-S is unobtrusive and never failed to be actuated on the range. More importantly (and distinct from the original gangsta XD grip safety), the one on the XD-S doesn’t lock the slide when not depressed. This was a function of the XD grip safety that most frequently reared its ugly head during malfunction clearance drills, especially one-handed. Not being able to reliably clear a malfunction one-handed could be a problem, but fortunately that’s not an issue with this pistol. An additional feature of the grip safety becomes apparent if one uses a “claw” type grip to reholster, when you position the strong-side thumb on the back of the slide to prevent it from being pushed out of battery. In the case of the XD-S, this also breaks the contact between the hand and the grip safety, adding an extra layer of protection should a foreign object, like a fold of clothing, find its way into the trigger guard while you’re trying to put your blaster away. Now that we’ve seen what distinguishes the XD-S Mod.2 from its in-house competition, let’s look at the pistol itself. AT THE RANGE How does it shoot? A combination of deadline crunch and the ammunition drought of 2020 meant this pistol didn’t see the usual multi-thousand round shakeout, but it still ate up over half a case of varied 9x19mm ammunition without an issue. The trigger measured a consistent 6 pounds from the start of the test to the finish. It stacks noticeably during the pull, but at least it’s free of weird rough spots and hitches. Out of the box, the red-dot sight was sufficiently dialed in to make solid hits on 8-inch steel plates at 20 yards with no oddball holdoffs required. One might prefer a more aggressive grip texture for sweaty hands, but the pistol is quite usable as it is. LOOSE ROUNDS The pistol itself is backed by Springfield’s lifetime warranty, while the optic is covered by a limited three-year warranty from Crimson Trace. With an MSRP of $549, including the Crimson Trace sight, this is a fairly low-cost entry into the world of red-dot CCW guns, which should help with popularity. There aren’t many optics-ready pistols in this size class on the market, especially with a dot mounted from the factory. If the pistol and sight hold up over the long haul, this could be a winner for Springfield in a relatively uncrowded corner of the marketplace. Springfield Armory XDS 9mm Mod.2 OSP Caliber: 9x19mmCapacity: 7+1Weight (unloaded): 21.3 ouncesLength: 6.25 inchesHeight: 5.25 inches (including optic)Width: 0.9 inchBarrel: 3.3 inchesPrice: $549 with included CTC sight URL: springfield-armory.com More from RECOIL Check out the Best 9mm Pistol for Defense.And the CCW 9mm Unsung Heroes. The 9mm Carbine: part pistol, part smg, all the rage. 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