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Springfield XD Upgrades

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There’s a strong argument to be made that the Springfield XD is a cult classic sort of pistol. The people who like it love it. Everyone else wants to know if they can get vaccinated so they don’t catch one by accident. But that’s not going to stop us from talking about them. (After all, we once reviewed a Hi-Point pistol and a Surgeon rifle in the same issue.)

We believe that part of the joy of buying a new gun is its aftermarket options. Just when your family thought you were done spending money, the Pandora’s Box of upgrades and accessories is only a couple of clicks away. Unfortunately, this is one area where XD owners, particularly those who hold pre-XD(M) legacy models, get left almost entirely in the dust.


Here we showcase the offerings of two companies in particular who haven’t forgotten about the XD tribe. We took a bone stock, early gen XD 45 and did just about everything we could to it to bring it up-to-par with today’s tricked out plastic pistols.

XD before 1

SWITCHES AND BUTTONS: Powder River Precision

Powder River Precision has been in the XD game for a while, and their replacement fire control parts reflect a level of refinement that comes with time. We used three key components from them: their Ultimate Match trigger kit, extended mag release and extended grip safety. Their Ultimate Match trigger is a full overhaul for your XD trigger, including springs, sear and trigger shoe.

The trigger itself has an over-travel stop built into the back of it. The folks at Powder River claim that this method of over-travel control avoids stresses on the trigger bar. It does create an instant, hard stop almost immediately after the break. The whole package is advertised to produce a short, crisp trigger that breaks between 3.5 and 4 pounds. Our experience, while positive, did not mirror that exactly. Our Lyman digital gauge clocked the trigger break at just shy of 5 pounds, putting it squarely in the realm of an enhanced duty trigger. And if you do want to shoot competition with this trigger, it is USPSA Production Division legal.

The break on this trigger took a little getting used to for is. Many aftermarket striker triggers are built with a loose first stage that hits a hard wall before an audible, tree-branch-snapping break. The Powder River XD trigger feels more like a 3-gun AR trigger. There are no defined “stages,” just a gradually increasing pressure that builds, builds, builds and then releases just as the trigger hits its over-travel stop. The reset is about an eighth of an inch, with a distinct click when you get there.

XD after 2

The Powder River extended magazine release is CNC machined out of steel and textured with a bullseye type pattern. It is available in two lengths – .100 inches and .150 inches. We selected the smaller of the two, more convenient than the OEM button but not big enough that we ever hit it by accident.

Their grip safety takes one of the most hotly contested parts of the XD and, if nothing else, gives it a nice facelift and some enhanced functionality. It, too, is machined from steel and features a deeply swept top and a prominent humped bottom with tactile ridges. It gives the distinct impression of being modeled off of an Ed Brown 1911 grip safety which, if you’re going to have a grip safety, that’s one of the nicer ones to cue off of. Compared to the OEM grip safety, the Powder River unit registers positively in the palm when you close your hand around the pistol and snaps spritely back into place when you release it. All in all, the trifecta of parts we selected from Powder River made all of the XD’s controls smoother and more responsive to shooter input.

XD after 4


The Robar name should be no stranger to veteran RECOIL readers. They’ve taken on a number of unconventional projects for us in the past, and continue to prove their versatility and consistency with their work on our test bed XD 45. For Glocks, M&Ps SIG 320s and even CZ P10s, the stable of grip-shapers and slide-cutters seems to be ever expanding. Notably absent from social media are the droves of machinists, sanders, and stipplers showing off their Springfield XD enhancement suites. Alas, you’d be hard pressed to find snaps, grams or posts of this Croatian-born ugly duckling with a windowed slide, fluted gold nitride barrel or dimpled grips. We’re not saying Robar is the only shop that will do these things on an XD, but it seems to be a small club.

XD before 3

Robar started with their signature grip texturing, and what they call a “high grip modification” – a pair of undercuts to the trigger guard and top of the back strap respectively to allow the gun to sit deeper in the hand. Then they added a complete re-finish job. The barrel, accent parts and internals are all coated in their signature NP3. For the uninitiated, NP3 is an electroless nickel base that is enhanced through the addition of PTFE (Teflon).

When applied to the working parts of a firearm, there are two advantages: first, NP3 imparts a dry lubricity to metal surfaces. This does not replace the need for lubrication, but it will enhance the effects of weapon lube while also being less hindered by particulate debris like sand or lint. The other benefit is ease of cleaning. The “after” photos you see here were taken after approximately 500 rounds through this gun.

The only thing we used to clean it before taking the pictures was a dry paper towel and the bottom edge of the t-shirt we were wearing. The slide was coated with Robar’s newest finish offering, known as ArmorLube. Opposed to NP3’s nickel base, ArmorLube is carbon-based and offers a “natural graphitic lubricity and extremely low coefficient of friction – less than 0.08” this, according to a presser on Robar’s website. It can be applied in thinner layers than even NP3 while still providing the same enhanced reliability and ease of maintenance in a matte black finish.

XD after 3

Springfield Armory’s XD family of pistols, to include the XD Mod 2, XD(M), XD-S and XD-E, provide some…niche options…in the striker fired pistol market – options like thumb safeties, grip safeties, and grip “zones”. But they’re not illegitimate or wholly unworthy guns. They, like their 9mm and .40 caliber counterparts from Germany, Austria or Czech Republic, deserve a shot at refinement or enhancement. While those opportunities may not be quite as easy to find, they do exist. Hopefully this gives you a jumping off point to explore some options to make your XD truly your own.

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