Glock to XDS Part II

Posted: February 28, 2013 in Product Reviews
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This is the second installment in a three-part review of the Springfield XDS in .4 ACP from the perspective of a Glock owner and someone who carries a G31 on a near daily basis.  In the first part of the review, I focused on first impressions of the pistol, out of the box.

In this post, I’ll discuss shooting the XDS.  The items that immediately come to mind are grip/hold, trigger pull, felt recoil, muzzle flip, accuracy, and performance with different varieties of ammunition.

I mentioned in the prior review that I wrapped the grip in tennis tape to build it up just slightly and as a precaution against the rough texture adversely rubbing my hand after a long range session.  The tape also conforms to the precise contours of my hand, so the more I shoot, the more I obtain a uniquely customized grip.  It may help with felt recoil, but it does not absorb felt impact on a tennis racquet, so the effect on felt recoil is likely to be minimal at best.

Now, I should comment that my Glock is a G31 with extended barrel and I shoot full-on .357 Sig (nothing watered down).  I shoot Underwood and MBI loads most frequently during practice, so I’m dealing with velocities well into the 1500 fps range with the extended barrel.  I also shoot .44 mag from a short-barrel revolver, so I’m no stranger to recoil and muzzle flip.

So, from a personal standpoint, I found the XDS to be rather tame in the recoil department, especially shooting the common 230 gr. practice loads, which generate more of a strong push than a big snap.  For that reason, I prefer the 185 gr. carry loads because the higher velocity provides more of the familiar, snappy recoil.  If you shoot typical 9mm from a G17 or G19, you will find the XDS has noticeably more recoil.  If you shoot Winchester NATO or any +p+ load, then you will get a little more felt recoil from say a 185gr load, but find the .230 gr practice loads to be more of a strong push.

Muzzle flip is another issue.  It’s there and quite noticeable, regardless of the load.  However, with a firm hold, the muzzle comes back down just as quickly.  I suppose it’s more like light .44 special recoil with a magnum flip.  So, if you’re used to shooting a full-size Glock, it’s just going to take some getting used to.

And now, for a tale of two triggers.  First, we have the typical Glock, which is a relatively smooth uptake into a solid wall.  Even with a 3.5 connector and a trigger polish, you can still feel the connector/sear interaction while working through the wall, then there is a break and you probably don’t feel any overtravel with the recoil.  The flip side of these very noticeable stages and a very noticeable wall is probably the best (stock) trigger reset in the industry.

Next, we have my S&W performance-center tuned .44 magnum.  It’s just one smooth pull until a break and then the trigger is released to its original position.  It’s still a revolver pull, but very smooth and there are no stages – just pull.

I’d put the stock XDS trigger in between these two.  There is very smooth uptake not into a wall, but into some resistance.  A smooth pull through the resistance and then the trigger breaks.  I don’t really notice any reset, but I’m used to allowing the Glock trigger to move back past reset anyway (I don’t like to rest right on the reset).  So, it’s a very comfortable trigger pull, even coming from a Glock with trigger mods.  It only took me about 20-30 rounds to to get into a nice rhythm with the trigger pull.  In fact, I like it even more than the M&P Shield 9mm my wife and I tested at the range.

So, I’ll give the XDS very high marks for a stock trigger .

Unless you put the pistol on a stand and perform detailed measurements, it’s hard to make definitive statements about accuracy.  The only thing I could say about the XDS in the first 50 rounds is that if you do your job, you can easily shoot the tiny X out of any target at typical self-defense distances.  In other words, I have no worries about the inherent accuracy of the pistol.

The short site radius, however, makes misses right and left more common and it’s the same with the Shield or my wife’s P238, or any other subcompact for that matter.  What I want to do in this review is illustrate some of the hold and shooting issues you may encounter coming from a full-size (double-stack) Glock.

I should note that all my shooting was performed with the 7-round mags.  Starting immediately with the stock 5-rounders may be a bit of a shock 🙂

The first item up for bids is magazine insertion.  You can take a nice, comfortable hold with the entire right hand of your full-size Glock and insert a new mag without every adjusting your grip.  If you try the same thing with the XDS and the extended mag, be very careful because you can get pinched.  I’m embarrassed to say that it happened to me once.  I’ve moved into the habit of extending my pinky finger when changing mags even on my Glock.  I can now quickly insert a new mag in either the G31 or XDS without thinking about it.

A small grip, even slightly built up with tennis grip tape, is still a small grip.  Just like a tennis racquet, the smaller grip allows more wrist flexibility which is why a world-class player like Mr. Topsin, Rafa Nadal, uses a 4 1/4 inch grip (generally considered to be a kids grip size).  It allows him to whip his wrist more through impact than the larger grips that are considered to be more ‘control’ or volley-type grips.  So, prepare yourself.  The pistol is going to move a tiny bit more laterally than you may think.

The other item I noticed, especially when shooting multiple shots in fast sequence, is a bit of a tendency to push on the bottom of the extended mag, which vectors the shot a little high.  The pistol is optimally balanced for the flush mag and the bottom of my hand naturally rests on (and therefore can push on) the extended mag.  It seems to be a non-issue with my Glock with different balance and the standard-size grip extends below the bottom of my hand.

As a tennis player, the natural tendency is to ‘whip’ the wrist through impact.  If you keep your wrist steady and just move the arm, you hit like a wussy.  That’s a terrible practice for shooting, and it’s thoroughly ingrained in my muscle memory 🙂  So, I have a tendency to adjust my grip strength right at trigger break.  This results in shots that are slightly left of POA.  That habit can be exacerbated with the smaller XDS grip.

So, let me put it all together and illustrate what I think is the worst that can happen.  I normally practice with small targets at 10-12 yards (15 if the target is kind of large).  So, I chose one of my favorite Zombie targets at 11 yards.  I shot 70 rounds, 50 230 gr. American Eagle and then a box of 20 of my carry ammo, the Hornady 185gr Critical Defense.  The practice session was controlled triples, i.e. presentation, followed by sight-picture to shot to sight picture for three rounds.  I tried to keep the time between presentation and final sight picture to three seconds, so I’m shooting faster than normal single-short practice.

And here, we have the results.  The inner ‘ring’ is 4.5″ x 5.75″, so it’s about the same surface area as a 5″ diameter circle.


First, I just have to say that shooting Zombies is real fun.  Now, notice that a few shots are grouped high as I pushed too much on the bottom of the extended mag. Then, we have another group of misses just left of target, but mostly the correct height.  That’s my ‘tennis twitch’, exaggerated a bit from the smaller XDS grip.

In subsequent practice sessions, I’ve improved the left misses as I become more comfortable with the grip.  There is still a tendency to miss a few high, and I just need to relax a bit more, which sounds strange for a sub-compact .45.

Speaking of relax, it is a very small, large bore polymer pistol, which makes limp-wristing a greater possibility than larger, heavier guns.  I shoot Weaver (which is the only stance I can comfortably shoot from with a backpack on).  The push-pull dynamic makes it nearly impossible to limp-wrist as the gun simply needs a firm backing so that the slide can properly cycle.  It does not take a death grip to avoid limp-wristing; excess grip pressure can lead to accuracy problems.

I have not yet shot the XDS single-handed (arm extended, full sight picture) or from a position just above the hip.  These observations will be part of a future range report.

Ejection is very strong.  Given a clear path, the XDS throws casings to the right and to the back wall of the range, just like my G31 (and it’s a considerable distance to that back wall).  Otherwise, casings bounce off the right lane divider and end up at my feet or behind lanes to my left.  I’ve been tapped on the head a few times, but not very hard, so I suspect that’s from a deflected casing.  With a focus on the front sight, I can’t watch the ejection pattern in detail.

So, what about ammo? I wanted to get close to 500 rounds downrange before writing this post, so here is the summary to date.

400 rounds 230 gr FMJ, split between Good To Go Ammo, Federal Premium, American Eagle, and MagTech.

60 rounds Hornady Critical Defense, 185 gr.

20 rounds 200 gr. Hornady XTP.

One thing I like about the XDS is the feed angle from the mags.  Here is a pic. of my carry ammo, the 185 gr. Critical Defense.


The rounds seem to feed more ‘straight in’ as opposed to the angle I might normally expect.  The highly polished feed ramp probably also contributes to better feeding.

I did notice from research that some 2012 XDS models had issues with either slides not returning to battery (possible lube or grip issues, hard to say), and light primer strikes.  So, I made a point to clean/lube before first shots and I generously lube the slide rails/barrel/locking lug after every cleaning.  I also regularly remove and clean the striker and striker channel after about every 150 to 200 rounds.

My purchase date was Jan. 2013 and I have experienced no issues with the pistol and the above-listed ammo combinations.  I will continue to post range reports in the future.

I hope you found this information helpful.  In the final part of the review, I’ll discuss the carry role for my XDS and various carry configurations.

  1. […] perspective.  In the first part of the review, I covered general impressions of the pistol.  In part II of the review, I discussed shooting the XDS compared to shooting a Glock.  In this installment, I’ll talk […]