The Springfield Armory XD Mod.2 features a number of ergonomic upgrades that promote more comfortable, intuitive shooting in a compact concealed-carry gun.
The Springfield Armory XD has seen a number of changes in its relatively short lifespan. It started out as the Croatian HS 2000 pistol, which followed a decade of development as a military sidearm through numerous iterations. Springfield Armory procured the rights to the pistol, renamed it "XD" (for X-Treme Duty), and brought the handgun to U.S. shores in 2001. It arrived at an awkward time for a new, full-size pistol, because magazine capacities were limited to 10 rounds. While the XD was available in .40 S&W and .45 ACP, rounds relatively unaffected by the artificial limit, launching a large-frame 9 mm limited to 10 rounds was a harder sell.
In 2003, Springfield Armory introduced the subcompact version of the XD, which by necessity of the time retained the 10-round capacity, but in a much smaller frame intended for use as a backup or concealed-carry sidearm. The subcompact retained the grip and trigger safeties of its larger brethren, but shrank the size of the handgun to one more manageable for everyday carry, important since more and more states began to embrace civilian carry. Once the arbitrary magazine restriction was lifted, the original intended capacity of 13 rounds for the subcompact 9 mm could be realized, and thus began the road to the Springfield Armory XD Mod.2.
In 2007, the XD line grew once more, adding the (M) designation and product line to the growing family. The (M) series looked to up the ante on competition and performance, adding match-grade barrels and triggers as well as ambidextrous magazine releases and interchangeable backstraps. The "M" designation led to endless speculation about the name, with most assuming it stood for the match-grade components. Chad Dyer, advertising coordinator for Springfield Armory, set the record straight:
"[The M stands] for 'M Factors,' which are a combination of features that are more than just the sum its parts. With the XD(M), we created a pistol that is an example of what a polymer pistol should be."
As concealed-carry laws improved around the country, and more and more states removed restrictions on law-abiding citizens carrying handguns for protection, Springfield Armory added another model to the XD family. The XD-S ("S" for "slim") was launched in 2012 as a short-barrel, subcompact, single-stack handgun in .45 ACP—perfect for concealed carry. With a width of 1 inch and a barrel length of 3.3 inches, the XD-S proved extremely capable as an "all-day, everyday" sidearm for carry. A 9 mm version joined the product line a year after introduction, and a 4-inch-barreled version of both chamberings rounded out the line.
While “Grip Zone” sounds like it might have come out of a 1980s action movie, the brand name represents many hours of ergonomic research culminating in the Springfield Armory XD Mod.2 design.
As the expression goes, I told you all that so I could tell you this: The Springfield Armory XD Mod.2 was the first redesign of an existing model in the XD family. It's not often a company will step back, take a look at its product line, and decide it could be made better. Springfield Armory did just that with its XD subcompact 9 mm pistol, referencing extensive studies on the human hand as just one of the ways to build a better mousetrap. The "Grip Zone," the area of so much engineering, represents many hours of ergonomic study and design.
Dyer explained further, "The focus we're trying to place is that there has been a tremendous amount of work and research that went into this grip. Lots of smart ergonomists put a lot of time into developing a grip that would be a comfortable and functional extension of the hand." In reference to the Grip Zone name and the different textures, he extrapolated, "There are different zones that the hand has, and that's why the textures are the way they are, where they are."
The grip on the Springfield Armory XD Mod.2, obviously, is the first area showing Springfield's improvements. Three different and distinct textures are used to provide a tactile sensation that promotes proper positioning for the entire hand. The first texture, prominent on the front of the grip and the backstrap, is comprised of an anti-slip design to foster solid purchase in the hand. The second texture, located on the sides of the grip, is the most aggressive and is obviously designed to firmly seat the pistol. The third and final texture, covering the remainder of the frame, is less severe than the first or second and features a moderate—almost soft—composition.
To sum up Grip Zone, Dyer succinctly stated, "After years of studying how we can optimize the contact points between the hand and grip, our ergonomic team determined that our Grip Zone has placed these specific textures in these particular positions so that recoil could be better managed by the most amount of shooters."
But the grip isn't the only part of the frame to be updated. The entire frame has undergone numerous upgrades and enhancements to optimize the XD Mod.2 for ease of carry and shootability. The entire frame has gone on a diet to slim it down to better fit between belt and body. A redesigned takedown lever lays closer against the frame, but still provides positive purchase when cleaning time comes around. The beavertail has been extended to allow a high hold on the Springfield Armory XD Mod.2 and, in concert with this heightened grip, the trigger guard and grip junction has been relieved to allow what Springfield decided to call the "High-Hand" hold.
Exaggerated rear grooves and a lip at the rear of the slide make charging the Springfield Armory XD Mod.2 simple using most any method.
With the grip and frame redesigned, the company didn't neglect the slide of the Springfield Armory XD Mod.2 when it came to upgrades. It, too, has been trimmed slightly to match the frame. The front sight has been changed to a fiber-optic post, and both green and red filaments are included. The rear sight is a low-profile mount to minimize snagging, and it extends to the rear of the slide, terminating in a serrated leading edge to reduce glare. Rear slide serrations, called "Posi-Wedge," assist in charging the pistol, with wider scallops ending in an exaggerated flare to provide superior purchase, regardless of the method used to rack the slide.
So, what does all this mean? First, all existing gear for the first iteration of the XD pistols will work with the Mod.2. Holsters and magazines are interchangeable, so current XD owners can upgrade to the Mod.2 without having to re-equip. Secondly—and more importantly—there's a bigger question to be answered. The company uses a lot of fancy terms and did redesign much of the pistol, but are the improvements useful? In order to answer this question, the XD Mod.2 needs to visit the firing range to fully appreciate its refinements.
To be fair, the Springfield Armory XD Mod.2 is a lightweight, short-barrel, full-power handgun. It shouldn't be terribly pleasant to shoot. The XD-S with 4-inch barrel, which I reviewed in 2014, is only 1 ounce lighter than the 3-inch XD Mod.2, and after extended range sessions left quite an impression in the form of slight abrasion on my hands. The Mod.2, however, left no such wounds—even after multiple, rapid magazine dumps requiring an extremely firm grip, no ill effects of any sort were encountered.
The Springfield Armory XD Mod.2 is, dare I say it, almost pleasant to shoot. That's a rare statement for a subcompact, short-barrelled pistol designed for concealed carry. Ordinarily, there's a sort of arithmetic that occurs: small pistol + major caliber = ouchie. It happens with lightweight revolvers chambered in .38 Spl. +P; in pocket-size semi-autos chambered in .40 S&W, so it would be perfectly reasonable to expect the Mod.2 to exist within the same parameters.
Except it doesn't. Multiple range trips featuring triple-digit round counts didn't produce ill effects throughout testing. The Springfield Armory XD Mod.2 shoots, to use a cliché that fits, above its weight—it produces felt recoil you'd expect from a pistol with more heft behind it. It certainly doesn't feel like a 26-ounce subcompact in a major caliber, even when using the flush-floorplate magazine (which gave what I would call a 2½ finger hold; I couldn't quite get my pinkie on the grip). Using the extended magazine (which brings capacity to 16 rounds, on par with most full-size offerings) allows a hand-filling grip and, surprisingly given my experience with other extended magazines, does not pinch either the ring finger or pinkie.
Takedown of the Springfield Armory XD Mod.2 is simple and follows the same protocol as the extant XD line.
Accuracy was, quite frankly, stunning from a pistol of this size. The short barrel necessitated a closer range than normal testing protocol (15 yards versus the standard 25 yards), but even the reduced range is twice again what normal engagement distances are for defensive handguns. At 15 yards, five-shot groups averaged within 10 percent of 2 inches over a variety of bullet weights and construction. Rapid-fire shooting at 7 yards, a more practical range for a 3-inch-barreled carry gun, produced exemplary results as well, with all shots landing well inside center-of-mass in an area easily covered by a closed fist. The Springfield Armory XD Mod.2 may be little, but it shoots big.
The fiber-optic sights certainly contribute to the cause. Contrast between the red (or green, if preferred) front sight and the white rear allows the sight picture to be rapidly and consistently acquired, while the anti-glare serrations on the sights bring a secondary contrast on the back of the pistol, resulting in surprisingly quick presentation. The trigger pull is clean, with a moderate amount of take-up, resulting in a fairly smooth break at right around 7 pounds—a little on the heavy side, but certainly reasonable. There's no missing the reset, either; while it comes with a bit more travel than other pistols, there is a noticeable, audible click once achieved.
Reliability is paramount in a firearm one chooses for defense, and the Springfield Armory XD Mod.2 continues Springfield Armory's tradition of rock-solid engineering. Throughout all testing, the newest member of the XD family performed consistently and reliably, whether fed flat-nose metal jacket bullets, narrow-ogive jacketed hollow-point ammo or anything in between on the cartridge continuum. It just plain ate up and spit out everything put into it. Even Hornady XTP bullets that have failed to chamber in other 9 mm handguns I've tested went right into the Mod.2 without any hesitation.
As with other handguns in the XD line, the Springfield Armory XD Mod.2 comes with a full complement of gear for carry, loading and cleaning inside a lockable hard case.
Comfortable, reliable and accurate—it's hard to ask for anything more in a firearm designed for concealed carry. That's not all, though: Springfield Armory offers a full range of gear with all XD pistols, and the Springfield Armory XD Mod.2 is no exception. A polymer holster, double magazine holder and loading tool are included in the lockable plastic case that comes with each Mod.2, and a cable lock and simple, but usable cleaning brush round out the accessory list. Two magazines ship with each Mod.2 as well: a 13-round magazine that sits flush in the mag well, and a larger, 16-round version with a grip extension.
When the Springfield Armory XD Mod.2 first debuted, the Grip Zone name—specifically the placement of those words on the grip—led to some amount of eyebrow raising and tongue clucking. Folks seemed evenly split between making comparisons between Grip Zone and "Danger Zone" (from "Top Gun") and, more seriously, asking why the XD needed or wanted to be updated. Having taken some time behind the trigger of the Mod.2, it's abundantly clear the engineers at Springfield Armory did their homework and produced smart, efficient upgrades to an already good design.
Velocity measured in fps at the muzzle for 10 consecutive shots with a Shooting Chrony Gamma chronograph. Temperature: 63 degrees Fahrenheit. Accuracy measured in inches for five consecutive, five-shot groups at 15 yards from a benchrest.