Range Review: Springfield Armory XD-E in .45 ACP

posted on October 21, 2018

In a world rapidly becoming overrun by the tiny, single-stack, striker-fired carry gun in 9 mm, the Springfield Armory XD-E in .45 ACP seems, at first glance, to be an unusual offering.

It’s small, yes, with dimensions approximating many of the most popular subcompact pistols on the market. Size-wise, it’s comparable to the Smith & Wesson Shield, the Glock G43, the SIG Sauer P320 subcompact, and Springfield Armory’s own XD-S. These tiny guns are popular because they’re lightweight to carry and easy to conceal, so from that perspective, the XD-E in .45 ACP makes perfect sense.

Because the gun is small, the controls are easy to reach for my small hands. It’s still big enough, though, that larger hands won’t engulf the grip and make it impossible to run the gun. The safety and magazine release, by the way, are ambidextrous out of the box. Here, too, the XD-E .45 fits well within the box of the “small carry pistol.”

But that’s where the similarities stop.

The larger .45 ACP round dictates that capacity will be less than similar guns in smaller calibers. For the XD-E .45, this means a six-round magazine with a small pinky extension base plate that Springfield calls the Grip X-Tension and a seven-round extended magazine using Springfield’s Mag X-Tension. Both ship with the gun, along with a flush-fit base plate for a shorter grip profile to aid concealment.

And in a move against the general trend towards striker-fired guns with short, light triggers that are the same for every shot, the XD-E is a traditional, hammer-fired, double-action pistol.

The frame-mounted manual safety flips up to allow carrying the gun “cocked and locked” like a classic 1911-pattern pistol. By sweeping the safety down to a horizontal position, the gun can be fired in single action for every shot. On my scale, single action weighed in at a very reasonable 5 pounds, with a short reach easily managed by small hands. I also found that the safety could be swept to the off position by my shooting hand thumb without needing to shift my grip.

The Springfield Armory XD-E .45 ACP shown here with the +1 extended magazine installed in the gun.

My preference in a traditional double-action gun is to carry it in double-action mode with a longer, heavier first shot and following shots in single action. The XD-E supports this with a decocking function to allow for simply and safely returning to double action by pushing the safety down past “off.” There’s no need to manually lower the hammer while pressing the trigger, with the attendant risk of a negligent discharge. The double-action trigger weighed in at about 11 pounds on my example and can be paired with the manual safety being on if the shooter wants extra assurance that the gun can’t be fired unintentionally.

While theoretically more complicated to operate, I found the XD-E .45 to still be shootable. Both double- and single-action trigger pulls were smooth, although the double-action exhibited just a touch of stacking and neither have a “glass-rod” break. As I prefer that longer, rolling trigger break, taking the gun through its paces was no hardship.

Aided by the somewhat unusual choice of rear sights with white dots and a front fiber-optic sight, which I found to be a good compromise between standard 3-dot sights and the front fiber/black rear I personally prefer, I test fired the XD-E .45 from 2 yards to 200 yards. I found the gun to be quite accurate and true to the sights with Hornady 185-grain .45 ACP ammunition. It was able to both hold groups under an inch or so at distances out to 10 yards, and hit full-size steel targets at 200 yards. While the trigger and short sight radius can be challenging to manage, the gun is certainly capable if the shooter pays appropriate attention to sights and trigger.

Recoil was aggressive, as one might imagine for a slim, subcompact .45 ACP pistol. Nevertheless, shooting with one hand was not as difficult as expected. In addition, I couldn’t create any of the usual “limp-wristing” malfunctions, no matter how lightly I gripped the XD-E. That was a pleasant surprise, particularly considering that the slide was not difficult to rack as they can be with smaller pistols that often require stiffer springs to function correctly.

So the Springfield Armory XD-E is a shootable and capable little carry gun, with the advantages of a traditional, hammer-fired, double-action system. At an MSRP of $568, the only question is whether you want this .45-ACP version or if the 9 mm, reviewed by Shooting Illustrated here, would suit you better.


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