Why did I start carrying the Springfield XD-S 4″?

Earlier this morning, I got a question about when I started carrying a Springfield Armory for personal defense. Actually, the question asked when I had switched from Glock to SA. I started carrying a Glock in the mid-1990’s and certainly carried them more than anything else over the ensuing two decades before I fell in love with the XD-S 4″, but I have carried a number of guns in that time. J-frames, Pocket Pistols, Walther PPS, Caracal F and (in the late 90’s) even a Caspian Clark Meltdown .40S&W 1911 occasionally! In Law Enforcement, I have been issued Beretta and H&K Pistols, and qualified with Glock and S&W M&P as well at agencies where I supplied my own side arm. So, it isn’t exactly fair to say that I was always a Glock guy at any point.

9mm XD-S 4" with Claw Sights, loaded with Winchester Train & Defend ammunition.
9mm XD-S 4″ with Claw Sights, loaded with Winchester Train & Defend ammunition.

It’s also fair to say that I am not exclusively a Springfield Guy today… as I still find the J-Frame as a companion every once in awhile and I carry a variety of handguns as I travel around and sometimes don’t have my 4″ XD-S with me. I just made the switch from M&P to XD Mod 2 5″ on my duty belt last month at my annual qualification as a Reserve Deputy… more on that at the end of the article. Back to my switch of primary EDC from Glock to SA:

This picture, posted during a gun cleaning session, is what prompted someone to ask me when I switched to Springfield Pistols.
This picture, posted during a gun cleaning session, is what prompted someone to ask me when I switched to Springfield Pistols.

The transition started over 5 years ago when I was messing around with the development of the Glock 26L, which you can read about HERE. The XD-S came out shortly after that and I was intrigued. I bought one right away and found it to be good, but not good enough to switch… the 3.3 wasn’t the configuration I was looking for. You can read about my first impressions of the 3.3″ gun HERE. While I may have spent a bit more time with it and given it more consideration, there was a recall of this gun shortly after release which soured any interest I might have had. I did send my 3.3″ gun in for the recall, but it largely just lived in a safe after I got it back.

Shortly thereafter, I started have issues with my Glock 26L and really started looking for something new. It had seen a lot of use and abuse even before the modifications and it was time for that gun (which started life as a Glock 23, originally owned by Chris Collins) to retire. Conveniently, the XD-S 4″ came out right at that time, passed reliability testing and I kinda fell in love with it. That was 2014. You can see the video of that testing, which took place in early 2014 HEREIt’s still the only single stack gun on the market with that configuration (4″ barrel and short grip), which I find just about perfect for the way I usually carry. The FNS-C is now availability and it is surprisingly close to the configuration of the Glock 26L… had it come out earlier, I might have stuck with a double stack. As it turns out, my interest in and switch to the XD-S created a lot more conversation with Springfield Armory than I had ever had before and eventually lead to them becoming sponsors of the 2014-17 PDN Training Tours

May 2002... I still had hair and still hadn't completely dismissed the .40 S&W.
May 2002… I still had hair and still hadn’t completely dismissed the .40 S&W.



That relationship also lead to the Worlds Collide series of videos that I do with Rob Leatham, which are a ton of fun. Interestingly, the first time I was ever on the cover of a gun magazine it was with a Springfield XD around 2002, when the gun (formerly the HS2000) was first adopted by them here in the US… but I didn’t even keep the gun. It would be cool to have that one in my collection today.

I am currently using the XD-S 4" 9mm as my everyday carry. I have been very impressed with it.
The XD-S 4″ holds 7+1 in normal configuration, but can take extended mags that hold 8 or 9 rounds.


There is a lot of stock put into what guns any of the leaders in the training or shooting communities (or high profile media personalities therein) choose. Sometimes that is a great thing, sometimes: not so much. The question that was asked this morning is a good one to ask if you have someone you admire or look to for quality information. Why are they using the gear they are using. Sometimes you’ll get a good story that is organic and genuine… one that makes sense to you. Sometimes you’ll be told flat out: They’re paying me to use it. Other times, you won’t get much to go on and you’ll be left guessing. In the cases where there is a professional relationship between shooter and manufacturer, there is usually some complexity to the story. If you are worried about the sincerity of any endorsement (explicit or implicit), consider that those of us on the training side are carrying the guns we choose for more than photo-ops… more often than not, I’m carrying an XD-S 4″ to protect myself and others that I care about. If you’re looking for an endorsement, that probably means more than the back story. Still, this gun certainly isn’t for everyone. Currently, I recommend that people looking for a good defensive handgun try 9mm offerings from the following list to see which one fits their hand best and then make their decision with that as the primary factor. All of these guns have demonstrated reliability in the hands of many students over a significant period of time under a variety of conditions: Glock (Gen 3), S&W M&P, Springfield XD (Mod 2) and H&K VP9.

Oh, I almost forgot… my recent switch to the XD Mod 2 (5″ Tactical model) as my duty gun… straight from the Facebook Comment Thread:

XD Mod 2 5" Tactical model with a Viiridian C5L Light & Laser in a Safariland ALS Holster.
XD Mod 2 5″ Tactical model with a Viridian C5L Light & Laser in a Safariland ALS Holster.

As a follow up, I was never terribly crazy about the full size XDs, though I put them on equal footing with Glock & M&P in regard to what I recommend people look at when considering a defensive handgun. Students have generally had great success with them in classes, but I never really took to them… UNTIL the Mod 2 variations. I think they are the best evolution of a handgun line that I’ve seen… the differences in the grip contouring made them fit even more hands well and fit mine GREAT. I just transitioned this year to the XD Mod 2 5″ as my Duty Gun at the SO (from a full sized M&P).