When it was introduced at the 2014 SHOT Show, the new Springfield XD-S 4.0 9mm pistol caught me off-guard. With the XD-S recall underway, I wasn’t sure that the company would expand the line. But, I thought, if the line was to be expanded it would be to include a pistol in .40 S&W.
Instead, Springfield Armory announced the XD-S 4.0. The new pistol retained the same dimensions for height and width as the original guns, but increased the barrel length to a full 4”. There are a variety of reasons for increasing barrel length on a sub-compact pistol, and history is filled with examples of these kinds of guns.
Fortunately, the crew in Geneseo, IL was happy to send one to me for review.
First introduced in 2012, the Springfield XDS pistol line has been very popular. It is easy for me to understand why. The guns, available in either 9mm or .45 ACP, are thin and easy to conceal. For a cop carrying a backup gun or a citizen exercising his or her right to self-defense, the guns are a great balance of size and firepower.
Both calibers of the original pistols share the same external dimensions, meaning holster makers only had to make one size to fit both guns. Other accessories, such as a light or laser, likewise only need one version.
The new 9mm 4.0 pistols break the original size mold by increasing the barrel and slide length. Otherwise the guns are very similar.
Why increase the barrel length? Several reasons spring to mind. First, the additional 0.7” gives the shooter a longer sight radius. In general terms, the longer the sight radius, the easier it is to align the sights quickly and precisely. For anyone who has shot a snub nose revolver, you recognize the short sight radius is pretty unforgiving. Up size the gun to a 4” revolver and the shooter can put rounds on target a lot easier. If you want to get night sights for your XD-S pistol, check out my resource page here.
Another reason for increasing barrel length is to increase bullet velocity. Handgun rounds bleed speed and energy as the barrel gets shorter. Hollowpoint bullets rely on velocity to expand and perform well in a violent attacker. The shorter the barrel, the less likely a bullet will expand.
Depending on the load, the 0.7” could result in a velocity loss of 50-100 fps. That may not sound like much, but it is pretty close the same velocity increases many people see when moving from standard pressure to +P rounds in 9mm.
What may be counter-intuitive to some is that the gun is no harder to conceal than the shorter barrel XD-S pistol. I often carry in an IWB (inside-the-waistband) style holster. The barrel length does not affect the ability to conceal the pistol when carried in this manner. The thickness of the gun, on the other hand, plays a huge role in concealability and comfort. Also, the length of the grip can really affect how well the gun stays out of sight. With the Springfield XDS 4.0, I got the benefits of a thin gun with a short grip for concealment, but the improved velocity and accuracy of a duty-sized barrel.
The gun ships in a large, hard plastic case and comes with a variety of extras. Included in the case is the gun, a 7 round magazine, a 9 round magazine with grip sleeve, a plastic holster, a plastic double mag pouch, lock and paperwork.
Trigger weight measure 8 lb, 5 oz using a digital Lyman trigger pull gauge. This is a little heavier than many other striker fired pistols, and it did feel heavier. However, it did not feel so heavy that I was turned off by it. Of course, getting it on the range would prove whether I really liked it or not.
Springfield XD-S 4.0 Specs
|capacity||7+1 (9+1 with extended magazine)|
|weight (with empty, flush fitting magazine)||25 oz|
|stated trigger pull weight||5.5 - 7.7 pounds|
|measured trigger pull||8 pounds, 5 ounces|
|sights||front fiber optic, rear two white dots (dovetailed)|
|finish||black or stainless slide, black polymer frame|
|MSRP||$599 (black), $669 (two-tone)|
On the Range
The Springfield XDS 4.0 9mm performed exceptionally well on the range. I found it to be both accurate and reliable.
This pistol arrived to me new. Since then, I’ve shot it on multiple range trips. Additionally, I’ve allowed four other people to shoot it. Between us, we’ve put nearly 1,000 rounds downrange without a single problem.
I’ve shot more than 10 different kinds of ammo through the gun – a lot of 115 grain ball from Federal, Remington and Winchester, but also +P and +P+ hollowpoint loads. I experience no malfunctions with any of the ammo.
XD-S 4.0 9mm Velocity MeasurementsAll velocity measurements are an average of five shots.
|Winchester 115 gr FMJ (white box)||1054 fps|
|Speer Gold Dot 124 gr JHP||1093 fps|
|Remington Golden Saber 124 gr +P||1121 fps|
|Hornady Critical Duty 135 gr FTX||1000 fps|
Recoil was mild. The extra barrel length and slide mass likely help absorb some of the recoil, but even with the short grip, I did not think the recoil was in the least bit harsh – even with +P+ loads. The aggressive texture on the grip frame helped me hold onto the gun with sweaty hands (welcome to Florida,) but was not uncomfortable after shooting hundreds of rounds.
The short grip seemed too short to me the first time I held the gun. But, with the flush fitting magazine inserted in the gun, I find that the length is just barely enough to wrap all of my fingers around the frame. I disliked the extended magazine; more on that below.
As I mentioned earlier in the review, the trigger pull was about 8.5 pounds and noticeably heavier than the triggers found on other guns like the Glock and Smith & Wesson M&P guns. However, I found the trigger served me very well on the range.
No striker fired pistol is like a “smooth double action revolver” as I’ve sometimes seen stated elsewhere. However, the trigger was relatively smooth that built resistance as it was pulled. There was no perceptible over-travel. Reset was short and positive. If you are a big fan of the Glock trigger, the XD-S trigger might take a little getting used to. However, I found it easy to shoot accurately.
Accuracy is an interesting thing to measure. I could clamp the gun down in a vice and give you a measurement of the mechanical accuracy with a particular load of ammo. But, that isn’t likely to be terribly useful. None of us are as accurate as a good gun is capable of being.
For me, I generally have two questions. The first is can I rapidly place multiple rounds on target quickly at close ranges, and the answer was yes. At seven yards, I could easily put any number of rounds into the center mass area of a target as quickly as I could pull the trigger.
My second question is can I put well-aimed rounds on target at longer distances? Again, I could do so with the XD-S 4.0. I think the longer barrel and sight radius really shine here. At 25 yards, I was able to keep rounds in the high center mass area of a target without a problem.
Extended Mag and Grip Sleeve – Disappointment
As I previously stated, the pistol comes with two magazines: one flush fitting and the second is an extended magazine with a grip sleeve. The sleeve slips overs the extended mag to create an extended grip surface when the magazine is inserted into the pistol. With the extended magazine and 4” barrel, the XDS 4.0 looks like a duty-sized handgun.
There is a huge problem with the grip sleeve, however. It can prevent easy reloads.
Here’s what happens… When I attempt to eject the magazine, I shift the gun in my hand so my shooting hand thumb can depress the magazine release button. However, when I do so, the front edge of the magazine sleeve hands on my pinky finger. Additionally, the rear of the magazine sleeve grips the meaty part of my palm. To overcome this, I have to strip the magazine from the XD-S pistol with my reaction hand.
I spoke with Paul Carlson at Safety Solutions Academy about the grip sleeve. Carlson advised he had seen the same problem with grip sleeves installed on S&W Shield extended magazines. Carlson stated that removing the sleeve solves the problem with drop free reloads, but can cause an issue where the magazine is slamming too hard into the ejector since the sleeve does not act as a “stop” for the mag. He said he had seen one ejector break on a Shield for that exact reason.
If your hand is large enough to depress the magazine release without shifting the pistol in your hand, then you might be able to drop the mag with the sleeve without a problem. However, I would think that your larger hands are going to be gripping the sleeve anyway, so you wind up with the same problem I experienced.
Before carrying an extended magazine for self-defense, practice your reloads and see if you have any problems. If not – go for it.
Update: Since I wrote this review, Carlson designed and is now selling a product called MagFIX. The MagFIX currently fixes this problem on the Smith & Wesson Shield extended magazines. I hope to see a fix for the XD-S line of handguns coming from Safety Solutions Academy in the near future.
I really like the Springfield Armory XD-S 4.0 handgun. It was utterly reliable with more than 10 different kinds of ammunition including hollowpoint defensive ammo. Recoil was mild, and I was more than acceptably accurate to 25 yards.
I highly recommend this pistol for self-defense and concealed carry. As with all guns, try to borrow or rent one before laying out the money. But, if that is not possible, you should still be able to get a good feel for one in your local shop. If you like it, get it.