While single-stack 9mm pistols seem to be all the rage in modern concealed carry, subcompact pistols that hold a bit more ammunition shouldn’t be dismissed by anyone interested in personal protection.
In this Springfield Armory XD Subcompact pistol review, I take a look at the smallest gun in the company’s Defend Your Legacy Series of handguns. While thicker than the XD-S Mod.2 pistol, it is still small enough for most people to easily conceal but offers significantly more ammunition.
Let’s not waste a bunch of time and jump right into my XD Subcompact review.
Overview of the XD Subcompact
The 9mm XD Subcompact is a small striker-fired pistol with a polymer frame and forged steel slide. Part of the Defend Your Legacy Series (scroll down for more on this,) the pistol pairs nicely with the company’s XD Service Model with the same look, feel and function.
Like many polymer-framed pistols, the gun is relatively light for what it is. At 23 ounces with an empty magazine, the gun offers considerable firepower in a package that should be easy for most folks to conceal.
It is small – only 6.25″ in overall length and with a grip that is 1.2″ wide. The real key dimension for me is the grip length which is just barely long enough I can get my whole hand on it. It is slightly longer than the subcompact Glock pistols that always leave my pinky hanging. In my opinion, the additional length is not any harder to conceal in a quality holster. (Read my Springfield Armory XD Subcompact holsters guide if you are looking for a carry rig.)
Something that sets the XD apart from most other striker-fired pistols is the grip safety. This is similar to the grip safety found on other guns like the 1911. When you grip the gun, the safety disconnects and allows you to pull the trigger. Without the grip safety depressed, you cannot pull the trigger.
The gun is not new. It’s been out for about two decades at the time of this writing, and a lot of people have already reviewed the pistol.
I felt a new XD Subcompact review was worthwhile for a few reasons. First, there are a lot of new shooters that are coming into the gun world, and they’ve probably not read some of the old, buried reviews from years past.
Secondly, Springfield Armory made subtle changes to the XD line over the years. For example, the current XD Subcompact is now part of the company’s Legacy Series of pistols. They are functionally the same as the originals, but there have been some changes you might want to know about.
Defend Your Legacy Series
What is the Defend Your Legacy Series of Springfield Armory XD pistols?
The modern Springfield Armory pistols derive from the Croatian HS2000 pistol developed by the company HS Produkt (formerly known as IM Metal.) In 2002, Springfield Armory began working with HS Produkt to begin selling a rebranded form of the gun in the US. The pistol became the original Springfield Armory XD.
In the years that followed, Springfield Armory introduced new pistols based on the success of the original XD. New handguns included the XD-S Mod.2 and the XD-M lines. While the newer guns offered additional features and updated styling, the original XD line of pistols still held a dedicated fan base.
Currently, the XD-M Elite is the company’s premier duty pistol. While the XD-M line is remarkably affordable, the company decided to streamline the original XD line and offer it as a budget-friendly option for personal defense. To do this, Springfield Armory limited factory options and rebranded the line as the Defend Your Legacy Series.
The Defend Your Legacy Series of XD pistols is limited to just two models: the 3″ Subcompact and the 4″ Service Model. Both guns are available in only 9mm with full capacity. Restricted capacity (10 round) models of the .40 S&W and .45 ACP are still available for residents living in less-free areas of the U.S.
By streamlining the production process, the company is able to offer these guns at rock bottom pricing. For a brand new, factory production XD Subcompact pistol the suggested retail price is only $399. Compared to the alternatives on the market, that is an exceptionally attractive price when you consider it comes with a full warranty and ample aftermarket support for things like holsters and sights.
You may also see the Defend Your Legacy Series pistols labeled as Defenders Series handguns. The name Defenders Series is old branding that is no longer used.
Here are the specifications on the Legacy Series Springfield XD Subcompact pistol. As I mentioned above, the company only offers this gun for the 9mm cartridge in standard capacity models.
|Standard Magazine Capacity||13|
As I referenced earlier, the pistol is affordable with a suggested retail price of $399. Actual prices could be even lower at your dealer.
On the Range
I’ve spent a lot of time shooting subcompact pistols including this gun’s primary rival: the Glock 26. Until recently, I’ve had relatively limited experience with the XD line and very little range time with the Subcompact XD specifically.
I previously reviewed the Springfield Armory XD-S Mod.2 and wrote a Springfield Armory XD Service Model review. However, this is my first time with the double-stack subcompact pistol.
I wound up taking this gun to the range on three different occasions. Each time, I fired about 400 rounds through the pistol with a variety of different factory ammunition. The gun seemed to be accurate – all of the shots landed where I aimed them, both good and bad.
While I appreciate the fiber optic front sight found on other XD pistols, the simple 3-dot sights on the Legacy Series guns are completely functional. I was able to find and align them swiftly.
Personally, I’m not a fan of traditional 3-dot sights. I prefer a large, bright front sight in a color that contrasts with the natural colors of the world. I cover this and more in my article The Best Combat Handgun Sights if you have any interest in reading more.
If you are not enamored with the SA XD SC sights, no worries. The sights are dovetailed, meaning you can replace them if you like. Check out my article called The Complete Springfield Armory XD Night Sights Guide if you are interested in swapping out to something different.
I’ve heard a lot of people complain about the triggers on other companies’ striker-fired pistols. If you are part of that group, you might like the XD trigger. I find the trigger face isn’t as wide as those found on some other guns. Additionally, the pivot safety in the trigger seemed more rounded and less likely to pinch. While I’ve never had a problem with a Glock or Smith & Wesson trigger, I still appreciate the smooth characteristics of the XD trigger.
A few more things stood out to me: reliability, recoil and reloads.
As with most modern striker-fired pistols, I had high expectations for the reliability of this pistol. I’ve tested a lot of pistols over the years and most brands of modern handguns tend to run correctly right out of the box. While there are exceptions (see my Taurus Spectrum review for one example,) the modern pistols just seem to work.
Such was the case with the Legacy Series XD Subcompact. It ran with nary a hitch.
In the chart below, you can see the different loads I tried in this pistol. You’ll note that some of the loads are hollow points and some are +P pressure loads. Everything fed, shot and ejected normally.
As you might expect, recoil in a subcompact pistol is greater than that from a full-size gun of the same caliber. Physics suggests that if all other things are equal, the gun with the larger mass will absorb more of the felt recoil.
Even so, recoil in this gun is very manageable. My friends know I enjoy shooting revolvers, and I’m one of those sick individuals who will shoot .357 Magnum loads in a Scandium-framed snubby. So, I know what harsh feels like. The recoil from the XD SC is not harsh.
If you are a new shooter, I always recommend starting out on a larger gun until you gain enough experience and skill to handle the increased recoil of a smaller gun. Nevertheless, the recoil is unlikely to scare you off.
I carried a Glock 26 for years as one of my backup guns when I was still a cop. In addition to regular training, I also qualified with it up to four times each year. So, it was ingrained in me that I had 10+1 rounds to resolve an issue before the slide would lock back.
The XD Subcompact does a bit better than that with 13+1 rounds before needing a reload. Three extra rounds is a wealth of options should you ever be forced to use your gun. While I was lucky enough to avoid needing my G26 when I was a cop, I know others who would have appreciated the additional ammo.
Let’s face it: no one ever complained about having too much ammo in a defensive shooting.
Yes, the full-size magazine from the XD Service Model does fit and run in the Subcompact Model. For police and security officers carrying the Service Model, you have complete magazine capacity with the SC should you carry it as a backup. For the armed citizen, you can carry the larger 16-round magazine as a spare when going out.
Another thing I like about reloading the XD Subcompact is the metal magazine body against the slick polymer magazine well. Empty mags drop like greased lightning from the gun and new mags snap in quickly.
The following table shows the loads I ran in the pistol along with their measured performance.
|Blazer Brass 115 gr FMJ||1,051 fps||282 ft-lbs|
|Federal HST 124 gr JHP +P||1,107 fps||337 ft-lbs|
|Federal PBLE 115 gr JHP +P+||1,194 fps||364 ft-lbs|
|Liberty Ammunition Civil Defense 50 gr JHP +P||1,915 fps||407 ft-lbs|
|Remington UMC 115 gr JHP||1,061 fps||287 ft-lbs|
|SIG SAUER Elite V-Crown 124 gr JHP||1,148 fps||363 ft-lbs|
|SIG SAUER Elite V-Crown 147 gr JHP||983 fps||315 ft-lbs|
|Speer Gold Dot 124 gr JHP||1,043 fps||299 ft-lbs|
I like the XD Subcompact pistol. My evaluation gun now has more than 1,000 rounds through it, and I’ve had no problems. The trigger is light and feels good for a striker-fired pistol. As I mentioned above, I think the trigger will be appreciated by many people who dislike the offerings on other striker-fired pistols.
I know there are some people who don’t like the grip safety. That’s an issue you won’t be able to avoid with most of the XD series (read my Springfield Armory XD-E review for the exception,) so if you are one of those people, a Glock 26 might be a better choice for you. If you don’t mind the grip safety, this gun definitely is worth considering.
At a suggested retail price of only $399, The Springfield Armory XD Subcompact will fit most budgets.
Where to Buy the XD Subcompact
You should be able to find the XD Subcompact at most local gun shops. However, not all will carry them due to their aggressive price point. I recommend using our affiliate link to Palmetto State Armory that has (at the time of this writing) the best price I’ve found online.
I’m a regular customer of Palmetto State Armory (I’ve bought more bulk 9mm ammo from them than I can count!) and I’ve always received good customer service from them.
You can also buy the XD Subcompact from Guns.com here. The price isn’t quite as good as PSA, but they also offer good customer service.
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GunsHolstersAndGear.com is a family-owned business. I started it and I run it – for better or worse. Like any other business, it is a for-profit venture. However, I disclose potential influences as I am doing here.
The gun used in this review is a T&E, or test & evaluation, loaner pistol from Springfield Armory. The company did not pay for or “sponsor” this review. They did not ask for a positive review of the pistol, nor did I offer one.
You, the reader, are my primary concern. I believe that if I serve you the best I can my business will thrive long-term. So, you get my honest opinions.
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Last update: August 29, 2021