Saturday, February 21, 2009

New Springfield XD9

Today I went up to Surplus City to swap off a couple of safe queens for something more useful.  I traded in a Century R1A1 FAL and a Yugoslavian SKS, both of which I've only taken to the range once.  I looked at three pistols: a used Smith & Wesson M&P9L, a new M&P9, and a Springfield Armory XD9 Service Model Bi-Tone.  I shot a friend's XD9 several years ago and liked it a lot.  A couple of weeks ago I shot my father's M&P9.  After handling the M&P and the XD side by side, I decided that the XD fits my hand better, so I took it in trade for the rifles.

The XD is made in Croatia and features an action similar to a Glock.  It is striker fired, with a Browning/Petter type short-recoil action.  The frame is made of plastic with a steel insert.  The slide on the Bi-Tone model is made from stainless steel, given a matte finish.  Barrel length is four inches.

Like the Glock, the XD has a single action trigger with a safety tab requiring that it be fully depressed before the gun can fire.  It also has a grip safety, unlike the Glock.  Because the gun has no other manual safety, I do like having the grip safety.

An additional safety feature is a loaded chamber indicator which can be felt in the dark.  Also, the rear of the striker protrudes from the slide indicating the gun is cocked.

Naturally, by far the most important safety is the one between your ears.

The XD9's stainless steel magazines hold 16 rounds.  The XD came with three magazines.  I'll be getting some more.  Interestingly, I've read that Beretta M-92 magazines can be easily modified to work in the XD by drilling a hole in the correct place.  I will look into this and maybe give it a try as a proof-of-concept, as it could come in useful in a pinch.

The XD came in a lockable plastic box with the magazines, a right handed holster, a double magazine carrier, and a magazine loader, plus a chamber flag, a cable lock, and a manual.  Being a lefty I won't get any use out of the holster but the mag loader is definitely handy, and the mag holder may come in useful.

Field stripping the XD is simple.  FIRST clear the gun, then lock the slide to the rear.  Next, rotate the takedown lever to the up position.  Then slowly let the slide forward.  Keeping the gun pointed in a safe direction, pull the trigger, and then pull the slide and barrel off the front of the frame.

With the top half of the gun off, the recoil spring guide and the captive spring can be pulled off the barrel, and the barrel removed from the slide.

After I got the pistol home I field stripped it, ran a couple of patches through the bore, and then lightly lubed it with Weapon Shield CLP from a sample bottle I got a couple years ago.  Weapon Shield CLP is similar to FP-10 and was designed by the same guy.  Without doing a chemical analysis it's hard to tell them apart, they have the same color, feel, and cinnamon scent.  It's good stuff.

Tonight I went with Dad and my brother to the Lower Providence Rod & Gun Club and put the XD through its paces on the indoor range.  We ran about 210 rounds of 9mm Parabellum through it.  About 170 of these were Winchester 115 grain FMJ while the remaining 40 were Speer 124 grain Gold Dot JHPs.  All were standard pressure loads.  We experienced no malfunctions.

The XD Service Model is comparable in size with a Glock 19.  When comparing the two pistols, certain features show the differences between the guns.  For example, aside from the previously mentioned grip safety of the XD, the grip angle of the guns differs.  The Glock has a more acute angle, reminiscent of the Luger.  In contrast the XD has a grip angle more akin to that of a 1911 or Browning High Power.  The profile of the XD's grip is also reminiscent of the High Power.  The grip angle and cross section are why I favor the XD over the Glock.

Glock's have a lower bore line and a shorter trigger reset.  These should enable faster shot-to-shot recovery with a Glock vs. the XD, everything else being equal.  Since the Glock just doesn't fit my hand well, the XD is still a better choice for me.

We put rounds through the XD pretty rapidly, shooting at paper plates from seven yards.  Accuracy was on par with other service pistols I've shot, i.e., a few inches.  I've no doubt that groups could be improved with slower, more deliberate fire, or match grade ammunition.  But for its intended purpose as a short range defensive arm, the XD is accurate enough.

I found the XD very pleanat to shoot.  The grip shape and angle are similar to those of my favorite autoloader, the Browning High Power.  Reliability appears to be fine, and accuracy is good.

My brother also happened to go up to the same shop today and got himself a Colt Combat Commander XSE in .45 ACP.  It's made from stainless steel and came with some nice features, including an ambidextrous safety, a comfortable beavertail grip safety, and very pretty rosewood grips.  Unfortunately, it has a one-piece full length guide rod.  Overall fit and finish of the gun is excellent though it could use a little dehorning.  The trigger is very good, breaking cleanly with little creep, probably at around four pounds.  He put 100 rounds of .45 230 grain FMJ through it with one failure to feed.  The gun is a bit stiff and needs breaking in but once he's put some more ammo through it I'm sure it'll be good to go.  I want one.

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