With most new introductions in the concealed carry handgun market focused on polymer-frame striker-fired handguns, it is good to see that Springfield Armory has catered to the rest of us with a modern, polymer-frame double-action first-shot handgun with a decocker. Springfield incorporated a manual safety into the design as well.
Remember, it was HK not Glock with the first polymer-frame handgun, and the XDE is more similar to the original P9S than the Glock. The XDE is larger than the XDS because it takes more room to accommodate the more complicated DA trigger, but that isn’t a drawback with the proper concealment gear such as the Galco Stow and Go.
The E in XDE stands for external hammer. Some of us like the comfort of riding the thumb on the hammer as we holster. If the hammer moves, something has snagged the trigger. We also may tell at a glance if the handgun is cocked, or if it is safe with the hammer down.
The barrel is 3.3 inches long, and the pistol is 6.75 inches overall. The weight is light at only 23 ounces. The pistol has good features, including a set of capable combat sights and an ergonomic grip that offers good abrasion and adhesion, but not at the expense of being raspy. The most noticeable feature of the XD-E is an exposed hammer and the addition of a manual safety with the external hammer.
The pistol is compact at only an inch wide. The grip features a good hand fit for most of us and houses a nine-round magazine. The pistol is supplied with three magazines. That is a big plus for the XDE. Two are nine-round magazines. One is an eight-round magazine with a finger stub.
A small base plate that lies flat is supplied with the pistol. I think the nine-round magazine is good, but if you need to pare down the size of the handle, the flat base might be an advantage. In handling, the larger base makes for better hand fit for most of us.
The XDE features a double-action first-shot trigger. This means a long trigger press both cocks and drops the hammer. After the pistol fires, the slide recoils and cocks the hammer for subsequent single-action shots. The trigger does one thing, drops the hammer in single-action fire.
Since it isn’t the safest move to try to control the hammer with the thumb and lower it by pressing the trigger, the XDE features a decocker lever. Press this lever down, and the hammer is safely dropped. Never manually lower the hammer. It is less sure and may not properly set the firing pin block.
The pistol features a manual safety. The handgun may be carried hammer down and safety on, or hammer to the rear and safety on. Another plus is that the piece may be loaded with the safety on. You may even disassemble the piece with the safety on, and you need not pull the trigger before disassembly. This action is what is called a selective double action.
The safety does not lock the slide when applied. I think most of us will prefer hammer down carry. The long, double-action press is a safety feature. If you carry with the safety applied, be certain to practice rapid manipulation of the safety. After the first shot is fired and you are engaged in tactical movement, you may apply the safety. Snap the safety off and you have a crisp single-action shot. This eliminates the need to decock the pistol during tactical movement after the first shot is fired.
I like the new grip design of the XDE. I found the XDS .45 to be downright uncomfortable. The XDE has abrasion in the right places but enough smooth surface to allow rapid adjustment of the hand if need be. There is no grip safety. The XD is a single action; the XDE is a double-action first-shot pistol so there is no need for the grip safety.
There are grooves in each side of the frame that allow for a shorter trigger reach. The double-action trigger breaks at perhaps 14 pounds. The single-action press is 6.5 pounds. There is a bit of take-up in the single-action press. The safety is ambidextrous and so is the magazine release. The slide lock is not.
The pistol takes down easily with a rotating lever. There is a short light rail that works with most combat lights. The slide is well machined with no tool marks, angular, flat, and thin. The cocking serrations offer a good purchase.
The sights are good examples of combat sights with a bright fiber optic front sight and two white dots in the rear sight. There are extra fiber optic inserts included. When all is said and done, the pistol appeals to those that prefer the handling of the double-action first-shot handgun to the striker-fired handgun.
The XDE is of polymer construction. However, that allows the pistol to be produced affordably. Another feature Springfield points out is the LES slide. By cocking the hammer and racking the slide to load, there is less force needed. This is important to those with less hand strength.
I loaded all three magazines with handloads comprised of the Hornady 115-grain XTP and enough Titegroup powder for 1,100 fps. I began firing the pistol in the double-action mode, dropping the hammer with the decocker for each shot, and getting the feel of the trigger action. This isn’t the smoothest DA trigger, but it is far from the worst. It wasn’t difficult to quickly get the fiber optic on target at 5 yards and get a center hit.
Next, I fired double and triple taps at 5 to 7 yards, firing the first-shot double-action and following up with single-action fire. Good results were posted. Firing single action by cocking the hammer before a string of shots I fired at 10, 15, and even 25 yards. I switched to the Federal Syntech loading and enjoyed continued good results. I had to slow down my cadence of fire and concentrate at 25 yards, but I made center hits.
At 15 yards, combat groups were well centered. I was particularly interested in rapid manipulation of the magazine release and slide lock. The pistol performed well during speed loads. I was also concerned that the decocker might be bumped during firing strings, but it was not.
I have learned the hard way that even the most expensive handguns are not always feed reliable. I collected a good mix of hollow point loads including the Federal 124-grain HST, Federal 147-grain HST, Fiocchi 147-grain JHP, Hornady 115-grain XTP, Hornady 124-grain American Gunner XTP +P, and the SIG Sauer Elite V Crown JHP. All fed, chambered, fired, and ejected normally. Even with +P loads, the pistol was controllable.
This is a combat gun intended for personal defense. Just the same, absolute accuracy is always interesting. I fired the Federal 124-grain HST, and the Hornady 124-grain XTP +P for groups, firing five shots at 15 yards from a braced standing barricade. The XDE averaged 2 inches for a five-shot group. This is certainly acceptable for personal defense.
This Springfield XDE is long on features that many Americans like to see on their personal defense handguns. A manual safety, an exposed hammer and good sights are good to have. The pistol is reliable and accurate enough for personal defense. The price is fair. Springfield has another winner in the XDE 9mm.
Which Springfield pistol is your favorite? Share your answer in the comment section.
Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooters Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.
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