Range Report: Springfield XDE 9mm

Springfield XDE profile right

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.

Springfield XDE profile right
The XDE is a clean design with much to recommend.

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.

Ambidextrous safety on a pistol
The ambi safety/decocker is one of the pistol’s best feature.

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.

Bob Campbell shooting the Springfield XDE 9mm pistol
With a spent case in the air, the slide is locked to the rear, and the sights still on target.

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.

Springfield XDE 9mm with slide removed from the frame
The XDE field strips easily.

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.

Grip texture on the Springfield XDE 9mm pistol
The author feels that the grip texture is ideal for a compact 9mm handgun.

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.

Shots Fired

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.

Front fiber optic front sight on a pistol
Note bold fiber optic front sight.

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.

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (11)

  1. I have problems over oiling all of my guns. With this xd-e, it leads to light strikes of the hammer, to where my trips to the range several times had me putting the gun away and having to use others because it will not fire. I now see in my manual only a few, one drop oil locations. NOW I feel I need to tear out the strike pin and clean, but only see videos onlive for the striker fire XD models. Can any one tell me where to find video, or even print, for removal and cleaning of the pin??

  2. The “Grip Zone” wording is corny but easy to make disappear: simply cover it with an appropriately sized piece of grip tape (aka “stair tape” or “skater tape”). Likewise, one poster’s issue over the lack of a palm swell is readily fixed by adding something like the Hogue Rubber Grip Handall. No pistol is perfect for everyone, but low-cost mods should not deter people from considering the XD-E.

    The XD-E is a well-made, carefully thought out DA/SA pistol for those who prefer this type of pistol or who want to try one like it – for whatever reason (safety factors, familiarity, great practical accuracy in SA, etc.). The low-effort slide is genuinely easy to rack and should be of huge benefit to those who have weak, injured, arthritic, or small hands. (Often compared to the M&P Shield, the XD-E is a lot easier to rack than the S&W). The 3.8 and 4.5 versions of the XD-E add increased sight radius, less muzzle blast, and slightly greater muzzle velocity — all on a pistol that still has a short grip to aid concealment.

  3. I had to write this because I see no way to edit your own comment.
    Why no palm swell. Who wants to hold their firearm and have a big hollow under their palm. I was going to sell my Ruger LC9s and buy one but these although I HATE the grip zone markings. But zero to negative palm swell. It feels no better than the Ruger. This has no bearing on concealment.

  4. The grip says Grip Zone. That is what is stopping me from buying this. This gun is still better in my opinion than the Smith and Wesson EZ-380. Any hand gun with a decocker and safety is a lot more safe than one without.

    1. Here is my problem. Who cares if it says grip zone. It’s just the name of the zone you are holding. A good gun is a good gun. They could call it the kill zone.. or crappy hand zone.. or I’m a newbie zone.. I dont give a crap. If it feels good and shoots good. I’m sold!

  5. Bob, many thanks for the review. Being “old school” I’m hesitant about carry my Shield 9 with a round in the chamber. This looks like the modern 9 that a lot of us have been waiting for. I’d like to hear how owners feel after carrying the XDe for 6 months or more. Thanks again from a retired Army Major.

  6. I like the XDE as it is handy as well as the new style and thump safety. I had an XD also I like it the function, satisfied with the both and springfield is bringing new and interesting product with reliable safety.

  7. One small point that the reviewer omitted, which may be important to some potential buyers, is the original reason for the E in the XD-E model name.

    The E originally stood for “Easy” because the original objective of the design was to reduce the effort required to rack the slide. Somewhere along the path from concept to design to production to marketing, the E morphed from “Easy” to “External Hammer” but both are equally applicable to the final result.

    Yes, as Bob points out, this is a Springfield XD for those of us who still prefer a hammer and who might appreciate the choice between a decocker and a fully effective manual safety. But it is also the Springfield XD for those of us who find racking the slide a challenge on many full power compact carry guns due to either strength or perhaps a touch of arthritis in the fingers.

    1. Nothing easy about that first DA shot. Much more problematic than any DA trigger I have used, and I have average men’s hands and my main gun is a double stack P226. That the trigger is less refined than my 226, and that weight on XDE is 14 lbs instead of 10-11lbs typical on DA/SA is ok. But the trigger reach is way too long.
      We had one at our range and the guy was nice enough to let half a dozen of us try, Everyone including people like me who use DA/SA double stack had trouble with the DA trigger, with really bad flyers on the DA shot.
      I would wait for Springfield to fix the trigger reach on this.

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