In 2012, one decade after Springfield Armory introduced its XD line of handguns, the company launched the XD-S, with the "S" in the model designation meaning "single-stack." This slim and compact version of Springfield's "eXtreme Duty" pistols set the standard for compact handguns firing a full-power cartridge. Initially offered in .45 ACP, it was groundbreaking for a firearm of its size in that chambering.
The XD-S quickly became one of Springfield's most popular offerings. Chamberings in 9 mm and .40 S&W were soon to follow. In 2013, the XD-S 9 mm was awarded the NRA's Golden Bullseye award for Handgun of the Year. Not one to rest on their laurels, in 2018, the Springfield team upgraded the XD-S with a "Mod.2" version.
A lot has changed in the defensive handgun world in the eight years since the XD-S was introduced. Among the most popular trends is red-dot sight integration. Shooters have discovered the speed and ease of use of electronic red dot systems on modern sporting rifles. In response, manufacturers have shrunken their optics to fit onto the slide of carry-sized handguns.
Springfield was quick to respond to the "miniature-red-dot" trend, adding an "optical sight pistol" (OSP) option to its XD-M line in 2018, meaning the pistols come from the factory with their slides milled to mount an optic. When the company introduced its Hellcat last year, that handgun was offered in both standard and OSP versions.
Now Springfield has given its popular XD-S the OSP treatment. Its slide is milled for low-profile, direct mounting of an optic. The mounting footprint used is compatible with the pattern utilized by the Shield Sights series of mini-red dots and other sighting systems, such as the SIG Sauer Romeo Zero and the Leupold DeltaPoint.
A polymer cover plate is provided for when a red dot sight is not in use. Springfield is also offering an XD-S OSP that comes from the factory with the Crimson Trace CTS-1500 red dot installed.
On the OSP version of the XD-S, Springfield moves the rear sight dovetail slightly to the rear to accommodate the mounting space for the optic. The co-witness of the iron sights through the optic is not perfect with the CTS-1500. You can't quite see the entirety of the front sight dot through the optic, but it would work in an emergency if the electronic sight failed.
The XD-S OSP comes supplied with what Springfield calls its "tactical-rack" rear sight. The serrated and blacked-out rear sight has a flat edge that can be used to rack the slide against a hard surface one-handed, if necessary, and features a U-notch. The front sight is a blade with a non-illuminated white dot, unlike the tritium or fiber-optic front sights offered on other XD-S Mod. 2 pistols.
Beyond the optics mounting capability, the new XD-S OSP has the same features of the Mod.2 version of the standard XD-S. The Mod.2 uses a re-designed frame that features an undercut trigger guard and rear beavertail for a higher shooting grip. Instead of interchangeable backstraps, it uses a "one-size-fits all" grip that has a circumference of 5.3" at its widest and a length-of-pull, from the backstrap to the trigger, of 2.8".
Despite the fact that you have to release your pinky finger to allow the XD-S magazine to drop free, because of the frame design, it is possible for most shooters to maintain a firing grip while doing this. A bilateral magazine release ejects the empty mag with force. The pistol comes supplied with a seven-round, flush-fit magazine with a finger-rest extension, along with a flat base plate that can be installed for absolute compactness.
Also included is a nine-round extended magazine that has a grip extension. When inserted, this magazine allows for a full-handed grip on the frame. An eight-round extended magazine is available as an accessory ($39.95).
The XD-S uses a 3.3" hammer-forged barrel and captive dual recoil springs with a full-length guide rod. The front of the guide rod extends in front of the frame to act as a "stand-off" device to help the pistol maintain function in close-contact situations. The frame has a universal rail section to accommodate compact weaponlights and lasers.
The XD-S uses the trigger and grip safety of the XD line and has no manual safety. While the top-mounted loaded chamber indicator of the standard XD-S is deleted to accommodate the optic, the pistol's extractor acts as a tactile and visual loaded chamber indicator, and a small port in the rear of the barrel hood allows you to see a cartridge case in the chamber.
For our testing, we used the provided CTS-1500. The smallest and most affordable of Crimson Trace's miniature red-dot sights, it has a 5.0 MOA dot and is adjustable for windage and elevation. Weighing less than an ounce, the weight of an unloaded XD-S OSP with the sight installed is 21.3 ozs. The sight adds little more than half an inch to the overall height (small enough that you can still use a "hand-over" slide racking technique).
Powered by a single CR2032 battery, the CTS-1500 powers on and adjusts brightness automatically (it is recommended that the supplied protective cover be installed when the sight is not in use to conserve battery life). The CTS-1500 maintained its zero throughout our testing and stayed tight in its mount. Despite taking the sight on and off, to compare accuracy and speed between the iron and electronic sights, it always stayed zeroed (the sight must be removed to change its battery).
Before its original 2018 release, Springfield subjected the XD-S Mod.2 in 9 mm to a 25,000 round endurance test, which it passed without failure. In our testing, we found that adding an optic caused no change whatsoever in reliability. The XD-S OSP functioned 100 percent from round one.
Springfield touts the "match" features of its XD line-up, and with the XD-S OSP, this was exhibited in our accuracy testing from the bench. The Mod.2 XD-S upgrade boasted an enhanced trigger. A typical, striker-fired pistol with trigger 'blade" safety pull, the XD-S has an initial take-up stage before hitting a solid second stage that takes just under seven pounds of pressure to break. The reset is positive. Accuracy, at 15 yds. from a bench rest averaged just under an inch with the three types of ammunition we used for that part of the evaluation.
So what place does the new XD-S hold within the Springfield line-up? First, while the company's similarly-sized, higher-capacity Hellcat has stolen some of the XD-S's limelight as of late, the polymer single-stack continues to be one of the company's most popular models, and customers have been asking for an OSP option.
Second, the XD-S OSP is the most affordable optics-ready handgun in Springfield's line-up. Its MSRP is $175 less than the Hellcat OSP, and the CTS-1500-equipped version is $250 less than the Hellcat that comes from the factory with the Shield RMSc installed. So by adding an OSP option to the XD-S, Springfield took a reliable, accurate and affordable concealed-carry handgun and made it even better.