Enter .40 S&W Caliber: Engineering the Perfect XD-S®

Posted by Steve Horsman

Jan 8, 2016 12:00:00 AM

When I started my law enforcement (LE) career in 1988, the issued duty gun was a .38 Special revolver. I had no previous LE or handgun experience, except firing one magazine out of a 1911 while going through the U.S. Marine Corps boot camp, so I assumed the .38 was good to go.


During my field training, though, I noticed that many officers did not carry their issued revolvers. Rather, they were carrying semi-automatic pistols in either 9mm or .45ACP. My training officer said we had to attend additional firearms classes if we wanted to switch to a semi-auto duty gun. So immediately, once out of training, I did just that and ended up choosing a 9mm semi-auto.

Out of field training, I became extremely interested in shooting and, even more so, in the actual guns. I kept up on trends and news in the firearms industry. I followed the development of new guns and the big push for better hollow-point technology, especially in 9mm.

During that time (late 80s to early 90s), there seemed to be a huge movement of LE officers changing from their .38 Special revolvers to higher capacity 9mm pistols. And even though we liked the high-capacity semi-auto guns, departments across the nation were not all that thrilled with the performance of the 9mm duty ammunition that was available. But we were not jumping on the .45ACP bandwagon either.

We wanted a duty pistol with a bigger bullet, but did not want to give up the high- capacity that 9mm pistols provided.

from bad comes good

I remember while in the police academy, we were shown a video of and briefed on the FBI Miami-Dade shootout that occurred in 1986. (If you are unfamiliar with the incident, Google it. It will be worth your time.)

One of the many things that came out of the investigation was the development of a new semi-automatic pistol cartridge that was to eventually become the .40 S&W.

The timing was perfect for the debut. The .40 S&W caliber filled a void between the 9mm and the .45ACP that needed to be filled. When it arrived, many in the policing community claimed it to be the "perfect LE cartridge," and it took off like wildfire. By the early 2000s, I would estimate, 70 to 80 percent of LE officers in the United States were carrying .40 caliber pistols as their primary duty firearms.

The popularity of the .40 caliber is due to increases in power over the 9mm and mag capacity over the .45. It is a great combination of capacity and stopping power.

springfield's Newest .40 Cal

Springfield Armory® recognized that combination too. They have been no stranger to the .40 S&W, with most all of the XD®, XD® Mod.2™ and XD(M)® series of pistols readily available in that caliber. The newest model that Springfield has chambered in .40 S&W is the slim and compact XD-S®. This pistol line was initially offered in only .45ACP, and a year later, in 9mm.

The original purpose of the XD-S® was to build the smallest, flattest and thinnest .45ACP pistol possible. Not everyone, however, is after a .45ACP, so we re-engineered the platform to accept 9x19. Lighter recoil and two more rounds of magazine capacity have made that variant just as popular as the original .45ACP.  It's one of my favorite small guns to shoot.

And now the XD-S® is available in .40 S&W.  

This makes me real happy - and it should excite a few LE agencies too. Prior to my retirement, my department (which issues pistols in .40), as well as many other departments, approved the entire Springfield Armory® line of XD®, XD(M)®, and XD-S® pistols. With the addition of the .40 caliber  XD-S® , all of our polymer pistol lines now have models available in that caliber.

Let's See This Thing in Action

When I first saw the new .40 S&W caliber XD-S®, it looked like all the other XD-S® models I had seen - small, slim and compact. "Nice."

When I picked it up, it also felt the same. "Good Fit."

And when I was actually able to fire it, my first impression was, "This is awesome!"

Total control

The recoil was so much less than I had anticipated from a small, compact .40 S&W caliber pistol. It was snappy but by no means uncontrollable. I was pleasantly surprised at how the recoil impulse felt, and my next thought was, "I could really like this little gun."

On my second range trip with the XD-S® .40 S&W, I had time to shoot the gun a lot more. I tested it on multiple-target drills and was really impressed by how well the gun shot and how good it felt.

I even threw in some reload practice, which can sometimes be a challenge with smaller magazines. After a little familiarization, I was peforming some pretty smooth loads.

There are various magazine lengths/capacities, by the way - seven, eight and nine rounds. With the barney and the largest mag, that's a whopping 10 rounds of stopping power.

Now I really want this gun.

If you are in the market for a small, compact pistol for concealed carry or otherwise - and one that's chambered in the hard-hitting .40 S&W - look no further than Springfield Armory®’s newest XD-S®. I’m betting you will be very happy with it.  

The new .40 XD-S® 3.3 will be on dealers' shelves in time for Valentine's Day - what better way to say I love you than with a new carry gun from Springfield Armory®?

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Topics: Concealed Carry, Polymer Handguns

Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual.  These articles are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory®.