One day my local gun store tells me that they finally got a new XDs 9mm in stock. Good price too. I was tempted but did a little thinking before my usual impulsive, “I’ll take it” reply. I actually took my time to consider the wisdom of buying a new gun. I must be maturing in my old age. I already have a small 15 oz. Sig P938 that fits nicely in my pocket and holds 6 +1 of (or 7 +1) 9mm ammo. It shoots good and has excellent Sig night sights. Why would I want the XDs in 9mm? Well, because I own the XDs in .45 and it would be a nice companion gun. A little research though shows that Springfield simply took the .45 XDs and re-chambered it for the 9mm. And get this, the 9mm version weighs an ounce more because there is more metal on the barrel since its hole is smaller than that of a .45. Twenty three ounces for an unloaded “pocket” 9mm. What is wrong with the world when a so called pocket gun this heavy is all of a sudden a must have gun. It is almost as if no one is aware of the excellent and cheaper Kahr CM9, M&P Shield, and my favorite, Sig P938, all weighing much less. The Kahr and Sig are true pocket guns as they easily fit into all my pockets and in fact are kind of too small in some of them so that they move around a little.
I have pocket carried my .45 XDs (see update at end of this post) and it just about fits in my pocket but at 22 ounces and more when loaded with those fat .45′s, I had to wear my Perry suspenders or cinch my belt so tight that it was uncomfortable. On my belt it is so thin that it just melts into my side and I can wear a flimsy tee shirt and am good to go. Then again my HK P2000SK, that is a little thicker but weighs the same and holds 10 rounds, hides very well too in an MTAC IWB holster. Let’s face it, much is being made about gun thickness these days when the news is saying that most Americans are overweight. The only time a really thin gun makes a big difference is when a really thin person is carrying it. :-) At 6′ and 240 pounds I can even conceal my FTX-9 gun under a tee shirt.
To me a pocket gun is a gun that fits easily into your pocket and does not drag your pants down. The XDs barely fits and is best covered with an un-tucked shirt or else the butt of the gun can be seen as you move around despite buying pants with big pockets since I primarily pocket carry. So I am sitting here thinking that although the XDs 9mm is cool and new and all that stuff that matters these days, what does it give me that I already do not have. The answer is a smaller bank account. Why would I want to carry it over my 15 ounce Sig P938? I am not afraid to carry cocked and locked. Never saw an accidental discharge with a 1911 type pistol but saw plenty with striker fired guns. My Sig fits nicely into my pocket and I put some wraparound Hogue grips on it so that it fills my palm very well. Just a joy to hold and shoot. I have put 100 rounds through it during single range sessions and my hand was none the worst for wear.
I also do not understand the fascination with its width. After a certain point it really doesn’t matter. Does anyone think there is a significant difference between a 1″ wide gun and a 1.1 inch one? You would think so if you read all the marketing hype going around. Thin is great up to a point. My J-frame is not thin. It has a fat cylinder and yet it rides nicely in my pocket. My pockets are wide enough to accommodate it and my other pocket with wallet, keys, handkerchief and spare magazine is much bulkier. No one ever even looks at my pockets. I have had friends ask me where I carry the gun they assume I am carrying because they cannot see any sign of it. When I tell them my pocket, they are amazed. I even have a pocket holster for my HK P2000SK, a gun wider than a Glock. It fits but why pocket carry a 23+ ounce gun in my pocket when there are so many other lighter choices. Who cares if my other choice is a fraction of an inch fatter, higher or longer. It is not going to make one bit of difference to anyone except those who think so.
Just wanted to get that off my chest as there are so many videos and reviews out there now about the 9mm XDs and the mania is gripping a lot of gun owners. I can only assume that they are unaware of the other choices out there that may be a small fraction of an inch taller or wider but a lot lighter, and will ride much more comfortably in your pocket. I do not buy pocket guns to wear on my belt. I may carry them that way on occasion to fit the circumstances I am in, but they are primarily pocket guns. If I want a belt gun I want one that I can fit my whole hand on. My “fat” HK is more comfortable to carry on my belt than the thin XDs in my pocket. In fact, I am thinking of trading the XDs in on a different gun because I do not carry it often. If I want power I have my 11 oz. .357 but I am very comfortable with a small and light 9mm too.
What I really need and am lacking is a single stack 9mm that allows me to fit my whole hand on it without a grip extension. My Sig P938 is not bad as it came with an extended magazine that is barely longer than the flush fitting one but gives me one more round and barely a full handed grip. Still fits well in my pocket with the extended mag and that is how I carry it. However, I really would like a gun the size of a Glock 19 in single stack that is under 17 ounces. Glock would have a real winner with such a gun. The only one I can think of is the Kahr P9 which I once owned and foolishly sold. It is flat and light and gives you a full sized grip that is not so big as to interfere with easy concealed carry. Putting a pinky extension is just not the same thing for me. I guess an EMP would do but they are pricey.
So I am sitting here with about 3 guns I hardly ever shoot that I can easily part with to obtain one or more new guns but cannot find a reason to part with them for the 9mm version of the XDs. Maybe it makes more sense to sell the .45 version and get the 9mm one since I already have three holsters for the XDs and not having to buy three holsters saves me a heck of a lot of money. Then again, I do not own any other .45′s and have a few hundred rounds of ammo. I can shoot the XDs .45 ACP very well but probably not so in the future as it does require a firm hand. I can only shoot about 30 rounds at the range until my hand starts shaking from the strain of holding it so tight. However, for defensive work I can easily handle two magazines worth of .45 so it is not really an issue and the gun was not bought for a range gun anyway.
Thin is in as the Kahr ads proclaim. However now they have a lot of competition which has forced them into producing cheaper versions of their guns simply by doing away with the non essential frills. At defensive distances a rifled barrel shoots just as well as a polygonal one for most of us. So the XDs is now available in gun stores and probably will sell well as there is not much of anything else for sale by a big name gun company. I have not seen a Sig P938, S&W 642 or Kahr PM9/CM9 on a gun shelf in a long time so just the availability of the 9mm XDs is in its favor. Plus it is the current “in” gun to get like the many before it that were hard to find and now sit collecting dust on gun store shelves because the next best thing has come along. For those like me, a 23 ounce gun is not a good choice for a pocket gun and a gun with only enough grip space for two fingers is not an ideal belt gun. Then again, I am not easily swayed by mass marketing having a marketing background.
This is not a review as I never owned this gun but I do own the .45 version which is the same but lighter. :-) I am sure that the gun is reliable, has a great trigger and would make an excellent gun for many. I also know that you can put an extended magazine with grip extension on it to give yourself a full fingered grip. However, with the exception of my HK, all such guns with grip extensions do not feel solid past the normal grip. They all tend to move at the bottom or catch my finger in-between the extended grip and regular grip. All I am saying is that I am a regular pocket carrier and this gun is not my cup of tea. I prefer Sig’s approach to their P238/938 line by starting from a smaller caliber and upsizing just enough rather than Springfield’s start from a bigger gun and keep it the same size approach. However, Sig and others are also guilty of this by designing guns around the .40 caliber cartridge and then chambering it for 9mm. The Sig P229 is a good example. It is shorter than my P226 but is fatter because the P226 was a 9mm design while the P229 was initially made for .40.
In the end a gun can be a super shooter but we have to ask whether that gun fits the role it was designed for. Would you think a 36 oz. 3″ 1911 is a good gun just because it shoots well and is thin as compared to those weighing 28 ounces? That is the question here. Not whether the 9mm XDs is a good gun but rather whether a very small difference in thickness makes up for its greater weight compared to the competition?
UPDATE: I have since sold my XDs .45 . I just want not carrying it much. In the end, my 11.4 oz. .357 snub nose became my big caliber gun. Yes it recoils a lot but I certainly can control it for 5 rounds and then a 5 round .38 spl +P reload. Big difference in comfort and I do not have to worry about making sure I have a very firm grip on the XDs in a situation where a very firm grip may not be possible. This in no way has anything to do with the 9mm version of the XDs but rather just an update as to what I said in this article about owning the .45 version.