Are Single-Stack Pistols Extinct?

By Justin Opinion
Posted in #Guns
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Are Single-Stack Pistols Extinct?

October 29th, 2020

5:33 runtime

Innovation is the lifeblood of the firearms industry. With continued innovation there are valid questions concerning the viability of the single stack pistol.

The ability of the men and women in the gun business to respond to demands that require new technologies or better ways of employing existing methods has always been strong and responsive.

The past few years of a strong buyer’s market have driven small arms makers toward offering more value, better performance, and — let’s be honest — a reason to buy that fourth or fifth gun. And with demand at remarkable heights now, the options for these shooters are broad and appealing.

Comparing the XD-S and Hellcat pistols
Back to back, they face each other: The XD-S Mod.2 (left) and the Hellcat (right). Both shown with the author’s installed Talon Grips.

Appealing Options

Springfield Armory has been stepping up to that challenge with unwavering consistency in just about every firearms demographic you can name — and there is no stronger demographic than the concealed carry market.

There may be no better example of this innovative ability to meet the demands of the customer than the Hellcat pistol. Packing the most capacity available for a handgun of its size and caliber, the 9mm Hellcat has set the bar for concealed carry pistols.

Ammunition capacity compared for the Hellcat and XD-s handguns
The XD-S (left) features a single-stack magazine, while the Hellcat (right) sports a staggered one.

But was this groundbreaking achievement done even at the sacrifice of the incredibly popular XD-S pistol? As I pondered this thought one day, I decided to give it serious consideration: Does the Hellcat make the XD-S (and more broadly, the single-stack pistol) irrelevant?

Initially, one might think so. After all, with roughly 50% more capacity when carrying a loaded chamber and full standard magazine in nearly the same footprint, it does raise the question. However, I hypothesize that the success of the Hellcat needn’t come at the expense of the XD-S Mod.2. And to convince myself, I went over the differences. Check out my video above, and keep reading the article below.

Different grip sizes of single-stack pistols
While both guns are thin and slim, the XD-S (left) is a bit thinner — as you can see here.

Similar Differences

There are more things different about these two small guns than just their relative capacity of ammunition. They are both very similar and very different all at the same time — and I believe that there are still users who will prefer the single-stack XD-S Mod.2. Here’s why: A slightly longer sight radius for a more accurate shot; proven reliability with nearly a decade of service; thinner — which means even more comfortable IWB/appendix carry; thin magazines means carrying a reload is easier; but most of all — ergonomics.

Different magazines for two handguns
Viewed from the bottom, the difference in size and shape of the grip frame of the XD-S (left) and Hellcat (right) is apparent.

Believe it or not, it isn’t everyone who is looking for the smallest possible grip frame circumference on a handgun. For folks with larger hands (and this is not limited to men), shooting very small pistols can be uncomfortable or even difficult because the trigger finger over-extends into the triggerguard and collides with the support hand, or even the strong hand thumb.

The XD-S is a thinner handgun, but it is also deeper front-to-back, and this stretches that hand out and offers more comfort for the shooter. There is also a difference in the palm-swell shape of the backstrap that helps fill the hand.

Dual wielding the XD-S and Hellcat handguns
The author tried out both pistols on the range to see which he preferred.

How about your spare ammo? As mentioned above, the slim magazine of the XD-S is easier to pack. In fact, it takes up no more thickness to carry than that old Zippo you used to have, meaning that carrying a reload (highly recommended for all semi-autos) is easy, no matter how skinny your jeans are.

Side by side of the Springfield Hellcat and XD-S handguns
There are more differences than you may at first think between these two family members.

And let’s not forget the external grip safety of the XD-S. This is still a positive feature for many shooters, and this additional passive safety is a plus for many CCW users.

It’s Your Choice

The Hellcat is a modern marvel of firearms engineering, and it has taken its rightful place among the most popular selling small pistols. But, I don’t think it has done so at the expense of its stablemate, the XD-S Mod.2.

Shooting a pair of single stack pistols
Both the XD-S Mod.2 and the Hellcat have merits for the CCW user — so which is right for you?

A defensive handgun is a tool and, like a screwdriver, there is a reason they come in different sizes and shapes. So, I’ll keep my XD-S if you don’t mind. But I have to admit, those extra four rounds in the Hellcat sure are nice. I guess I’ll just have to keep both!

Editor’s Note: Please be sure to check out The Armory Life Forum, where you can comment about our daily articles, as well as just talk guns and gear. Click the “Go To Forum Thread” link below to jump in and discuss this article and much more!

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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 and videos are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Springfield Armory.

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Justin Opinion

Justin Opinion

“Justin Opinion” is a lifelong firearms enthusiast and shooter. The son of a master gunsmith, he makes no claims to such skills but has a deep appreciation for the skillful work of the men and women who design and build great guns. A certified instructor and range safety officer who enjoys the shooting sports, he uses his experiences and those of his friends to apply a real-world perspective to reviews. The Justin Opinion Channel can be found on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, and his reviews can also be found at GunsAmerica and American Handgunner.

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