Outside My Comfort Zone with the XD-E
November 18th, 2019
6 minute read
Choosing a weapon for your everyday concealed carry can be an arduous task. It needs to fit your body type and feel comfortable in your hand; if it doesn’t, you won’t train with it often enough to be proficient. In addition, while you might have your heart set on appendix carry, the firearm you want might not mesh well with your carry mode choice. Female shooters often have an even harder time; between different hand sizes and body types, the gun your spouse uses might not work for you. So, where do you start? How about a double-action/single-action (DA/SA), hammer-fired gun?
Don’t know what DA/SA is? In a nutshell, this system means that with the exposed hammer at rest, the first shot requires a long double-action trigger pull that both cocks and releases the hammer. As the round fires, the slide cycles back and cocks the hammer for the next shot. The result is a shorter and lighter single-action trigger pull for the follow-up shots.
Why is this system possibly the right choice for you? Flexibility. Why does flexibility matter? As you grow and evolve as a shooter, your needs for your concealed carry pistol may change. What if you want to carry in a different position? What if your preferences on trigger pull type change as your skills evolve? How about safeties? Do you prefer a gun with or without one? Think that might change? If you answered “yes” to any or all of these, then the Springfield Armory XD-E deserves a very close look.
While I’m used to carrying striker-fired XD models of various types, the hammer-fired XD-E was a major step outside of my comfort zone — but it’s a trip I’m glad I took. It was a pleasant surprise to find that it merges XD quality with several interesting facets that add up to an incredible weapon — regardless of who’s shooting it.
Why was the XD-E outside my comfort zone, exactly? If you’re coming from the striker-fired world like I am, the initial trigger pull can seem a bit heavy. At the 10 lbs. of pressure my test model measured, it requires a fair amount of pull to make that first shot. In a stressful, adrenaline-fueled situation, however, that extra pull is something that many CCW users want. The trigger pull on the follow-up single-action shots was only 5 lbs. I’ll admit that even though the first trigger pull was heavy, it was quite smooth even with the added tension, with the following shots smooth yet lighter.
Remember When I Said … ?
Remember that adaptability I mentioned? You may be thinking at this point that the XD-E is not that different than any other DA/SA gun. Not quite. The pistol has an ambidextrous safety, meaning you can carry the XD-E three different ways:
- Hammer down, safety on
- Hammer down, safety off
- Hammer cocked, safety on
The first way mentioned to carry the XD-E is in DA mode, with the hammer at-rest and the safety engaged. To engage the safety, simply sweep it up. To disengage, sweep it down to the horizontal position. The safety itself is located at the rear of the frame, right where John Moses Browning rightly determined it should be. To fire in this mode, you sweep the safety down and then pull that long double-action trigger pull.
The second mode has you follow all the steps of above, but leave the pistol “off” safe. In this mode, you rely on the length and weight of the trigger pull to prevent negligent discharges (that, and safe gun handling).
The third mode should be familiar to all you 1911 shooters out there. In this, you cock the hammer and engage the safety — otherwise known as “cocked and locked.” In this mode, you would draw the pistol and sweep off the safety, giving you a short and light single-action pull when you are ready to shoot.
The safety also has an additional feature — it can act as a decocker. Simply sweep it down fully and you can safely drop a cocked hammer to the at-rest position with a round in the chamber — but always point the muzzle in a safe direction while doing this.
The XD-E pistol sports a polymer frame, which makes it a much lighter gun than the typical non-polymer pistol. It comes in 3.3″, 3.8″, and 4.5″ barrel lengths — with all three offered in 9mm and the 3.3″ version being offered in both 9mm and .45 ACP — and all are single stack with a thin profile. The 9mm versions are 8+1 (9+1 with an included extended magazine) and 6+1 (7+1 with extended) in .45 ACP. The result is a thin and light pistol that is easy to pack for concealed carry.
Racking the slide is definitely easier on the XD-E than most other pistols — according to the specs, 27% easier — and it’s a nice addition to the overall ergonomics and ease of use. It also means even if you’re injured or need to use an inanimate object to help rack your slide, you can do so with little issue. The lighter slide rack comes from the ability to cock the hammer before racking the slide, which means less tension and pushback, resulting in a faster, easier and even smoother rack.
How Does It Carry?
I tested the 3.8″ 9mm model and found it the perfect length for my carry preference. I’m used to carrying on my hip, and the 9mm 3.8″ XD-E’s thin 1″ frame meant I could still do that without profiling or getting it caught on things, even with the exposed hammer design. That thinness translates to ease of concealment without sacrificing ease of handling or a comfortable grip, even when you take body type into account when carrying.
The 9mm pistol comes with two magazines, a flush-fitting 8-rounder with a finger extension floorplate as well as a spare flat one and an extended 9-rounder. I found that I didn’t need the pinky extenders with my smaller hands, but my husband preferred it. Typically, the huge difference in our hand size means we tend to prefer different weapons, but each of us liked the XD-E equally and were able to use it proficiently, making it a very versatile pistol.
If you’re the type who prefers to have a physical hammer on your pistol but also loves the feel and dependability of the XD line, this is the perfect carry weapon. You can have the best of all worlds: a hammer-fired DA/SA with a manual safety, a DA/SA with no safety, or a cocked-and-locked pistol, and all with the concealability and dependability you demand from a CCW pistol.
The XD-E offers a variety of choices for you based on your personal level of comfort, training, and proficiency with the weapon. So why not take a look?