XD-E: Your First Carry Gun

By Richard Johnson
Posted in #EDC #Guns
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XD-E: Your First Carry Gun

June 5th, 2020

7 minute read

Carrying a concealed firearm for the first time can be a scary experience. One of the best ways you can mitigate your trepidation is to purchase quality gear. If you are confident in your gun, you can help eliminate that as a concern.

A great firearm choice for many people is the Springfield Armory XD-E line of pistols. Let’s look at why.

If you’re looking for a safe, reliable and capable carry gun, then the Springfield Armory XD-E is a great option.


Safety is always a prime consideration for responsible shooters. For new shooters, having the right safety features can increase confidence in the system.

The XD-E delivers safety characteristics that many firearms instructors recommend to their students. Frankly, I am unaware of anyone that makes the same combination of safety attributes that Springfield Armory built into the XD-E. These polymer-framed, single-stack pistols, available in three models and two different chamberings, offer a lot of options to the first-time gun buyer as well as seasoned shooters.

The double-action trigger means that, with the hammer down, you have a long and relatively heavy trigger pull on the first shot.

This design has a traditional double-action trigger. Also known as double-action/single-action (DA/SA), these guns have a long first trigger pull that raises and then releases the hammer. All subsequent shots have a shorter and lighter trigger pull as the slide cycling back and forth cocks the hammer. The idea is that you are less likely to unintentionally discharge the gun on that first shot should you ever need to draw the weapon. However, all follow-up shots will be fast thanks to the lighter single-action trigger pull.

The XD-E’s manual safety and trigger system gives you the option of “cocked and locked” carry with the hammer cocked and the gun on “safe.”

Something you do not always find on a traditional double action pistol is a thumb safety. The ambidextrous manual safety of the XD-E is located exactly where it should be — at the rear of the frame, where it can be disengaged without moving the gripping hand on the pistol. It is easy to re-engage the safety with the thumb. Sweep it down to disengage, exposing red dots on the slide indicating the pistol is ready to fire. Up to engage. All the way down will safely decock the pistol and lower the hammer.

The fact the gun has a DA/SA system and a manual safety means you have numerous safe ways to carry the XD-E. You can carry it hammer down with a double-action pull for the first shot and on “safe.” Hammer down but with the safety off, allowing you to draw the pistol and simply pull the trigger through its full double-action movement. You can also carry it “cocked and locked” with the hammer cocked and it on safety, like you would a 1911. If you want options, the XD-E provides them.

If you pick the right gun, it will be a solid everyday carry partner for you.

Another comforting aspect of the thumb safety is you can chamber a round while it is engaged. While you can load the gun with the safety disengaged, the Springfield Armory design allows you to eliminate one possible problem if you accidentally engage the trigger while loading the gun. The safety can also be engaged when the gun is disassembled for cleaning.

Internally, the XD-E has a firing pin block. This prevents the firing pin from moving forward until the trigger is pulled. If you drop the pistol, this block will prevent the gun from possibly discharging when it strikes the floor.

The XD-E can make a great addition to your everyday carry kit.


I’m a firm believer that a self-defense firearm must be reliable. An unreliable handgun offers only the illusion of security as it may fail when your life depends on it. That’s one of the reasons why I like the XD-E: it is incredibly reliable.

My XD-E has a flawless record with all manner of training and self-defense rounds though it. I’ve not had a single issue of any kind with the weapon. Simply put: the gun fires every time I press the trigger.

Ease of Operation

One of the hardest things a new shooter might struggle with is the operation of the pistol’s slide. While technique makes a huge difference (see our piece on how to load a pistol here), the fact is you do need a certain amount of upper body strength to fully retract the slide. For smaller adults and those with a disability, a typical slide can be too much for them.

The design also features a “Low-Effort Slide” that requires 27% less force to cycle than many striker-fired guns.

Springfield Armory addressed this very real problem when it designed the XD-E pistol. Called the “Low-Effort Slide,” the force required to cycle the XD-E slide is 27% less than some popular striker-fired pistols.

That’s not just some nebulous measurement: I feel it when I run this pistol. In fact, everyone who has handled my XD-E has commented about how easily the slide retracts.

Another important aspect of gun operation is how it fits the shooter’s hand. The XD-E is a thin pistol with a single-stack magazine. This allows me to get the proper amount of finger on the trigger.

Richard has found the XD-E to be a safe, tough and reliable pistol.

Trigger control is unbelievably important for accuracy, and pistols with thick bodies can hinder proper finger placement. The XD-E is 1″ wide through the grip, which is just about perfect for my hands.


Springfield Armory offers the XD-E in a variety of sizes and calibers – there’s bound to be one that will fit your needs just right. Let’s dive in and take a look at your options.

If you need the most compact weapon possible for concealment purposes, you will want to look at the XD-E models with a 3.3″ barrel. These are the smallest guns in the line with an overall length of 6.75″ and an unloaded weight of about 25 ounces.

The 3.3″ XD-E in 9mm is a compact yet powerful carry pistol.

But small doesn’t mean underpowered. The pistol can be had in either 9mm or .45 ACP depending on your inclination. You get two magazines: with the 9mm, one that holds eight rounds and a second extended one that loads nine. The larger .45 cartridge gives up a little in capacity; that pistol’s magazines will hold six and seven rounds, respectively.

The 3.3″ is also offered in the larger .45 ACP chambering, for those who want a bit more “oomph.”

Smaller guns do recoil more than larger guns when everything else is equal. Regardless, I found the front fiber optic sight helps you get on target fast and then stay there no matter how fast you pull the trigger.

The 3.8″ in 9mm offers a longer slide and barrel, but the same frame size as the 3.3″ 9mm.

If your circumstances allow, the larger XD-E with a 3.8″ barrel is worth considering. This version is my favorite as it gives me a slightly longer sight radius for improved precision. Also, the increased barrel length soaks up a bit more of the recoil than the smaller guns can. Available in 9mm, this pistol uses the same magazines as its smaller sibling. It is 7.16″ long and weighs in at around 26 ounces.

The 4.5″ XD-E in 9mm is the largest model, giving shooters a 4.5″ barrel and a longer sight radius.

Rounding out the XD-E line is the full-size version of the pistol. This 9mm gun has a 4.5″ barrel for improved bullet velocity and shooter accuracy. The longer gun helps to reduce muzzle flip without adding excessive weight to the gun. It still comes in at just 28 ounces unloaded and has an overall length of 7.87″.

It may seem counter-intuitive to new shooters, but this pistol can be easy to conceal when carried with an inside the waistband holster. In this style of carry, only the grip of the gun is exposed, and it is no bigger than the 3.3″ models. The largest XD-E shares the same magazines as the other pistols. All pistols come with two magazines, and also an additional pinky extension floorplate for the flush-fit magazine.

Final Thoughts

The XD-E line of self-defense pistols is a reliable choice for anyone that is new to concealed carry. They offer a number of safety features while still being easy to operate. For anyone that wants to have different sized guns to best fit a changing wardrobe, all of the guns in this line operate the same.

The XD-E combines safety and reliability with capable self-defense performance.

There are a lot of things I like about the XD-E line. I’m betting you will see what makes this line special once you check it out.

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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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Richard Johnson

Richard Johnson

Having made many odd choices in his youth, Richard was left with two career choices: aerospace engineer or cop. After failing his second year of chemistry, Richard pursued a law enforcement career where understanding covalent bonds was not a requirement for success. Along the way, Richard discovered a passion for writing. Consequently, he hung up his uniform and now publishes GunsHolstersAndGear.com where he reviews firearms and other shooting gear to feed his frequently annoyed family.

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