The Springfield Armory XDe 9mm combines a traditional trigger system with a polymer frame to offer a pistol that successfully melds old and new
While Springfield’s new XDe is branded as an extension of the popular XD line, it shares little with its erstwhile stablemates except for the use of a polymer frame. The previous XD pistols are striker-fired handguns, and with the XDe, the “e” stands for “external,” as-in external hammer. This hammer is mated with a traditional double-action/singleaction trigger system.
The XDe also omits the grip safety found in the other XD pistols in favor of a framemounted, three-position, safety/decock lever.
THE INTRODUCTION OF A TRADITIONAL double-action pistol may seem odd in this age of striker-fired handguns, but the idea is to offer an alternative to shooters who aren’t comfortable carrying striker-fired pistols with relatively short and light trigger pulls. The long and deliberate first double-action pull is seen as a feature, not a bug, in this paradigm.
Another stated desire was to make a pistol that is easier to rack than comparable pistols. A hammer-fired design makes this easier from an engineering standpoint. In their marketing, Springfield Armory claims their Low Effort Slide (L.E.S.) requires “27 percent less racking effort” than comparable pistols. Size wise, the XDe is comparable to the Glock 43 or S&W Shield in the category of “mid-size, single-stack 9mm’s.” These are the guns that are too large to carry in a pocket but are still lighter and smaller than doublestack 9mm pistols. The XDe is 6.75 inches long with a 3.3-inch barrel.
The sight radius is 5.4 inches. The gun stands 5 inches high (with the 8-round magazine) and 1 inch wide. The extended 9-round magazine brings the height up to 6 inches. With an empty 8-round magazine inserted, my sample XDe weighed 24.9 ounces on my digital postal scale.
The frame has a short integral accessory rail. The dust cover and slide nose give the gun a squared off, “blocky” appearance. There are six wide serrations for gripping on the rear of each side of the slide. The low profile rear sight sports two white dots mounted in a serrated face to reduce glare. The front sight is a red fiber optic.
Both the front and rear sights are dovetailed in to allow for easy adjustment or replacement. (I believe the dovetails are the same as on the XDs). The undercut trigger guard and frame beaver tail allow for a high hand grip. The frame’s “Grip Zone” textured areas help mate the hand to the gun.
The slide, barrel and metal internals are all Melonite coated. The barrel hood locks into the ejection port in the common fashion. The dual recoil spring system is captive and is easy to remove and replace. The pistol comes with an 8-round magazine with a flush-fit baseplate, an extra “pinky rest” baseplate, and an extended 9 round magazine.
The mag bodies are metal with plastic floorplates and followers. and the mags have witness holes on each side. I was told the XDe mags are the same as the XD’s mags, with the exception that a magazine with the “pinky rest” installed would not fit in the XDs.
THE CONTROLS ARE CONVENTIONAL. There is a magazine release button in the traditional spot behind the trigger on both the left and right sides of the pistol. The frame-mounted safety is also present on both sides of the gun. The take-down lever and slide stop/slide release are only on the left side of the frame.
The trigger is metal with a smooth face. I measured the double-action trigger with a Lyman digital trigger gauge five times. On the third try the trigger registered at about 11½ pounds. On the other attempts, the trigger went over the 12-pound maximum of the gauge. The single action pull averaged at just about 5¼ pounds over five measurements.
The double-action pull has considerable stacking with the majority of the effort at the end of the roughly 1 inch trigger stroke. The single-action pull is shorter with considerable take up before hitting the resistance. The trigger reset is easily felt and heard. The XDe gives the shooter several options: They can carry the pistol in double-action mode, with or without the safety engaged, or carry in “cocked and locked” single-action mode.
On the three-position safety the furthermost down position is “decock.” The middle position is “fire” and the uppermost position is “safe.” The safety can be applied with the pistol cocked or uncocked. The safety does not lock the slide so the pistol can be loaded or unloaded with the safety engaged. A painted red dot on the slide is covered when the pistol is on “safe” and is visible when the pistol can be fired.
I FIRST TESTED THE XDE at a Springfield Armory event in April, where a group of writers and industry pros spent the day firing about a dozen pistols from the first production run. We did simulated defensive scenarios, informal competitions and general plinking. My initial impression is that, for a small gun, the XDe shoots like a larger gun. I was able to get a full firing grip with both the “pinky rest” mag and the flush-fit mag.
I also never pinched my hand in the magwell when reloading. We ran the gun in all three modes:
DA with the safety engaged
DA with no safety
SAwith the safety
I preferred runningthe gun double-action without thesafety. In my view, the long and relatively heavy DA pull negatedthe need for the safety. When firing “cocked and locked,” the safety did not fall under my thumb as well as a 1911 safety, but was still use able.
I never accidently decocked the pistol while disengaging the safety. In fact, I found I had to reposition my hand slightly to use the decocker. Personally, I think a decocker-only variant would be a logical next step, or even a doubleaction-only variant if the trigger was lighter with less stacking.
The XDe pistols at the writer’s event were very reliable. I never saw or heard of a malfunction with the FMJ ammo used. We fired the guns from awkward angles, sometimes one-handed, and on the move. Near the end of the day, I worked on a plate rack with my support hand only, partially to see if I could master the trigger with my support hand and partially to see if I could induce any malfunctions. I had no issues and, after a few practice mags, I was able to clean the rack, 8 for 8 (with a reset), support hand only. Then, I wisely quit while I was ahead.
A FEW WEEKS AFTER THE EVENT, I received a T&E gun from Springfield Armory and headed to the range for some accuracy testing. The two 9mm defensive loads I had on hand were Speer Gold Dot 124 gr +P and Remington Golden Saber 124 gr +P.
The accuracy testing was at 20 yards, benched, with a soft bag under my hands. I fired two five-round groups DA and two SA with each ammo. Group size was measured from the two furthest holes from the outside (furthest away) edge of one hole to the inside (nearest edge) hole of the other.
The DA trigger pull made those attempts more difficult, so the best results were from the single-action attempts. I’d say my DA/SA groups are more indicative of my ability (or inability) to maintain concentration while trying not to pull the pistol off target than the inherent mechanical accuracy of the XDe. The bright fiber-optic front sight did help.
The best Remington Golden Sabre single-action group measured 2 ¾ inches. The best first shot double-action group opened up to 5 ¼ inches. The best Speer Gold Dot single action group measured 2 inches, with the best first shot double-action group measuring 3 7/16 inches.
THE SPRINGFIELD XDE is a well executed example of a traditional double-action pistol. The inherent characteristics of this design are not for everyone. But, if you want a polymer single-stack nine, with a double-action first shot and manual safety, the XDe should meet your needs.