Look around the industry and you will find a lot of good guns. You can also find many affordable pistols. But can you find one that combines both these qualities? When looking for the best performing defensive handgun for the money, the gun to beat is the Springfield Armory XD 4” Service Model 9mm.
Large enough for uniformed police and security yet light enough for concealed carry, the 4” XD pistol is a proven defensive weapon. It has nearly 20 years of service in the hands of law-abiding Americans from coast to coast. The real bonus is that practically all citizens of every income strata can afford one.
Let’s take a close look at this pistol and see if it might fit your needs.
The 9mm XD Service pistol is an excellent example of a modern combat handgun. It is well built with excellent accuracy and an easy-to-learn trigger. The sights are clear and fast to use in all lighting conditions. When you hold and shoot this gun, you quickly realize why so many people are happy owners of it.
With a 4” barrel and a 1.2” width, the XD Service Model is perfectly sized for any kind of uniformed law enforcement use. For example, I know of a private security agency that issues the 9mm XD Service Model here in Florida. The agency is responsible for high-risk operations that include nuclear facility security. Its officers have responded to many violent calls. Each time, the XD Service Model helped those officers successfully resolve dangerous situations.
Small guns tend to be rougher to shoot than larger guns of the same caliber. Bigger guns tend to absorb more of the felt recoil, have a larger surface area to grip and generate less muzzle blast. They do all of this while also improving the potential accuracy of the shots due to a longer sigh radius. All of these reasons make the XD Service Model an excellent choice for a home defense gun kept in a bedside lockbox. Since the XD has an accessory rail, you can also add a white light or supplemental aiming laser.
Saying all of this, I also believe the XD Service Model makes an excellent pistol for civilian concealed carry. A 4” barrel isn’t much harder to conceal than one that is 0.5” to 1” shorter, which is the barrel length range of most “compact” carry pistols. Likewise, the additional girth of the pistol is easily managed with a quality holster.
The benefits to carrying a 9mm Service Model are numerous. One of the most obvious is capacity. A single magazine for this gun holds 16 rounds of felon repellant. Assuming you carry with one in the chamber, that’s 17 shots before you need to reload. That might seem like a lot when compared to a smaller pistol, but as my wife likes to say, “No one ever complained about having too much ammunition.”
Carrying the XD Service Model also offers the same benefits that you receive if you keep it as a home defense weapon: full grip, highly visible sights, modest recoil and an accessory rail.
If you, like many of your fellow Americans, are on a tight budget, the XD Service Model makes even more sense. Springfield Armory did you a solid and now offers this pistol at an incredibly affordable suggested retail price of $339. For less than the price of many used guns, you can have a brand-new, lifetime warranty-backed XD Service Model.
Since it is suitable for both home defense and concealed carry, you can forgo purchasing multiple weapons and rely on the proven XD platform. That leaves a lot of cushion in the monthly budget for family meals and school clothes.
XD 4” Service Model Specs
When I test guns, I shoot hundreds – sometimes thousands – of rounds through them while looking for any flaws I can find. I run all kinds of ammo and bullet styles: +P, standard pressure, JHP, FMJ and polymer-tipped. Such was the case with the 4” XD.
In my case, I have shot several XD Service pistols in the past couple of decades. I had a pretty good idea of what to expect when I went to the range. Consequently, I had high expectations. The XD delivered. With 760 rounds of ammunition through the gun, I had no problems at all. All kinds of ammo performed flawlessly in this pistol.
Accuracy was excellent out to 25 yards. Most guns can perform better than the guy pulling the trigger and that seemed to be the case with my test gun. When I did my job, the pistol put the rounds where they needed to go.
Premium self-defense loads like the Federal HST 147-gr. JHP, Hornady Critical Duty 135-gr. FlexLock and the Speer Gold Dot 124-gr. JHP +P all performed at or above expectations. All fed and fired with 100% reliability and turned in excellent groupings.
|Velocity||Energy||Average 5-Shot Group Size|
|Blazer Brass 115 gr FMJ||1,120 fps||320 ft-lbs||2.78″|
|Federal HST 124 gr +P JHP||1,167 fps||375 ft-lbs||2.04″|
|Hornady Critical Duty 135 gr FTX||1,009 fps||305 ft-lbs||2.44″|
|Speer Gold Dot 124 gr JHP||1,114 fps||342 ft-lbs||2.17″|
One of the complaints some shooters express about modern striker-fired pistols is that the triggers are not smooth. I agree that striker-fired handguns do have a different feel than that of a classic double-action revolver, but I disagree that they are bad. In fact, the XD has one of the best triggers in its class. With a moderate amount of take up, the trigger has a relatively short pull with a consistent weight until it breaks. I like the way it feels.
Of additional concern to some people is the feel of the trigger safety. Like many striker-fired pistols, the XD uses a pivoting centerpiece in the face of the trigger to help prevent accidental discharges. Springfield Armory uses a trigger safety that appears to have rounded edges to improve comfort during long range sessions. I found the comfort of the safety to be excellent.
Another of the XD’s design features that stands out to me is the shape of the backstrap directly under the slide. This upper portion of the frame cuts inward significantly. While this may be done specifically for the reliable engagement of the grip safety, I appreciate it because it allows me to get exactly the right amount of finger on the trigger every time I draw the gun.
Springfield Armory offers a lot of great handguns. From custom 1911 pistols that cost thousands to modern XD-M and Hellcat polymer handguns, the company offers a lot of options for all budgets.
At the end of the day, however, the original XD line remains reliable and eminently affordable. For a defensive tool, the XD seems to check all of the boxes while keeping the suggested retail price at only $339. For new pistols, it is tough to find a quality defensive gun for less than $350 – especially one with the track record of the XD.
For my money, the XD Service 4” 9mm pistol is one of the best self-defense deals on the market today.
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