XD TORTURE TESTTrial by fire: 20,000 rounds are put through Springfield Armory's XD.
By Chaim Stein
Chaim Stein is the inventor of the SureSight, which is manufactured and marketed by TRUGLO. He is a firearms instructor and a veteran of an Israeli army combat unit. For more information, contact www.suresight.com
"A wannabe Glock."
That was my first thought after laying eyes on Springfield Armory's XD9 pistol. Closer inspection of the slide revealed the words "Made in Croatia." Those are words that, when stamped on the slide of a handgun, aren't known to inspire the consumer's confidence.
I did not want to like this gun. I've always been a strong Glock fan, and it annoyed me that yet another company wanted to jump on the polymer bandwagon with a rehash of old concepts and designs. Despite that, one has to take notice when that company is Springfield Armory. Known for quality products, lifetime guarantees and fine customer service, Springfield Armory's name stamped on the other side of the slide does inspire confidence.
The more I looked at this gun, the more I found myself comparing it to a Glock. The trigger safeties are very similar, but the XD's trigger is made of metal. Its sights are metal, too. The XD also has a superior trigger pull. The grip angle is improved, which enables more intuitive target acquisition for most shooters.
Torture testing didn't even start until the XD had 17,500 rounds through it. The ammo weighed around 600 pounds.
The XD throws some new features into the mix, too: a 1911-style grip safety, a loaded-chamber indicator atop the slide and a cocked indicator protruding from the rear of the slide. Notwithstanding the XD's new features, there are obvious similarities to a Glock, both cosmetically and mechanically. It's these similarities that lead to the inevitable question: Is the XD as good as a Glock?
I was fortunate enough to be able to answer this question (at least partially) by arranging a 20,000-round "torture test" of an XD9. To keep this test honest, Springfield Armory encouraged me to use a randomly selected XD for evaluation. That would ensure that Springfield didn't hand-pick an "extra special" model for evaluation.
The author tossing brass en route to an endurance record for Springfield Armory's polymer powerhouse.
So instead of having a pistol shipped directly from Springfield, I purchased a random specimen from my local firearms dealer. The street price at the time of this writing was about $70 to $100 below an equivalent Glock. The ammo we used for the test was all 115 grain, half from PMC and half from Federal's American Eagle.
Because of a familiarity with huge numbers, maybe 20,000 rounds of ammunition doesn't seem like much. So let's put it in perspective. If you were to pull the trigger on your handgun once every minute -that's 24 hours a day, seven days a week - it would take you more than 333 hours, or about 14 days, until you reached 20,000. In their boxes, 20,000 cartridges weigh about 600 pounds. Just the projectiles (each at 115 grains, or just over a quarter-ounce) weigh a combined total of 329 pounds. If you were to fire 20,000 rounds at a rate of one box of 50 cartridges per week, every week, it would take you almost eight years.
I think we can all agree that 20,000 rounds is a whole lot of ammo, far more than the average handgun owner is likely to put through any single handgun in a lifetime of shooting. We did it in less than seven months.
Popping 20,000 rounds through a handgun is a decent test of longevity, but it does not really tell us about durability and reliability under adverse conditions. So to learn more about what this gun is capable of, we replicated the Glock USA 1,000-round torture test. But instead of performing it with a new gun, we began the tests only after we'd put 17,500 rounds through the gun.
When the XD's first range day finally arrived, it conveniently coincided with an incredibly fun local match called Steel Madness, where all competitors shoot only at reactive steel targets throughout the match. To break in the new XD, I simply removed the almost un-lubed pistol from its box and shot all five stages of the match.
Mmm, good! Gunsicles anyone? The XD was unaffected by such harsh treatment.
During that first shooting session, it quickly became apparent that it is especially easy to shoot with the XD. In fact, toward the end of the match, one of my friends put away his Glock and used my XD. Despite owning a Glock for 10 years and having no prior familiarity with the XD, his shooting immediately improved. This same experience was repeated with many shooters throughout the test.
After about 250 rounds in the dusty, windy conditions at Raahauge's range in Southern California, the gun had acquired a fair amount of sand and grit in its action. Despite this, the excellent trigger became noticeably smoother after the first 150 rounds. Despite the rather serious handicap of accumulated grit without the benefit of lubrication, the XD functioned flawlessly.
The trigger seemed to lighten up again at around 2,400 rounds and became even smoother. The trigger doesn't have to **** and release the striker as does a Glock's trigger. On the XD, the trigger simply releases the striker, making for a much crisper, lighter pull. There is a long first stage, but once the slack is taken up, the trigger breaks very cleanly. Almost everyone involved in the testing felt that the trigger pull, coupled with the metal trigger, is an improvement over other polymer pistols.
The worst effect of the mud was that when the XD was extracted from this puddle, shaken (not stirred) and fired, it sprayed everyone around it. Not a big crowd pleaser, but it kept on ticking without a hitch.
At roughly 7,000 rounds, I dropped the XD hard, onto cement, from a height of about 3 1/2 feet, right onto its cocking indicator. I then dropped it several more times, loaded, while standing behind cover in a completely safe environment. And I even threw it off the side of a mountain, sending it bouncing and hurtling down the steep slope about 100 feet.
At about 10,000 rounds, I noticed that the cocking indicator had broken off. While the breakage was disappointing, this piece (or lack thereof) in no way interferes with the functioning of the gun; its absence was hardly noticed.
Since we had 25 magazines, we could fire up to 250 rounds in rapid succession, magazine after magazine. And so we did, on a number of occasions. The barrel and slide, and even the trigger, would get painfully hot to the touch, and water would literally boil and evaporate off the slide on contact. I did this several times before - and once after - the torture tests. Still, the XD kept on running.
The XD's three-dot sights were replaced with an early working prototype of the SureSight, a fast-acquisition handgun sight I developed. This was the only modification made to the firearm throughout the entire test. And yes, it did help to increase shooting speed.
Torture Tests Begin
At 17,500 rounds, after giving the XD only the bare minimum in terms of maintenance, I decided to start the torture tests. Until this point, maintenance consisted of short, one- to three-minute cleaning sessions, wiping the XD's feed ramp, brushing its extractor and running a bore snake through the barrel. This was performed approximately every 750 to 1,500 rounds.
It became obvious early on that the XD's design makes maintaining this pistol remarkably quick and easy. Only twice did the gun get what I consider a serious cleaning - once at 10,000 rounds and again at 17,500, before the torture test began. In all that time the gun didn't malfunction once. Glock's 1,000-round torture test consists of six different trials, listed below. We did not follow the specific details precisely, but we approximated them very closely. We actually fired a bit more - about 1,100 rounds - in our torture test.
The Ice Test
We filled a tub with water, dropped in the XD with a magazine and put it in the freezer for a week. Breaking it free by dropping the "gunsicle" onto concrete, we let it thaw out on the way to the Oak Tree Gun Club, our favorite outdoor handgun range. Upon arrival, we inserted a fresh magazine into the XD and fired. We fired about 150 rounds before wiping it down and lubricating it. Result: zero malfunctions.
The Dirt Test
Following the lead of the Glock tests, the XD was "caked, covered and buried alive in soils of varying consistencies." We used everything from dust and ash to moist dirt and sand. We fired 100 rounds after subjecting the XD to each of the five kinds of dirt, for a total of 500 rounds. Predictably, sand proved the most challenging to its mechanism. After burying the gun in sand, then stepping on it to grind it in, we took it out to shoot. The slide cycled noticeably slower, but the gun never jammed. Result: zero malfunctions.
The Mud Test
The XD was covered with thick, gritty mud. After a quick shaking off, it was fired 100 times. Mud went everywhere from the recoil, mostly on the shooters, some on bystanders - it was amazing how much sprayed off the gun. Still, the gun kept working. Result: zero malfunctions.
The Water Test
Fully loaded, the XD was left completely submerged, removed from the water and fired. This was repeated 10 times, firing 10 rounds each for a total of 100 rounds. Result: zero malfunctions.
The Chemical Degreaser Test
Using GunScrubber, all lubricant was removed from the firearm. After making sure there wasn't any lubricant remaining on the firearm, the gun was fired. Glock's test fired 100 rounds. We fired 150. Result: zero malfunctions.
The Tire Test
We placed the XD on a gravel surface, then had shooting champion Mike Dalton drive his Toyota Tundra repeatedly over it, then park on the weapon. We then retrieved and fired it 100 times. Result: zero malfunctions.
With the torture tests behind us, I fired the remaining 1,400 rounds with no failures of any kind.
Damned impressive. Of course the Glock (and other guns, as well) should be able to handle this kind of abuse. The point of this test wasn't to diminish any existing brand but to get a picture of the capabilities of the XD, which is a relatively new product. I completed this test with a great deal of admiration for this handgun. So much so, in fact, that it is now my nightstand gun. More than 20,000 rounds later, with no failures to feed or fire and hardly any wear to the gun's finish, I have no trouble whatsoever betting my safety on its performance.
Sand definitely slowed down the XD, but the gun never jammed. Shooters can count on this Croatian workhorse to function whenever, and wherever, it is needed.
What started out as a simple 4-inch-barreled 9mm service pistol has grown rapidly into an entire family of pistols. Springfield now offers more than 18 models, so there is an XD for just about everyone. The pistols can be had in four calibers (9mm, .40 S&W, .357 Sig and .45 GAP), three barrel lengths (the 3-inch Compact, the 4-inch Service and the 5-inch Tactical) and in a choice of black or olive drab frame with black or stainless slide. Ported barrels are available with some models.
Mark Twain once wrote, "A thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when at last it comes." And so it is with the Springfield XD. Before the XD's arrival, who would have expected that Springfield Armory would import - from Croatia, of all places - a handgun that is now well on its way to establishing its place among the outstanding handguns of modern times?