Sunday, July 12, 2009

Care and Feeding of a Springfield Armoury XD .45

Since I recently returned from my most recent trip to Chicagoland, or as Tam would call it... Mordor, and having found another 250 rounds of .45 ACP at one of the local sporting goods stores shortly before leaving, I was jonesing for the entire month to finally get out and put some rounds through my XD.

As has been previously mentioned in my not overly prevalent blogging, I'm a bit of a gun enthusiast, and certainly have enjoyed shooting all my life, mostly via bb, pelt and the old .22 longrifle cartridge. All of that though, has been done with rifles. When the great Obama scare hit the nation, I finally had found the last bit of excuse I needed to do something I'd always wanted to do. I bought a handgun.

I didn't get to put a LOT of rounds through the pistol after buying it, seeing as it was early november, and North Dakota is COLD in the winter. I for one am all for going out and shooting in the cold, it really doesn't bother me - but my range options are fairly limited, and the one outdoor range nearby is also fairly poor.

However, in the past Nine months I've managed to put almost a thousand rounds through the gun now, and while thats not particularly impressive, and not nearly as many as I would *LIKE* it has given me a very solid feel for this particular pistol, and after its most recent outing, and its follow up cleaning, I have some thoughts I'd like to share.

Someone might even find them useful.

The following things are worth noting before I begin. I am in no way, A: A professional shooter. B: In anyway an expert on the subject of handguns or firearms, and C: Getting paid for this in anyway.

The following are my opinions, and nothing more.

I am unabashedly a lover of the 1911 first, and the .45 ACP cartidge second. The love for these two is based not originally from the stopping power of the mighty .45, or the amazing functionality of John Brownings perhaps titular pistol... but instead because thats what all the good guys, in those WWII movies I watched as a kid carried. The 1911 symbolized for me all the things that were *GOOD* about the 'ol US of A and such. It certainly doesn't hurt that the 1911 frame has excellent lines, and being who I am, a boy turned man who is rather stubborn and stuck in his ways I figured when I got around to it, this would be my first pistol.

Obviously I was mistaken. My budget for a gun wasn't very large. And to be honest, just buying the XD, broke it. But none of the local 1911s were even in the ballpark.

So I did something I never thought I'd do, I bought a 'plastic pistol'.

And you know what? While the 1911 will always be my first love, and someday, hopefully soon, I'll own a couple examples of that fine gun - I *am* glad I bought the XD.

Its a damn fine pistol.

I'd like to tell you, I did my research. I poked and prodded and thought really hard about my pistol choices.

Thats just not the case. I had three close associates (two friends and a cousin) all buy pistols around me in the span of a week. Though, admittedly I only knew about one of them had at the time. One day after some cajoling, T and I headed for Scheeles to 'look' at a pistol. He had already bought his. And I'd looked at it, thought it was a fine gun, and put it out of my mind.

I knew the chances I was walking out of Scheeles without a gun in hand were slim. The part of me that wanted to be budget minded was for that conclusion, but it just wasn't going to be. I looked for a while, and found myself pulled towards the XDs. They were on sale, and while I could pick up one of those fine 1911s that I lusted for for anywhere from 600 up, there was an XD sitting there prestinely in its case with all the features I wanted. Ambi-Safety, Five inch barrel, caliber - .45. It also included 2 mags, a poly dual mag pouch, a poly holster (which was righthanded, and useless, though I didn't know it at the time) a 'speed loader' and a bore brush.

Not a bad little kit at all, and it all rang in at just over four franklins. I walked out of Scheeles with 250 rounds of FMJ .45, and Springfield XD for 550 bucks. And I was a happy camper.

The XD as a platform is extremely modular in nature. There are five primary pieces, and if you've ever stripped down a 'plastic pistol' you'll be familar with them. You have the Slide, Barrel/Block, Pistol Grip/Trigger assembly, Spring, and Magazine.

Now, my XD has an optional ambedextrious safety, but I'm fairly sure, if it didn't, I could slide the five inch slide, barrel and spring assembled onto my buddies pistol grip/triggler assembly from his 4 inch XD .45 and they'd mate right up. Its and interesting little tidbit we noticed a while back. We've never been able to verify it, but it is rather interesting.

The biggest plus, at least in my book when I stripped the pistol the first time is that the spring and guide assembly was all steel. Instead of a plastic/spring assembly like T's 4 inch - they used a much larger spring, and ran a simple guide tube down the center. That means the only plastic on my gun, is in the pistol grip and trigger assembly, and honestly, I'm rather more comfortable with that.

The chances of one of the plastic pieces failing is nil, I know. But as mentioned above, I'm stubborn, and metal trumphs plastic.

After a thousand rounds I've cleaned the gun about 5 times, while it might not always need it, I like a clean gun. And the XD is a breeze to break down into its components, clean, oil and reassemble, so I don't really have an excuse *not* to do it. I have found the wear points seem to be mostly around the breach block, since there is little more then friction shoving the block out of the way as the slide cycles oiling this area is important.

Overall I've gravitated towards a Gun Grease from Remmington that comes in a little tube like syringe. Regualar gun oil works fine, but I find the grease is easier to apply, and tends to stay where I put it. (Particualarly the slide rails, and the breach block.)

If you've never cleaned a gun before, most of the gunnies on my blogroll have posted a show and tell about it. Their insights are handy. Grab you owners manual, get comfortable with the breakdown proceedure. Read through some of their examples, or get someone to show you the basics, just because your XD or Glock or whatever keeps feeding rounds just fine and is designed to hardly need to be cleaned doesn't mean you *shouldn't*.

Maintain something and it'll last longer.

I've experienced only 2 malfunctions in a thousand rounds that I remember. One was a bad primer, the other was a stovepipe malfunction that I pretty much caused myself.

Anyway, now that I've blathered about the basics of breakdown and cleaning, lets talk about the fun stuff.


As mentioned before, I am not a professional shooter. I'm a pretty good eye with a rifle, but that doesn't take a whole lot of work. Rifles as a whole are not particularly hard to shoot with reasonable accuracy.

I am however, not what I would call a precision pistol shooter. I've been working on that though, and I've gone from having a pretty horrible sympathetic flinch against the recoil (forcing the barrel down a hairsbreath before firing to 'compensate' for recoil) to one that generally puts his rounds in the area he wants them to go.

At the very least, from five to twenty five feet, I'm always within 'minute of person' as we like to call it. No matter who that badguy was the big white target was standing in for, when I'm done at the range for the day - he's had a very bad day.

And its not like the XD is at fault at all... In the hands of more capable shooters, I've seen some pretty impressive groups. And in all honesty, when I'm having a good day, I can put fifty rounds through a 3 to 4 inch hole so So the poor marksmanship, when it happens is all shooter. The XD may not be a precision instrument, but its certainly a good firing pistol that goes bang when you want it to with decent three dot iron sights.

There are some downsides to the XD of course - the standard 4 and 5 inch variants of the .45 feature a nice beefy doublestacked magazine which feeds a nice 12+1 rounds. However, this also means that it is not a SLIM pistol, and is most definately not in the range of something I would consider concealable, nor is it easy for smaller hands to hold properly. Its a rather large pistol, and with a full mag, rather heavy.

However, if you're looking for a weighty sidearm, that's simple, decently priced, and has a nice warrenty cycle - one could do worse then look at Springfield and thier XDs.

Now that I've gotten a much stronger handle on my shooting, I'd like to try out some light competition, either plates or even bowling pins (though plates sound more my thing) sound like fun. I've been keeping my ear to the ground for stuff like that around here, but its not easy to find.

May have to end up just setting up my own courses, and doing it the old fashioned way for a while.

In anycase, I think I've blathered for long enough on the subject of the XD and shooting. Though, if anyone knows a good range within 3 hours of south Chicagoland,I'd be much oblidged. Sounds like I get to go back soon, and while I won't be taking my own arms with me, it'd still be nice to get out and burn some rounds to relax.