While countless shooters spend their time looking for the next new thing to be released, I appreciate stepping back and taking time to examine the weapons that are more than a potential flash in the pan. With this in mind, I’m reviewing the Springfield Armory 5” XD Tactical Model in .45 ACP.
Why review a gun that’s been available for almost two decades? Because it’s thrived in the firearms market for almost two decades. That says a lot about its popularity and reliability. I wanted to scrutinize it for myself.
Roll back through American history and you will find more cops carrying handguns with 5” and 6” barrels than you do today. Somewhere along the line, law enforcement officers and armed citizens settled on 4” barrels as being the “standard” length for a full-size handgun. Even though the classic 1911 typically had a 5” barrel, the 4-ish” standard continued through the great semi-automatic migration in the 80s and 90s.
Consequently, there are relatively few modern pistols with a 5” barrel outside of those based on John Moses Browning’s most famous creation. I think that’s unfortunate.
A longer pistol barrel offers several benefits, including less muzzle rise when shooting, potentially greater bullet velocity and improved accuracy from the longer sight radius. I consider all these characteristics to be welcome improvements regardless of the kind of shooting you anticipate doing.
The Springfield XD 5” Tactical Model chambered in .45 ACP is a perfect example of how the benefits of a longer barrel combine to make something really special. Before I tell you how it shoots – spoiler: really, really well – let me go over some of the gun’s features.
The XD Tactical .45 is part of the Springfield line of classic XD pistols. Introduced almost 20 years ago, the XD line has an extensive track record of success in terms of reliability and service in the hands of moms, dads, cops and others for both defensive and recreational shooting.
My introduction to the XD line came about 15 years ago when I met a friend at the range and took my first shots with the XD 40 Service Model. I’d been shooting for years and carried a different brand of pistol on the job, so I wasn’t sure how I’d like the XD. It turns out I took to it immediately.
The shape of the polymer frame felt excellent in my hands; it was shaped in just the right way to give me an ideal finger placement on the trigger. And speaking of the trigger, the pull was far superior to the duty handgun I was issued at that time. Combined with the flawless reliability, I was impressed by that XD.
This Tactical version of the XD has many of the same features common to the line including the polymer frame, striker firing system and smooth trigger. It also retains the grip safety that many people love. Further, the gun’s design includes an ambidextrous magazine release, steel three-dot sights, an ample trigger guard to accommodate gloves and an accessory rail for the addition of a light or supplemental aiming laser.
Of course, one of the main things that sets this gun apart is its 5” barrel. Hammer forged steel, the barrel has a Melonite finish for wear and corrosion resistance. While the gun is noticeably longer, the balance still feels great when pointing the pistol. In an IWB holster, the extra length doesn’t add anything that would be visible to the general public.
Something that surprised me was the width of the gun. Even though this XD Tactical is chambered in .45, it is the same width as the other XD pistols chambered in 9mm and .40. Some companies have to enlarge the frame to unwieldy thicknesses to accommodate the mighty .45 – but not Springfield Armory. My hand fits the XD line well and that includes the .45 caliber versions of the gun.
I was eager to get the gun on the range and see how it shot.
While the Second Amendment guarantees the absolute right to ownership and carrying of arms by private citizens, a glance around the nation reveals that right has been eroded over the years. Consequently, some states have magazine capacity limits and arbitrary lists of firearms that the government deems acceptable for you to own.
While it is available anywhere in the United States, the XD Tactical .45 is sold in a configuration that also makes it available to any California resident who can own a pistol. That means the gun is on the state’s Roster of Certified Handguns – something for which many new firearms don’t qualify.
Fortunately, the inclusion on the California handgun list doesn’t mean the pistol has any alterations that would impact function. Nor are there any “smart” or tracing technologies built into it. It’s a straight XD pistol like any other in the line – just also available to our friends in California.
Of course, the California autocrats continue their death hold on arbitrary limits on magazine capacity. Consequently, the XD Tactical .45 ships with low-capacity, 10-round magazines. However, for those living in other states, full 13-round capacity magazines are available from the Springfield Armory shop at a reasonable price.
As a Florida resident, I’ve picked up several of the normal cap magazines and keep the 10-rounders as spares. While I would like to see the gun ship with standard capacity mags, I find the inconvenience small and like the idea that Springfield continues to support the lawfully armed men and women who remain in California.
Here are the factory specs on the Springfield XD Tactical .45 ACP pistol:
|Finish||Black; Melonite slide, polymer frame|
|Capacity||10+1 (13-round magazines available)|
There are a lot of semi-clever ways to say it, but I’ll state it plainly: a gun’s worth is determined by its performance. Outside of historical pieces, only reliable guns are interesting to me. If a gun won’t perform on the range, I’ve got a pretty good idea it will fail in a defensive encounter.
At this point in my life, I’ve shot a lot of XD pistols and reliability never seems to be an issue regardless of the size or caliber. This 5” XD 45 proved to be equally reliable as the rest.
I ran more than 10 different loads through this pistol. Two were FMJ or ball rounds. Remaining loads were all defensive rounds with bullet weights ranging from 78 grains to 230 grains. Most were standard pressure while several were marked +P. Every single round went bang without a single failure.
Recoil and muzzle rise were very mild in the XD Tactical .45. The classic .45 ACP round is a powerful cartridge, but one that tends to have mild recoil due to its modest pressure limits. In a 4” pistol, the cartridge is easy to manage. In the 5” XD Tactical, the .45 ACP round was very soft recoiling. Muzzle rise was also less than what I expect from a shorter barreled pistol.
The Hornady Custom load pushed a 230-grain XTP hollow point hard – at +P pressures – to achieve more than 900 fps. While felt recoil was a bit more than some of the other loads, I observed little muzzle flash – a testament to high-quality powder and load development.
Taking a different approach to defensive power was the Civil Defense load from Liberty Ammunition. This load used a very light-for-caliber 78-grain hollowpoint driven to incredible velocities. For a five-shot average, I measured nearly 2,000 fps! No, that’s not a typo. While very fast, lightweight bullets can sometimes cause reliability issues in finicky guns, the XD Tactical showed no problems whatsoever.
From a shooting perspective, the only drawback to the Civil Defense ammo is the muzzle blast. This ammo is loud – especially in an indoor range. Without measuring the noise levels, the report from the Liberty ammo out of a 5” barrel sounded similar to a full-power .357 Magnum load through a snubnose revolver. However, the muzzle rise was virtually non-existent. Although the noise might make a new shooter flinch, there was very little muzzle rise or impact in the hand when shooting. It’s a remarkable dichotomy between what you expect because of the noise and what you actually feel.
Here’s a look at how several of the defensive loads performed in the Springfield XD Tactical .45:
|Fiocchi 200 JHP||904 fps||363 ft-lbs||1.25”|
|Hornady Custom 230 gr XTP +P||910 fps||423 ft-lbs||1.32”|
|Liberty Ammunition Civil Defense 78 gr JHP +P||1,980 fps||679 ft-lbs||1.38”|
As you can see, all of the loads turned in good accuracy. Frankly, from a rest or more steady hands you could see those accuracy numbers shrink even more. This gun is accurate enough to get the job done in a lethal force encounter.
The XD 5” Tactical Model .45 ACP is one of my favorite Springfield pistols. It is 100% reliable, simple to run and chambered in a respected cartridge. With the 5” barrel, I get great accuracy and limited muzzle rise for quick follow up shots. It may not be ideal for concealed carry, but it can be used as such with a suitable holster. I prefer to use mine as a dual-purpose woods and home defense pistol.
If you have a hankering for a quality .45 caliber pistol that won’t break the bank, I recommend taking a look at this gun. It’s a solid choice for a lot of people that want a proven track record more than a flashy design with an unknown level of reliability.
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XD® 5″ Tactical Model
XD® / XD Mod.2® / XD-M® 13-Round .45 ACP Magazine
Fiocchi Defense Dynamics 45 Auto
Hornady 45 Auto +P 230 gr XTP
Liberty Ammunition Civil Defense .45 ACP