Somewhere along the line, the term full-size handgun seems to have downsized its meaning to “a pistol with a 4” barrel.” It wasn’t always that way. More than 100 years ago, the 1911 pistol – possibly the most popular handgun in the U.S.A. over that time – came with a 5” barrel standard.
Of course, 5” barrels are not limited to 1911 pistols in the Springfield Armory catalog. The company’s real-world-tested XD line offers 5” barrels in its Tactical Models. Today, I’m reviewing the 9mm version of the XD 5” Tactical Model and comparing it to its shorter brethren.
The Tactical Model is one of the largest pistols in the XD line. It is offered in the three major calibers: 9mm, .40 and .45, with the 9mm being reviewed in this article.
One of the first things you may notice about the pistol is its length. Overall, the gun is more than 8” long, with the bulk of that comprising the 5” hammer-forged steel barrel. Service Model XD pistols come up an inch shorter while the Sub-Compact models are even shorter.
The extra length gives you a distinct advantage in both defensive and sport shooting scenarios. The benefits include:
- Reduced muzzle rise for faster follow-up shots
- Less muzzle flash and noise
- Increased sight radius for improved accuracy and precision
- Increased bullet velocity for optimal penetration and expansion
Of course, the Tactical Model gives you a full-size grip. You can get a full grasp on the pistol with both hands – no matter how large yours might be.
The pistol grip is an integral part of the black polymer frame. Substantial checkering is embedded in the front and backstraps of the pistol to give your hands improved traction when holding the gun.
As with the other striker-fired pistols in the line, a forged steel slide rides the rails of the XD9 Tactical Model. Southpaws and righties alike drop empty magazines with an ambidextrous release. The magazine release is truly ambidextrous and not just reversible.
A blade-style trigger safety and grip safety combine to massively reduce the potential of a drop-fire or other accidental discharge. If you’re not gripping the gun and pulling the trigger, it would be extremely difficult to make this gun fire.
Unloaded, the Tactical Model weighs in at 31 oz. This makes it a bit heavier than the smaller versions, but it is still a comfortable carry. As a guy who ruined his back carrying a much-heavier metal-framed gun from another company some 12 hours a day, I would have done darn near anything to carry the comparatively light XD Tactical.
Here are the specs on the XD9 Tactical Model:
|Capacity||10+1 (two included)|
One of the great things about the XD Tactical 9mm pistol is that our friends in California can buy it! You can’t say that about many pistols made today. Why is that?
California has a roster of handguns that it has deemed acceptable for its citizens to purchase new. As you might imagine, there is a lot of red tape and legal sorcery involved in maintaining such a roster. Regardless, Springfield’s XD9 Tactical pistol is on the list, so you can pick it up in San Diego, the Bay Area or elsewhere in the Golden State.
Another downside to the California autocracy is that the state imposes a 10-round magazine limit on its residents. To make it easy on California residents, Springfield ships the XD Tactical with a pair of 10-rounders. Don’t let this confuse you; the guns are available throughout the United States. From Florida to Alaska, you can readily purchase the XD Tactical Model in 9mm.
Also, for those of us in free states, you can pick up full-capacity 16-round magazines for these guns in the Springfield Armory store. I’ve got several myself.
Longtime readers know I like the XD line of pistols. The guns fit my hands better than most pistols and have proved themselves to be utterly reliable on the range. I currently own an XD pistol in every chambering they offer.
This was, however, my first time shooting the XD Tactical in 9mm. The same size as the .45 ACP chambered Tactical Model, I expected this gun to be equal in accuracy with a hair less recoil. As it turns out, the 9mm Tactical Model was every bit as accurate as the .45 and had noticeably less recoil than I had imagined it might.
A look at the table below shows you a few of the loads I put through the gun along with measurements from my chronograph.
|Federal HST 147-gr. JHP||1,040 fps||353 ft-lbs||1.24”|
|Speer Gold Dot 124-gr. JHP||1,165 fps||374 ft-lbs||1.43”|
|Sellier & Bellot 115-gr. JHP||1,201 fps||368 ft-lbs||1.39”|
All of the loads I shot were 100% reliable in the pistol. Additionally, all of the rounds shot groups of less than 2” at 7 yards without the benefit of a brace or support. When I aligned the sights and pressed the trigger, the bullets went exactly where I intended.
I mentioned recoil previously. In 9mm pistols, it has been my experience that barrels greater than 4.5” tend to be very tame shooters. I suspect that the XD Tactical’s 5” barrel allows for all of the powder to burn to minimize muzzle blast. Further, the additional weight at the muzzle end of the gun absorbs some of the energy that would otherwise cause the front of the gun to rise. With the reduction of muzzle blast and muzzle rise, the effects of recoil are significantly reduced.
Sub-Compact vs Service Model vs Tactical Model
I thought it would be interesting to run a pair of the most popular 9mm self-defense loads through an XD Sub-Compact, XD Service Model and XD Tactical Model and see what, if any, velocity differences there were.
So, I did. Here’s what I measured:
|XD9 SC||XD9 Service||XD9 Tactical|
|Federal HST 124-gr. JHP +P||1,107 fps||1,167 fps||1,241 fps|
|Speer Gold Dot 124-gr. JHP||1,043 fps||1,114 fps||1,165 fps|
As you can see, there is a significant increase in velocity with each additional inch of XD barrel. I am not suggesting that velocity alone is a deciding factor in the elusive concept of stopping power. However, I do know that traditional hollowpoint bullets use velocity as the mechanism to drive expansion. If the bullet fails to cross a velocity threshold when impacting a target, it won’t expand. An extra 50 fps might make the difference between perfect expansion and none at all.
I like the Springfield XD Tactical 9mm pistol. It offers all of the benefits of the Service Model pistol with the added benefits of lower felt recoil, increased bullet velocity and a longer sight radius. For a home defense pistol, the XD Tactical line makes a lot of sense to me since concealment isn’t a consideration.
For concealed carry, the Tactical Model is probably larger than most folks would like to tote. No worries – that’s why Springfield offers the Hellcat micro-pistol.
If you are a uniformed law enforcement or security officer, I think the XD Tactical is a good choice. You get a lot of benefits, and since you will carry exposed, concealment isn’t even a consideration.
So, if you’re in the market for a new pistol – give the XD Tactical Model a look. With its affordable price and known reliability, it might just be the gun you need.
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