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I enjoy doing fun things outdoors. Family adventures, hunting, fishing, hiking, photography, 4 wheeling, etc. Get out there and enjoy ... NOTE: IF YOU CLICK ON MY PHOTOS IN THE BLOG POST THEY WILL BECOME LARGER.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Springfield XDs vs M&P Shield - The Experience ...

My recent firearm purchase was for a conceal/carry gun. 

What caliber?  I was thinking .380.  From my .380 research the Kahr P380 was it.  It’s a great gun with great reviews.  That was it for me until I held one and realized my hands are too big and my fingers are to long so it didn’t fit my hand at all … NUTS … At that point I decided to stay with the 9mm caliber for my conceal carry gun.  I love to research so let the conceal / carry games begin.  

Glock, Sig, Kahr, Baretta, Springfield, Smith & Wesson, Ruger, CZ, Taurus, Kel Tec, H&K, Walther, and the list goes on.  There are some great choices out there.  To create more confusion many manufacturers have multiple carry models in the same caliber to choose from.  Springfield, for example, has the 1911 EMP, the XD sub compact, the XDM compact, and the XDs.

First I would "Ask Individuals" what they thought.  Kind of a consensus approach.  It reminded me of asking someone what NASCAR driver or Sports team they like.  They had some good answers but I found manufacturer loyalty was very strong even when research says one gun may be better than another.  The Glock guy says go Glock. The Sig guy says buy a Sig.  The M&P guy says get an M&P.  You get the picture.  (My friend Rob has the M&P .45 and just bought the M&P Shield in 9mm). 

Next, I can’t tell you how many shops I visited using the "Hands On Approach".  Big hands and long fingers ruled out several for me.  Differing styles (revolvers, semi automatics), sizes, magazine capacities, grips, sights, etc.  The gun has to feel good and fit your hands.  It can be the best gun out there but if it doesn't fit you will have control issues.

I currently have Ruger Redhawk .44mag, Smith & Wesson .22a competition, Smith & Wesson M&P22 Full Size (great training gun), and a Springfield XDm 9mm pistol as well as Weatherby, Remington, Springfield, and Franchi rifles and/or shotguns so I am not partial to one manufacturer.  I buy for function, features, and purpose and have different caliber weapons.  In this case I already had a 9mm pistol and wanted my conceal gun (different purpose) to be the same as something I already had.  Accuracy has always been a big thing for me so that is something I look for in reviews.  

Third, my "Research" pointed me to Smith & Wesson’s M&P Shield and the Springfield XDs 3.3 (3.3 is the barrel length in inches) for many reasons.   When the Shield came out, research said it blew the competition away. (look it up)  More recently the Springfield XDs came out.  Research indicated it was slightly improved over the Shield in a couple areas (look it up) but it would really come down to preference.  My thought is no gun gets a perfect 100.  If the Shield is a 98/100 and the XDs is a 98.5/100 the bottom line is you can’t go wrong with the Shield or the XDs.  The major differences I noticed when handling both guns:  both grips were great,  XDs grip was more harsh.  There is a small thumb safety on the Shield, the XDs has a back strap safety and trigger safety.  The extended Mag on XDs holds 1 more round.  The XDs 3.3 and Shield are pretty much identical in length.  The XDs slightly thinner.  The Breakdown for cleaning slightly different.  The XDs has a fiber optic front sight.  These things being a pro or con comes down to personal preference. 

Over the years I have put 15,000+ rounds through my S&W .22a, around 1000 rounds through my Ruger Redhawk, and 1000’s of rounds through my Springfield XDm.  I have never had an issue with my Ruger.  I have never had an issue, jam, or misfire with my Springfield XDm. 

Customer Service - S&W: I’ve had 2 customer service experiences because of minor issues with my 22a. 1) The plastic spacer wore out due to lots of use.  I called S&W Customer Service and they sent me more spacers at no charge so I was impressed.  2) After shooting 15,000+ rounds the firing pin recently broke.  I called S&W Customer Service to ask about the repair and the cost of the part (was $5).  Customer Service sent me a new firing pin at no charge.  If I went to another site it would have cost me $7-10 + shipping (the shipping could have cost more than the part).  Now you may say it was only a $5 part but that’s not the point.  My point is I didn’t call S&W to get a free part …  but they sent me one.  My 2 personal experiences with S&W Customer Service have been outstanding.  Kudos to S&W. 

Customer Service - Ruger: I have had one customer service experience with my Ruger Redhawk.  Being over 20 years old, to me the springs on the adjustable rear sights seemed weak so I called.  Customer service sent me new sight springs and a rear sight assembly at no charge.  Not expected by me.  Kudos to Ruger.

Customer Service - Springfield:  I have yet to have any issue with my Springfield so I can't comment on their customer service. 

Anthony did have one jam with his XDM from a bad crimp on a reload.  For an hour we tried to get that round out at the range with no success so we decided to pack up and go home.  I already had 3 targets set up at 10 yards.  Time to go … I took 3 shots with my XDM.  1st shot left target, 2nd shot center target, 3rd shot right target.  With the competition barrel on my XDM I can put multiple's in center mass or I can clear the red ...

Once home I called Gary.  He rescued us and helped us get the round out.  It was definitely a bad reload.  We have never had a jam since …

Through my research results and the reliability of my XDM, I finally decided to go with the Springfield XDs 3.3.  I wanted the bi tone but no one seemed to have one in stock.  While patiently waiting I went onto the Springfield site only to find out about the new XDs 4.0 that is SHIPPING SOON !!!  (.70 inch difference in barrel and gun length)  NOW, I had to wait for the see if I like it better than the 3.3.

I have been accused by someone who will remain anonymous (Gary) of over researching to the point of not buying anything.  Sometimes called “Analysis Paralysis”.  He says if I wait long enough Springfield might come out with a 4.1 … SLAP ... OUCH !! 

What are differences in the 4.0 vs the 3.3?  The 4.0 may be a bit harder to carry in a pocket holster because of the added slide length (same width and handle length as the 3.3).  The 4.0 has a longer sight radius.  The 4.0 weighs a couple ounces more up front so recoil is slightly lower. 

My friend Gary said there should be no real difference between the two for someone who shoots as much as I do so I decided the next bi tone I saw in either 3.3 or 4.0 is what I would buy.  I saw nothing in those next few weeks.

The following weekend I went to 4 gun shops.  At the 3rd shop I held a 4.0 in all black and compared it to a 3.3 in all black.  I still decided the next 9mm bi tone in either 3.3 or 4.0 is what I would buy.  At the 4th shop I saw 2 XDs bi tones.  I took a number.  That’s right … this shop is so busy you take a number just like you do at the deli in your grocery store.  They called my number and I told the sales guy I want an XDs 9mm bi tone in either 3.3 or 4.0.  He had 2 3.3 bi tones in the case !!!

He took a bi tone out, checked empty … opened the slide … and put the gun on the counter for me.  It looked good, It felt good, so I told him I’ll take it. 

He took a photo of my license and I start working on the background check form.

Background Check Form Side Note: When I bought the Mosin Nagant a couple months ago it took me 3 tries to fill out the background check form. (I was told the record was 13)  Why … because you can't make any mistakes, you can't cross anything out, etc.  Note to self … Where it asks you for your height, do not put 6’0” … there is a separate line for each.  Start again.  Note to self … When it asks you what city and state you were born in, do not put Mpls for Minneapolis … you cannot abbreviate.  Start again …

Back to the XDs.  I completed the form the first time.  Good for me.  As the sales guy filled in the pistol information on the back he stopped and looked perplexed!!!  I looked at him and said “What’s the matter”?  He said he messed up and is trying to figure out how to make the 9 into a 4.  I said ”Why would you do that?  I want a 9mm !!!”  He said “This is a .45 !!!”  I said “I don’t want a 45, I want a 9mm !!!”.  He then went to the case, looked and said, “WE HAVE NO XDs 9mm PISTOLS!!”.  Not to digress but when you were told:
“Santa Clause is Not Real” … SAME FEELING …
“There is No Easter Bunny” … SAME FEELING
“The Tooth Fairy Forgot About You” … SAME FEELING ...

Now, this is where I need to confess it wasn’t 100% the sales guys fault.  I did tell him I wanted the XDs 9mm bi tone.  The .45 and the 9mm are identical in size except for the barrel diameter and the number of rounds the magazine can hold.  Did I read the tag on the gun he handed me? … NOPE … Did I look closely at the barrel or read the etching on the gun saying it was a 45? … NOPE …

You see at that moment I was in a state of euphoria … 
I found my 9mm bi tone …  
I was floating on the clouds ... 
I couldn't see as my eyes had rolled back in my head like a shark feeding … 
I was dreaming about what holster I would buy ... 
Visualizing shooting my bi tone at the range … 

Needless to say, my perfect background check form was shredded.  I was told they will call me when a 9mm bi tone arrives.

Could it have been worse … OH YES … All gun sales are final.  If the transfer was put through would it have been possible to transfer the gun back to the store?  Would I have to pay a transfer fee?  I know it wouldn’t have been possible if I left the store.   Imagine getting that pistol home only to find out it's the WRONG CALIBER !!!  

Learn from my mistake.  Don't leave it to the sales person ... Don't leave it to the tag on the gun as I'm sure there have been instances where the tag was incorrect ... Examine the gun and read the writing on it before you put down your hard earned cash. 

The following week I received a call that an XDs 9mm 3.3 and 4.0 had come in.  They were black so I held.  That same day I received another call saying an XDs 9mm 3.3 bi tone had come in and they were holding it for me.  I went in the next day … application again … background check … clear … I had my bi tone.

I took it to the range and set up targets at 20 feet.  My first shot was at a dirty bird target.  Bullseye, ¼ inch left and ¼ inch low from dead center (bullseye was 1½ inches in diameter).  I felt good about that.  After 100 rounds through my XDs I was very happy with its accuracy.  

The XDs is a nice carry gun but I don't have an IWB holster.

It was time to start the IWB holster search.  Crossbreed, Comp Tac, White Hat, Stealth Gear,  Raven, G-Code, N8, Uncle Mikes, Sticky, DeSantis, Blackhawk, etc.  Various sizes, shapes, materials, clip arrangements … too many choices … 

It was a tough choice ... From lots of research my first cut narrowed the field to Crossbreed, Comp Tack, Stealth Gear, and N8.

After much more research I made my decision and bought the Stealth Gear Onyx for my primary IWB holster.  Why?  I liked the breathable aspect of the holster, the full coverage of the Kydex to protect my slide and front sight, and no rivets.  The N8 would have been my second choice for primary IWB holster.  I also bought a Sticky holster for a hidden pocket in one of my hunting packs.  

There you have it ... For me it's the XDs 9mm 3.3 bi tone with the Stealth Gear Onyx IWB holster.  I enjoyed the research and will let you know how the Onyx holster works out.

XDs 3.3, 10 rounds off-hand at 6 yds
Oh ... someone did ask me about the magazines.  My 3.3 came with two 7 round magazines.  I bought two 9 round magazines direct from Springfield.   

Update on the Stealth Gear Onyx holster.  I have to admit this holster is great.  I haven't had any issues with it.  It's very breathable in hot weather and very comfortable.  More reviews have come in confirming my research on this holster.  It's an excellent IWB holster ...
The link below is to another post of mine on range safety.  It's an experience I witnessed at a range and is a good learning experience.  Be safe ...

Go to: "Search This Blog" at the top of my page and type in "Shooting" to see past posts.


  1. Terrific article and entertainingly written! Just got back from shopping at Gander together 'hands on research ' to choose between XDs 3.3/Shield/Glock 19. I'm leaning towards the XDs with an IWB. My only concern is this; does the handle safety concern you in a 'scuffle' situation when you need to get a round into your attacker under sub-par gripping, or is that an excessive/silly concern? Then again, I'm not a safety purist and I kinda like having it there. Thoughts? Plus, the XDs just seems a tad hardier. Do you at all regret the 3.3 over the 4.0? Thanks again for the great read!

  2. Thanks Kurt. Regarding the back strap safety I don't have a concern in a sub-par gripping situation. The back strap safety has been around for a long time. Many of the 1911 pistols use it. My thought is if there were issues with the back strap safety it would have gone away long ago. From my research it does seem to be a love it or hate it thing. Regarding the 3.3 I don't regret buying the 3.3 over the 4.0. I have put just over 1000 rounds through my XDs 3.3. Very pleased, great gun, accurate, and I would buy the 3.3 again ...

  3. As Kurt commented, what a GREAT article...and YES....very entertainingly written! Had to laugh about the "No Santa, Easter Bunny,Tooth Fairy" feelings! LOL! One afternoon when I was probably 7+ years old, my Dad, (never long on patience anyway) had I guess just HAD it with me asking questions about Santa, etc. In one fell swoop he blurted out, "NO! There's NO Santa! There's NO Easter Bunny! And there's NO Tooth Fairy either!!!" Forty years of counseling later and I "think" I'm just getting over it! LOL!
    I also had to laugh about the "Analysis Paralysis". That is me to a TEE! I research the absolute CRAP out of everything to the point that I drive myself (and those around me) just about crazy!
    I, too, have narrowed my choices down to the M&P Shield 9mm or the XDs 9mm for concealed carry, and have read as many "Shield vs. XDs" posts as I could find.
    It's kind of come down to wanting to buy the Shield because it's completely made here in the U.S. (versus Croatia), and I'm sure I couldn't go wrong with purchasing it. But...that Bi-tone XDs just has such eye appeal and a "coolness factor", that I keep coming back to IT as well.
    Since you wrote your blog back in January of this year, I'm wondering if you've since had a chance to shoot a Shield or the XDs 4" barrel? And, since almost a full year has now gone by....are you still just as happy with your choice?
    I've found the XDs 9 3.3 and the Springfield "Essentials Kit" online for $429.00, which appears to be a fairly good price. I'm just about ready to hit the "Submit" button on my purchase order.....
    Again.....thanks for a great write up and a couple of laughs!!!

  4. Thanks for the comments Doug. The shield is a good gun and “Made in the USA” is important. However, that wasn’t a criteria I used when doing my research.

    My son in law has a Shield as does a good friend of mine. I have shot the Shield (mostly the 9mm and 40) numerous times at my club. That being said I am very happy with my choice buying the Springfield XDs and yes I would buy the XDs again.

    As I stated in the beginning of my post I haven’t made a gun purchase choice because I favor one manufacturer or brand but for function, features, and purpose. Most recent after my XDs was a 22 pistol purchase.

    As I like to and have the ability to clear the red on targets the debate for me was along the lines of buying something more for competition shooting, plunking, or more for training. After looking at and playing with many 22’s (same process as with my 9mm) I opted more for the training and bought the Smith & Wesson M&P 22 full frame.

    WHY? The M&P 22 full frame is a great training gun and pretty accurate. If you teach someone or train using a full frame pistol transitioning to a small frame is not as difficult. If you teach or train on a small frame the full frame guns can seem unmanageable especially if a person has smaller hands. The nice thing about the M&P 22 full frame is it is the same size, has the same cant, same sights, and the same trigger as the M&P 9, 40, and 45 (however the weight is different due to the bullet weights). That makes it a great gun to train with for a lot less money.

    For me it’s still function, features, and purpose …




Rockport, MA

Rockport, MA
Rockport, MA