An Ugly Gun You Can Love: A Review of the XD-45 Compact

There’s a big difference between collecting guns and using guns. Collecting guns is an expensive hobby. If you are a gun collector, it’s quite easy to feel like you should own a representative sample of the multitude of firearms, in various calibers, with various features. Listen to the self-rationalizations that a collector sets forth to justify a myriad of purchases: I need to buy a Glock 17 (since it is the original classic), a Glock 19 (since it is easier to conceal), a 1911 (since it is a classic), a Remington Rand 1911 (since it is amazing to contemplate what the previous owner may have done with it and where the previous owner may have gone with it), a Sig 226 (since it has a unique manual of arms, is considered to be absolutely reliable, and is reportedly chosen by Secret Service and Navy SEALs), a S&W revolver in .357 Magnum (since revolvers are the real choice in reliability and have a unique trigger and manual of arms that I really should master if I want to be a well-rounded individual), a S&W lightweight snubbie (since they’re supposed to be very easy to drop into your jacket pocket), and so on, and so on. And that’s not even touching the list of long guns that you could generate if you are a gun collector.

On the other hand, using guns is not quite as expensive. If the armed citizen is able to limit purchases only to guns that will be used, costs are much more manageable. Most armed citizens are not going to handle the mental strain of rotating between daily carry and regular shooting of Glocks and 1911s and Sigs and revolvers and fill-in-the-blank. The hassle and cost of finding a holster solution that works for you for each of those guns is just too much for most people to justify. When the armed citizen has the restraint to only purchase guns that he or she will use (carry daily and shoot regularly), the number of firearms purchased and supported comes down to a practical level.

Springfield Armory’s XD-45 Compact is a gun that is worth considering for daily use. It’s not a gun that a collector need bother with. There are enough plastic Glock-ish guns out there, and XDs are generally an ugly lot, in my opinion. But for the citizen who has undertaken the responsibility of armed self-defense, this is a gun that should be on your


Let’s talk about why this gun works for daily carry.  First and foremost, the gun is reliable. A number of torture test articles have been published showing that sand and mud and water can be dumped into the gun without stopping it from running. The trigger, sights, and grip safety are made of metal, not plastic. The slide and barrel are coated with Melonite, which supposedly is the same process as Glock’s Tennifer coating. Basically, you have a gun that should hold up in harsh, salty, and dirty environments.

I ran 350 rounds though this gun, including 250 rounds of Speer Gold Dot 230 gr., without a single feeding problem. This is a stubby round that some .45 ACP gun manufacturers do not support in their guns, because of its feeding difficulties. As shown in the photo, the top round in the magazine sits so high in the gun, there is almost no vertical travel required to feed rounds into the chamber. This enables the XD to be much more tolerant of various hollow point profiles, unlike 1911s, where the topmost cartridge has a greater vertical distance to traverse when being chambered. So the XD Compact is reliable.


The XD-45 Compact is also chambered in .45ACP, a suitable cartridge for a defensive handgun. The .45 ACP round is bigger than a .38, bigger than a 9mm, and bigger than a .40. So the XD-45 Compact is powerful.

Conceals Well

But is it portable? The XD scores well in this regard, too. Most .45 handguns conjure images of big heavy things that pull your pants down. A full-size steel 1911, loaded with 7+1 rounds weighs about 2.75 pounds. An XD-45 Compact, loaded with 10+1 rounds, weighs 2.25 pounds — half a pound less. You might think that is negligible, but believe me, my back can tell the difference.

Weight is just one consideration in evaluating portability. How well does the gun conceal? The barrel is 4”, with a 7” slide. That’s quite workable. More importantly, the height of the gun is just under 5” with the magazine inserted. That reduction in grip size makes it as easy to conceal as a bobtailed 1911. Put on the gun and try bending over to see just how well the gun conceals.

For a holster, I asked Comp-Tac which model kept the grip of the gun closest to the body. They recommended their Gurkha model, which I purchased and am using. I find it to work quite well, though I did shave off just a little bit of Kydex in the area near the magazine release. When drawing, I found that the knuckle of my middle finger dragged on a ridge on the holster, but this was easily remedied with a razor and some sand paper

Fits Smaller Hands

Okay, so we’ve addressed reliability, power, and portability. The XD-45 Compact isn’t the only gun design out there that scores high in all of those areas. Let’s look at some of the gun’s other strengths. Here’s one area where it does better than merely matching a Glock: grip circumference. The XD-45 series has a grip circumference that matches a 1911. This means that people with smaller hands can obtain a proper firing grip on the gun, something that can’t be said for Glocks. This is a significant consideration in preventing feeding problems with a gun, especially when shooting with one hand. My wife is unable to reach the trigger on a Glock when holding it with a proper firing grip. On an XD-45, she can. The Glock frame, the Beretta M92 frame, Sig frames, and many others, are all just too wide in that area for smaller-handed shooters. The XD-45 fits smaller hands well.

Ammo Capacity

Another big advantage of the XD-45 Compact is the ammo capacity. In a package smaller than a full size 1911, the XD-45 Compact can carry 10+1 rounds of .45ACP.  That’s a very good thing! Most shooters will take just under 5 seconds between sighted shots to reload from a concealed magazine and shoot again. Five seconds is a looong time when you’re being attacked, so the more rounds in the gun, the less often you have to reload!

But when you do have to reload, here’s where Springfield Armory got especially clever. The gun comes with a 10 round magazine and a 13 round magazine. When you need to reload, you can insert 13 more rounds from your backup magazine. Here’s a rule from Mom: Brush and floss daily, and if you’re going to carry, carry at least one spare magazine. The backup magazine is a must for malfunction clearance and increased ammunition capacity. With 10+1 in the gun, and 13 in the spare magazine, you have 24 rounds — equivalent to a loaded 1911 with two spare magazines!

The especially clever thing about their 13-round magazine is that it transforms the XD-45 Compact into an XD-45 Service. Basically, the XD-45 Compact is an XD-45 Service with a truncated grip. A sleeve around the base of the 13-round magazine extends the grip of the gun to the size of a full XD-45.  It’s not an entirely original idea, but it comes that way out of the box. Well done!

Low Cost

The final advantage to the XD-45 Compact is its cost. You can buy the XD-45 Compact kit for about $550. That’s a very competitive price. Relative to the cost of Sigs, H&Ks, 1911s, etc., you’re less likely to be uptight about taking this gun into harsh/destructive environments. You’re also less likely to cry if it is stolen or lost by the airline.

The “Blahs”

Okay, so I’ve praised the XD-45 Compact for its reliability, power, portability, capacity, and cost. Let’s talk about the things that are “blah” about the gun and the drawbacks of the gun:
The gun is fairly ugly. Yes, that’s subjective, but a lot of people agree with me. As one esteemed person said, “Life’s too short to carry an ugly gun.” The XD is ugly, but the truncated grip of the XD-45 Compact restores a bit of proper proportionality to the overall ugliness of full-sized XDs. I’m not surprised to hear that the XD was originally designed in Croatia.

The shooting characteristics are so-so. My XD has a trigger with a decent amount of pre-travel, then a mushy (but even) pull before the striker drops, and then a long, indistinct reset. But even without a crisp trigger, the gun is quite accurate. Standing, two-handed, using only iron sights I had no problem keeping my shots in a 4” circle at 7 feet, 15 feet, and 30 feet. The feel of the recoil is nothing special. The bore is higher than in a 1911, so there seems to be more flip, and it doesn’t seem to magically downgrade the “feel” of the recoil, the way that Smith & Wesson’s M&P .40 does.


The truncated grip makes it easy to pinch your hand when inserting the magazine. The grip is large enough that my entire shooting hand can hold the grip, but I find myself loosening my fingers a little, just around the mag well, when inserting a magazine.
Another drawback is the lack of factory night-sights. Though aftermarket solutions are available, I would have preferred to have factory installed night-sights. Not a deal breaker, just a drawback.


So there you have it. If you want a gun that you can use, the XD-45 Compact is a very good choice to consider. Surprisingly, it’s a great combination of strengths for a moderately ugly gun. If you’re a 1911 or Glock snob, try this gun. After all, if you don’t like it [sotto voce] you can always give it to your wife!

This article is provided to us by our friends at the United States Concealed Carry Association. To stay informed on concealed carry options and issues click here.