Springfield XD 3" or 4" for a newbie?

Springfield XD 3" or 4" for a newbie?

This is a discussion on Springfield XD 3" or 4" for a newbie? within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I’ll be purchasing my first handgun within a few weeks, and wanted some advice. I’ve decided on a Springfield XD either in the 3” sub-compact ...

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Thread: Springfield XD 3" or 4" for a newbie?

  1. #1
    New Member Array JMS's Avatar
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    Mar 2006
    Mufreesboro, TN

    Springfield XD 3" or 4" for a newbie?

    I’ll be purchasing my first handgun within a few weeks, and wanted some advice. I’ve decided on a Springfield XD either in the 3” sub-compact or the 4” Service model. As for the main reasons I’ve decided on the XD: I like Springfield Armory, I’ve read and been told very good things about the XD, and I like the added grip safety in addition to the trigger safety rather than a separate external hammer safety.

    I plan on using this as a “one-size-fits-all” handgun, both for fun shooting at the range, person home defense, and probably concealed carry once I get my permit. Unfortunately at this point in time it is not financially feasible to buy one full-size model and another sub-compact for carry use. The local gun store I went and chatted with about this suggested I go with the 4” rather than the 3” as it will be more enjoyable to shoot, especially for being my first handgun. Honestly I’m more concerned for utility for this purchase, rather than simply enjoyment. A pure enjoyment buy will come with my next purchase. I have a stereotypical “tall skinny white guy” build, being 6’3” and 150lbs, tend to wear basic jeans and a t-shirt, but may move to more business casual dress in the near future.

    Do you guys think that the 4” will be harder for me to conceal than the 3”, or that this difference is acceptable for the better performance of the 4” as I’m a newbie shooter? Whichever purchase I make, I plan on spending lots of time getting used to the weapon and putting hundreds of rounds through it in addition to taking a training class. Unfortunately (as I was told by the store) there are very few ranges in N. Colorado, and none that they knew of which rented these weapons. I also don’t know anyone who has one or both, so the option of my trying them out for a bit to see which one feels best does not seem to be available. I appreciate any advice anyone has to offer.

  2. #2
    VIP Member (Retired Staff) Array P95Carry's Avatar
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    Mar 2005
    South West PA
    I would personally opt for the 4" - providing you can feel it is OK for carry. I cannot assess the overall physical differences between the two but just have a preference for something more ''full size'' than compact.

    With semi's I feel that the recoil spring is less compromized when larger - there is if you will less problem in design for longer slides. Maybe even better spring longevity too.

    We have some XD owners here so I'll leave them to add their more useful thoughts.
    Chris - P95
    NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.

    "To own a gun and assume that you are armed
    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."

    http://www.rkba-2a.com/ - a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.

  3. #3
    Lead Moderator
    Array rocky's Avatar
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    Jan 2005
    While the 4" may be a bit harder to conceal, the accuracy (especially for a new shooter) and recoil will be improved with the larger gun.
    for a first handgun, a longer sight radius(distance between frnt and rear sights) and less recoil will make a big diffrence in learning how to shoot well.
    You do not specify caliber, but in reality any of the 4 SA offers should work well with the correct ammo.
    since you probably cannot shoot the gun before buying, atleast work all the controls and be sure it :
    1. naturally points well for you
    2. the grip feels ok, isn't too big ect.
    3. all the controls can be manipulated without too much shifting of the firing hand.
    If you find a decent gun store clerk , they will help you pick out what should work well for you.
    "In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock." Thomas Jefferson

    Nemo Me Impune Lacesset

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  5. #4
    Member Array Airedale's Avatar
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    Jan 2006
    Get the 4" for what Chris and Rocky said. You'll have better results with a service sized pistol for your first.
    Enjoy it,

  6. #5
    VIP Member Array Euclidean's Avatar
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    Dec 2004
    JMS you are where I was about a year ago. It's a tough call to make. Both the 3" XD and the 4" XD are good choices but like so many others, you have to choose!

    I have recently on a whim invested in the 3" XD9 and I also have a 4" XD40 and a 4" XD45ACP. They are not my favorite handguns for enjoyment, but I am a believer in the XD series. You can tell they're denying your greatness when the best complaint they have against you is a perceived high bore axis, hehe.

    I too was concerned at first with the decision to go subcompact or service.

    - The 3" model is easier to conceal, but of course it is, it's smaller. I have carried the 4" model around for a while now and I've never had any problems concealing it. I have carried it principally IWB. The only times the 4" might be a problem is when you must tuck in your shirt in my experience. I wear the 4" IWB with nothing but a T shirt for cover all the time. Of course I prefer a pretty radical cant, which helps for concealment. I do find it to be a hard gun to conceal when I must wear Dockers or slacks, but that's mostly because when I wear such garments, I have to tuck my shirt in, sit down for long periods of time, and am in close contact with other people in crowded spaces. I believe a better holster would solve that problem though.

    - The 3" offers a two finger grip with the flush magazine but will accept the full capacity magazines with the grip sleeves for a 3 finger grip. That's a neat trick, but to me the 4" with its full sized seamless grip feels better.

    -I would not consider the subcompact gun hard to shoot per se, but it is a different shooting experience than the 4" XD. The XD platform tames felt recoil very well, but it is more noticeable out of the 3" model. A lot of this has to do with your hand's bone structure and size; some people tend to naturally shoot better with smaller guns and some prefer larger ones and I tend to prefer larger guns by and large. But I've also shot the Service sized XD9 in addition to the SC XD9 and for overall the service size was the better performer for me. I personally am a fan of .40 S&W but I would not want the XD40SC unless I were to carry low recoil loads in it, such as the low recoil Federal Hydrashoks. This coming from a guy who's a fan of the XD40 service.

    - The grip for me was the dealbreaker. I wanted that 3 finger grip real bad, and I discovered and can now verify that if you plan on carrying the SC with the grip extending mags, you just might as well carry the 4" model. It'll be the same size for all intents and purposes for most people.

    - Your caliber choice may not give you an option. The 9mm XD comes in both sizes as does the .40 S&W, but the .357 Sig only comes in the 4". I do not know of a conversion barrel to shoot .357 Sig out of the .40 S&W compact personally. The .45 ACP or GAP is not available in the SC either last time I checked.

    - I personally find the controls on the 4" model easier to manipulate for no good reason.

    - If you're willing to go through a lot of time and headache and spend a lot of money or take a risk, some people have take the service sized XDs and cut the frame with a hacksaw on the grip to shorten it, similar to the Glock 17 to 19L conversion. I personally don't reccommend that and I'll explain why if asked, I'm just too lazy to type it right now.

    Okay roundup time: I prefer the 4". There are specialized situations available where the 3" is a tad better for concealment, but by and large I feel the subcompact XD is an awkward size for a lot of people. I can conceal my Colt DS much more easily than I can the XD9SC, and the 3" model really is not that much smaller than the 4" model to justify the exclusion of the 4" model.

    Don't be intimidated by size even if you're new to concealment. Even the 5" XDs aren't too large to carry. The only reason I don't carry one or own one yet is because that extra inch would poke into me every time I sat down. If I was skinnier I might try it. Coincidentally I want a 5" XD for no good reason but it's very very low on the priority list.

    Thus I feel the 4" XD just makes the most sense. It's easier to shoot than the 3", you don't have to have two different kinds of magazines, it can be carried just about any way if you buy the right holster and dress around it, and it affords the most caliber and down the road customization options if you plan to go that way. Personally I leave mine bone stock at least for now, I may play with my 4" XD40 sometime for fun.

    The 3" XD I feel is viable if you have specialized needs or the ergonomics are superior. I feel that very few people would prefer the 3" for its feel however. The 4" XDs in the 9/40/357 frame are the height of comfort for most people. I sincerely feel their overall ergonomics in that size are the best the series has to offer.

    I'm still experimenting with the 3" XD and I would not be surprised if I trade it towards another 4" model down the road. For now I'm impressed with it and I think it'll be a winner for me with further practice and evaluation, but even as I type this the 4" model is on my belt.

    If I were going to only have one XD, I'd choose the 4" model in whatever caliber floats your boat. I own the XD40 and XD45ACP and like both very much, but I've shot the XD9 and cannot deny the appeal.

  7. #6
    VIP Member Array Bud White's Avatar
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    Dec 2004
    Away - Health Problems
    As one who started with the XDsc and has since went to many fullsize guns ..

    Get the 4" my SC gets carried about nada i carried it once this year so far when i went to gun show since that make ya unload and zip tie the action ..

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