Springfield Armory's XD series combat pistols have been popular in the US for nearly a decade. Prominently marked on the side of each slide are the words: Made in Croatia.
So what's the deal with that? Are XD pistols really made in Croatia, and moreover, who makes them?
Who is Springfield Armory?
The Springfield Armory, founded in 1777 by then-General George Washington to make cartridges and gun carriages for the Continental Army in Springfield, Massachusetts. For nearly 200 years, the government-owned arsenal produced Springfield muskets, the 1903 Springfield rifle, and was the birthplace of both the M1 Garand and the M14. In 1968, the arsenal was closed by bean counter Robert McNamara and given to the National Park Service as a museum.
In 1974, the company known today as Springfield Armory, Inc. opened up shop in Texas under the leadership of Elmer C. Balance to produce semi-auto M14 style rifles. Over the years, the company changed hands and moved to Geneseo, Illinois. Since then they have sold clones of several US military rifles as well as imported arms made overseas by Imbel, Astra, and Tanfoglio. They run an amazing custom shop originally founded by Les Baer (yes, that Les Baer).
In 2002, the company approached IM Metal about their interesting little HS2000 pistol.
IM Metal/HS Produkt
The Balkan European country of Croatia is famous for inventing the necktie, saving Europe a few times from Turkish invasions, among other things. Croatian immigrants (Nikola Tesla included) helped build the modern United States and their descendants here count such well-known persons as Nick Saban, Eric Bana, and John Malkovich. Once part of the polyglot People's Republic of Yugoslavia (and before 1918 the Austro-Hungarian Empire), Croatia had to fight for its independence in the 1990s.
More than 12,000 Croats died in a four-year period before their country stood as a free nation. Among those veterans of that conflict were Ivan abčić and Marko Vuković. The pair set about producing pistols for the struggling Croatian army during the war from their company known as IM Metal. The made both a model of the Walther P38 and the SIG P226 locally under the most pressing of conditions.
By 2000, with peace settling over the country, they designed a modern polymer framed pistol with the use of CNC machines and CAD-CAM systems that they dubbed the HS2000. It was a short recoil, locked breech mechanism, self-loading, safety locked action pistol with a slightly different operation than either the polymer framed Glock or the more conventional all-metal handguns of the time. It weighed in at the same size and had the same exterior dimensions of the Glock 19 9mm pistol-- but was about $200 less. Unlike the Glock, the HS gun had a grip safety, which appealed to many users. Early models of the HS2000 were a hit overseas and were soon appearing around the world. By 2001, Vukovic and Zabcic renamed the company HS Produkt , after their pistol.
The XD/HS partnership
In 2002, Springfield Armory started importing the HS2000 to the States. Renamed the XD, the pistol boasted Springfield roll marks, English manuals, and other features to make it import compliant. Over the past decade, the XD has surged in popularity as an alternative to the Glock, Smith and Wesson M&P, and HK Pro series. With a new factory built in the sleepy little fortress town of Karlovac, Croatia capable of making more than 100 XDs every single day, Springfield's armory is now along the banks of the Dobra River. Of Karlovac's population of 45,000, more than a thousand work at the state of the art HS plant. In the past decade, more than a half million of these all-Croatian designed and built beauties have been sold in the US.
So yes, XDs are born in Croatia, but hey, Springfield Armory (Inc.) knows a good thing when they see it. A half-million XD fans can't be wrong.