Most XD owners who know a thing or two about the history of their guns are aware that the Springfield Armory XD started as the HS-2000 in Croatia. What they may not know is that before the HS, there was the HS95. That gun was very different from today's XD but by knowing the gun's past you can see its present.
Why the HS95
Founded in 1853, Zastava Arms in Kragujevac Yugoslavia (then Serbia, now Serbia again) has long been a player in the firearms game. For 150 odd years, they made various Mauser, SKS, and AK47 rifles for the Serbian, then Yugoslavian, now Serbian again military. In 1989, the Communist Yugo government needed a new police and military pistol and they went looking at what was availble in Europe. In West Germany, the Walther P88 was the new popular gun, in nearby Switzerland the SIG P220 was a well-liked duty weapon and solid export.
The Swiss designed, US/German made SIG P226 of the late 1980s...
With Western copyrights, trademarks, and patents considered rather loosely in Communist countries, Zastava came out that year with the CZ99, which looks and acts rather....um...closely to the P88/P220 of its neighbors. It was adopted by the Yugo military and police and exported quickly for foreign currency. License built copies were soon in production in South Africa (as the TZ99) and Israel (as the Golan)
The Yugoslav CZ99 of 1989....as you can tell, there is a slight resemblance
The designation HS95 literally means Croatian Pistol Model of (19)95. HS is the acronym for Hrvatski Samokres, literally Croatian Pistol, and it first came from the company's lines in 1995. As you read above, before the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in 1990, the gun was designed and built by the state factory of Zastava as the CZ99. Well when Croatia became its own country that year, a group named IM Metal started making pistols. By 1995, they had the CZ99, slightly redesigned, and rebranded as the HS95 in production.
Built with an investment casting steel frame to save weight and a steel slide, it's of all-metal construction. Its uses a short-recoil Browning locking design similar to that found on the Browning Hi-Power and Colt 1911. Double action/single action with an ambi frame mounted safety/decock lever, its fed from a double stack 15-shot detachable box magazine. It was only chambered in 9x19mm Parabellum, the standard NATO military round. Croatia did not join NATO until 2009 but at the time, they were close allies to the West, with NATO and US troops conducting training and peacekeeping missions inside the country. It doesn't hurt that 9mm is the most common handgun ammo found on the worldwide market either.
At the outset, it greatly resembles a SIG Sauer Model 220-series pistol and has much of the same design characteristics. In fact, parts of it, such as the firing pin safety, may be unlicensed copies of SIG patents. Weight comes in at a hefty 36-ounces empty, which is a little stout even for a full-sized combat handgun. SIG and Walther both use alloy frames to save weight. Overall length with a 4-inch barrel is 7.11-inches.
The gun was not very popular due to its weight in Croatian service although apparently several were accepted for service there. It was replaced after 1999 by the HS2000, which you may know better as the XD. IM Metal changed their name to HS Produkt and the rest is history. Old HS95s are imported into the US with pretty good regularity and are available in both new-old production and used-surplus stocks with prices running from $195-$400.
Zasatava still makes and sells the CZ99 today.
HS Produkt on the other hand, has its hands full these days making a more polymer gun of their own exclusive design.