Springfield Armory's Extreme Duty (XD) series pistols are one of the best all-around multipurpose handguns the modern shooter can have. They fill a variety of assignments from plinking and poking holes in paper to serious home and personal defense. The months just after Christmas is always the best time of year to get a good deal on a used XD as many who got new guns tend to farm out their older pieces to make room in the safe for new acquisitions. Following a few simple tips can help you pick out the great deals from the used pistol case at your local gun shop.
The XD in all of its variants has always had a BASF-based Ultramyd 66 polymer frame. While this is in general a low-stress part, the amount of recoil generated by full power loads in larger calibers like .45 GAP (or if the gun has been upgraded to such hot aftermarket rounds as .460 Rowland) can after time show signs of wear on these frames. Look for multiple splits, cracks, or repairs. While a frame is expected to have rubs, scratches and dings, anything worse and it is best to stay away from these warning signs unless you are looking for a project. A hairline crack, large chip, or a split-- if not properly repaired-- can lead to an expensive replacement.
Especially on older guns, you often find that owners have tried to customize thier XD with different patterns that, while leaving beauty in the eye of the beholder, can bring down the asking price without affecting the operation of the gun itself. However, be careful to check on these guns that the coating is not hiding cracks or splits.
Also, there is stippling to worry about. If a gun has been extensively stippled, and you are cool with how it looks, it may be a bargain waiting for you-- but be sure to check that the frame hasn't been overly weakened or damaged in the process. If you see something that looks bad, the pistol should not be shot until inspected by a competent gunsmith.
Slide and top half
Ask if you can field strip the gun and then do so. If the seller gives you the cold shoulder, treat with caution unless you just have money to burn. Once you do so safely, scan the slide inside and out for signs of metal peening and cracks or missing/loose pins. Likewise, if you notice heavy rust, pits, or oddly colored metal parts on the surface, you may be looking at a firearm that has spent some time underwater. Odds are the inside looks even worse. The melonite treatment that IM Metal puts on these guns in Croatia is very durable.
Test the palm safety and the trigger while the firearm is unloaded. Both should be crisp and smooth and function properly. If not, pump the breaks on the deal unless you are looking for a project.
Finally, look inside the barrel and check for rust and pits. Get a light of some sort. Any small strong bright flashlight will work but most sporting goods stores/gun shops have for use or will sell you for about $7 a bore light. This sharpie sized penlight has a hook-shaped tube that you can put inside the chamber throat (make sure it's unloaded!) to shine up the barrel. Look down the muzzle and into the barrel. If you see nice smooth and crisp rifling then you have a winner. If you see rusty patches, blotchy looking metal, or cracks that look like wrinkles, the gun may not be shootable. Ask if you/they could clean the barrel to see if it's just debris but if it's no better after a cleaning, you may want to rethink your offer.
If you do nothing else, check the action of the pistol itself a few times. Work it open and closed and pay attention that all of the parts move smoothly without binding or catching. If it wiggles, seems bent, or is very loose in ways not intended originally, you may have an issue. Worse, it may be a pistol that has been repaired by an incompetent or ill-trained gunsmith. Most XDs of almost any year will take 5000+ rounds before needing a repair to the action. With a typical shooter/owner firing a box or two a year through it, this translates into an expected lifespan of about 125 years or so. With that in mind, odds are the action should have a lot of life left in it.
Check the slide rails on the inside of the frame for cracks and bends, and that they are still solidly on the frame itself without a wiggle.
The most commonly replaced internal part is the recoil spring. To test a bad recoil spring, make sure you have a clear and assembled pistol, pull the trigger with the muzzle in a safe direction, rack the slide back to the rear with your finger still on the trigger, then let the slide ride forward gently while you keep hold of the slide. If the slide does not complete its travel to get back into battery, you likely need to replace that spring.
Video (yes, it's a Glock, but you get the same general idea) of how to check for recoil spring wear
Besides a recoil spring, the internal springs in the magazine are next to wear out. If you come across a used XD that has been stored with loaded magazines for years, you likely will have to replace your mag spring. To test, fully load a magazine with rounds. If you can do it effortlessly, you probably have to get a new spring. You can verify this when you unload the magazine by rapidly pushing out the cartridges with your thumb and, should you have rounds that suddenly tilt nose-forward into the magazine itself, this is a verification.
Good news is that replacement mag springs and recoil springs typically cost $10 or less.
How to change out mag springs
These guns, even in their oldest forms, are still relative newcomers on the market and have yet to build a very large following of collectors searching out neat vintage guns for their closets. With that being said, between 1999-2003 the gun we know as the XD was imported as the HS2000 which, although an early first gen model of the pistol we shoot today, is starting to become collectable. With that in mind, should you come across an especially minty variant that is complete with box, instructions, and the like, for a good price, it may be worth it to grab it as a hedge on inflation.
In addition, Springfield has long had a lifetime warranty for both the older HS guns and their newer models.
Regardless though, it's unlikely that you will come out on the bad end of the stick if you follow a few simple tricks. With a little luck and a close eye, it is easy to spot those good XD deals.