Recently, quite by accident, I ran across my first reference to the new Springfield XD-S 4-inch .45.
My first thought wasn't all that kind. "Wait, they took an outstanding tiny .45 and made it bigger? WTF?
But then my brain said "Hang on a moment, and take a fresh look at what we have here." A 7+1 .45ACP, 5.4" high, 7" long with 4" barrel, 24.5 ounces, and only 0.9" wide. Excellent ergonomics. Quality short-reset trigger. Good sights. Multiple passive safety systems designed around the opening (safe) and closing (bang) of the human hand.
That's essentially a Colt Commander, in dimensions and concept. (!!!)
And the promise goes farther. The trigger guard is conspicuously more glove-friendly than the 1911's is. The overall length is at least half an inch shorter than the Commander's, for those who rely on the length of the cover garment for concealment, but barrel length is still a service-length 4". It's several ounces lighter than even the aluminum-framed 1911s. It's flatter even than my deliberately "slim-lined" 1911 frames. There are interchangeable backstraps to adjust for different hand sizes. With a two-sided magazine release and no manual thumb safety, the gun itself is ambi-friendly right out of the box. The feed system was designed from the beginning for high-performance hollowpoints. Takedown is simpler. And simply by changing magazines, the gun changes from 7+1 and 5.4" high, to 5+1 and 4.4" high, which makes a huge difference for concealed carry.
And it's cheaper than a good Commander. Even before considering the idea of two-guns-in-one for the price of a magazine change.
Well now. That does seem significant.
Cons? Well, I admit I'm still a little leery of the idea of using the magazine as a grip length extender. I would think that this must somehow affect the practice of magazine changes, but I have not run such a gun to see how it holds up in actual use, and who knows, maybe it's not a problem at all. As well, as nice as the XD-S trigger is...it's just not the same as a good 1911, because nothing else is.
But really, that's about it.
The more I think about it, the more it seems to me that this might be the way to go for someone starting out. A single gun that could serve both as a full-sized service sidearm and a very viable concealment piece (with one full-sized reload, one would have 13 rounds available). Provided it runs (and I'll assume that with Springfield's reputation, it will), it's like a modernized Colt Lightweight Commander, but with some useful extras, and less expensive to boot. The trigger is good enough to do nearly anything you'd want to do with such a weapon, and up here at least the glove-friendly trigger guard is not a trivial consideration.
And for someone who can afford a second piece as well, having both an XD-S 4" and the shorter XD-S 3.3" (for those times when another 3/4" shorter would make a difference), sharing the same magazines and leather, would represent quite an efficient overall system to cover all the bases.
Now I need to try one, to find out. If the concept is viable, I'd want to recommend with confidence, and that would seem to be an important recommendation for noobs, who do tend to ask.
While I'm daydreaming, I do wonder how viable the XD-S system might be to a .460 Rowland conversion, which would add mid-level .44 Magnum power to the same platform. :-)