Springfield Armory - Past, Present, and Future
The Springfield M-1A. 1911. How much more iconic can you get? Also, the XD-series of pistols, which was the very first legitimate competitor to the Glock throne. Springfield Armory, Inc., not to be confused with the original Springfield Armory in Massachusetts, has been producing and importing winners for nearly fifty years now.
The Early Years of Springfield Armory
Unlike many other preeminent firearms manufacturers, Springfield is relatively young, coming into existence in 1974 in Geneseo, Illinois. That’s not exactly accurate; the first iteration of Springfield Armory in Texas by Elmer C. Ballance began making civilian M14 rifles and coining them the M1A.
In 1974, he sold Springfield Armory to the Reese family, which is where the company resides to this day.
The M1A remains perhaps their most iconic offering, with it remaining an excellent seller and wildly popular despite the hefty price point.
Their next foray was tackling the infamous John Browning 1911 design. Now, it seems that no matter how many manufacturers produce a 1911 clone, as long as it is reliable, it is touted as an advancement in technology and sells like crazy. When Spring Armory, Increased their rendition of 1911, the market was not nearly as crowded with heavy-hitting names like Smith & Wesson, Ruger, and economy-minded giant Taurus; Springfield Armory was competing with Colt and some high-end manufacturers. In this time, they were able to gain some critical footing in the 1911 market, which has held well since the advent of strong contenders in the past decade.
The Polymer Era
Diehards sneered at the polymer-framed Glock for a long time, bemoaning it as being just too light and lacking durability (which has been thoroughly debunked). In the “Wonder Nine” era, Glock remained relatively isolated as a striker-action, polymer-framed pistol for a number of years (save the terrible S&W Sigma, an obvious Glock knockoff which was just awful). However, a few handguns globally were comparable to the Glock, but they had no legitimate platform to compete. A case in point was a little-known pistol from Croatia named the HS2000.
The pistol was initially imported and marketed by HSAmerica, but it lacked the horsepower to make an entry into the American market. In 2002, Springfield Armory negotiated an agreement to license the HS pistol, which became the original eXtreme Duty (XD) series of pistols, of which the rest is history.
Since their rebranding of the HS2000 in 2002, Springfield Armory has continuously updated the design, releasing the XDm in 2007. The XDm was the highest capacity 9mm on the market with a 19+1 capacity. In 2012, they released the XDs, big bore, single-stack .45 ACP bad boy, a prominent CCW pistol on the market, having since been released in 9x19mm .40 S&W.
Springfield Armory has done well by keeping its lineup paired down to five primary platforms: M1A, M1911, XD-series, AR-pattern rifles, and precision bolt action rifles. There are almost infinite variations of these platforms, but it is a simple lineup of the most sought after designs on the market. They have carved out their niche this way and have a diehard following.