Practical test: the HS Produkt S5 3.3 subcompact pistol in .45 ACP on the shooting range

For more than 20 years, the manufacturer HS Produkt has been active in the field of polymer service pistols. In 1999, the breakthrough in the field of service pistols came with the HS 2000. With its polymer frame, the HS 2000 was not only in keeping with the spirit of the times, but also became a service pistol for the Croatian military and police units. The Croatian pistols then set another milestone in the USA: Springfield Armory still sells numerous HS Produkt pistol models there today. The pistols are usually just labeled differently for US distribution. In addition to the large XD-M pistol series, Springfield Armory also sells the XD-S model series there, which is derived from our test gun. Funnily enough, Springfield only lists the handgun in 9mm Luger caliber – a .45 ACP variant is not offered. On the other hand, the two XD-S versions offer removable steel plates on the slide for mounting a red dot sight as standard equipment – they are optics-ready, which is hidden behind the model acronym OSP at Springfield.

The S-Line pistols from HS Produkt (S5 and S7)

Behind the S-Line designation is the pistol line to which the S5 test gun belongs. It includes two types of pistols in different color/slide variants. The S5 designates models in .45 ACP caliber, and the acronym S7 subsumes the 7- and 9-shot 9mm Luger counterparts. These are single-stack slim-line designs in the subcompact class. They combine the now typical elements of a polymer frame that houses the trigger group with a striker fired action located in the steel slide. In addition to a black Melonite (nitrocarburized) coated version of each, HS also offers two types with stainless steel slides and an S7 in an all-FDE finish that goes by the designation AFDE.

The HS Produkt .45 caliber subcompact S5 in detail

The additional grip safety 
The additional grip safety below the grip spur is now also a trademark of HS Produkt.

As already indicated, the S5 is a particularly small pistol designed for self-defense and concealed carry (which is especially a topic in the USA). HS Produkt itself positions its S-Line in the "self-defense" and "back up" segments. The S5 uses single-stack magazines which do not have the capacity of double-stack magazines, but are particularly rugged and, above all, have a slim frame and thus a significantly thinner grip. Due to the narrow slide and the grip just mentioned, the S5 shows itself to be absolutely on par with current slim-line pistols, with a gun width of around 25 millimeters. GLOCK 43, Walther PPS or Smith & Wesson M&P Shield also belong to the sub-compact "conceald carry" or "back up" pistols segment and also come with a comparably thin frame and slide. It is noteworthy that the S5 is fed with the significantly larger .45 ACP cartridge, while the aforementioned competitors chamber the .40 S&W at most.

The HS Produkt S5 3.3 has magazine release
Suitable for left-handers: the HS Produkt S5 3.3 has magazine release buttons on both sides.  

Smith & Wesson also offered the Shield in .45 ACP for a time, but had to make the slide a little wider. The S5 also relies on class-standard designs in terms of locking system and barrel length. It uses an 3.3”/84.5-mm barrel with a polished ramp. Locking is accomplished by an open-bottom cam that tilts the barrel sharply during the action cycle. The short but powerful recoil spring is telescoping, which is also common in this class of handguns. The slide itself has a simple design on the outside. It has cocking serrations at the rear, the external case extractor is on the right side and a loaded chamber indicator is located on the top of the slide. The latter is a steel pin that rises a few millimeters when a cartridge is in the chamber of the S5. The sights used by the Croatians are a very compact  arrangement from the tactical range. The rear sight can only be laterally drifted and offers two white contrasting dots as aiming aids in addition to the rectangular cutout. A front sight with red fiber optic insert is located at the front. 

the HS Produkt S5 3.3 subcompact pistol in .45 ACP 
Big bore says hello. the bore diameter reveals that this is a .45. HS Produkt uses a steel front sight with red fiber optic.

In any case, the sights are suitable for shooting at shorter ranges in combination with a quick target acquisition. The polymer grip is ergonomically shaped and supports the shooting hand very well. In addition to the two shallow front finger grooves at the front, the quite grippy surface texture also helps to ensure that the gun sits securely in the hand. The undercut below the trigger guard and the high curved beavertail at the back of the grip allow the S5 to sink deep into the shooting hand, allowing for as much hand contact as possible on the grip. In addition to a short tactical accessory rail, the S5 also comes with a grip safety. It also comes with a trigger safety as well as the internal striker safety. On the left side are the slide catch, disassembly and magazine buttons. The magazine release button is also available on the right side and can be permanently operated from both sides – a feature that can currently be considered a unique selling point. Most handguns today only have a magazine release button, which then only works on one side. The workmanship of the small S5 is quite convincing and on a fairly high level. The steel assemblies show virtually no tooling marks, the fits are correct, and the finish appears quite clean. 

The single-action trigger with its built-in trigger safety released at average pull weight of about 6.39 lb/2,900 g. A class-leading value. Most subcompact pistols are around 6.6 lb/3,000 grams of trigger pull weight and have always been a bit harder to pull than comparable full-size service pistols. The trigger travel is medium length and brings a correspondingly short reset for fast firing strings.

The HS Produkt S5 3.3 is disassembled
The HS Produkt S5 3.3 is disassembled into its main components (from left): slide, barrel, telescoping recoil spring, grip frame and, on the right, its six-round magazine with extension.

Test: with the HS Produkt S5 3.3 pistol on the shooting range

The HS Produkt S5 3.3 subcompact pistol in .45 ACP
If the shooter inserts the "large" six-shot magazine (left), its slide-on extension also provides a contact surface for the small finger of the firing hand. If the shooter uses the five-round magazines, there is no room for his/her little finger on the grip.

The subcompact S5 completed its accuracy test at 15 meters by being shot off the Heyman guntester. The 15 meter range (instead of the usual 25 meters) was used here because the S5 is a small-sized defense pistol, set up for shorter distances. The accuracy test turned out to be very positive. None of the factory cartridges fired achieved a group of over 2”/50 mm at the test targets. With the Magtech and Top Shot cartridges, groupings of well below 1.57”/40 mm were even possible. For a subcompact short-barreled pistol, accuracy is quite good. The determined energy values of the bullets are, of course, somewhat lower than those of the barrel length of full-size 45s, but they are still absolutely sufficient for the intended purpose. Since such pistols are often loaded with hollow point bullets (where allowed by law), different JHP bullet head shapes were selected to test whether the gun feeds without problems. The result: not one single failure to feed in the test – cartridges did not get stuck at the polished ramp nor at any other internal component. In the standing position, the good hand position, to which the depth of the S5 in the shooter's hand contributes, was immediately noticeable. The recoil of the small pistol is quite powerful even with the only moderately loaded factory cartridges for the average shooter. Using the small magazine in particular – with the small finger virtually hanging in the air – caused pain in the palm of the hand after several shots, as the pistol produces a stronger upward recoil in the hand than when using the magazines with the pinky extension. When using the longer magazines, nothing "hurts" and the felt rotation of the pistol was less. However, it was always safe to hold with either grip length. The trigger is not tuned for sport shooting, as the high pull weight alone should make clear. Its characteristics do not show any noticeable stacking. The shooter has to pull quite far along the trigger against the resistance until the shot is finally released. The trigger is generally well-tuned and is probably intended to prevent a shot from breaking prematurely. The operation of the gun also functioned flawlessly during the test. Not a single malfunction occurred, even with the gun intentionally held with a limp wrist.

HS Produkt S5 3.3 Polymer Pistol
629 euro (price may be different in your country) 
.45 ACP
Magazine Capacity: 
5/6 rounds
Dimensions (L x W x H): 
162x25x113 mm
Barrel Length: 
3.3“/84.5 mm approx
Sight Radius: 
5-31”/135 mm
Trigger Pull Weight:
6.39 lb/2,900g
24.34 oz/690 g
Notes: subcompact polymer striker-fired pistol with modified Browning locking system, ambidextrous magazine release, loaded chamber indicator, laterally driftable rear sight and fiber optic front sight, Picatinny rail.
a grouping of just 1.33”/34 mm
With a grouping of just 1.33”/34 mm, the Magtech cartridges achieved the best result with the HS Produkt S5 3.3.

Test wrap-up

The small .45 S5 pistol from HS Produkt impressed in the test with a good shooting performance, high reliability and a well thought-out operability. The combination of the big bore .45 ACP cartridge with the small gun works wonderfully. The trigger and sights are designed for short-range self-defense and fit this concept very well. If the recoil is too much for you, you can also look for the 9mm version (S7), which also brings a slightly higher magazine capacity. The S5 comes factory in a black plastic case with three magazines, a tube of gun oil and a cleaning rod.

 What we liked:

 What we liked less:

Good price/performance ratio
Somewhat painful to shoot several rounds with the small magazine
Magazine release that can be operated from both sides

Three included magazines

Good accuracy for a subcompact pistol

For more information about the manufacturer's guns please visit the HS Produkt website.

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