Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Springfield Armory XD/XD-m Review

Springfield Armory XD/XDm

As far as striker-fired pistols ago, Glock pretty much had that market to themselves. In 2002, Springfield Armory reached a licensing agreement with HS Produkt of Coratia to market their military issue sidearm, the HS2000. The pistols became so popular, that at one point in 2008, I was told that the XD models were outselling Glock pistols 2:1 in many firearm retailers. In 2008, Springfield introduced the XDm line of pistols that added a number of improvements to the original XD line and as of 2012, they also have the XD-s line that has been an incredibly popular pocket pistol chambered in both .45ACP and as of early 2013, 9mm Luger.

...A History

When Glock introduced their first striker-fired polymer framed pistol to the market in the late 1980’s, it took the market by storm and has become one of the most popular semi-automatic pistols ever. Smith & Wesson tried in the 1990’s to replicate their fame with the Sigma line of pistols, but unfortunately, came under suit from Glock over copyright issues. Glock was THE company for striker fired pistols, and had the law enforcement and civilian markets to themselves. 
In 1991, a designer by the name of Marko Vukovic and his team designed a gun known as the ‘First Croatian Pistol’ and was praised, however ran into quality issues because of manufacturing during the Croatian War of Independence. Design changes continued into 1995 with the release of the improved HS95 and again in 1999 with the HS2000. The Croatian military was so impressed with the improvements in the HS2000, they adopted it as their standard military sidearm. 
Springfield Armory heard about the pistols success and decided it would like to market it in the US. In 2002, Springfield Armory was able to negotiate licensing rights and re-named this pistol the ‘XD’ (or X-treme Duty) and released the pistol in 9x19mm. Between 2002 and 2006, the XD line of pistols grew in popularity and were sold in calibers such as .40S&W, .357Sig, .45GAP, and .45ACP. Different barrel lengths and grip sizes made the pistol popular for Concealed Carry as well as Duty Carry for Law Enforcement. In 2006, the XD-45 won the title of Handgun of the Year by a number of major publications and in 2009, the updated XD(m) won the same prize.

Image copyright 2013 Point-of-Aim Productions


The XD is based, like most modern semi-automatic pistols, off of John Browning’s locking breach design. Glock, Sig Sauer, S&W, and other popular pistol makers use the same design for its proven reliability. The XD pistols are based off of polymer frame and steel slide similar to a Glock or M&P. Unlike the Glock, the XD incorporates either one or two external safeties, as well as multiple internal safeties. The XD sports a grip safety similar to a 1911 as well as a thumb safety on select models. As well, the pistols include a trigger safety identical to the Glock as well as a firing pin safety so if the pistol is dropped, the firing pin cannot strike the primer of a live round. Many critics have talked down the grip safety as not needed on a striker fired gun, and I have to agree with them. Even on 1911 pistols, the grip safety has become less of a safety mechanism and more of a grip position and cosmetic feature with high ride variations from many custom pistol makers. 
Take-down is similar to most striker fired guns in that there is a take down lever that must be rotated clockwise 90 degrees and then taking the slide off. The XD’s (as well as most pistols) requires the trigger to be pulled before taking the slide off... a feature that has been eliminated in the XDm line. The XD pistols are available in a Tactical model (5” barrel, full sized frame), a Service model (4” barrel, full sized frame), a Compact model (4” barrel, compact frame), and a Sub-Compact model (3” barrel, compact frame) and are available in 9mm, .40S&W, .357Sig, and .45ACP (as of 2012, the .45GAP is no longer offered). All versions come with different finish options including flat dark earth and OD green. The XDm versions come with standard 4.5” barrels and full sized frames, 3.8” barrels with full sized frame, and the competition version that sports a 5.25” barrel and cut-out slide... again available in multiple calibers (with the exception of .357Sig) and finishes. 


We tested two different XD models, my personal XDm with 4.5” barrel in .40S&W and an XD Tactical model in .45ACP (courtesy of my brother). We tested a number of different types of ammunition from factory loads and our hand loads. The triggers on the standard pistols are long and squishy but break rather crisply around 5lbs. Me, being the trigger snob, elected to have trigger work done to my XDm shortly after purchase and had almost all take-up removed and the trigger lightened to 3.5lbs. 
We tested a variety of Remington UMC, DoubleTap, Hornady XTP and Critical Defense, Winchester White Box, and Federal “Walmart special” ammunition. The Hornady and DoubleTap (surprise, surprise) performed the best with groups ranging from 1.5” to 3” at 15 yards (free hand). Winchester and Remington performed well, but the groups weren’t as tight ranging upwards of 2.5” to 4” at 15 yards. Federal is almost not worth addressing considering it was inherently inaccurate out of both guns. We even cleaned the guns and tested Federal again, but no luck. I have no doubt some American Eagle (also made by Federal) or some of their HST or Hydra-Shock ammunition would perform better. Our hand loads were a bit finicky. It took a long time for both of us to find the right ‘load’ for each firearm, going through easily a dozen different projectiles and powders from different manufacturers. We both finally found our pet loads and they performed the best of all tests, but it took longer than it did for both my Glock 20 and Colt Delta Elite. 
One fun thing I did do, was get a .357Sig swap-out barrel for my XDm from Storm-Lake. The .357Sig round has always intrigued me and it has become a blast to shoot! The barrel went in with no problems and is top notch in accuracy. The .357Sig round, while snappy, is pleasant to shoot. My pet load of a 124gr Sierra JHP over Unique powder is, as I said, snappy, but very accurate and fun to shoot. 
The sights on both guns are 3-dot variations and work well. Grip angle is similar to a 1911, so it is comfortable and not to aggressive. As I said, the triggers I am not that big of a fan of, nor the grip safety but they work well for others. The XDm carries a ‘Match Grade’ barrel, but we really couldn't see a distinct difference in accuracy between the stock XD barrel and the XDm’s match grade offering. 
The XDm touts new grip textures and slide serrations which were nice additions, as well as ambi-mag release and a new slide profile. The grip texture worked well and were slightly more positive than the standard XD. The slide serrations were more aggressive and offered more grip than the standard XD. Triggers are almost identical as is the firing mechanism. Overall, both well performing firearms.

Image Copyright 2013 Point-of-Aim Productions

Final Thoughts...

I purchased my XDm in the fall of 2008 as my very first handgun. At the time, some gun shop in the area were reporting the XD series of pistols were out selling Glock’s 2:1. That doesn’t seem to be the case today, but I got a good deal on mine so I didn’t really care. MSRP on most of the XD line will range about $650 to $800 and vary from shop to shop. Besides the trigger, I am a big fan of the XD and XDm series of pistols, it was a great first pistol for me, and seeing so they are still incredibly popular and available in multiple caliber offerings, they are certainly worth a look between those, the Glock, and M&P series of pistols. 

1 comment:

  1. I've heard nothing but great things about springfield armory xdm compact 45 acp. I'd love nothing more to look more into it and get a better understanding of them. I love this stuff.