Some finely tuned target guns require a break-in period. Tightly fitted custom guns often need a couple boxes of ammo fired down their bores before their actions smooth out and begin to function at 100 percent. This is understandable when the gun is tuned for extreme accuracy. However, duty guns are carried with the express purpose of saving a life. They shouldn’t need a break-in period. It’s reassuring to know that the gun on your hip has always fired faultlessly, right out of the box.
I shot three 48-round, police pistol league combat duty matches with the full-sized Springfield Armory
XDM .40 caliber duty pistol, right out of the box. All 144 rounds functioned flawlessly and they all hit center mass with the sights just as they came from the factory. That kind of performance definitely inspires confidence! The M Version of the XD Pistol
Springfield Armory is well known for its extensive line of 1911 pistols. They produce basic, combat and target single action pistols that have earned an outstanding reputation for accuracy and reliability throughout the years. The 1911 style pistol represents a huge market, but so does the polymer frame/striker fired pistol design.
To enter the polymer/striker fired market, Springfield Armory turned to the HS2000 pistol, which was first produced for the Croation Army by the Croatian IM Metal Company in 1999. Springfield Armory began importing and marketing the polymer framed pistol in 2001, calling it the XD (for eXtreme Duty).
The original XD pistol is still available in 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP calibers, and with 5” (custom and tactical), 4” (service) and 3” (compact and sub-compact) barrel lengths mated to several different frame sizes. The XD has given their competition a run for their money and there are many civilians and police officers who shoot the XD in competition. However, few police officers in the United States carry the XD on duty.
The XD pistol warrants consideration for police use and the new XDM offers even more reasons for today’s law enforcement officers to consider it. There are a dozen or so alliterations that Springfield Armory uses for the letter M designation to differentiate it from the standard XD.
The XDM’s frame is made of a lightweight polymer available in either black or olive drab green. It’s termed a Model Contour frame for its excellent ergonomics (there’s the first M). The forged stainless steel slide features a Melonite ® coating (there’s the second M) in either matte black or satin silver and the slide rides on a pair of steel rails that encompass the feed ramp. This steel insert is locked solidly in the middle of the frame. A second set of guide rails are molded into the polymer frame toward the rear.
With its 16 round, .40 caliber or 19 round 9mm Mega Capacity (there’s another M) magazine removed and its slide locked to the rear, a disassembly latch on the left side is rotated upward to allow the slide to move forward off the frame for disassembly. The recoil spring and guide lift out from within the slide and the barrel, which utilizes a standard Browning tilt short recoil system, drops out for cleaning.
This disassembly method is simple and safe. For right handed shooters, takedown is very natural because the frame can be held in a firing hold while removing the magazine and locking the slide to the rear. Then the left hand naturally rotates the takedown latch upward instead of the awkward downward motion used on other pistols.
Field stripping a pistol is not a competition speed trial, but the XDM’s manner feels properly engineered. Of course, this takedown process is called a Minimal Error Disassembly system to get another M into the equation. Pulling the trigger is not required for disassembly of the XDM. This minimizes the possibility for error which could lead to the negligent discharge of a live round.
Triple Safety Features
The XDM’s trigger has a built-in lever that prevents firing unless the trigger is purposefully pulled. Springfield Armory calls it the Ultra Safety Assurance (USA) Trigger System. This type of trigger safety has become a standard feature on polymer frame, striker fired pistols such as the Glock, S&W M&P, Walther PPS and the Ruger SR9. The XDM also has an internal striker block safety that prevents the gun from firing if dropped.
In addition to these two safeties, the XDM also features a grip safety which prevents firing unless it is depressed. It functions similarly to the 1911 style pistol’s grip safety and is employed automatically when the weapon is grasped in a natural firing hold. Off duty law enforcement officers occasionally find the need to place their pistols inside their waistbands. Despite the trigger safety, the lack of an external thumb safety still makes some a bit nervous that somehow the trigger could still accidentally get pulled and the gun could go off. The XDM’s grip safety provides a little more peace of mind for this type of carry.
The USA trigger pull on the XDM is quite good, in part due to the fact that the pistol’s striker is fully cocked when there is a round in the chamber. The Minimal Reset Trigger (one more “M”) is short and the pull measured 5 pounds, 10 ounces. For a combat duty gun, the trigger works very well.
User Customized Grip Frame
The Springfield Armory XDM comes with three interchangeable Mold-Tru backstraps to choose from. A hammer and punch is required to drive out a retaining pin and then knock it back into place again. Most police officers will decide which backstrap fits them best and then never change it again. Because the backstraps do not just snap on and off, they are very secure with their retaining pin.
Officers may incorrectly conclude that the small-, medium- and large backstraps should simply be used in conjunction with their small-, medium- or large hands. However, these objective terms do not address meaty palms, slender hands or stubby fingers. The fit of a pistol to an officer’s hand is very subjective and is a matter of personal comfort. Just because two officers could share a large pair of gloves does not automatically mean the large backstrap will also work well for both of them.
I have large hands, but the small XDM backstrap felt best in my fleshy palms. The small backstrap also allowed the handgun to point more naturally for me. Some small handed officers who examined the XDM preferred the medium or large backstraps.
Ergonomics is an area where the XDM pistol excels. The grip angle feels right in your hands. The cut out below the trigger guard allows your hand to grip the pistol high. This helps lower the center of balance and in turn curbs felt recoil. The molded handle provides a secure grip with its Mega-Lock grenade style texture. Slide bite is impossible due to the extended rear frame area that protects the web of your shooting hand. The hooked front of the trigger guard will keep your off hand’s index finger in place during recoil if you prefer this type of two handed grip.
Well Thought Out Ergonomics
The Picatinny rail mounts a tactical light or laser within easy reach of your trigger finger or off hand thumb for simple operation. This Multi-Adjust Rail System has three closely spaced grooves to allow individual placement of a light at just the right distance for your hand size. The Maximum Reach Magazine Release is completely ambidextrous and pushes inward from either the left or right side of the frame.
Empty magazines, with their hard plastic bumpers and numbered round count holes, eject smartly out of the frame. The XDM has no magazine disconnect, so it will fire with its magazine removed. The grip is long so it can accommodate its high capacity magazines. My big hands had plenty of room to fit all my fingers on the grip area.
The slide release is only on the left side, but southpaws can always slingshot the slide after an empty magazine reload. For right hand handed officers, the slide release is perfectly located for downward right hand thumb pressure without the need to shift from a shooting grip. The location of the slide release makes for lightning fast reloads when the thumb release style is employed.
When cocked, the striker indicator is able to be both seen and felt at the rear of the slide. The loaded chamber indicator at top of the slide, just to the rear of the chamber area, sticks up from the rim of the loaded cartridge’s case and is effortless to both see and feel. When I was competing with the XDM, I needed to reload magazines between targets.
There were times when I didn’t remember if I had loaded the gun prior to replacing it in its holster. Instead of drawing the gun and performing a press check, I was able to just rub my finger over the top of the exposed slide and feel that there was a round in the chamber. This feature would also work well in the middle of a fire fight during low light conditions.
The XDM’s front and rear white dot combat sights are dovetailed into the slide. Night sights are available and they can be user-installed later if not initially purchased new on the gun. The rear sight has anti glare horizontal striations and is mounted as far back as possible, providing the longest sight radius available for more inherent accuracy.
The Match Grade Barrel has standard rifling and measures 4 1/2” and a 3.8” version is also available (with matching shorter length slide). Front and rear Major Grasp slide serrations are deep and wide for gripping.
The Multi-Use carrying case is made of sturdy heavy duty plastic. The foam padding inside is custom cut to secure the handgun with a magazine in its well and two additional magazines for a total of three (the weapon comes standard with two magazines). The included paddle holster and double magazine holder come with an Allen wrench to adjust their tension and are branded with the XDM Gear logo.
The magazine holder features two Picatinny rails on either side and the supplied magazine loading tool can attach to the holder’s rail along with a tactical light. Even the outsides of the case have Picatinny rails for temporarily attaching items.
The extra backstraps are held in their own molded foam spaces and a pistol lock, nylon cleaning brush and red plastic empty chamber indicator are also stored inside. A removable foam insert saves a spot to store a tactical light as well. The storage container is the most well thought out protective case that officers can keep in their lockers. If you are assigned to a last minute plain clothes detail, you would have an off duty style holster and magazine pouch ready at hand.
Shooting the XDM
In addition to the rounds I fired in the three combat matches, I fed another 300 rounds of various brand hollow point and full metal jacket ammunition through the XDM’s magazines. All 444 rounds functioned without a failure of any kind. All rounds hit to point of aim without any need to move the sights. Recoil of the .40 S&W cartridge in this lightweight pistol is snappy. The slide is big and tall, but the frame’s high hand grip helps tame the power of the popular police cartridge. The XDM’s grip safety requires no thought to deactivate whatsoever. The weapon points naturally with the correct size backstrap fitted to your individual hand. This ability to point just like your index finger greatly aids with fast target acquisition. The trigger pull is combat duty ready and provides quick follow up shots and the sights are outstanding.
An Excellent Choice
For those departments that allow individual officer weapon choice, the decision on what to carry can be rather challenging. Price comes into consideration and the XDM’s suggested retail of $697, with all of its accessories included, is competitive with other brands. The interchangeable backstraps and ambidextrous function suggests that an entire department could choose the XDM pistol as a standard sidearm that would work well for all of its officers, regardless of hand size or left or right hand dominance.
The safeties and ergonomic features of the Springfield Armory XDM cause it to be user friendly and undemanding to shoot well. The design is at the forefront of technology, well executed, and uncomplicated. With no manual safety to forget under pressure and no hammer to de-cock before re-holstering, the pistol is a model of ease of operation. Its accuracy, reliability, and straight forward maintenance are all outstanding attributes as well.
The XDM was awarded the NRA’s Golden Bullseye for Handgun of the Year in 2009. Springfield Armory is understandably proud of this award and the test pistol touted the achievement with a stamping right on the top of the slide.
The pistol’s design has been proven for more than 10 years in the field and the new M version offers features that should garner serious consideration from police officers. It shares its polymer frame, trigger safety, and lack of an external safety with other similar pistols, but the new Springfield Armory XDM offers many unique features desired by police officers. Check one out for yourself and you might add another M to the XDM’s alliteration–Mine.
Steve Tracy is a 22-year police veteran with 20 years of experience as a firearms instructor. He is also an instructor for tactical rifles, use of force, less-than-lethal force and scenario-based training. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.