The first time that I did business with Springfield Armory it became evident that the company chooses to espouse the ideal of “Get it right the first time and folks will keep coming back.” It’s unarguably a fact that Springfield Armory has put their best foot forward with their line of XD (Extreme Duty) pistols. However, the sign of being a great company means that you never stop learning and improving. The release of the XDM pistol line into production has thrust Springfield Armory once again into the forefront for good reason.
The much anticipated XDM is proving that you can upgrade on perfection. The XDM represents an entirely new level of functionality, ergonomics and value. Springfield Armory refers to this as the (M) Factor. The (M) means more: More of what, you may ask? That definition is difficult to list in a sentence. Among many of the (M) Factor definitions are Main focus sights,Minimal reset trigger, Multi-use carrying case, Mega-lock texture, Mold-tru backstraps, Model contour frame, Maximum reach magazine release and Mega-capacity magazines. Upon laying eyes on my test model XDM .40, I was pleased by the presentation and level of detail of the total package. In fact, my FFL (federal firearms license) dealer said that he “didn’t want to pick it up for fear of falling in love and wanting to buy one.” It truly is that impressive.
The XDM case in and of itself is the first step in the (M) Factor. It’s much more than your run-of-the-mill “throwaway” pistol box. It serves as not only a weapons case (duh), it also serves as a rugged laptop and electronic equipment case, or for any number of other uses. As you pull the XDM out of its foam-ensconced slot your hands start catching on all the subtle angles and edges molded and machined into its control surfaces. This is not to say that this weapon is one big Velcro-like pain in the butt that’ll snag and bind on everything. It’s that the XDM was designed to naturally “adhere” to the human hand. It’s hard to explain, you really need to hold an XDM to appreciate it, but it’s very “grabbable.” Now there’s a word for you.
During testing it was 97 degrees Fahrenheit with high humidity here in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the XDM was coated in sweat and oil; however I was able to keep a positive grip on the weapon at all times. The new angles molded into the grip surfaces are about staying power; however they inadvertently add a unique appearance to the pistol. When you look at an XDM for the first time it looks strange only because it doesn’t mimic the industry standards for pistol design. Curiously it’s this unorthodox style of engineering that attracts those of us that see it for what it is, revolutionary. Every angle on the XDM has been designed and re-thought for one thing alone, control. Now that’s what I call grabbability.
The sights on my test model were of the standard steel, non-tritium type but that’s not to say that they’re pedestrian in any way. They are what Springfield calls Main focus sights and are also part of the (M) Factor. They’re quick on-target acquisition and are also beveled so as to be gentle on your holster lining.
The XDM .40 caliber magazines are capable of holding 16 rounds without expanding the gun’s size out of the grasp of your average-sized shooter. It’s a bit of a thumb-splitter to get those last two rounds in, but the loading tool does this task for you beautifully. With the 16 + 1 capacity of the XDM, one would think that the gun would have to be large to accomplish this feat and yet it’s the opposite.
The magazine release is also strategically placed to allow the shooter to ambidextrously drop a magazine without repositioning the XDM in the hand. This is a plus when you’re working with new shooters that feel at odds with their nerves. If they’re comfortable with their weapon the learning curve is much smoother.
For testing I asked my brother Frank to tag along to the range; I had ulterior motives. The reason that I invited him along was to conduct a test of the (M) Factor. I was most intrigued by the opportunity to put the XDM into his hands to see what a first-time shooter could do with this pistol.
After a brief safety lesson I pointed him towards a row of steel plates at 7 yards and watched as he slowly but accurately downed one after the other with a steady “pop…ping!” He started blowing through the magazines and got better at dropping targets very quickly. It came as no surprise when he wanted to keep going after several rounds in the brutal Tennessee heat of July. On the other hand, I had had my fill of the heat, the shooting lesson ended with, “Yeah, you like it? Well then go buy one!”
I asked him several days afterwards for his assessment of the pistol. These are his words: “I found the XDM to be much lighter than I would have thought. It was very smooth shooting once I figured out how much pressure I needed to press the trigger. The grip was very comfortable in my hand and the gun stayed put. It didn’t feel like I would lose it after any of the shots.
“I like the fact that it comes with a full load of accessories, I don’t know if that’s standard for everybody, but I like that Springfield does that.” By George, I think he’s a fan, don’t you?
Upon taking my turn with the XDM I was pleased by its natural grip angle and ease of target acquisition. The interchangeable palm swells were a nice feature and after a few magazine swaps and clearance drills I swapped out the medium insert for the large one. Seeing as how I have very large hands I found the XDM a bit small even with the largest insert in place, but my brother who is a better comparator for your average-sized shooter (i.e., less gorilla-like) said that he found the grip to be very comfortable and easy to shoot.
The initial magazine swap brought with it a, “Whoa, check that out!” from me. The slide on the XDM is actually machined with an A-frame angle. The original XD design, of which I own two in .45, is squared off and is very comfortable to rack the slide on. However, I must say that the XDM slide is indeed easier to grasp.
Trigger time on the XDM started at the 7-yard line and progressed to the 15, 25 and then out to the 50. At 50 yards I was concerned that I might “lay an egg” in front of my brother and inadvertently shoot my target stands. Instead, what I found was that the XDM was able to hammer round after round into the center mass of a steel target with a satisfying “pong.”
This was accomplished in part by two factors. The first is that Springfield Armory committed to a match grade barrel in its XDM line. This is huge in the firearms industry. It adds a level of detail and precision that Springfield felt would distinguish the XDM above its competitors—and it has.
The second factor in long-range accuracy is, of course, the ammo. The manufacturer of choice for me is, as always, Hornady; you just can’t do any better than Hornady’s TAP (Tactical Applications Police) line of duty ammo. For this particular XDM test model it was .40 caliber 155- and 180-grain TAP CQ. Both loads produced exceptional groupings from the Match Grade XDM barrel and cycled every time. Muzzle velocity from the 155-grain is 1180 fps (feet per second) and 950 fps from the 180-grain.
The XDM gun case, like its predecessors, comes loaded with all the extras: holster, dual-magazine holder, magazine loading tool, gun lock, cleaning brush and two magazines. While there are those that have grumbled about the holsters that come with XD pistols (me included) it bears saying that yes, they’re not top of the line holsters in any way. However they are good starter holsters.
For the casual home-defense shooter they are a great asset on the range. For instructors they’re a big help in teaching the basics of safe weapon handling to beginners. If you really want to kick it up into the professional level, one can opt for the high quality line of holsters from Safariland. I chose to go with a Safariland #5188 Paddle Holster for this test. It’s my off-duty carry holster and is one rugged piece of gear.
It’s hard to damage the thing and even though it’s an open top rig it holds the pistol securely in place until it’s needed. This particular model offers the option of carrying an XD and/or XDM with a tactical light attached.
That’s a big plus because it means that you don’t constantly have to do the old “on and off routine” with your tactical light between your duty and off-duty rigs.
Tactical lights are a great addition to any pistol and there is no end to the choices one can make in this department. I chose the TLR-1 from Streamlight. It’s the light of choice for my duty XD .45 and the one that I always suggest to officers to look to first. They’re priced within reasonable financial reach at about $90 and are waterproof to boot. Tactical lights are also the easiest way to get rounds on target in a CQB (close quarter battle) environment.
For example, when the fight enters a darkened structure you need to control the light. The tactical light also acts as an aiming aid that is easier to center than a laser. Basically, center the beam of light on the bad guy and squeeze off a hail of rounds and you can’t miss. I demonstrated this to my wife and she now sleeps with an XD .45 Tactical at her side with a TLR-1 tactical light attached. I work third watch and if I happen to come home early I make sure to call ahead, know what I mean?
In weapons testing one has to be brutal to be totally honest. I have only two gripes. The first is that it’s a tad small for those of us guys with big hands. Currently, the second gripe is that the XDM only comes in .40 (now available in 9mm). I’m sure that Springfield will be rectifying this shortcoming soon. A pistol not chambered in .45ACP is just un-American.
Despite my grumbles, every aspect of the XDM is a pleasure to work with. It’s a finely finished and solidly engineered weapon that is equally at home in law enforcement, home defense and shooting competition. So far I’ve shared this weapon with approximately 14 different officers and civilians. And I haven’t heard a single negative word. In fact I keep hearing, “It’s lighter than I thought it would be.” Polymer pistols have come a long way haven’t they?
Would I still recommend XDM? Hell yeah! Springfield has really embarked on something great with the XDM line. I look forward to more offerings in this pistol in the years to come. Until then remember, “Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, so practice!”