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XD Remely Refined: Springfield XDM Review

by Patrick Sweeney   |  July 6th, 2008 2


July-2008

For a pistol that first introduced itself to American shooters in the year 2000, the XD has come a long way. But ever since the Glock 17 made its appearance in 1985, the striker-fired polymer pistol has been in evolutionary mode. However, if you perform enough evolutionary steps, you end up with a revolutionary result.

The XDM is an XD with just about every aspect of it evolved, and the result is more than just a refined XD. It is, in the words of Denny Reese, the “XD More,” and while the differences might not seem like much by themselves, the overall effect is startling. For those who haven’t been paying attention, the XD is Springfield’s polymer-framed, striker-fired entry into the defensive/police market–locked-breech, of course, using a Browning-style tilting barrel. Springfield has been continually improving the pistol, and the XDM is the latest (and best) incarnation.

Gone are the “railroad tie” sidebars on the slide. While they were necessary to provide the frame rails with a place to engage the slide, they really do make the old XD look–shall we be polite and say “industrial”? The new slide contour profiles the sides down to the rail widths but makes the slide sleeker in appearance and in handling. The new slide and barrel are also a half-inch longer, changing the balance and feel of the XDM to the XD, changing it for the better. Short guns often have a vague, “where’s the muzzle?” feel to them. (Then again, that may just be my extensive 1911 experience coloring my impression.) The new XDM hangs solidly in the hand, and the muzzle tracks with assurance. While Springfield was at it, it replaced the old cocking serrations with new, sleeker-looking ones that also offer a better grasping surface. Additionally, the sights, disassembly lever and slide stop all got facelifts, making the entire upper half of the XDM look more like a race car than an armored vehicle. The slide still has the loaded-chamber indicator and the striker cocking indicator, both familiar and useful.

More safety
The new takedown lever also comes with a change in takedown procedure You no longer need to dry-fire to disassemble. Again, Springfield worked long and hard at making that change, as it felt it was important. So now you simply unload, lock back the slide, pivot the disassembly lever and run the slide forward. While the lever is up, the trigger won’t move, so you can’t dry-fire or AD even if you wanted to. Once the slide is off, take out the recoil-spring assembly and barrel as you normally would. As for the frame, hose it out with an aerosol cleaner, lube it up and reassemble.

More accuracy
The XD is no slouch in that regard, but the XDM is better. The barrel is not just a half-inch longer, the bore and chamber have been tended to, made to tighter tolerances and hammer-forged. The barrels are marked “Match,” and Springfield is serious about that. As with all firearms, I suspect production XDM pistols will show some variance in just what load they prefer, but if the one I have is an indication, the worst you’re going to see is four inches at 25 yards. I got that with the first group out of the box, and they just got better and better. The XDM barrel has Enfield–not polygonal–rifling, so it should not have any problems with lead bullets.

More grip and grip options
Things are changed even more in the frame. The pebbly and checkered panels for a non-slip grip on the XD? Gone, replaced by an amazingly aggressive set of serrated bars and ridged rectangles. Once you get a grip on the XDM, your hand is not going to slide. The frame has also been resculpted. At its thickest the XDM is 1.26 inches, but that includes the takedown lever. At the point on the frame where your thumb rides, it is only 1.15 inches wide–slim for the highest hi-cap .40 extant.

One change comes from the new exchangeable backstraps, which allow you to alter the size and profile of the grip. Those backstraps also include a lanyard ring–an essential part that has been rediscovered in the 21st century. The frame still has the XD ambi magazine release, grip safety, light rail and USA trigger.

More ammo
From the standard XD capacity of 12 rounds of .40 S&W, the XDM jumps to 16. That’s right, 16 rounds of 40 S&W for the same-size frame. How’d they do that? By recalculating the stacking geometry of the .40 S&W cartridge. The new magazine tubes are slightly larger in width than the old ones–.858 inch compared to the .800 inch of old. The new tubes are also longer by .150 inch, which is not enough to make any difference in mag carriers or pouches. The feed lips and locking-slot locations of the magazine appear to be the same, so I suppose if you were really cheap you could relieve the mag well of your new XDM so you could use your old magazines. Well, you could, but there is “cheap” and there is “stupid.” Modify your new XDM so you can use the older, lower-capacity magazines? Get real. Instead, cut down on your consumption of overpriced coffee beverages by one a week, and use that money to buy new magazines, for Pete’s sake. The increased size of the frame butt by .150 inch is inconsequential for carry, and the grip circumference is the same as before. How’d Springfield fit a bigger magazine into the same-size grip? Engineers increased the rigidity and strength of the polymer formula, that’s how.

More (as in better) trigger
The trigger geometry has been worked over, and it now has a shorter reset and takeup than before. When I first shot the XDM I didn’t really notice that. But I’ve been shooting a lot of DA revolvers lately, so my trigger finger is working grossly overtime when I pick up a pistol. On subsequent range trips I paid more attention to the trigger, and yes, it is noticeable and nice. USPSA/IPSC and IDPA shooters who are going to consider the XDM will be pleasantly surprised at the new trigger geometry.

More recoil control
As if all that isn’t enough, the total effect of grip shape, non-slip texture, trigger location and longer slide is to make the XDM something more than the sum of its improvements over the XD. I received a pair of new XDMs when the model was still a secret item that I couldn’t even let my test-fire crew have a look at. Until a few weeks after I’d already been shooting it, no one saw it. One is black polymer with a matte stainless slide, and the other is formal all-black. When I was test-firing them at the club range, whenever someone wandered by I had to quickly get them out of sight. One thing I noticed in shooting was that they were both significantly softer to shoot than other polymer guns. Even Cor-Bon’s 135-grain rockets were no big deal to shoot. Usually, you shoot a couple of boxes of those and your hand feels like you’ve just been the catcher for hardball warmups. You know, that tingling sensation you get, knowing that you’ve just launched 15 tons of kinetic energy downrange.

When I first shot the XDM, I figured the lesser felt recoil was just a trick of the day’s shooting. So the next time out I brought other polymer .40 pistols with me and shot them side by side. Nope, no question about it The XDM is softer-shooting–not because of weight, as it does not differ significantly from the others I weighed. No, it has something to do with the shape of the grip, which I find particularly effective in dampening felt recoil.

For a pistol that first introduced itself to American shooters in the year 2000, the XD has come a long way.

  • carl ethridge

    i bought a new xdm 45 acp in august 2012 and just started shooting it last week. i have a lot of auto pistols in 45 cal. but this is the nicest pistol that i have ever shot, and that is saying a lot. the recoil is virtually none compared to my 1911's. i think that the next pistol will surely be a xdm in 40 cal. don't hve a 40 but i have wantrd one since my son got a s&w m&p in 40 cal. his smith shoots well but not nearly the gun as my xdm.keep up the good work and i will relate how the 40 cal. shoots.
    thanks,carl ethridge

  • slumpatrol

    I purchased an XDM long slide in 40 s&w. Chose this pistol because I have small hands and also wanted something to fit my wife as well. Also own a hipower in 40 s&w. Also purchased to fit my small hands. On first shooting, this is a sweet gun. Had a 6" cyl lid set up at 25 yards, shooting freehand, and hit it probably 75%. Took a few shots with critical duty ammo. Surprisingly soft recoil for this premium ammo. Could shoot this stuff all day. I love how accurately I was able to shoot this gun right out of the box.

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