Photos by Michael Anschuetz
Most of what we’ve seen lately in the way of 10mm handgun introductions has been for the Model 1911 platform. Springfield Armory did that as well with its 5- and 6-inch TRP in 10mm, which appeared recently in the July issue of Guns & Ammo.
Though 10mm-chambered 1911s feel great in the hand and tend to shoot great, those who prefer striker-fired operation, the ergonomics of a polymer frame and double-stack capacity need to look no further than Springfield Armory’s new XD(M) in 10mm.
The 10mm round is hot. This resurgence inspired engineers at Springfield Armory to chamber its popular XD(M) for this versatile caliber. It could appeal to anyone interested in hunting, sport shooting or personal defense, if you’re willing to dress around it.
The infamous 1986 shootout in Miami between the FBI and two serial bank robbers that left Special Agents Jerry Love and Benjamin Grogan dead along with five agents wounded accelerated the development of the 10mm as a defensive round and selection as an FBI duty cartridge in 1989. It was overshadowed, however, by the .40 S&W in law enforcement just a year later. Given the number of modern bullet designs and loads now available, this hard-hitting 10mm is making a lasting comeback.
Until recently, my experience in firearms chambered for 10mm has been minimal. Springfield Armory’s recent moves to develop the 1911 TRP and XD(M) has prompted me to reconsider the 10mm. Hunting and shooting with this caliber has increased my knowledge, appreciation and interest.
Introduced in 1983, the 10mm was initially popularized by the late Jeff Cooper. He was in pursuit of a defensive round that could outperform his beloved .45 ACP. The design was crafted from the straight-walled, rimless .30 Remington, which was a rifle cartridge. Before the FBI’s Miami-Dade shootout, the 10mm was only commercially available in the ill-fated Bren Ten. Despite a few magazine covers and appearances on the hit show “Miami Vice,” the felt recoil, a reputation for causing gun problems and its grip size with steel-frame handguns contributed to the 10mm’s decline.
However, handgun hunters kept the 10mm on life support. Having taken large, dangerous game with the cartridge, I can assure you that it’s a show stopper. There is plenty of energy to anchor large, wild hogs in place with a single, well-placed shot. A Federal 180-grain Trophy Bonded bullet traveling out of a 5-inch barrel at a muzzle velocity of 1,275 feet per second (fps) starts with 650 foot-pounds (ft.-lbs.) of energy and retains 417 ft.-lbs. at 100 yards. Comparatively, 180-grain bullets in a .40 S&W leave the same barrel length at 1,000 fps carrying 400 ft.-lbs. of energy out of the muzzle. This is where I began to understand the 10mm’s advantage.
The XD(M) guns reviewed here are not Springfield Armory’s first foray into the 10mm. Having previous knowledge of the caliber’s requirements, both the 4½-inch and the 5¼-inch long slide are excellent hosts. However, the new guns’ appearance is different. The feel and extreme dark tone of the finish first had me wondering if these were based on a finish I recognized from my older XD pistols. A few quick questions to the team at Springfield proved that my hunch was correct. Springfield Armory is using Melonite on these pistols’ barrels and slides.
Melonite, a telluride of nickel, fights off corrosion like no other. The ferritic nitrocarburizing finish isn’t a coating, but rather a chemical diffusion of carbon atoms into steel. It’s also been referred to as “nitride” and “Tenifer,” a salt-bath nitrocarburizing. (There are also gaseous and plasma-aided nitrocarburizing processes.) Often, a post-oxidation, black-oxide treatment step is added to increase the corrosion and wear resistance.
Springfield Armory continues to ship the XD models in a hard case. Solid and sturdy, it could certainly be used to secure the gun for travel. Included with each are three so-called “Mold-Tru” interchangeable backstraps, that are familiar to existing owners of the XD(M). Two, 15-round magazines are standard, however, the 5.25 model comes with three. When asked, Springfield’s response made sense.
“The XD(M) 5.25 series has always been promoted as competition-ready pistols,” said a Springfield Armory representative. Including three magazines was a nice touch for those of us who compete and need to prep multiple magazines. However, understanding that not many customers would consider competing with the 10mm, it was determined that it would be inconsistent to only include two magazines with the 10mm since they include three with the 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP versions of the long slide.
Get a grip.
My hands like the feel of the polymer-frame XD(M) pistols. It’s not my favorite in terms of the height of the bore axis over my grip and the top-end weight, but the XD(M) series is one of the more prolific pistols on the competition circuit for good reason. There are guns featuring a lower bore axis, but they don’t always include the features that these guns have.
The XD(M) frame is molded with aggressive checkering and offers interchangeable backstraps. In my opinion, a full-sized gun needs these things. Being able to get my hands firmly and completely around a gun — especially one in 10mm — is a must. However, the backstraps on these guns are not quick to change. They require a 3⁄32-inch punch — preferably a roll pin punch — to drive out the retaining pin to change the straps. To Springfield’s credit, no disassembly is required to change out the backstraps, but you should know it going in before experimenting with the grip profile. The job will require a hammer, as well.
The newer Mod. 2 grip design is comfortable and well thought out. So, I wonder why they didn’t use it for these new guns? The XD(M) models are large-framed guns and more accommodating for the longer slides and larger calibers. I’ve sent in my request that they consider adding a 10mm offering to an XD Mod. 2 frame design. We’ll have to wait and see.
Each slide sports a bright, fiber-optic front sight. At the rear, the 5.25 model carries an elevation and windage-adjustable target sight. Each of those adjustments are made with a small-blade screwdriver. On the 4.5 model, drift-adjustable, white-dot sights are the standard. All sights are made of steel and driven into a dovetail cut.
My older eyes prefer bright front sights. Since the guns come with two replacement fiber filaments, I swapped out the red for green and found it more to my liking. Because I have aging eyes, I find it disappointing that Springfield did not cut either slide to accept any one of the popular mini-red-dot sights. They could end up offering such a pistol given that Springfield’s XD(M) 4.5 OSP model comes with a 3-MOA Vortex Venom. I understand the business plan of rolling out several models, each with a unique feature, but the release of any new handgun (especially a full-sized pistol) should prompt the addition of a cutout for them. In my understanding of the market, this is one of those details that keep customers from buying now, as they decide to wait for an improved variation to be released.
Details missed always catch my eye, and the trainer in me prefers guns that are truly ambidextrous. In this evaluation, both XD(M) pistols lack a right-side slide-lock lever (or release, as you may prefer to call it). This is another seemingly obvious feature that I feel all new guns should have standard. I realize that the internal geometry of the current XD series doesn’t easily support an ambidextrous slide-lock lever, so this may never happen.
The magazine release is ambidextrous and not just a button that can be switched from one side to the other. This one is operable from either side of the frame.
Otherwise, the XD(M) 10s share the same popular XD(M) features as before. The front and rear slide serrations are generous and functional. The 5.25 model has the weight-reducing cutout on top of the slide, which keeps the weight identical to the 4.5 model. On top, you’ll also find a loaded-chamber indicator at the rear of the ejection port, which I’ve found to be useful and unobtrusive.
Out of the box, the XD(M) trigger is one of the cleanest breaking and smoothest you’ll find in a polymer-framed, striker-fired pistol. It’s a cost savings to the enduser because we don’t have to replace or rework it.
Further, all of the standard internal safety features are present. Springfield’s Ultra Safety Assurance (USA) Action Trigger System is the trigger-bar safety. Springfield’s signature external grip safety keeps the pistol from firing unless the shooter has a grasp on it. There is also an internal firing-pin block and out-of-battery safety for added protection.
For some reason, the grip safety is a point of contention for some folks who do not like it. I, on the other hand, appreciate it for the added layer of safety it provides. Its location and function have never been an issue for me, since I’m the type who is prone to missing grip safeties on Model 1911s due to my deep palm swell. It’s still my favorite safety feature on the XD.
Disassembly for field stripping and cleaning is easier now with all XDs. Pressing the trigger is no longer required for disassembly. It was never a huge problem with me, but it required depressing the grip safety while pressing the trigger to remove the slide. I’ve seen novice shooters struggle with the process. This is also where too many unintentional discharges occur with all makes of striker-fired guns. With this XD(M), rotating the takedown lever up 90 degrees deactivates the striker and the grip safety together. The slide comes off without any struggle.
Internally, the XD(M) series are minimalist and easy to clean. There are no special tools required. Wipe them down, brush them off and reapply light oil to areas that hinge or move. Be careful when removing the recoil spring! It’s not a captured spring system, but a two-piece spring over a guide rod with stout springs to manage the recoil.
During loading, I noticed a short-coming in the magazines. There are no round-count verification or witness holes. Most magazines at least have cutouts or numerical markings for judging capacity while shooting or loading. Not here. The 15-round magazines are stiff, but not impossible to load full. Having to count rounds as you’re stuffing mags isn’t fun.
To test practical accuracy, I fired 15 rounds from each pistol while standing offhand at a Challenge Target’s steel, TDI torso set at 25 yards. Despite the 4½-inch model printing 4-inches left out of the box, all hits were on target.
The XD(M)10s were a handful, so there was very little rapid firing. I’m used to shooting 9mm handguns, so I suppose I’ve softened a little. Could I shoot them quickly and obtain combat accuracy? Yes, but I’d have to work at it. This is why the 10mm is not more popular with law enforcement.
The triggers on each were created equal, breaking cleanly at 5½ pounds as measured on an RCBS trigger scale.
For accuracy testing, I selected the XD(M) 5.25 for its adjustable sights and longer sight radius. Firing from a pistol rest really demonstrated just how much muzzle flip the 10mm produces. Overall, accuracy from the rest was impressive. These Springfield’s could make great hunting guns. Having a red-dot sight cut into the slide would only increase their utility.
My best results were obtained with standard, ball ammo. That’s right. Remington’s 180-grain UMC FMJ produced the best groups! Typically, this load runs 70 cents per round in small boxes, but if you buy larger quantities, they can be had for about 35 cents per round. My first five-shot group measured just 1.06 inches. Phenomenal! Further, chronograph results proved the velocities to be extremely consistent.
Chronographing each type of ammunition offered me more knowledge of the 10mm’s power. Curious as to the effects of barrel length on the cartridge, I fired five rounds of Remington UMC from each model XD(M). The difference in barrel length between the two is just 3/4 inches, so it’s no surprise that you’re losing only 20 fps of muzzle velocity with the shorter version. There’s more deviation than that in most ammunition!
Springfield Armory builds some nice guns, and the XD(M) series continues to be among the best striker-fired pistols out there. Both models performed flawlessly with all ammunition. Unlike the 10mm pistols that debuted in the 1980s, there was never a hiccup or cause for concern with these. Col. Cooper has no idea what he’s missing.
If you want to hunt with a pistol, carry one as a hard-hitting personal protection tool or, perhaps, you just want a modern icon in a caliber that no one would snicker at, either of these pistols make for an acceptable choice.