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MORE FROM SPRINGFIELD’S XD PISTOL

Printer Friendly VersionPrinter Friendly VersionSend to a FriendSend to a FriendNot many pistols can be labeled an overnight success as Springfield’s XD. While more than a few raised an eyebrow at the post Cold War Croatian 9mm creation when it was first imported, I bought one of the first ones and was amazed with its performance.

However, the pistol only got better when Springfield soon acquired it and renamed it the XD, and then it didn’t take long for Springfield to introduce versions in .40 S&W and .45 ACP. I had my first taste of the Springfield .40 caliber XD pistol several years ago during a Springfield writers’ invitational, where I and more than a dozen others fired XDs in an all-day marathon at the San Diego Police Range IN THE RAIN!

Yes, under the watchful and sadistic eye of Springfield’s Rob Latham, breaking only for lunch, we fired non-stop in the equally non-stop warm rain for six hours. When we weren’t shooting, we were reloading our magazines, and we shot from three yards out to 50 yards. When the smoke cleared, the rain didn’t, and through it all there was no lubrication or cleaning except for falling water. Rob assured us we had fired 1,000 rounds each. I didn’t count, but I wouldn’t argue.

Like the others, my “issue” .40 caliber XD was one of Springfield’s road show demo pistols. Although it had been lubricated before I shot it, it had not been cleaned, so there was no way to discern how many rounds it had fired in between. As hard as it might be to believe, however, my pistol never malfunctioned until the very last round on the very last string, and that consisted of the round not fully chambering. I simply hit the back of the slide with the palm of my left hand and finished the course. That, folks, is reliability!

Now they’ve done one better. Called the XDM, the new version is, well, the same as pervious XDs, but it’s also a lot different. By that, I mean that anyone familiar with the XD could simply pick up the new version and use it, as if they’d been carrying it all their life, but they might just be yelling, “WOW!” Let’s take a close look.

In the new XD’s designation, the letter, “m” is in lower case hiding behind the big D, be we’ll show it capitalized for reasons that are obvious. The “M” stands for just about anything you want it to, according to the ad flier that comes with it. You know, Maximum this, Minimal that, Mega-, Main- and Multi. It also mentions Match, and I think this best describes the gun, but the “M” word that best describes it is MORE.

From the start, the XDM’s frame was reportedly designed to accommodate the .45 ACP cartridge. That would seem to be a major “duh” factor here for other manufacturers that have tried to squeeze this cartridge into existing envelopes. This one was ready for the .45 ACP cartridge and it should be available as you read this.

Starting at the front, the white dot steel sight is dovetailed into the slide, but is a Patridge style instead of the combat ramp as on my original. Rather than being stepped, the sides of the slide are flat on the bottom before tapering inward toward the top for a pleasing look. This allows the improved front and rear cocking grooves to be used much more effectively, and there is also added streamlining at the front of the slide to assist in re-holstering. Gone is the angular takedown cut on the front left of the standard XD’s slide.

At first look the ejection port appears the same, but closer inspection reveals that the rear is slightly flared to improve ejection and the outer rear edge of the barrel is also beveled. Here, on the exposed side of the barrel above the caliber series number, in big letters is also the word MATCH. On the top of the slide is the familiar loaded chamber indicator, often mistakenly assumed to be the extractor. If this indicator protrudes above the slide, there is a cartridge in the chamber. Farther back is the rear sight with its two white dots. Fairly contemporary, this sight is angled forward and is drift adjustable for windage.

The polymer frame of the new XDM, with its full-length light rail with wider cross cuts, is strikingly different. This new rail is also closer to M1913 specifications. While the front of the trigger guard is virtually unchanged, the rear has a noticeably deeper undercut to allow the pistol to sit as low in the hand as possible and the tang has also wisely been modified similarly. Access to the ambidextrous magazine release has also been improved.

Replaceable Back Straps

Also improved is the front strap with its more aggressive “tread” and a similar texture extends around the front on both sides to add purchase for the strong hand. The same style cross grooves are found on the back strap, but this component comes in a threesome, with one to fit hopefully any hand to make the pistol point on target.

A constant problem with at least one major competitor is a severe (Luger) grip angle. This may feel comfortable, but it results in the pistol pointing high, requiring the front sight to be brought down in order to be on target. To check this, I looked at my target, closed my eyes and brought the pistol up and opened my eyes to see if both sights were lined up on target.

One look at the three interchangeable back straps that come with the XDM and I knew that the flattest one was for me. Incidentally, passing through a cut-out in the back strap, the pin that holds it also serves as a lanyard mount. Good idea! Lifting out the back strap allows it to be replaced with two other sizes furnished with the pistol. Replacing the pin looks simple enough, but is not really easy. It should not be replaced until the owner is sure which back strap fits best, which may require shooting the gun a bit. A rubber band would suffice to hold the piece on during evaluation.

With magazine inserted, the butt of the XDM extends almost on-half inch below that of the standard XD .40 caliber pistol, but measures the same from side to side. With my preferred back strap it is actually shorter front to back, this while the XDM’s magazine is .062” wider. This was accomplished by thinning the walls of the frame’s magazine well, but don’t worry, as this is super strong polymer and cannot be squeezed in to prevent the magazine from falling free. So how does this magazine measure up with a true hi-cap .45 ACP magazine? The latter measures

.095 wider, indicating that a .45 ACP magazine for the new pistol would be semi-staggered, but we’ll have to wait and see. Did I mention that the XDM’s magazine holds a whopping 16 rounds of .40 S&W ammunition?

The magazine release buttons protrude a tiny bit farther than standard ones and are easier to access, but on my sample XDM they are also a little harder to operate. This is a good thing for a duty pistol, especially one with a 16+1 ammunition capacity.

The remaining exterior differences of the XDM are largely styling, with the exception of its modified takedown lever and slide release and its slightly modified “thumb rests,” but the rest of the story is inside. No parts appear to be interchangeable. Everything has been changed and/or made more robust.

Safer Field Stripping

In the takedown procedure for the two pistols, everything is the same but for one major – MAJOR – improvement.

You don’t have to dry fire this new XDM to remove the slide. If I were a still a police administrator, that alone would be worth the price of admission!

With this gun, one must simply remove the magazine, lock the slide back, and inspect the magazine. Then, pull the slide to the rear to disengage the slide stop and ease the slide off the frame. Even if a live round was somehow left in the chamber, with this pistol it can’t accidentally go off.

The inside has as many changes as the outside. The recoil spring system is much more robust than previously offered. The locking block of the XDM also has a much deeper feed ramp than previous XDs. Reassembly is in reverse order.

No Second Strike…A Good Thing!

The other feature of all XD pistols that I like is that they are not repeatable, that is, one cannot continually dry fire the gun without retracting the slide each time. Why is this important? In my opinion, such practice can get you killed and will get someone killed sooner or later. For more than a half-century the so-called “double strike” has been billed as a lifesaver. You know the drill, “if it doesn’t go off the first time, hit it again.” WRONG! This marketing ploy is perpetuated, in my opinion, by those who have never been end users, and who see this feature as a way of selling more guns, but here’s the truth. If it doesn’t go off the first time, it probably won’t go off the second, third, fourth time. The question becomes how many times the shooter is willing to keep pulling the trigger in a gunfight, only to hear a click – “when seconds count.”

Far more likely is that the chamber is empty, especially if it fired once, but failed to fire the second time. Either way, in a gunfight there’s no time to take a vote. Any time an auto pistol goes “click” instead of “bang,” it’s time to smack the bottom of the magazine with your support hand, rack the slide to feed a fresh cartridge, and get back into the fight. Long called “tap, rack and bang,” I strongly prefer the term, “smack,” as in a life and death struggle there won’t be any “tapping” on my part! Most now also prefer to add the word, “roll” after rack, in order to make sure any unfired round is properly ejected, and instead of “bang,” one should re-assess before getting back into the fight.

In my opinion, the only good thing about a DA pistol that is repeatable is that it’s handy for double action practice, as is “smack, rack-n-roll and re-assess.” In dry fire practice with any auto pistol, I used a magazine with the recoil spring and follower removed, or somehow deactivated so it will not lock back the slide. Then every time I dry fired and heard the “click,” I did the smack, rack-n-roll drill before dry firing again. It will become an automatic reflex and may someday save lives –“when seconds count!”

Lights

Concerning the XDM’s light rail, I found it to work perfectly with a variety of electrical accessories, including SureFire Tactical Lights such as their new X300 and even more, the new SureFire X400 combination light/laser. Having been allowed to “play” with a prototype of this system, I predict that for many the X400 may be the way to go in a handgun light.

Shots Fired

Using high-grade factory ammunition, I found the XDM to indeed be capable of match grade performance, producing 25-yard five-shot groups of two inches or so hand-held from a rest. For my use, that’s about twice as good as “combat accuracy.” Off-hand, I could do almost as good part of the time and hold close to three inches most of the time.

The hold up here was the trigger pull, which on my sample is not as good as on my original XD .40 caliber pistol. Then again, I’ve had that pistol for almost ten years. Not only do I not know how many rounds I’ve put through it, but I’ve also loaned it out to a good numberof officers for eval purposes. The new pistol’s trigger has already improved with an estimated 300 presses. As with previous XDs, it feels like a double action with its long, safe take-up.

The new XDM comes in all matte black with a Melonite finish, or with a black polymer frame and a matte stainless slide. It also comes with a black polymer paddle holster, double magazine pouch, and magazine loader. I’ve always considered holsters to be as personal as underwear, and this one’s pretty slick.

Because there were no holsters available for the XDM when I tested the pistol, I found that a universal auto pistol holster from Bianchi worked perfectly. Designed by Roy Huntington some years back and made of nylon web, this holster opens completely up. Any full size duty auto pistol is then laid in the middle and the holster flaps are wrapped around it and secured with a wide hook-and-loop band. Since this rig was designed to accommodate a pistol with a light mounted, I mounted a SureFire X300 on the gun and then fit the holster around it and secured it.

The fit was perfect and the pistol was well protected and secured with a double thumb-break. This has been one of my favorite tactical rigs for some time and I’ve used a variety of guns in it. But by the time you read this most major holster companies will have a variety of rigs available for the XDM. One thing I would like to fix is a thumb safety. Springfield showed its new XD thumb safety at the 2008 SHOT Show and it’s one of the best I’ve seen on a polymer pistol. Why they didn’t offer it as part of the XDM package from the get-go is a mystery, but it should soon be available.

Few would argue that the earlier XD has been a great success as a combat auto pistol, both in competition and on duty. I would not have guessed that Springfield was out to improve it, but that’s what they did, and they did it in a

big way. For information on this and all their fine firearms, contact Springfield Armory, 420 W. Main St., Dept. SOF, Geneseo, IL 61254, (800) 680-6866 (Springfield-armory.com).

Other Contacts:

Bianchi International

27969 Jefferson Ave., Dept. SOF

Temecula, CA 92590

(800) 477-8545

bianchi-intl.com

SureFire LLC

18300 Mt. Baldy Cir. Dept. SOF

Fountain Valley, CA 92708

(800) 828-8809

surefire.com

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