Monday, August 13, 2012

4.5" XDM (9mm)

  I became a fan of the XD after a friend bought the 5" .40cal. I put it up against my .40cal Browning Hi Power Practical and came away wanting the XD. I liked the gun and the price. I just didn't like it enough to put out several hundred dollars.
Then I picked up a XDM. It  felt like Springfield (Or the Croatians) made it for my hand. The XD felt really good and honestly  all of the major manufacturers do a decent job in designing ergonomic handguns that fit the hand. The XDM however takes it to a new level. 

I went from wanting a XD to having to get a XDM. The Browning went to a new home and a 4.5" XDM took it's place. I could not see ammo getting any cheaper and after the Obama Ammo Drought and price hikes of 2008 and 2009 I decided to make the switch to 9mm.  While the calibers that begin with a 4 still rule I still feel pretty confident with 19rnds of 9mm JHP +P. It's also nice being able to afford to shoot my handguns on a regular basis and that can be hard to do with .45acp and .40S&W.

  Back to the XDM.
  I'll say it again, the gun just feels right in my hand. As you no doubt already know the gun comes with interchangeable backstraps. I've tried them all and the medium fits me best. This happens to be the one that comes on the pistol. The textured pattern of the grip is excellent. Springfield calls this the Mega Lock Texture. It's a corny name but it definitely works.  The angle is very good and the thickness is just about right for my medium sized hands. 
  As I said earlier the ergonomics are outstanding. I shoot M1911's a lot and am used to rotating the gun in my hand a bit to reach the slide lock. Everything on the XDM is just where you want it. There is no need to change or rotate your grip to operate the controls.
  The magazine release is easy to reach without sitting out so far that it's prone to accidentally being depressed.

  The grip safety is not noticeable while shooting the handgun and works well for me. The trigger safety also is not an issue. It works, is not really noticeable and I generally don't think about it. That's as it should be. The slide lock is positioned within easy reach of my thumb and is easy to depress.

  I bought the model with the olive colored frame and black melonite coated slide. After mounting a light on it the XDM was named "The Halo Gun" by my daughter. Unfortunately Springfield stopped making the green framed version. You can now get the black polymer frame or the other black polymer frame.

  The slide either comes in a matte stainless or black Melonite finish. The barrel is also Melonite coated. I've been shooting mine for a few years now and have used it in few matches.  It has almost no holster wear despite using a Kydex holster. I won't claim that the gun is used hard but some other manufacturer's guns seem to scratch a lot easier than the XDM.

  The slide serrations work very well. I have no complaints about them. Most people don't give the slide serrations much thought and I never worried about them until I got a Browning Hi Power Practical. Long story short....the serrations were so shallow and close together it could be hard to rack the slide if the gun was oily or my hands were wet. My wife couldn't rack the slide at all on the Browning. This ruled it out as a shared home defense gun. 
  On the other hand both my wife and the Daywalker have no problems manipulating the controls on the XDM or handling the gun. As some people buy one gun for home defense it makes sense to buy something that the entire family can use.

  Take down is simple. I won't go into detail but anyone should be able to disassemble this gun without difficulty. Unlike some of the XDM's competitors, the trigger doesn't have to be pulled when disassembling the pistol.  This isn't an issue with me but it's a selling point for others.

   Magazine capacity is outstanding at 19 rounds. The magazines are beautifully made and stainless steel. They are a little pricey and I've yet to find any aftermarket mags for the Springfield. I have 10 mags (For 2 XDMs) and all function perfectly. How often does that happen?  One bit of good news is that Springfield puts their magazines on sale a couple of times per year.
  There are numbered witness holes on the back of mags to count your rnds.
It can get a little hard to top off the magazines and Springfield includes a loading tool with the gun. This tool works fine and I have no complaints. It's slow to use but that's the nature of the beast.

  The XDM's are currently sold in a large plastic case that can double as a laptop case if you remove one of the 3 layers of foam. Of course it might look a little odd with the Springfield name across the front and an accessory rail running down the side. Springfield Armory did a very good job with this total package. 2 (19rnd) magazines come with the gun. A Kydex paddle holster, a Kydex double magazine pouch and a magazine loading tool are included. An allen wrench for adjusting holster and mag pouch tension is also included. The usual literature and lock are also there.  One item that was well thought out is the magazine loader ($19). It will fit on the magazine pouch's accessory rail.
  The holster is pretty decent for what it is. Retention is OK and it's comfortable enough. I see a lot of the XDM owners at the range still using them. I've used mine in a few matches and wish that it was positioned vertically instead of diagonally but for all around use I think that it works well.  I don't know if I would pay $34 for it though. The mag pouch ( $34 too) is also OK but I would prefer it if the mags were positioned vertically instead of diagonally. The total package runs about $600 in my area.
  I think it's important to list the prices since you're getting a lot of extras when you buy this gun. Other than a cleaning kit and ammo the buyer is pretty well set up when walking out of the LGS with a XDM.
  I went on a bit about this package and there's a good reason behind it. I know a lot of handgun owners that don't own holsters. I also know a few that have a very hard time loading magazines and have never heard of magazine loading tools. While I'm sure that the Kydex goodies pump up the price it's still nice to have everything immediately handed to the buyer.
  There's a couple of stories floating around the internet about accidental discharges due to worn or cheap holsters and Glocks. I don't blame the Glocks. A new gun owner may not realize that it's possible for a soft fabric holster or even worn leather holster to get into the trigger guard.
  I remember reading a story years ago about the LA Riots. The author stated that some armed homeowners showed up at the gates of their community during the rioting. Many of them didn't have holsters and just tucked the handguns into pockets or belts. This is unsafe and looks unprofessional. If you're judged, especially by LEO, by first appearances do you really want to carry your gun like a criminal?
  As I said before, I went on a bit about the package but I really like this kit. It's a good setup for the average gun owner.

Here's a few quick specs:

Barrel:      4.5"  Match Barrel (Melonite Coated)
Trigger Pull:    5.5-7.7lbs
Length:     8"
Height:     5.6"
Weight:    32oz (Empty)

  The sights are dovetailed at the front and rear and are the usual 3 dot arrangement. They work OK but I wouldn't brag about them. They are just 3 dot sights and are probably no better or worse than the rest of them on the market. I plan to swap them out for the Dawson Precision sights this year.  The sights are rumored to be ridiculously tight in the dovetail and hard to remove.

  The trigger pull is 5.5lbs - 7.7lbs. I would guess that mine is on the low side of that range. The XDM seems to have an average trigger for a striker fired pistol. I'm not going to go into the reset, or how mushy this trigger or that trigger is. It's all subjective. Check out a XDM at your LGS.
  I will say that Glock does a better job with their trigger IMO.

  The slide has a Striker Status Indicator and Loaded Chamber Indicator. The XDM's all come with a match barrel.

  Most of this info has been the same thing that you've no doubt read on SA's website, the press releases and a bunch of other blogs.

  There is a picatinny rail on the frame as you've no doubt noticed. I keep a weapon light on my 4.5" XDM and this light had to be adjusted to fit the rail. No biggie. The odd thing is that the light doesn't fit the rail on my 5.25" XDM. It's only a minor adjustment to make it work but I still find it a bit odd that I can't just slap it on another XDM.  I can't say if it's the same for other brands of weapon lights.

  The gun is very accurate and I'll add some targets at a later date.

  Recoil is minimal (I know it's only a 9mm) it's very easy to get back on target.

  This pistol is very reliable. I'm currently disgusted with a very new, very expensive and very unreliable handgun that makes me really appreciate THIS Springfield.
I wish that I had kept a log on this gun but while I'm picky about my gear I'm not quite that picky. I can safely say that this XDM has over 3,000 rnds through it and has only jammed twice. Most of my shooting is with WWB followed by Federal. I've used Remington, Silver Bear, Fiocchi, Blazer and even some Tula. Everything runs in this gun. Ammo is high and most of my shooting is done with target loads.
I've put several boxes of Speer Gold Dot 124gr JHP +P's through it and that is my home defense and carry load. The only jams that I've had with this gun were when trying Winchester  SXT 147gr. a month or two after buying the gun. The XDM was out of the break in period.  I had two failures to go into battery with the same box. As this stuff is expensive I haven't tried it since and have stayed with Speer Gold Dots.

  Now for the grip safety. I don't mind it. Grip safeties have been around for over 100 years and I don't see a lot of complaints about them on M1911's. For some reason however it's heresy to put them on a polymer framed handgun.
  I don't care if my handguns have a grip safety or not. I just want it to work if it's there and I haven't seen any issues with them on my XDM's.
  I get that simpler is usually better and the more complicated a firearm is the more that can go wrong.  If we use that argument it would make sense to do away with all safeties on all guns in order to simplify them. We'd drop the transfer bar safeties on our revolvers and go truly old school
  I think that a large amount of hate for the XDM's grip safety comes from brand myopic gun owners. Some people get a little too into their guns. If they spent $500 or so dollars for a handgun then obviously it's the perfect gun and everyone else should buy the same. If another brand or model is slightly different than what they own then these myopic gun owners lose their minds. It doesn't matter what another consumer is looking for or how they are using the gun.
  Then there's the, "If you're wounded in the hand you may not be able to manipulate the controls" crowd. They say that you may not be able to properly depress the grip safety when shooting with your off hand and may have trouble using the gun with you're wounded hand. I'll agree that I would probably have trouble shooting with an injured hand but that would probably be true with any handgun.
  I've never had any issues shooting my XDM's left handed. My family members haven't had any issues and the other shooters at our local matches don't seem to have any grip safety issues when shooting left handed. I usually use a large framed .357 Magnum (Loaded with .38spl) and my XDM when teaching non shooters and novices. I have yet to see even the most inexperienced shooter have problems with the grip safety.
 I haven't seen a lot of horror stories about wounded GI's being unable to shoot their M1911's despite their wounds. As the M1911 and it's grip safety have been around for over 100 yrs there should be countless stories if there was a problem. There's probably two stories floating around the internet.
  Apparently the problem only exists with polymer framed pistols and gun owners that are very loyal to their favorite brand. But... if the grip safety is a deal breaker for you and you just can't live with it then guess what? The grip is plastic. The safety is plastic. Although I don't believe in bypassing safety features I bet there is some way to permanently join the two.

  In conclusion (until I remember something else at least), I would recommend this gun  without reservations. The only bad thing that I can say about it is it's pricier than some of it's competitors. A lot of friends and new shooters have shot this pistol and I have yet to hear a single complaint.  I'm the kind of guy that often gets buyers remorse but that hasn't happened with this gun and as I liked the 4.5" version enough to go ahead and add a 5.25" Competition model to the collection.

15 YDS

Edit:     This pistol didn't seem to like the Ultramax 9mm ammunition shown in the picture below. The groups weren't that bad, but I had more malfunctions with this ammo than I've had in the previous several thousand rounds of WWB, Tulammo, Federal, Speer, Blazer, Fiochii, etc. Other than with some Winchester hollowpoints, this gun has never jammed before.
  There is a very pronounced shoulder in between the bullet and the case of this ammunition. I believe that this is the cause of some of the malfunctions (bullets were sometimes hanging up on the feed ramp and not chambering. There were also two stovepipes).
  I'm not complaining. This stuff sold for what would be about $13 per box if I was not buying in bulk. It's hard to get 9mm today, and I'm paying an average of $17 per box for whatever I can find. I'd buy this ammunition again, but probably would not use it in my XDM if there was something else available.
 The Ultramax 9mm ran just fine in the Kimber and Taurus 24/7 OSS. Of course the Kimber eats everything without complaint.
 I wouldn't trust this ammo for anything important when using the Springfield, but it's still OK for casual plinking. This is merely meant as a warning for those with XDMs. Some guns are ammo picky. I hadn't run across that with this weapon, but it stands to reason that I would eventually find something that it didn't like. (Aug. 2013)

15 yds

Edit (Sept 2016):    It's been many years since I first wrote this review. I've bought many guns since then, but still love the XDM line of pistols. You'll notice that I added Tru Glo TFO night sights, and Talon Grips to my handgun. A Crimson Trace Rail Master has also been added, and it's a huge aid for older eyes.

Hmmm... I'm not too happy about the group on the left, but it was shot with "Iron Sights" and shooting as fast as I could get the sights back on target. I have no idea what the time was, but it was under 1 round per second.
The target on the right was shot while using the laser sight, and I can shoot MUCH faster with the laser.
I'm also a lot more accurate at 15-25 yards, but I'll admit that this laser is almost useless to me on a nice sunny day at an outdoor range (that's when the Tru Glo TFOs absolutely rock).

This model comes with two magazines (instead of the 3 that are shown). Naturally, the laser sight is not part of Springfield's package. The holster and magazine pouch, are OK and I've used them in matches a time or two.
A competition shooter, or concealed carrier will no doubt want to upgrade their holster and mag pouch.

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