Friday, January 31, 2014

4.5" XDM vs 5.25" XDM

  I've owned this pair of XDMs for a few years now. The 4.5" version was purchased shortly after they were first released, and the 5.25" model was bought about two years ago. The handguns have been shot extensively, and I'm pretty fond of them.

  If you've followed this blog, then you have no doubt seen the earlier reviews of these two pistols. I'm going to pretend that you don't hang on my every written word, and go over a few earlier points about the XDMs. I'll briefly contrast the two models, and tell you what I think works best for me. Hopefully some of the info will be relevant for those deciding between these Springfields.

  Let's look at how the two pistols rate in several different roles.

Home Defense:
  I'd rate both weapons equally. Either one will get the job done, but I might give a slight edge to the Competition model. The sights on the 5.25" are generally easier to see.
  Unless you're living in squalor, or have dust bunnies the size of real rabbits in your home, the milled out slide shouldn't be an issue. Nothing should get into the weapon.
  Some manufacturers are adding magazine safeties to their products, and others are building key locks into their firearms. These are not included on the XDMs, and magazine safeties and built in locks are no substitute for keeping your guns secured and away from children. Common sense trumps locking devices. If you need "Lawyer Locks" on your handguns, then the XDM is not for you.

Duty Gun:
  The 4.5" model wins this easily. You can not always predict the environment in which you'll be working. One day you may be standing a post, while the next may entail trudging through the woods. An enclosed slide is preferable for this role.
  The fiber optic front sight is easily more visible than the standard sight, but it's also more fragile.

Trail Gun:
   Everything that I said above applies to this category.

  Unless the weapon needs to be concealed, the 5.25" version wins hands down. This is the role for which the pistol was designed.

  I'm not talking about the Zombie Apocalypse. That's a fun genre for entertainment, but unprofessional in regards to firearms. I cringe whenever I see the zombie guns in magazines, or find them at gun shows. When I see the fugly green coloring and bio hazard symbols, I'm reminded of the saying, "Just because you can do something, doesn't mean that you should."
  We routinely have fires, floods, hurricanes, etc. in this nation. You may find yourself on the road evacuating an area, or hunkered down while riding out a storm. It's rare when looting and crime do not follow devastation. Just ask those that were present in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, or those still suffering from Hurricane Sandy.
  So which weapon would I pick for riots, looting, or a WROL situation? It should be clear that the 4.5" model would be the best choice. The sights are sturdier, and there's less likelihood of getting debris inside your slide. The pistol is slightly smaller, and you may not want to advertise that you're armed.

Concealed Carry:
  I don't like either pistol for this role, but there are many that don't mind a larger handgun for concealed carry. The 5.25" would obviously be the 2nd choice for this category. The size is a problem, and the front sight should be entirely protected by the holster.

  Alright. Enough rambling about roles for the pistols. Let's get down to the similarities, and most importantly... the differences.

  Both firearms use the same frame, and take the same 19 round magazines. There are no differences in the controls.
  The 4.5" and 5.25" Springfields use the same case, and come with a decent Kydex paddle holster and magazine pouch. A magazine loading tool is also included. The loading tool will fit on the rails provided along the side of the mag pouch. That's a thoughtful feature for those that have a hard time loading magazines (and yes, those last few rounds can be hard to load).
  The 4.5" version comes with 2 mags vs the 3 magazines that are included with the 5.25" model. The comp version also has a few extra pipes for the fiber optic front sight.

  I'm not going to spend a lot of time adding the specs. You can find them in my earlier reviews, or view them here.

  Now for the differences.

  Obviously the Competition model has a slightly longer slide. As expected from reading the earlier paragraphs, the Competition version is 5.25" long instead of the standard 4.25". The sight radius is 7.25."

  The first thing that everyone always notices is the large hole milled out of the slide near the front sight. Many initially assume that the weapon is ported. It's not. The lightening cut is intended to reduce slide mass, and allow a larger range of loads to be used. Cutting back on the slide weight helps the Competition XDM to operate with the lighter target loads that some use in matches.

  The 4.5" model is actually slightly heavier (32oz vs 29oz) due to this lightening cut in the slide of the 5.25" version. 

  The standard model comes with decent sights. They are similar to the 3 dot fare that we find on so many duty guns today. I really can't say anything bad about them, but I wouldn't sing their praises either. They're "OK."
  It is worth noting that the rear sight on the standard XDM is beveled, so if you're a fan of racking the slide on your belt or a door frame, it's not going to easily happen. I'm not tacticool enough for that to be a major issue for me.
  BTW, my 4.5" XDM came zeroed from the factory and I've never seen anyone complain about having to adjust the sights on this model. I'm sure that it's happened before, but I wouldn't expect to have to drift the rear.

  The Competition model has a Hi Viz fiber optic front sight, and a black serrated adjustable rear. Mine shot to the left out of the box. I've seen this minor complaint from others online. Perhaps we all use too much trigger finger.
The sights are much easier to pick up on the 5.25", and my groups were (prior to the sight upgrade on the 4.5") usually a little better when shooting this XDM.

  The Competition pistol is slightly lighter overall than the standard version, but it still feels just a little more muzzle heavy. You wouldn't notice it unless you were shooting both guns side by side.
  I can't feel much difference in recoil between the two handguns.

  I love both guns, but it's time for a few minor complaints.

  If I was marketing a firearm as a competition handgun, I'd upgrade the trigger. Both of my XDMs have about the same (5.5 - 7.7 lbs) trigger pull. It's not at all bad, but it is hardly what one would call a competition trigger. I kind of expected more from the 5.25" version in this regard. Trigger kits are available from several sources, and Springfield will also do upgrades ($$$).

  If you buy the 5.25" XDM, then make sure that you love the sights. You'll have a hard time finding a replacement for the rear.
  If you plan on replacing the rear sight with a red dot then you're in luck. I've run across a few mounts for the 5.25" over the last couple of months. Of course that will be a costly change.

  I've said in earlier paragraphs that Springfield supplies a decent holster with both pistols. I still believe that, but I wouldn't pick their paddle holster for competition shooting. I prefer something that allows the gun to ride vertically instead of at an angle. Bear in mind that I get beat in handgun matches like Chris Mathew's dick during an Obama speech. My views on holsters may not mirror your own. When I start winning and getting endorsements, then I'll pretend to be the expert on what works best for everyone.
  While I'm on the topic of holsters, the XDM paddle holster doesn't provide any protection for the fiber optic front sight used on the 5.25" pistol. That's probably not an issue for matches, but I wouldn't want to use it for CCW or in the field.
  Springfield includes extra green and red pipes for the fiber optic sight. Very thoughtful of them.

  Just a few more observations, and then I'm done.
10yds with 5.25" XDM

  The Competition XDM comes with an extra mag. That's about a $35 value. If the price of the two guns are within $70 of each other, then I would pick the 5.25" model for home defense, plinking, and matches. The added mag and superior Hi Viz sights make it worth the money.
  I would consider the Competition XDM kit as being set up for entry level competition shooters (like me).  It's doubtful that professional shooters are going to show up for a match with the stock trigger, and the holster/mag pouch provided.

10yds with 4.5" XDM
  The 4.5" model is a better all around gun, IMO. You can do just about anything with it. I upgraded the sights to TruGlo TFOs last year, and they are a huge improvement. I prefer them to both the standard 3 dot sight and the sights on the 5.25" XDM.
  The vast majority of the TFO reviews that I've found have been positive, but a few people have complained of the tubes cracking or popping out of the mount. I haven't seen that, and I would estimate that about 500 rnds have been put through my XDM since the change. That's not a huge amount, so I'll update this if anything changes. TFOs were also added to my M&P9, and a friend's S&W Shield. No sight issues have been seen with those weapons either. I'll continue to update as the round counts increase. As things currently stand, I recommend the TruGlo TFOs and cannot say enough good things about them.

  Pricing for these pistols is still all over the map in my area, even though the panic buying has died down. I would guess that the standard XDM runs about $100 less than the Competition model.  If I had to buy just one version from Springfield Armory, then I would definitely purchase the 4.5" pistol and add the TruGlo TFOs.  The Competition model is very cool looking (and if you're honest you'll admit that matters somewhat), and gets a lot of looks at the range. I just feel that the 4.5" handgun is a better all around pistol, and the TFOs make a great gun even better.

4.5" on RT, 5.25" on LT
15yds Slow Fire

  Both targets were shot at 15yds. The 5.25" XDM was used on the left, and the 4.25" model was used on the right. The targets posted in this review are from 3 different range trips spread out over several weeks. Some days are better than others. I shot better with the 5.25" Springfield when the 4.25" version had standard sights. I can't really see a lot of difference in my shooting with these two weapons since I purchased the TFOs (if the lighting is decent).

  Not all is perfect in XDM land. I have a confession to make. It's more about me than the handguns. The slides on both XDMs only lock open on an empty magazine about 50% of the time. This is because my thumb is usually sitting on top of the slide lock. I consider this more of a "Me" issue than a gun issue.
  So that's my 2 cents on these pistols. I love them both, but lean towards the 4.5" version since I've upgraded the sights. Either weapon would be a great choice for almost any handgun need, and I find the XDM line accurate, reliable, and a good value.
  I hope to add the 3.8" pistol to the collection soon. If I'm still spending money on XDMs, it should be a good indicator of my trust in these guns.

Past gun and knife reviews are here.

Updated:    It's Sept 2017, and I broke down and sold the 4.5" model last year. I really liked the pistol, but had been shooting it for years. I was looking for something different. There's really nothing bad that I can say about the gun, sometimes it is just time for a change.


  1. I know this is more than two years old, but I really enjoyed reading it. Have been looking at these two and I think I will be going with the 4.5.

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  3. I also enjoyed reading this. Will likely go with 4.5" (and maybe a 5# trigger) for CCW.