A Mo Better .40

A Mo Better .40

The new Springfield XDm gives you more of what you look for in a semiauto.

By now we should be used to the idea of a polymer-framed pistol. After all, while 1980s clothes and music are gone (in many cases, thankfully) and the TV shows of the period are on late-night cable, the original polymer pistol--the Glock--is still here. And facing ever-tougher competition.

The new Springfield XDm (as in, XD "more") offers a whole host of improvements both on the Glock and the previous versions of the XD itself.

First are the cosmetic. The slide has been resculpted to remove those odd-looking exterior rails the XD sported. The new slide is trapezoidal in cross-section, and the new shape of the slide gives Springfield an opportunity to also change the cocking serrations. The angles of the slide surfaces and the slots act to drive your fingers deeper into the slots and farther down on the side as you grab it to rack the slide. Your fingers are much less likely to slip off the slide while working it.

The super-hard Melonite-treated slide is also longer by half an inch, with a longer barrel to go with it. More barrel means more velocity for your .40 S&W loads. The new barrels are made by the most modern and highest-tech methods available and have Enfield rifling, so no lead-bullet worries.

The sights are improved, with the front and rear in dovetails and the rear now large enough to hold night-sight vials, which you can get either now from Springfield or soon from those making night sights. I'm no great fan of the three-dot system (hey, I'm old enough that "old school" is the original school), but if that's what you want, the XDm has them.

While your working hand is getting a massaging from the slide, your shooting hand is being even more securely held by the frame. The new grip frame contour also sports new anti-skid serrations. Saying the new surface is less anti-skid than the old is like saying skateboard tape on your stairs is better than polished wood. Not that the old XD surfaces were prone to being slick, but the new surface is almost active in hanging on. The XDm backstraps are interchangeable, for different-sized hands, and also incorporate a lanyard loop so you can tie your blaster to you.

Springfield spent some time on the trigger, both to improve the trigger pull and to make changes in the takedown procedure. The new trigger is shorter on the takeup, shorter on the reset and quicker to reset as well. Me, I've spent entirely too much time shooting double-action revolvers to be bothered by a reset some complain about, but in switching back and forth between the new and an old XD--and some other polymer guns--I can see the difference.

Springfield XDm

ManufacturerSpringfield Armory, 800/680-6866
Typepolymer-frame semiauto
Caliber.40 S&W
Capacity8+1
Barrel Length4.5 in.
Height5.6 in
Weight32 oz.
Sightsthree-dot
Trigger6-lb. DAO
ExtrasPelican case, two mags, holster, mag pouch, mag loader
Price$679, black, $749 bi-tone

If your trigger finger isn't conditioned like mine to bounce off the front inside of the trigger guard on each shot, you'll probably be able to notice the new trigger faster than I did. It isn't a 1911 trigger, but then few are.

The magazine catch is ambidextrous, and the takedown method has also been improved. How? Simple. First, drop the magazine. Run the slide back and lock it open. Check to make sure it is indeed empty. Rotate the disassembly lever upright. Release the slide stop and run the s

lide assembly off the front of the frame. Done. No need to dry-fire the pistol in order to take it apart.

But wait, it gets better. Springfield went to its polymer providers and told them a new formula was needed. The chemists, locked in their dank, dark, dungeon-like labs, came up with a new polymer formula. (Promise those guys fresh air and new coffee filters and they'll do anything.) Springfield then took the new formula and changed the dimensions of the magazine well. In this well the designers stuffed a new, wider tube that upped the magazine capacity.

The old XD magazines held 12 rounds of .40 S&W. The new XDm magazines hold 16 rounds. That's right, 16 rounds of high-velocity .40 S&W goodness. It is fashionable in some circles to decry the cartridge as the ".40 Short & Weak," but who among us wants to stop one? And plenty of miscreants have gone to their reward (let us hope a hot and awful one) because of the .40 S&W, and to have 16 rounds of it in a pistol no larger than the original XD is wondrous.

Springfield sent me not one but two of the XDms to test. As the all-business all-black one suited Handguns well, I spent some time thrashing it. One of the first things I discovered was that Springfield had performed some sort of trickery besides stuffing 16 rounds into a magazine.

The XDm shoots softer than the XD--and softer than other .40 polymer guns as well. At first I thought I was just a bit off, due to having spent entirely too much time shooting a bunch of handguns .44 Magnum and larger. No, comparing it side by side with others showed me that I was not mistaken.

I had a chance to talk to Robbie Leatham at an industry gathering after I'd fired the XDm, and I mentioned the softness of recoil. He agreed. I said, "Yes, even with the Cor-Bon 135-grain rockets, it was soft to shoot." He winced when I mentioned that load. "Those things hurt," he said.

Well, not with the XDm they don't. Don't be mistaken; you will know you've touched off a hot load when you drop the striker on a Cor-Bon 135, but it won't be like you caught a hot line drive wrong in your mitt.

The XDm barrel is marked "match," and while it isn't a Bianchi Cup gun, it certainly delivers the goods. The worst groups of the various sessions was four inches, and even those were few and far between. Most of the time the groups hovered between two and three inches, so much so that it became boring. "Oh, another 21â'„2-inch group."

Every firearm shows preferences. Some are more marked than others, and if you have a handgun that shows a strong preference for one load over another you'd better pay attention to it. This particular XDm likes everything.

If there is something it doesn't shoot well, I wasn't able to find it. However, what it likes the most is the Magtech 180-grain Guardian Gold, which provided one two-inch group after another if I did my part.

And accuracy was not just an at-25-yards sort of thing. Plinking at the club's 100-yard gong, I could count on a "clink" from downrange as my reward every time if my mechanics were right. Were we still doing the 100-yard "shoot for sound" matches I could be making a good bit of money shooting against other club members.

Are there drawbacks to the changes? Yes, but not many. A holster that holds an XD will also hold an XDm, although some might be a bit loose on the XDm. If the holster has a tensioning device, you can probably tighten it up.

ACCURACY RESULTS:
SPRINGFIELD XDM

.40 S&WBULLET WEIGHT (gr.)AVG. VELOCITY (fps)AVG GROUP (in.)
Speer Frangible1251,2594.0
Black Hills Blue FMJ1809723.5
Black Hills Red JHP1651,1293.0
Blazer PHP1801,0283.0
Corbon JHP1351,3903.0
Magtech Guardian Gold1809672.0
Magtech SCHP1301,1593.0
Speer Gold Dot HP1551,1883.0
Hornady XTP HP1551,1373.0
Hornady TAP-FPD1809642.0
Extreme Shock EHP501,3584.0
Notes: Chronographed with two-foot screen spacing, centered 15 feet from the muzzle.Accuracy results are from three five-shot groups at 25 yards from sandbagged rest. Abbreviations: FMJ, full metal jacket; JHP, jacketed hollowpoint; SCHP, solid copper hollowpoint; HP, hollowpoint; plated hollowpoint; EHP, enhanced penetration

The mag holders for your XDm will be too big for any XD mags you might have, and the XD holder will be too tight for XDm mags. The XDm magazine tubes are .050 inch wider than the XD mags but the same length, more or less.

Will your XD mags work in an XDm? Not a chance. First, they are smaller and would rattle, even if you were to cut a new mag catch slot in your old mags. But why would you? I mean, for the cost of modifying old magazines that have less capacity, and maybe getting less than spectacular reliability, you could just buy new magazines.

Where does the XDm fit? As a carry gun, if you want the 16 rounds you have to put up with a full-size gun. Okay, no problem there, as a good holster makes a full-size gun a doable thing.

For competition, the XDm suddenly becomes a big deal. In IDPA it is no different than the XD, since you're limited to 10-shot magazine capacity anyway. But if someone wanted to shoot in USPSA Limited, you now have a big-mag Springfield to use. Extending the mag with a hollow aluminum baseplate can get a couple more shots, and that's as much as many have in their current Limited guns.

If you wanted to shoot it in Production, you'd have to download your .40 ammo to match 9mm recoil, but that is an easy thing. The XDm is already soft with full-power .40 ammo; downloaded you'd have a really soft-shooting pistol that makes bigger holes than 9mms do. Hmmm.

For right now the XDm is going to be made in .40 S&W. Springfield plans to continue making the XD and the XDm side by side, which I think is a plan that will have a short life. Except for those who have to have a compact gun, there is no reason to buy a full-size XD instead of an XDm. Pick them up side by side, and I think you'll agree. Shoot them if you can, and I know you will agree.

I hate to be the predictor of bad news for Springfield, but it has made a new model so good it will hurt sales of the old full-size XD. Not the compacts, as I said.

If you want a compact, concealed-carry .40 XD, you can get it. But for those looking for a full-sized gun, the big XD is a goner. Then again, if the new Springfield XDm causes problems with the sales of its own full-size .40, imagine what it will do to the sales of its competitors.

And when you consider that Springfield is also sweetening the pot in terms of what you get when you buy an XDm, there's an even stronger incentive to go that way. Along with your pistol, you get a Pelican case for it, spare mags, holster, mag pouches and magazine loader.

Everybody who makes a full-size .40 S&W polymer pistol (and that is now a large group of manufacturers) has its R&D department looking over an XDm. And you know what? We're all the better for it. Let the manufacturers work hard to make the best possible pistols for us to buy, and I'm sure you will go out and buy them. Right now, that means buying an XDm. As in right now--before your buddies do and gain advantage over you at the gun club.

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