June 07, 2022
Striker guns have dominated the market for decades, and over time, we’ve watched Springfield fine-tune its XD pistol line to near perfection. The XD-M Elite 10mm offers the same features carry-gun enthusiasts want on their 9mm autos like interchangeable backstraps (three), easy-to-operate controls and a good trigger—all in an optics-ready platform.
The new XD-M Elite 10mm comes with a forged steel slide and a 3.8-inch, match-grade, hammer-forged slide with a 1:10-inch twist. Both the slide and the barrel feature a Melonite nitride finish, so durability should be outstanding without any scratches or flaking, even when this pistol is worn concealed every day. Angled slide serrations in the front and rear provide a firm grip when operating the pistol. Angled cuts along the length of the slide reduce weight and prevent printing when the Springfield is concealed.
HEX Red Dot
The XD-M Elite 10mm I tested came packaged with Springfield’s Hex Dragonfly optic. The 3.5-MOA red dot Dragonfly is the larger of Springfield’s two red dot optics and is perfectly proportioned for full-size handguns. The Dragonfly’s housing is made from 6061-T6 Hardcoat anodized aluminum and comes with anti-glare lenses and simple power, brightness and windage and elevation adjustments. It has a 16-hour auto shutoff feature to help preserve battery life. The Hex Dragonfly weighs just 1.2 ounces and measures 1.9 inches long and is IPX7 waterproof rated.
Even though this gun comes with a reflex sight, Springfield hasn’t short-changed buyers with flimsy iron sights. The red fiber-optic front sight is dovetailed into the slide, and the rear sight, which is also dovetailed, features a white U-notch and a tactical ledge for one-handed cycling.
Springfield’s Match Enhanced Trigger Assembly (META) comes standard on the new XD-M Elite 10mm. The trigger face is flat and features a blade and an integral trigger stop. Take-up is smooth and clean, and the trigger breaks at an average of 4.9 pounds. The trigger is predictable and lends itself to excellent accuracy.
Reset is short enough that if you can handle the 10mm’s recoil efficiently, you can deliver shots quickly with this gun. The META might be the best striker-fired trigger available in a factory gun today. The XD-M Elite Compact 10mm comes standard with an Elite flared magwell, two 11-round magazines and three backstraps. Each backstrap is numbered 1, 2 or 3. There’s an option to order a 15-round magazine, and when you do, you’ll order the one that corresponds with your backstrap of choice. For example, the XD-M Elite 10mm backstrap 3 fit my hand best, so as a customer I would order the 15-round magazine with the backstrap 3 in place.
Switching backstrap sizes isn’t a hassle. There’s a transverse hole near the bottom of each backstrap, and inside that hole is a roll pin. Using a 3/32-inch non-marring punch and a hammer, gently knock the roll pin free. Pull down on the forward portion of the Elite mag well and remove the mag well and the backstrap as one piece.
The magwell is attached to the backstrap by a vertical pin that will need to be removed to switch to the 15-round magazine or to swap backstraps with the mag well in place. Simply pull down on the pin to remove it and the mag well and the backstrap will separate. When you reinsert the vertical pin, you’ll need to be certain it is oriented to allow the roll pin to pass through a half-moon cutout in the vertical pin.
Field-stripping the XD-M Elite 10mm is similar to field-stripping other XD pistols, and it’s quite simple. With the firearm unloaded and the magazine removed, lock the slide back and rotate the breakdown lever on the left side of the pistol 90 degrees clockwise (facing up). You can release the slide under control and allow it to move forward on the rails to remove. Then remove the dual captured recoil spring and the barrel.
The Springfield is equipped with an ambidextrous slide stop and magazine release, so there’s no need for lefties to suffer through the indignity of reversing the magazine button. As with all XD pistols, there’s a grip safety as well. Depressions on the left and right side of the pistol grip allow for a firm hold on the gun, which you’ll need with a 28-ounce 10mm. There’s an under-barrel rail for mounting lights and optics.
The Springfield weighs 30.4 ounces with an unloaded mag and an optic. With its 3.8-inch barrel the Springfield measures 6.75 inches. Grip width on the Springfield is 1.25 inches and 1.55 inches overall with the Elite magwell in place. All these specs make it a carry-size pistol, and it is the only carry-size 10mm Auto that comes with a reflex sight.
Suggested retail price for the Springfield XD-M Elite 3.8 Compact OSP 10mm with HEX Dragonfly optic is $818, which is a good value for a solidly built 10mm carry gun that comes equipped with a quality red dot optic. If that’s the type of pistol you want, the Springfield XD-M Elite is really your only option—but it’s a very good option.
Since the FBI opted for the .40 S&W (see sidebar), the 10mm has earned a reputation for severe recoil. I’ll concede that the 10mm Springfield XD-M Elite isn’t a pistol for beginners, but the recoil and muzzle blast this gun generates are stout but not unmanageable. I fired five different loads that ranged in bullet weight from 175 to 200 grains and velocities at or above 1,050 fps, and while it’s hardly a pussycat, the Springfield will suit anyone who understands the basic principles of defensive pistol shooting and who has spent some time at the range with milder centerfire defense pistols.
Part of the reason that the Springfield is manageable is that it has a well-designed grip. There’s an ample trigger undercut that allows for a higher grip on the gun for better control. The grip is wide enough so there’s ample surface area to help mitigate recoil impact.
Some ultra-light, ultra-thin 9mm carry guns bite the hand with every shot. The Springfield doesn’t do that. It recoils, but you can handle it. I was particularly sensitive to recoil while shooting the Springfield because I’d broken the middle finger of my non-shooting hand, but even so I didn’t find the Springfield particularly difficult to control.
I like the Elite flared magwell very much. It streamlines reloads while simultaneously offering plenty of surface contact with the hand when firing. Range testing proved this pistol is capable of outstanding accuracy. The best groups averaged just over an inch at 25 yards with a test-best five-shot group of 1.07 inches produced by the Hornady load.
Even though the Springfield should technically be fired at 15 yards according to Handguns protocols, I felt it was worth firing the gun at 25 yards so readers could see how well it stacked up against longer-barreled 9s and 10s. If you’re still trying to understand the appeal of the 10mm, simply take a look at the test ammo used in the evaluation. There were two full-metal-jacket target loads, a duty load, a self-defense load and a hardcore bullet designed for defense against bears and other large predators.
Off the bench the Springfield performed very well. You won’t mistake the gun for a 9mm XD-M, but with the lighter loads on the list, I could deliver fast, accurate shots offhand out to 25 feet. The pistol’s trigger and grip design help control muzzle rise, which is what adds seconds to split times.
This gun is certainly suitable for self-defense and even concealed carry, although it is on the large side, and the Elite magwell, which I think is superb for range work, makes the grip rather wide. This might not be the pistol of choice if you’re looking for something to wear under light summer clothes, and it’s certainly going to be more challenging to conceal this pistol than something like Springfield’s Hellcat.
I had a tough time concealing it under a polo shirt or a relatively tight jacket, but with a little sartorial creativity, you can get this gun to disappear under business casual clothing. For open or winter carry, the Springfield is an outstanding option. It’s more powerful than a .40 or a .45 ACP and has a magazine capacity similar to a 9mm—all things I admire in a carry gun.
The Springfield’s red-dot sight offers fast target acquisition, and since it will hold 12 or 16 rounds total, depending upon which magazine you have installed, it’s an obvious choice for a predator defense pistol. Lots of hunters, anglers and hikers who operate in big bear country have switched to 10mms, and many wear those guns in chest holsters. The Springfield will work well in a chest holster, but it’s one of the few legitimate bear guns that also hauls comfortably in a hip holster. There’s little doubt this gun will quickly find favor with those who work and play around bears.
Springfield assumes that CCW permit holders will go for a carry-size 10mm with an optic installed. I think the company is right, but fortune hasn’t always favored the 10mm. Still, I think Springfield is on to something here. If there’s ever a gun to convince the shooting world that 10mm carry guns make sense, it’s the XD-M Elite. It offers all the extras you want—including extra power.
Springfield Armory XD-M Elite 3.8 Compact OSP 10mm Specs
- Type: Striker-fired semiauto
- Caliber: 10mm Auto
- Capacity: 11, 15 rds.
- Barrel: 3.8 in.
- OAL/Height/Grip Width: 6.75/5.8 (w/optic)/1.25 in.
- Overall Length: 6.75 in.
- Weight: 30.4 oz. w/optic
- Grips: interchangeable backstraps, Elite magwell
- Finish: Melonite
- Trigger: META, 4.9 lb. pull (measured)
- Sights: U-notch drift-adjustable tactical rear, fiber optic front, Hex Dragonfly
- MSRP: $818
- Manufacturer: Springfield Armory, springfield-armory.com