March 20, 2023
Just when you think that Springfield’s XD family of semiautos is complete, a new addition arrives. The latest member of the XD clan is the XD-M OSP Elite 4.5-inch 10mm Auto with a Hex Dragonfly optic. Even though the most obvious use for such a pistol is for defense against the largest predators, the XD-M 10mm is a surprisingly versatile firearm. Sure, it gives you a fighting chance against an irate griz, but this 10mm is also suitable for self-defense. And it’s just plain fun to shoot.
Not all 10mms fall in the “fun to shoot” category, but the XD-M 4.5 Elite OSP is an exception. The architecture that underpins this pistol is nothing particularly new for Springfield. It’s based on HS Produkt’s series of polymer-frame pistols that have been made in Croatia since the 1990s and distributed in the United States under the Springfield Armory name.
The XD family includes everything from compact 9mm single-stack carry pistols to large pistols like the one we’re discussing here. They all include a polymer frame with a steel insert and a forged steel slide with the Melonite black nitride surface treatment.
OSP stands for Optical Sight Pistol, and in the case of the XD-M Elite line, OSP models either come with the company’s own Hex Dragonfly red dot installed or simply have the slide cut for sights that use the Springfield Standard optic footprint. This includes the Hex Dragonfly, of course, but also red dots like the Vortex Venom and Burris FastFire.
But the XD-M Elite’s iron sights, which consist of a U-notch rear and a red fiber-optic front sight, are very good. Both the front and rear sights are dovetailed into the slide, and the rear U-notch features a white outline. The leading edge of the rear sight rises parallel to the bore, which allows for one-handed cycling of the pistol.
Aggressive angular slide cuts on the slide—three front, four rear—allow for control when operating the pistol. The slide is machined so it narrows toward the top, reducing weight and increasing comfort while also giving the gun a less boxy look than some competing 10mm semiautos.
As the name suggests, the hammer-forged steel barrel measures 4.5 inches long, and it is also treated with a Melonite nitride finish to protect the metal. The 10mm’s barrel features a 1:16 twist rate.
Anyone familiar with Springfield’s XD-M Elite line of pistols will immediately recognize the aggressive tread pattern on the grips. They’ll also recognize the grip safety that has become a hallmark of XD guns. These pistols lack a thumb safety, although it does include trigger and drop safeties, so there are few controls to master.
Both the slide stop and round magazine release button are ambidextrous, so this gun suits left-handed shooters as well as righties. There’s a rotating takedown lever on the left side of the frame just ahead of the trigger guard.
Springfield also equips its XD-M Elite pistols with a loaded chamber indicator. Located on the top of the slide just behind the chamber, the indicator offers both a visual and tactile reference regarding the condition of the pistol. Additionally, there’s a cocking indicator that protrudes through the rear of the slide.
If you like to mount lights or lasers on your gun, a three-slot rail on the dust cover will accommodate those accessories. These can be particularly handy for a backcountry gun when you might be investigating noise outside your tent in the middle of the night.
XD pistols have always offered serviceable triggers, but the XD-M Elite is equipped with Springfield’s META (Match Enhanced Trigger Assembly) trigger. It features a flat front design with a blade and offers a light, clean take-up and a crisp, predictable break. The test gun’s trigger broke at 4.75 pounds on average for 10 pulls on a Wheeler gauge, which is lighter than most striker-fired guns. Reset is very short—about 0.125 inch—so you can shoot this gun quickly and accurately once you learn how to manage the 10mm’s recoil.
Recoil is substantial even with mild loads, which is why the FBI dumped the 10mm in favor of the .40 S&W years ago. The Springfield grip is well designed and will accommodate large hands for complete control of the gun.
It features the Elite short mag well, which is extended and flared. Two 16-round metal magazines come with the pistol. That’s one more round than the standard capacity of either the Glock G20 or the Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0.
The Springfield’s 4.5-inch barrel makes it the shortest of those three pistols at 7.6 inches overall, but not by much. It’s also slightly the tallest of the bunch at 5.75 inches as well as the heaviest.
At 32 ounces, it’s about four ounces heavier than the Glock and three ounces heavier than the S&W. For most practical applications the three guns are the same size, but the Springfield’s extra quarter-pound of weight may help reduce the sting of hot 10mm loads without adding excessive bulk.
Springfield XD-M Elite OSP 4.5-inch 10mm pistols with Hex Dragonfly optic ship with two magazines and interchangeable backstraps in a zippered black range bag with an internal pocket. Suggested retail is $837 for the package, but you can also purchase the XD-M Elite OSP 10mm without an optic for $653. The latter gives you the option of adding a sight later.
Why would anyone want a striker-fired 10mm Auto pistol with a reflex sight? The obvious answer is for defense against big bears, and in that role the XD-M Elite OSP 10mm shines.
On my last Alaskan hunting trip, every hunter and guide carried a 10mm semiauto, and these guns have become the bear defense weapon of choice because they offer more rounds than a big revolver. Plus, they offer very fast follow-up shots and are easier to carry, all while generating enough punch to make an aggressive griz pack it in.
In this role the XD-M Elite will shine. I’m certain its tough exterior finish and polymer frame will stand up to the elements. I’ve carried an XD-S 9mm as my everyday carry gun for years, and it has stood up well to repeated daily use and still looks as though it just came out of the box.
The grip is large, and the texturing is aggressive, and the trigger guard offers ample room for gloved fingers. The modern trend toward minimized controls has made some guns hard to operate, but the Springfield’s slide stop and mag release are easy to use even while wearing gloves.
Aggressive texturing on the front and rear of the slide also allows for quick operation, and the flared magazine well makes reloading simple. That’s a good thing if you’ve just emptied 16 shots into a charging bear.
Springfield sized this gun well for backcountry carry. It’s light enough to carry on your hip, but if you prefer a chest holster—and many Alaskan hunters and anglers do because they spend most of their time wearing waders—the Springfield is not so large and heavy that its burdensome on long hikes. I much prefer a bear defense gun without a traditional manual safety for the simple reason that if I’m ever forced to stop a charge I want to minimize the effort required to make the gun go “bang.”
Through 125 rounds of testing, the Springfield had zero failures to load, feed, fire, extract or eject. What’s more, the slide stop locked open after the final round in every magazine was fired.
When your magazine runs dry in a real self-defense situation you have an immediate problem, and the time required to recognize the issue, reload and cycle a round might be the difference between life and death. I wouldn’t carry a defensive pistol that doesn’t come to slide lock after the last shot, but that’s not an issue with the Springfield.
Accuracy is also an important consideration in a self-defense pistol. The Springfield managed five-shot groups under two inches at 25 yards, aided largely by a quality optic and a great trigger. The smallest groups were produced using Federal’s Solid Core 200-grain ammunition, and with that load I could consistently keep five shots in a golf ball-size cluster.
The pistol also performed well off the bench. The grip design mimics the angle of a 1911—not by accident—and promotes a high handhold that makes muzzle rise very manageable. With lighter loads designed for self-defense, the pistol is less abusive, I believe, than thin, light, carry 9mms. That short reset allows you to step on the accelerator and fire all 16 shots in a hurry. With proper form and technique, you can do it accurately, too.
I imagine most buyers will opt for the Hex Dragonfly-equipped XD-M Elite OSP 10mm, but this gun’s iron sights are very good. The U-notch rear is durable and much easier to use than the block outline rear sight on, say, a Glock G20. Ultimately, though, the front sight should be the focus of the shooter’s intention, and the fiber-optic dot on the Springfield is easy to see and use.
Takedown and maintenance are straightforward. Rotating the takedown lever on an unloaded gun without a magazine allows you to remove the slide from the frame, and inside you’ll find a dual captured recoil spring and a barrel that are free from the rough machining marks found on some other guns. The feed ramp has been polished, too, which encourages reliable performance.
Defense against large predators is the most sensible application for this pistol, but since when have we gun buyers been shackled to sensibility when it comes to our firearms purchases?
The XD-M Elite would make a solid home-defense gun with a capacity that rivals or beats many double-stack 9mm pistols. With less potent personal-defense loads, most shooters can master this gun, and the combination of iron sights and a durable red dot optic make this gun suitable for self-defense in any light conditions—although the sights do not co-witness with the optic.
It’s probably a bit large for concealed carry, although I know some who carry full-size 1911s and Beretta 92s, both of which rival the Springfield in size and weight. It’s worth noting here there’s also an XD-M Elite 3.8-inch 10mm, which has a smaller footprint more suitable for concealed carry.
There’s no denying the Springfield’s capacity and firepower make it an effective weapon for personal protection. Perhaps, though, you just want to add a 10mm (or another 10mm) to your gun collection. Fine. The Springfield is well built, accurate and fun to shoot, so it’s a great choice.
But this gun will always be most at home in bear country, and it seems purpose-built for that application. The next time you’re in the Far North and the woods suddenly fall eerily silent you’ll want to be sure you’ve got a gun that can put the brakes on a bear charge. The XD-M Elite OSP 10mm has you covered.
Springfield Armory XD-M Elite 4.5 OSP Specifications
- Type: striker-fired semiauto
- Caliber: 10mm Auto
- Capacity: 16
- Barrel: 4.5 in.
- OAL/Height/Width: 7.6/5.8/1.2 in.
- Weight: 32 oz. w/optic
- Grips: 3 backstraps, Elite short mag well
- Finish: Melonite
- Trigger: META, 4.8 lb. pull (measured)
- Sights: U-notch drift-adjustable tactical rear, fiber-optic front; Hex Dragonfly 3.5-m.o.a. red dot (as tested)
- Safeties: trigger, drop, grip
- Price: $837
- Manufacturer: Springfield Armory, springfield-armory.com