I've seen police agencies select a duty sidearm for their officers for no other reason than the fact that the lead firearms instructor is a fan of a particular brand of gun. Also, while many instructors might resent this statement, selecting a gun that will work well for a select group, such as large men or the best shooters, is never a good idea. What needs to be considered is the weakest link those who struggle with firearms training for some reason. The size of the gun's grip, the length of the trigger reach and whether or not unskilled shooters can handle the recoil of the selected cartridge must all be considered. If the agency personnel number in the hundreds and their officers run the gamut of sizes and shapes, I always wonder how often they train with their weapons. What type of training do they conduct and how many of their officers struggle with it? At the same time, a ten-officer department of six-foot males can make just about any gun work.
While walking the aisles of the 2008 NRA Show, I wandered into the Springfield Armory booth to check out their products. I saw immediately that they had introduced a new pistol to the XD line called the XD(M). The original XD is a striker-fired, recoil-operated, semi-automatic center-fire pistol that is made in Croatia. It comes in multiple frame sizes and calibers, including 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. The XD(M), however, is available only in .40, which makes me believe that Springfield was thinking "service gun" when they developed the new pistol. While the .40 meets the power factor of several shooting disciplines, I doubt it's a coincidence that the .40 S&W is also the most popular cartridge for American law enforcement agencies and officers. It should be noted that the XD(M) holds 16-plus-one rounds of .40 in a grip that is amazingly trim. The gun comes with two additional blackstrap inserts that help size the gun for a wide variety of hands a feature not lost on said police agencies. The ability to make any defensive gun more "point-able" can't be ignored. The history of gunfighting has shown that the person who gets the first solid hit will usually win. Enhancing one's ability to get on target quickly is a worthwhile achievement.
Like all XD models, the XD(M) has a grip safety that locks the gun's action if it's not depressed. While this may concern some, it's very hard to get any type of reasonable shooting grip and not deactivate the safety. The trigger has a safety lever contained in the center of its face, similar to that on a Glock, though the XD trigger feels like it's a bit wider and flatter. Being a striker-fired weapon, the XD(M) has a consistent trigger action that's both short in travel and smooth in action. This test gun broke my trigger scale at 6.5 lbs. with a very short length of travel. The reset of the XD(M) feels different from other XD models I've shot, with a length of travel that's right at .3 from striker reset to release with a weight of 4.5 lbs. This makes for a very fast trigger, which should appeal to typical American cops who like short, consistent triggers.
The sights are quite visible with three white dots supplemented by serrated sight faces. While some think this is a gimmick, I disagree: I've found sight face serrations help reduce unwanted glare.
The XD(M)' 4'' barrel is a hammer-forged, match-grade design that maximizes accuracy. The slide is forged steel and coated with Melonite, which is the product of a salt bath nitriding process that leaves a thick, rust-resistant finish that resists wear and enhances lubrication. Deep serrations allow the shooter's fingers to maintain a firmer grip.
The frame is made from high-strength polymer, and the dust cover boasts a three-position Picatinny rail that is 1'' long, which allows for the use of white lights and laser sights that users would ordinarily have to employ with their support hand. The grip frame offers a minimal amount of trigger reach while still containing a double-column magazine. This helps those with short thumbs reach the magazine release button, which has been modified on the XD(M) for smoother, quicker manipulation.
The grip has a checkered pattern that Springfield calls "all-terrain." The company says, "The angle and depth of each contour in the grip has been calculated for maximized control vertically, horizontally and torsionally." Impressive.
Like all XD models, the XD(M) is simple to field strip for cleaning. Merely lock the slide to the rear, rotate the takedown lever up and remove the slide assembly from the front of the frame. You have to depress the grip safety to push the slide to the rear and lock it. I started my test by shooting five-round groups from 25 yards. From a resting position on my shooting bag, I fired the test groups and measured them from center to center at their widest point. The results were as follows:
Speer 165-grain Gold Dot 2.75''
Winchester 180-grain SXT 3.00''
Hornady 180-grain XTP 3.75''
Corbon 130-grain DPX 2.50''
Federal 165-grain HST 1.50''
The XD(M) displayed a strong liking for the new Federal 165-grain HST hollow point. While newer than other comparable hollow points, the HST is quickly becoming one of the most popular police loads in the country. This bonded bullet has been designed to expand to twice its original diameter, regardless of the barrier material it might encounter, while retaining weight for deep penetration. Street results are showing that this round is living up to its test reputation, regardless of caliber.
The Springfield XD(M) points well, is easy to shoot, easy to maintain and comes in a proven caliber. I can see how an agency could make this high-performing, ergonomically pleasing and versatile gun the choice for the officers who need a dependable and versatile duty gun that will perform equally well for the best shooters and the newest rookies. I liked the Springfield XD(M) a lot, and I think it has an excellent future as a police or military service pistol. The best thing to do is try it out and see for yourself.
Springfield Armory's XD(M)
Caliber: .40 S&W
Magazines: Two 16-round stainless steel
Barrel: 4'' forged steel coated in Melonite
Sights: Dovetailed front and rear, 3-dot serrated
Trigger: 5.5 to 7.5 lbs.
Frame: Black polymer
Slide: Forged steel coated in Melonite
Weight with empty magazine: 32 oz.
420 W. Main St.
Geneseo, IL 61254