If you ask your local gun store owner to list the most popular handguns on the market today, somewhere near the top of the list you would hear the Springfield Armory XD mentioned. But the Springfield XD is not as popular with law enforcement agencies as it is among legally armed civilians. I suspect that this is about to change now that Springfield Armory is manufacturing a new and improved XD pistol, the XD(M).
The question that I want to answer with this article is: What makes the Springfield Armory XD(M) a more suitable pistol for law enforcement work than the standard Springfield XD?
Ready for Duty?
The XD(M) is built on the XD platform. Like the XD, it is a striker-fired, polymer-framed pistol with a grip safety and an Ultra-Safety Assurance trigger system that is designed to prevent accidental discharges.
Now, let's take a look at some of the features that make the XD(M) more suitable as a police duty weapon than the XD.
First, the XD(M) is designed to accommodate an interchangeable grip system that allows the operator to install three different sizes of backstraps. This allows the shooter to change the ergonomics of the pistol to better fit his or her hand size. Clearly, this feature makes the XD(M) an attractive pistol for a law enforcement agency to issue because one pistol can be configured to accommodate a variety of hand sizes.
Second, Springfield uses a match-grade barrel on the XD(M) to ensure accuracy.
Third, the XD(M) has a 4.5-inch barrel length, perfect for a service pistol.
Last but not least, the first XD(M) to hit the streets is chambered in .40 S&W because this is the favorite caliber of contemporary American law enforcement agencies. (A 9mm XD(M) is on the way.)
One of the first things I noticed about the XD(M) is the grip angle. By designing the XD(M) with a slight angle to the front portion of the grip and a choice of three curved backstraps of different sizes, the Springfield Armory engineers force the operator's hand to lean forward a bit when the pistol is gripped.
The XD(M) is also designed to have an interchangeable backstrap attached to the bottom two-thirds of the grip portion of the polymer frame. Other pistols tend to have the interchangeable backstraps fit over the entire back portion of the grip area.
I like this design for a couple of reasons. When you grip a Springfield XD(M), the rounded backstrap presses up against the meaty portion of your hand and serves to position your hand up and forward so the web of your hand securely compresses the grip safety. This also serves to tuck the web of your hand under the slide where it overhangs off the back end of the pistol's frame. This allows you to position your hand as high up on the grip as possible without having to periodically reposition your hand "to find the right grip" after the handgun is removed from the holster.
The XD(M) also has a cutout on both sides of the polymer frame that allows you to comfortably rest your thumb above the magazine release button. This modification helps keep your hand in the proper position every time you grip an XD(M) pistol. The deep grooves that are cut into the polymer grip, including on the interchangeable backstraps, also help to provide an excellent gripping surface on the XD(M).
I also like that the length of reach to the trigger on the XD(M) is in the close to perfect range for me. This means that even though I could probably use an even thicker medium size backstrap on the full size XD(M) pistol, my finger tip is positioned where it needs to be to obtain the right amount of finger control on the trigger.
Remember, when firing a striker-fired pistol you want less finger on the trigger than you would if you were shooting a "revolver style" double-action-only or double-action/single-action trigger system. This is the case because it generally takes less trigger pressure to fire a striker-fired trigger. Likewise, striker-fired triggers that are heavier in weight also require more effort to cycle.
Once you make the transition to a striker-fired pistol with a relatively lightweight trigger system you will most likely find it less appealing to use an "old fashion" DA/SA pistol. I say this because striker-fired pistols seem to be easier to shoot more accurately because less finger on the trigger translates to a lighter touch, which translates to a more accurate outcome.