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.
Easy to Take Down
To disassemble the XD(M) all you have to do is make sure the pistol is completely unloaded. Next, remove the magazine and rack the slide a few times to further ensure the pistol is unloaded.
Once you are absolutely certain that it is safe to continue, lock the slide to the rear, then rotate the takedown lever on the left side of the pistol so the lever is pointed up.
The good news is that unlike a standard model XD or Glock there is no need to pull the trigger to remove the slide from the frame and complete the disassembly procedure. Clearly, this makes the XD(M) pistol safer to disassemble, clean, and maintain.
Once the XD(M) is disassembled, you get to see how well made this pistol is. I especially like the fact that the XD(M) is constructed with robust-looking parts that make this pistol look ready for rough duty. Unlike some other pistols that are made with anemic looking small springs and stamped pieces of thin metal, all XDs, including the new XD(M), are built like the proverbial brick outhouse.
Included in this rugged construction package is a pair of well made stainless steel magazines that eject from the XD(M) with confidence each and every time the magazine release button is depressed. The XD(M) also comes with an accessory rail.
I learned even more about the XD(M) 40 once I started field testing this pistol with live ammunition. Once I settled on using the medium backstrap and I started test firing the XD(M), I realized why Springfield Armory engineers designed this pistol the way they did.
I became impressed with the new Springfield XD(M) the moment I started sending 180-grain Federal FMJ ammunition downrange as fast as I could pull the trigger. The XD(M) 40 is more comfortable to shoot than a standard model XD in the same snappy caliber. This includes shooting the XD(M) with a two-hand grip and with one hand.
As far as accuracy is concerned, I had no problem keeping all shots fired in the scoring area of a TQ19 POST Police Firearms Qualification Target at various CQB distances as long as I maintained the right amount of sight alignment and trigger control. This included making head shots and center of mass body shots with 180-grain Winchester SXT Ranger hollow-point service ammunition, 165-grain Winchester SXT hollow-point ammunition, and 180-grain Federal FMJ training ammunition.
Thanks to an incredibly smooth trigger, excellent ergonomics, and one hell of a match-quality barrel, I was also able to successfully engage targets beyond 25 yards with the XD(M) pistol. I also test fired the XD(M) with my weak hand and had no problem delivering accurate shot placement.
I should also mention that I really liked the hip hugging paddle holster that Springfield Armory supplies with every XD(M) pistol. In addition to properly securing the XD(M) pistol, the Springfield Armory molded plastic paddle holster was easy and fast to use. Even though I usually prefer holsters that cover the entire pistol, I liked the fact that I had a good holster to use with the XD(M) until I found one that worked better for me. The plastic double magazine pouch that is provided with every XD(M) pistol and a leather double magazine pouch made by DeSantis Holster & Leather Goods were used to securely carry spare high capacity magazines.
Even though I tend to carry more compact and subcompact pistols, there are times when I like having access to a full-size service pistol, preferably one with a light attached. Clearly, a Springfield XD(M) in .40 S&W caliber with a 16-round magazine that is loaded with 180-grain Winchester Ranger SXT hollow-point ammunition and equipped with an Insight Technology LED tactical light is an excellent pistol for personal protection and home defense.
The Springfield Armory XD(M) is also well suited for law enforcement work. Even though the main selling point of this pistol is the interchangeable grip system, it is important to remember that the XD(M) also has a match barrel to ensure accuracy, a corrosive-resistant Melonite finish, excellent sights, an outstanding safe-action striker-fired trigger system, excellent weight and balance, and it can hold 16 rounds of .40 S&W. The XD(M) is also very reasonably priced, especially for law enforcement officers.
Nick Jacobellis is a medically retired U.S. Customs Agent and former police officer who was disabled in the line of duty while working undercover. He is a frequent contributor to POLICE.
XD(M) Duty Pistol
Caliber: .40 S&W
Magazine Capacity: 16 rounds
Barrel Length: 4.5 inches
Height: 5.6 inches
Weight (empty): 32 ounces
Sights: Dovetail front and rear (steel) three-dot
Trigger Pull: 5.5 to 7.7 pounds
Frame Material: Polymer
Slide Material: Forged steel
Available Colors: Black, OD green, bi-tone ss/black, bi-tone ss/OD green
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