Photo: Nick Jacobellis.

Photo: Nick Jacobellis.

When I first heard that Springfield Armory was manufacturing two new XD(m) pistols, I made a special trip to my local police supply store. I wanted to inspect them before I committed to conducting a field test.

One thing I wanted to check was how easy it is to rack the slide on the XD(m) 3.8 Compact. This is a pet peeve of mine because I know that some shooters have a difficult time manually operating the slide on certain pistols while executing a combat reload or when making a pistol safe. When a pistol is equipped with a heavy recoil spring, it can be difficult to retract the slide far enough to the rear to override the slide lock so you can sling-shot or release the slide forward.

Once I was able to operate the slide without any difficulty I decided to review the pistol. Since the new XD(m) is also available with a full-size grip and a 3.8-inch barrel, I decided to test the standard XD(m) 3.8 as well.

As you probably have already noticed, the XD(m) 3.8 and the XD(m) 3.8 Compact get their names from their 3.8 inch-barrel, as opposed to the four-inch barrel standard on the original XD Pistols. The Compact designation is assigned to the 3.8 Pistol, which has the short "Compact/Sub Compact" style grip.

In order to kill two birds with one stone the XD(m) 3.8 Compact is supplied with a high-capacity magazine that has a plastic extension collar fitted to the bottom of the 19-round 9mm magazine or the 16-round .40 S&W caliber magazine to make the Compact 3.8 look and feel like a standard XD(m) 3.8 pistol. You can also carry and use the 3.8 Compact Model with a 13-round 9mm magazine or an 11-round .40 S&W caliber magazine that fits flush with the shorter grip.

From an aesthetic perspective some end-users believe that it looks better when a high-capacity magazine has a plastic extension collar that fits flush with the shorter grip on a compact or sub-compact pistol. I personally prefer to use standard capacity magazines in my compact and sub-compact pistols and will only rarely use a higher-capacity magazine as a spare magazine. I am able to do this because I am now retired and I am no longer carrying a service pistol and a backup gun like I once did on a regular basis during my law enforcement career.

Note: Springfield Armory recommends that you use the high-capacity magazine with the plastic extension collar when you wish to carry the XD(m) 3.8 Compact Pistol with more ammunition and a larger grip to prevent possible damage to the ejector. If you have any questions about this issue, contact a technician at Springfield Armory.

Concealed Carry

When I test fired the XD(m) 3.8 Compact for the first time, I immediately noticed that this pistol is soft shooting. This was true whether I used 147- and 124-grain FMJ ammunition or law enforcement hollow-point service ammunition.

I suspect one reason why the 9mm XD(m) Compact 3.8 is a soft shooting pistol is because this handgun has a fairly hefty slide assembly and very good overall ergonomics. Even though both models tested were comfortable to shoot, I preferred the 9mm XD(m) 3.8 Compact over the 9mm XD(m) 3.8 with the full-size grip.[PAGEBREAK]

The XD(m) 3.8 Compact is a very easy pistol to carry concealed. I carried it in an Uncle Mike's Inside-the-Pant Holster with a black plastic clip. Even under just a T-Shirt, it did not print. Naturally, the standard model XD(m) 3.8 Pistol was a little harder to carry concealed due to the slightly longer dimensions of the full-size grip.

XD(m) Pistols feature interchangeable backstraps so shooters can modify the grips to fit them. While I give Springfield Armory and other companies that manufacture pistols with an interchangeable grip option credit for being innovative, I don't think this feature makes all that much difference when it comes to dramatically changing the ergonomics of a pistol. The main reason for this is because it takes more than adding on a thicker or thinner backstrap to make the overall grip of a pistol dramatically more
comfortable.

If carrying lots of bullets is important to you, then you will prefer the XD(m) 3.8 Compact because the standard magazine for this pistol contains 13 rounds of ammunition. Any legally armed individual who likes carrying a pistol with a very high magazine capacity will also appreciate the fact that the XD(m) 3.8 Pistol can carry a total of 20 rounds of 9mm ammunition or 17 rounds of .40 S&W ammunition, if you keep one in the chamber. Clearly, a law enforcement officer who is armed with a pistol that contains 20 rounds of 9mm ammunition or 17 rounds of .40 S&W ammunition has a tactical advantage.

One great aspect of these pistols is that you can easily turn a Springfield XD(m) 3.8 Compact Pistol into a standard XD(m) 3.8 Pistol by simply using one of the high-capacity XD(m) magazines with the plastic extension collar that fits perfectly with the shorter grip on the Compact Model. Doing so lets you carry a pistol with a full-size grip that looks and feels like the XD(m) 3.8 Pistol, with the added option of being easily converted back to a sub-compact pistol. The fact that both XD(m) 3.8 variants are manufactured with a 3.8-inch barrel also means that both pistols produce the same bullet velocity when firing the same ammunition.

Like the other XD(m) models and the standard XD model, the 3.8s have a very good striker-fired trigger system. I preferred the XD(m) 3.8 Compact over the standard XD(m) 3.8 when it came to comparing the ergonomics, the trigger system, and the level of accuracy between both pistols.

Combat Accurate

The XD(m) 3.8 and the XD(m) 3.8 Compact were both flawlessly reliable during my testing. I also found the smaller 13-round magazines to be easier to load to capacity than the 19-round high-capacity magazines. However, a loading tool is provided with both pistols.

Because of its excellent ergonomics, good sights, and smooth trigger, it's possible to shoot the 9mm XD(m) 3.8 Compact with enough precision to consistently deliver very good combat accuracy. I was especially impressed when I engaged a metal plate the size of a human torso at a distance of 64 yards with the XD(m) 3.8 Compact and I was able to score an exceptionally high volume of hits. In fact, it was a rare occasion when I missed.

For the record, I did just as well when I engaged the same metal plate at various close quarter battle distances. Again, both XD(m) 3.8 pistols proved to be flawlessly reliable.

When I field tested the XD(m) 3.8 from a distance of 30 feet, I was able to keep more than 90 percent of all shots fired inside the upper chest area of a TQ19 Police Firearms Qualification Target. The XD(m) 3.8 Compact had a smoother trigger than the standard 3.8. And despite its short grip, I also had no problem keeping all rounds fired on target when I conducted a rapid fire drill from a slightly closer range with the 3.8 Compact.

It is worth mentioning that when you buy a Springfield Armory XD or XD(m) Pistol each box comes equipped with a black plastic holster and the black plastic double magazine pouch. Even though I prefer to use DeSantis accessories, the plastic holster and magazine pouch provided with each XD or XD(m) Pistol can be used until you find accessories that work better for you. The law enforcement price for the XD(m) 3.8 Compact is $658 and $701 for the standard XD(m) 3.8 Pistol with Tritium night sights.

While I readily admit that two other members of my test team, including someone who carries a Springfield Armory XD Sub Compact, did not like either of the XD(m) Pistols, I liked the XD(m) 3.8 Compact enough to recommend this pistol for n- or off-duty carry. Even though I prefer the XD(m) 3.8 Compact, I am confident that the XD(m) 3.8 Pistol should also give you years of faithful service.

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