Gun Review: Springfield Armory XD(m) 9mm 3.8″ Compact


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In the history of TTAG, I’m not sure that any of the writers have procrastinated on a review as long as I have on this one. In fact, looking at my YouTube upload history, it appears I filmed a quick intro on this gun over a year ago. Which means after a year, at least a thousand rounds, a few shooting classes, and hundreds of hours of daily carry, I am finally ready to render judgement on the humble XD(m) . . .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ab6lrmmTG2c

But first, a bit of history. In the dark days before the State of Texas gave me their blessing to carry a handgun in public, I was a .45 ACP man. And I was certain that when my permit came, I’d be carrying a 1911. Then I spoke to people who actually knew things.

Farago laid it out pretty plainly by telling me that with all the gun testing I’d be doing, I needed to be practicing with and carrying something dead-stupid-easy to use. And that applied even if I never tested another gun again. Then Karl Rehn suggested that I shoot one of his M&P 9 pistols during Defensive Pistol training. It was my first time with a 9 mm handgun and I was shocked at how well I shot.

On the day my CHL arrived, I was in possession of the M&P 45C. And looking at my review, I was so pleased with it that I had plans to make it my EDC gun as soon as I had a license to do so. I knew the trigger wasn’t great, but it was a gun in hand that I thought fit the bill. The final straw was a trip to the range with a buddy from work who had just purchased a 4.5″ XD(m) in 9 mm. He let me shoot it and I fell in love with the trigger and ergonomics of the gun.

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So I did what any red blooded American would do. I marched my happy ass down to my LGS and plunked down $600 for this gun. I drove out to my ranch that weekend and shot my M&P 45C against my new XD(m). I set up a basic drill to test my comfort with the two. I would draw, shoot five shots on a target to my left, and another five shots on a target to my right. I ran it with the M&P with a few misses at a decent pace, and then absolutely destroyed it with the XD(m) the first time I cleared the holster. Which was also the first time I shot the gun. Ever.

I fell in love a bit more over a few hundred more rounds that afternoon, and then cleaned the M&P up and sent it back to S&W. I called Comp-Tac and got a few holsters for the XD(m), and strapped it to my hip when my CHL arrived. And that’s pretty much where it’s been ever since.

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Overall Appearance

My first impression upon buying the gun back in April of 2012 was how much stuff came with it. You get a nice hard-sided case, a magazine pouch that holds two mags, a holster, cleaning brush, lock, grip inserts, and an extra magazine. And it’s not crappy gear either. In fact, I wouldn’t hesitate to open carry with the holster provided, and I used the cleaning brush for quite awhile before I finally killed it.

The XD(m) ships without any discernable amount of lubrication but is finished all over in a matte coating that seems to stand up quite well to abuse that guys like me dish out. There are no defects of any kind in the machining and, as a bonus, the serial number is engraved on the slide, frame, and barrel.

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Fit and Finish

In 15 months of EDC carry, thousands of rounds downrange, drops, spills, and cleanings with anything that is available, it still looks new(ish). I’ve managed to wear the coating down on the magazine release and the serrations at the front of the slide. I’ve used harmful chemicals to clean it without distorting the grip in appearance. I’ve fed it the worst ammo possible and I’ve dropped it in the dirt a few times. Nothing seems to faze it. The only item that’s needed attention was the paint on the front sight. Hoppes #9 eats up that factory white paint, so I had to repaint it somewhere along the line. I used white fingernail polish and never looked back.

Ease of Use 

As far as “fighting” guns go, the XD(m) is idiot proof. Or as much as any gun can be. There are no manual safeties to fuss with, the sights are only adjustable with a punch, and the magazine release works from either side. Springfield seems to have really done their homework and removed features until it had just what it needed to work.

The cocking serrations are aggressive enough to grip even with oily hands (yes, I did that). The slide release seems to be an afterthought, and the trigger has a clean break with a clearly audible reset.

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However, the XD(m) isn’t “village” idiot proof. You’ll notice that it has a 1911-style grip safety. One of the reasons I purchased the XD(m) was because of that grip safety. This was my first carry gun, and while I knew that if I ever needed to clear leather, I wouldn’t have the presence of mind to click off a manual safety, I wanted at least a passive barrier between me a negligent discharge.

But everything comes with a tradeoff and that feature is also a bit of a hindrance to the gun being completely foolproof. The grip safety not only controls the firing mechanism but also locks the slide in battery. So, if you apply a less-than-perfect grip and try to open the action, frustration will ensue.

A prime example is when you want to open the action and manipulate the slide release, but have small hands which require you to finagle the gun to the side a bit. It can be done, but requires a bit of practice. When it comes to firing, though, the XD(m) will tolerate a less-than-perfect grip. In all my shooting, I’ve never had the gun fail to fire because of the grip safety.

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Ease of Disassembly

I’m happy to report that this is one of the easiest guns I’ve ever had the pleasure of cleaning. Lock it open with the magazine out, roll the disassembly lever forward, release the slide (with two hands), and slide the whole thing apart. The slide spring comes out as one unit, and the barrel pops out not unlike almost every other polymer pistol on the market. Just reverse the process to put it all back together.

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Handling Characteristics

I have found the XD(m) to be a dream to shoot. Even with cheap ammo, I’ve been able to score hits on a 10-inch square plate at 50 yards. I’ve also been able to run and complete every drill Karl Rehn threw at me in multiple classes.

This being the compact model, the grip is shorter than the full sized gun. But those with smaller hands (my palms measure just under three inches at the base of my fingers) can still get a full grip. Larger-handed shooters will probably end up hanging a pinky off the end.

Like most of the modern polymer guns, you can change backstraps to fit your particular hand (small, medium, large). The gun ships with the medium strap in place, but I opted for the smaller flavor. Ten minutes with a punch and the change is done. The M&P’s tool-free method is better, but you’re only likely to have to do it once, so it’s hardly a life-altering issue.

One of the drawbacks to this gun is weight. The XD(m) is easily the heaviest of the compact polymer guns at an advertised 28 oz. Compare that to the M&P 9mm compact (21.7 oz.) or the svelte Glock 19 (20 oz.). I’ll spot Springfield a little bit since they give the weight of their gun with an empty magazine, but suffice to say, the gun is heavy.

But boy oh boy does the trigger make up for that heft. Hell, the trigger is what sold me on the gun in the first place. I was used to that mushtastic bucket o’ crap that S&W calls a go pedal on my M&P 45C when I got to light off a couple rounds with the XD(m).

The trigger has a bit of takeup (it’s striker fired, so duh), there’s a wall, a crisp break at six lbs., and then a touch of over-travel to the stop. When you release it, you cover a little under half the distance of travel, hear an audible reset, and you’re right back on the break point. See the video above for a detailed breakdown of those motions.

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Accessories 

There’s enough rail space to hang whatever silly lights, lasers, knives or barbecue implements off the end that your little heart desires. The sights can be drifted out and several companies make replacement sets. Holsters are easy to find online or at your local big box retailer. However, the XD(m) comes with everything you need to run it right out of the box.

The only issue I’ve had accessorizing mine has been magazines. The gun only comes with one 13-rounder, and while the full size 19 rounders are plentiful, the 13 rounders are harder to find than hen’s teeth. And when you do find them, asking prices are north of $35. I’d really prefer that the gun come with another 13-round mag from the factory…there’s even a foam cutout for it in the case!

What’s it good for?

To be honest, damn near everything. As far as do-it-all guns go, I haven’t found anything much better. In fact, this might best be summarized with some fancy bullet points:

  • Accuracy – I’ve easily shot out to 50 yards and scored consistent hits, so the gun is capable of some frightening accuracy. It’s always been far better than minute-of-bad-guy accurate for me, and I’m now to the point where I shoot it the same; fast, slow, stressed, hot, and cold. Stupid accurate with everything I’ve thrown at it.
  • Reliability – I lost count of how many rounds I’ve fired, but I would pin my life on the number being over 1000 rounds. From cheap, dirty Russian steel-cased junk to uber-expensive defensive ammo and everything in between. Hard primers, soft primers. FMJ and hollow points. I’ve never had a failure to fire in that whole time that was gun-related. Ever. As the magazines have broken in, I’ve occasionally had a failure to lock the slide back. New magazines have fixed the problem and that isn’t a gun issue so much as it is a crappy magazine issue.
  • Concealability – I carry this gun every day, rain or shine, hot or cold, without question. It’s my only CC firearm and it fits the bill always. With the right holster, I have no problem wearing it with a t-shirt or a suit and tie. With the short magazine, it packs 13+1 on deck. And with the long magazine, it will carry 19+1.
  • Home Defense – With the long mag, it has 20 rounds of your preferred gun food on tap and a rail to hang a light from.
  • Plug and Play – I have a love/hate relationship with gun modifications. I love doing them, but I hate that I need to do them. I have made zero mods to my XD(m) in over a year of ownership and really don’t have any plans for any. It just works, right out of the box.

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Kudos & Gripes

My biggest love for the XD(m) is how easy it is to operate accurately. I was head over heels within 10 rounds, and it’s only gotten better since then. I’m confident that I can put three rounds in a small hole, at there yards, in under three seconds. But I’m also confident that at 50 yards, I can put the same three rounds on a small target in a slightly longer amount of time.

My biggest gripe, again, is weight followed distantly by the pistol’s sights. This gun is a pig to schlep around and it took a good holster and belt for it to not drag my pants down. I chalk the majority of that weight up to the grip safety internals and the hell-bent-for-stout slide and barrel. It could be made lighter, but it would probably compromise features and reliability. The sights, I can live with, but I wouldn’t be upset with some Hi Viz aftermarket dots that could take the punishment of EDC. And Hoppes #9.

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Specifications: Springfield Armory XD(m) 9 mm Compact

  • Caliber: 9 mm
  • Magazines: 1 – 13 round & 1 – 19 round w/ X-Tensions
  • Barrel length: 3.8 “
  • Sights: 3 dot
  • Trigger Pull: 5.5 – 7.7 lbs (tested @ 6 lbs)
  • Frame: Black Polymer
  • Slide: Forged Steel
  • Overall Length: 6.75 inches
  • Height (with compact magazine): 4.75 inches
  • Height (with X-Tension): 5.75 inches
  • Weight (with compact magazine): 28 oz
  • Weight (with X-Tension): 29 oz
  • Price: $669 (mine was $600)

Ratings (out of 5 stars):

All ratings are relative to other similar guns, and the final score IS NOT calculated from the constituent scores.

Accuracy: * * * * *
This gun is more accurate that it has a right to be. If 9mm packed .30-30 ballistics, I’d take it hunting in a heartbeat.

Ergonomics (Handling): * * * * *
With the change of a backstrap, the XD(m) can be adjusted to fit any sized mitts. The trigger is in a good place, the mag release is easy to get to without hand gymnastics.

Ergonomics (Firing): * * * * *
9mm isn’t exactly a punishing round to shoot, but the XD(m) has enough grippy surfaces to completely control the gun.

Reliability: * * * * *
Zero FTF, FTE, or any other FT(X) error in 1000+ rounds with all sorts of ammunition.

Customization: * * * * *
Holsters abound! The XD(m) has a Picatinny rail and accepts new sights. Not much else really needs changing.

Overall Rating: * * * * 
I’m giving four stars because nothing is perfect. The XD(m) 3.8 Compact could stand to shed a few oz.’s and some sight paint that withstands cleaning solvents. Those are literally my only two objections to this pistol. Otherwise, it goes bang every time, accurately and comfortably. I might change it out one day in the future if Texas legalizes open carry in favor of a higher capacity 9 mm. Or possibly for a M&P 9 with an Apex Trigger. Until that day, the XD(m) 3.8 Compact has proven to be the ideal EDC pistol for me.