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(This is a reader gun review contest entry, click here for more details – enter by December 26th!)

By: Zack in MD

.40 S&W is a contentious cartridge. It falls between the 9x19mm and .45 ACP in terms of power and capacity. Some people say it is a good balance between the two. Others say it has the worst attributes of both cartridges and the recoil is too snappy. It has an established history as an effective law enforcement round, but many departments are moving to 9x19mm due to its lighter recoil and advances in modern bullet designs. I bought my Springfield XD(M) 4.5 chambered in .40 S&W at the beginning of 2014, which was at the tail end of the recent ammunition shortage. At the time, I already had a gun chambered in 9x19mm and ammunition for it was difficult to find, but all the stores I went to had .40 S&W on their shelves. These reasons, plus the fact that .40 S&W ammunition is only a little bit more expensive than 9x19mm, all contributed to my purchase decision . . .

All Springfield XD(M) pistols come in a black, hard plastic, locking box that includes some decent, but not fantastic accessories. You get a paddle holster, dual magazine pouch, magazine loader, bore brush, cable lock, two magazines, and two additional backstraps, plus some Springfield literature. The accessories are all standard Springfield fare. It is worth noting that the magazine holder is the same for the XD(M) pistols chambered in 9x19mm or .40 S&W. However, while magazines from XD pistols in these chamberings will technically fit, there is zero retention because they are thinner. Also, the XD(M) paddle holster is superior to the belt holster that ships with the XD pistols, but is still nothing fantastic. The XD(M) will fit in an XD holster, but not the other way around due to the slide being slimmer.

The XD(M) is a polymer frame, striker-fired, semi-automatic pistol. The slide is available as either a black Melonite finish or stainless steel. The frame is also available in OD green as well as the standard black, however the green version comes only with the black Melonite slide. According to the specs published by Springfield, the gun itself is 5.75” top-to-bottom, and 7.6” front-to-back. The grip is 1.18” side-to-side, but the total width of the gun is about 1.3” because the slide stop lever sticks out a little bit. Total weight is 30 ounces with an empty magazine.

 

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Magazine capacity is excellent, at 16 rounds. For comparison, the Smith & Wesson M&P40 and GLOCK 22 each have a capacity of 15 rounds. Does that 1 extra round really make a big difference? For most people the answer is probably not. But if you are a competition shooter where every round counts, then it might. I tend to only load my magazines to 15 rounds anyway because that 16th bullet can be a little difficult to squeeze in. Extra magazines run about $22 to $30.

There is no positive safety on the XD(M), as is common with modern polymer frame striker fired pistols. Instead, the XD(M) has a grip safety and trigger safety. When you grip the gun, your hand naturally depresses the grip safety. When you pull the trigger, your finger naturally depresses the trigger safety. However, if either of these safeties is not pressed, the gun will not fire. Additionally, if the grip safety is not depressed, the slide is locked in place. The XD(M) is drop safe.

The XD(M) also features a loaded chamber indicator and striker status indicator. There is a little lever that flips up along the top of the gun, just to the rear of the barrel, which indicates if there is a round in the chamber or not. The lever is flush when the chamber is empty and rotates up slightly when the chamber is loaded. At the rear of the slide is the striker status indicator. A tiny pin protrudes slightly when the striker is cocked and disappears when the striker is not cocked. Both of these indicators can be checked visually or by running a finger along that portion of the slide.

XD(M) pistols come with changeable backstraps to allow the shooter to better customize the grip to their hand size. The gun ships with the medium backstrap attached and there is a smaller and larger option included in the box. The grip is comfortable to hold and the grip is well textured. Well, perhaps I should say the grip is aggressively textured. After 200 rounds, the middle of my palm and the web of my hand were both red and sore. Shooting gloves are highly recommended for extended shooting sessions with this gun. Luckily, the trigger guard is big enough to accommodate the use of gloves.

takedown

The magazine release is a button located just to the rear of the trigger guard and easily within reach of the shooter’s strong side thumb. The magazine release is ambidextrous and magazines drop free easily. The slide stop release is only on the left side of the frame. I find that it is a good size and comfortable to press, however my thumb does ride on it sometimes, resulting in the slide occasionally not locking back on an empty magazine. The XD(M) sports a three slot picatinny rail under the barrel.

Take down is straightforward. Empty the gun, drop the magazine, lock the slide back, rotate up the takedown lever, and release the slide. Unlike the XD, no trigger pull is required to take down the XD(M). Once the slide is removed from the gun, the non-captive spring and guide rod come out, followed by the barrel.

disassembled

My biggest gripe about the gun is the trigger. Is it god awful? No, but the literature that comes with the gun talks about how it has a minimal reset trigger. The XD(M) trigger has a consistent amount of takeup, then some creep, and then it breaks. The reset on the trigger is almost all the way out. While I am no expert, I don’t think of this as a short reset trigger. I actually prefer the feel of the trigger on my XD pistol over the trigger on the XD(M). The XD trigger feels a little bit lighter too. That being said, a sample size of two does not lead to statistically significant results. Other individual units may feel different. Competition shooters will probably be better suited with an aftermarket trigger.

This gun is definitely capable of greater accuracy than I can achieve. Due to the feel of the trigger and that fact that I’m impatient, I tend to hit a little low with my shots. When I take my time and focus, I can get some pretty decent groups.

wwb165
Winchester white box, 165 grains @ 7 yards

wwb180
Winchester white box, 180 grains @ 7 yards

rumc180
Remington UMC, 180 grains @ 7 yards

I’ve had my XD(M) for nearly a year and have shot somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 rounds through it. I feed it a pretty steady diet of Remington UMC. I will occasionally have a round that goes click instead of bang when I pull the trigger. I don’t know if this is the fault of the gun or the ammo. It is infrequent enough that I don’t worry about it. It is worth noting that when at the range to get the grouping examples shown here, I had two failures to feed. Both were from the same box of 180 grain Winchester white box and both times it was the last round in the magazine. Each time I loaded that round back into the magazine and it fed just fine. In my opinion, the gun is reliable enough to trust my life to.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Model: Springfield Armory XD(M) 4.5
Caliber: .40 S&W
Magazine capacity: 16 rounds
Materials: Polymer frame, forged steel barrel and slide
Weight empty: 30 ounces
Barrel length: 4.5”
Overall length: 7.6”
Height: 5.75”
Width: 1.3”
Sights: Steel 3 dot, adjustable for windage
Action: Striker fired
Finish: Black Melonite
Price: $575-$700

RATINGS (out of five stars):

Style * * * * *
While the XD is chunky looking, the XD(M) is its more attractive cousin; refined styling, sleeker lines, and curves in all the right places. This is one sexy gun.

Accuracy * * * *
The XD(M) is dead on accurate, but the trigger is holding it back from being truly outstanding.

Ergonomics * * * *
Comfortable to hold and shoot, for a while at least. It fits the hand well, has adjustable backstraps, and the controls are well laid out.

Carry * * *
A gun of this size isn’t meant for IWB concealed carry. You can do it, but OWB will be more comfortable. If you plan your wardrobe well, this should be concealable, but most people would do better with a smaller gun to carry around.

Reliability * * * *
The gun shows minimal wear after a year and over a thousand rounds. Minimal incidents of feeding/ejecting/firing issues. I’d trust my life to this gun.

Customize This * * * *
Its no GLOCK, but the XD(M) line of guns has a good amount of aftermarket options.

Overall * * * *
It’s not perfect, but it’s really good. Hard hitting, accurate, high capacity, reliable, and a blast when shooting steel plates. Hard core competitors will want to look into a trigger job. For everyone else, this gun will nicely fill the role of home defense gun or range toy.

31 Responses to Gun Review: Springfield XD(M) 4.5 .40 S&W

  1. i had an xdm 5.25 in .45, loved it. i dirt test all my guns and it passed wonderfully. Loved the chamber indicator and firing pin indicator. Grip safety didn’t bother me like it does most critics of these guns.

    • I have both the Springfield XD [with a 4.5 inch barrel& the XDm, with the 5.25 inch barrel, both, in .45!… I Love them Both!… Taking my XD, to the Range, with my Glock 19, in 9mm; i shot about 500 rounds between the 2 Guns!… [Using 115 grain & 124 grain, in my Glock 19, 9mm; and 230 grain, in my Springfield XD, in .45 caliber. was Astounded, in the nominal recoil, between the 2 Guns???… Not really Wanting to Shoot Anyone; But, if i had to, i’d Much rather shoot them with one of my .45’s, than, my 9mm!…[Plus, my Springfield’s Are More Accurate, and Much Better Built!…]. Springfield has been making guns for the United States Military, since 1771,[for George Washington’s Continental Army!…]. Glock, came around in 1971!… Hymmmn, Gastron Glock, was a “Plastics Mogul”, that redesigned the 9mm to conform to his “Plastic” Design; Marketing to the Austrian Army, they loved it!… He than, brought it across the “Pond”, to sell it cheaply to the American Police Forces. After about 10 years, he offered to buy back the 9mm’s, to replace with the .40 calibers!.. [than, reselling the 9mm’s!… Now, doing the same with the .40 calibers, selling them his .45’s!… He’s a Marketing “Genius”!…[With Inferior Guns?…]. Buy American!… “Springfield”!… Yeeess, i know they moved to “Croatia”!… Thank You, American “Congress”, for chasing yet another good company away, by raising taxes!… [As they did with “Maytag”, who, is now producing out of “Mexico”?…

      • Sorry dude – the XD was a Croatian gun long before Springfield bought up the company. Still a good pistol (I have three of ’em) but not as American as apple pie. Further, the Springfield Armory of present day that you mention is not the same company that was building muskets for the Continental Army. That was an official government arsenal – today’s Springfield is a private company.

        • Yes you right… But show me genius, where he says the XD was an American designed pistol? He never even alluded to your throw away remark. Don’t be a snarky punk, okay?

  2. One gripe… Feed failures and Click => No bang failures should seriously preclude a 4 star reliability rating unless it can be directly liked to ammunition type. I have a LR-308 that I completely gutted the fire control system on because I would get an occasional click => no bang. In a self defense pistol, those kinds of failures are just not acceptable under range conditions.

    Like the review, otherwise. But for me, a good gun should always cycle properly under range conditions.

    • I agree with what you’re saying. My favorite 9mm is an XDm in 4.5 and in about 6,000 rounds, it has failed to go bang *exactly* once and that was a cartridge that didn’t go off after two tries so that was clearly the ammo. In all those rounds it has misfed *exactly* once.

      My EDC is a 9mm XDm 3.8 which in about 1,100 rounds has never failed to fire and has never misfed including roundnose and a hundreds of JHP and other self defense rounds (I currently use Hornady Critical Defense which is a fairly angular point and have not had a problem with 250+ of those).

      A gun that FTFs *twice* in a *single* range session for me isn’t as reliable as it could be and I’d work to find out why that is happening if I was to consider carrying it. Those are not trivial odds of a failure happening when you need it the most.

    • I have an XD(m) 4.5 in .45acp. Since 2008(About 6000 rounds) I have had four failure to fire all caused by cheaper ammunition and one failure to feed caused by limp wristing an off hand shot. Over all I love this gun and the grip isn’t too rough, people just need to man up.

      • And I have an almost 100 year old government 1911 that have never failed to feed or fire in the entire time I owned it. (Almost 1000 rounds down the pipe.) That’s not the point of my argument. I’m just saying that any gun you get regular malfunctions on is not a 4 star reliability gun. A good example of a 5 star gun would be a well maintained double action revolver. You pull the trigger, the gun goes bang. Every. Single. Time. That’s not to say that only revolvers should be 5 stars, but once you get multiple types of malfunctions, you’re in three star territory at best.

      • Count me among the .40’s detractors. It’s the worst of both worlds, particularly when it comes to recoil. I have an XDm in 9mm, and absolutely love it. If you tend to lock into a death grip like I do, the texturing will leave tread marks on your hand, but it won’t leave you feeling bruised or sore.

        Riding the slide stop seems to be the one ergonomic flaw these pistols have. I’ve had to consciously train myself to avoid having the slide fail to lock back on every third magazine or so. The only stoppage it has ever had is a single stovepipe in its first 100 rounds, when my super-petite sister-in-law was firing it. Mechanically, the XDm design is dead-nuts reliable and accurate as any polymer-framed semiauto can be. And they’re fun to shoot.

        I wouldn’t recommend anything in .40 (ymmv), but I spread the Springfield XD/XDm gospel whenever I can. They’re great guns.

    • Feed failures and Click => No bang failures should seriously preclude a 4 star reliability rating unless it can be directly liked to ammunition type.

      In general, I agree.

      But for me, a good gun should always cycle properly under range conditions.

      I dunno, failure to feed practice ammo is not a deal killer for me, as long as it WILL feed defensive ammo. That’s when the gun has GOT to work. The problem is proving that it’s only failing with practice ammo; it’s not trust-enhancing when the gun jams up as you practice with it. But it would suck for a gun to function perfectly at the range with ball ammo then choke on your defensive hollowpoints, say, one round in a hundred. (Most people, I imagine, never shoot that many rounds of defensive through their carry piece.)

      • Many things go into a deal killer. But I still would not give something with demonstrated tendencies to malfunction under non-adverse conditions a 4 star rating. I’m not arguing that this is a bad gun, I’m saying it’s self-evidently not a 4 star reliability gun.

        My personal standard is as follows.

        4 Star: No malfunctions under range conditions
        5 Star: No malfunctions after AK Operators Union, Local 47-74 hell “test”.

      • You may be right, but 100rds is definitely the bare minimum I would run through a handgun I am trusting my life to. I have done it with every gun I have owned that fits that role, and run it in ever configuration you can foresee.

        For example a Gen4 glock 22 I had would nosedive and stovepipe rounds when I had my Streamlight TLR2 on it and only when using the 22rd extended mags loaded with 165grain Speer Gold Dots (that stuff in 40 is HOT). Given that gun lived in the nightstand with a TLR2, loaded with 22rd mags, with at least one spare tee’d up, the money spent on defensive ammo (plus the nearly $80 worth of extended mags that were garbage for my setup) realizing that and correcting it was priceless as the last thing I would want is to be backed into a corner of my house in a life or death situation and have a gun that stovepipes every 2nd round. The gun ran like a sewing machine with the factory 15 rounders and same ammo. So I was out $90 worth of 165 grain Gold Dots, that’s nothing when you count the cost of knowing the gun will go bang all the way to slide lock when you really need it.

        Cost of defensive ammo is the WORST excuse for not running your gun with the ammo you will be depending on for your life. I would say that is even more important than regular practice. It doesnt matter how fast you can drill if the thing doesnt go bang. Oh and buy online for your SD ammo, you pay the same price as you would for a 20rd box at Walmart but you get the 50rd LE boxes. Find something you like, test it, and then buy a shitload.

  3. I have this in the .40 3.8″ – snappy, yes – very. I keep a racquetball on my desk that I squeeze all day long and I made a minor adjustment to my exercise routine (forearm stuff) and the recoil is not a big deal. Love my XDm.

  4. Almost traded my full sized XD 45 for the XD/m version. Decided against it because I just don’t like the aesthetics of it. The grip is too long for the slide. It feels awkward to me.

  5. This is the first pistol I have owned that I like more than my 1911. I have the 5.25 version in 9mm. I shoot competition with this one and am closing in on 1000 rounds. I have had zero malfunctions.

    I have also taken to shooting it with gloves though. Not because of the grip, but the trigger. It sometimes cause some pain/blisters on my trigger finger but I think that has more to do with my dainty little girl hands than the pistol itself.

    I seriously love this pistol.

  6. I originally had 3 XDMs: a 45 in a 4.5 slide, a 9mm in 4.5, and a 9mm in 3.8. There was never an issue with the 45. But both 9mm pistols had issues after about 100 rounds. The 3.8 was too uncontrollable for my wife and I thought it was a bit too snappy to keep as a concealed carry, so I got rid of it. I eventually got rid of the 45 due to the sweaty palm effect noted above. But my wife wanted to keep the 9mm in 4.5 inch. So we did. I went to a Para P14 in 45 and never looked back. No more sweaty palms, no more uncomfortable gripping when the frame is wet. My wife loves her XDm. But, eventually, issues would pop up. It wouldn’t cycle properly. Sometimes it would just go click, others, there would be nothing. I tried different ammo manufacturers, different grain ammo, and then turned it into the local gun shop for help. The first time it went to the shop, the gunsmith said it was just dirty in the striker spring area and that it was good to go. This issue popped up 5 more times, each time I would take it to a gunsmith. Basically, they found no issues with the firearm. Then one day, I was working with one of my kids and looked up to see my wife moving her whole shooting hand while attempting to squeeze the trigger. The trigger length was beyond her reach without releasing her grip. She was sliding her hand back and forth while shooting to get her finger to where it could properly sit on the trigger. This was causing a ton of issues, accuracy, repeatability and misfires.

    I originally didn’t recognize the issue with how far she was reaching for the trigger properly. I originally thought that she was just having gripping issues due to the sweaty palm issues. We found some nice shooting gloves and I believed that those would fix the problem. And for a very short time, they did. But then she started hitting the dirt 10 feet in front of her and almost everything else but the target. So, I brought in an expert. He and I watched for about an hour and while we were reinforcing her stance and grip, he noticed that her finger, when her hand is properly gripping the pistol, was on the side of the trigger. Just the very tip of her finger was touching the trigger. We set up the camera and then watched from a distance. She already had the thinnest backstrap on the grip, so we couldn’t adjust anything else. My buddy had 3 Glocks, and a Walther PPQ. He put those in her hands and she was back on target and smiling again. Did some research and found that the XDMs have extremely long trigger pull lengths compared to any others we could measure. Contacted my hoard of gunsmiths and all of them recommended that I put a trigger kit in from Springer Precision. So, I did. That changed everything. It shortened the length of trigger travel by 5/8″. My wife was now able to keep her grip locked while squeezing the trigger.

    Then the mechanical nightmares from having a new trigger installed came to light. The shorter length also meant that the need to completely release the trigger for it to reset was higher. Got a bunch of jams and no fires at first, then the pistol just wouldn’t fire at all, no matter who used it. I just got it back day before yesterday. The smith says they found nicks in the striker and something with the disconnector. Sheesh. With my wife’s birthday being today, I went out yesterday and bought her a Walther PPQ M2 in 9mm. She won’t have issues with sweaty palms, or trigger pull length or other issues brought on from the upgrades in her mind anymore. She should be getting everything she wanted from the XDM, from the Walther, straight from the factory. And one extra benefit to the Walther, no palm safety.

    I really like the XDM, but despite the adjustable backstrap selection, this firearm is really meant for people with large hands. My five foot one, 80lb wife is just too small for it.

  7. My .45 version of this gun has been flawless so far. It has eaten a wide variety of ammo including some new hand loads that would not cycle in some others and cast bullets that had problems feeding in some other guns. I enjoy shooting it and it is accurate I am just not as fast with it as some other .45 options. For me it is part of my .45 collection and is designated for the range but it could easily fill the role of any of my similar sized handguns without a significant drop in confidence.

    I agree with what was said about the trigger. For how much SA talks it up expectations are higher than what is delivered. I believe they surpassed a gen 3 GLOCK trigger and got close to a small frame gen 4. While a large frame gen 4 GLOCK trigger is nothing special it definitely has a cleaner break and shorter reset. I also agree that the gear is not great but at least usable and of course the case is one of the few to come with a firearm that I use for the range.

    Continuing the comparison to a large frame gen 4 GLOCK the XDM has a slightly smaller grip and also a slightly less square feeling grip. I like the XDM front serrations and the slide is a lot more interesting and stylish for anyone concerned with such. I am usually not a fan of that kind of chamber indicator, mostly the placement, but it is well executed and unobtrusive in my opinion. Having the back of the striker poke out the back of the slide is nice since the trigger can always move all the way forward even when not reset. Replacing the sights on most GLOCK models is nothing compared to removing just the front sight on an XDM. There is at least one video out there of someone that had a much worse time than I did.

    When it comes to break down and reassembly the main negative for me is re-installing the recoil rod and spring. Keep the rear of the slide pointed in a safe direction. Whether the dual recoil spring or the original captured flat spring it is boring and uneventful in the best way with a factory GLOCK part. One other issue I have with the XDM is being required to use snap caps for dry fire practice. It is recommended because of the way the striker hits a roll pin in the top of the slide. Nothing against snaps caps, just the requirement to prevent damage to a full size .45 handgun. That pin can be replaced with a spiral pin which can provide some additional insurance.

    I might have missed it but one thing worth noting it that is has a 1911 grip angle. If the GLOCK grip angle is the only deal killer for someone it might be worth a look at an XD(M).

  8. I have the Springfield XDM 40 Caliber 3.8 inch barrel and I love it. I am not an avid shooter, but I have put many rounds through it. I have managed to learn how to shoot it, and I am competent as far as accuracy goes. I shoot my Beretta PX4 with more accuracy, but that is expected. I have a carry permit and carry it comfortably with an IWB setup and that is with the 16 round magazine.
    The learning curve on shooting the gun took a few trips to the range, and it also does have a trigger that takes getting used to. It will be my concealed carry weapon for a long time.

  9. I wanted an XD in .40 originally but was weaned towards a 45 for my concern over having a gun that’s snappy (only pistols I had shot previously were a 357 and a p64). I long debated the XD(m) but I just couldn’t justify the extra price for minimal difference. Exchangeable back-straps only help if the stock on the XD is uncomfortable, and the barrel only makes a difference if you were planning on doing pistol competitions.

    Oh and whoever was looking for one in 10 round, the 45 is in 13 or 10 round, so it might be easier for compliance with whichever state you live in.

  10. I purchased one of these last June and have been very happy with its performance and reliability. I have only used my own reloads in it so far and have had 0 FTF or FTE issues. My favorite bullet is the 180 gr XTP, but I have also loaded up some 155 gr XTPs. I have since obtained a drop-in 357 Sig barrel from Storm Lake which makes the gun dual caliber. I really like the XDm service pistols and over the last few years have obtained the 4.5″ 9 mm, 4.5″ 40 S&W, and the 4.5″ 45 ACP. Because of the similarity in these 3 pistols, I can use the same IWB holster to conceal carry all of them.

    One last note on the 357 Sig, it is possible to load this round up to 633 ft-lbs using Power Pistol and a 124 gr XTP. Thats one serious SD round.

    So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and buy youself a 4.5″ XDm in your favorite caliber. You can’t go wrong.

  11. How do you feel the XD (M) 40 4.5 compares to the Ruger SR 40 c especially when it comes to the Trigger?

    Trying to decide between the two .

  12. Not a fan of the .40, and still wondering about SA in general since the Illinois debacle. I have an XD .45, and it’s a decent gun, but no better than a Glock and not as good as a Ruger American Pistol.

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