(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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”
Sights: Steel 3 dot, adjustable for windage
Action: Striker fired
Finish: Black Melonite
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.