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(This is a reader gun review contest entry, click here for more details.)

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 one 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.

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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.

takedown

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 minimal reset. The XD(M) trigger has a consistent amount of takeup, then some creep, and then it breaks. The reset on the trigger, however, is almost all the way out. While I am no expert, I don’t think of this as a short reset. I actually prefer the feel of the trigger on my XD pistol over the one 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 the 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.

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

  1. My time to complain that I can’t get this gun in NY! I would need to find someone to sell this to me without the magazines, then I would need to order special mag blocked magazine in 10 round capacity (XD mags do not work). Someday one day…

    Try some 165 grain ammo, I found some guns are significantly more accurate with it. There is a theory that the twist rate of 1 in 16 inch is too slow for the 180s.

  2. Good review. I second the lack of 9mm for a long time. I personally can’t tell any difference in 40 from 9. I like both. Don’t know if I’m ever getting a Springfield anything. I really dislike the grip safety. YMMV

  3. My wife bought an XDm 9mm a year ago. She’s run thousands of rounds of assorted ammo through it without a hitch. It’s a sweet shooter and I actually like the trigger better than my Glocks. I really like the loaded chamber indicator that protrudes from the rear of the slide. By sight or feel, you can double check its ready status without removing it from the holster. And if all pistols had a grip safety like this, a lot of NDs would be prevented.

    The huge plastic case that these guns come in is really nice, and it would easily hold four handguns if you rip out the die-cut foam and replaced it with convoluted foam.

    Other than the grip, which is a personal thing, I can’t find anything not to like about the XDm.

  4. Not QUITE on topic, but I tried to do rapid fire out of an XD/S and somehow or another I didn’t disengage the grip safety. That was an immediate “I can’t trust this gun in a pinch” revelation.

    • Train with you gun. Especially if it has safeties. I always have hiccups when handling new firearms, but I don’t discount them until I have put my time in.

    • No issues with rapid fire and grip safety on my XDs, I found it to be a great shooting gun for something so small. My guess would be with the effort to go fast and all the recoil and such your grip technique was lost.

      How was the grouping looking prior to the non fire condition? If you’re really concerned I would get someone to video your hands under the same conditions. You might be surprised at what you see.

      I’m quite a fan of the grip safety on my XDm’s, in fact I went XDM vs glock for that reason. Never once has it cause me an issue.

  5. This was/is my first handgun, a gateway gun for me if you will. Bought it, shot it a little bit at a friend’s house and occasionally at an indoor range.

    Discovered action pistol (USPSA) at a local outdoor range, and got bit by the bug bad. Started shooting matches regularly then found out about 3 gun and bought a bunch (whole bunch) more guns. Actually ran the paddle hoster for an entire season and I still use the mag holders.

    I recently retired the 40 to under the bed duty in place of a 5.25 in 9mm. The 40 still sports a powder river precision trigger and dawson magwell and talon grip tape. I’m about to convert it to an open gun with a dot on the slide, because I won’t sell it, and it needs reason to exist in the arsenal.

    • Do you make major PF with a a 9mm? Running 147 grainers at ~1150 fps to make major wouldn’t seem much better than 165 40s at 1000 fps, or 180 40s at ~925 fps. Although out of a full sized frame maybe it does.

      • No major with 9mm. No point as 3 gun generally doesn’t have power factors and the club I shoot most of my matches at dropped USPSA affiliation.

        The 40 reloads I assemble are 180gr and are running 900 something IIRC, so just over major PF. For the 40 as a open gun, I’ll have to see what makes it run flattest with the least recoil, 165’s/135’s with a bunch of powder or 180’s with a dribble of powder). And in what types of competition I shoot it in.

        That will also depend on whether I swap the barrel and and add a comp, or get the stock barrel and slide magna-ported. (similar to Jerry Miculek’s M&P he uses for open 3 gun). Since it won’t be a serious competition gun any time in the near future (mainly because I would need a open shotgun and the $$ to pay for that shotgun to shoot open 3 gun) it will be whatever I’m most curious about and what keeps costs in check.

  6. “This gun is definitely capable of greater accuracy than I can achieve.”

    The quote above has been used to death. Let’s make 2015 the year we don’t say the same thing from review to review. Same goes for the word “iteration.”

    • The way you said that was definitely more accurate and clear than what I could have achieved.

      I like this disclaimer: many guns prefer a specific load / bullet / powder combination and the potential exists for better groups than these.

    • And this is why serious gun reviewers use a Ransom Rest.

      That way, they don’t have to admit that they suck as bullseye shooters, or try to make the gun look more accurate than it really is.

  7. You spent energy on the striker status indicator bit never questioned its need. Is it possible to be loaded and not cocked? No. I suppose, in theory, the LCI or the striker status indicator could fail and the gun be loaded, but most likely never both. On the other hand, I can’t even see one of those indicators failing with a live round in the chamber. I just don’t understand the need. Perhaps because the trigger does not sport its own striker status indicator like the Glock: trigger forward when cocked and trigger back when NOT cocked is the way the Glock displays striker status.

    • “Perhaps because the trigger does not sport its own striker status indicator like the Glock:”
      ^This, and it’s easy to check without pulling from the holster.

  8. I have one of these in 9MM and love it. You forgot to mention the fact that the speed loader is set up to mount on a Picatinny rail for some reason and the Black hard case also has rails. WTH? I find it to be a sweet shooting pistol that can put 50 rounds through a 3″ hole at 7 yards even with my shaky hands and bad eyes.

  9. Not legal for sale by an FFL in MA, because Springfield pistols are not on the Approved List. Otherwise, I’d have one.

  10. I’ve owned an XD in .45 and an XDm in 9mm, and other handguns in different calibers including .40. Here are my thoughts.

    .40 in a plastic pistol is asking for trouble. The heavy, violent recoil wreaks havoc on the frames of those guns over time. It shouldn’t bee too much of a concern for most people as a defensive handgun or a safe queen, but police agencies and the FBI have both noted that the service life of polymer 40s are significantly less than those same handguns in 9mm or even 45. I would stick with one of those other calibers instead of choosing the .40 for a polymer framed pistol.

    That being said, my carry gun is a Beretta 96. Not because it’s a better caliber, but because it’s a better pistol and my father gave me a 96 for free when I was looking at getting a 92. I’ll stick with a free 40 over buying a 9mm just about every time. I’m just poor like that.

    As far as the XDm, I don’t consider them to be an “iMprovement” over the XD at all. The grips are a little better, but you’re right, the trigger is worse. And the triffer makes a whole lot more difference in shooting than checkering.

    The triggers of both are pretty bad. It feels like somebody threw gravel in the frame and some got lodged in the trigger during manufacture. It’s just not smoothe. It’ll do for a fighting gun just fine I guess, but it’s not something you want to go bullseye shooting with.

    The sights are ok on both. The grips on both do the trick. Not a fan of the backstrap safety, but it beats no safety at all. (I hate glocks for this reason.) Everything else about the pistols just scream “it’s a pistol, nothing more.” They aren’t fancy, they aren’t pretty, they aren’t all that nice; but they work reliably and have some of the best factory magazines I’ve found. Even the little mag loaders are a nice touch.

    Overall, I think they may be a little pricey for what you get. There are some unquestionably better guns at just a few dollars more, but for someone who just needs “a gun” or someone looking for a 4th or 5th handgun, this isn’t a bad choice.

    • I’ve got a Glock 27 with more than 10,000 rounds through it. No frame cracks, but will probably need a new recoil spring soon. A Glock 35 of mine has the same issue. We’ve had some barrel cracks on our old Smith 4006s shooting a steady diet of .40 cal 180 grain JHP Ranger 40AT. The Glocks have had a some +p (which techically doesn’t exist in .40) Buffalo Bore and Underwood in various weights.

      Shoot enough rounds through anything and something will wear out or break. While the .40 cal is a little tougher on frames than 9mm and .45, I don’t think it is ridiculously so. 10mms, .357 Sigs, 9mm +p (and +p+), and .45 ACP +P all experience accelerated wear. If a Glock 20 can handle 10mm it can handle anything a .40 Smith puts out.

      I shoot 9mm, .38 Special +P, .357 .40, and .45 out of my self defense guns so I don’t consider myself particularly biased towards any particular caliver.

    • Respect everyone’s opinion, but guess I’ve had a different experience. Love my XDm’s, but not going to say they are the ‘end all, be all’ (except my XDm 3.8 9mm! haha). Have a G22 and MP40 and have banged on them like a damn drum (lots of rounds at the range) and no issues with any cracking polymer… but not going to sit here and say that could never be an issue. 40 does put some extra strain on the gun for sure, with the higher pressures, recoil, etc.

  11. Great review. I intended to purchase the XDm but found an FNS40 that my wife liked too. Needless to say…

  12. What’s up with .40 and people thinking it recoils hard? What does “snappy” even mean? Recoil is recoil. There’s either more or less of it. I hate recoil and refuse to own heavy recoiling guns. I love .40.

    (This is a general comment directed to .40 discussion, not a comment on the review.)

    • Recoil is not recoil. I’m not sure why the .40 feels snappy and sharp. But it does. Perhaps the slide comes back faster and hits the rear stop harder.

      If you want to feel a real difference, shoot a couple of heavy rounds out of a single shot 12 gauge, then shoot a .416 rigby. The shotgun is light, but more importantly, shotgun powder burns fast, so the recoil impulse is fast, and it feels like a kick. The rigby uses much slower powder, and though there is more energy in the recoil, the slower impulse makes it feel more like a hard shove. Unless you don’t have the butt tucked in good and tight.

      • I’ve shot plenty o’ guns of all sorts. I’ve never been able to tell a qualitative difference on recoil with smokeless. It’s either more or less. Maybe I’m just not that good at splitting hairs.

  13. Good review. Pretty much in alignment with you.

    (I have an XDm .45 ACP 4.5″, an XDm .45 ACP 5.25″ Comp and an XDm 9mm 3.8 Bitone 19+1 — which is my favorite handgun of all time).

    I love them all. Personally, i LOVE the triggers – EXCEPT – for the reset. I agree. If this trigger had a Glock or CZ reset, to me, it would be perfect. I don’t think it’s heavy at all though. It’s much lighter than all of my Glocks.

    The XDm 3.8 9mm is just my ideal gun. I can literally rapid fire the entire mag (19+1) into a tight group almost like a damn bb gun I have so much control over that thing. The Range Master even peered in on me the other day to make sure I wasn’t a hack, and only smiled when he saw the grouping.

    If you haven’t tried it it, I strongly recommend seeing if you can rent one or shoot one: XDm 3.8 9mm (with the full sized grip/19+1 – not the compact). It’s frigging awesome. It only does battle for range time with CZ P09, but I better not start raving on that now too. (hint, it’s awesome)

  14. I really like the XDM, but I’m not wild about the trigger reset. The Glock reset is faster and more positive. I still may get an XD someday but the next one will probably be a 226 9mm Tac Ops with 20 round mags. Although I’ve not shot the XDM 5.25″ stainless reciever 9mm. My brother in law has one, and he loves it. The CZ duty guns also look sweet.

    • CZ has since dropped the ‘duty’ in their latest models and they are awe-some. Best value out there right now. And… the trigger and reset are SWEEEET. You’d love it. I’m the same way with the XDm reset. I’m wondering if I can take it to a smith and have him shorten it up somehow. It’s the one knock on an otherwise awesome gun (at least my 3.8 in 9MM)

  15. Comparing the kinetic energy of general FMJ range ammo out of 5in barrel:
    40 S&W (400 ft-lb) > 45 ACP(~360 ft-lb) ~= 9mm Luger(~355 ft-lb)

    I personally don’t see how the 40 S&W is “in between” responsibly loaded 45 ACP and 9mm Luger in terms of power.

    Perhaps there’s some kind of misconception or myth going on.

    • There is probably a consideration of momentum in that equation. Generally,
      a 9mm will do 315-360 foot pounds, 350-425 foot pounds with +P, and 400-500 FPE with +P+. The .40 lives in 380-500 FPE with standard pressure loads and 500-675 FPE with hot loads from Underwood Ammo and the like. The .45 ACP does roughly 340-400 with standard pressure and around 450-550 FPE with +P ammo. This from a 4-5″ barrel across all calibers.

    • Kinetic energy has no bearing in how quickly it stops a human being with handgun rounds. Permanent wound cavity does. The science behind this theory is sound (read: Duncan McPherson’s work).

      That being said, I would trust anything more powerful than a 380. I carry a 40.

  16. I have the 40 cal XDM 3.8 inch barrel and I too had to adjust to the trigger and the grip. After I put more than a few box of ammo through it, I was doing much better at hitting the target. I like it, it is my conceal carry weapon.

  17. Yeah, I bought a 9mm duty size auto loader cause I figured 9mm was the most popular round in the world for handguns and I would be able to get ammo for it anywhere.

    Then Barry got elected and my logic was proven wrong. Got to wishing I owned a smoothbore flintlock pistol of about .75 caliber. I could always find rocks, tacks and broken glass.

    For a while there .40 was all you could find on the shelf and it’s price stayed pretty much the same. But I had a good enough(barely) stock of my needed ammo and didn’t want to add another round to the stock. I mostly shoot revolvers anyway.

  18. I also experience problems with the last round chambering in my XD 40. Is it something peculiar to WWB or because of the magazines!

    Anybody have a clue?

  19. Picked up the 45 version for 500 including all the toys in the case, love it almost as much as my r1s 1911 in 45.13 rds of 45 is pretty good capacity to me, best of all I got along the sites rt off the bat.

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