By David Blanton
Prior to SHOT Show 2020 this year, Springfield Armory freshened up their XD-M lineup with the new XD-M Elite line. The promise of this line is full ambidextrous controls, better slide serrations, increased capacity magazines, a removable magwell, and a revamped trigger known as the META (match enhanced trigger assembly).
The launch initially included a 3.8” model, a 4.5” model, a 5.25” and the one that caught my eye, the 4.5” Tactical OSP. The features alone were pretty exciting on this pistol as there aren’t many threaded barrel, optic-ready handguns on the market that come with co-witness irons. Then I saw the price.
An MSRP of $710 for a gun that comes appointed much like the FN 509 Tactical (MSRP $1049). Before the great panic buying of 2020 I saw street prices for the XD-M Elite 4.5″ Tactical OSP as low as $615. At that price and competing with the 509T, that’s punching way above its weight…if it can deliver.
Most notably — with the tactical version — the Tactical OSP features an FDE finish with black controls. Looking on some dealer websites there is apparently a black version in the works as well.
Springfield Armory was kind enough to send a T&E model on loan for review on my YouTube channel.
Beyond the finish, the biggest change was the trigger. The old XD-Ms had curved triggers, the new trigger is more of a flat face style profile.
Out of the box the trigger pull weight was right around 5 pounds, but the character of the trigger was interesting. Many, if not most striker fired guns try to do the hard wall. Most triggers end up with a creepy, stagey wall.
Rather than toe this line, the XD-M went in a different direction and has more of a rolling break. A rolling break on a striker gun is also a creepy trigger, but the wall is less harsh and you can pull through it easily.
The creep isn’t mushy, but smooth. It’s not quite revolver like, but still predictable. Many people who compete with striker fired handguns in competition shooting end up setting up their triggers to have a rolling break. After 500 rounds down range, the XD-M Elite trigger pull weight dropped a full pound, coming in at just under 4 lbs. I suspect and expect with more time on the range this trigger weight will fall further.
The ergonomics of the gun are quite good. The controls on both sides of the pistol are well relieved. The magazine release feels slightly extended yet doesn’t get in the way of your grip and you won’t have to break your hand hold to drop mags.
The slide release is about the right size and in about the right place. It’s tough to miss in a reload and it’s not so big that your grip is going to pin it down. Since they’re fully ambidextrous, lefties can pretend like people make handguns for them, too. The grip safety features an exaggerated memory bump similar to many 1911 grip safeties.
The XD-M grip safety can be a deal breaker for some, but I deliberately tried to cause a failure due to not engaging it. If you’re putting ANY pressure at all on the grip safety, the striker will release. If you miss the grip safety because your grip is too low — that’s hard to do — there’s a good chance the trigger reach is such you won’t be able to depress the trigger blade safety either.
I was skeptical about the grip safety at first, but through use I actually came around to at least a neutral, if not a positive opinion on it. The idea of holstering with my hand off the grip safety is appealing — kind of like hammer checking with a double action gun.
From behind the gun, the grip texturing takes the big ridges with big gaps that lets the skin from your hand flow in between and lock in. This texture is great because it ignores any moisture on your hand and still provides an excellent grip.
It won’t tear up your skin or clothes if you carry it in a holster, but you will leave the range after a few hundred rounds feeling it on your hands.
The sights are proper black target sights, front and rear, that co-witness brilliantly with a Holosun or RMR optics with a lower 1/3rd sight picture.
The black serrated faces of the rear and front sight tend to fade into the background when you’re using a red dot, but they’re there when you need them. Shooting 124 grain ammo when testing the irons, I was getting POA/POI at 12 yards.
Springfield’s OSP (optical sight pistol) mounting system is similar to the GLOCK MOS system. It uses a series of thin steel plates to accept screws through your optic.
The pistol ships with three mounting plates that accept a Vortex Venom, Leupold DeltaPoint Pro, and Trijicon RMR optic footprint. The plates themselves are well machined and have a good male/female connection to the slide. They are secured in place with three screws as opposed to two like most systems. An additional three sets of screws are provided, too.
Due to the tapered nature of the XD-M slide at the top – the red dot plates will overhang the slide a bit on either side, but it’s not super noticeable.
The XD-M has always been regarded as an accurate pistol. When shooting 10-yard groups to zero the optic I was pleased with the ability to stack rounds while shooting off-hand.
Backing up to 50 yards shooting at B/C zone IPSC steel, I was able to ring the steel with near boring reliability (let’s face it, ringing steel is almost never boring).
Since the Melonite finish match barrel is threaded, you’ll be greeted with a barrel that extends from your 4.5” slide a solid .78” and a thread protector that’s sole purpose in life is to walk off the end of your barrel.
No O-ring was provided, but I’d enthusiastically recommend that you purchase one.
Out of the box this thing is ready for a can or a compensator depending on how much you want to turn up or down the volume. The extra barrel extension looks a bit odd and will provide a bit of a gap from the slide to whatever device you add. It probably won’t make cans look all too weird, but generic 9mm compensators may look odd.
In hand the gun feels very solid. The raised ridges used for texture make the frame feel more substantial than your typical striker fired polymer gun. When you rack the slide, the elongated rail sections in the polymer frame coupled with the steel guide rod assembly make it feel almost like a low end 1911 as far as slide to frame fit is concerned.
Some of that quality feel is derived from the weight if the pistol. The full-size XD-M Elite OSP is a big ol’ boy at nearly 30 ounces with an empty magazine. Unfortunately, most of that weight lives in the slide.
Shooting the gun is downright pleasant, not feeling any more flippy than any other striker gun I’ve shot. I threw my Mantis X10 Elite on it. The muzzle climb I was observing on the recoil meter was about 4-6 degrees, about the same as the GLOCK 34’s I compete with.
The weight of the slide coupled with a good factory recoil spring on the semi-auto gives the recoil impulse a smoothness that makes observing the red dot or the suppressor-height sights in motion very easy.
The magazines come from the factory with +3 extensions, giving you a capacity of 22+1. The elongated magazines work great with the provided magwell.
In the box you’ll also find two flat base plates if you decide to remove the flared magwell. Without the extensions the mags will lock in, but you cannot strip them free should there be a malfunction.
Speaking of that flared magwell, it’s a pretty generous maw that makes reloading blindfolded easily accomplished. The magwell is plastic and I noticed some nicks from tame reload practice. I suspect with heavy use — like USPSA — the magwell will become a consumable part that needs to be replaced, but since it’s plastic I doubt that bill will be too heavy.
The magwell is retained by a pin that goes up into the grip that is then retained by a roll pin that holds on the backstraps. Before moving off the magazines — USPSA guys — I checked it on an EGW magazine gauge. It doesn’t fit the 141.25mm gauge. Womp womp. Still have to send money to your favorite magazine extension purveyor.
The backstraps come in three flavors so small-handed shooters will have no problem finding a home on the pistol. I installed the large backstrap for me. While the amount of real estate on the grip for your support hand isn’t quite what I’m used to, I still had no issues locking in on the gun.
The backstraps don’t increase the length of pull due to the grip safety, but it was still fine for me as a large-handed shooter. Additionally, since the magazines are so long (19 rounds with the flush baseplate), there is plenty of length on the grip for those of us with fat/wide palms which is nice.
What’s not nice is changing the backstraps for the first time. You’ll need a roll pin punch, a 4-pound sledge, and a healthy vocabulary of four-letter words as you drive that sucker out of there for the first time. After a few times it’s a much easier process, but that first time…that sucker is really in there.
Ultimately I’m high on the XD-M Elite OSP right out of the box. At its street price — hell, even full MSRP — it’s a great value. This is a very easy gun to shoot well.
Specifications: Springfield Armory XD-M Elite 4.5” Tactical OSP
Capacity: Two 22-round magazines included – flat base plates provided for 19-round.
Weight: 30 ounces
Barrel Length: 5.28” ½ x 28 threaded
Sight Radius: 6.5 inches
Overall Length: 8.6 inches
Height: 5.875 inches
Maximum Width: 1.5 inches (outside of ambi slide release – grip width is 1.2”)
Trigger: 5 lbs
Sights: suppressor-height iron sights
Controls: fully ambidextrous magazine release and slide stop. Grip Safety
MSRP: $710 (street price about $600)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Reliability * * * * *
No problems. The pistol handled all the defensive and target loads I fed it without issue.
Accuracy * * * *
Very good accuracy. I didn’t shoot if from bench rest, but in the hand round stacking on target was very achievable. The irons are great, the trigger is good, and if you have a red dot you get all the accuracy.
Ergonomics * * * * 1/2
The sculpt of the grip is fantastic. The texture locks itself in for a sure hold on the pistol. The shape of the trigger and location of controls are great. The backstraps fill the hand but don’t increase the length of pull which docks half a star.
Customize This * * * *
This thing comes with a threaded barrel, good slide work, good grip work, good sights, a length of rail, but can only accept three footprints of optics. Lots of XD-M accessories already out there should work as well.
Overall * * * * 1/2
Out of the box the XD-M Elite OSP is ready to run. Anything you could want to do, from competition to running a silencer to something you and the missus can sling lead with comfortably, the XD-M Elite is capable of. As is, it doesn’t “need” anything except perhaps more magazines and lots of ammo.