Competition shooters shell-out thousands of dollars for tricked-out polymer pistols. Glock has long been the big dog in the field (“Ole Reliable”). Over the last few years, more and more mainstream manufacturers have seen the advantages of (i.e. profit in) modifying their models for customers who are more results than price-driven. Smith & Wesson entered the fray with their M&P Pro Series. Springfield Armory (SA) recently introduced their XDm 5.25” Competition Models in 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. Springfield graciously provided us with one of their 9mm Competition Models so we could see if a fool and his plain Jane pistol could soon be parted . . .
Like every XDm, the 5.25” arrives in a large hinged case (the better to contain all my accoutrements, my dear). Inside: a shiny pistol, three magazines, kydex paddle holster, kydex double mag carrier, mag loader, lock and cleaning brush, various paperwork and manuals.
I’ve never been a big fan of the Croatian creation’s tall slide (RF compares it to a double-decker bus). The XDm draws attention away from its height with some seriously sexy curves and enough striations to grate cheese. They dominate the pistol’s landscape, from the front of the slide to the cocking serrations. It’s no bad thing; the XDm 5.25” is a cross between Batman sleek and dominatrix mean.
The XDm’s 19-round grip is huge—but it doesn’t feel significantly larger in hand than a Glock G34. The Springfield balances perfectly; the grip settled into my hand as comfortably as a labrador’s head.
Besides the obvious jump in slide size from your standard XDm, the 5.25” boasts two very features distinguishing it as a competition pistol. First: the front fiber optic sights and the adjustable rear target sight. The wide notch and “plainness” of the rear sight makes it easy to pick up the blazing red front sight for rapid target acquisition.
Second: the lightening cut. Looking at the top of the slide you’ll notice that some of the fat has been trimmed. A lot, actually. SA posits that the “cut in the slide reduces reciprocating mass which allows for faster cycling and allows a larger variety of loads to be used.”
These features sound great on paper. To see if the XDm 5.25” could deliver the goods I grabbed some Tula 115 gr, Remington UMC 124 gr and Speer 124 gr +P Gold Dots and headed to the range. Pretending I was in California, I loaded up 10 rounds and steadily fired the whole mag.
While still a little left of center, the results were much more pleasing than the previous string. Once I got myself fully acclimated, I ran some basic rapid fire sets at seven yards. I loosed some one-handed strings and consistently hit the steel target with ease.
Once I upped the pace, my groups opened up. Nothing unexpected there, but the resulting groups were much larger than those I’ve shot with my duty gun (M&P 45c) or my Glock G19.
I attribute the diminished accuracy to a lack of familiarity with this particular weapon and the speed of the slide. While there wasn’t a noticeable recoil reduction, the slide went through the motions at a far more brisk pace than any XD I’ve ever shot. So fast that my brain had to play serious catch up with the sight picture.
That aside, the Springfield Armory XDm 5.25″ 9mm is a really accurate pistol – seriously and deadly accurate. I think TTAG buddy and Top Shot champ Iain Harrison said it best about the 5.25, “the thing shoots surprisingly small groups and flatters you into thinking you did it all yourself.”
My one complaint: the XDm’s trigger. There’s nothing terribly wrong with the go-pedal. The pull is right on, the break’s clean and the reset’s noticeable. But there’s nothing extraordinarily right about the trigger, either. Before you get to the clean break, you have to pull through a little mushiness and the length-to-reset seems just a tad too long. For a pistol tailored for the competition crowd, I was expecting more.
Lurking in the internet forums, I discovered the general consensus: SA knows most shooters tune their triggers. So the gunmaker didn’t go out of their way to make a stellar bang switch. True or not, if this was my pistol, I’d be ordering some parts from Springer Precision pronto.
While I wouldn’t hesitate to use a pistol this big as a duty weapon, I’m not so sure about carrying a handgun with a big chunk of the slide gone. The possibility of a bunch of crap getting into the gun via the lightening cut and causing a malfunction may be remote, but I’ve got enough nagging doubts as it is.
Obviously, the 5.25″ is not a gun you can conceal with ease. Anyone who carries a full size XDm knows that big honkin’ grip is harder to hide than Selena Gomez in a bikini. Here in Montana, current negative temps and snow offer the CCW licence holder the chance to stash a howitizer under their parka. Come spring, the XDm 5.25″ is what the Brits call a non-starter.
Now I know my “issues” are somewhat insignificant because, let’s face it, this is a competition gun. SA didn’t make it so OFWGs could carry a 20-round tack driver around with them on a daily basis. They made it so that you could pull it out of the box and start competing.
Mission accomplished. The XDm 5.25 gives you match grade components and – if you do your part – match grade accuracy. All without your brain and check book exploding from having to piece together a competition gun from scratch. While it may not have a Glock trigger, it delivers on the promise of performance; I wouldn’t hesitate to compete with it just the way it rolls out of the factory. So now it’s off to find a competition. Stay tuned.
Springfield XDm 5.25” 9mm Competition Model
Weight: 29 oz
Barrel Length: 5.25”
Overall Length: 8.3”
RATINGS (out of five stars)
Style * * * * *
Like that girl every guy wanted to take to prom, this gun will leave you drooling every time.
Ergonomics * * * *
Thanks to the interchangeable backstraps and comfortable grip angle, it should fit nicely in just about anyone’s hand. I’m not a fan of the ridiculously long grip though.
Reliability * * * * *
Steel, +P and Wally World brass were no match for this gun. Nary a malfunction to be found.
Customizable * * * * *
The XDm line has almost as many options as their Austrian cousins when it comes to customization.
About as concealable as Donald Trump at an Occupy campsite.
Overall Rating * * * *
An extremely accurate handgun with everything you need to venture into the world of competition shooting.