I readily admit that I’m a huge fan of Springfield Armory firearms – all that they now produce. My very first Springfield pistol was a basic 1911 .45 ACP. When I first got it, the stupid thing wouldn’t even function with 230-gr FMJ ammo – very strange to say the least. I’m a trained 1911 armorer and I still enjoy working on 1911-series handguns. In no time at all, I had that early Springfield working well. I could have simply sent it back to the factory, but since I could work on these guns, I decided to fix the problem myself – not a big deal at all.
When Springfield Armory came out with their first XD 9mm handguns, I grabbed one – albeit one chambered in .40 S&W, and I was happy with it. As a matter of fact, I carried it for two full years as my concealed carry piece, as well as a duty pistol. The only time I didn’t pack this gun was when I was testing other handguns for articles. Then I’d switch right back to the XD. The XD and XDm line-up is quite extensive these days, and I believe I’ve probably owned just about every model they make. The original XD is very “Glock-ish” in looks. However, none of the parts or magazines are interchangeable between a Glock and an XD.
I remember, not too many years ago, when Springfield came out with a new and improved XD, and this one was called the XDm – not that the original XD needed any “improvements” it was, and still is, fine as it comes out of the box. The XDm does enjoy some improvements, one is that it is a little slimmer than the XD, and it has a nicer trigger pull, and a shorter reset of the trigger. I’ve also owned some of the compact and sub-compact XDm pistols over the years, as well. All very nice guns. And, as already stated, I’ve probably owned every XD-type of pistol that Springfield has sold over the years. The XDand XDm lines are made in Slovakia for Springfield, and sent to the USA for inspection, packaging, and sale.
I had a terrible internal struggle with myself when the nice folks at Springfield sent me a press release on this new XDm. I was sorta “like what’s the big deal…” didn’t see a lot of difference in the other XDm pistols for the most part. The most striking is the HEX Dragonfly red dot sight on the rear (top) of the slide. I’m a big fan of red dot sights, especially on handguns. Rob Leatham, is one of the best handgun shooters in the world, and coincidentally sponsored by Springfield Armory. Leatham has said that “everyone shoots better with a red dot sight…” and I’m sure in agreement with him. However, it does take just a little time to retrain your eye to find the red dot, as opposed to the standard sight found on handguns. And, it is a very short learning curve to be sure. And, and you’ll wonder why you shoot so much better. A lot has to do with just looking at the red dot, through the housing – instead of trying to focus on the front and rear sight, at the same time, and then aiming at the target…with the red dot, you simply look at the red dot — very easy to do — and place it on the target. It is easier to do than explain.
About the HEX Optic
The pistol under review here is the improved XDm Compact Elite 9mm OSP pistol. The OSP stands for Optic Sighted Pistol. In this case, the optic (red dot) is mounted on the top of the slide, at the rear, and screwed down in the machined off area, on the slide. Very easy to do – just two screws hold the red dot sight on the slide – and it is mounted about as low as it can go. You can go to the HEX Optics website for more information on these red dot sights. These sights are also sold separately and retail at $249. The lens is made out of glass, and not plastic, and is scratch resistant – but not scratch proof – keep that in mind.
The HEX lens will attract dust and lint. Once a week or so, I simply use some canned compressed air (made for camera lenses), on the entire sight and it is very soon clean. I also used some anti-fog spray on the glass sight – inside and out – so it won’t fog up, when moving from outside cold weather to indoors – really important to do, and a small squirt bottle of this anti-fog spray will last you a dozen years or more. The red dot is actually projected onto the glass lens and it uses a micro red laser.
I also treated the laser assembly with this anti-fog stuff – applied a little on a Q-tip and put it on the laser and then dried it off with a clean and dry Q-Tip. And, one last word on the HEX Dragonfly is the battery power, it takes the ubiquitous CR2032 (“large button”) battery. HEX states that the battery will last about 100,000 hours. Put pen to paper on this – and it is a lot of years. Plus, this model red dot has an automatic shut-off – if you leave it on, it turns itself off in 16 hours. To turn it back on, simply press a button on the left sight of the housing. And you can adjust the brightness levels on this model as well. Instructions from Springfield are included.
About the Pistol
The XDm Elite Compact OSP has some nice features. As stated, it is chambered in 9mm at present – no word if it will later also come in .40 S&W or .45 ACP. One nice feature is the META trigger – this stands for Match Enhanced Trigger Assembly. Springfield claims this trigger gives you the finest factory trigger available in a polymer-framed pistol. I’m sure not going to argue this point, the trigger pull is fantastic, and it has a very short reset, too. There is also a built-in trigger stop on the back of the trigger as well, with no overtravel. Great!
There is a grip safety on the rear of the grip, very similar to that found on a 1911 pistol. The barrel is 3.8-inches in length, and this makes it great for concealed carry. The frame is shorter than that on the full-sized XDm, and the magazines – it comes with two – hold 14-rounds each. The magazine bottom is slightly longer – the regular XDm compact mags only hold 13-rounds, so this little extended mag bottom allows one more round in the magazine. This XDm OSP sighted pistol will also take the longer XDm magazines – just remove the flared grip attachment – only takes a few mins with a punch and hammer, and you have a frame that can take higher capacity magazines. Very cool idea.
This XDm Elite weighs in at 29-ounces unloaded, and the grip width is a mere 1.2-inches – so this also aids in concealment. The magazine release is full-time ambidextrous and slightly recessed into the frame, but easy to access. There is also a full-time slide release/stop on the frame and it is easy to release with your thumb. A Picatinny rail has three positions for your mounting needs. The frame has great “checkering” for lack of a better term, all around it – and this makes the gun rock steady in your hand. The trigger guard is squared off – if you use a grip that places your finger on the front of the trigger guard.
The sights: I need to mention them! This handgun comes with a fiber optic red front sight, and a white outline rear sight. However, with this particular red dot sight, you can’t use the sights – the red dot doesn’t allow you to see the sights (co-witness). However, not a deal-breaker, since the HEX Dragonfly battery life is rated at about 100,000 hours. Put a reminder in your PC or smartphone calendar to change the battery every two years. That is my advice, not HEX’s. The batteries are very widely available and inexpensive to purchase. You can find them at any drug store and most grocery stores. Just remove the Dragonfly from the slide – two screws, remove the old battery and install a new one.
The XDm Elite also comes with different sizes of back-straps to fit different hand sizes – and they are quick and easy to change out, too. The one that came on the gun is medium size and it fit my hand perfectly. We also have slide serrations on the front and rear (sides) of the slide, and I really like this style.
My Function and Accuracy Tests
As we are all aware, we are in the worst ammo (and firearm) drought this country has ever seen, so ammo is at a premium. Black Hills Ammunition has kindly kept me in ammo for my review articles for close to 30 years. And, even during this drought, they are doing their best to get ammo into my hands. I can’t always get the exact ammo types I want for articles, but they are doing their best in this area. For this article, I had their 115-gr FMJ, 124-gr JHP, 124-gr JHP+P and their 100-gr HoneyBadger, all-copper, fluted +P load – one of my favorite self-defense loads. I had very little of the latter on-hand, so I’m only using it for accuracy testing. I did get a little greedy, and fired a little more than 150 rounds for this article – this gun is just plain F-U-N to shoot – very little recoil at all.
In my accuracy testing, I placed the target at 25-yards, and rested the gun on a padded bag used for zeroing rifles. All groups were 3-inches or under, so long as I did my part. The 124-gr JHP gave me a group right at 2.5-inches – and I believe the gun will do better, once I get used to it…I’m never disappointed in this load from Black Hawk – it is super-accurate, and recoil is easy…plus it makes a great self-defense load as well. I had NO malfunctions of any type from this XDm Elite Compact. The gun is a shooter, that’s for sure.
I had two holsters for this pistol, one from Craft Holsters (made in Slovakia) and one from Blackhawk Products (headquartered in Montana) – both outside the waist style and they rode nice and high and tight to my side. Matter of fact, the Craft Holster was custom-made for me, because this particular gun is so new, they haven’t had a chance to mass produce these holsters.
I’d be well-armed with this pistol on my side, and I love the HEX Dragonfly red dot sight. Check out one of these new pistols. Full-retail is slightly more than $800 – and these days, you may have to pay retail because there is such a shortage of firearms. But even if you paid full-retail, this gun is well worth it.