Pat Cascio’s Product Review: Springfield Armory XDm Compact .40 S&W

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Make no mistake, I’m a huge fan of Springfield Armory firearms– all of them. When the XD handgun first came out, I picked one up; it was in .40S&W. At first appearance, it looked very much Glock-ish to my way of thinking. However, once home, I tore the gun down and examined it. While some of the parts look like Glock parts, none of them will interchange with a Glock. None!

Something very rare for me is to carry any one particular handgun for two years, which is what I did with the XD .40, only changing to a different gun when doing an article about it and then only carrying the different gun for a week or two. Then, I went back to the XD .40 on my hip. The only minor complaint I had about my XD .40 was the finish on the slide. It appeared to be parkerized, but it wasn’t very durable. Weekly I would wipe the gun down, but it still developed some rust spots on the slide no matter what I did to it. Happily, Springfield Armory has gone to Melonite for the finish on many of their guns in the XD line-up, with the exception of the stainless steel slide models.

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Under review today is the Springfield Armory XDm Compact Model. And, with it comes some improvements in handling over the basic XD model. There is a different process for breaking the gun down for cleaning, and I won’t bore our readers with that. The information can be found on the Springfield Armory website. The ergonomics of the XDm guns are better feeling in the hand, compared to the XD models. The grip is thinner and just feels better all the way around. The slide is a bit slimmer, too. The gun just feels “all-that-much better” in my hand than the original XD model.

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I elected to review the .40 S&W XDm, because I’m a big fan of the .40 S&W caliber for many uses. Let’s take a quick look at the XDm Compact. It comes with a dual recoil spring set-up, making it a bit easier to retract the slide when chambering a round or clearing the chamber. The sights are of the three dot white variety, that are fast to pick-up. The gun weighs 28 ounces, but it feels a little heavier than that, to my way of thinking. It weighs a little more with the X-Tension mag inserted in the gun. (There’s more on this shortly.) I have the stainless steel slide version, and it hasn’t shown a hint of rust in our usual rainy climate. The barrel is 3.8 inches in length, so the gun is easy to conceal. The frame is black textured polymer, and it really provides a great feel under any weather conditions, and I shoot rain, shine, or snow when testing a gun. If I plan on shooting “that” day, I go shooting, no matter what the weather calls for. The XDm Compact in .40S&W comes with one 11-rd mag and one 16-rd mag, with the X-Tension on it. Of course, we have all the other goodies that comes with many of the Springfield handguns– a holster, double mag pouch, cleaning rod, magazine loader, and different back straps, so you can fit the gun to your hand. They are quick and easy to change. Just punch out pin and pull the back strap off and slide the new one on. The entire set-up comes in a very nice, lockable polymer case for easy transport to the range or storage of the XDm.

My only minor complaint with the Compact model is that the 11-rd magazine doesn’t give my pinky finger any place to go. Oh sure, if I squeeze my hand up on the gun, I can get half of my pinky on the grip. However, it’s easier to just replace the flat magazine base plate with one from Pearce Grip. It then gives my pinky something to hold onto, and it honestly doesn’t add all that much more to the gun when it comes to concealment. With the 16-rd mag, with the X-Tension on it, there’s no problems getting all my fingers wrapped around the grip frame of the gun, and the X-Tension 16-rd mag also comes with different X-Tensions that you can swap out to match the different sized back straps. A lot of thought went into this design process, and we can thank Dave Williams, who heads up the Springfield Armory Custom Shop, for many of these innovative designs. I also love the aggressive checking on the front strap as well as the back straps, which make for a sure hold on the gun under any conditions.

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As mentioned, the XDm Compact comes with a double mag pouch that threads through your belt, which I like. However, the holster is a paddle style and I don’t like this set-up at all. It has nothing to do with Springfield Armory. I just don’t like paddle holsters. They tend to move around and not stay in place. When I put a gun on, I want it to be in a particular spot on my belt for the sake of muscle memory, so I don’t want the gun and holster sliding around. I ordered a leather belt holster from DeSantis holsters. However, I ordered one of their “E” models, and it is a loose fit. I should have known better. I’ve ordered some of their “E” holsters before. (Maybe “E” is for economical?) They also were very loose fitting; it sits in my holster drawer! Instead, I carried the XDm Compact in a Blackhawk Products generic belt slide holster, which can be adjusted to fit a lot of handguns. The XDm rode high and tight against my body. If your holster isn’t holding your gun tight to your body, you’re doing something wrong when it comes to concealment.

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The XDm comes with a full-time ambidextrous magazine release as well as a grip safety and a trigger safety, which is in the face of the trigger. There is a slide release/lock on the frame and then the take-down lever. All in all, the gun is pretty “clean” and doesn’t have anything you don’t need. Trigger pull is double-action only, and it is smooth to my way of thinking. Breaking at five lbs, it “rolls” as you pull the trigger; I like it! The magazine release is a bit stiff with fully loaded magazines, and I’d rather have a mag release a bit too stiff, as opposed to one that can accidentally release a mag on you. However, once one round is fired and you want to take the mag out, it is much easier to release than when the mag is full. That’s just something to be aware of. Again, I’d rather have a stiff mag release than a mag release that is too loose.

The grip safety doesn’t take any thought to depress, if you are holding the gun in a proper. It’s just that simple, unlike some 1911 handguns that you sometimes have to think about or the grip safety isn’t properly adjusted and you go to fire the gun and it won’t fire because the grip safety isn’t fully depressed. While it is a “manual” grip safety, it is really more like it’s passive. You just don’t have to think about it when you take a proper grip on the gun.

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I had a great selection of .40S&W ammo on hand for my testing, including some +P loads. I’m told by those in the know, at Springfield Armory, that their XD line-up of handgun can handle all the +P ammo you want to shoot through them, or as much as you can handle.

From Black Hills Ammunition I had their new 155-gr JHP fodder, their 180-gr JHP, and their 140-gr Barnes all-copper TAC-XP hollow point rounds. From Buffalo Bore Ammunition I had their 140-gr Barnes all-copper TAC-XP hollow point load as well as the same in 125-gr. I love their 200-gra Hard Cast Outdoorsman load. it’s the load you want to carry if you are out in the boonies and might face dangerous 4-legged critters. I also had their 155-gr JHP +P, 180-gr JHP +P, and 180-gr FMJ +P loads.

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Right off the bat, I’ll say, there were no malfunctions of any type with any of the ammo, even when I mixed different brands and bullet types in the same magazines. No problems at all. Accuracy testing was done at 25-yards, even though this gun only has a 3.8-inch barrel. I knew it could do what I wanted it to do at 25-yards. I used a rolled-up sleeping back over the hood of my pickup for a rest. No groups exceeded three inches in my testing. The Buffalo Bore 125-gr and 140-gr Barnes TAC-XP loads are not rated +P, however, you know you touched off a relatively warmish round. I liked the Buffalo Bore 200-gr Hard Cast Outdoorsman load a lot. As I mentioned earlier, this would be my choice if I were out in the boonies and might come face-to-face with a bear. This round will shoot through more than 30 inches of flesh, muscle, and bone. WOW!!!

The overall winner, if you will, in the accuracy department was the Black Hills 140-gr Barnes TAC-XP all-copper hollow point load. If I did my part, I could shrink those groups down to 2 1/2 inches, again, if I were on my game. There were no losers in the accuracy department. All loads tested were plenty accurate enough for self-defense use, every one of them!

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As an aside, I lined up ten 1-gallon milk jugs that were filled with water, put a one by four board behind them, and fired the Buffalo Bore Outdoorsman load into it. It went straight through all the water jugs and the board. Tthis round will penetrate, deeply!!! A lot of shooters believe that a FMJ load will penetrate deeper than a Hard Cast bullet will. That’s simply not true. The Hard Cast bullet tends to “cut” though whatever it goes through, whereas the FMJ loads tend to slip and slide through material. A person would be smart to keep the last few rounds in their spare magazine loaded with the Hard Cast rounds, in case you have to fire through light cover to get to an attacker. It’s just something to think about.

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Now, for the really good news. If you purchase any handgun from Springfield Armory between Sept 1st and the end of the year, you can get two more free mags, a double mag pouch, and an outstanding handgun case that holds two handguns and plenty of spare mags. Just verify online that you recently purchased the gun and fill out the claim form, and in no time at all those freebies will be headed your way. This is more than a hundred dollar value, on top of the great gun.

I wouldn’t hesitate to carry the XDm Compact .40 for self-defense in the right holster. I have 100% confidence in this gun. Then again, Springfield Armory don’t make no junk. I know, I know, that’s not proper grammar, but still…

The XD line of handguns is actually produced in Croatia and imported by Springfield Armory, and they hit several home runs with this line-up. I didn’t want to list retail, because the actual street price on this gun is all over the place, but even if a person paid full retail, they’d be getting a great handgun for just about any needs.

– Senior Product Review Editor, Pat Cascio

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