The 10mm round is just one of those calibers that refuses to go away, and this latest handgun addition– the Springfield Armory XDm– which is chambered in 10mm, might just be the best handgun to come along in this hot-stepping caliber.
Some History of 10mm Caliber Handguns
Let me give you some of the history on 10mm caliber handguns. Many years ago, a company called Dornus & Dixon announced they were coming out with a handgun in the new 10mm caliber. There were many problems along the way, first of which was financing. The second issue was that, while they did come out with a few handguns chambered in 10mm, many guns didn’t even come with a magazine let alone any spare magazines.
Because of Power Pistols Didn’t Hold Up
Since that time, a number of gun makers have come out with 10mm handguns. Unfortunately, because of the power of this round, the pistols just didn’t hold up. I owned a S&W Model 1006 in 10mm, and the gun was sent back to the factory three times – twice because the rear sight shot loose and once because of accuracy problems. After the third trip back for repairs, I gave up on the gun and traded it off.
FBI Agents Couldn’t Shoot Because of Extreme Recoil
The esteemed FBI went to the S&W Model 1076 in 10mm. It was poorly designed with the decocking lever on the side of the frame, and it also had problems. One problem, which wasn’t the fault of the gun, was with the recoil. Many agents simply couldn’t shoot the gun well because of the extreme recoil. The FBI wanted the 10mm round watered down to a more manageable recoil impulse, and the 180-gr bullet was leaving the barrel of their Model 1076 handguns around 950-FPS.
S&W Developed .40 S&W Caliber and 10mm All But Dead
S&W seized opportunity on this and developed the .40 S&W caliber. It was basically a cut down 10mm case, giving the round an overall loaded length of a 9mm at the same 950-FPS as the 10mm watered down round. Plus, the .40 S&W would fit in 9mm sized guns, whereas the 10mm, because of its longer length, had to be fired in a larger handgun. Because of this, the 10mm was all but dead!
One can research more on the subject of the 10mm origins and the .40 S&W and read how the .40 S&W was greeted with great acclaim by some and disdain by others.
Colt Delta Elite in 10mm
In 1988, when I moved back to Oregon from Colorado, I owned a Colt Delta Elite. This was a stainless steel 1911 full-sized handgun chambered in 10mm. I really loved the gun, especially the power of the 10mm over the .45 ACP. However, in short order, the gun shot itself loose, and accuracy really dropped off. About this time, most ammo makers were only producing the watered down version of the 10mm, and they dropped the full-powered load.
What was the sense in having a 10mm that only had the power of a .40 S&W? The 10mm was pretty much dead for a lot of years.
Watered Down 10mm Ammo
Some smaller gun makers tried their hand at producing 10mm handguns to some success. However, there was still the fact that most 10mm ammo was watered down. Once again, there is no sense in owning a 10mm if all you could fire were watered-down loads. The best way to get around this was hand-loading your own 10mm ammo.
Springfield Armory 10mm Handgun
A little over a year ago, there were rumors floating around that Springfield Armory was going to come out with a 10mm handgun. I checked with my number one source at Springfield and was met with no reply. Hmm. That told me a lot. Even though there was no admission that Springfield Armory was coming out with a 10mm handgun, I placed an order. I didn’t care if it was in a 1911 version or one of the XD versions; I wanted one, period!
First out of the gate was the 1911 version in the 10mm round. However, it wasn’t what I wanted or expected. You can read more about this on the Springfield website.
Shortly after that, Springfield announced the XDm in 10mm available in two different versions. I requested the “Service” model, which has a shorter barrel and slide as opposed to the Competition model that has a longer barrel and slide.
A quick rundown on the specs of the XDm is in order. Most readers will know that the XD line from Springfield is made in Croatia, and they are outstanding guns, every last one of them. They have quite a few different versions, to be sure. The XDm in 10mm weighs in at 31.2 oz unloaded and has a 4.5-inch Bbl. The slide is forged carbon steel with a Melonite finish, which is tough stuff.
Its frame is black polymer with three interchangeable backstraps. Mine came with the small backstrap, and it fits my hand nicely. The frame also has the unique “checkering” that only the XDm lineup has. There is also a grip safety ala’ the 1911. The mag release is ambidextrous that’s very nice.
There are also Picatinny grooves on the frame’s dust cover for mounting lasers or lights. The slide has grasping grooves fore and aft, for easy charging of rounds from the 15-rd mags. It comes with two mags.
The rear sight has two white dots and is set low in the slide for a no-snag approach, while the front sight has a red fiber optic, and it comes with two replacement fiber optic rods– one red and one green.
There is a full-length guide rod, and the recoil spring is stout. I’m “guesstimating” it is about a 22-lb recoil spring, but measuring the weight is different on this gun than let’s say a 1911.
Make no mistake, this is a full-sized duty handgun. However, with the proper holster and clothing, it can be concealed. BTW, Springfield sells several types of holsters for the XDm. I obtained a Blackhawk Products SERPA tactical thigh holster for the XDm, and it is one of the best, if not “the” best thigh holster around in my humble opinion. The XDm fit perfectly in the holster.
Mag Pouches and Belt Slide Holster
I also had some Blackhawk mag pouches to attach to the holster. However, these mag pouches only fit 9mm/.40 double stack magazines. It won’t fit the 10mm or .45 ACP rounds. Yet, I modified the mag pouches by cutting off the lid, and then the 10mm mags fit snuggly. I have no worries about the mags falling out. I’ve been in touch with Blackhawk about making mag pouches that fit the .45 ACP/10mm magazines.
Also, in one of my holster drawers (and I have several), I found a belt slide holster from Springfield Armory that was made for their XD model. The XDm fit nicely. Springfield used to include one of these holsters and a double mag pouch with their XD models but no longer do so. Hope they bring ‘em back.
Loading 15-Round Double Stack Mags
Loading the 15-rd mags was a chore. After about 11-12 rounds were loaded, the remaining rounds were really a thumb buster to get into the mag. Ouch! With some double stack mags, I found that if I loaded the mags to capacity and let them sit for several weeks, the spring took a “set” and the mags were easier to load to full capacity.
The trigger pull on this striker-fired pistols is outstanding. It is fairly short to start with and very smooth. Plus, the reset is extremely short, which is another nice feature for fast follow-up shots. The pull on my XDm was right at 5 lbs, which is great for self-defense work as well as hunting, and make no mistake the 10mm round is capable of taking some fairly big game with the right ammo.
Volunteers For Testing– Most Accurate Handgun I’ve Ever Shot
I had two friends helping me with the shooting portion of my testing. There is never a shortage of volunteers when it comes to shooting and free ammo. I had fired several hundred rounds through the XDm 10mm prior to this and had zero problems, none! However, with both of my testers, they were having “misfires” (or so I thought, at first). Make no mistake, with full-powered 10mm loads, the recoil is more than a little stout. Now, with that said, I will say that the XDm is the lightest “kicking” 10mm pistol I’ve ever fired, bar none. After observing my two volunteer shooters, I saw what the problem was. There weren’t any misfires. What they were both doing was not getting a proper grip on the gun. The web of their hand wasn’t getting up high enough to depress the grip safety. They’d pull the trigger and nothing would happen, and they’d eject the live round. Once this was observed and they put their hand high on the grip of the gun, there weren’t any problems. So, this wasn’t a problem with the gun; it was the two shooters who were a little bit “shy” of the 10mm recoil.
During my testing, I will say that this is the most accurate handgun I’ve ever shot. Take that to the bank!
Ammo For Testing
I had placed a request for some ammo from Buffalo Bore Ammunition, and Double Tap Ammunition. They are both known for producing hot-stepping, full-powered 10mm loads, as well as some specialty 10mm loads. I was anxious to get their ammo in my greedy little hands for testing, too.
From Double Tap, I received their 200-gr Hard Cast solid ammo, which runs at about 1,300-FPS out of a full-sized GLOCK. I also received their 180-gr Controlled Expansion JHP load, 135-gr Controlled Expansion JHP, and 230-gr Equalizer load. This contains a 135-gr JHP bullet with a 90-gre lead round bullet behind it for a 200-gr Controlled Expansion load.
From Buffalo Bore Ammunition, I received their 180-gr FMJ FN round, which is great for deep penetration; 155-gr Banres TAC XP all-copper hollow point load, which is outstanding for self defense and is also low-recoil and low flash; 230-gr Hard Cast FN, which is outstanding for big game hunting where you want deep penetration; 180-gr JHP, low recoil, low flash; 155-gr JHP, which is also a great self-defense round that is low recoil, low flash; and the Heavy Outdoorsman 230-gr Hard Cast Load FN for deep, deep penetration.
So, I had quite a great selection of full-powered 10mm load as well as some specialty 10mm ammo to test in the XDm. I had zero problems with any of the ammo during my testing, and I didn’t expect any problems. I’ve owned several XDm handguns in the past and had no problems.
During the accuracy testing, I had the target at 25 yards and fired the XDm over a rolled-up sleeping bag over the hood of my Dodge Ram pickup. I made sure that the firing was done so that the empty brass would eject away from my windshield. I’ve been there, done that, where empty brass would hit the windshield of my rig, causing pitting. That’s not good.
As I already stated, this gun is accurate, super accurate. I shot the Buffalo Bore 230-gr Hard Cast Outdootsmans load against the Double Tap 200-gr HC load. Needless to say, recoil was stout with either of these loads. They are full-power loads meant for deep penetration, and the hard cast bullets are meant to cut through meat and bone of big game. The 10mm has been compared to the .41 mag caliber in power. There was no winner. Both of these loads came in at 1.75 inches, if I did my part. Yes, you read that right– 1.75 inches. Only a micrometer would determine who actually won that shoot off; it was that close. The other loads all came in right around 2.25 inches, if I did my part, and the recoil can sometimes affect your accuracy testing. I believe with more ammo and more time, the other Buffalo Bore and Double Tap loads I tested could give me smaller groups. There was no loser, when it came to accuracy. In all, more than 500 rounds went through the XDm in my testing.
Picking a load for self defense from either maker, that’s a tough one, believe me. The Buffalo Bore 155-gr Barnes TAC XP all-copper hollow point would be a great choice for self defense. I also like the Double Tap 230-gr Equalizer. With two bullets in one shot, it would be a first choice for home defense. The Controlled Expansion from Double Tap– what’s not to like there. It would also be great for medium game, as would the Buffalo Bore 155-gr JHP and 180-gr JHP.
The Best of Both Worlds
This is one of the great things about the 10mm round. You can use FMJ reduced power loads for punching paper or the full-powered load for self defense and hunting purposes. It is the best of both worlds. If you want the best of the best, in 10mm ammo choices, please check out the Buffalo Bore and Double Tap websites. You’ll really be impressed with the selections they have in 10mm.
A Winner of Handguns
Full retail on the Springfield Armory XDm 10mm is $652, and it’s a deal, if you ask me. I don’t see this gun shooting loose, ever. Be sure to check out the 10,000-rd documented torture test that was filmed and is available on the Springfield website. The 10mm is back in a winner of handguns!