My, how times change! It wasn’t all that long ago that a red dot sight was rather huge when mounted on a rifle, and no one even gave any thought to a red dot sight on a handgun. I still remember the first (sorta) red dot sight I ever owned. It was on a shotgun back in the 1970s. It wasn’t quite a red dot sight, but it appeared to project a red/orange dot in the air. It was quite the thing back in the day. Over the years, I’ve tried all manner of red dot sights on rifles, shotguns, and handguns. One thing they all had in common was that they always failed when I used them. The red dot wouldn’t work, or it was totally way off from the last time I adjusted it for windage and elevation. And, to be sure, it didn’t matter if it was a $500 or a $30 red dot sight; they all failed in some manner, so I lost faith in them.
I know that the U.S. military uses red dot sights of several different makes and manufacturers, but even the expensive ones cause problems. I personally wouldn’t want to go into a combat situation knowing full well that my main aiming device might fail me or not even turn on due to dead batteries. I guess I’m just old fashioned. My ARs and AKs have “iron” sights . There’s not much to worry about going wrong under most conditions.
Enter Springfield Armory with their XD(m) OSP 9mm handgun with a tiny red dot sight on it from Vortex optics. Many competition shooters now mount red dot sights on their handguns (and rifles) and claim they are faster to pick up when aiming, compared to a standard sight setup. I stopped shooting competition back in the 1970s, well, mostly. Every now and then I’m invited to a shoot, and when I outperform everyone I’m never invited back. I don’t consider 200 yards “long range” shooting with a high-powered rifle, but some folks do.
I’ve been a huge fan of the entire XD line-up, from the original XD to the XDs and XD(m) in various calibers. They are not only top-notch handguns, they are value-priced if you ask me. I also enjoy a good deal, like everyone else does. This newest offering– the XD(m) OSP (Optical Sight Pistol)– is a full-sized 9mm handgun, meant for duty use or for competition. It can be concealed with the right holster and covering garment, but it is mostly for duty and competition, in my humble opinion. The XD(m) OSP is a 19+1 round pistol that comes with two 19-rd magazines. The slide/barrel is 4.5 inches long.
The OSP also has a one-piece full-length guide rod, and it only weighs 29 oz empty. The polymer frame contributes to the light weight of the gun. The slide is stainless steel but coated with Melonite– a black finish that really repels the elements. Strangely, Springfield doesn’t supply a double mag case or a holster with this model, like they do with their other XD handguns; however, they can be purchased separate from Springfield. I had two holsters from Blackhawk Products. One was their SERPA for carrying on the belt; the other was their inside the pants holster. I didn’t much care for the inside the pants holster. Then again, I’ve never much cared for them. The waist band holster was outstanding, though, with a great fit!
The selling point of this newest XD(m) offering is, of course, the Vortex Venom red dot sight that is attached to the rear of the slide. The slide is milled out at the factory. You can get this OSP without a red dot and install your own, if you already have one. However, I elected to get my sample set up from the factory with the Venom red dot already attached, plus it comes with three adaptor plates that allow you to directly attach other optics. There is also a matching cover plate, should you elect to remove the red dot sight and just go with the standard sights. For complete information on the various other red dot sights that you can mount on the OSP, go to the Springfield Armory’s website.
The Vortex Venom has a 3 MOA red dot, and it is just perfect for self defense or competition use. It is fast to pick up. Plus, it has ten brightness settings for various weather or indoor/outdoor lighting conditions. You can adjust the setting manually or set the Venom to adjust automatically to the lighting conditions. By the way, the XD(m) also comes with three back straps that the user can change to make the gun fit their hand better. I installed the smallest one, and it worked fine for my large hands.
I did a little research on the Vortex website and found that the Venom red dot sight will operate for up to 150 hours at the brightest setting, and at the lowest setting the battery can last as long as 30,000 hours. You read that right; it can last 30,000 hours. The Venom only weighs around two ounces, so it really isn’t adding any extra weight to the gun. There is also a rubber cover that you can attach to the Venom to keep dirt and dust off of it, and if you set the sight to automatically turn on when the cover is removed that makes it fast into action, especially if you are using this gun as a bedroom/house gun. There’s no little button to press to turn the sight on. However, I couldn’t get the rubber cover to stay on my sample. In reality, it only takes a second to turn the red dot on. And, even if you couldn’t get it turned in, you can still hit what you are aiming at, if it is within the lens.
Here is what I would do, if I were a cop these days. I’d carry the OSP with the Venom turned on and set to the middle brightness setting. That is all I needed for even the brightest days. At the end of my shift, I would turn the Venom off, and the red dot will easily last you a couple months. After that, I’d replace the battery. When you replace the battery, you don’t have to remove the Venom from the slide, so there are no worries about your zero changing. Speaking of the zero, my sight was way off and not even close to being zeroed. It only took a few adjustments of the windage and elevation screws to get me zeroed at 25 yards, and it doesn’t take much to change the zero . Very few “clicks” is all it took. Now, the best thing about the Vortex Venom is the lifetime warranty, even if you are not the original purchaser. What’s not to like there?
Now, as I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I’ve had every red dot I’ve ever used fail me, so I was sure this Venom would be my next victim in my testing. The force of the slide slamming back and forth, really puts a lot of stress on an optic like the Venom. I fired plenty of +P+ JHP 9mm ammo through the OSP, and the zero never changed, nor did the red dot magically disappear on me. It was outstanding! I was extremely impressed.
Now, to the red dot setup itself, I found that I was always pointing the gun a little bit too high and the red dot wasn’t visible in the lens. This has nothing to do with the red dot. I just naturally, for some reason, when holding a handgun, point it a little too high. It only takes a fraction of a second to correct this with standard sights. However, it took a little bit of time for me to get the barrel of the gun pointed downward so I could see the red dot. Again, it’s not the fault of the gun/red do; it was me. However, with practice, I could bring the OSP up and the red dot was visible to my eye without any further adjustment of my shooting hand.
As always, the nice folks at Black Hills Ammunition and Buffalo Bore Ammunition provided with me with an outstanding assortment of 9mm ammo for this article. Without their kind assistance, I wouldn’t get many firearm articles written, so please give them your business.
From Black Hills, I had their 115-gr JHP +P, 124-gr JHP +P, 115-gr FMJ, 115-g hollow point EXP (Extra Power), 124-gr JHP, and their 115-gr Barnes TAC XP all-copper hollow point that is +P rated. From Buffalo Bore, I had their 147-gr JHP Standard Pressure load, 147-gr Outdoorsman Hard Cast FN +P load, 115-gr Barnes TAC XP all-copper hollow point that is +P+ rated, 115-gr JHP +P+, 124-gr JHP +P+, and their 124-gr Penetrator FMJ FN +P+ load.
I won’t keep our readers waiting. There were zero malfunctions of any sort with any of the ammunition and not even a hint of bobble, even with the hottest +P and +P+ loads. I will say though, the last couple of rounds are a real bugger to get loaded into the magazine. What I did was load the mags and let them sit for two weeks after my testing. Then, I emptied those mags and reloaded them. They were much easier to load after that. I’ve run into this problem with some other 9mm magazines that hold a lot of rounds, and the solution was to load the mags up and let them sit for a couple weeks. After that, they were much easier to load back up to full capacity.
Accuracy testing was done at 25 yards, using a jacket on top of a big rock. Honestly, there wasn’t a clear winner in the accuracy department. The XD(m) OSP shot all the ammo under three inches and some rounds were right in there at 2.5-inches, if I was on my game. I can usually find one or two loads that will give me the best accuracy but not this time around. You can’t ask for better performance and accuracy for a factory-standard 9mm handgun. In all, I fired well over 700 rounds of ammo during several shooting sessions.
I was quite impressed with the Vortex Venom red dot sight. It never failed me, nor did it lose its zero, and the slide on the OSP was really slamming back and forth with the +P and +P+ loads. What’s not to like here.
The Springfield Armory XD(m) OSP retails for $979; however, keep in mind that the Venom red dot sight alone retails for $329. Add in the slide that has already been milled out and the various plates that come with the gun for mounting different red dot sights, and I’d say this is quite a deal. Check an OSP out at your local dealer. It is a lot of gun, and you’ll readily fall in love with the trigger pull, too.
– Senior Product Review Editor, Pat Cascio