An Up Close Look the Springfield Armory XD-M Elite Pistol
Tom McHale 01.17.20
There’s a new XD-M in town, and it’s a one-percenter. Elite in fact. The Springfield Armory XD-M Elite series improves upon the XD-M feature set with a handful of upgraded features designed to extend the pistol’s sweet spot for competition and defensive applications. Of course, the new features don’t preclude simple range fun either.
Out of the gate, Springfield Armory released four different models of the XD-M Elite pistols, all chambered in 9mm. If the past is any indication, we can expect to see other calibers added to the line before too long.
XD-M Elite Tactical OSP: This full-size pistol with its 5.28-inch threaded barrel is great for tactical or home defense use. To make it even more suppressor friendly, it comes with tall and all-black suppressor-height sights and an optics-friendly slide, complete with adapter plates.
XD-M Elite Precision: The Precision is the competition and general-purpose pistol. It’s also configured as a solid home defense option and sports a 5.25-inch barrel.
XD-M Elite 4.5”: This model offers the feel of a full-size pistol but is a bit more carry friendly. It’s got a 4.5-inch barrel, so it measures 7.6 inches long and 5.7 inches tall.
XD-M Elite 3.8”: The smallest Elite of the bunch shares the same height and magazines as the 4.5-inch model but loses almost an inch of barrel length. This pistol measures 6.75 inches long.
If you’re going to call something “Elite,” there’d better be some notable differences. And there are.
Let’s start with capacity. The two “full size” Elite pistols pack a whopping 22+1 rounds of 9mm in the two included magazines. The more carry-friendly 4.5” and 3.8” models still fit 20+1.
The Elite models come equipped with extended and flared magazine wells. The wells are removable if you want a slimmer profile. You’ll also notice different styles depending on the Elite model. The larger Precision and Tactical OSP pistols have a large and generous well. Don’t try this at home, at least not with loaded magazines, but you can probably insert them with your eyes close and hands behind your back. It’s hard to miss.
You’ll notice some slight differences in the slide texture too. The Elites have generous front and back cocking serrations. As an example, the previous full-size XD-M here has five finer ridges in the back section. The new Elite has three larger ones. I find the courser pattern provides a better grip overall, so I like the new tweaks. The frame itself appears to be identical to the standard models and you’ll find two additional grip inserts with which you can adjust the size to taste.
The Elite series adds an ambidextrous slide lock – they are present on both sides, so it’s not a “reversible if you need” scenario. You’ll also notice that the classic XD-M grip safety is more prominent and now features a generous memory bump. I’ve never had trouble with the grip safety activating on previous models, so perhaps this is a bit of extra insurance to make sure the safety activates with a broader array of grip strengths and techniques. This new one is also invisible to me. I don’t notice it all when shooting and had no troubles.
One of the biggest changes in the Elite series is the trigger group. I have a full-size XD-M OSP sitting here, side-by-side with the Elite Tactical OSP, so I could compare the two trigger setups. Springfield Armory calls the new system Match Enhanced Trigger Assembly (META) system.
Flat triggers are all the rage among the “cool kids” crowd, and the Elites have one. It’s still hinged, just with a straight face. Even if the pull weight was identical, the straight trigger feels different simply as a result of the shape. A curved trigger encourages just a bit of roll with the pull movement, so, to me, the flat one “feels” crisper. Behind the flat face is an integral over-travel stop bump. Simple but effective.
In this case, the standard XD-M has a pull weight of about six pounds on average. The Elite model weighs in at five. The standard model has ¼ inch of take-up followed by 3/16th of an inch of pressure until the break. The new Elite offers the same travel distance. There is some difference in the reset. The Elite resets with about 1/8th of an inch less forward travel. I also notice that the Elite has a smoother take-up stage and a crisper break. Comparatively, the standard XD-M feels a bit mushy. That’s strange because I’ve never thought of the XD-M trigger as anything other than crisp. That speaks to the improvement of the new trigger system.
Testing the XD-M Elite OSP
This variant is the only one of the bunch that ships (for now) in a flat dark earth color scheme, both frame and slide. It looks fantastic to me, so I suppose I have a weak spot for that color. The trim elements are all black, including the trigger, sights, barrel, grip safety, and extended magazine well. The magazines have an extended black polymer baseplate, about an inch long, to accommodate the extra 22-round capacity. The generous baseplates also help protect against magazine drops on hard surfaces. They’ll get scuffed, but won’t bend.
The slide on the Tactical OSP is cut for mounting red dot optics, so that’s the first thing I did after the first trial range outing. Using one of the three included adapter plates, I installed a Trijicon RMR red dot. This always-on model is a perfect complement to the Tactical OSP. The sight lines up perfectly with the suppressor-height sights. You can clearly see both front and rear sights in the bottom one-third of the RMR’s glass. The all-black sights aren’t at all distracting when using the red dot. In fact, I found that they helped me acquire the dot quickly. If you forget about the optic, and just look for the sights as normal, the dot will be right there. You then have a choice – shoot with the iron sights or the dot.
This big gun shoots like a pussycat. The 30-ounce unloaded weight and spacious grip real estate, combined with soft-shooting 9mm ammo, makes this gun comfortable to shoot all day long.
After shooting 50 to 100 rounds for general handling, I tested three different types of ammo for velocity and accuracy. During this outing, I was shooting over iron sights and had a 15-yard available distance. I used a pistol rest weighed down by a 25-pound sack of lead shot. Carrying that back and forth to the car is dedication. Just sayin’. Anyway, here are the results.
|Ammunition||Average Velocity |
(feet per second)
(5-shot group average)
|Speed Gold Dot 124-grain||1,184.6||1.23”|
|Hornady American Gunner XTP 115-grain||1,215,6||1.46”|
|Federal HST 124-grain||1,211.0||1.25”|
I’ve always found any pistols in the XD-M line to be accurate and this one appears to be no exception. Since my eyesight is lacking, I suspect the groups could tighten even more when I take it back with the Trijicon RMR mounted. Even with the iron sights, I recorded an impressive 0.89-inch five-shot group with the Speer Gold Dots.
Here’s the quick and dirty summary on this pistol: I don’t get these for free. I do get to borrow them for testing and evaluation, but then I have to send them back. This one is a keeper, and I’ll be paying real money for the privilege of adding it to my collection. While it’s fun at the range, and even more so with a suppressor mounted, it makes the perfect bedside home defense gun. With 22+1 capacity, a red dot sight, and forward rail to mount a light or light and laser combo, it’s all you need.