Red-dot sights and sound suppressors seem to be the latest popular accessories for handguns. While obviously neither is a new concept, it’s only recently that they’ve both been embraced by mainstream shooters. It wasn’t very long ago that a red dot mounted onto a handgun was looked at as just another weird “gamer” gimmick. Suppressors, on the other hand, were the tools of military commandos. Neither, for a variety of reasons, was embraced by the masses. Times change, and gun owners today live in a very different world than just 20 years ago. Today, more and more shooters are considering top-ping their favorite handgun with a red dot for use in hunting, recreational shooting, competition and even self-protection. Interest in sound suppressors and hearing safety is also on the rise.
Springfield Armory took note of this trend and recently released a new model in its popular XD(M) line called the XD(M) OPS. Basically, this is a 4.5-inch 9x19mm XD(M) cut to allow easy mounting of a variety of red-dot sights and set up for a sound suppressor. The XD(M) OPS is actually a package consisting of the pistol, two 19-round magazines, Match grade 4.5-inch barrel, 5.3-inch threaded barrel, three different size back-straps, four different optic mounting plates, combo tool, lock, and instructions, all packed neatly in a foam-lined hard case. It’s a good-looking kit that provides everything you need, minus ammunition and holster, to get shooting.
Let’s do a quick review of the basic platform for those of you unfamiliar with Springfield Armory’s popular XD(M) line. To start, operation is via Browning’s well-proven short-recoil tilting-barrel design, with the barrel locking against the front of the ejection port. The pistol’s frame is manufactured from a durable black polymer material. This not only reduces the overall weight of the pistol, but the polymer also dampens some of the felt recoil by absorbing it, rather than transferring it to the shooter’s hand. You’ll also note a slightly over-sized trigger guard, which allows trouble-free use with gloves. Another nice touch is how the frame is undercut to allow a slightly higher grip. I find the grip frame to be nicely contoured and very comfortable in the hand. It is not blocky like a Glock. Plus, to ensure a secure grip, even with wet, dirty or sweaty hands, it features fairly deep texturing. You can tailor fit the frame to your hand by swapping out the removable back-strap. Three sizes are included with the pistol, allowing most to find a comfortable fit.
One eye-catching feature of the XD(M) series is the presence of a grip safety. This must be depressed for the pistol to fire or to retract the slide. Personally, I like this feature, especially as the XD(M) is a single- action design, which does not incorporate a tradition-al manual safety. The XD(M) does incorporate three other safety systems, a trigger-lever safety similar to a Glock’s, a firing-pin block, and an out-of-battery safety. Of course, the best safety system is the one located between the shooter’s ears.
Internally, the XD(M) is a rather simple striker-fired design. Retracting the slide allows the striker to be caught by the sear, while letting it run forward fully compresses the striker spring. Fully depressing the trigger depresses the firing-pin block and releases the striker, firing the pistol. Pull weight of this trigger system typically runs between 5.5 and 7.7 pounds.
Moving topside, you find a precision CNC- machined forged steel slide with a durable Melonite finish. Cocking serrations are provided at both the front and rear of the slide for quick and sure manipulation even with wet or slippery hands. On the new OPS model, the slide has been machined to accept different red-dot sight mounting plates. As there is a diverse array of red-dot sights available, and not all of them share the same mounting configuration, Springfield Armory includes four different mounting plates with the pistol. These are numbered for quick identification and facilitate easy mounting of a variety of red-dot sights, including: Vortex Venom, Burris FastFire 2, Burris FastFire 3, Leupold DeltaPoint, Leupold DeltaPoint Pro, JPoint Sights, and Trijicon RMR. If you prefer to run the pistol without a red-dot sight, Springfield also includes a filler piece, which neatly covers the cut out in the slide. If you are not dangerous with scissors, you can easily mount a red-dot sight onto your XD(M) OPS.
However, if you prefer, you can purchase this model with a Vortex Venom red-dot sight already installed. My review pistol was so equipped and is an option to consider. The Venom features a three-MOA dot, which provides a nice blend of speed and precision. Dot intensity is controlled by two buttons on the left side of the body. The Venom features 10 levels of brightness, which are easily changed with the push of a button. One feature I really like is the top-loading battery compartment. This allows you to swap batteries without having to remove the sight from the pistol, as with some other designs, so you don’t have to worry about having to re-zero after a simple battery change.
The new XD(M) OPS also features tall suppressor sights, which will co-witness with the red dot. The front sight is dovetailed to the slide and rises like a shark’s dorsal fin. The rear sight is a chunky piece with square notch. Both the front and rear are serrated to reduce glare. While the sights are very tall, the Vortex Venom still blocked about half the rear notch. So while they will co-witness, you can only re-ally see the very top of the front sight. This is just something to keep in mind. Some models of red-dot sights will be lower and allow an unhindered view. The iron sights provide a nice sight picture and are nicely rounded with no sharp edges. The front sight though does reach unto the heavens and has the potential to snag, so just keep that in mind.
Further examining the Springfield Armory XD(M) OPS, you will find loaded-chamber and cocking indicators. When a round is chambered, a pivoting lever at the top rear of the ejection port rises to clearly indicate this. Plus, a cocking indicator protrudes through the rear of the slide to indicate the weapon is indeed cocked. Both of these indicators are easily checked either with a glance or, in low-light conditions, by feel.
The XD(M)’s magazine release is a conventionally located push button. However, there is one located on each side of the frame, allowing for true ambidextrous operation. Plus, they are fairly well-shielded to protect against accidental activation, while remaining easily accessible. Punching either button sends the chrome-plated metal magazine for a ride. The steel magazines have a capacity of 19 rounds and appear nicely made. Round count holes are included in the rear of the magazine to allow you to easily keep track of your expended ammunition.
A slide release is located above the thumb rest on the left side of the pistol. Large and conveniently located, it has been designed with its leverage points optimized for easy manipulation. Forward of the slide release is a take-down lever. This pivots up through a space machined on the left side of the slide, allowing quick and simple disassembly of the weapon. One nice feature of the XD(M) series is you can remove the slide without having to first press the trigger.
My review XD(M) OPS came fitted with a 5.3-inch barrel, which noticeably extends from the front of the slide. The muzzle features 1/2x28 pitch threads, and it comes with a thread protector installed. It allows a variety of sound suppressors to be easily mounted. Just keep in mind that due to the tilting barrel design, you’ll need a suppressor with a recoil booster (Nielsen Device) for proper function. Also included in the package is a 4.5-inch barrel, which comes flush with the end of the slide. This allows you to run a conventional-length barrel when shooting unsuppressed if the extended barrel doesn’t suit your tastes. Both barrels are cold-hammer-forged and feature a 1-turn-in-10-inches rifling twist rate. This twist allows use of both light lightweight supersonic and heavy subsonic 9x19mm ammunition. Beneath the barrel, you’ll find a one-piece metal guide rod and non-captured recoil spring.
The concept of a red-dot-sighted pistol like the XD(M) OPS seems to appeal to a wide spectrum of shooters. Some appreciate its “operator” like vibe. Hunters like the precision the red dot provides. Older shooters losing their near vision, like myself, simply enjoy being able to clearly see the red dot in contrast to blurry iron sights. A number of years ago, as my vision began to fade, I tried the concept and ended up with a couple red-dot-topped pistols. Not having to fuss with blurry sights is a real plus, and the accuracy benefit is undeniable. So I know many older readers will be interested in hearing about Springfield Armory’s XD(M) OPS.
Out of the box, the XD(M) OPS looks a bit racy. It immediately invokes images of running through a stage at a pistol match going bap bap bap. While I’m sure many will use it for that, it’s capable of much more. Initially examining it, I noticed no obvious flaws. Fit and finish looked good, the slide worked smoothly, magazines ejected cleanly, and the controls all operated without issue. All in all, the pistol looked quite nice.
My initial testing consisted of firing 50 rounds of ball through it to just check function. Here, I ran into a problem with one of the two included magazines. This frequently failed to feed properly, while the pistol ran flawlessly with the other magazine, so I set the problem magazine aside. I did note both magazines required quite a bit of effort to load to their full 19-round capacity. Trigger pull out of the box was a bit mushy with some obvious creep and it broke at approximately six pounds.
To see how well the XD(M) OPS performed from the bench, I gathered up a variety of 9x19mm loads. These ranged in weight from 65 to 147 grains. Test ammunition consisted of Polycase’s Inceptor 65-grain RNP practice load. This features a lightweight and frangible copper-polymer round-nose bullet loaded to a claimed velocity of 1,525 fps. Next was Wolf Performance Ammunition’s Polyformance steel case 115-grain FMJ load. This is an economical ball load, which I use for the majority of my personal practice. Hornady’s 124-grain XTP JHP has an excellent reputation for accuracy, so I added it to the mix. Lastly, I selected SIG Sauer’s 147-grain FMJ Subsonic load.
After zeroing, I got to work shooting four five-shot groups from off a rest at 25 yards. This was done using the factory-installed 5.3-inch barrel. I have to say the red-dot sight made shooting groups considerably easier for my old eyes compared to traditional iron sights. The trigger is not match grade by any means, but acceptable. Accuracy was quite good with Hornady’s 124-grain XTP JHP posting the best five-shot group of the day, measuring just .75 inch. This load averaged a very impressive 1.5 inches at 1,195 fps. Next was SIG Sauer’s 147-grain FMJ load, which averaged two inches at 1,045 fps. Taking third place was Wolf Performance Ammunition’s 115-grain FMJ load, which posted a best of 2.2 inches and averaged 2.5 inches at a zippy 1,338 fps. Polycase’s 65-grain Inceptor load aver-aged 2.8 inches at a blistering 1,701 fps.
Once I finished shooting groups on paper, I moved to shooting steel plates and silhouettes. Here, the XD(M) OPS performed well. It’s a fairly big pistol and easy to shoot. As the round count increased, the trigger smoothed up a bit. Feeding, extraction and ejection were flawless with the good magazine. Recoil is fairly mild, but the bore height is a bit high compared to some other designs. The controls all functioned without issue, and the slide locked back as designed. I found the magazine release and slide catch easy to reach and never had a problem with the grip safety.
The red-dot sight? This certainly aids precision, especially at distance. Hitting a man-sized silhouette at 50, 75 and even 100 yards becomes much easier. Once the dot is on the target, it’s just trigger control. If you’ve never shot a pistol with a red dot though, initially finding the dot at speed can take a bit to get used to. This, like most things, just takes practice. My suggestion is to not hunt for the dot, but rather just present the pistol as if you were going to use the iron sights and the dot will be there. Many people who first pick up a pistol with a red dot find they are a bit slower than using conventional iron sights. There is a learning curve. A red-dot sight is not a miracle cure for poor fundamentals. If you spend some time doing dry drills and then hit the range, you’ll be ahead of the game.
I let three friends try the XD(M) OPS. Neither had shot a pistol with a red-dot sight before. All three of them really liked it and did well. They found it to be very fun to shoot steel plates with, liked how it fit their hands and all the features it has. We shot it in both bright light and at dusk as the sun was going down. The darker it got, the more of an advantage the red dot had over iron sights. All three commented positively on the ambidextrous magazine-release design as well.
Springfield Armory’s XD(M) OPS is a nicely built piece that can serve a number of roles. Obviously, it is well-suited for certain types of competition. It is great for recreational shooting and plinking. While, in my opinion, a bit big and bulky for concealed carry, it could be used for personal protection and would make a fine house gun.
While shooting the OPS, I also came to the con-clusion it would be a lot of fun to use hunting small game. Although many do not consider the 9x19mm as much of a hunting cartridge, it is perfectly suited for small game such as squirrels, rabbits and the like. The red dot provides a precise and easy-to-see aiming point. Stuffed with mild flat-nose cast-bullet loads, the OPS would make a dandy small-game gun if you enjoy handgun hunting. Thirty years ago, before we had such an abundance of 9mm projectiles, I used to handload 158-grain lead semi-wadcutters intended for use in the .357 Magnum. I shot thousands of them without issue. Today, we have many more options that increase the versatility of this great little cartridge.
The 9x19mm cartridge is very easy to reload, and die sets, reloading data, suitable powders and projectiles are all readily available. I’ve had good luck with Lee Precision dies. While not fancy or expensive, they churn out good quality ammunition. I don’t bother to sort brass by headstamp, but simply clean and load it. My favorite powders for reloading 9x19mm Parabellum are Blue Dot, Accurate No. 7 and Power Pistol, although I’ve also had good luck with Unique and Bullseye. My powder choices might show my age, but I’ve had good luck with them. Which one I pick depends upon what I’m trying to accomplish, or what my mood is. For projectiles, I tend to load 115-grain JHPs or LRN for most things and still load 158-grain LSWCs. While on the mundane side, the 1905 vintage 9x19mm Parabellum remains one of my favorites, although I still prefer to carry a .40 S&W.
If you’re in the market for a red-dot-topped full-size 9x19mm you can suppress, then you’ll want to consider Springfield Armory’s XD(M) OPS. It’s a fun pistol to shoot, and I enjoyed my time with it. MSRP on this model with the Vortex Venom red-dot sight is $958. If you prefer a bit more punch than a 9mm can deliver, you should know Springfield Armory recently added 10mm Auto to its XD(M) line.
SPRINGFIELD ARMORY XD(M) OPS
Caliber: 9x19mm Parabellum
Operation: Self-loading with Browning tilting barrel
Barrel Length: 5.3 (threaded) and 4.5 inches
Feed: Detachable 19-round box magazines
Overall Length: 8.6 inches
Height: 5.5 inches (not including optic)
Width: 1.2 inches
Weight: 30.1 ounces
Sights: Vortex Venom red dot and co-witnessing iron sights
(912) 335-5101 / PolycaseAmmo.com
Wolf Performance Ammunition
Tune in to Techsperts™ on the Sportsman Channel in November and December 2018 to watch Poole and Leatham shoot through Springfield Armory’s family of XD pistols at Gunsite. If you purchase a new XD before December 31, 2018, visit www.allXDgearup.com
to sign up for three free magazines and a soft case for your pistol.
Sportsman Channel Techsperts™
Thursday, November 22 at 8pm ET
Thursday, November 22 at 11pm ET
Sunday, November 25 at 5am ET
Sunday, November 25 at 10:30am ET
Thursday, December 6 at 8pm ET
Thursday, December 6 at 11pm ET
Sunday, December 9 at 5am ET
Sunday, December 9 at 10:30am ET
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