June 25, 2020
By Patrick Sweeney
There was a time, decades ago, when Springfield Armory had two, maybe three products in the lineup. Now, you practically need a program to keep up on what they have to offer, and all of it excellent. Case in point: the 10mm.
The 10mm languished in the wilderness for many years. Once the FBI realized that they couldn’t get offices full of accountants to shoot a passing score on any qualification course, let alone a real one, the 10mm was once again orphaned. But, the wilderness was exactly where it needed to be. You see, once you give up the idea that the 10mm is a soft-recoiling defensive cartridge, you can grasp that it is a really hard-hitting pistol cartridge for hunting. And other wilderness “adventures.”
To get the full benefit of the 10mm cartridge, from a pistol, you have to give up the idea of an EDC-sized pistol. If you want the 10mm hammer, you can’t get it from a four-inch barrel. Enter the big boy of the XD-M line, the one with a 5.25" barrel.
The full-sized XD-M was first introduced as a competition pistol. With an adjustable rear sight, as much sight radius as you can get on a handy pistol, and a comfortable grip, the XD-M was a killer competition pistol. The competition model, made in 9mm, was joined by a .45 version, because this is America, and any pistol worth having has to have the .45 option, am I right?
The step up to 10mm was obvious, but Springfield still should be given kudos for doing it, because not all pistols are suited to 10mm, and not all makers make something chambered for it. Before I gush over the 10mm, let’s review the features of the XD-M Competition.
We’ve got the full-length slide, and the 5.25" barrel inside, a barrel that is full ramped and supports the cartridge case as well as any can. The XD-M does not use a barrel bushing, so that eliminates extra parts, and allows for a precision lockup. The slide is lightened with a cut on the top surface, a cut that goes through the slide, and exposes the barrel. It is perhaps not needed for the 10mm, which has all the horsepower you’d want, to run a longer, heavier slide, but there it is. The slide is forged, machined, and given a Melonite treatment. Then it and the barrel are blackened.
On top, ahead of the opening, there’s a fiber-optic front sight blade. Don’t like the color? No problem, swapping fibers is no big deal, and you have the entire spectrum to select from. On the back end, there is a large, adjustable rear sight, which allows you to fine-tune your sights and get the XD-M 10mm sighted in with pretty much any load you care to use.
The slide has cocking serrations in front of and behind the ejection port, and the ejection port is also the barrel locking lug location. The extractor is internal, stout, and worked by a coil spring inside of the slide. Additionally, there is a loaded chamber indicator, a hinged part that pops up above the slide when there is a cartridge in the chamber. You can assure yourself that there is a round in the chamber by simply running a fingertip over the slide, at the back of the chamber.
The barrel is machined with an integral feed ramp, and the ramp provides a clean and solid path to the chamber for each cartridge. Also, once closed, the ramp is “tight” enough (sharp enough angle) to the chamber that the cases are fully supported. The barrel is forged, finished and then given a Melonite treatment, which provides a hard and corrosion-resistant surface.
Underneath the barrel, there is a one-piece recoil spring guide rod, to ensure the spring can’t bind, kink or otherwise cause you problems.
As the XD-M is a striker-fired pistol, the rear of the slide has a cover plate, holding in the various parts, including the striker, its spring, various safety parts, extractor, and so-on. Unless you take a spill into really muddy or silty water, you won’t need to take that apart for some time. However, were you planning on taking the XD-M 10mm to Alaska, as back up, then it would be a good idea to know how, practice, and take the tools with you to do a detailed strip-down and cleaning. You wouldn’t want your XD-M, having been sloshed through glacial runoff, to fail you when you need it most.
The frame is polymer, with an accessory rail out front. Now, if you are using this as a hunting handgun, you won’t have much use (nor will the DNR look kindly) with a light or laser on the front end. But, if it is meant as bear defense, in camp, then a light or laser might be useful. (Check with the guide, or the DNR, about in-camp versus out hunting, on this application.) Kosher or not hunting, it is there if you need it for other uses.
On the opposite end of the frame, the XD-M has a grip safety. This is a nice addition to a striker-fired pistol, and I don’t know why more don’t have it. The trigger has the customary safety blade in the middle, and unless your finger has depressed the blade, the trigger itself won’t move far enough to release the striker.
The XD-M trigger press is nicer and cleaner than the traditional striker-fired system. It won’t compare to a custom 1911, but then again, a custom 1911 trigger job could by itself cost you an appreciable fraction of the full-up cost of the 10mm XD-M.
The frame is sculpted behind the trigger to allow easier finger access to the trigger, and the overall shape of the grip is comfortable, and amazingly compact for the size of the rounds and the capacity of the magazine. As part of the slim-for-its-capacity frame, Springfield has also managed to fit an ambidextrous magazine release into the mix. Southpaws, you have a choice.
The front is given a non-slip tread pattern, and the rear has rectangular blocks. The backstrap is also removable, and can be swapped for one or ones with different sizes. If you find the XD-M grip too big or too small as it comes out of the box, you can change that.
The magazines are nickel-plated steel, with polymer base pads, and the 10mm holds 15 rounds per. You can find extra-capacity basepads should you wish, and that might be comforting, were you in the position of using the 10mm as a bear gun. After all, if some is good, and more is better, can too much be not enough?
The 10mm cartridge has evolved since the first ones appeared. Back then, the starting point was the Norma load, with a 200-grain bullet at a book velocity of 1,200 fps. (They did more than that.) The FBI couldn’t handle that (To be fair, most shooters couldn’t.) so they asked for the ammo to be down-loaded. And more, and more. They ended up with a 180 at 950, which left so much empty space in the case that Winchester could simply make it shorter, and call it the 40 S&W.
With the .40 handling the self-dense side of things, 10mm fans looked to improve the already robust performance of the 10mm. This lead to hunting loads such as the Federal bonded 180s, and also to hard-cast bullets of 200 and 220 grains, from makers like Buffalo Bore.
When Springfield decided to make an XD-M in 10mm, they were determined to not be in the position of offering a 10mm pistol that couldn’t take the work. So, they had a pallet of 10mm ammo shipped to the test-fire range, and proceeded to make sure the design would survive. This involved putting 10,000 rounds of Federal Premium Hydra-Shok ammo downrange. Oh, they worked the XD-M hard, but they didn’t abuse it. They lubed it at 2,000 round intervals, and they changed the recoil spring halfway through. At this point I’d usually crack a joke about the test-shooters being wimps, and babying the pistol. I mean, really? Lube it? Change the recoil spring? And not ever throw it in the dirt, or submerge it in icy water? But then the thought of being challenged to do 10,000 rounds of 10mm ammo myself comes up, and I think “Maybe I’m past the point of doing that sort of endurance test.”
So, when the XD-M in 10mm arrived, I scoured the ammo shelves to see what I had. A lot, as it happened. Since the adoption (and later spurning) of the .40 by the FBI, the 10mm has found itself receiving a lot of R&D interest. It took a while, but we now have a wide range of loads to select from, and we shooters have benefited greatly.
I’ve been speaking of the XD-M in 10mm as a bear gun, but it would make a really useful home-defense gun should you opt for it in that role.
As long as your hands are not so tiny that the XD-M, even with the smallest backstrap, is a comfortable handful, look at the benefits: You get a cartridge that is as well-performing as the .45 ACP, even at the bottom end of 10mm horsepower. The grip is comfortable, and can be handled by someone even of average hand size. That same grip holds a magazine with fifteen rounds of 10mm, with fifteen more on the reload. The accessory rail lets you mount a light, laser or combo unit on front, so you can light up (with lumens, first) things that go bump in the night. And all this at a price that doesn’t break the bank, recoil hat doesn’t induce a flinch, and with plenty of accuracy.
With that in mind, I swept pretty much all the 10mm off the shelf I had time to chrono. This was an assignment on a short deadline, so I could chronograph them all, but I could not shoot them all for accuracy. (One is quick and easy, the other is real, time-consuming, work.) What I found was something I had forgotten: a full-sized pistol, with the regular-power 10mm ammunition is almost soft to shoot. Oh, I wouldn’t let a new shooter spend an afternoon plinking with it, but the “light” stuff is not at all oppressive. The heavy loads, on the other hand, well, be prepared.
I found the Springfield Armory XD-M, with the 5.25" barrel, to be soft with the easy ammo, and easily controllable with the heaviest. Accuracy was what I expect from a Springfield pistol, and while it would not be my first choice as a bullseye gun, that has as much to do with the level of recoil as anything else. In a couple of decades of loading 10mm brass, I have found that you simply can’t wear it out with loads held within the pressure specs. I don’t remember ever having to toss a case because of loose primer pockets, and only a few with cracked case mouths. Most of my inventory shrinkage has simply been a matter of “Where did the empties go?” finding them on the range.
The XD-M, having been put through a 10,000-round endurance test, then I suspect none of us will ever come close to wearing one out. (You can watch the complete video if you find you have that much time on your hands.)
Takedown is easy. Unload. Lock the slide back. Remove the magazine. Rotate the disassembly lever up. Release the slide and ease it forward, off of the frame.
The Melonite and polymer construction means you needn’t worry about rain, snow, dirt or dust. And should you fall into a swamp or muddy, silty river, it is easy enough to clean. Oh, one bit of advice to pass on: when I was last in Alaska, I was advised “Most rivers are deeper, faster and colder than you expect.” Falling into a river in Alaska, your biggest and most immediate worry is not “Is my XD-M going to work?” the first thing you need to do it find shelter, warmth and dry clothes. Or you will die.
Failing that, there’s no need to worry about the XD-M protecting you from the bear. The bear will find it easy to deal with your frozen-stiff corpse. You have to be alive to handle the bear problem. If you manage that, then the XD-M is going to do its part. Well, if you practice with it. So, stay warm and dry, stay practiced, and stay alert. Stay with Springfield.
Springfield XD-M 5.25" 10mm SpecsType:
Recoil operated semi-automaticCaliber:
Melonite & polymerSights:
Adjustable rear, fiber optic frontTrigger:
Springfield Armory, (800) 680-6866, Springfield-Armory.com
Springfield XD-M 5.25" 10mm Accuracy Chart