Do the upgrades to the Elite make this XD-M model worthy of your holster?!
Springfield Armory introduced the XD-M Elite at SHOT Show 2020 – you know, back when people could be in the same room together. The XD-M line has been around for a long time, but this is an upgrade that jumps the Elite series above the legacy line in two ways. First, it comes in the more universal 9mm, and second, it features a few nice upgrades - all at a very affordable price. More on that later, but let’s start with the gun itself.
The Springfield XD-M has become one of the most popular lines of handguns on the market. It’s great for open or concealed carry, based on the barrel length, and has proven both reliable and fun to shoot.
The new XD-M Elite comes in four configurations: 5.25” Precision for competition shooters, 4.5” OSP Threaded Barrel tactical version, and 3.8” and 4.5” base models. Now, when I say base model, don’t mistake that for boring. Even the lowest-priced models have a ton of features.
Springfield sent me both the short and long barrel base models to try. The first thing I noticed was that the frames of both guns are identical. The only difference between the Elite models is the barrel length, similar to the new Sig Sauer M17 and M18 that won the military’s modular handgun contract. The frames are completely interchangeable.
The first thing I noticed was the large grips on both guns, thick for maximum grip, and longer than most to accommodate the 20-round magazines. Springfield also has 22-round magazines available for the Elite that are compatible with 9mm standard XD-M pistols. The large grips proved valuable on the range, making recoil management a breeze. Three interchangeable backstraps are included for various hand sizes.
While the XD-Ms have curved triggers, the Elite trigger is more of a flat-face style with a rolling break and a trigger pull of around 5 pounds straight out of the box.
The Elite features beefy aggressive slide serrations on the front and back, a highly visible U sight on the rear with a red fiber optic in front, and a visible striker position indicator sticking out the back. It also features truly ambidextrous controls since the spring inside the grip is positioned in the middle of the mag well rather than the side, so no flipping buttons required.
If red is not your fiber optic color of choice, Springfield includes a piece of green filament and instructions for a DIY sight color swap. Only the takedown lever is left side only.
For trifold safety, the XD-M Elite integrates a trigger safety, internal drop safety, and an upgrade to their signature grip safety with a tactile bump on the bottom. I’m not a big 1911-style fan, but if you are, you’ll feel right at home. As much as I thought I wouldn’t like it, I didn’t even really think much about the entire grip safety system once I started shooting.
Speaking of which…
As mentioned above, the XD-M Elite comes with two 20-round magazines – a big advantage over most other guns in it's class. Among three of us shooting at an impromptu range day both versions (for science, of course), we blew through over 400 each of Fiocchi 116 grain FMJ and Black Hills 124 grain JHP+P rounds down both barrels with zero, zip, nada malfunctions. Of course, the mag springs were a bit stiff at first, but they loosened up after a few reloads.
Speaking of reloading, the Elite has a flared magwell for easy mag changes. This upgrade lived up to the hype, making my mag changes quick and seamless.
Both guns shot very flat, with minimal felt recoil thanks to the weight and the grips. The grip texture was not too aggressive but aggressive enough to maintain good control, and the red fiber optic front sight stood out for easy target acquisition. Despite the barrel length difference, the smaller gun shot just as accurately as its larger brother. If someone blindfolded me at the range – hypothetically, of course – and told me to shoot both, I’m not sure I could distinguish which was which.
Overall, I really like the Springfield XD-M Elite. It ran solid and felt good in the hands, with sure grips and easy recoil management. There are only two things that really bugged me about it, both of which are relatively minor and would not dissuade me from owning one, but worth noting, nonetheless.
First, if Springfield is going to call this gun “Elite,” even the base models should have an OSP option. Heck, the Hellcat comes with a slide mounting plate! The addition of a plate to this gun would really round out an impressive list of features.
Second, Springfield calls the Elite 3.8” version a “CCW-ready package” on their website but the grip length, although impressive from a capacity perspective, sticks out way too much for my liking. Plus, the mag well would print way too easily. It’s a great shooting gun, but if I’m looking for a concealed carry option from Springfield, the Hellcat is a better option.
After spending the day at the range with them, I can say the Springfield XD-M Elite is a terrific striker-fired pistol. Reliable, fun to shoot, and priced below a lot of its competition at $559, it's a great option if you're looking for a competition or concealed carry firearm!
David Workman is an avid gun guy and a contributing writer to several major gun publications. In addition to being an NRA-certified RSO, David trains new shooters on basic handgun skills and CCW requirements and is a strong advocate for training as much as you possibly can. “Real life shootouts don’t happen at a box range.”
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