Springfield Armory XDM Elite Compact 10mm Semi-Auto Pistol

by Daniel Congiolosi

January 18th, 2022


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The Internet is truly an amazing place. Nearly all the knowledge known to man kind can be found on the web in one shape or form. Most of us today have a smart phone, and can access these endless bounds of information at any given moment. It is a great learning tool, and can be a great source of entertainment, Unfortunately for every good bit of internet, there is an equal amount of dimwits that really have no business talking about anything. Thus is especially true in the gun world and if you spend enough time online reading supposed "Gun writers" or watching YouTube videos of supposed "Guns guys", its enough to drive anyone with a lick of common sense or knowledge up the wall, and make them want to toss their iPhone out the window of a moving car, or for the older generation, throw their 40 pound computer monitor out of a second story window.

Unfortunately one of the subjects that has been making the rounds by gun guys who shouldn't be allowed to butter their own bread, especially here in Alaska, is the 10mm auto. I couldn't tell you how many times I've overheard at the gun counter that the 10mm is every bit as powerful as the 44 magnum, but holds more ammo, or how it penetrates better then a 45/70, and my personal favorite, "you can fire 16 rounds on target in 3 seconds with this Glock 20 bro". Most of it is a giant steaming pile of buffalo chips, but people who trust the "experts" eat this up like a fat kid gobbling candy canes off the Christmas tree.

Hearing and reading over and over again about how the 10mm will smoke the 44 mag ballistically has left a bitter taste in my mouth towards the 10mm, because I know for a fact it can't even compare to heavy 44 mag loads. Add the fact that the 44 magnum is my favorite handgun cartridge, and one might even go as far as saying I was butt hurt over the whole ordeal, and steered clear of anything 10mm for quite some time.

As fate would have it though, I recently broke my abstinence from the 10mm while on the hunt for a new carry gun. For going on 4 years now I have carried a Ruger LWC 45 ACP when I was home from working, and could carry a gun. This gun is outfitted with a set of gorgeous elk stag grips from my late friend David Alsup, and has ridden comfortably on my hip in a DEFCON3 holster from Simply Rugged Holsters. However I recently switched jobs, and new job does not have a Zero-tolerance firearm policy like my old job. I always feel bad dragging my beautiful and beloved 1911 through the mud and dirt at work, so I decided it was time to go on the hunt for a new carry gun. I wasn't necessarily looking for another 45 ACP, but I did know I didn't want a 9mm.

When I was a younger man I knew an old Vietnam vet that had served in the Marines. "Harb" was a tough old bird, and as mean as they come, but he enjoyed talking guns, so every once in awhile he would get over his intolerance for people and venture out to find someone to BS with. I had just gotten a Glock G26 9mm and pulled it out to show Harb. I can't use the language from the explosion of rage that came from his man when he saw me pull that 9mm from its holster, but I can say the words he used would have made the toughest sailor blush. After aggressively asking me if it was a 9mm, Harb slammed that Glock down on the table with enough force to dent the solid wood table, stood up and ripped his shirt open to reveal several scars on his chest, and proceeded to tell me with the same level of color and aggression that those scars were from a 9mm and he had still kicked the guy's butt. Turns out Harb had been caught sleeping with the mans wife, and the poor fellow had decided to empty a single stack Smith and Wesson 9mm into Harb's chest.

That demonstration and story has stuck with me, and every time I pick up a 9mm I just can't shake the through of an angry and naked Harb charging me down while I have this wimpy pea shooter in my hands. Sure, I know better. Modern loads and bullets have come a long way since old Harb absorbed those rounds of ball ammo, but I still can't help but shake it, and have just never been able to bring myself to carry a 9mm. Plus being in Alaska, I have to deal with much bigger critters who want to eat me, or stomp on me. So that limited my hunt for a new carry gun down to another 45 ACP, or a snobby revolver.

I was actually in the gun shop for something else the day the Springfield caught my eye. Naturally I couldn't help but wonder past the gun counter and check out its contents. I handled a few things, and then the shop owner just handed me the pistol and wondered off to help another customer. It was love at first sight. I've never cared for compact guns, but the Springfield XDm Elite fit my hand like a glove. I turned it over and noticed stamped into the side of the slide "10mm". I cycled it, tried the trigger, and continued to fondle it until the shop owner got back to me. "When did you get these in" I asked. He replied that he had gotten 20 of them in 3 days before, and I was holding the last one. He didn't have to tell me twice. I gave him enough cash to hold it for me till payday, and impatiently awaited being able to bring the new toy home.

So, let's talk some facts about the 10mm. A common misconception I hear is that that 10mm Auto was developed following the chaos of the 1986 Miami FBI shootout, and that is not correct information. Jeff Cooper actually invented the 10mm by cutting down 30 Remington cases. Norma developed the first factory ammo that was actually a bit hotter then the Colonel's original concept, and the 10mm automatic was born in 1983. In 1989 the FBI adopted the 10mm Automatic, but then decided that the recoil was too much for their agents, and this lead to the development of the FBI loading, which was a lightened 10mm load, NOT a hotter load like is often conveyed by the dweebs behind the gun counter. Smith and Wesson realized they could meet the lowered power level in a shorter case that would fit in a 9mm sized guns and the 40 S&W was born. Original 10mm loadings pushed a 200gn bullet around 1260 FPS from a 5" barrel. This put the power level between the 357 magnum, and the 41 magnum, NOT above the 44 magnum. Chambered first in the Bren Ten pistols, the 10mm probably would have died an early death after the company making the Bren Ten went bankrupt, had it not been for Colt and their 1911-based Delta Elite pistols. Smith and Wesson followed suit with 10mm pistols in the late 80s, and in 1991 Glock brought out their Model 20 which has developed a bit of a cult like following. I don't remember the 10mm Auto being very popular for most of my life, but it seems to have gained a lot of popularity in recent years.

Now, let's talk about the new Springfield XDM Elite 10mm compact. Manufactured in Croatia, Springfield brought the XD series pistols to the US market in 2002, followed by the XDM variant in 2008. In 2018 Springfield released the first XDM 10mm. The Springfield XD series won American rifleman "Pistol of the year" in 2003 and 2006, and the XDM won that title in 2009. In late September of 2021 Springfield released the new XDM Elite compact 10mm. This pistol comes from the factory optics ready, and can also be had with the HEX Dragonfly red dot sight from the factory. I opted for the plain iron sighted version since I doubt I would ever carry the gun with the dot anyway.

Speaking about optics ready, let's talk about the pistol's features. It comes in a plain cardboard box with the usual lock and papers. I'm not one to keep gun boxes, so it promptly went in the trash. The pistol does come with a nylon carrying case that's actually pretty nice, as well as 2 mags, 3 back straps, and 2 extra magazine base pads. Out of the box my pistol was fit with a magwell and the small back strap. I took the mag well off since I won't be doing any speed reloads when the bottom of my hand hangs well past the bottom of the grip and into the magwell anyway, and it's more comfortable in the hand without it. The mags came with the +1 base pads installed so that they would work with the magwell, however there are 2 flush fit base pads in the box, but they don't work with the magwell without excessive force. I have large hands, and usually prefer a hand filling grip, but found that the medium and small back straps were the only ones that were really comfortable, and settled on the medium one for myself. The biggest one seems to change the grip angle a bit, and my friends who shoot Glocks all preferred the largest back strap.

The pistol has interesting sights, with a white outlined U sight on the back and a red fiber optic on the front. I usually prefer just plain flat black sights on pistols, but actually kind of like these sights for the intended purposes and find them very easy to shoot both fast and accurately. The trigger on my pistol is quite good for an out of the box striker fired pistol, breaking as a very consistent 4 lb. The trigger has a bit of take up, and then a nice wall with a clean even break, unlike the progressively heavier and squishy triggers found on many other striker fired pistols. Reset is fairly short, with a solid reset click. Although the trigger pull is still a bit longer then what I would like it does have a built in over travel stop. One thing I will say, is that I often have trouble with short stroking triggers on Glocks, or pistols like the Smith & Wesson VD series pistols, I have not had a single issue with short stroking the trigger on this gun. I hate long, squishy, heavy triggers, but I find Springfield META trigger in this pistol very usable. I'm not really familiar with flat face triggers, but actually really like the way this trigger feels on my finger.

The pistol also has a loaded chamber indicator and a cocked striker indicator. Why the cocked striker indicator? Heck if I know, but it's there. The loaded chamber indicator is pretty standard hardware on most guns now, although I personally prefer a witness notch and press check anyway, but the indicator on this gun is not overly large and obnoxious like it is on some guns. I suppose the indicator could be useful in the dark if you wanted to feel for it, and I suppose you could probably also feel it while the gun is holstered if the holster was cut out in the front like many are these days.

One thing I did like about this pistol is that it has ambidextrous slide stop and magazine release. Now, before we go any further let's clear something up. You will get your tactical Timmys and Jeff Cooper wannabes that will tell you that the slide "Stop" is not made to release the slide, and to that I would argue that if that was the case, there would be no reason to make the slide stop/release ambidextrous. People have been using the slide release function since the dawn of semiautomatic handguns, and I don't predict that everyone will stop anytime soon. Now, that being said, let's talk about the slide stop on the XDM elite. The slide stop only catches on the left side of the slide, and then for a lack of a better term has a wishbone shape that goes forward, pivots on the trigger pivot pin, and then back down the other side. This design has too much flex, and with a empty mag in the gun you can not release the slide from the right hand side, since it flexes and does not drop the other side of the mechanism where it latches onto the slide. Without a mag in the gun, or with a fresh loaded magazine in the gun, the slide release does function, but still has noticeable flex if operated from the right side.

Now let's talk about the mags. The mag bodies are 10 round bodies, but with the extended base pad they hold 11 rounds. The springs on these magazines are the stiffest magazine springs I have ever dealt with by a long shot. Too stiff in my opinion. It appears as if they shoved standard size XD springs into the compact mags, and even in full size magazines I would argue that the springs are nearly twice as heavy as they need to be. This makes loading the magazines more difficult, although not impossible, but some people do struggle with loading pistol magazines. It also makes changing the base pads kind of a pain, and also adds to the issue of the slide release since trying to compress that heavy spring is what causes flex in the slide release.

One other thing I noticed about this gun is the length of the slide rails in the frame. Most polymer pistols I've messed with all have very short rails on the frame for the slide to ride on. This is not the case with the XDM Elite. The front frame rail is 1.3" of steel that is held into the frame with 2 pins, and also serves as the recoil block and feed ramp. The rear rails are 1.2" in length and part of the molded Polymer frame. I actually like this design much better then that standard little still tabs found on many polymer pistols. I did test the strength of this system by leaving the gun outside at 40 below for several hours and then shooting full bore "bear loads" through it figuring if anything was gonna crack the frame, that would do it, and it shows no signs of failure and performed flawlessly.

Let's talk about this gun's only real competition for a minute, the Glock 29. For a long time if you wanted a polymer pistol in 10mm, Glock was your only option. The Glock 29 is Glock's compact/subcompact size 10mm. I am not a Glock fan at all, but for sake of comparison I got my hands on a Glock 29 Gen 4. These two guns are very similarly sized, with the XDM being 7.04" long at the longest point and 5.04" tall at the tallest point, and the Glock 6.81" long and 4.37" long, both guns without magazines. This difference in height is noticeable since has a shorter grip, making for a very uncomfortable grip in my hand. I hate the finger grooves on Glocks, and have promptly sanded them off of every Glock I've personally owned. Unfortunately with the short grip on the 29, the middle of my ring finger hits right on top of the lowest finger groove, causing a uncomfortable and awkward grip. The XDM grim is big enough to get two full fingers on the grip, and once my pinky is wrapped around the bottom of the magazine, it makes for a comfortable and firm grip. The slide and grip on the XDM are both slightly thinner then the Glock, and the grip more rounded out instead of the 2x4 grip on the Glock making for a much more comfortable feeling gun. Fully loaded with 12 rounds of 180gn rounds the XDM weights in at 2lb 4.2oz, compared to the Glock loaded with 11 rounds which weights 2lb 3.1oz. Of course the glock has a much more aftermarket support, and you can get +1 or 2 base pads for the 29 pretty easy. One more note while we are talking about the Glock. The Gen 4 does have a reversible magazine release, but not truly ambidextrous. The slide stop on the Glock is practically useless since it sits so close to the slide its very hard to actually apply pressure to it with a thumb, or for us left handed guys, forefinger.

Since we are comparing to other guns real quick, let's compare a couple other things. I'm not gonna go over the height and length of the other guns since they are all full size guns, but we will compare weight. The first is a Springfield XDM 10mm full size with threaded barrel. Fully loaded with 16 rounds, without a optic on it it weights in at 2lb 8.9oz. The second is a Colt Delta Elite. It's fully loaded weight with 9 rounds is 2lb 12.2oz. The last gun is the gun that has faithfully rode on my hip for several years, my beloved Ruger Light Weight commander in 45. I carry this gun with 9 rounds in it, and using 230gn ball ammo it weighs in at 2lb 5.3 oz, so just about 1 ounce heavier than the XDM. This is not a big deal, however the 1911, even in the commander sized gun, is significantly bigger than the XDM compact. Although the 1911 is known for being thin, The XDM compact is actually thinner in the grip then my Ruger 1911 with its thick hand filling grips, and the same width as the Delta Elite with its thin rubber grips.

Now, let's get down to the meat of the subject. The part everyone's been waiting for. How does it shoot? Townsend Whelen once said that "Only accurate guns are interesting" and I tend to hold true to that assessment. Guns that don't shoot well don't stay around here long, and that includes pistols. The good news is that this little pistol shoots well all the way around. For starters, it was much easier to control then I thought it would be. I have a Glock G22 and I find the XDM 10mm to be less snappy and easier to get back on target then the 40 S&W in the full size gun. I'm not going to say that this is a beginner friendly gun. It still has significant recoil compared to a similar sized gun in 9mm or even 45 ACP. But as someone with experience with hard recoiling guns, I found the 10mm easy to manage, similar to a 357 magnum in a 4" gun loaded with standard 158gn loads. I had no problems getting all hits on a 10" target as fast as I could shoot the gun at 10 yards.

As far as accuracy goes, this pistol was nothing short of impressive. I did most of my accuracy testing from a rest at 15 yards in temperatures of 42 below 0. As hard as I tried, it's hard to keep a gun steady in temps that cold while wearing gloves thick enough to keep hands warm in that weather. Regardless, I was able to do some very impressive shooting from the gun. I tested 10 loads off of the bench firing 5 round groups. The best group was fired with 180gn Sig V Crown ammo and measured just .22" center to center. I actually thought that had to be a fluke, but I had a second group with that same ammo that measured .27" center to center, which is pretty impressive. The average group size across all loads came to 1.27" center to center, which is more then acceptable to me for this gun and considering the fact that it was 40 below out which really takes the fun out of shooting. I also burned some rounds off at 50 yards off hand, and although nothing to write home about I had no issue keeping all rounds on target.

I did test 2 heavy "bear" loads and was impressed by the accuracy of the 220gn Grizzly Hard cast lead load, which gave me a average group size of 1.00". Unfortunately one issue with testing guns and ammo in the winter in Alaska is the lack of sunshine, meaning I can't chronograph loads. Ive been meaning to build a light box to put the chronograph in, but haven't gotten around to it. Either way, Grizzly claims 1200 FPS from a full size gun with that load which is a pretty stiff load. The gun handled the load fine, and shot it very well.

While on the subject of velocity, out of all the 180gn loads I have, the fastest one advertised shows a velocity of 1,117, which is quite a bit of a down play from the original 200 grain at 1260 FPS.

Overall I give the gun 9 out of 10. There are a couple small things I would change, like the slide release and the magazine springs, but over all I think they did a great job on the pistol, and it's worlds better then its closest competitor, in my opinion. During my testing I fired a little over 400 rounds through the gun. No cleaning, no nothing, just took it out of the box and started shooting it, and I have had zero issues with it. I've had lots of other guns not work 100% or even at all in the cold, and the XDM compact didn't even hiccup which is a big deal to me. The gun has performed absolutely flawlessly and I couldn't be happier with it. In fact, it might be the first plastic gun I've owned that I actually like.

Daniel Congiolosi

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Click pictures for a larger version.







XDM magazine spring (left) compared to Glock 20 (right).



Size comparison: Springfield Armory XDM Elite (top left), Glock 29 Gen 4 (top right), Springfield Armory XDM (bottom).



Size comparison: Glock 29 Gen 4 (top), Springfield Armory XDM Elite (bottom).



Size comparison (top to bottom): Springfield Armory XDM, Colt Delta Elite, Glock 29 Gen 4, Springfield Armory XDM Edite.