The Springfield Armory XD(M) 5.25 is yet another category of handgun that they have raised the bar on. World Champion shooter Rob Leatham helped designed this built for competition pistol. It has a longer sight radius and weighs the same as the XD(M) 4.5.
All of the XD(M) features are present on the 5.25, with added features specifically for competition shooting.
The XD(M) line of pistols are an extremely good value and I would argue are unsurpassed in quality and reliability.
The adjustable rear sight is held by a pin that is held down in a machined slot in the slide. Out of the box you get the lowest profile sight possible, and it is of the highest quality for competition shooters.
Springfield is able to match the weight of the XD(M) 4.5 with the 5.25 by machining out a slot in the slide. Organizational rules allow this specifically in approved production guns. The fiber optic front sight is also specifically allowed in most competition, even those designated as iron sights.
The fiber optic enhanced red dot is much easier to pick up than a standard blade or even three dot “Novak” type configurations.
I was able to shoot this new XD(M) better than any pistol I have ever shot. This was my average group at 25 feet, just around an inch. A competitive shooter could do much better I’m sure.
This XD(M) comes with all of the standard case candy of the XD(M) line, including a holster, magazine holster, extra 19 round magazine and grip inserts for different sized hands.
The XD(M) holsters are not some cheapo Chinese knock offs created as an afterthought. Springfield revolutionized the concept of case candy with their XD Gear and the holster is made in the same factory as the gun and fits it perfectly. You can open the box on your XD(M) 5.25, go practice with it for a couple weeks and step right into competition.
Changing the way you think about polymer pistols is not an easy task, but this is exactly the goal of the new Springfield Armory XD(M) 5.25. They have taken the world class XD(M) design and matched it with new features designed specifically for competition shooters. Designed by the Springfield Armory team and world champion shooter Rob Leatham, the XD(M) 5.25 is everything you could want in a competition pistol out of the box. At some point they will release a tactical version, but this first 5.25 was made to be on the cutting edge of what you expect from a target and competition pistol. It is made to change your view of what a polymer pistol can be.
“Usually when the shooters and the competitive shooting community design a new gun it gets watered down by the marketing guys,” explains world champion Springfield Armory shooter Rob Leatham. “With this gun we started two years ago with a list of criteria that I felt were absolutely required for an out of the box competition pistol and I got everything I asked for. This gun is a game changer. I have been shooting the prototypes for some time now and they have not only eliminated my production class pistols. I am using this 5.25 for some Limited class events as well, and it has even taken the place of some of my 1911s. ”
Built for Competition
Serious competitors need every advantage that they can get. Springfield Armory has addressed many of them with the 5.25 in a give and take that satisfies most of the requirements to shoot in the major shooting organizations. The barrel is five and a quarter inches, right below the NRA barrel length limit, and once they have 2,000 guns made they will be able to get it on the USPSA list of approved pistols. Until now Springfield Armory has fielded both a 5” regular XD and a 4.5” XD(M) for competition, and both are popular, but this 5.25 XD(M) provides all the advantages of the M series with the longest slide length possible, at the weight of the XD(M) 4.5 inch gun.
If you are unfamiliar with the advantages to longer barrel and slide, it isn’t complicated. The longer slide gives you what is called a longer “sight radius” which is the distance between the front and rear sights. If you think as your rear sight as a pivot point in the middle of a circle, and your front sight as a swing arm making an arc as you aim, that line from the middle of the circle to the edge is called a radius (bringing back High School geometry).
The greater distance between the two sights translates to a longer spread out on the outside of the imaginary circle, and a finer level of control over where you aim. The closer the sights are together, the coarser is your ability to aim. Finer is better because it is more forgiving of error. In the quickness of competition pistol shooting, even a small increase in sight radius can add up to a significant advantage in hits on the target.
A longer barrel translates into more space for the powder to burn behind the bullet before it exits. Competition loads for serious competitors involve what is called a “power floor.” They generally load the heaviest bullet possible with the fastest burning powder at the slowest allowable speed to reduce recoil and muzzle flash. A slightly longer 5.25 inch barrel gives you an extra 30 feet per second or so out of the same load with a shorter 4.5 or 5 inch barrel, with the same recoil and less muzzle flash. This is generally the margin over the floor that competitors try for when cooking up their ideal loads, so it brings up the performance of your loads that meet the specs of the rules..
The downside to a longer barrel and slide are that with the extra length and weight the slide slows down and isn’t as “snappy” shot to shot, which can throw off your timing when you are shooting against the clock. One of Rob’s goals in creating the 5.25 was to make it feel like a much smaller gun, and the result is a gun that has the sight radius and barrel length advantages of the 5.25 at the weight of the 4.5. There is a large port in the top of the slide that is legal for competition.
“The 5.25” XD(M) is three quarters of an inch longer than the 4.5 and it weighs the same,” explains Rob. “You can’t not shoot it better. Believe it or not, the hardest thing with designing a competition pistol is to get it to shoot light and frangible loads reliably and well. This gun will shoot loads at the power floor with frangible bullets without having to change springs or alter the slide. Out of the box it does what you need it to do, and it does it well.”
The other major feature on the 5.25 is its adjustable sights. The first thing most competitors do when they get a new gun is bang out the sights in the dovetail and replace them with a Bo-Mar design, at a cost of up to $250. The replacements are big, bulky, sit “on top” of the gun, and they are prone to snag.
The 5.25 sights are integral. The pin that holds the sight leaf is held in the frame itself. This results in a sight that is as low profile as can be. There is no dovetail, so you can’t change it, but fortunately you won’t want to. All XDs point as if they are an extension of your hand, and this “down in the gun” adjustable sight lines up just as naturally as the gun does.
“Most adjustable sights are too bulky and they snag and break,” says Rob. “In competition you are inevitably going to want to go from a 115 grain bullet to a 147 grain and back again, depending on type of match, and that means a different point of impact at 25 yards. The sights on the 5.25 are so compact that they don’t snag on things, and that makes them less likely to break. Out of the box you get sights that adjust easy, that are repeatable, and that you will never want to replace.”
The front sight on the 5.25 contains a fiber optic insert. This has become a standard for nearly all competitors these days and the rules even on iron sight and production pistols specifically allow them. Combined with the low profile adjustable rear sight, the 5.25 is as close to ideal as you could ask for if you are stepping into competition for the first time, or have decided to up your game to compete with the champs.
If you are already a champ, even at the local or regional level, the 5.25 might be the gun that is in the hand of the next guy knocking on your numbers and you might want to give it a try. The first guns that come into production are reportedly going into shooting ranges as rental guns and will not be available for sale to the public, so everyone can have a chance to try them.
I Got to Shoot One First!
I was actually able to shoot this 5.25 you see in the pictures. It is one of very few that have been made as test guns and I was able to have it for all of one range trip before it needed to move on to the next reviewer. These are my thoughts.
Overall I have to qualify this by saying that I find the XD(M) line from Springfield Armory to be as fine a handgun as money can buy in today’s gun world. If you find a gun that you feel is its equal, fine. Most likely it will be more expensive and I doubt that it will be better in even one category compared to the XD(M). You may prefer a different type of action than a striker fired pistol, and I actually prefer a hammer fired pistol myself, but for reliability and overall quality, there is no gun better than the XD(M) in my perhaps not as humble as it should be opinion.
All of the standard XD(M) features are present on the 5.25. It has the extremely short reset (I have measured this at .1 inches), the crisp and clean trigger pull with no drag, the cocked indicator, the grip safety (that always disengages correctly despite what you read from naggarts on the internet), the aggressive grip surfaces, the good looks and the flawless reliability that works no matter how you hold the gun or what ammunition you use. I hate to repeat this for every XD(M) article I write, but as long as Springfield keeps raising the bar in so many new classes of pistol, I will be forced to.
The problem for me as a reviewer is that the 5.25 was made for a world that I am not a part of. The only competitions I have shot have been SASS, which is cowboy action shooting, and I don’t actually have a competitive bone in my body. I have never even been to a USPSA competition, which is the organization you see the most on TV, and the one that made shooters like Rob Leatham actual stars. I was so ignorant to the talking points on this gun that I had to ask Rob what the cutout in the slide is for, and I had no idea that no other polymer pistol had come out with an adjustable sight fit for competitive use.
I did love the balance and feel of this new XD(M), and I guess it is the sight radius that made me shoot it better than I have ever shot a pistol. I repeatedly shot into around an inch at 25 feet. The adjustable sight has positive clicks and feels like a high quality device when you use it. Rob Leatham is perhaps the greatest shooter of our time, and I think if you could hear the excitement in his voice talking about this gun I think you would want to run out and buy one as I did (yes I’m buying one).
“You don’t expect to write up a wish list and get everything on your list,” he said. Two years after I first envisioned it, that is exactly what he 5.25 turned out to be. When you buy an off the rack bicycle today it is a totally different bike than you bought even ten years ago. The reason for that is that the competition bike guys (and girls) told the manufacturers what they wanted, and they got it, then those features filtered down into the production bikes. That is what we have here. Custom competition pistols have been winning these matches for years, and finally we have some of those features, like a great adjustable sight, a front fiber optic sight, a lightened yet reliable side, and match accuracy, in an out of the box production gun. This is a gun that is so adaptable you are going to want to adapt to it, no matter what you are shooting now. The XD(M) 5.25 is going to change what you expect from a polymer pistol.”