First Look! Springfield Armory XDM Optical Sight 9mm Pistol (OSP). Full Review.

The author puts the new XD(M) OSP, equipped with a Vortex Venom reflex sight through its paces on the range.

The author puts the new XD(M) OSP, equipped with a Vortex Venom reflex sight, through its paces on the range.

For more information, visit http://www.springfield-armory.com/.

To purchase an XDon GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=Springfield%20OSP

It seems that the only constant at Springfield Armory is change. Perhaps the better word is adaptation – those incremental changes that a smart company makes to ensure their products are what consumers want. And right now, consumers want red-dot optics on their pistols. It might be driven by watching top pro shooters with slide-mounted optics on their race guns, or it might be driven by campfire stories of handgun hunting. I have a hunch that it is simply driven by advancement and affordability of new technology – simply put, we want red dots on our handguns just because we can. Springfield Armory is answering the call early on by offering a new version of their time-proven and hugely popular XDM pistol. It is called the OSP, for “Optical-Sight Pistol.”

Springfield Armory XDM OSP Slide1

Springfield Armory XDM OSP slide2

Springfield Armory OSP Slide3The first configuration of the XDM OSP being offered to market by Springfield is the workhorse 4.5” full-sized gun in 9mm. This makes perfect sense in the marketplace, because the full grip and duty-length-plus barrel combined with the legendary and industry leading 19+1 capacity, along with the ubiquitous 9mm cartridge, make this pistol ready for competition right out of the box. This is a rock-solid design to build on, with a devoted following and fan base. The gun even comes equipped with the Vortex Venom 3 MOA red-dot sight, but you will also be able to opt out of that option and buy the pistol optic-ready without the optic. Suggested retail with the Vortex is $979. That drops to $724 without it.

The slide is specially milled to accommodate the footprint of today’s common red dot sights, which thankfully have all seemed to settle into a very similar dimension. Until now, if you wanted to mount an electronic sight on your favorite match gun it meant a long stay at your gunsmith so that the slide could be carefully retrofit to accept it. That’s labor intensive work even with the best equipment, and meant a significant investment in the gun. Modern production and CNC capabilities at the factory can roll these modified versions out with just a modest increase in price at the gun counter. That’s a huge win for handgun enthusiasts of all kinds.

The XDM OSP uses three adapter plates to accommodate a number of popular reflex sights. The Melonite cover is used when no optic is mounted.

The XDM OSP uses three adapter plates to accommodate a number of popular reflex sights. The Melonite cover is used when no optic is mounted.

Image courtesy of Springfield Armory.

The ability to easily fit a reflex sight to the pistol really adds the XD(M)’s adaptability. Image courtesy of Springfield Armory.

The pistol ships with a steel cover (finished in Melonite to match the slide) and three adaptor plates to fit a range of reflex sights. These allow the use of the Vortex Venom; Burris FastFire II and FastFire III; Leupold DeltaPoint, DeltaPoint Pro and JPoint; and the Trijicon RMR. Keeping the finished cover in place if an optic is not mounted is highly recommended to protect the fine machine threads underneath. Besides, it looks much better that way. But chances are that you’ll want to mount an optic on it right away – especially if your XDM   came with the Vortex Venom.

Mounting an Optic

The Burris FastFire III optic mounted perfectly for the author.

The Burris FastFire III optic mounted perfectly for the author.

Getting the Vortex Venom or another optic mounted on the pistol is just a matter of performing a few steps. All the tools required are provided with the pistol and the optic – but if you have more robust tools you might want to use them. Start by removing the protective cover, and carefully setting the screws aside. These aren’t likely to be found at your local big-box home supply store – so don’t lose them. After having determined which adapter plate you need for the optic you’re mounting, do a dry fit to be sure it easily fits on the slide and also on the optic. Fasten the adapter plate into the slide cutout and tighten securely – a dab of thread lock (removable) is recommended. Next, simply mount the optic onto the adapter plate using the screws supplied with the optic. Again, some thread lock is recommended, as is a snug fit – but be careful not to overtighten. Check with the optic manufacturer’s literature for recommended torque. Remember that most of these optics housings are aluminum or similar alloy and can be damaged by over-tightening.

Why Use a Red-Dot Optic?

The mounting process is simple, and all the necessary tools are provided.

The mounting process is simple, and all the necessary tools are provided.

There are many reasons to put an electronic optic on a handgun. Competitors will tell you that there is an advantage of both time and accuracy, and for that reason there are many rules about if and when you can use them in the shooting sports. Hunters will offer the same rationale. But although competitors and handgun hunters are numerous, their numbers alone don’t account for the current surge in popularity and demand for optics-ready pistols. Before the manufacturers are willing to spend R&D money and invest in additional milling time at the factory, they need to feel confident that the market will be there to make that investment pay off. And judging by the number of handguns offering the red-dot-ready configuration, the market must be pretty strong. The shooting sports has always been the proving ground for innovation and practicality for gun modifications, in the same way that motorsports has been for automotive improvements. Much of the R&D work for mounting optics on pistols was done at the competitor’s (or sponsor’s) expense by having gunsmiths do the custom milling and figure out ways to mount better optics and sights on their guns. But it’s not just a matter of having a slide that’s ready to accept it – the optics have to be readily available too. And that second piece is what is driving the current frenzy to put a red-dot on pistols. The technology of optical sights has progressed and stabilized enough to make them smaller, lighter, more reliable, and most importantly – affordable. For under $200 you can purchase one of a number of available red-dot sights from several reputable manufacturers – and this is driving up demand. Springfield Armory makes the Vortex Venom an in-the-box option for the XDM OSP, but you can choose nearly any similar product on the market from Burris to Trijicon and attach it to your new pistol.

When an optic is not is use, keep the cover plate on to protect the internals of the mount.

When an optic is not in use, keep the cover plate on to protect the internals of the mount.

The cover plate protects fine machine threads and the somewhat delicate spring of the loaded chamber indicator.

The cover plate protects fine machine threads and the somewhat delicate spring of the loaded chamber indicator.

But back to why red-dot sights are useful. You may say, “that’s great, but I’m not using my gun for competition. I use it for personal protection.” And I will argue back that if you find yourself in need of that gun for that purpose – you are absolutely competing. You are competing with an assailant for the highest prize of all – your life or the life of a loved one. Hmm, now all of a sudden watching Rob Leatham decrease his split times on a square range by using a red-dot starts to draw some real-life parallels, eh? And it’s not just for the nightstand. More and more holster makers are accommodating mounted optics on carry-sized handguns. Law enforcement and military applications also continue to grow. I may not be allowed to use a mounted optic in IDPA, but I sure can tell the difference when I use one shooting Steel Challenge! Lastly, there is a big advantage for people with diminished eyesight or those who might wake up at 2 am without their contacts in and have to face a threat. You just put the red dot where the bullet needs to go. And unlike a laser, it is only visible to you.

Image courtesy of Springfield Armory.

Images courtesy of Springfield Armory.

Image courtesy of Springfield Armory.

 The XDM OSP at the Range

Anyone familiar with the XD(M) will be right at home with the XD(M) OSP. All the controls and features are the same, just now with the ability to mount a reflex optic.

Anyone familiar with the XD(M) will be right at home with the XD(M) OSP. All the controls and features are the same, just now with the ability to mount a reflex optic. Image courtesy of Springfield Armory.

Putting a few hundred rounds into the berm with the XDM OSP was a lot of fun. First and foremost, this is a Springfield Armory XDM in every way. Same grip, same trigger, same match barrel, and same 19-round magazines. After a few test shots and a small adjustment to zero in the sight – which is easily done using the tool provided – I decided to do some testing at 20 yards with a green dot target for maximum contrast to the red dot in the optic. There was some splash visible in the red dot, even at its lowest setting, which is very likely to be the eyes of this shooter and not the sight itself. But this did cause me to “focus” on different parts of the dot from time to time and shoot larger groups than I might have otherwise. Of the three groups I tested, each one demonstrates one concentrated area where I settled into the sight picture.

I find the use of a red-dot more beneficial when I am making transitions from one target to another. I set up two targets, about five yards apart and at different heights, to allow me to put the OSP through its paces. For me, this is the type of shooting where the red-dot really shines. Using a red-dot (or even a projected laser) sight changes your perspective from the traditional front-sight / fuzzy target picture to a target focus with the dot superimposed on it. If you are transitioning between two targets at any significant distance from each other and shooting traditional sights, your eye must change focus from front sight to target and back to front sight again with each transition. When using the OSP, your eyes stay focused on the targets and the red dot is simply seen “on it.” I’m no expert on all of that, but that is why I think I shoot transitions better with optics than I do without.

The optic sits nice and low, but it does not allow a co-witness with the open sights, for those dying to ask.

The optic sits nice and low, but it does not allow a co-witness with the open sights, for those dying to ask.

I also wanted to find out how durable this OSP system would be after an average day of shooting. I went through many brands and power levels of ammunition, and I wanted to see if the Vortex would come loose during use. I did not use any thread lock (though I strongly recommend it be used) on the adapter plate or the Vortex when I mounted it. I wanted to know the stability of the mount without it – and after the day’s shooting it was just as snug as it was when I started. This means that the fit is very well machined. If you have to rely on glue (which is what thread lock really is) for just a few hundred rounds of 9mm then you might have some sloppy parts. Not the case here.

I also wanted to see something else. I have other optic-ready handguns with red-dot sights mounted on them, and they sometimes have a tendency to create impacts between the sight and the ejected brass case. Some are much worse than others, and leave my optic housing very beat up and can even put some marks on the glass. In my opinion, this might be because the angle of ejection is not considered or re-designed when the slide is retro-fit for the optic. This would require the extractor, ejector, and ejector port all to be re-evaluated and that’s a lot more than just making a new slide cut. I was able to notice this impact a couple of times, and my camera also witnessed it. But I am pleased to say that it was rare compared to some others. Springfield Armory also had the additional challenge of working around their “loaded chamber indicator” at the top of the slide, and they managed to do it.

A 10-shot groups at 20 yards with Herter's ammunition.

A 10-shot group at 20 yards with Herter’s ammunition.

A 10-shot group at 20 yards with Sig Elite Performance ammunition.

A 10-shot group at 20 yards with Sig Elite Performance ammunition.

Conclusion

A 10-shot groups= at 20 yards with Remington UMC ammunition.

A 10-shot groups= at 20 yards with Remington UMC ammunition.

The time is coming when buyers are going to demand that every duty sized pistol line have an optic-ready option. I think that time is coming soon. Even for those buyers that might be on the fence about using a mounted optic, purchasing a handgun that is capable of accepting one for just a few dollars more is a smart buy. If you want the Vortex Venom installed and ready to use, it is a good quality reflex sight and not bad at the extra $255. Packaging information and options are yet to be announced, but I slipped the XDM OSP into my existing XDM holster (the one provided with my XDM 5.25”) and it fits perfectly with no interference by the mounted optic. So, backward compatibility to the gear you already own should not be a concern.

Springfield Armory has done an excellent job of adapting their time-proven XDM platform to accept a wide variety of popular reflex sights. Having the option to buy the gun with the sight already on it is a huge plus and should be a popular choice for a lot of consumers. The pistol is slated for release later this month.

For more information, visit http://www.springfield-armory.com/.

To purchase an XDon GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=Springfield%20OSP

The optic mounting plate sticks out slightly on both sides, but the author still found the slide serrations easier to use on the XDM than on Glock or Smith & Wesson M&P with mounted optics.

The optic mounting plate sticks out slightly on both sides, but the author still found the slide serrations easier to use on the XDM than on Glock or Smith & Wesson M&P with mounted optics.

The Vortex Venom that came with the XD(M) OSP tested had a nice rubber cover to protect it between uses.

The Vortex Venom that came with the XD(M) OSP tested had a nice rubber cover to protect it between uses.

The XD(M) OSP is simply the same proven workhorse it has always been, just casting a slightly taller shadow with the ability to accept optics.

The XD(M) OSP is simply the same proven workhorse it has always been, just casting a slightly taller shadow with the ability to accept optics.

 

{ 16 comments… add one }
  • Larry Davis February 17, 2017, 6:30 pm

    I purchased the Springfield 9mm 4.5 with Vortex venom, and was very disappointed that I could not have a second witness. Would I be able to find raised sights from any other vendor? Springfield does not have them. Or, could I purchase a red dot system that was lower that would let me have a co-witness?

    • Bob French April 18, 2017, 7:20 pm

      The Vortex Venom will not co-witness but the Vortex Viper will with suppressor sights.

  • MoBullets August 28, 2016, 11:57 am

    A red dot is not for everyone. And you don’t need a red dot on your handgun if you don’t want it. But to be fair, I don’t need a pickup truck to go the grocery store when a bicycle with a basket will do the same thing, but why wouldn’t I take my truck? A red dot on any gun is a proven effective in every other category of firearms. Handguns are just a little late to the party.

  • Trevor_Phillips August 25, 2016, 12:26 am

    If you need one of these or a red dot you don’t need a pistol.

  • Rod August 21, 2016, 12:00 am

    How many turns of thread engagement do the optic screws get when going into those thin adapter plates? Looks rather delicate.

  • Jack D August 15, 2016, 1:04 pm

    I still prefer the Glock 17, 19 or 34.

    • Memo August 22, 2016, 8:58 am

      Have you tried the XDm OSP? If not, then your opinion is fanboy stuff. What I’d like to see is a Gun Tests style review of the G34 MOS, M&P CORE, and the XDm OSP. All with the same optic(s), same ammo(s), same course(s) of fire, and tested by at least a trio of competent shooters. For me, it’s all about the trigger and the inherent accuracy, subject of course to just how the pistol feels in the hand and points. And I wonder if the XDm will be produced in a ported version…

  • 2old4fun August 15, 2016, 10:00 am

    The possible reason for not selling just the slide, it would expose the value of the rest of the gun. Example, Sig’s P320 frame is $46, the slide,barrel to change caliber is $400 – but the cost of a full weapon is about $500. To the manufacturer, most of the cost is in the machine work of the slide. Also think of the lost revenue between selling a slide vs a new weapon.

  • rob August 15, 2016, 9:48 am

    We run red dots & lights on our rifles, why wouldn’t we on our handguns? As the writer pointed out, I had to send my 4.5 XDm to a smith. PITA but well worth it. What Springfield missed here is the addition of suppressor height sights so when the red dot isn’t there, (bad battery, busted optic…whatever) the shooter still has BUIS to go to.

    • brad January 17, 2017, 3:35 pm

      You nailed it. liken it to a 1987 chevette with a air deflector, hood scoop and racing stripe….man i was cool. Keep it on the range.

  • Chet August 15, 2016, 9:45 am

    It’s tough to find a Venom in stock by itself right now anywhere with the market for red dots these days skyrocketing. Getting it packaged in with this sweet setup might be my ticket to get one! Hard to beat a full lifetime warranty on an electronic item. I was thinking of getting an XD anyway… 🙂 Now to figure out how to explain this to the wife…

  • Carl Mayeaux August 12, 2016, 3:29 pm

    Great article and gun. I wish SA would stock the slide only, for those of us with the non-OSP XDm already. I also wish they would ship with suppressor sights. I’ll still get one when they arrive at my LGS.

    • Bryan Martin August 15, 2016, 7:45 am

      Great review Justin!! Man what a slick pistol. Like Carl who commented before me, I like Springfield’s direction, but for those of us with an existing SA-product, such as my (“Lipsey’s Exclusive” Full-size/9mm/XDm with Factory-threaded-barrel/Suppressor-sights/FDE-frame), we are left wishing we had waited, and with every new iteration by SA, there is NO WAY to obtain “just the part” we need – in my case, I wish that I had “just the slide” of the new OSP. Instead – we need to buy a whole new gun. After SO MANY instances of this very same situation happening to me, or someone I know that owns a SA pistol, it gets harder and harder each time they release a new product to look at it as “just” innovation/change. In fact, it’s happened so many times now that my last sentence should not have been worded “release a new product” – instead, it would be more fitting to say (GET READY) “SA releases same-firearm with a new-feature that you DON’T have, and the new-feature CAN’T be bought by ITSELF to put on your existing SA-pistol you bought after the previous SA-pistol you bought because you wanted the last-new-feature, sooooooooooo….just buy this whole new SA-pistol with the new-feature – and for a (very) short-while you can have an SA-pistol with ALL of the past-new-features plus the new-new-feature(see what I did there?) that you can own and feel good about BECAUSE you think that SA is not going to “innovate” again because if they do “innovate”, you know your gonna have to buy your 8TH or 9TH WHOLE NEW SA-PISTOL”. Yeah, that’s the way I should have worded it. I call it the “circle-of-trying-to-have-the-latest-Croatian-pistol-life”. The sad thing is that the more you think about it, the more truthful it becomes…and would you believe that I actually still love my SA weapons?? RANT-OVER!(mic-drop)😎✌🏼️

      But I did just score a – SigSauer 226 Legion 9MM DA/SA…so things may change. When my eyes beheld that PVD-tinged beauty…when I held that pistol…felt all of that checkered-steel and alloy…racked the slide…felt the tight lockup…pulled that GreyGuns trigger…reset that GreyGuns trigger…decocked that hammer…looked down those Sig X-Ray-Night Sights…When I did those things, I felt shame…shame that I had ever thought a plastic-gun could attempt to fill my heart up with the warm feelings of pride of craftsmanship like I was feeling at that moment. I never drove so fast to an ATM in my life to withdraw the $1248.00 that changed hands faster that the cashier could blink. I was later told as I was buying the ammo, that there was only one of those pistols for sell in the whole southern part of the State that day, and that over 2,500 where backordered. That 1 pistol was mine. Just thought I would share this exceptionally long comment with anyone willing to read it. -Bryan

    • Zorro August 15, 2016, 8:19 am

      A lot late to the party, ho-hum, another 9mm 5 inch pistol with a ridiculous red dot – hmmmmmmmmm lets see that sould make how many in an OVERSATURATED market – good grief …!!!

      • Memo August 22, 2016, 9:04 am

        Saturated like the AR15 market? Like the 1911 market? Like the folding knife market? Like the heavy-duty ice chest (and beverage cup!) market? Like the mobile phone market? Like the UTV market? Look up “Luddite”.

      • newbie January 20, 2017, 5:34 pm

        The more saturated the better the competition (price and quality-wise) the more we win.

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend