This week, I finally got my hands on a long-overdue sample from the all new XDM Elite line up of guns. Released around 10 months ago, these new guns are additions to the best selling XDM family, with some very nice generational upgrades. The Elite series is pretty much everything you would add from the aftermarket to an XDM, configured at the factory, and with a price that won’t break the bank.
The XDM series has always been a bit of a dark horse contender, at least in certain circles. It never really caught steam with the LE or Mil market, though I do know a lot of military guys that had them for personal use. Springfield Armory has sold an absolute metric ton of them, don’t get me wrong. But you just tended not to see them on the USPSA/ 3 Gun Circuit, or with as big of an aftermarket as the other plastic fantastic of the same era, such as Glock or Smith and Wesson. Which is a shame, because I have found the XDM guns to be remarkably accurate. Not to mention tough as nails. The Elite series is primed to correct this, but first, what happened?
I blame the initial reception on Springfield Armory’s marketing department. They never really pushed the XDM line that hard, or defended it in the public eye. So it became fashionable to clown on the lineup and join the cool kids’ table with your Austrian 4×4. The second massive failing was pushing the perception of what is roll stamped on the side, HS Produkt- made in Croatia. (That isn’t a typo, its how they spell it.)
For some reason, people in the United States think Croatia is some backwater Soviet Bloc nation, with peasant women riding goats to the market to trade beans for vodka or some such nonsense. Which is absurd, because Croatia is as first-world as it gets. The same customers that would get hot and bothered about a Czech CZ-75 treat a Croatian gun like they would a 1977 vintage Lada sedan.
Which is absolutely insane, not least of which because the Soviet Union dissolved 30 years ago. A lot has changed since then, former bloc nations have evolved. And Eastern Europeans in general take their manufacturing very seriously. If you want high-quality strength training equipment, it may very well have a ‘made in Bulgaria’ stamped on it. World-class gymnastic kit? Romania. Croatia itself lists computers, electrical machinery, and pharmaceuticals among its chief exports. And it’s the birthplace of Nikoli Tesla, so maybe show a little respect.
Croatians also have a very good reason to take their weapons industry seriously that has nothing to do with capitalism. They fought their war of independence from 1991 to 1995, in a brutal and ugly conflict with Yugoslavia and Serbia. They managed to win with two brilliant offensives in 95, but the lessons were not lost. You won’t see this attribute on the internet anywhere, but legend has it that HS Produkt was founded by men from that war who swore never to be reliant on outside forces for weapons again. If you just finished saving your people from genocide, firearms are not something you are going to shortcut the design.
And then we have the “it’s just a Croatian pistol imported by Springfield Armory” crowd. Sure, on the original XD line, true. But a lot has evolved since then. The XDM family is still made in the HS Produkt factory, but everything past XD Gen 1 has had serious American input. Springfield Armory has at least one shooter on the roster you may have heard of, Rob Leatham. He won a couple of regional matches or something, serious up an comer. Or SFC Adam Sokowolski of the Army Marksmanship Unit, which managed a 4th place finish in the Presidents 100 match, with an XDM. Those same people don’t seem to mind that say, Night Force spotting scopes are made in the Czech Republic. Or that Steyr (Austria) used barrels made in Hungary. Or that Asolo brand “ Italian” hiking boots are sewn in Romania. So I guess just stop being racist against Eastern Europeans. It’s 2020, I’ll call CitiBank and have your account closed.
So onto our new Elite line of guns. For this review, I was able to select two samples, though five options are available. We chose the 5.25 inch and the 4.5 OSP variants, as those cover the spectrum pretty well. We will talk about the design changes to the 5.25 inch first, as well as the included changes to common the Elite family of weapons.
5.25 Precision Handgun
Like I said at the beginning, the Elite series is pretty much all the custom add ons you would buy separate, ready to go out of the box. I’m also assuming most of you are at least somewhat familiar with the XDM lineup, as I have reviewed several for Guns America Digest. The first thing you will notice is new, very aggressive front and rear cocking serrations. Not only do they look good, but they will give you grip in the worst of situations. Like frozen wet hands through gloves, or covered in blood. It might even sting if you have princess hands, which I count as a positive.
Moving down, the Elites also have extended slide release levers, left and right. This is a minor change, but a big deal if you happen to be devil handed. The protrusion is enough to be sure you hit the slide lock, but not so big as to get in your way. The XDM line has always had ambi magazine releases, which stays for the Elite models.
Another positive change is an extended beaver tail safety or grip safety. Some people hate the grip safey of the XDM, but I would say you don’t even notice when shooting. The extended model feels equally unnoticeable when shooting, but its greater length does offer two advantages. First, even with an incredibly weak grip, ie one-handed and perhaps injured, it still engages without fail. There is pretty much no way to hold the XDM Elite and not have it engaged. But the second big one is with reloads. To rack the slide on an XDM, the grip safety must be engaged. Rarely, but it has happened, with a normal XDM I have tried to rack the slide in reload grip, the gun turned 90 degrees in my hand, to find the slide wouldn’t move. With the new Elite, I cannot replicate this problem.
Newly built into the bottom of the Elite is an absolutely cavernous magazine well. This is one of the first things I add to a new tactical gun, so I am glad to see it here. This is a big aid to reload speed, as well as usually allows a sloppy reload to seat anyway. And speaking of seating, this gun comes out of the box with big boy magazines. Extended to match the new magwell, XDM Elite magazines hold 22+1 in 9mm.
And of course, the big change is the new META trigger. META stands for Match Enhanced Trigger assembly, and it is pretty legit. A new flat-faced trigger drives a somewhat incredible trigger pull, with very few peers. I have always been a huge fan of the XDM Custom Shop trigger, which comes out around 2.2 pounds. Don’t get too excited, the META trigger doesn’t quite match that. I would put it closer to 4, which is still a good duty trigger, and a far better choice than what we see normally in striker fired guns. The only one I can think of that truly equals it is the M&P Custom Shop trigger, which if memory serves is an Apex. Combined with the XDM inherent accuracy, it is hard not to shoot one ragged hole at 10 meters.
The second variant we looked at is the 4.5-inch OSP, which is Springfield speak for red dot ready. It features all of the good stuff from above but is cut to accept optics. A separate mounting plate is used for all the major players in optics, and the XDM series has always been on the best with mounting systems. It also comes standard with a threaded barrel, and suppressor heights sights to co-witness with a red dot. Available in FDE, this is one good looking pistol.
This is a lot of positive changes, to an already fantastic gun. And just in time. As the very competitive market for handguns changes, those who cannot evolve are left in the dust. The arms race is ongoing, but right now, this one edges into a top spot for me. It is easily comparable to the Sig P320X5, which is my gold standard of handguns in the year 2020. If you are in the market, this one steps it up in a big way.