I try not to be a gun snob. At the same time, I will admit that I like things to be refined. If we spend some time being introspective alongside the repetition demanded when developing skill sets, we can start to identify areas where we can enhance our performance. If you start with a solid foundation, you can build something very capable.
I try to apply this personally to my training and self-defense skills, as I think the benefits make the effort well worth it. I also like to see this from the companies that make the products I use, and this is one of the reasons I like working with Springfield Armory so much. From what I can see, they apply these same principles to their products, and the new XD-M Elite 3.8” Compact OSP is proof of this.
This new pistol represents the refinement of the original XD pistols that have been around for years, leading to the XD-M and now the newest XD-M Elite family of pistols. And the XD-M Elite 3.8” Compact OSP is the latest addition.
When Less Is More
The new XD-M Elite 3.8” Compact OSP is an XD-M Elite at heart. It isn’t a major departure from the rest of the XD-M Elite line, nor should it be. The Elite line is a group of pistols that have been tuned by Springfield Armory to be just about everything a shooter could want. From the Match Enhanced Trigger Assembly (META) to fully ambidextrous controls to enhanced capacity to much more, the Elites have a lot to offer.
I suspect the effort to take a product design to the next level can be frustrating. What do you add, what do you change and what do you keep the same? Ironically, in a way this new pistol is simultaneously less and more than some of its stablemates in the XD-M Elite line like the original XD-M Elite 3.8″ pistol.
Let me explain. The Elite line offers pistols ranging from competition-ready pistols to suppressor-ready options to standard pistols to compacts. It’s in that latter group that the new XD-M Elite 3.8” Compact OSP fits.
What You Get
Firstly, let’s dig a little deeper into the entire XD-M Elite 9mm line for some context. The whole family of XD-M Elite handguns share a set of features. First off, accuracy and performance are very important goals with the Elite design. In fact, these guns are built around two match-grade features — a hammer-forged match-grade barrel and the Match Enhanced Trigger Assembly (or “META”).
The hammer-forged barrel is designed to deliver not only match-grade accuracy, but also a very long life. The META trigger is quite simply the best out-of-the-box polymer-framed pistol trigger I’ve shot. It has a clean, crisp and consistent break as well as an overtravel stop built right in. The trigger’s flat face makes for a great interface between the trigger and the finger.
As mentioned earlier, the Elite series of pistols sports a collection of features that discerning shooters should demand. The forged slide has enhanced slide serrations at both the front and the rear of the slide. These serrations strike an outstanding balance; they have just the right amount of bite and they look great.
The Elite pistols also have an ambidextrous slide stop/release lever. Having a lever on both sides of the gun that reliably executes both functions of locking the slide back and releasing the slide can come in handy when you have to run the gun one-handed. Match that up with the ambidextrous magazine release, and you have a gun that can be fully run in either hand. And an enhanced “bump” on the grip safety ensures positive engagement when you grip the pistol.
In addition to all these features, the 9mm pistols also have extended magazines for increased capacities as well as extended and flared removable magwells. These match up with the extended magazines and ensure lightning-fast, no-miss reloads.
Where It Fits
Which brings us to the new XD-M Elite 3.8” Compact OSP. The 3.8” in the name refers specifically to the length of the barrel. Just shy of 4″, this 3.8″ barrel lives right in the sweet spot for me. It’s short enough to be easy to conceal, but long enough to deliver impressive ballistics with standard ammunition.
With the 3.8″ barrel, the gun measures out at an overall length of 6.75″, providing a good sight radius that helps the shooter get hits even when the targets are small, at a distance, or both. The U-Dot rear sight and fiber optic front make it easy to quickly deliver on the accuracy potential of the hammer-forged match barrel and META trigger.
The “Compact” in the name tells us that the XD-M Elite 3.8” Compact OSP has a compact-length, shortened grip compared to the larger Elite pistols. The target market of the XD-M Elite 3.8” Compact OSP is clearly concealed carry users. The compact grip length is great this role as it significantly reduces the chances of “printing” through clothing.
What I like most about the grip is that while it’s compact in length, there isn’t a significant sacrifice in capacity. The 3.8” Compact OSP has a magazine capacity of 14 rounds. The height of the gun, including the removable flared magwell, is 4.58″. The magwell can be removed and full-sized magazines with grip spacers that mate up to the pistol’s interchangeable backstraps can be inserted to increase capacity to 19 rounds.
For me, the compact grip is a great length. I have medium’ish-sized hands and my pinky rides up just a touch on the magwell. That serves as a great reminder for me to engage those pinkies to control recoil or to help the dot drop into the screen of my HEX Dragonfly. Oh, did I forget to mention optics?
Eyes On Target
The new XD-M Elite 3.8” Compact OSP comes from the factory cut for optics. OSP stands for Optical Sight Pistol, and this means the gun has an OSP cut on the slide top to give you maximum flexibility when it comes to sight systems. Featuring an included cover plate, you simply remove the plate and mount the optic of your choice with the appropriate mounting plate. If you aren’t quite ready for a red dot, you can simply leave the supplied plate screwed in place and run the gun with the U-Dot/fiber optic sight combo.
In fact the pistol is offered either as a standalone pistol, and also combined with the new HEX Dragonfly red dot by Springfield Armory. Price of the pistol is $633, and the price of the pistol packed with the HEX Dragonfly is $818.
When I received the XD-M Elite 3.8” Compact OSP, I grabbed a #1 Springfield Armory plate (that features the “Springfield Standard” footprint) and mounted up a new HEX Dragonfly I have been testing. This combo was easy to set up, easy to shoot and a lot of fun.
In fact, Springfield Armory is offering the pistol alone as well as packaged with the HEX Dragonfly red dot optic. The MSRP of the pistol is $633, while the MSRP of the package with the red dot is $818.
XD-M Elite 3.8″ Compact OSP Specifications
|Sights||OSP; Fiber optic front, U-Dot rear; optional HEX Dragonfly|
In general, I am a full-size gun guy. I typically have the ability to conceal a full-size pistol easily, and so I take advantage of the perceived advantages that a full-sized gun tends to give me. I used the word perceived for a reason.
A basic consideration of the physics of shooting a gun says that the bigger the gun the less the felt recoil, therefore the faster you can shoot the gun. However, a deeper look reveals there is more to the equation. Triggers matter, slide length matters and mass matters.
I fired the gun both with and without the optic for comparison, to determine what advantages topping off the pistol with a red dot offered. Over the course of my range time, I noted the speed of follow-up shots with the OSP gun. Of course, having a red dot on top of your gun can help to make faster follow-up shots, but I found the red dot extremely helpful in another way. Having a bright red dot makes it very easy to call my shots and watch how the gun is moving during recoil.
Both with and without the optic, I found that the XD-M Elite 3.8” Compact OSP would return to the point of aim very quickly and naturally — especially for a shorter-barreled compact pistol. Simply put, I found this pistol to be just as “shootable” as a full-size handgun, but in a more compact package.
Springfield Armory has done a nice job fleshing out its whole XD series of pistols, from the classic XD to the XD-M family to the new XD-M Elite 9mm pistols. And in my opinion, the Elites are truly Springfield’s “cream of the crop.” I currently have four of them, and they all make it into the shooting rotation. However, I have found the OSP ones are the ones that get run the most by me.
This is why the addition of the XD-M Elite 3.8” Compact OSP is such a great move for Springfield Armory in my opinion. Its combination of compact size along with the ability to run a red dot makes it a great option for CCW. If you’re shopping for a new CCW gun, I highly recommend you give the new XD-M Elite 3.8” Compact OSP a look. If you like the gun, but want a bigger bore, check out my review of the .45 caliber version of the gun.
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