I Thought I Hated the XD

By David Higginbotham
Posted in #Guns
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I Thought I Hated the XD

May 12th, 2021

6 minute read

More than a decade ago, when I first began reviewing guns professionally, I kept my distance from Springfield’s polymer-framed pistols. I’m a bit of a traditionalist. I had a deep affinity for their 1911s and I waxed poetic about the rifles, but I kept my distance from the polymer guns.

It isn’t hard to explain. There were lots of double-stack polymer framed guns. The performance was solid, and the price was competitive, but I personally didn’t care for the look of the gun.

Fully equipped Springfield XD-M pistol
This fully equipped Springfield Armory pistol should be enough to get you through most situations.

The Springfield Armory XD-S was a big step forward for the guns for me. The slim, single-stack guns were awesome. And if I’m any indication, it opened people’s eyes to the other guns like the Springfield XD 9. After spending some quality time with the XD-S, I picked up its bigger brothers and started to become a convert — of sorts. They grew on me, but I still didn’t put an XD-M into my EDC rotation.

The XD-M Elite has changed that, completely. For me, the 4.5″ Tactical OSP 9mm in FDE checks all of the boxes.

The Extras

After a lot of experience with the other XD guns, I consider this one to be close to perfect. For out-of-the-box functionality, this gun is high on my list. Why do I like it?

Suppressor on XD-M Elite pistol
A suppressor is a great addition to any pistol as it reduces the harmful noise from gunfire.

The finish is a Desert Flat Dark Earth Cerakote. This adds a nice protective coating that requires little maintenance. It also contracts nicely with the Melonite (black) parts.

This gun has Springfield’s META (Match Enhanced Trigger Assembly) trigger. The META trigger adds an integral overtravel stop and a flat-front trigger blade. The triggers on these guns are a noticeable improvement. The overtravel stop adds to the fast reset and speeds up follow-up shots. It flies.

The barrel, which is 5.28”, is threaded to .5×28 and is capped. The whole thing is coated in Melonite. The twist rate in the barrel is 1:10. I’ve just gotten a Banish 45 suppressor in for review, and I’ve been shooting the XD-M even more. The balance is perfect on the XD-M, and it works exceptionally well.

Flared mag well on XD-M pistol
The flared magazine well helps shooters change magazines in a rapid, sure manner.

The sights, because it is designed to work with a suppressor, are really tall — more on that in a moment. First, just know that they’re robust and tall. Some of the other XD pistols have the red fiber optic in the front post, but this one doesn’t. It is a flat-black blade.

The rear sight has an exceptional shelf. Not only is this a fine target sight, it is robust and angled for use as an alternate way to rack the slide. Grab it, hook it on a belt or a boot, and push with your shooting hand. Every gun should be this easy to manipulate with one hand.

The OSP in the name stands for “Optical Sight Pistol,” and it comes with a set of optics plates. Micro red dots have become both affordable and practical, and this kind of feature is quickly becoming standard (I hope). Simply fit the right plate to the top of the slide and screw down your red dot. The sights are tall enough that they should co-witness (which is why Springfield dropped the red fiber optic front post from the equation). I topped mine off with a HEX Dragonfly red dot from Springfield Armory.

FDE color on Springfield Armory polymer pistol
The flat dark earth color is aesthetically pleasing when complemented by the black accents. Note that the gun is fully ambidextrous.

The magazines are a bonus, too. There are two 22-round mags included. They’re stainless with polymer caps. The flared and extended magwell is removable. There are other bonuses. The slide release is ambidextrous, and with the ambi mag release you have a fully ambidextrous gun. Also, it has a full-length, one-piece guide rod.

Springfield’s safeties. One of the safeties is on the back of the grip. The other — another that requires no mental energy to engage — is built into the trigger shoe. These two levers stand in the way when the gun isn’t being readied to fire, but fall when you get a solid shooting grip and a finger on the trigger.

There is no slide or frame-mounted thumb safety. This set-up is growing in popularity for full-sized handguns and is standard on many EDC pistols. The no-manual-thumb-safety philosophy is built around the idea that you should be able to draw and engage a target without having to think through disengaging a manual safety.


I had the XD-M Elite on hand for a couple of months without a holster. Range-time is one thing, but there’s nothing like carrying a gun to tell you how well you’ll like it. I’ve since had one built by Ares Tactical.

XD-M Elite handgun in Ares Tactical holster
The author reveals the Ares Tactical holster he uses with the XD-M Elite.

Two things to consider when looking for holsters. One: the design needs to clear the sights. Since the gun has suppressor-height sights, it isn’t going to fit in most standard holsters. Two: the threaded barrel and added length may influence how it fits.

The fix is simple enough — ask for a tall sight channel and an open end on any kind of custom design.

And while you’re at it, let’s add two more considerations. Get the holster cut for a red dot (you will want one, if you aren’t already a convert). Even if you don’t have a RDS model in mind now, plan ahead.

And add a light. I’ve had this one molded around the Viridian X5L (which also comes in a flat dark earth). The ELITE 4.5″ OSP has three rail slots underneath for adding a light or a laser. Ares Tactical has the Viridian X5L in their line-up, and it provides both a light and a laser, so it was an easy choice.

Viridian light on Springfield Armory XD-M Elite pistol
The Viridian X5L mounts directly to the pistol’s accessory rail. It also comes in an FDE option.

I’ve still not found a practical way to holster the XD-M and the Banish 45, but I’ve not given up.

Shooting XD-M Elite pistol with minimal recoil
Recoil is very manageable when shooting the XD-M Elite handgun.


I’ve become a real fan of how the XD-M line handles. The full-size guns have enough mass and control surfaces to properly mitigate recoil. They shoot flat and fast, making them ideal for both defensive and tactical applications.

Accuracy testing target
The accuracy of the XD-M Elite proved to be excellent in both slow- and rapid-fire.

Accuracy is solid, and both predictable and repeatable. I’d put the XD-M up against any of my polymer pistols. That’s not hyperbole — the design simply works. I’ve not experienced failures with the gun, but I regularly practice them. The wide serrations on the slide — both front and rear — make manipulation easy. And the super-high rear sight is a dream.


If you look at features and performance, ergonomics and controls, the XD-M competes — and it does so at a cost that some of the competition can’t touch. With an MSRP of $709 for this model, the XD-M Elite Tactical OSP isn’t going to break the bank.

In the real world, we call that value.

After working with this gun for a couple of months, I can’t help but feel that the XD-M is underrated. The XD-M might not be your first choice — but hear this — you’d be missing out. Check it out. I’m glad I did.

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Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual. These articles and videos are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Springfield Armory.

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David Higginbotham

David Higginbotham

David Higginbotham is a writer and editor who specializes in everyday carry. He was a college professor for 20 years before leaving behind the academy and moving to Arkansas for a more practical profession in the firearms industry.

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