Peak Performance: The XD-M Elite Family

By Will Dabbs, MD
Posted in #Guns
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Peak Performance: The XD-M Elite Family

January 15th, 2020

6 minute read

Anyone who has spent any time squeezing triggers will recognize Springfield Armory’s storied line of XD-M semi-automatic pistols. Featuring unparalleled human engineering, superlative manufacturing quality and unrivaled safety, the XD-M set a new standard for everything a modern combat pistol should be.

Springfield Armory XD-M Elite family of pistols
The XD-M Elite family is made up of a wide range of models, designed for roles from CCW to self-defense to competition to tactical.

Never satisfied to just sit on their laurels, however, Springfield Armory has now introduced an upgraded family of XD-M guns that takes everything about the XD-M and amps it up to the next level. They call this new warrior clan the XD-M Elite.

Where It Counts

Springfield Armory’s new line of 9mm XD-M Elite pistols actually consists of several different handguns. Each pistol is optimized for a specific mission or role, though there is a great deal of overlap. There are certain common characteristics to be found in all of them.

Each member of the XD-M Elite family sports extra-deep cocking grooves on the slide, a dedicated loaded chamber indicator, a true bilateral pushbutton magazine catch, and an ambidextrous slide stop. In fact, the enhanced slide serrations and ambi slide stop are two new upgrades specific to the Elite line.

The XD-M Elite takes everything that is great about the XD-M and makes it even better.

There is the expected Picatinny rail on the dust cover and a striker status indicator on the back of the slide. Each of the guns also includes interchangeable backstraps and a generous extended and flared magwell funnel. That detachable magwell, also one of the new upgrades to the Elite line, comes in two different versions — “standard” and “short.” More on that in just a bit, and how it relates to an upgrade to the magazines as well.

The Elite family features extended and flared magwells in “standard” and “short” versions. Standard magwell with 22-round magazine is shown here.

These XD-M variants include three separate mechanical safety systems. The flat-faced trigger incorporates a blade safety, and there is an internal drop safety built into the entrails. Additionally, this new line of XD-M handguns features that marvelous grip safety for which Springfield Armory is justifiably famous. The grip safety sports a memory bump and adds a whole new layer of security to the gun that requires no conscious thought to operate.

The grip-to-frame angle replicates that of the esteemed 1911. The grip also remains remarkably thin given the guns’ prodigious magazine capacities. Each of these four handguns also features Springfield Armory’s revolutionary META trigger system.

The META trigger is the heart of the new XD-M Elite family, and gives you an amazing trigger pull. Note its flat face.

META stands for “Match Enhanced Trigger Assembly.” The Springfield folks have taken lessons learned from building world-class match guns and folded them into these four new optimized tactical pistols. The META trigger offers a brief clean take-up, a delightfully crisp break, and that abbreviated reset we all seem to covet so badly these days. A flat-faced trigger and integral overtravel stop round out the package. The end result is arguably the nicest striker-fired trigger to be found on a production handgun anywhere.

The Siblings

The smallest versions of the line are the XD-M Elite 3.8″ Compact and 3.8″ Compact OSP (Optical Sight Pistol) handguns, featuring short 3.8″ barrels for easy concealment as well as compact frames with “short” magwells and 14+1 capacities. These two offerings provide CCW enthusiasts with a compact yet powerful EDC pistol that is easy to conceal, and also easy to shoot well. Both pistols come with the excellent U-Dot sight system, and the OSP version features a removable cover plate to allow the mounting of optics to the slide of the pistol. The OSP version is also offered as a package topped off with a HEX Dragonfly red dot (to see a full review of that optic, click here).

Springfield XD-M Elite 3.8″ Compact OSP pistol
The new XD-M Elite 3.8″ Compact OSP features compact dimensions, the ability to accept a red dot optic, and an impressive 14+1 capacity.

The next smallest version is the XD-M Elite 3.8″ and features the 3.8″ barrel and abbreviated slide. This is the variant intended for concealed carry with some added firepower. Make no mistake, this is not a pocket gun. Springfield Armory has other handguns for that mission, as mentioned above. The 3.8″ XD-M Elite is the EDC concealable howitzer for those who wander about where the Wild Things roam.

The XD-M Elite 3.8″ pistol 20+1 concealed carry howitzer features the “short” flared and extended magwell.

The stubby slide makes the gun quick to retrieve and easy to hide underneath baggy clothes. The full-figured grip facilitates proper control and a breathtaking 20+1 magazine capacity. This magazine meshes up with a “short” magwell and has a +1 extension over the standard XD-M 19-rounder magazine. The gun comes standard with two mags. Imagine an EDC loadout wherein you could conceivably pack a stubby pistol with a single spare magazine and have a whopping 41 rounds on tap.

Next in line is what I would call the “service” pistol, the XD-M Elite 4.5″ with — you guessed it — a 4.5″ tube. This is the gun that would hang from a cop’s duty belt or live in your nightstand or the glovebox to your vehicle. This gun also comes with two 20-round magazines and features the “short” magwell. For general defensive usage around the home, in the car or on the farm, the 4.5″ XD-M Elite pistol strikes an elegant balance between portability and firepower. Also, both the 3.8″ and the 4.5″ guns sport fiber optic front sights and “U-Dot” Tactical Rack rear sight assemblies.

The XD-M Elite 4.5″ pistol is a tricked-out general utility gun with a 20+1 magazine capacity.

The next variant is the XD-M Elite Precision. This longslide monster sports a 5.25″ barrel and elongated slide. The slide features a generous lightening cut in the top. The rear sight on the Precision model is readily adjustable for both windage and elevation using nothing more than a small screwdriver and mates up with a fiber optic front. The XD-M Precision comes with two 22-round magazines. Yes, you read that capacity correctly. These magazines feature a +3 extension and match up with the XD-M Elite’s “standard” magwell system, a longer version of the more compact “short” variant. The Precision is the gun for match work, recreational target shooting or precision defensive applications.

The XD-M Elite Precision packs a 5.25″ barrel and longslide and is ideal for competitive shooting.

The apex predator is the XD-M Elite Tactical OSP (Optical Sight Pistol). This gun features a 5.28″ extended/threaded barrel, suppressor-height sights and optional black or FDE finishes. The Tactical variant also carries an astounding 22 rounds in its magazine. The XD-M Elite Tactical OSP is the handgun for serious tactical applications.

XD-M Elite Tactical OSP version shown here in FDE (black will also be available).

The rear slide deck of the XD-M Elite Tactical OSP is cut to accept a standard micro red dot, and the muzzle is threaded 1/2×28 for any common 9mm sound suppressor. The symbiotic combination of all that unfettered awesome makes the XD-M Elite Tactical OSP the top of the tactical heap. If Rambo were going to HALO into the Hindu Kush to put the holy smackdown on the enemies of freedom, this is the gun he would pack.


Sleek, straight-shooting, reliable, voracious and cool, the XD-M Elite line of combat pistols raises the bar on just about everything.

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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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Will Dabbs, MD

Will Dabbs, MD

Will was raised in the Mississippi Delta and has a degree in Mechanical Engineering. After eight years flying Army helicopters, he left the military as a Major to attend medical school. Will operates an Urgent Care clinic in his small Southern town and works as the plant physician for the local Winchester ammunition plant. He is married to his high school sweetheart, has three adult children, and has written for the gun press for a quarter century.

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