From the very first time I shot an XD-M Elite 3.8″ Compact chambered in 9mm, I was a fan of the overall size, the host of upgraded features, and quite simply, how it felt in my hands. It simply just felt “right.”
Why? It’s the compact sibling of my full-size XD-M Elite, which is one of my favorite 9mm pistols to run at the range. This is mainly because the gun comes right out of the box feeling like a competition gun. It’s the details on it that make all the difference. For example, the flat-faced Match Enhanced Trigger Assembly (META) in my opinion truly lives up to its boast of being the finest factory trigger in a polymer-framed pistol.
Other features also help make this Elite pistol more than simply the sum of its parts. These include fully ambidextrous controls with the addition of an ambi slide stop, match-grade barrel, removable extended and flared magwell, and overall exceptional ergonomics and handling.
The appeal of having these upgrades, which are usually found in competition-geared match guns, in a formidable CCW pistol was absolutely exceptional. I can honestly say it was one of the very few guns in my experience that immediately fell into my shortlist of pistols that came straight out of the box to fit my hand and shooting style like a glove, with no modular grip or component changes or other tweaks required. For all of these reasons and more, I was very excited to learn about the pending release of the XD-M Elite 3.8″ Compact OSP chambered in… 10mm.
Throughout all of my years learning about, shooting, testing and studying various firearms platforms and writing about them, it dawned on me that I had never actually had the pleasure of shooting 10mm before. Sure, I enjoyed shooting countless “high-caliber” handgun rounds like .357 Mag., 44 Mag. and .50 AE, but surprisingly never 10mm.
The 10mm has been championed as having merit as both a pistol hunting round by hunters and also as a “superior defensive caliber” by EDC enthusiasts. As a result, I was genuinely curious to learn what all the hullabaloo was about. For a round that isn’t exactly the new kid on the block, the innovative 10mm cartridge certainly has been stealing the limelight lately.
The 10mm was born back in the 1980s, promoted strongly by no less than Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper of Gunsite fame, and adopted for issue by the FBI over the more common 9mm round. Unfortunately for the 10mm, its recoil and the size of the pistols required to fire it doomed the round with the FBI, leading to the development of the .40 caliber round — basically, a shorter and lower-velocity version of the 10mm.
However, the 10mm’s popularity soldiered on behind the scenes, with shooters appreciating the power it brought to a semi-auto platform. Now you can find it chambered in 1911 and polymer-framed full-size pistols that are easy to shoot well and can handle a steady diet of the powerful cartridge.
But what about a compact, CCW-sized 10mm? Those are fewer and farther between. Why? Is the round too powerful for a packable-sized pistol? Needless to say, I was very interested to find out when I had the opportunity to test the new XD-M Elite 3.8″ Compact OSP chambered in this very round. It was time to unbox this bad boy and hit the range to see firsthand what all the noise is about.
Out of the Box
Aesthetically, the new 10mm Compact had all the same features and characteristics of the 9mm Compact I had tested. As far as I am concerned, this is a good thing as I really like the aggressive and unique styling that melds the sleek competition-style contours of a high-end match gun with ultra-modern striker-fired polymer pistol lines and edges. Why change a winning formula?
Surprisingly compact and lightweight in hand, the pistol weighs just 25.3 oz. without the magazine and 27 with it. The height of the platform with the 11-round stainless steel magazine is 4.58”, and overall length is 6.75”. This is a quite small gun for being a 10mm.
But one of the most exciting features that caught my eye was the OSP-ready slide (with OSP standing for “Optical Sight Pistol”), cut to accept a variety of compatible optics. For a compact EDC gun, not to mention one chambered in 10mm, this feature is truly a rare treat.
Springfield Armory offers the pistol as a standalone option or also packed with a HEX Dragonfly red dot optic. The Dragonfly has been a longtime favorite pairing for me on my 9mm XD-M Elite and having it available as an option through Springfield Armory is a fantastic option in my opinion.
Now I already knew I loved the design of the previous XD-M Elite pistols that had made it through my rotation in the past, and looks are one thing, but how the gun runs is really all that matters.
Here are the specs on the Springfield XD-M Elite 3.8″ Compact OSP 10mm pistol:
|Fiber optic front, Tactical Rack U-Dot rear
|11+1 (two magazines included)
|$633, $818 w/ HEX Dragonfly
Where It Counts
Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to get the 10mm Compact out to the range. The plan was to put it through its paces on paper to best gauge grouping at typical engagement distances, then rapidly ring steel to obtain a general sense of overall handling during transitions and follow-up shots.
I already knew what the answer would be, but as you can probably tell, my scientific approach to test-driving the new pistol went right off the road in lieu of determining the entertainment value and general enjoyment of shooting the gun, which in all fairness, really is a valuable category when considering your next purchase.
I proceeded to load up some of Hornady’s excellent Critical Duty 175-gr. FlexLock 10mm rounds and headed downrange to my targets. Taking aim on the paper target felt all too familiar, and if I didn’t know any better, I would have easily believed the pistol was simply the 9mm version of the compact. However, I wanted to make sure I was prepared to handle the recoil. I knew full well this little pistol was firing a round comparable to a .41 Mag.
Sighting in through the HEX Dragonfly and pressing the comfortable, crisp and familiar META trigger, I placed the first round on target. I was underwhelmed. Not by the accuracy, the handling of the performance of the pistol. No, it was the recoil that put me in that state. While I had been expecting a significant punch and drastic muzzle rise, I was pleasantly surprised by the comfortable and balanced “push” back of the pistol as I touched off the rounds.
It simply didn’t feel like the hand cannon I was expecting when it came to recoil, and the subsequent reset and follow-up shots were as equally efficient and controlled as its 9mm counterpart, with which I had spent ample time shooting in the past.
This is perhaps what was the most striking to me about this gun — it was downright comfortable and pleasant to shoot. You hear a lot of people talking about the cartridge and how it was essentially put to pasture back in the day because of how unwieldy it was to shoot, but the way the XD-M Elite 3.8″ Compact OSP managed the pushback of touching off the 10mm rounds was outstanding.
Transitioning to steel targets presented an even more satisfying experience, with the Hornady rounds ringing the metal with a healthy report while dropping hammer pairs and conducting failure drills with similar ease and enjoyment from 15 to 25 yards. I then stripped off the HEX Dragonfly red dot to run the red fiber optic front sight and Tactical Rack U-Dot rear sight of the pistol, and they made for easy target acquisition and shot placement.
The removable flared magwell made quick reloads a breeze using the two provided 11-round stainless steel magazines. It is important to note that the pistol can also accept full-size 15-round magazines with grip sleeves (they are available for purchase together as an accessory for the pistol) if you remove the Elite magwell and select the proper grip sleeve to correspond with your chosen backstrap (the pistol comes with three interchangeable ones).
With the 15-rounder installed, I was instantly impressed by how the change-up afforded a more “full” size grip. This is an extremely valuable feature. Having the capability to quickly change and adapt the pistol to a full-size grip configuration with increased capacity is such a cool engineering and ergonomic benefit that it really sets this gun apart. It makes the pistol more than just a “compact EDC” option in my opinion.
I genuinely enjoyed shooting the new 10mm compact variant of the tried and true XD-M Elite platform. This gun is going to be for those in the EDC community who desire a significant increase in punch in their highly concealable carry gun, but one that is still pleasant to shoot. And the fact it can accept a red dot optic is all the better.
If you’re a fan of the Elite series of XD-M handguns and have been looking to step up to the next level from the 9mm chambering, then you definitely should check this new offering out. Its combination of power, portability and shootability makes it a great option for CCW. And with the basic pistol priced at an MSRP of $633 and the one packed with the HEX Dragonfly at $818, it is a great deal. If you’re ready to take it “up to 10,” then definitely give this pistol a look. On the other hand, if you prefer an even larger bore pistol, check out Paul Carlson’s review of the XD-M Elite 3.8″ Compact OSP in .45.
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