Unambiguous Power: XD-M 10mm
March 29th, 2020
7 minute read
The Springfield Armory XD series of handguns occupies a unique niche at your local gun emporium. These weapons are short-recoil, polymer-framed combat pistols with all the bells and whistles. The grip-to-frame angle approximates the revered Colt 1911, and an unobtrusive grip safety makes the guns just a wee bit safer than everybody else’s. Sizes range from tiny to massive with everything in between. And, in this newest XD-M variant in the line we find versatility, reliability, accuracy and impressive power — 10mm Auto power, no less.
The new 10mm XD-M comes in two broad flavors — the standard version sports a 4.5″ barrel and no-snag combat sights while the Competition variant has a 5.25″ barrel and adjustable target sights. Both guns run the powerful 10mm cartridge. If you need to remove all the ambiguity from the timeless question of stopping power, the 10mm is your answer.
In the Beginning
The 10mm was the brainchild of the legendary Jeff Cooper. Introduced in 1983 alongside the Bren Ten handgun, the 10mm round offered flatter ballistics than the .45 ACP along with markedly more power than the 9mm Parabellum. The cartridge was originally spawned from a modified .30 Remington rifle cartridge case and offered the sort of energy numbers previously found only in magnum revolvers. Pushing a 180-gr. bullet to around 1,300 fps, the 10mm was built to be the perfect manly combat pistol cartridge. It was also, however, huge, heavy and mean.
In the aftermath of the infamous Miami Dade County FBI shootout, the Bureau traded in their 9mm and .357 Mag. handguns for Smith and Wesson offerings in 10mm. While these new guns offered plenty of horsepower, they were boat-anchor heavy and rough on the wrists. Some agents, particularly those of smaller stature, found the gun/cartridge combination to be simply overwhelming. As a result, the shorter and gentler .40 S&W round was developed and adopted.
While they say modern 9mm loadings are perfectly adequate nowadays, many of us still look back with nostalgia to the times when most serious cartridges still started with “4.” The new XD-M 10mm with its .40-caliber bullet and blazingly fast speeds offer us real power along with all the modern amenities.
The grip’s as grippy as a Humvee tire and includes three interchangeable backstraps accommodating different hand sizes. The push-button magazine release is perfectly replicated on both sides of the gun, and the left-sided slide release is just the right size. Any bigger and it would get in the way. Any smaller and it would be tough to run. Magazines drop away freely with a stroke of the button.
The dustcover is railed for accessories, and the slide sports charging grooves both front and rear. The firing pin protrudes ever so slightly out of the back of the slide when the striker is cocked, and there’s a loaded chamber indicator working both visibly and by feel. The XD-M’s magnificent grip safety is unobtrusive yet reliable while offering another painless level of security. There’s also a standard blade safety built into the trigger face.
The XD-M’s 10mm magazines are crafted from stainless steel and are magnificently overbuilt. The grip is large without being ridiculous, allowing a full 15+1 capacity. The overall effect is of a full-sized service pistol concealable underneath baggy clothes, offering a level of firepower not found in lesser guns.
Have It Your Way
The standard 4.5″ barreled XD-M 10mm is a rugged general-purpose combat pistol. The sights are sufficiently unobtrusive, allowing fast presentation, and the gun’s personality lends itself to both speed and maneuverability. The low-profile sights include a fiber optic rod up front and a pair of non-luminescent white dots in the back.
The 5.25″ Competition variant includes a slightly longer version of the fiber optic front sight as well as an adjustable target rear sight with glare-reducing ridges on the back. Unlike a lot of target sights, however, these still remain adequately streamlined to facilitate practical carry. The distal end of the slide is skeletonized to cut down on undue weight, ensure proper functioning and just plain look cool.
Both guns share the same double-column, 15-round magazines and superb striker-fired trigger. The 4.5″ version comes with two magazines, while the Competition gun has three. When compared side by side, the frames are otherwise identical.
How’d They Run?
This ain’t your daddy’s 9mm pistol. The XD-M 10mm is a manly gun with a manly comportment. From the perspective of pure Newtonian physics, the 10mm tosses fully half again more downrange horsepower than does a typical 9mm defensive load. While bullet design is indeed important, there yet remains something to be said for raw unfiltered power. If the mission is to punch deep and make it hurt, the 10mm has all the right numbers.
Keep in mind the Springfield Armory XD-M 10mm carries the same onboard ammunition load as does the Beretta 92, SIG 226 and HK VP9 9mm pistols. Despite the quantum increase in horsepower the grip remains remarkably comfortable. I have big, skinny hands and the gun fit me perfectly. Slimming down to the trim backstrap makes this big gun run fine for smaller shooters as well. With two spare magazines, this makes for a potential 46 rounds of serious downrange chaos.
The XD-M 10mm is indeed more vigorous than your typical 9mm, but it’s not objectionable. I’ve run magnum handguns which left me miserable, but the XD-M 10mm would yet remain recreational throughout a long Saturday afternoon at the range. Double taps are not overly challenging and combat drills remain about as fast as the same thing with a lesser gun.
As one might expect, the longer gun is incrementally more comfortable on the range. The extended sight radius is a boon to my aged eyes, and the recoil impulse is perhaps a wee bit milder. However, both versions shoot straight and run well. While I’d love to split hairs, I grouped about the same with both weapons, averaging 1″ to 2″ from a rest at 15 meters. Oddly, I found velocities between the two guns running the same loads to be about the same.
Speaking of the ammunition I used, the SIG SAUER ammunition plant in central Arkansas consumes as much ballistic gelatin per annum as does the entire rest of the country. Their V-Crown Elite Performance Jacketed Hollowpoint 10mm’s are the stuff of nightmares downrange. The extensive 10mm lineup from Buffalo Bore Ammunition includes some bunker busting 220-gr. Hard Cast solids that will typically penetrate 3 feet (yep, you read that right) in living tissue.
The Competition model is 3/4″ longer and 11/2 oz. heavier. It also costs about $120 more at retail. However, both guns carry about the same, and they shoot comparably straight. Outfit one of these monsters with a proper tactical light and you’re ready for most any threat whether it walks on two legs or four.
The Danish Sirius Sledge Patrol packs 10mm pistols for defense against polar bears in Greenland. An adult male polar bear tips the scales at half a ton and runs at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour. However, with the right ammo this Springfield Armory XD-M 10mm could punch 36″ into rampaging hide, meat and gristle. Nothing else you can pack underneath a loose shirt even comes close.
What’s It Really Good For?
You could use the Springfield Armory XD-M 10mm as a concealed carry gun, but it would get old fast. Only the most dedicated among us would put up with the heft and bulk of such a CC solution long term. However, for those applications wherein you might not be trying to camouflage your iron underneath a T-shirt this polymer-framed powerhouse offers some thought-provoking capabilities.
Unlike those massive steel-framed magnum wheelguns, the Springfield Armory XD-M 10mm will ride comfortably in a hip holster. I lived in the Alaskan interior for three years, and the argument could be made this high-capacity 10mm howitzer would be the ideal bear defense arm. The 10mm round is not going to give you the same downrange thump a 12-ga. might, but it’s relatively painless to carry, fast to shoot and packs 16 rounds on board. Additionally, hunting whitetails with a 10mm handgun would demand superb fieldcraft. Finishing off truly big game like alligators or similar toothy beasties would be right in this gun’s wheelhouse as well.
We endlessly debate the details, but I literally cannot imagine a better tool for a full-bore gunfight. Should you have to fight within your home or out of a car you need not fret overly about stopping power. Think of the Springfield Armory XD-M 10mm like 2.6 six-shot .357 Mag. revolvers all packed into an indestructible polymer-framed package tucking comfortably into your glove box. That’s some serious firepower. And, at an MSRP of $652 for the standard and $779 for the Competition model, they won’t break the bank, either.
Editor’s Note: This article was written by Will Dabbs and shared with us by American Handgunner. The original article can be seen here. Also, please be sure to check out The Armory Life Forum, where you can comment about our daily articles, as well as just talk guns and gear. Click the “Go To Forum Thread” link below to jump in!