XD-M Elite 3.8″ Compact: The “Do Everything” 9mm?

By Paul Carlson
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XD-M Elite 3.8″ Compact: The “Do Everything” 9mm?

September 8th, 2020

8:06 runtime

Everyone seems to be thinking about personal protection and concealed carry these days. My classes at Safety Solutions Academy are booking up quickly, and every time I head to the range I see new faces.

The XD-M Elite 3.8″ Compact brings top-tier upgrades to a handgun that is compact and concealable.

I reached out to my friends at Springfield Armory and asked what they had up their sleeves when it came to concealed carry handguns. They replied with a virtual wink, and a few days later I got a call from the folks at Black Boar Armory letting me know that a brand-new Springfield XD-M Elite 3.8″ 9mm had arrived.

The Elite 3.8″ Compact’s META trigger brings a match-quality trigger to a factory handgun.

I was perplexed as the standard-length grip 19+1 3.8″ has been out for a bit (you can read more about that pistol here). When I arrived at the shop, I realized what was really waiting for me — a totally brand-new addition to the XD-M Elite family (you can read more about the entire series here) in the XD-M Elite 3.8″ Compact.

The XD-M Elite series of pistols feature enhanced slide serrations, both at the front and rear of the pistols.

The Next Step

The XD-M Elite pistols are a sensibly refined extension of Springfield Armory’s popular and capable XD-M pistols. I envision the Elite line of handguns as the manifestation of what a longtime XD-M user might come up with if they were to customize their pistol — except they come all tuned up right out of the box (to find out more about the custom-grade enhancements to the XD-M Elite, click here).

The Tactical Rack rear U-Dot sight makes lining up the sights fast and intuitive.

Each Springfield XD-M Elite pistol comes with a match grade barrel for improved accuracy and dependable reliability, housed in a forged slide. New to the Elite line is the META (match enhanced trigger assembly) trigger, but don’t let the term “match” fool you. Yes, the trigger is smooth, crisp and short. It’s also completely appropriate for concealed carry or duty use.

The front fiber optic sight is easy to align with the U-Dot rear and to track under recoil.

My Lyman digital trigger scale showed an average pull weight of 5 lbs., 9 oz. over an average of 10 trigger pulls with the XD-M Elite 3.8″ Compact. The distance to reset is short, and my favorite aspect of the XD-M Elite META system is the positive forward pressure throughout the reset.

Other enhancements to the Elite include fully ambidextrous controls, a Tactical Rack U-Dot sight in the rear mated with a fiber optic front (and suppressor height sights on the Tactical OSP version), improved slide serrations both fore and aft, and a removable, just-the-right-size magwell to funnel in those fast reloads in training.

The concealable grip frame of the XD-M Elite 3.8″ Compact still houses a 14+1 capacity magazine.

All in all, the features of the XD-M Elite line are extremely attractive. Bringing those features to a carry-sized handgun is a no-brainer.

Long & Short of It

While there was already a 3.8″ Elite pistol in the line, it featured a short slide and barrel matched up to a full-size grip frame. Where the new XD-M Elite 3.8″ Compact differs is in its overall minute dimensions. In addition to the short 3.8″ barrel, the pistol also features a compact and shortened grip frame that houses 14+1 capacity magazines (of which two are included with the pistol).

The flared magwell of the pistol, which makes funneling in fresh mags a breeze, is easily removable.

The result is a pistol that retains all the features of the rest of the XD-M Elite family, except for its size. The 3.8″ barrel is long enough to push performance out of quality ammo like the Atlanta Arms Elite 115-gr. JHP rounds I tested the gun with, but short enough to conceal — even when carrying outside the waistband. In fact, the overall length of the pistol is just under 7″.

When it comes to concealment, I find the grip length to be more important that slide length. This is where the XD-M Elite 3.8″ Compact really stands apart from the rest of the XD-M Elite family. The grip is shortened to aid in concealment, yet I’m still able to get a full grasp on the gun. With a height of 4.58″, the 3.8″ Compact is very easy to conceal.

Stepping Up

As I mentioned above, all Elites feature removable extended and flared magwells — and the new 3.8″ Compact is no exception. At the end of the compact grip frame is a “short” magwell (the Tactical OSP and 5.25″ Elites features “standard” magwells that are larger and longer as concealment is not a design intent with those guns). It’s big enough to help funnel in mags quickly, but not so large that it affects concealability.

The photo caught a bullet flying, even though the Atlanta Arms Elite ammo was cooking at around 1,150 fps.

An additional benefit of that removable magwell is that you can remove it and then quickly convert the XD-M Elite 3.8″ Compact into — effectively — a standard 3.8″ pistol with a full-size grip frame. You can accomplish this by picking up some 19+1 capacity XD-M magazines fitted out with compatible magazine sleeves, and simply sticking them in the gun. Now you have a higher-capacity version of the pistol with a full-size grip frame.

The result is a pistol sized for concealed carry, and also convertible to a good home defense pistol — or simply pack some of those mags as spares for it in concealed carry configuration. Your choice.

Where It Counts

Concealed carry is a highly personalized endeavor. I don’t know what works best for you, but I do know what works for me. I carry AIWB (appendix inside the waistband), and the XD-M Elite 3.8″ Compact fits the role well. The 3.8″ barrel and slide length provide enough surface area to spread out belt pressure and resist the gun rotating out from the body, and the short grip makes it comfortable to carry.

When it comes to concealed carry and duty use, reliability is a primary concern. I have been spending a good bit of time with the XD-M Elite pistols. Right now, I am working with three different models and I’m approaching more than 1,000 rounds downrange with them. So far there hasn’t been a single malfunction. I have every intention of shooting these guns to the point of failure. My gut tells me it is going to take more ammo than I currently have access to.

The META trigger and fully ambi controls made the XD-M 3.8 Elite Compact easy to shoot — even “weak” hand only.

The Tactical Rack rear U-Dot sights have been a pleasure to shoot with. I first started playing with the U-Dot pattern sights on the Hellcat, and I quickly became a fan. Lining up the bright front fiber optic in the rear “U” is easy and intuitive. While shooting, I found that the sights were very easy to track.

Overall, I found the features of the XD-M Elite to be substantial. The 3.8″ Compact provides me with an option that wouldn’t leave me feeling under-gunned at all when it comes to concealed carry.

With an overall length under 7″ and a height of 4.58″, the XD-M Elite 3.8″ Compact packs a lot of power into a very small package.

Conclusion

I am pleased with the release of the XD-M Elite 3.8″ Compact. For me, it’s the XD-M Elite that works best for CCW. It also is a refined handgun with match grade features, right out of the box. With an MSRP of $559, the 3.8″ Compact provides custom gun features at a stock gun price. In my opinion, that’s a very attractive combination. If you’re looking for a new compact concealed carry handgun, take a look at the XD-M Elite 3.8″ Compact.

Editor’s Note: 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 and discuss this article and much more!

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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 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.

Paul Carlson

Paul Carlson

Paul Carlson is the owner of Safety Solutions Academy, LLC, a professional defensive shooting instructor, content creator in the firearms industry, and most importantly a husband and a father. Through Safety Solutions Academy, Paul teaches a variety of critical defensive skill courses in more than a dozen states annually. When Paul’s not traveling to teach and work in the firearms industry, you can find him with his family, either on the range or in the mountains.

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