2019 Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 8

2019 Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 8

Beat the Glock – The Springfield Armory XDM 4.5 and 3.8

By Dennis Adler

Springfield Armory is the newest gunmaker to enter the CO2 marketplace and they did it in a big way with two new models and two finishes right out of the chute! The XDM 4.5 model is the full-size duty version offered in the same choice of finishes as the centerfire models. These are truly 1:1 blowback action CO2 pistols in every detail.

No CO2 pistol, thus far, has been so thoroughly matched to its centerfire counterpart as the Springfield Armory XDM 4.5 and 3.8 models for design, fine detail, fit and finish. Just as Glock worked very closely with Umarex to build their air pistols, and Sig Sauer with its own Sig Air division, Air Venturi and Springfield Armory worked as closely to get these two CO2 models right in every essential detail. On the XDMs there are absolutely no obvious tells, not even a subtle hint, no .177 caliber markings, except on the barrel lug exposed in the ejection port, where every Springfield Armory model has it caliber stamped, nothing to give away the pistol’s airgun interior and CO2-powered blowback action, without the most detailed examination.

The new Air Venturi Springfield Armory XDM 4.5 blowback action CO2 model is shown with an early .40 S&W XDM with the complete case and accessories. The CO2 model will not have such a lavish presentation but it does come in a nice reusable box, and the gun fits all XD Gear holsters, the CO2 BB magazines fit the XD Gear dual magazine pouch. If you’re trying to figure out which one is the centerfire model, it’s the one on the right.

The gun looks as close as physically possible to its centerfire counterparts. Even the one concession to air pistol manufacturing mandated when the centerfire gun uses a trigger blade (Glock-type) safety, the addition of a secondary manual safety, has been seamlessly built into the actual serial number plate under the dustcover, and with the gun’s serial number on it. Even the centerfire model’s cocked action indicator at the back of the slide is duplicated and works on the CO2 pistol, along with all the manual trigger and grip safeties used on the centerfire pistols.

The self-contained CO2 BB magazines are the most accurate-looking CO2 magazines yet. They are just a bit longer and extend a little further in the XD Gear magazine pouch. One other key feature to note is the cocked action indicator at the rear of the slide. When the gun is ready to fire it protrudes, otherwise it is flush. Both the centerfire gun (right) and the CO2 model are shown with cocked actions.

This is the epitome of 1:1 design and just a hair better executed than the Umarex Glock because the grip panels (on both the 4.5 and 3.8) and magazine Grip Frame Extensions (for the 3.8 Model) are the same as the centerfire models. The guns fit all XD Gear holsters, and the magazines fit the mag pouches. There is even a special XD Gear holster for the CO2 models with a Level 1 triggerguard lock that comes with the XDM 4.5 and 3.8 models.

The XDM 3.8 and 4.5 CO2 models come with an XDM level 1 locking holster. Also note the detail in the back of the CO2 BB magazine with the witness holes like centerfire magazines.

Weights and measurements

Let’s begin with the Glock’s counterpart, the Springfield Armory XDM 4.5 in 9mm. This gun has a capacity of 19+1, a polymer frame with a stainless steel slide and either polished or black Melonite finish, a recoil operated, striker fired system with a striker status indicator (something Glock’s do not have), low profile white dot rear combat sight and red fiber optic front, a factory trigger pull of 6 pounds, 8 ounces, overall length of 7.76 inches (4.5 model) to 7.75 inches depending upon the backstrap used, a width of 1.18 inches height of 5.68 (4.5 model from base of magazine to top of rear sight), and a carry weight (empty) of 29.0 ounces. It is a full size duty gun.

Like the Glock Gen4, the Springfield XDM models have interchangeable S, M, and L backstrap panels making both the centerfire guns and CO2 models suitable for a variety of hand sizes. The CO2 model is the one at the top.

The Air Venturi Springfield Armory XDM 4.5 CO2 model has a .177 caliber magazine capacity of 20 rounds to match the centerfire pistols 19+1 (19 in the magazine, 1 round chambered), the same frame and slide design and polished or black slides, a recoil operated firing system with a internal hammer/striker, the same trigger and safety system, and matching overall length, width, height, white dot rear and red fiber optic front sight, with the only differences (aside from being a CO2 pistol) being a slightly heavier overall weight with the magazine of 31.0 ounces, a slightly lighter trigger pull of  4 pounds, 8 ounces (as tested), and using an internal smoothbore barrel with a length of 4.0 inches recessed 0.31 inches from the centerfire-sized muzzle. For a CO2 pistol, this is as close as it can get.

The centerfire and CO2 models fieldstrip exactly the same way. The CO2 model is at the top. Again notice the remarkable authenticity of the gun and the CO2 BB magazine design.

Handling and Accuracy

This is what can make or break a 1:1 CO2 pistol, it has to do more than look the part; it has to do everything the same right up to the moment you pull the trigger. This is what the Umarex Glock 17 Gen4 does almost flawlessly. And it is here that the XDM falls just a little short of the mark set by the Glock.

First there is the ease with which the centerfire XDMs fieldstrip. Remove the magazine, clear the chamber, lock the slide back and rotate the takedown lever upward (it’s the large lever a third of the way back on the left side of the frame), pull the slide to the rear until it disengages from the slide lock and then simply pull the slide forward off the frame. The recoil spring and guide rod lift up for removal, lift the barrel slightly and remove it. Reassembly is just as quick. The CO2 model duplicates this design but is harder to take apart than the centerfire XDM requiring a bit of practice to time the release of the slide and pulling it forward with ample force to get it to release from the frame. I think this is as much a learning curve (and patience) as it is a break-in period for the gun. The Glock CO2 Gen4 is easier to fieldstrip and is second only to the M9A3 for ease of use. Secondly, there is loading the CO2 and BBs in the exceptionally well designed CO2 BB magazine, which is hands down the most authentic looking air pistol magazine ever made.

Here is the one frustration that comes with the XDM CO2 models, a beautifully designed CO2 BB magazine that has a heavy follower spring and an incredibly small follower tab. It is the little bar at the top and you have to get a fingernail into it and force it down against the spring and hold it while pouring BBs into the large channel opening half way down. It is hard to hold the follower down (there is a tool included but it really doesn’t help) and you have to make sure it doesn’t get away from you and snap up to the top before you add BBs. If the follower slams up on an empty column the tab can fracture and be sheared off when it hits the top of the magazine. A fix is in the works for this and new style mags will be coming in 2020, but these work great if you can manage the follower tab. Also, at the bottom of the column there is a small tab. If you pull this up it allows the base pad to slide off for loading the CO2, which is a much easier job. You have to be sure to use the tab to lock the base pad back in place after loading CO2.

Loading CO2 into the XDM style polished steel magazine is a two-step process. With the magazine inverted and loading channel facing you, pull the small tab at the bottom of the channel down, this is locked into a small slot in the base pad. Slide the base pad forward and remove it. This exposes the seating screw. Unscrew it, insert the CO2 cartridge (with a small drop of Pellgun Oil on the tip), replace the seating screw and tighten it down. Then replace the base pad and make certain the tab is engaged in the slot.

Loading BBs is much more a chore because the follower does not lock down, it is very small and you have to hold it back with a fingernail. You can’t afford to let it slip off and slam closed without BBs being loaded because the force of the heavy spring driving the follower up into the top edge of the loading channel will shear off the plastic follower tab. A new follower tab design will be introduced in 2020 to eliminate this problem and new magazines will, of course, fit the earlier guns and spare magazines are a must for any air pistol like this. To be fair, I have had one Glock magazine follower slip off its lock just before loading and the follower tab sheared off that magazine as well. It is far less likely with a G17 Gen4 mag, but it can happen. Loading the XDM mags must be done carefully at present to prevent damaging the follower. Knowing that there is a fix in the works, I will not deduct a point from Ease of Handling for this problem. In the overall scheme of things, having to carefully handle the magazine while loading is a minor inconvenience especially when you have multiple magazines ready to use (you should have at least two extra), nevertheless, the XDM has one of the hardest magazines to load, second only to the Umarex S&W M&P40.

The same impressive attention to detail goes into the 3.8 Compact XDM model shown with a centerfire 3.8 in its carry case. The XD Gear Grip Frame extensions that slip down the magazine and fill the gap for higher capacity 4.5 mags are the same as used on the centerfire Models. Just like the 9mm model shown, the CO2 version comes with three interchangeable backstraps and matching Gear Grip Frame extensions. Of the two XDM CO2 models it has the most accessories.

The XDM has a medium-loud report and felt recoil that comes very close to a .22 LR pistol. The downside of this fine feedback is slighter lower velocity and fewer shots per CO2 cartridge, but for training it’s a fair tradeoff. What is a bit more disappointing is an average velocity of 300 fps which is the lowest of any gun in the comparisons except the little Sig Sauer P365.

Downrange accuracy comes in pretty close to the Glock 17 Gen4. The gun shoots slightly below POA, but is well centered for windage. The best 10-shot group I had with the XDM 4.5 measured 1.24 inches with a best 5-rounds at 0.68 inches. Not a match for the Glock 17 Gen4 in my hands, but close enough to be its equal in handling and value as a serious training gun.

The guns shoot a little low so you have to make an elevation correction but they are well centered for windage. The best 10-shot group I had with the XDM 4.5 measured 1.24 inches with a best 5-rounds at 0.68 inches.

The 3.8 model shares all the same features in a Compact version of the XDM. The 9mm XDM 3.8 has an overall length of 6.75 inches with a barrel length of 3.8 inches, (the CO2 model has a smoothbore .177 caliber liner with a length of 3.125 inches), height of 5.75 inches with extended capacity magazine, a width of 1.18 inches, and carry weight of 28 ounces. The CO2 model weighs 29 ounces and magazine capacity is 20 rounds (equal to the 9mm extended capacity magazine’s 19+1). Any closer and you would be loading 9mm cartridges into the 3.8 CO2 model. My 10-shot test group measured 0.95 inches with a best five rounds at 0.71 inches; not quite as good as the size-comparable Umarex Glock 19X Compact, but you can’t fieldstrip the G19X.

The CO2 model (left) and the centerfire guns both use versions of the short-recoil, locked-breech, tilting barrel design. The CO2 model’s barrel doesn’t tilt quite as much as the centerfire pistol’s but otherwise they look very much the same with the slide locked open.

Another interesting aspect of this gun is that in order for it to work, you have to use the same magazines as the 4.5 model, which means they stick out the bottom of the 3.8’s grip frame. They do on the center fire model, too, so Springfield came up with XD Gear Grip Frame extensions to slip down the magazine and fill the gap. They are the same as used on the centerfire 3.5 models. Combined with the interchangeable backstrap panels you have three sizes to use, making the gun suitable for any number of users while at the same time extending your grip on the gun. The CO2 magazines also still fit XD Gear and aftermarket magazine pouches with the extensions.

Of the two new XDM CO2 models, I like the 3.8 because it is better suited to practicing concealed carry with an air pistol. There is much to be learned about proper concealment and holster use, drawing from cover, and handling a smaller gun with the 3.8 as an understudy before laying down the hard cash for the 9mm model. Everything on the air pistol is 100 percent accurate to the centerfire gun.

The XDM models are perhaps the most well thought out CO2 pistols on the market today, with designs and quality for fit and finish that rival Umarex and Sig Sauer models. Right now we have three guns tied at 50 points and the Glock 17 Gen 4 packing a 1 point advantage at 51. This year’s choice for Replica Air Pistol is going to be tough!

You won’t find any telltale white letters or warnings on the XDM CO2 models. Everything is in small embossed lettering on the left side of the slide and looks like factory markings. The muzzle opening on the CO2 models is copied from the .45 ACP models. The centerfire 3.8 at right is chambered in 9mm.

CATEGORY RATINGS

Model: Air Venturi Springfield Armory XDM 4.5

Authenticity 1 to 10:  10 (1:1 match to the centerfire model)

Ingenuity of the design 1 to 10: 10 (Superior fit and finish)

Ease of use 1 to 10: 10 (Easy to load CO2, BBs load easily, follower is harder to handle)

Performance 1 to 10: 9 (Average velocity 300 fps)

Accuracy 1 to 10: 10 (Shoots tight groups, best five rounds at 0.68 inches)

Bonus points: 1 (Can be filed stripped)

Total Points: 50

CATEGORY RATINGS

Model: Air Venturi Springfield Armory XDM 3.8

Authenticity 1 to 10:  10 (1:1 match to the centerfire model)

Ingenuity of the design 1 to 10: 10 (Superior fit and finish, XD Gear Grip Frame extensions)

Ease of use 1 to 10: 10 (Easy to load CO2, BBs load easily, follower is harder to handle)

Performance 1 to 10: 9 (Average velocity 300 fps)

Accuracy 1 to 10: 10 (Shoots tight groups, best five rounds at 0.71 inches)

Bonus points: 1 (Can be filed stripped)

Total Points: 50

How to win 2019’s Replica Air Pistol of the Year

            This Saturday’s Part 9 will have the list of questions that have to be answered (one about each gun) in order to win. You must answer all 9 correctly and name the 2019 Replica Air Pistol of the Year. The winner of this year’s title and the winner of the gun will be announced in Part 10 on Tuesday, December 24th. in the 500th Airgun Experience article.

To enter, all you have to do is be signed up to post comments on Pyramyd Air’s website and post your answers to the 9 questions and your choice for the winning gun by midnight December 23rd.

Good Luck to everyone!

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