First Test: Springfield XDM CO2 Part 2
A new level of authenticity
By Dennis Adler
We are by nature a people who want what they cannot have. This is not a bad thing; it is what inspires us to reach for higher goals. For Springfield Armory, those goals continue to extend the armsmaker’s reach across the spectrum of innovative semi-auto pistols, and now into the world of blowback action CO2 pistols. Originally (and still) known for its excellent line of Model 1911-A1 pistols, Springfield Armory broke its own mold in 2002 with the introduction of the polymer-framed XD (X-Treme Duty) models. In the subsequent 17 years the company has continued to expand the XD Series and make improvements, including the XDM models introduced in 2008. Yes, it took almost a decade for Springfield to develop its first CO2 powered, blowback action model in 2018, but like everything this company has done, it is done right the first time. Understanding the design of the 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP versions, is the key to understanding the CO2 pistols. In purpose, they are one and the same.
About the centerfire guns
In one of my reviews of the XDM for Combat Handguns I wrote that “…wrapping your hand around an XDM is like grabbing the shifter on a high-performance sports car; there’s a lot of horsepower here. The hi-capacity XDM models have match grade barrels, long, leggy grips and modest carry weights with superbly crafted polymer frames. No lightweight when it comes to taking up recoil, an XDM is nevertheless a full quarter pound less on the hip than a comparable Springfield Model 1911-A1 and that’s a gun with almost half the capacity of the XDM.”
With Springfield Armory’s long history with building 1911 models, there is a touch of 1911 in every XDM; not only because of the gun’s very familiar feeling grip angle, but Springfield’s adaptation of a 1911-style grip safety, which is combined with a pivoting trigger safety (similar to a Glock), creating the XDM’s unique dual safety system that is almost unrivaled in the handgun industry. Both must be depressed in order to discharge the firearm. There is no external safety to click on or off, no de-cocker. As a carry gun, cocked and locked is the XDM’s normal safe condition.
The XDM design (9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP) has two indicators that show when a round is chambered and if the action has been cycled; both can be easily seen, and in low light conditions, or in the dark, distinguished by touch. The loaded chamber indicator is located behind the ejector port on top of frame. The front edge projects upward just enough to see it, or to surreptitiously feel it if you run a finger over the top of the slide. On the CO2 model it is always in the chambered round position, slightly raised above the top of the slide. The cocking indicator takes a page from guns like the Walther P99 with the back of the striker protruding through the rear face of the slide when the action has been cycled. This, however, does not mean that a round is chambered with the centerfire or CO2 pistols! For the centerfire guns, that is where the loaded chamber indicator becomes essential. Back in the old days one would do a press check to make sure a round was chambered by pushing the slide back just far enough to see the shell case.
The built-in features of the XDM series cover more ground than some custom built semi-autos. The guns have tapered ambidextrous magazine releases, drift adjustable dovetailed front and rear white dot sights, ambidextrous indexing thumb rests, deeply angled front and rear slide serrations, and come with two interchangeable backstrap panels. The standard white dot sights can easily be replaced with Springfield’s optional red fiber optic front sight or low light tritium sights. The CO2 model comes with the red fiber optic which is also now standard on the centerfire pistols. Both front and rear sights on the CO2 model are dovetailed in but locked in place with set screws from underneath. Though not adjustable they are removable.
Then there is the ease with which the XDM fieldstrips. 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.
All XDM models have ramped, match grade barrels that provide accuracy more common to competition pistols than traditional self defense handguns. As with a majority of modern semi-autos the XD series utilizes a striker fired system which Springfield Armory has fine tuned to reduce trigger take-up and reset. Including engaging the trigger safety there’s about 0.5 inches of travel and the trigger remains crisp and consistent with every shot requiring a nominal 6.65 lbs. average.
A striker fired system is unique in that “technically speaking” it is neither a single action nor a double action design since there is no internal or external hammer involved in discharging the gun. The same argument can be made for the Glock, Walther P99 and any number of handguns with striker fired systems, but more often than not you’ll see them described as DA/SA. The CO2 model uses a small internal hammer as a striker, with a separately activated striker pin to protrude from the back of the slide when the slide has been cycled and the action ready to fire. This is as close to the actual XDM as physically possible for an air pistol.
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 the 20 BBs in to the magazine is also a little different and better than other designs. The pistol comes with a magazine follower loading assist tool which allows you to pull the follower down and hold it while inserting BBs into the large loading channel. The BBs stagger just like cartridges in the centerfire magazines.
The XDM has a medium-loud report and felt recoil that comes very close to a .22 LR cartridge. The downside of this fine feedback is slighter lower velocity and fewer shots per CO2, but for training it is a fair tradeoff. Average velocity clocked 300 fps and the gun shot slightly low, but well centered for windage. My initial 10-round target, shot while I was chronographing the gun at 21 feet, measured 1.3 inches center-to-center with the best 5-shot group at 0.875 inches. Eight of 10 were solidly in the red with two cutting into the black at 6 o’clock. The gun shot 2 inches below POA so my correction was 12 o’clock at the top of the 9 ring. From 21 feet using a two-handed hold and Weaver stance, the XDM delivered fairly tight groups. For the very first shooting test and very first target with the gun, I have high expectations.
Saturday more velocity and accuracy tests with Hornady Black Diamond black anodized steel BBs and Air Venturi Dust Devils.
A word about safety
Blowback action airguns provide the look, feel and operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts and this is one reason why they have become so popular. Airguns in general all look like guns, blowback action models more so, and it is important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t tell an airgun from a cartridge gun. Never brandish an airgun in public. Always, and I can never stress this enough, always treat an airgun as you would a cartridge gun. The same manual of operation and safety should always apply.
Special thanks to Allegeny Trade for supplying the .40 S&W XDM.