First Test: Springfield XDM CO2 Part 3
“Everything you want in a blowback action pistol”
By Dennis Adler
I have said those words so many times in the past, “everything you want…” and every time it was true within the context of when it was said. But even the best of the lot in .177 caliber blowback action pistols with self-contained CO2 BB magazines, have suffered minor imperfections, and in the overall scheme of things CO2, they were nothing more than minor irritants, almost entirely limited to mandatory warnings in white letters marring otherwise pristinely authentic frames and slides. The first gun to break the mold, the Umarex Glock 17, suffered instead from being a design that could not be field stripped (and Umarex may correct that with the forthcoming Glock 17 Gen4).
One part of a training gun (and for occasional blowback action air pistol upkeep), that knocked the Glock 17 out of contention for 2018’s Replica Air Pistol of the Year was it’s lack of field stripping capability. Overall, the best new blowback action model of 2018, from a technical standpoint, was the Umarex H&K USP but it lost out to the pellet-firing Sig Sauer M17. I have to admit that as BB guns go, vs. pellet-firing models, of which only the M17 could have qualified, the Heckler & Koch was as close to perfect as you could come. Now, that briefly held mantle has been passed to the Springfield Armory XDM 4.5 CO2 model. Having had some insight into what Springfield Armory and Air Venturi were doing last year, I knew that this would be the eventual outcome and the XDM CO2 models (4.5 and 3.8) would become the best new air pistols on the market for overall authenticity and “purity” of design. No one will be disappointed.
As of Shooting Test 1 on Thursday, velocity averaged 300 fps using Umarex Precision steel BBs, which have an average weight of 5.1 gr. Hornady Black Diamond black anodized steel BBs have the same weight but often perform differently than polished steel BBs, sometimes better, sometimes worse. And of course, the wild card today comes in the form of the increasingly popular Air Venturi Dust Devils, which have a less consistent size than steel BBs but a weight of just 4.35 gr. and that usually translates into higher to much higher velocity, depending upon the air pistol.
Given the excellent CO2 BB magazine design of the XDM 4.5 with its zigzag double stack lineup of the BBs, the first question here is going to be will it feed Dust Devils without jamming the gun. Let’s find out. With Dust Devils velocity increased to an average of 320 fps, still not great but not bad. As for their accuracy from the 4.0 inch smoothbore barrel, my best 10-shot group with the frangible composite BBs measured 1.0 inches shot from 21 feet at a 10-meter pistol target. Almost every shot hit a little low and right. I ended up with a best 5-round group measuring 0.5 inches. Dust Devils did not jam in the magazine and there were no feeding issues. So, if you want a little extra velocity and to shoot at reactive metal targets, the frangible BBs will get the job done in the XDM.
I went back and shot a 10-meter pistol target with Umarex steel BBs and my best 10-shot group measured 1.09 inches, with a best 5-shot group at 0.685 inches. I had corrected by POA up to the 5 ring at 12 o’clock and my shots actually came in a bit high but nicely centered. You have to remember that with fixed sights the XDM CO2 model is not a target pistol, but as you will see later on, my groups with the CO2 pistol are commensurate with the centerfire XDM 4.5 shot from 50 feet.
For the final test of the XDM 4.5 model, I used Hornady Black Diamond anodized steel BBs which clocked an average velocity (with a fresh CO2 cartridge) of 304 fps, so a very minor gain over the Umarex steel BBs. As for accuracy, the Black Diamond was not a particularly great outcome, with a best 10-shot group (with the POA at 12 o’clock over the 6 ring, measuring 1.03 inches, and a best 5-shot group at 0.68 inches, with all but three shots still hitting low. Getting an ammo and sighting match up is going to require some fine tuning with a production gun, so we will be going through some of this again within the next month or so when I can get an off-the-shelf XDM 4.5.
In terms of potential, the XDM 4.5 has a great deal of promise, especially if production guns have more well-regulated fixed sights, and they may well. In every other respect this gun exceeds expectations for blowback action CO2 model authenticity. And that is something we pay for as much as accuracy in an air pistol.
Next week, I am going to test the XDM 4.5 for accuracy using rail-mounted lasers. We’ll find out if this CO2 pistol can deliver downrange accuracy equal to its looks and handling if you work around the fixed sights.
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.