First Test: Springfield XDM CO2 Part 3

First Test: Springfield XDM CO2 Part 3

“Everything you want in a blowback action pistol”

By Dennis Adler

Rarely can you look at the right side of a blowback action CO2 pistol and not know that it is an airgun due to the white letter safety warnings and manufacturer’s marks. With the centerfire Springfield Armory XDM 4.5 models having a black polymer frame and flat black finish slide, correctly duplicating it for the Air Venturi .177 caliber models guaranteed an air pistol with totally authentic looking fit and finish. Even with the small details.

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).

The barrel lug and slide interface are exactly the same on the CO2 XDM 4.5, right down to the MATCH barrel stamping on the side of the barrel lug and matching serial numbers on the slide and barrel. Where the caliber marks are stamped on the centerfire gun, below the serial number on the barrel lug, the CO2 model has .177 CAL 4.5MM instead of 9mm, .40S&W or 45ACP. The Springfield Armory name is exactly the same on the slide and the deeply molded XDM model designation. The magazine release is also ambidextrous, as on the centerfire pistols. Left-handed shooters rejoice.

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.

Wearing of the finish on top of the barrel lug happens with XDM models over time. The same happens to the CO2 models, again making it much harder to distinguish between centerfire and .177 caliber blowback action guns. Also note the Springfield Armory logo on both slides.
From the bottom up, the CO2 model remains true to the centerfire guns, lacking only caliber markings on the base pad of the magazine and having a base pad locking notch for the CO2 BB magazine. Notice that the serial n umber plate for the frame on the CO2 model, which doubles as a very subtle manual safety, actually has a serial number stamped on it, making even this piece authentic to the centerfire pistols.

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Velocity plus

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.

How accurate can a training gun be? Here I perform a basic draw from concealment (the cover garment being a Springfield Armory XD hooded pullover sweatshirt) using the XD Gear injection molded paddle holster. This is with the centerfire XDM 4.5 model. There is obviously heavy recoil when the gun fires and a great deal more noise!
Here the drill is repeated with the CO2 model, and the only difference is after I pull the trigger; the report is a fraction of the volume and felt recoil much lower, but enough that the CO2 model imparts a palpable feel of the gun having discharged.

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.

Shooting the centerfire XDM 4.5 with Federal American Eagle .45 Auto 230 gr. FMJ rounds, average velocity clocked 758 fps (a modest 458 fps faster than the BB pistol). Using a two-hand hold and Weaver stance I shot a 5-round group measuring 1.5 inches at 50 feet. I put another three spread in the bullseye and 9-ring. So, the .45 ACP model at better than double the distance of the CO2 model and adding heavy recoil to the mix, did about the same as the CO2 model for overall accuracy fired off hand.

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.

Comparing my group sizes shot from 50 feet with the centerfire XDM, to shooting at 21 feet with the CO2 model and Umarex steel BBs, my shot group measured 1.09 inches against the centerfire pistol’s 1.5 inches.

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.

Shooting with Air Venturi Dust Devils the XDM gave me an average velocity of 320 fps and a spread of 1.0 inches for 10 rounds at 21 feet.

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.

Using Hornady Black Diamond black anodized steel BBs, my velocity averaged about 4 fps faster than Umarex steel BBs. My groups were not significantly improved with a spread measuring 1.03 inches for 10 shots.

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.

1 thought on “First Test: Springfield XDM CO2 Part 3”

  1. What the XDM lacks in velocity, it makes up for in realistic training. Training to get the pistol out and into the fight is a deadly necessary skill. As evidenced in the photos , nothing changes until the recoil of that first 45 leaving the muzzle of the firearm. Practicing with the air pistol , feeling and handling the same out of the same holster is worth the price of admission.

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