Springfield XDM 4.5 vs. Glock 17 Gen4 Part 1
The top two blowback actions square off 1:1
By Dennis Adler
I would usually save this kind of comparison for the December Reproduction Air Pistol of the Year rundown, but these two new CO2 models are quite literally the most authentic to their centerfire counterpart air pistols on the market, with perhaps last year’s Sig Sauer WE THE PEOPLE 1911 and the Umarex HK USP being the next closest runners up. Although I have to add, the technology in the Sig WTP is old, internally it is the same as the Umarex Colt Commander and all the 1911-style models that share the same CO2 BB magazines. The outside may be different, certainly better, more authentic, but not new in the sense that the Air Venturi Springfield Armory XDM 4.5 and Umarex Glock 17 Gen4 are. Had either or both of these new guns been introduced back in 2014 or 2015, they would have been hailed as revolutionary in the airgun world. Now, going step by step, generation by generation over the last five to six years, they are evolutionary, and that is still quite a point to make, considering all of the older designs are still in use by most airgun manufacturers.
Lines in the sand
You could argue that the Umarex Heckler & Koch USP, while an older centerfire design, is equally impressive as a new CO2 model, but where the lines have been drawn for authenticity by the Glock 17 Gen4 and Springfield Armory XDM models, is right down to the smallest details and the means by which all obvious elements separating the airgun from its centerfire counterpart have been reduced to something you have to look for, rather than older designs that, no matter how nicely executed, scream airgun when you see the white lettering, warnings, manufacturer’s marks, and manual safeties not present on the centerfire models.
All of this is so well disguised on the Glock and XDM that they truly meet the ideals that airgun enthusiasts have spent years advocating for. Until someone figures out how to make a self-contained CO2 pellet magazine that works exactly like a CO2 BB magazine (i.e., same size and with a follower that locks the slide open when its empty), or invents a way to use 9mm size pellet loading cartridges in a semi-auto air pistol that completely simulates the firing of a centerfire handgun and ejects spent shells, what we are looking at with the Gen4 and XDM is the epitome of blowback action airgun design for the present day. Are they equals, or is one better?
Let’s start with a little timeline. The centerfire Glock 17 Gen4 was introduced in 2010, the Springfield Armory XD(M) series in 2008. The Gen4 was evolved from the Glock 17 introduced in 1982, the XD(M) from the original XD Series introduced in 2002. Technically, the XD(M) is derived from a platform that is 20 years newer than the Glock’s. But while the XD(M) has evolved from the original 2002 guns with very similar characteristics, (we start splitting hairs here), the Gen4 was a highly evolutionary improvement over all preceding Glock designs, retaining only a passing resemblance to the original 1982 model. Specifically the general silhouette of the gun and the Safe Action trigger design. The Glock has come a very long way. That the entire evolution of the Glock has been incorporated into the Gen4 CO2 model, no shortcuts other than those absolutely necessary to make it an air pistol, makes a statement about the commitment of Umarex and Glock to building the Gen4 (and Gen5 already on sale overseas) as the most authentic air pistols made.
But, the XDM CO2 models 4.5 and 3.8 (basically Glock 17 and Glock 19 sized guns), have jumped in full born, while Glock baby-stepped it with the Glock 19 non-blowback and Glock 17 blowback leading up to the Gen4. Glock and Umarex would deem that prudent marketing to appeal to a broader market by price range. Springfield Armory and Air Venturi had no such pretense; they went for the top of the line with Job No. 1 and that is what brings these two new CO2 models head-to-head with Springfield Armory having the home field advantage.
Sizing them up, the Glock 17 Gen4 and XDM 4.5 are about the same size and have almost overlapping profiles. The Gen4 weighs 27 ounces empty on my scale. The XDM weighs in at 30 ounces empty. The XDM slide is a fraction of an inch narrower and more contoured compared to the squared off lines of the Glock. The XDM 4.5 is also 0.125 inches longer and 0.25 inches greater in overall height, and has a deeper grip frame that more closely approximates the angle of a 1911 grip. In terms of operating features both guns are identical to their centerfire counterparts and both use the dustcover serial number plate as a means of hiding a manual sliding safety.
Only Springfield went the full distance and actually covered the sliding safety with the gun’s serial number. Both are as unobtrusive as possible. Both utilize a blade safety trigger that functions (Ultra Safety Assurance Action Trigger System on the XDM and Safe Action Trigger System on the Glock), but the XDM adds a 1911-derived grip safety as an additional failsafe. Both also have interchangeable backstrap panels. As blowback action CO2 models go, no two air pistols could be more perfectly matched to face off against each other.
In Part 2 velocity tests, trigger pull, and sight comparisons.
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.