Springfield XDM 4.5 vs. Glock 17 Gen4 Part 2

Springfield XDM 4.5 vs. Glock 17 Gen4 Part 2

The top two blowback actions square off 1:1

By Dennis Adler

Almost every polymer frame semi-auto made today, especially those equipped with an integral blade safety trigger, is tied to the Glock 17 design. Aside from the HK VP70, which used an ABS plastic receiver (the guns were built from 1970 and manufactured in several versions until 1984) the Glock was the first semi-auto to utilize a polymer frame. Now, just about every armsmaker in the world has a model with a polymer frame, and many, like the Springfield Armory XDM, use a Glock-style trigger safety, making it an even more interesting relationship between these two blowback action CO2 air pistols. The 9mm XDM and Glock Gen4 models have Melonite treated slides with a matte Parkerized-like finish that is nicely duplicated on teh CO2 models. (Glock originally used a Tenifer treatment and various finishes from a light gloss to the current matte Parkerized look).

Two guns that are so much alike yet built on two different principles offer features that make each distinctive in its handling and operation. Which is better? Statistically it would be the Glock, which has the longest history and is in use by more law enforcement, military, government, and private sector agencies than the Springfield XDM. But in terms of handling and safety, the newer Springfield design offers certain advantages as a centerfire pistol compared to the Glock 17 Gen4. This comes down to the additional grip safety on the XDM, the balance of the gun in the hand (1911-like grip angle), slide design, and a feature that I find very important, the striker status indicator. This is not an original idea, but rather is based on the design pioneered by Walther and used on the groundbreaking polymer frame, striker-fired P99 semi-auto in the late 1990s. It is simply the most effective way to know if the striker firing action is cocked. If it is, the indicator protrudes from the small opening in the back of the slide. If it is flush with the opening, the action is not cocked and the gun is not ready to fire. You have no way to verify this with a Glock unless you look at the trigger position. As for a loaded chamber indicator, both guns have one, the Springfield’s, which is positioned on top of the slide, is easier to see and feel than the indicator on the Glock, which is parallel with the ejection port.

The XDM striker status indicator rests flush with the back of the slide when the action is not cocked…

…when the slide is cycled, the striker is cocked and the indicator protrudes from the back, making it very clear that the gun is ready to fire. This is one of two indicators; the second is the loaded chamber indicator, which rises up from the top of the slide when a round is loaded. On the CO2 model, this is always in the up (loaded) position.

How do these two features relate to the matching CO2 models? The loaded chamber indicators are static features on the air pistols, since there is no actual shell case to affect the indicator, thus it remains flat against the side of the slide on the Glock, and on the XDM it is designed to stay in the raised position indicating a loaded chamber. Of the two, I prefer Springfield’s approach, along with the striker status indicator, as they teach you how to feel for the indicators and quickly know if the gun is cocked and has a round chambered. In a real world situation this would be most beneficial under duress or in a low light or nighttime situation. In daylight, they are also more easily seen with the striker status indicator staring you in the face and the loaded chamber indicator just below your line of sight.

The Glock does not have a striker status indicator (which protrudes from the rear of the slide on the XDM) to indicate if the action is cocked. On the Glock, the only indication is the trigger position. Here, the CO2 model in the foreground shows exactly what a centerfire model’s trigger looks like if the striker is not cocked. The trigger sits further back in the triggerguard…

…when the action is been cycled, the Safe-Action trigger sits further forward and the blade safety extends further in front of the trigger. The XDM trigger remains in the same position regardless of whether the action is cocked or not. This is duplicated in exact detail on the CO2 models.

The next minor design advantage to the XDM vs. the Glock is the sights. Now this is really a personal choice. Some people prefer old style black sights, others a single white dot front sight and black rear sight, still others (including most armsmakers) favor a white dot front and dual white dot rear. Glock uses a white outline rear sight and white dot front. It is a traditional Glock design. Springfield began with white dots and evolved to the current line, which has the dual white dot rear and a red fiber optic front for improved sighting under more varied lighting conditions. The fiber optic is second best to tritium sights, which present themselves as white in daylight and illuminate to green in low light or darkness. Very few CO2 pistols offer a fiber optic front sight and none have tritium sights. And there is one other advantage to the XDM design; the magazine release is ambidextrous, even on the CO2 model, which makes this gun a perfect choice for left-handed users.

The back of the Glock 17 Gen4 CO2 model slide has a correctly-styled slide cover plate. Springfield Armory calls it a striker locking plate, since the striker status indicator protrudes through the back. (The indicator is not the back of the striker like it is with the Walther P99 design, but a separate piece in line with the firing system that protrudes when the striker mechanism is cocked).

Weights and balances

Trigger pull, trigger reset, and how well the gun balances and points are all essential components of a quality semi-auto. Average factory trigger pull on the centerfire Glock 17 is 5.5 pounds. The Springfield triggers test anywhere from 5.5 to 7.5 pounds, but generally a pound heavier than the Glock. The CO2 models come close with the Glock 17 Gen4 trigger averaging 5 pounds, 5 ounces, which is right on the factory 9×19 Glock trigger pull specs. The Gen4 has a short take up and reset that does not require a full let off on the trigger. The Springfield has a much lighter trigger pull than the standard 9mm model. Average for the CO2 pistol was 3 pounds, 14.5 ounces which makes it a light, almost competition weight trigger. It does, however, have a 0.5 inch take up but almost zero resistance until the trigger breaks the shot, and this is where the entire pull weight is felt. The Glock Gen4 CO2 model’s trigger has 0.312 inches of take up with light stacking throughout the pull to a clean break. We may find that the lighter, smoother trigger pull on the XDM offers some advantage for downrange accuracy.

Velocity comparisons

For the velocity checks both guns have fresh CO2 and a total of two 10-round strings will be fired to find the average velocity. The first tests will be done using Umarex Precision steel BBs, and then a second run using Hornady Black Diamond black anodized steel BBs.

Starting with the Umarex Glock 17 Gen4, the average velocity for the first 10 rounds was 310 fps with a high of 313 fps and a low of 307 fps (this is down from the previous article on this test gun where average velocity was 317 fps, so off by 7 fps). The second 10 averaged 312 fps, but the instruction book with the Gen4 says 300 fps, so the gun is still doing better than factory spec. With Black Diamond, average velocity was up slightly, to 314 fps. This leaves the decision, at least for velocity, up to the XDM 4.5 with its single large recoil spring vs. the Glock Gen4’s dual recoil spring design.

During the velocity test I experienced a few issues with the XDM test gun, which locked open three times during the test before the magazine was empty. I might add that even with the loading assist tool that comes with the XDM, this is one of the most difficult magazines to load BBs into with the heavy follower spring and very small follower tab. That said, I like the magazine design overall for its looks and the excellent design for the base pad’s removal.

The XDM, which also has a slide that imparts a palpable sense of recoil, delivered an average velocity with Umarex steel BBs of 307 fps, a high of 313 fps and a low of 300 fps, but most shots were consistently between 305 and 307 fps with several duplicates at 306 fps. Still, the gun is listed as capable of “up to 325 fps” which I did not get with any of the test BBs. The Hornady Black Diamond delivered an average of 307 fps.

Authentic as possible, both the Glock 17 Gen4 and Springfield Armory XDM fully fieldstrip like the centerfire guns. Here both are taken down to the point where the barrels can be removed from the slide. The disassembly process is identical, so you can actually learn to fieldstrip a Glock or Springfield using the air pistols.

Conclusions

The XDM falls short of the mark for ease of loading and promised velocity compared to the Glock. The XDM magazines are both over built in some respects, and a little under built in others, like the small plastic follower tab and needing a loading assist tool that, at best, is awkward to use. Once the magazine is loaded (buy extras!) all things are equal, but at this point, before shots are fired downrange at a target, the Glock Gen4 holds a slight edge over the Springfield Armory XDM.

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.

 

6 thoughts on “Springfield XDM 4.5 vs. Glock 17 Gen4 Part 2

  1. Please look closely at the caption for the first picture regarding the trigger position.

    “On the Glock, the only indication is the trigger position. Here, the CO2 model in the foreground shows exactly what a centerfire model’s trigger looks like if the striker is not cocked. The trigger sits further back in the triggerguard…”

    Please clarify if that should say, “… if the striker is cocked.”

    On some of my other CO2 blowback pistols, I have noticed when I cock the “striker” or hammer that the trigger moves backward so that the final trigger pull is shorter to fire the shot.

    Are you wanting to say about the Glock 17 Gen 4 CO2 that when the striker is cocked the trigger will move farther back in the trigger guard and that that is what is illustrated in the picture?


    • Charles, the Glock trigger system is not like others, especially DA/SA designs or designs that are hammer-fired. When a Glock is discharged the striker is re-cocked so long as the magazine retracts, even if the slide locks back on an empty magazine. However, if you pull the trigger on an empty chamber, the trigger and blade safety move back and remain in their retracted position. Only racking the slide, for example when inserting a loaded magazine and chambering the first round, or retracting the slide far enough to the rear to reset the striker, will the trigger and safety move forward into the ready to fire position. Now, on some pistols with DA/SA triggers and hammer-fired systems, cocking the hammer moves the trigger back from double action to single action, so yes, that is what you would normally see, but not with a Glock. With the striker not cocked, the trigger rests further back as in the first photo. After the action is cocked, it moves forward as in the second photo. As a visual tell of the striker’s status, that is the only way to tell on a Glock. Though I have to add, it would be unusual to have a loaded Glock and not have the striker cocked, unless the chamber were cleared, the magazine removed, and the trigger pulled before reinserting the loaded magazine. This would constitute carrying the gun without a chambered round as an additional safety measure, but require racking the slide before the gun could be fired.

      Hope that clears up any confusion.

      Dennis


      • Yes it does clear up the confusion.

        Having never fired a Glock firearm, and having only the Glock 17 Gen 3 CO2 BB pistol and other CO2 pistols for comparison, I had no way to know the Glock 17 Gen 4 trigger worked that way.


  2. In the words of the Great & Powerful Arnold:
    “Between your faith and my GLOCK 9mm…I’ll take my GLOCK!”

    GLOCK all the way for me. Although I do love a 1911 with an ambi safety being a lefty.(My SIG WTP comes to mind)


    • As a lefty handgun shooter, I have an ambi safety on almost every autopistol. I had a stainless Walther Ppk fitted with one. I have an ambi safety on my toothbrush. The Gen 5 Glock 19 is about as good as it gets for Glock fans. Ambi slide release and reversible mag release. Would be nice to see Umarex follow this trend


  3. I have a Gen 5. Works great for me. I’m a bit of a freak. I shoot semi autos left hand, but my single action revolvers I enjoy shooting right hand. Long guns & my bow I shoot left. Like I said…freak.


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