Springfield XDM 4.5 vs. Glock 17 Gen4 Part 3

Springfield XDM 4.5 vs. Glock 17 Gen4 Part 3

A competition of equals

By Dennis Adler

I have shot both the XDM 4.5 and Glock 17 Gen4 in 9mm, so I am familiar with their respective handling as centerfire guns. Both make excellent carry guns and their CO2 counterparts equally good substitutes for hands-on training with air. Each has its appeal, and both shoot and handle about the same. The question is, is one more accurate than the other?

Time, as they say, to see what happens when the rubber meets the road, and the Umarex Glock 17 Gen4 goes head-to-head downrange against the Air Venturi Springfield Armory XDM 4.5 model. The XDM is a slightly larger gun with every realistic feature possible for a CO2 model based on a centerfire pistol. Its overall design and execution is flawless. But, the same can be said for the Umarex Glock 17 Gen4. This is a contest of equals that will come down to ease of operation and accuracy. It is that one catch, ease of operation, which favors the Gen4 because it is faster to load the Glocks’s CO2 BB magazine than the Springfield’s. It is a small matter since extra XDM magazines are already available, and it’s only a problem if you are reloading the same magazine over and over. Extra XDM mags are not cheap, about $50 apiece, but essential for training, so you should have them anyway. (Unfortunately, Glock has not released spare mags for the Gen4 as yet, but they are forthcoming). The issue with the XDM mag being slow to load is a follower tab that is small and hard to hold down, but this is already being addressed with improved follower tabs for the next supply of XD magazines, so that will put the Gen4 and XDM on an even footing across the board.

I began with drawing the Gen4 and racking the slide, since I had set the gun up with the trigger pulled before inserting the loaded magazine, thus creating the need to rack the slide and chamber the first round before shooting. This is one tactic to make the Glock double safe for concealed carry and some people do use this method with guns that have no manual safety. After drawing and racking the slide I went through a short drill from a pistol lowered position, with my trigger finger on the side of gun (as pictured), to firing. The air pistol feels exactly like a 9mm model.

Racking the slides

The effort generally required to rack the slide on a blowback action air pistol is significantly less than a centerfire (or rimfire) semi-auto. For example, the effort to pull the slide back on the average 1911 CO2 model is between 6 pounds 4 ounces and 6 pounds 8.5 ounces, where slide resistance on a centerfire 1911 is well over twice that. Slide resistance on the Umarex Glock 17 Gen4 is around 8 pounds 12 ounces to 9 pounds even, which is closer to an actual 9mm model and heavier than other CO2 models. Slide resistance on the XDM CO2 pistol is about 6 pounds 2 ounces, which is closer to other blowback action airguns than actual centerfire (or rimfire) semi-auto models, or the XDM. Thus the dual recoil spring system in the Gen4 CO2 pistol has the added benefit of increasing the gun’s authentic handling.

At 21 feet firing 10 rounds at a Shoot-N-C target I was getting everything inside the 10 and bullseye and keeping groups around 1.25 to 1.5 inches.

Slinging lead…well, make that steel

I could honestly sling lead if I used Smart Shot but I don’t want to give up velocity on guns that are barely firing at over 300 fps. So, with Umarex steel BBs in the Gen4 at 21 feet, my first test target gave me a best 10-shot group measuring 1.24 inches and a best-5-shot group at 0.68 inches, fired with a traditional two-handed hold.

The gun was hitting a little right of POA (which was just above the 10 ring, otherwise it hits low at 21 feet), and my group here gave me a best five shots at 0.68 inches.

Target two; I got a little more dialed in, though the gun (with a fresh CO2) was hitting a little right of POA. This time I got two in the bullseye and the remaining eight in an overlapping cluster to the right that measured 0.75 inches, and it is safe to say in that eight round group a best five would have to be 0.5 inches. The overall total spread for 10 rounds was 1.50 inches. With more target time I could probably cut that down to 1 inch, but suffice to say, the Glock Gen4 is accurate once you get POA dialed in with the fixed sights.

A second test with a fresh CO2 loaded brought my POA closer, though I was still hitting right of the bullseye. Groups were tighter with eight in an overlapping cluster measuring 0.75 inches, and a best 5-shot group somewhere in there at 0.5 inches.

Now it is up to the XDM’s lighter trigger pull and hopefully equally accurate smoothbore barrel and white dot, red fiber optic sight combination, to equal or beat the Glock’s best 5-shot group from 21 feet. What I am actually looking for is an equally sized 10-shot group to see if both guns are about the same. The XDM 4.5 punched 10 rounds of Umarex into a group measuring 1.25 inches with a best five rounds at 0.75 inches, and the XDM was hitting low. I corrected with a 2-inch hold over dead center on the target. My second run with Umarex steel BBs was better than the first and delivered seven of 10 rounds clustered into 0.98 inches with a trio around the bullseye for a total 10-round spread of 1.125 inches. If I had to pull five shots out of the large overlapping group, it would be about 0.56 inches.

The red fiber optic front sight on the XDM is easier to frame on the target than the Glock white outline rear and white dot front. The lighter trigger pull also allows you to squeeze off shots with less effort.

The XDM grouped tight and like the Gen4 all in the 10 and bullseye. My first effort at 21 feet with the XDM gave me 10 shots at 1.25 inches with a best five rounds at 0.75 inches.

Bottom line on these two

From start to finish this has been a competition of equals. It remains as close to a tie as it can get for handling and performance with off hand shooting, rather than testing from a benchrest, though I suspect they would be just about equal there as well. The trigger on the XDM is smoother than the Glock trigger, but the Glock is dead on to spec for its centerfire counterpart. In the XDM’s defense, a lighter trigger is offered for the centerfire model, so trigger pull isn’t a real deal maker or breaker here. It comes down to which feels better in the hand, what sights work best for the individual shooter, and if you are looking for a target pistol (which the XDM is most like), or a training gun, at which both are excellent. The choice between the Glock 17 Gen4 and Springfield Armory XDM is the same in CO2 as it is in 9mm; a matter of personal preference. These are the two best new blowback action models of the year in this category. But there is yet another tale to be told. Next week, something a year older and not quite as aesthetically perfect, is still an honest challenger to the Gen4 and XDM for handling, accuracy, velocity and training use!

During the range test the XDM was also hitting low like the Gen4, so I corrected with a 2-inch hold over dead center on the target. My second run with the Umarex steel BBs was better than the first and delivered seven of 10 in 0.98 inches with three around the bullseye and a total 10-round spread of 1.125 inches. It is a pretty close match to the Gen4, but if you’re going for the tightest 5-shot group, the Glock just edged out the XDM at 21 feet by 0.06 inches. It’s enough to separate a winner from 2nd place in a shooting match, but not by enough to say one gun is really better than the other.

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.

One thought on “Springfield XDM 4.5 vs. Glock 17 Gen4 Part 3

  1. I really like the bi-color XDM 4.5 I purchased. Shooting Umarex Steel BBs bench rested at 18 feet using open sights with a 6 o’clock aim on the red center produced the 10 shot group pictured below. The group measures about 1″ center-to-center. There’s enough room in the XDM box for 2 extra magazines so I put 2 more on order.

    For anyone who’s interested and hadn’t seen them, Sig M17 pellet clips are available now in packages of 2. Pyramyd Air is currently saying the full M17 CO2/pellet magazines will be available later this month.


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