The XDM 3.8 Part 2

The XDM 3.8 Part 2

The Tale of the Tape

By Dennis Adler

Real 1:1 design means inside and out, at least as far as a CO2 firing system can be adapted to a centerfire pistol, and the XDM 3.8 has taken this concept to the next level for blowback action BB-firing models. The CO2 model is on the right. Quick tells are the small molded in wording on the left lower section of the slide, the more orange than red fiber optic front sight, and a .45 ACP diameter muzzle vs. a 9mm muzzle, though the XDM was offered in a .45 Auto version up until 2017 with the 4.5 inch barrel (XDM 4.5).

In Combat Handguns magazine, “Tale of the Tape” is a series of articles I do comparing two similar handguns. Occasionally, I make this same comparison between centerfire handguns and their CO2 counterparts, and that is what I will be doing today with the Springfield Armory XDM 3.8 CO2 model against a 9mm XDM 3.8 Bi-Tone version.

As I mentioned in Tuesday’s article on the XDM 3.8, Springfield Armory has decided to limit the XDM Series to the company’s black Melonite finish slide and no longer offer the option of a satin polished stainless steel version. The Bi-Tone finish is still offered for the XDS Series and XD 5-inch .45 ACP models. Since the CO2 model is also offered in a black Melonite-like finish, you have a current version blowback action pistol as well, though I prefer the Bi-Tone look on the XDM 3.8 model. It is a sharp looking pistol and the satin stainless steel (9mm) and alloy finishes (CO2) are not highly reflective, either.

Specifications for the 3.8 model in 9mm and .177 caliber for overall length, height and width are the same. The CO2 model is one ounce heavier. The loaded chamber indicator (right behind the ejection port) is always in the raised (loaded chamber) position on the CO2 model.

Build a Custom Airgun

With a 1:1 CO2 model, attention has to be given to every aspect of the air pistol’s design, and this is were some companies fail in their total execution of a design, the Umarex Glock 17 being a prime example with its inability to be field stripped. For this Tale of the Tape style review of the new XDM 3.8 CO2 model I am using the full specs and features of the centerfire gun compared to the CO2 model.

The XDM 3.8 Compact

The XDM was designed from the ground up to be an advanced polymer framed semi-auto that could be adapted to a variety of hand sizes, which is a little harder to accomplish with a Compact pistol. The 3.8 uses a trio of interchangeable mold-tru backstraps, so the pistol can be tailored to fit smaller and larger hands. The XDM also shares the same grip angle as a Model 1911, so the gun points naturally.

The match up from the rear shows the exceptional detail in duplicating the 9mm model (at left) as a CO2 pistol. Both guns have cocked actions and the striker status indicator is exposed. The 3.8 models are shown with the standard (medium) backstrap panel and XD Gear magazine grip extension. The XD series guns have the same grip angle as a Model 1911. Also note the excellent white dot rear sights on the CO2 model, which are actually a bit deeper and larger than those on the 9mm pistol.

The use of deep, aggressive mega-lock frame texturing and major grasp slide serrations keep the XDM firmly in the hand, and make racking the slide easier when chambering a round or clearing the gun. This is much easier on the CO2 model since it has a single steel recoil spring compared to the heavy dual recoil spring used for the 9mm model to help mitigate muzzle lift. The XDM slide and frame design also have lightly contoured edges to reduce mass and make the 3.8 a more concealable pistol and easier to re-holster. Even with the extended capacity magazine, the 3.8 still retains a slim profile. The longer magazine does, however, provide a full hand grip on the gun, which is a secondary advantage to the added number of rounds. (For the CO2 model the longer magazine is needed to accommodate the combined CO2 and BB firing system, which is the same as the XDM 4.5 version).

Springfield Armory also used proven safety features in the XDM design including a striker status indicator that extends from the back of the slide when the action has been cycled and the striker cocked. This is the same design pioneered by Walther with the P99. The XDM also uses a loaded chamber indicator giving the shooter instant tactile and visual feedback to know if there is a chambered round.

Looking over the top of the guns it is very easy to see that dimensionally both are exactly the same making the CO2 model perfect for indoor training with the air pistol using all centerfire XDM accessories available.

The Springfield has a total of three separate safeties to guard against accidental discharges, beginning with the Glock-type Ultra Safety Assurance (USA) Action Trigger System, which prevents unintentional rearward movement of the trigger without fully engaging the trigger shoe. This is considered “the safety” on most guns using the Glock-style trigger, but Springfield takes it one step further by utilizing a 1911-style grip safety to prevent the pistol from firing unless the shooter has a firm grasp on the gun. There is also an internal firing pin block (on the centerfire guns) that adds a third level of safety to prevent discharge if the firearm is advertently dropped.

Even though the 3.8 is a Compact, the integral rail mount will fit compact tactical light and light/laser combinations for added low light accuracy. The Compact uses a maximum reach ambidextrous magazine release to allow fast reloading access to shooters with any size hands. Low profile combat sights give a clear sight picture and complete the exterior features shared by both the 9mm and .177 caliber models. The centerfire guns all use fully supported ramped match-grade barrels. The CO2 models have the same barrel lug and ejection port locking interface and the action is a fully functional short-recoil, locked-breech, tilting barrel design like the centerfire pistols.

Lock the slide back, remove the magazine, make certain the gun is cleared and rotate the takedown lever 45 degrees. Release the slide and pull it forward off the frame. Both guns fieldstrip the same way. Note that the 9mm model uses Springfield Armory’s heavy dual recoil spring system to help reduce felt recoil and muzzle lift with the lightweight pistol, while the CO2 model uses a single steel recoil spring. It is still stronger than most CO2 blowback action pistols, which helps deliver a more realistic feel when firing. The extended capacity 19-round 9mm magazine is almost identical in length to the polished metal CO2 BB magazine except for the feeder that inserts into the air pistol’s firing mechanism in the slide.

Lastly, the XDM is one of the easiest pistols in the world to fieldstrip and it does not require pulling the trigger. Simply lock the slide back, remove the magazine and make sure the gun is cleared, rotate the take down lever 45 degrees, release the slide and pull it off the frame. The CO2 model fieldstrips and reassembles exactly the same way.

Two guns, not one, are pictured here with the CO2 model laying on top of the 9mm centerfire 3.8 pistol. Trigger positions are not quite identical but everything else lines up exactly.

Measuring up

When I say measuring up, I mean literally stacking one on top of the other and the CO2 model is an exact overlay of the 9mm pistol. The stats for the XDM 3.8 centerfire pistol and the CO2 version are identical, except for carry weight, which is only off by a single ounce due to the heavier CO2 BB magazine.

Locked back and ready to load or disassemble, both the CO2 model and 9mm pistol operate the same with a short-recoil, locked-breech, tilting barrel design. The barrel taper and degree of tilt on the 9mm are slightly different than the CO2 model when the slide comes back, but remember that the CO2 model has a .45 ACP barrel circumference.

The 9mm XDM 3.8 has an overall length of 6.75 inches with a barrel length of 3.8 inches, (the CO2 model has a smoothbore .177 caliber liner with a length of 3.125 inches), height of 5.75 inches with extended capacity magazine, a width of 1.18 inches, and carry weight of 28 ounces. The CO2 model weighs 29 ounces and magazine capacity is 20 rounds (equal to the 9mm extended capacity magazine’s 19+1). Any closer and you would be loading 9mm cartridges into the 3.8 CO2 model. One last thing to bear in mind, the suggested retail price of the 9mm XDM 3.8 is $631. The CO2 model has an MSRP of only $149.99 making the cost of training with air a lot more affordable, if you carry an XDM or plan on carrying one of the Springfield Armory models as a CCW option.

A perfect fit in XD Gear holsters as well as handcrafted leather gear like this Galco Combat Master belt holster and magazine pouch. The CO2 pistol and a spare CO2 magazine are in the Galco rig; that is the 9mm resting on the holster.

In Part 3 we will examine handling, changing backstrap panels, average CO2 velocity with .177 caliber steel BBs, and accuracy at 21 feet compared with the 9mm model.  

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.

7 thoughts on “The XDM 3.8 Part 2”

  1. Hi Dennis

    Great review, I always enjoy reading your work here, even though I can’t always get the models you talk about in the UK CO2 realism is important when you can’t have the real thing. Hopefully the XDM will get here at some point!
    Re the Umarex Glock 17 though, we have the gen 4 model available which can be field stripped – just got one, though they are now all on back order and no spare magazines available. Is this a case of UK getting something first?
    Keep up the great work.

    • Well that answers a big question Steve, we now know the Gen4 will be field strippable! We are expecting them in the U.S. by late summer (maybe sooner), and that is going to end up going head-to-head with the XDM 4.5 for certain. Not sure when the XDM will be available in UK but hopefully before the year’s end.



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