The Springfield's XD(M) 5.25
The XD(M) 5.25 is the pistol that Rob Leatham wanted all along.
By Wiley Clapp
Rob Leatham—Springfield’s Million Dollar Man—works for the Illinois firm as an exhibition shooter, product promoter and all-around expert on things that go bang. He has been doing so for quite a few years. Wearing the Springfield colors and logo, Leatham has traveled the world demonstrating products, teaching their use and winning multiple championships. I’ve been there for a handful of those events and remain impressed with Robbie’s multiple talents, teaching skills and unfailing good humor. Just last week, I was regaling yet another Gunsite Number 250 class with my recollections of Leatham shooting a perfect 3.9-second El Presidente drill (par time for an El Pres is 10 seconds). Clearly, this American handgunner knows his guns and better yet, knows how to use them. It is to Springfield’s credit that Leatham was shown a great deal of deference in the design of the company’s newest line of pistols—the XD(M) 5.25 competition models.
First, let’s get a quick review of the XD in general, then identify why and how the 5.25s are different. Americans first saw the XD under another name and brand—the HS2000 built by the Croatian Metal Co. in a new plant in Croatia. Made to fulfill the country’s police and military service pistol needs, the HS2000 employed a modern design and the latest in gun-manufacturing technology. It had a polymer receiver and metal upper, a simplified manual of arms and a capacious magazine. Early on, a few HS2000s were imported to the United States. Gun-savvy executives at Springfield saw the gun, realized its potential and before you could say “Load and make ready!” asked for some changes and negotiated the import rights. Under the Springfield banner, the HS2000 became the XD (for eXtreme Duty) pistol. It has already gone through several series of upgrades and modifications, including the introduction of the more refined and feature-laden XD(M) pistol. The 5.25s are the most recent.
The XD(M) pistol is a full-size semi-automatic with a double-column magazine. The receiver is polymer with steel inserts. Chambered for the 9 mm Luger, .40 S&W or .45 ACP, the XD(M) is a recoil-operated pistol, with the breech end of the barrel cammed up into register in the broad ejection port. The XD and XD(M)’s operating system is unique in that it uses a grip safety in the backstrap that must be depressed by a proper grasp in order for the gun to function. There is also an articulated safety in the face of the trigger, a feature found on a number of today’s service pistols. This is part of an operating system that Springfield calls the Ultra Safety Assurance system. It is a very safe gun, but one that is quick and easy to use. Safeties all work in the act of grasping the gun, so there is no need for additional manual safety levers. On the XD(M), the Minimal Reset trigger, with a shorter take-up and quicker reset, is standard.
With a grip angle much like the M1911’s, as well as a hand-filling grip, the XD(M) series is ergonomically sound. It is the ergonomics of the gun that first appealed to Leatham. With the increased popularity of so-called “action” shooting games, there is a growing demand for attractively priced, box-stock pistols with respectable accuracy and generous magazine capacities. They also need the other characteristics of premium competition firearms, like precisely adjustable sights that are instantly visible, lots of spare magazines and other accessories such as holsters and pouches. This is where Leatham’s years of experience are so valuable—and why it was Leatham who was so instrumental in putting the 5.25 package together.
Springfield wanted to create a competition-grade pistol at reasonable cost. Literally, it wanted a pistol that a shooter could buy, sight it in and take to the weekend match. It had to be a gun that was good for USPSA, IPSC, IDPA, NRA Action Pistol and possibly other defensive pistol uses. This means that the gun would pass under the bar of rules used in all, not just one, of those shooting sports. And that is part of the reason the gun got its name. Barrel length is important in action shooting, since it results in greater sight radius, as well as slightly improved ammunition performance. Comparing the various rule books, Springfield determined that the longest all-around barrel length that would work is 5.25 inches—which is how the model got its name.
Offered in 9 mm Luger, .40 S&W or .45 ACP, the XD(M) 5.25 is competition-capable right out of the box and is competitive in other ways. First, the pistol is accurate at a level that most polymer guns do not achieve. As we shall see after a range visit, three different 5.25s averaged right at 2 inches (five consecutive, five-shot groups at 25 yards), something that other guns cannot match. It is also competitive in the sense of handling, extra features and price. The 5.25s come in either all-black or bi-tone finish and in three different chamberings—9 mm Luger, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. I had a sample of each for review and noted that the guns seem to be built on the same frame. However, after a phone conversation with Leatham, I discovered that the .45 is slightly larger in the fore-and-aft receiver dimension. That is not surprising, since the .45 ACP round is just a little longer than the 9 mm or .40. Magazine capacities are 19, 16, and 13 for 9 mm, .40 and .45, respectively. Note that three magazines come with each gun.