by Iain Harrison - Tuesday, August 23, 2011
The Springfield Armory XD(M) 5.25 made its debut at this year’s Bianchi Cup, riding in the holster of its designer Rob Leatham. Rob should require no introduction, but in case you’re new to the world of firearms or spent the last two decades on a Pacific atoll, well, let’s just say he knows a thing or two about handguns. According to Springfield, the XD(M) 5.25 was conceived as an out-of-the box competition pistol, and on paper, should be ideal for USPSA Production Division, 3-gun, IDPA and Bianchi Cup. As with all mass-produced firearms, however, there is always potential for bean-counters to intervene somewhere between the original design intent and the product that actually shows up on dealers’ shelves.
The first thing you’ll notice is that the pistol ships in box about the size of a small attaché case. Inside, we find the handgun, three 19-round magazines, two additional backstraps, a magazine loader, double mag pouch and paddle holster—all of injection-molded black plastic. Basically, we have everything we need to get started in our favorite gun games, though another mag would be welcome.
The first attention-grabber is the slide, which has a large hole machined in its upper surface, much like the Glock 34 it will no doubt compete against, both on the range and in the marketplace. This serves to reduce reciprocating mass, to decrease split times and to move the gun’s balance back toward the hand for faster target transitions. A fiber-optic front sight is standard, (spare fiber-optic rods are included) and the rear sight is both adjustable and inset into the slide, providing the longest sight radius possible.
The test gun arrived with the medium backstrap installed, and as this fit my paws pretty well, I saw no need to change it. Out of the box, the trigger was heavier than I anticipated, given the gun’s intended use, with a fairly long take up. This quickly wore in to a manageable 5 pounds or so and proved smooth enough for weak-hand drills.
Throwing a handful of different ammo types into my range bag, I headed out to knock down some steel targets. My usual protocol with a new gun is to initially feed it about 150 full-metal-jacket rounds to break it in and become familiar with the controls, before testing accuracy and handling. I’m pleased to report that the first three boxes were digested without so much as a hiccup, and the gun continued to run without a single malfunction for the rest of the range session.
I fired a few rounds of a full magazine offhand at a steel popper to better ingrain the trigger feel into my lizard brain before setting in to test accuracy at 25 yards using Hornady XTP and Speer Gold Dot ammunition. The 5.25 handled each equally well with both averaging 2.5-inch groups. I then stapled an IPSC Metric target to the stand and moved back to the 20 yard line and sent four shots downrange into the paper headbox. As I continued shooting offhand, now at 50 yards, the pistol managed to keep every round inside the A zone. It’s not often that a polymer gun will achieve this level of performance and it’s a testament to the barrel to slide fit that the XD(M) can do it consistently.
Then it was time to see how the XD(M) stacks up against its main rival. For this, I enlisted the help of a friend who is a dedicated Glock fan and he brought along his well-used G34. Shooting both guns side by side, it was apparent that the Springfield had a significant edge in accuracy, due perhaps to its better trigger, but the XD(M) seemed to have a little more muzzle rise. Whether this will affect the gun in competition is debatable, since, according to the shot timer, both pistols turned in exactly the same split times when tested in a 7-yard Bill Drill.
Overall then, Springfield has achieved its aims. If I were to offer constructive criticism, it would be in a couple of areas. The first concerns the width of the front sight, which at 0.143 inches is too wide for this middle-of-the-pack shooter to really wring the most out of the gun’s inherent accuracy. The trigger could use a shorter reset, but is still far superior to others. In fact, the only time I’ve shot a better trigger on a polymer gun was on an M&P that had benefitted from the attention of Apex Tactical. Both of these issues can be easily remedied in the aftermarket and neither will handicap the shooter until many thousands of rounds have been fired in practice and competition. New owners will want to consider the acquisition of a better holster and magazine pouches, as the stock items give the impression of being designed by committee. I used a Bladetech dropped & offset OWB holster for this range session, because it’s proved reliable and fast over the several years I’ve used it in USPSA.
The acid test for any new gun is whether, like a stray puppy, it somehow results in you having to justify to your significant other why it came home with you. This one’s already found its place in the pack.
*Update: XD(M) 5.25 specifications added below.*
Magazines: 3 magazines for a limited time
Barrel: 5.25" MATCH GRADE SELECT FIT Steel, melonite" fully supported ramp
Sights: Red fiber optic front (Replacement red & Green filament included) and fully adjustable target rear
Sight Radius: 7.25"
Frame: Black polymer
Slide: Forged steel WITH LIGHTENING CUT"
Weight w/empty mag: 29 ounces
Available colors: Black and Bi-Tone
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