Over the years, several smaller pistols have passed through my hands with varying degrees of success. For the most part, compact and subcompact pistols just don’t seem to suit me. Most have worked just fine—many were superb—but it really boils down to a personal preference. My somewhat larger hands make many of the smaller pistols uncomfortable to shoot. Shorter 1911 pistols can be sketchy at times and many of the modern polymer pistols are still wide, making inside-the-waistband carry less than optimal for me. Pistols in .40 caliber can be rather snappy, and my personal preference is for something with a little more power, like the .45 ACP.

A recent test of the new .45 ACP XDM turned out to be a really pleasant surprise, and it’s definitely a surefire alternative. Having tested a couple XDM pistols (“XD” stands for “eXtreme Duty”), I can say that they have always been reliable and accurate, but they were mostly 9mm and .40-caliber pistols. Providing the same experience with a .45 in a short barrel is a different story. Springfield Armory’s new XDM 3.8 Compact .45 is a great idea, and it turned out to be one of the most accurate, reliable and comfortable short .45 pistols I have used.

XDM 3.8 Compact .45

The XDM Compact arrived in a really nice hard case containing the pistol, a spare full-sized magazine, handloader, and two spacers for use with more full-sized magazines. It also contained a holster and magazine pouch. As with all XDM pistols, different grip straps are provided to fit various hand sizes. This is pretty much all you need for concealed carry.

The checkering on the pistol is aggressive and allows for a solid hold without regard to the weather or glove use. A truly ambidextrous magazine release is provided that is accessible but never seemed to get activated other than when planned. There is an easily accessible slide stop, and the takedown lever is out of the way until needed. The oversized triggerguard contains a smooth and predictable trigger with a short reset. Familiar XDM serrations are on the slide for manipulation in all weather conditions. White dot sights were installed, but tritium and other sight options are available. Like all XDM pistols, the 3.8 Compact .45 has a grip safety, making it impossible to run the slide or fire the weapon unless it is depressed. The match-grade barrel utilizes a captured dual return spring to tame recoil and ensure reliable operation.

When it came time to test the XDM Compact at the range, I found its accuracy at 15 yards to be excellent, and it may be the softest-shooting short .45 ACP around. Unlike most short pistols, there would be no issue spending a long day on the range with this compact. After a few rounds, you forget it is a compact—it shoots like a full-sized pistol. Even with my little finger unable to grasp the grip, control was not a problem. Inserting the full-sized magazine really locked this pistol in place. With groups under an inch and no malfunctions, it really does not get any better.

The holster and magazine pouch worked fine and are well suited to range use or concealed carry. A predictable trigger with a short reset made for solid split times and excellent accuracy. It turned out to be a blast to shoot and really hard to put away.

Springfield Armory has really provided a winner here. There are already a ton of truly satisfied XDM shooters out there and more will likely join them after using this pistol. It is a nice mix of short barrel and concealable grip without giving up reasonable capacity in a proven self-defense cartridge. It is a nice addition to the compact and subcompact lines they already offer.

XDM Compact Lineup

The new XDM 3.8 Compact .45 is an addition to an already excellent line of compact pistols. The XDM 3.8 Compact is also available in 9mm and .40 S&W. These pistols also have slides that offer the distinctive XDM serrations at both the front and rear. The 3.8-inch-long steel barrels are Melonite coated with a fully supported chamber. These XDM Compacts are available in a black or black/stainless steel two-tone finish. The 9mm pistol has a 13-round capacity with its compact magazine, and a 19-round capacity with the X-Tension magazine system. The .40 caliber offers 11 and 16 rounds, respectively. Steel, three-dot sights are standard as well, with other sights optional.

All of these compact pistols accept standard, full-sized magazines from their respective big brothers. For those carrying them as backup guns, this system facilitates common calibers for easy magazine changes. Fast becoming a favorite among officers for off-duty carry, carrying a subcompact backup version of a duty pistol provides versatility while maintaining familiar controls.

XDM pistols include both loaded-chamber and striker-status indicators. The grip safety allows each pistol to be fired only when a firm grip is applied. Interchangeable grip straps allow fitting to different hand sizes. These guns also utilize the USA Trigger System, which guards against accidental discharges. The Minimal Error System removes the need to press the trigger during disassembly, and the Maximum Reach magazine release accommodates many smaller hands without shifting the pistol in your grip. Along with the Melonite coating, the XDM pistols also have a short trigger reset. A rail allows shooters to equip lights and small lasers to their pistols. All in all, the XDM line is the latest generation in combat pistols. They represent significant innovation and attention to the needs of the shooter.

XDS .45

In early 2012, Springfield released a true game-changer in the concealed carry realm: the XDS, a slim pistol that still packs .45 ACP firepower. How slim? It’s only 1-inch wide, and the single-stack frame still allows you to carry 5+1 rounds. Springfield still managed to equip the XDS with other XD features, too, like a Melonite-coated match-grade barrel for better accuracy and reliability.

Like the whole XD line of pistols, the XDS offers an ergonomic design that makes it easier to point and shoot. The design offers a single-position Picatinny rail, making this one of the only pistols of its size that can be accessorized with lights and lasers. The low-profile sights also make this firearm more holster-friendly, and the fiber-optic front sight is great for target reacquisition. Springfield also includes a set of interchangeable backstraps that allow you to customize your grip and release the magazine without twisting or moving your hand on the grip. The XDS also features the Ultra Safety Assurance trigger, loaded chamber indicator and grip safety—combining to create a safe, ultra-reliable pistol with an astonishingly slim profile. I’m sure holster companies are already clamoring to create holsters for the XDS.

This new pistol comes with Springfield’s “Multi-Use Carrying Case,” and is ready to go out of the box. Keep an eye out for this one—there are sure to be many copycats and Springfield will probably come out with other variations, such as a two-tone model or some with different sights.

Final Thoughts

Springfield Armory’s XD owners may be some of the most loyal gun owners around. Almost without exception, those who carry these pistols truly like them. Many officers choose to carry these when possible at their own expense. The trigger is smooth and predictable, and the grip angle seems to lend itself to consistent accuracy. The XDM line offers some excellent features, as well, including usable checkering, interchangeable grip straps to fit most shooters, and a tactile loaded-chamber indicator. A really nice touch is the inclusion of a holster and magazine pouch, making it easy for the buyer to put the pistol to work.

Every one of these pistols I have tested has been completely reliable and very soft on recoil. The latest XDM 3.8 Compact chambered in .45 ACP is one of the softest-shooting short pistols I have ever used. There is little doubt it will gain an immediate following among those who pick one up. If you are looking for a compact pistol, take a long look at what Springfield Armory offers—they will probably have exactly what you need.

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