Review: Springfield Armory's XD(M) 5.25 Competition Series

When it comes to my preference in handguns, I'm always torn. Part of me gravitates toward the weight, feel and accuracy of full-sized guns like a 1911. The rest of me loves the sleek simplicity of light, ultra-modern polymer pistols.

Springfield Armory's newest addition to it's XD(M) series blurs that line and has been making a big splash in the gun world, and rightly so. It combines the tactical sleekness of a polymer gun with the long barrel and finely tuned components of custom competition pistols. The lines are lovely to behold and the grip instantly marries itself to your hand, though the texture is a bit slick for my taste. It's a whole lotta fun to shoot, deadly accurate…and it's currently in the lead on my must-have Christmas list.

The XD(M) 5.25 Competition Series, chambered in 9mm, can be purchased in a kit that includes three 19-round magazines (that's right, 20-round capacity with one in the pipe), a dual magazine holster, and a tension-adjustable paddle holster for the gun. This makes the 5.25 ready to compete, right out of the box, in a variety of shooting competitions. It retails for about $700 (with kit) and is also available with a stainless slide.

Unfortunately, the 19+1 capacity exceeds the 15 round magazine cap limit in my home state of NJ and I wasn't able to get one to test.

However, Springfield sent hundreds of the new pistols to shooting ranges around the country so people could take them for a test drive. It's truly like hopping into a sweet, shiny new car, the idea being, if someone puts a magazine through the gun, they turn around and say, "I have to have one." And soon after, their dollars are on the barrelhead.

My regular range--Ready, Aim, Fire in Bristol, PA--had received the pistol on a Wednesday. By the following Tuesday, it had already eaten hundreds of rounds and convinced plenty of customers to purchase.

Unfortunately for me, that meant the barrel had copper streaks by the muzzle by the time I got my hands on it. I wanted to see what it could do it slightly beat-up condition, opting to just give the barrel a couple passes with a Boresnake.

The 5.25 cycled flawlessly, no matter the number of rounds in the flush, high-cap magazine. And let me tell you, putting 20 consecutive rounds on paper without a reload takes a big chunk out of the day's ammo real fast, but it was deeply satisfying.

As for accuracy, I was able to get 2" groups at 10-12 yards once I got used to the feel of the gun. For someone who is used to a single-action .45, I was happy with my performance, especially with no-frills range ammo.

The pistol retains many of the features of the 4.5" XD(M), with some important additions that will instantly appeal to target shooters looking for a polymer competition pistol. The fully adjustable, low-profile rear sight has deep serrations to eliminate glare and provides a clean sight picture. Combined with a bright fiber optic front sight, it makes for an excellent aiming system.

The longer barrel (5.25 inches, which gives the pistol its moniker) provides an increased sight radius for improved accuracy. The most interesting, and noticeable feature of the 5.25 is the rectangular cutaway on the top of the slide, just behind the front sight, which Springfield has dubbed the Lightening Cut.

The cutaway serves three purposes. It keeps the weight of the gun, even with the longer barrel, at 29 oz.--which is actually lighter than the 4.5" XD(M) (32 oz.).

It reduces the overall mass of the slide, helping the pistol cycle quick and crisp and reducing shot recovery time. The lighter slide also lets the gun eat a larger variety of low-velocity and custom competition ammo that may have difficulty cycling with a heavier slide.

It's a real pleasure to shoot, but this version of the XD(M) is relegated to the range and competition use as it was intended. The barrel length makes it a bit too cumbersome for concealed carry, though if you feel a 5" 1911 is an acceptable CCW, then the extra quarter-inch might not bother you. The concern for me would be the Lightening Cut. For all the enhancement it brings to the gun's performance, it could also cause snags on the draw and a serious opportunity for debris to become jammed between the slide and the barrel.

But at a cost of just over $700 for the gun and kit, it's an accurate and affordable dedicated range pistol that would work well for shooters of any skill level.

Considering the gun's lower is nearly identical to the rest of the XD(M) line, I can't imagine it will be long before we see the 5.25 chambered in .40 and .45 cal as well. I can't wait.