Springfield Armory XD-M Elite 3.8 Compact 9mm Pistol: Tested

Springfield Armory’s XD-M Elite 3.8 Compact offers a smaller, handier pistol with the design and ergonomics found in the full-size Elite series pistols, which include the Precision, OSP, 4.5, and 3.8, the long-handled 20-round cousin the Compact, which is exemplary.

The new belt-sized Elite 3.8 Compact offers 14 + 1 rounds in a reliable, easy-to-fire, short-frame platform that shouldn’t be confused with ultra-concealable high-performance pistols like the Springfield 11 + 1 Hellcat. Still, this larger 27-ounce pistol is perfectly sized and balanced for home defense, still fits under a jacket for concealed carry, and fits even large hands comfortably.

The Elite Series sliders are molded along the top, reducing the annoying box shape of many polymer pistols, and generous slider serrations on either side of the ejection opening provide a good grip for loading and unloading.

After around 20 years in the market, testing an XD is like shaking hands with an old friend. The ergonomics were carefully thought out back then and the feel has only improved thanks to upgrades in the handle structure and the slide-serration design.

The mechanics have also been improved and the new Match Enhanced Trigger Assembly (META) has a flat-face trigger with an integrated overtravel stop. The new trigger pulls straight back a half-inch pull and breaks a hair before the overstroke stop hits the frame. Reset was imperceptible under recoil. The deduction is a gratifying 4.75 pounds.

Other main features include a hammer-forged match barrel, a forged steel slide, and left and right magazine and slide releases. The magnetic trigger is easy to reach; The button is shielded and rigid to prevent accidental dropping of the magazine. When pressed, empty magazines shoot out for quick, fumble-free magazine changes.

springfield-armory-xdm-elite-38-compactThe XD-M Elite 3.8 Compact’s takedown lever doesn’t require pulling the trigger and the flat META trigger was excellent. The slide lock lever and the mag release are ambidextrous.

The slide lock lever is just as easy to reach and works great as an unlocking device. Press directly down and the foil flies home. Exchangeable back straps help to adjust the trigger range. The mag-well funnel is removable, but I would leave it alone. It helped my little finger not get pinched by the base plate when sending fresh magazines home.

The security of the 3.8 Compact includes an internal firing pin block, a trigger and an inconspicuous grip safety device. There is a tension indicator above the handle lock in the middle of the clasp, which protrudes far enough to be felt or seen with the thumb. The center-mounted extractor rises above the slide as a visual and tactile indicator of a loaded chamber, although I wouldn’t bet my life on any of these features.

springfield-armory-xdm-elite-38-compactThe U-notch visor has a wide, white outline for a quick, accurate sighting image. A cocking indicator protrudes from the center of the lock.

Speaking of safety, the modern XD-M pistols, including this Elite, can be disassembled without pulling the trigger. Pull out the magazine, lock the bolt, and lift the takedown lever on the left side of the frame just above the trigger guard. While holding the slide, press the slide lock lever and pull the slide forward and off the frame. The return spring is caught on its rod. Lift it off, pull the barrel out from below and you’re ready to clean it. Reassemble in reverse order. Simple.

The sight consists of a fiber optic light guide at the front and a U-notch at the back with a white border. A conventional sight image, which equated the flat top of the visor with the top of the stern, gave me the best accuracy. The sights are easy to take in and quick to put into practice.

The 14-round magazines are difficult to load, which is not uncommon for smaller half-cars. I had great difficulty loading after five laps. I wondered if it was me, so I let a farmer friend – a guy with strong hands – try them, and he struggled too.

springfield-armory-xdm-elite-38-compactA generous, flared magazine slot ensures that the magazine can be changed without fiddling and helps prevent the magazine from getting stuck in the flesh, even with large hands, when reloading.

The Elite’s magazine spring is definitely heavy. Such a heavy spring ensures absolute reliability and there were no malfunctions from the start. When inserting a fully loaded magazine with the slide down, the magazine bottom needed a firm blow to sit completely. This is the best reason to leave the extended mag bases on, but two thinner, flush mag bases are included.

All of them provided acceptable accuracy at 25 yards as you can see in the attached chart. Federal 147-Grain was the softest shot, but shot to the left. So did the Fiocchi full metal jacket, which also shot up. Black Hills 124-grain jacketed hollowpoints, Hornady 115-grain FTX, and Speer LE 115-grain Gold Dot all shot right over the visor and were spot on for wind.

Black Hills won the accuracy crown, closely followed by the Hornady FTX. Both would be my choice with this weapon. Both loads were rated high for controllability and the Black Hills provided high speed and had the lowest standard deviation of the loads tested.

The Springfield XD-M Elite 3.8 Compact is a robust, absolutely reliable self-defense pistol. Fully loaded with a spare magazine, it puts 28 + 1 rounds between you and a threat with a pistol that sits comfortably in the hand, is easy to control, yet concealable. The Elite is another winner in the XD-M line.

Springfield XDM Elite 3.8 Compact pistol performance

Springfield Armory XD-M Elite 3.8 Compact specifications

  • TYPE: Striker-fired semi-automatic machine
  • CALIBER: 9mm Luger
  • CAPACITY: 14 + 1
  • BARREL: 3.8 in
  • OAL / HEIGHT / WIDTH: 6.9 / 4.6 / 1.2 in
  • LOAD: 27.4 ounces.
  • CONSTRUCTION: Carbon steel slide with melonite finish, polymer frame
  • ATTRACTIONS: Fixed; red fiber optics on the front, white contour U-notch on the back
  • DEDUCTION: META, 4.75 lb. Pull (measured)
  • SAFETY: internal firing pin block, trigger, handle
  • PRICE: $ 559
  • MANUFACTURER: Springfield Armory, springfield-armory.com

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