Gun Review: Springfield Armory XD(M) 5.25 9mm is Ideal for Action Pistol Shooters

The new Springfield Armory XDM 5.25 is a full-sized 9mm pistol designed for action shooting sports like USPSA, IDPA, 3-gun and the like. It is the brainchild of Rob Leatham who works at Springfield Armory and is one of the most accomplished pistol shooters in history with more championships to his credit than the New York Yankees. He speced out the 5.25 using Springfield's successful XD platform as the basis for the pistol. His starting point was to lengthen the barrel to 5.25 inches (hence the model name). Previously the longest barrel on an XD pistol was 4.5 inches. I've been shooting this particularl pistol for the past few weeks and have put about 500 rounds through it in a series of shooting drills.
The most notable physical feature on the pistol is the large port cut into the top of the slide. Leatham wanted this in order to keep the weight of the slide the same as the shorter-barreled XD pistols. Excess mass in the slide could impede the pistol's operation with some of the lighter loads used in competition. This picture also gives a good view of the large, bright front fiber-optic sight.
The 5.25 comes ready for competition in this kit, which includes three hi-cap magazines, a holster, mag holder, mag loader and three removable inserts to adjust the thickness of the grip. Even though my sample didn't include them, these kits will also have lengths of spare fiber optics, both red and green, for repairs to the front sight. The MSRP on this shooting goodie bag is competitively priced at $795.
A closer view of the paddle holster and the dual magazine holder. The magazine holder has belt loops on the back while the holster is held in place by the paddle that goes in the shooter's waistband.
The mag holder angles the magazines in a slight v-shape, giving enough clearance between the two to keep you from fumbling during reloads. On either side of the mag holder are molded rails for mounting other items.
The pistol sits securely in the holster with the front of the barrel exposed. A screw in front of the trigger guard controls the tension on the pistol.
The magazines with the 5.25 hold 19 rounds, which is enough ammo to make this pistol competitive in Limited Division competition in USPSA. It will also work great in Production Division, of course. Because the pistol is suitable for multiple divisions its $795 price tag is even more attractive.
With three magazines in the kit, you can take the 5.25 right to a match and start shooting. It's rare that you'll need more than three mags for a given stage but you can always order more from Springfield Armory if need be.
This shows the relative thickness of the three grip inserts that come with the 5.25. I chose the thinnest one to fit my mid-sized mitts.
With the grip inset removed, you can see some of the interior structure of the frame. The insets are held in place by a roll pin that can be tapped out with a 3/32-inch punch.
With the inset in place there's a gap in the middle exposing part of the roll pin. You can use this to attach a lanyard if you're into that sort of thing.
This is one of my favorite features on the pistol: The low-profile adjustable target sights. The back of the sight is flat and scored with lines that reduce glare, giving a very flat-toned sight picture. The screw slots let you adjust point of impact for elevation and windage to get your pistol shooting to the point of aim for whatever load you're using. This is a truly slick design. The deep chevron-shaped cocking serrations offer plenty of grip for charging the pistol.
The front sight is held in place by a secure dovetail and other than replacing the fiber optic when it breaks (and if you use the pistol in competition enough it will break) you shouldn't have to mess with it.
The XDM 5.25 has a loaded chamber indicator at the back of the barrel. Personally, I like the cut-away styles where I can physically look down and see the rim of the brass cartridge in the chamber. In any event, I always check the status of my pistols with a press check so the distinction between one type of indicator and another is moot for me.
As with other XD-series pistols, the 5.25 has a grip safety. This shot also shows the scallop in the frame where the shooter's thumb can rest when using a one-handed grip. The ergonomics on the 5.25 are very good.
An accessory rail on the underside of the frame is pretty standard on all new striker-fired polymer pistols and, true to form, the 5.25 has one. The scoring on the front side of the trigger guard works with the design lines of the pistol but if you find yourself using the front of the trigger guard for support you need to work on your technique.
The XDM 5.25 is made in Croatia, as the grip plainly states. The deep molding on the stock doesn't provide as much grip as I'd prefer. Despite the visually bold pattern (which I find aesthetically pleasing) the 5.25 is as tad more slippery than I'd prefer.
The controls on the 5.25 are well-positioned and well-sized, making them easy to manipulate. The take-down lever at the front of the frame makes for an excellent indexing spot for the thumb on the support hand of a right-handed shooter. The slide drop, with its slight curve, is smartly shaped and the ambidextrous magazine release (there's another on the other side) protrudes just the right amount so that it is quick to access but is unlikely to get tripped accidentally.
The style of this fixed ejector is a common feature on many striker-fired pistols. The rear rails on the 5.25 are molded from polymer and generously sized.
Taking down the 5.25 is simple. Just lock the slide back (on an empty gun of course), rotate the takedown lever 90 degrees and drop the slide and the slide comes right off. After it is off the gun the barrel and spring pop out for cleaning and maintenance.
Springfield Armory has delivered a center-of-mass hit with the 5.25. It stands to do very well in the growing competitive shooting market. It's a one-stop item to get started in action pistol shooting.

Shooting Editor John B. Snow takes a first look at the Springfield XDM 5.25, a 9mm action shooter that's the brainchild of Rob Leatham.