Springfield sent me both the short and long barrel base models to try. The first thing I noticed was that the frames of both guns are identical. The only difference between the Elite models is the barrel length, similar to the new Sig Sauer M17 and M18 that won the military’s modular handgun contract. The frames are completely interchangeable.
The first thing I noticed was the large grips on both guns, thick for maximum grip, and longer than most to accommodate the 20-round magazines. Springfield also has 22-round magazines available for the Elite that are compatible with 9mm standard XD-M pistols. The large grips proved valuable on the range, making recoil management a breeze. Three interchangeable backstraps are included for various hand sizes.
While the XD-Ms have curved triggers, the Elite trigger is more of a flat-face style with a rolling break and a trigger pull of around 5 pounds straight out of the box.
The Elite features beefy aggressive slide serrations on the front and back, a highly visible U sight on the rear with a red fiber optic in front, and a visible striker position indicator sticking out the back. It also features truly ambidextrous controls since the spring inside the grip is positioned in the middle of the mag well rather than the side, so no flipping buttons required.
If red is not your fiber optic color of choice, Springfield includes a piece of green filament and instructions for a DIY sight color swap. Only the takedown lever is left side only.
For trifold safety, the XD-M Elite integrates a trigger safety, internal drop safety, and an upgrade to their signature grip safety with a tactile bump on the bottom. I’m not a big 1911-style fan, but if you are, you’ll feel right at home. As much as I thought I wouldn’t like it, I didn’t even really think much about the entire grip safety system once I started shooting.