June 2014

Springfield Armory Custom Shop Upgrades: Get the Trigger Jobs

We sent two pretty good pistols to Springfield Armory to have love and attention slathered on them by super-picky gunsmiths. Result: We think one Custom Shop upgrade is a ‘must have.’

We recently undertook a project to have the Springfield Armory Custom Shop upgrade two pistols — a process we believe many shooters have wondered about. What enhancements can any manufacturer’s custom shop deliver over and above what shooters get out of a stock pistol? Are the differences noticeable? Can an individual shooter appreciate the changes? And, finally, are the upgrades worth the coin?

We chose two pistols to put through a before-and-after process: a 9mm XDM 5.25 Competition previously tested in the February 2012 issue and a 9mm XDM 3.8 Compact purchased for this evaluation. We chose the compact for a defensive pistol because this gave us the option of using a 19-round magazine or the supplied 13-round magazine that was shorter and made the pistol easier to conceal. The 19-round magazine was fitted with a sleeve to extend the grip contour to its normal length. Likewise, alternate-size backstraps and sleeves were supplied, and they could be mixed and matched to the preference of the shooter. The competition model offered a permanent full-length grip with alternate backstraps and shipped with three 19-round magazines. Modifications were carried out by the Springfield Armory Custom Shop under the direction of 2006 Gunsmith of The Year Dave Williams.

To collect baseline and follow-up data, we went to the range and fired a basic accuracy test from the bench with sandbag support. We shot the 5.25 Competition from the 25-yard line and the Compact model from the 15-yard bench with the full-length magazine/grip in place. We also fired an action test similar to the Double Tap test in our 2012 evaluation to see if improvements to the trigger would help us shoot faster. Beginning with sights on the center of an IPSC Metric paper target placed 10 yards downrange, we fired two shots as fast as we could. Runs resulting in hits landing in the 5.9-inch by 11.15-inch A-zone were deemed acceptable.

Test rounds were the 115-grain FMJ by MagTech, 115-grain JHP EXP and 124-grain JHP +P rounds from Black Hills Ammunition, and 147-grain remanufactured Subsonic Match rounds by Atlanta Arms and Ammunition.

Let’s see if we can justify an additional cash outlay with a measurable improvement in our speed and accuracy.

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