Glock, Springfield, and S&W stake their claims in the polymer market
By Ben Dougay / Legally Armed America Content Correspondent
As far back as I can remember there have been very heated debates over which truck is best – Ford, Chevy or Dodge. I have seen my fair share of knock-down, drag-out fights over this topic. I had no idea that this argument had found its way into the world of firearms until I purchased my first handgun – a Springfield XD. But I quickly found myself in the middle of the classic “Ford vs Chevy” debate as Glock owners felt the need to point out how inferior my XD was. Fast forward a few years from then and we have our third participant in the polymer pistol race, the M&P line by Smith & Wesson. Let me be clear about something: I am NOT here to declare a winner out of these three pistols. The purpose of this writeup is to give a few unbiased thoughts on three quality weapons and what makes them so popular.
I will be the first person to give Glock their due. In fact, I believe there should be an official holiday dedicated to celebrate the birth of the world’s biggest selling polymer handgun, Mr. Gaston Glock. I am convinced that his creation has saved countless lives worldwide due to the Glock’s reliability in the field. And being that the Glock has seen such universal success it should be no surprise that other weapon manufacturers would jump on the polymer pistol bandwagon. That’s where our other two selections come in. In 2002 Springfield Armory gained the rights to market and sell the Croatian HS2000 under its new name, the XD. Springfield Armory expanded the line to include a total of 10 models and 5 different cartridges with a variety of finishes. Then, in 2005, Smith & Wesson staked their claim in the polymer world with their M&P (Military & Police) line.
For the sake of comparison I have broken my review down into 3 categories: Form, Fit, and Function. Each category will have a possible 10 points for a total of 30 possible points. Again, this review is not designed to declare which pistol is best, but merely what I like and dislike about each one and what works best FOR ME.
Form – The Glock has the most simplistic look and is a very “no-frills” weapon. The internals are solid and the parts that receive the most stress are made of steel. Newer models also come with a rail to mount your tac-light, laser, etc. The only true “safety” on this gun is the trigger safety, which is fine with me. Although I am right-handed I would like to see an ambidextrous mag release. Due to that “wish list” item I give it 9.5 pts.
Fit – The gun is very comfortable to shoot and is very balanced. The grip stippling is enough to provide a solid grip, but not so much to where it becomes uncomfortable. New Glocks also come with extra back straps to help accommodate different size hands. The trigger is smooth and breaks crisply and it also has a short, very distinct reset. The only con to the feel of the Glock is the slightly more aggressive angle of the grip. For some this means it will take a little longer to develop muscle memory, but I never had an issue with it so I give the Glock 10 pts.
Function – This is where the Glock shines. I have run a few thousand rounds through mine with very few malfunctions. And the only time I ever encountered a malfunction was during training using cheap reloads that had been reloaded multiple times. I have run higher end, American made ammo down to the cheapest ammo you can find without a single issue, so I would have to conclude that the few minor malfunctions I encountered were due to the reloaded ammo. (Glock is clear to new gun owners not to use reloads in their handguns.) In any situation, in any weather extreme, I trust my life to the reliability of the Glock, so I give it 10 pts.
Springfield Armory XD:
Form – The XD is a very well designed gun with some nice features. I like the loaded chamber indicator directly on top of the slide as well as the firing pin indicator on the heel of the slide. Both are highly visible, but can also be easily felt in low-light situations. The deep slide serrations make gripping the slide very easy. The gun also has very solid internals that have been torture tested to 20,000 rounds with great results. The XD also comes with an ambidextrous mag release. The XD has a trigger safety like the Glock, but also has an additional grip safety. Another standard feature is the frame rail for mounting accessories. The XD earns 10 pts.
Fit – This gun is very comfortable to hold and easy to manipulate. The trigger is smooth and breaks clean and it has the familiar trigger safety like the Glock. The grip has lighter stippling than the Glock, but is still adequate. The XD does not come with additional back straps to accommodate different hand sizes, and the reset on the trigger is much too long. Those two things earn the XD 8 pts.
Function – Every bit as reliable as the Glock. I have run a few thousand rounds with zero malfunctions even with the cheapest ammo I could find. It cycles smoothly and will run under any conditions I have ever shot in. The functionality and reliability earns the XD 10 pts.
Smith & Wesson M&P
Form – This is a very ergonomic gun designed with a lot of attention to detail. The M&P feels more like the XD in the hand because of the angle of the grip. The M&P has the loaded chamber indicator on top of the slide like the XD and also has a factory frame rail for accessories like the XD and Glock. One design feature this weapon has that the other two do not is the ability to disengage the sear in order to disassemble the weapon without having to pull the trigger. One thing that definitely separated the M&P from the others was the slide-to-frame fitting. It had a more precision feel like a 1911 than a polymer pistol. The gun is well-designed and earns 10 pts.
Fit – I have the least experience with the M&P, but I quickly became adjusted to it. The grip is very comfortable and comes with different grip options in the box to customize to your liking. The M&P used for testing was chambered in .45 ACP, but I found the recoil to be no more than the Glock 22 (.40 S&W) tested. The trigger does not have a safety built-in, but instead incorporates a hinge mechanism. The trigger pulls smooth and breaks crisply, but has an indistinct reset, so the M&P gets 9 pts.
Function – I encountered no malfunctions during testing, but in fairness I have not put as many rounds down range with the M&P as I have with the other two. The weapon cycled smoothly and I have no doubt that it is as reliable as the Glock and M&P. It functioned as well as I expected and earned 10 pts.
During the course of this review I recruited two veteran SWAT officers to test these guns and give their opinions and both of them found different things they liked and disliked about the selected guns. Does that prove that one gun is better than the other? Absolutely not. At the end of the day the best gun is the one that goes “bang” in that critical moment when you squeeze the trigger and the gun the feels the most comfortable in your hand. In my opinion these three guns are a great place to start looking if you’re interested in a reliable polymer handgun and for under $600 you will not be disappointed with any of the three. Happy Shooting.
Content provided by Legally Armed America Content Correspondent, Ben Dougay. If you have any questions or comments for Ben feel free to email [email protected]