While 9mm micro-compacts have been all the rage lately, a few companies are still keeping the big-bore defender concept alive. Despite recent trends, companies like Smith & Wesson and Springfield Armory have been introducing new carry pistols in .45 ACP and 10mm. And I for one want to thank them for keeping the faith. So, how do the S&W M&P 2.0 and Springfield Armory XD-M Elite Compact 10mm stack up?
Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 vs Springfield XD-M Elite Compact 10mm
Just recently, both companies released new 10mm variants in both of their respective flagship series of pistols. At their core, they both offer the raw power of the 10mm round in a package suited for everyday carry.
However, there are a few significant differences between them. And those differences might well dictate which is the better choice for you and your daily routine.
Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 10mm
It’s been a good while since Smith & Wesson shuttered its third-generation series of all-steel 10mm pistols like the 1076, which was adopted by the FBI. However, 10mm is undergoing a bit of a resurgence right now.
And the folks at S&W are seizing the opportunity by integrating the powerful round into its line of new M&P 2.0 polymer-framed and striker-fired pistols.
The company recently released two models, one with a 4.6-inch barrel and one with a 4-inch barrel. We received the 4-inch barrel for this review.
While the M&P 2.0 line offers significant upgrades over the original M&P 1.0 line, the 2.0 series is undergoing its own evolution of sorts. The most notable is the inclusion of an optics cut in the slide for the installation of adapter plates to mount popular optics.
I was informed by a company rep that all M&P 2.0 pistols would have this as standard equipment going forward.
Another intra-series improvement is a flatter-faced trigger that offers a lighter and crisper break than previous models. Smith & Wesson has been making good strides in this area the past couple of years. And for the most part, trigger pulls have improved dramatically, as seen with the recent Shield Plus.
Despite having a lighter and crisper break than previous models, at just a hair under 4.5 pounds, the take-up in the M&P’s trigger was hitchy and rough. Something in the trigger mechanism felt like it was catching and rubbing before hitting the wall. Though it didn’t interfere with proper operation or firing.
However, one shooting buddy, Jamie, already had his own M&P 2.0 10mm in hand and it did not exhibit the same rough and scratchy pre-travel. So, it may have just been a one-off issue with this particular pistol.
M&P 2.0 Original Upgrades
The recent enhancements listed above are in addition to the upgrades originally introduced with the M&P 2.0. Including more aggressive grip texturing for better control and a full-length steel chassis to reduce flex during fire.
And, while it’s a small change, I think the folks at S&W have been listening because they are now including honest-to-God front serrations for easier manipulation of the slide. So, the pistols that are being released now are more of an M&P 2.5 than a 2.0.
The 10mm version I received shipped with suppressor-height, three-dot sights for co-witnessing with an optic. It also includes a reversible magazine release and an ambi slide stop/release for left-handed shooters. Additionally, it is available with or without a manual thumb safety.
The stainless-steel slide and barrel are both given the company’s robust Armornite finish for better corrosion resistance. The best part is that the kit ships with two 15-rounds magazines for a hefty payload of raw, 10mm power.
Springfield XD-M Elite 3.8 Compact OSP 10mm
Springfield Armory is another company that’s no stranger to the 10mm round. The company has included that chambering in their 1911s and earlier models in the XD-M lineup. The new XD-M Elite series brings a raft of serious upgrades that makes this family of pistols better than ever.
With a shorter frame than the S&W M&P model, the XD-M Elite Compact is designed more for concealed carry than open, or duty carry. The 10mm XD-M Elite ships with two 11-round magazines. But I happened to be online at Springfield’s store and noticed they also sell extended, 15-round magazines with grip sleeves.
These would be a great choice for when the user is at home and wants the feel of a full-sized grip or just wants the extra capacity. But before you order these 15-rounders, make sure you try out the XD-M Elite first and figure out which backstrap fits you best.
There are three 15-round magazines available, and they’re configured to match up with a specific backstrap for a perfect fit. Though you would have to remove the included magazine well.
XD-M Elite 3.8 Compact 10mm Upgrades
As far as upgrades go, the Elite series includes more aggressive cocking serrations at the front and rear of the slide. As a result, they offer a more confident grasp and easier handling. A prominent memory bump on the grip safety ensures positive activation. Likewise, an affixed mag well helps funnel magazines in more quickly for a faster return to the action.
Left-hand shooters are supplied with an ambidextrous slide stop/release as well as an ambi magazine release. The grip texture has also been rejiggered to be slightly more aggressive, ensuring a secure purchase on the pistol.
For me, the showcase feature is Springfield’s new flat-faced META trigger. The XD-M line already had a very good trigger, but the new META system just takes it to the next level.
The trigger has an exceptionally clean take-up to the wall with the flat trigger face, offering better geometry. As a result, is a lighter, crisper and more authoritative break at an average of 4.25 pounds of pressure.
Other highlights of the XD-M Elite 3.8 Compact include a hammer-forged barrel, a Melonite finish on the barrel and slide, and a fiber-optic front sight with a Tactical Rack U-Dot rear.
The rear sight features a 90-degree shelf that can facilitate one-handed racking off a belt, boot heel, post, or other surfaces that can catch the sight. This particular OSP model came with a slide cut for use with available adapter plates to mount various optics.
Time To Battle
As for the direct comparison between the two, I met up with four of my friends who are knowledgeable shooters. We quickly put the Smith and Springfield to work at the range. Despite our personal biases, there was no question that each pistol was stronger in some areas than the other.
For example, the majority of the group, including me, liked the texturing on the M&P more than the XD-M. It just seemed to grab the hand and lock in solidly for better control.
Another advantage of the M&P was the inclusion of suppressor-height sights to co-witness with an optic. While I like the U-Dot sights on the Springfield, they don’t play well with an optic. It’ll be up to the user to decide whether or not to run an optic and whether to install aftermarket sights for co-witnessing.
On the other hand, after shooting a variety of 10mm loads through both pistols, it was a unanimous verdict. All five of us agreed that, despite its shorter frame, the XD-M Elite did a better job soaking up felt recoil.
The recoil from the M&P felt sharper and more abrupt, though it wasn’t out of hand and was still very controllable. The majority of us also preferred the XD-M Elite’s trigger with its cleaner take-up and lighter break than the M&P.
As for rating accessories, the M&P 2.0 ships with four backstraps compared to the XD-M Elite’s three. So, you may be able to tailor the grip fit a little more finely with the Smith. The M&P 2.0 kit also included one metal adapter plate for a Leupold DeltaPoint Pro and six other polymer adapter plates for mounting various optics.
A package of various and differently sized screw sets was provided to help with the job as well. An illustrated chart in the user’s manual instructs on which plates and screws to use with a particular optic.
The XD-M Elite Compact OSP does not come with an optics-mounting plate. But after you purchase the pistol, you can contact Springfield, and they will ship out an adapter plate of your choice. The upside is that Springfield’s plates are made from metal and should provide a more robust foundation for the optic.
However, Springfield leaves it to the end user to find the right screws to work with the optic. The standard screws that came with my SRO were too long to work with the Springfield plate. Because of deadline constraints, I wasn’t able to get that sorted out quick enough to mount an optic on the XD-M Elite for this article.
Overall Range Performance
Aside from that note, both pistols were exceptionally reliable, with no malfunctions of any sort. And that was running both range loads and a variety of brands of hollowpoints. Similarly, both pistols were neck-and-neck in the accuracy department as well.
Both pistols shot 1.25- to 1.5-inch groups at 15 yards, with the Springfield having about a quarter-inch edge on average. Though, that could have been a function of the particular ammo we were shooting because each pistol has its own preferences. Suffice to say, both pistols are more than capable of getting the job done when it really counts.
Having Our Druthers
After our workout with the two pistols, I polled the guys as to their overall preference. Four out of the five of us chose the Springfield XD-M Elite 3.8 Compact 10mm. That largely came down to the trigger pull, recoil control, and overall shootability.
While Addison agreed that the XD-M Elite soaked up the recoil better, he still preferred the overall handling and feel of the M&P 2.0.
In all fairness, the guys only remarked on the shooting experience and didn’t dig into the details of the two pistols. Including the M&P’s large suite of optics plates and screws, sight options, as well as having more supplied backstraps.
Personally, I’m a little torn between the two. I really like the versatility of the XD-M Elite 3.8 Compact. It’s great for concealed carry with its short frame. But you can still get that big-pistol feel at home by swapping in the 15-round magazine with an integral grip sleeve.
If I was only carrying at home or in the outdoors and could use a little longer sight radius and a modest velocity bump, I’d probably opt for the 4.6-inch barrel version of the M&P 2.0. It would be an ideal choice for that use case. Especially since it’s set up to co-witness with an optic right out of the box.
With the S&W M&P 2.0 10mm and the Springfield XD-M Elite Compact 3.8 10mm, we’ve got two companies keeping the big-bore faith alive. Each offers fantastic pistols, action-packed with the latest features and that can deliver a devastating, all-American payload.
Choose What Works Best for You
As always, the devil’s in the details, and it’s up to the buyer to determine their needs. As ever, the best pistol is always the pistol that best works for you. But if 10mm is your thing, you just can’t go wrong with either of these pistols.
Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 4-inch 10mm Specs
Barrel: 4 inches
Length: 7.2 inches
Weight: 27.8 ounces
Height: 5.6 inches
Width: 1.3 inches
Sights: Three-dot, white
Springfield XD-M Elite Compact 3.8 10mm Specs
Caliber: 10 mm
Barrel: 3.8 inches
Length: 6.75 inches
Weight: 27 ounces
Height: 4.58 inches
Width: 1.2 inches
Sights: Tactical U-Dot, fiber-optic
This article was originally published in the Combat Handguns May/June 2022 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions at OutdoorGroupStore.com. Or call 1-800-284-5668, or email email@example.com.