Just because something new comes along doesn’t mean you need, or even want, to trade in the old model. When I find a gun that works for me, I’m not inclined to toss it away just because a new version rolls out on the market.
Such is the case with my XD-M pistols. Yes, the newer XD-M Elite models offer distinct advantages in comparison. I can’t deny I’d buy the Elite version if I was comparing the two for the first time today. But, that’s not the reality of my situation. I already own several XD-M pistols, and I’m not inclined to toss them out with the rubbish, as they are very reliable tools.
And that also doesn’t mean I’m not interested in upgrading them with the right components.
A “Flare” for Function
Springfield Armory recently launched three new kits that allow any gun owner to upgrade his or her 9mm XD-M to the same extended and flared magwells used on the Elite series. Not only are the kits affordable and available right now, they are also easy to install with just a few simple hand tools.
Springfield offers three versions of the kit that work for full-size and compact 9mm XD-M pistols:
Each of the kits contains all the parts you need to add the new magwell and get on the range, including a new magazine designed to work with the magwell. These magazines add capacity to your pistol and speed of reload, both of which are welcome additions to any defensive or competition pistol.
The “Standard Magwell Conversion Kit” is designed for full-size 9mm XD-M pistols and gives you the larger “standard” magwell and a 22-round magazine. The “Short Magwell Conversion Kit” is also designed for full-size 9mm pistols, and provides you with the smaller magwell and a 20-round magazine. The “Compact Short Magwell Conversion Kit” is designed for 3.8” Compact XD-M pistols and gives you the smaller magwell and a 14-round magazine.
XD-M Magwell Review
For this review, I got two kits: one for my XD-M 3.8” Compact 9mm pistol and a second for my full-size XD-M 9mm OSP with a 4.5” threaded barrel. Both kits were delivered in plastic pouches that included the magwell, a locking pin, three backstraps of varying sizes to work with the extended magwell, and a new magazine. All parts are black.
Although many in my family are mechanically inclined, that genetic boon appears to have skipped me. Even so, Springfield promised I would be able to accomplish the magwell conversions on my pistols. I dove into the work, starting with the larger of the two guns.
Some basic hand tools are needed, and I suspect that most readers of this article already have them on their bench. The tools I used were:
- Wheeler Engineering Hammer & Punch Set
- Wheeler Engineering Roll Pin Punch Set
- Generic gunsmith block
A standard punch should work fine for this, as will virtually any hammer. If you don’t have a gunsmithing block to catch the pins when pushed out, you can simply use a folded soft cloth under the pistol instead.
I was able to install the first magwell kit in about 15 minutes. Once I knew what I was doing, I installed the second kit in less than five. I suspect most of you reading this will be a lot closer to the five-minute mark on your first attempt.
How to Install
The process for installing the Magwell Kits on the 9mm XD-M pistols is the same regardless of size. In this example, I used the standard kit on my XD-M FDE. Although I found the magwell kits easy to install, if you have any doubts about your ability, you would be better off taking the kit and pistol to a qualified gunsmith. If you are up to the task, these are the basic steps.
Ensure the Gun is Unloaded: Before beginning any work on your XD-M, remove the magazine from the pistol, clear the chamber and triple-check to ensure there is no ammunition in the gun’s chamber. Remove all ammo from the work area.
Drift Out Pin and Remove Backstrap: With a 3/32” punch, drift out the backstrap roll pin. If you’ve never removed this pin before, a few light taps with a hammer may be needed. Once the pin is free, you can lift out the backstrap.
Assemble New Magwell and Backstrap: Connect the new magwell to the appropriately sized backstrap for you from the kit. You will use the locking pin included with the magwell kit.
When inserting the locking pin, pay attention to insert it so the groove in its shaft will align with the roll pin you removed in the previous step. Once inserted, the locking pin should hold the magwell and backstrap together as a single piece.
Attach New Magwell and Backstrap: Leading with the tabs on the upper part of the backstrap, angle the backstrap onto the XD-M frame and pivot the magwell into position. There will be a small amount of friction resistance that will help ensure the parts stay tightly fitted after installation.
Insert Roll Pin: Once the magwell and backstrap are in place, visually check to make sure your pin holes are aligned. Insert the roll pin you previously removed into the backstrap. You will likely need to use a hammer with a 3/32” punch to move the pin back into place.
Function Check: With the firearm completely unloaded, practice inserting the new magazine, manipulating the slide and dry-firing the trigger. If the new magwell was properly installed, the gun should be functioning as well as it was the day you bought it.
If there is looseness in the magwell or backstrap, discontinue use and work back through the steps to ensure you properly installed the new XD-M magwell. If there is a problem you cannot solve, contact a local gunsmith for additional assistance.
The magwell upgrade kits for the XD-M pistols proved simple to install and are a high-quality design that perfectly match the look and feel of the handguns. I encountered no problems during two installations. Even more importantly, both pistols ran right as rain after the work was complete.
If you are running a full-size XD-M 9mm for competition or tactical use, the upgrade seems like a no-brainer to me. It gives you a wide mouth and funnel to help speed reloads under stress. Likewise, the included extended magazine gives you more rounds between reloads.
For my 3.8” Compact XD-M, the magwell upgrade makes even more sense. With the flush-fitting, 13-round magazine, my pinky hangs off the bottom of the pistol. However, my 19-round extended magazines with the X-Tension sleeve are simply too long for my concealment needs. Much like Goldilocks who found the middle bed was “just right,” I found the magwell upgrade made the pistol the perfect fit for my needs. The upgrade adds just enough length to the grip for an improved hold on the pistol. Plus, the 14-round magazine offers additional firepower without being ridiculously long for a CCW pistol.
No matter the gun, I found these Springfield XD-M magwell kits are real winners.
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Featured in this video
XD-M® Standard Magwell Conversion Kit, 9mm
XD-M® Short Magwell Conversion Kit, 9mm
XD-M® Compact Short Magwell Conversion Kit, 9mm
Wheeler Hammer and Punch Set
Wheeler Roll Pin Punch Set