• S.D.M XM9: the SIG P226 that came from the East

S.D.M XM9: the SIG P226 that came from the East

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S.D.M XM9: the SIG P226 that came from the East

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From China comes the clone of the world-famous SIG Sauer P226 pistol, offering the same performance as the original... at one third of the price! 

Whether or not you're a SIG Sauer pistols fan, the S.D.M. XM9 is not going to let you down!

If you're the kind of shooter that looks at performance and function over brand and looks, then this Chinese-made clone of the world-famous SIG Sauer P226 semi-automatic pistol may be just what you are looking for. Manufactured by Sino Defense Manufacturing and distributed in Europe by companies like the Italian-based Prima Armi S.r.l., the S.D.M. XM9 is a faithful reproduction of the legendary German pistol... at one third of the original price.

Left to right: the S.D.M. XM9 Operator variant, factory-issued with a tactical flashlight, and the baseline S.D.M. XM9 Tactical model

Left to right: the S.D.M. XM9 Operator variant, factory-issued with a tactical flashlight, and the baseline S.D.M. XM9 Tactical model

The S.D.M. XM9 semi-automatic pistol is sold in a plastic case and issued with one single 15-rounds magazine; two spare spring – more specifically a trigger bar spring and a slide stop spring; a multi-purpose tool that can be used as a screwdriver or as a cleaning instrument; and a steel pin punch that will serve its purpose when cleaning the gun as well, to reach the most difficult points.

The S.D.M. XM9 pistol is available in two variants, dubbed the Tactical and the Operator models respectively. The two versions are essentially the same gun; the only difference between the XM9 Tactical and the XM9 Tactical comes with a railed frame only, while the Operator is factory-issued with a snap-on laser/tactical flashlight combo module.

Aesthetics and ergonomics

The S.D.M. XM9 is an external hammer, SA/DA, full-size semi-automatic pistol. The breechblock is to its seat within the slide through a metal pin.

Despite being a full-sized pistol, the XM9 is comfortable to grip and handle – even to small-handed shooters

Despite being a full-sized pistol, the XM9 is comfortable to grip and handle – even to small-handed shooters

A close-up of the passing pin that keeps the breechblock in place within the slide assembly

A close-up of the passing pin that keeps the breechblock in place within the slide assembly

The slip-proof checkered surfaces are stamped on the rigid polymer grip panels, and offer a solid gripping

The slip-proof checkered surfaces are stamped on the rigid polymer grip panels, and offer a solid gripping

The rigid black plastic grip panels set feature rear and side checkerings and front serrations for a better, slip-proof grip in all conditions. The rear slide serrations also serve their purpose excellently, particularly due to the dimensions of the slide itself. Despite the dimensions of the grip – sized to fit a double-stack magazine – its shape offers comfort and safe handling regardless from the dimensions of the shooter's hands.

Controls are shaped to be easily reached and operated – see how the takedown lever aligns to the notch on the left side of the slide when the slide is held in open position

Controls are shaped to be easily reached and operated – see how the takedown lever aligns to the notch on the left side of the slide when the slide is held in open position

The slide of the S.D.M. XM9 is manufactured out of carbon steel, while the frame is lightweight aluminum alloy, All outer surfaces are treated in black Tenifer.

All controls are at prompt finger reach; most notably, the decocking lever is easily operated. The MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny-railed frame adds a touch of modernity to a pistol design that was originally conceived in 1984 and got upgraded as the years went by.

Right side view of the S.D.M. XM9 Tactical semi-automatic pistol

Right side view of the S.D.M. XM9 Tactical semi-automatic pistol

Left side view of the S.D.M. XM9 Tactical semi-automatic pistol

Left side view of the S.D.M. XM9 Tactical semi-automatic pistol

Right side view of the S.D.M. XM9 Operator semi-automatic pistol

Right side view of the S.D.M. XM9 Operator semi-automatic pistol

Left side view of the S.D.M. XM9 Operator semi-automatic pistol

Left side view of the S.D.M. XM9 Operator semi-automatic pistol

The cartridge being fed from the magazine aligns perfectly to the bore axis for flawless feeding

The cartridge being fed from the magazine aligns perfectly to the bore axis for flawless feeding

Working system

The S.D.M. XM9 pistol sports a modified short-recoil Browning locking system – which, as you may know, has the barrel and the slide move rearwards together for a few millimetres in the early stages of the firing cycle. Just like with the original SIG Sauer P226, the barrel of the S.D.M. XM9 features two lugs.

The rear lug prevents the barrel from moving downwards during the early stages of recoiling, and also dubs as the carridge ramp. The second lug is located just in front of the chamber; its inclined plane engages the frame during the firing cycle, allowing the slide to disengage from the barrel and continue its rearwards movement alone and recock the hammer as the spent case is extracted from the chamber and ejected.

Caliber and magazine

The single, double-stack magazine issued with the S.D.M. XM9 semi-automatic pistol holds fifteen rounds, but it can be limited to a 10-rounds capacity for some jurisdictions. The caliber is 9mm – by far the world's most popular, with modern loads greatly outperforming higher calibers in terms of performance. The sheer kinetic energy and the high capacity of a double-stack, 9mm pistol allows for a plethora of purposes to be fulfilled – from personal, home and property defense to service issue for military, law enforcement and private security personnel, let alone all sorts of range shooting, from sheer leisure to tactical.

The S.D.M. XM9 pistol is normally chambered in 9x19mm; the sample we tested is an Italy-specific model, re-chambered for the quintessentially Italian 9x21mm IMI caliber due to local laws that ban private ownership of handguns chambered in 9mm Luger.

VIDEO / Promo - Pistol SDM XM9 Prima Armi

Safeties

The S.D.M. XM9 pistol comes with an automatic firing pin safety – an undeniable advantage for all those who'll want to carry their pistol with a round in chamber without fear of accidental discharges due to shocks or impacts.

The XM9 also comes with a decocking lever – a feature that, in our opinion, all SA/DA pistols should have. The lever is easily reached with the right thumb, it's not particularly hard to push down, and will spring up by itself after the hammer is decocked.

Trigger features

On the samples we tested, the average trigger weight was found to be around 2,4 kilograms (more or less 5.3 lbs) in single-action. The trigger travel is quite regular, and definitely offers improvement potential upon break-in.

The average trigger weight in double-action turned out to be around 5,1 kilograms (approximately 11.25 lbs), mostly concentrated in the initial phase: after a few millimetres it gets noticeably lighter, and as we quickly found out in our test fire, it will allow shot placement without too much of a hassle. As with all SA/DA pistols, S.D.M. XM9 shooters should train to fire the first shot in double-action and all the following shots in single action. The trigger reset is very short, which makes rapid fire practical.

Sights

Both the front and rear sight come with painted white dots – a condition that makes them clearly visible only in good lighting conditions. The rear sight is partially inlaid to avoid glare should the shooter have a powerful light source on his/her back.

The iron sights feature white dots and are dovetailed to the slide

The iron sights feature white dots and are dovetailed to the slide

The rear sight is recessed to prevent glaring

The rear sight is recessed to prevent glaring

The slide removed from the frame: the automatic firing pin safety system is visible – and so are some signs of the manufacturing procedures, which won't interfere with the operation and performances of the gun

The slide removed from the frame: the automatic firing pin safety system is visible – and so are some signs of the manufacturing procedures, which won't interfere with the operation and performances of the gun

Field-stripping

The S.D.M. XM9 is easily and quickly field-stripped for cleaning and maintenance, but shooters should be advised that the gun has springs under constant tension – which makes protective glasses, if not mandatory, at least highly recommended.

Once the magazine is removed, the chamber cleared and checked, and the slide locked in the open position, the takedown lever can be turned down to a 90-degrees angle until it engages a half-moon shaped cut on the slide. This will disengage the slide itself from the frame.

Holding the slide with one hand, the shooter may now release the slide stop and guide the slide down to its locking path and further, removing it from its rails on the frame.

The recoil spring and bar, and the barrel, can now be removed from the slide assembly. To reassemble the S.D.M. XM9, follow the same procedure backwards.

The S.D.M. XM9 semi-automatic pistol, field-stripped

The S.D.M. XM9 semi-automatic pistol, field-stripped

Live-fire test at the range

We decided to put the S.D.M. XM9 Tactical to the test, and we used some light hand-loads (on purpose) along with Fiocchi's 124g "Top Target" LRNCP (Lead Round Nose, Copper Plated) and 100g "Black Mamba" FMJTC loads. Before testing the gun, we thoroughly removed all traces of lubricant from the slide rails on the frame.

The S.D.M. XM9 handled all loads without issues; we experienced one single malfunction, due to a combination of factors – the low quantity of propellants on our hand-loads and the lack of lubrication between the slide and frame. But as stated above, we did that on purpose to test the capabilities of the XM9.

From left to right: rapid-fire and slow-fire groups at a 12-metres distance (approx.40 feet) with gun in out-of-the-box conditions

From left to right: rapid-fire and slow-fire groups at a 12-metres distance (approx.40 feet) with gun in out-of-the-box conditions

With the Fiocchi loads, we easily obtained a 5cm/2" group at 12 meters/39 feet – a performance level easily improved once the shooter gets used to the XM9. We then tried to push our limits by placing the target at a 25 meters distance, about 82 feet away: the group was tight enough for the range, but the trigger weight isn't exactly the right one for that distance. This was never meant to be an Olympic shooting gun to begin with.

With a new target on a 7-meters range (about 22 feet) we emptied the magazine as fast as we could. The resulting group was satisfactory, albeit slightly to the left.

We also tried with some single, aimed double-action shots, and quickly found out that we could still come out with satisfactingly tight groups. All in all, the S.D.M. XM9 is just as accurate as a shooter would need from a gun like this, and will perform reliably with light loads. Break-in will improve the trigger weight and travel. Muzzle climb is minimal, even with hot loads, providing potential for rapid fire – and the overall weight and ergonomic features of the XM9 do help under this point of view.

Our most electifying experience we had with the S.D.M. XM9 was with the Operator variant, which we tested in rapid fire against metal targets of different sizes, placed at different ranges. Zero malfunctions with all loads, including flat-nosed balls. The S.D.M. XM9 Operator provided more central groups – and once again, extreme reliability. May the issued tactical light provide better balance?

Another out-of-the-box text: an entire fifteen-rounds magazine fired in seventeen seconds from a 15-metres distance, by an expert shooter

Another out-of-the-box text: an entire fifteen-rounds magazine fired in seventeen seconds from a 15-metres distance, by an expert shooter

Intended use

The S.D.M. XM9 full-size semi-automatic pistol is meant specifically for open carry. Its size and weight make it unsuitable for concealed carry – specifically when wearing light Summer clothes. The XM9 is still a great home defense pistol, though.

Given the performance levels of the S.D.M. XM9, those shooters who'd want to have a stint at some dynamic shooting disciplines, particularly within the IPSC or USPSA Production Division, may want to give this XM9 a try. It would be a viable entry-level choice for beginners, and won't break the bank.

The muzzle of the XM9 Tactical and Operator pistols; workmanship is great

The muzzle of the XM9 Tactical and Operator pistols; workmanship is great

This S.D.M. pistol is dubbed the XM9 because the SIG Sauer P226 was one of the two entries that reached the final phase of the XM9 program that led to the replacement of the M1911-A1 as the U.S. Military's service pistol in 1984. The trial was won by the Beretta M92-FS over the SIG Sauer P226 only because the Beretta could be obtained at a lower price, and spare parts were also cheaper; the overall good quality of the S.D.M. XM9 should reassure all those shooters who would normally frown over Asian knock-offs.

All in all, the S.D.M. XM9 is a tried-and-true design – and with its price tag set at one third of the original SIG Sauer, it is affordable to basically every shooter. Given the current state of global economy, saving money without settling for inferior quality and performance is not a bad idea, particularly when it's about personal defense.

Purchasing a new gun over a used gun – whose service life may not always be clear to the new owner – is always a good idea, and with the S.D.M. XM9 it's also an idea that will fit tight budgets. We give this Asian clone two thumbs up... but that's no reason to mock those who decide to purchase an original SIG Sauer P226 for triple the price. After all, a SIG is always a SIG.

The S.D.M. XM9 is a heavy full-sized pistol, not exactly recommended for concealed carry – and yet, it performed flawlessly in our tests

The S.D.M. XM9 is a heavy full-sized pistol, not exactly recommended for concealed carry – and yet, it performed flawlessly in our tests

S.D.M. XM9 semi-automatic pistol – Technical specs

Manufacturer

S.D.M. - Sino Defense Manufacturing

Distributor
Model

S.D.M. XM9

Typology

Semi-automatic pistol

Caliber

9x19mm, 9x21mm IMI

Action

Locked breech, Browning-type modified short recoil system

Trigger system

SA/DA

Safeties

Automatic firing pin safety; manual decocking lever

Capacity

10 or 15 rounds in detachable double-stack magazines

Barrel

112 mm / 4.4 inch

Six grooves, RH

Sights

Three-dot, fixed iron sights dovetailed to the slide

Overall length

196 mm / 7.7 inch

Weight (empty)

890 g / 31.4 oz.

Materials / Finishes

Lightweight aluminum alloy frame, stainless steel slide. All metal components are black Tenifer treated

Price

499.00€ – XM9 Tactical (incl. VAT)

579.00€ – XM9 Operator (incl. VAT)