First Handgun Choice for Newbie - SD or XDM?


New member
Greetings. This is my first time on the site, so please forgive any mistakes or inaccuracies. I have also never owned, or even shot a handgun. I have been hunting, and have shot my fair share of rifles and shotguns, from .22s to 12 gauge, etc. But no handgun experience and limited knowledge, but have done extensive research.

I understand that the best way to find out is to get out to a range with gun rentals and try various styles. But I am looking for experienced opinions on 2 specific choices, so hopefully someone has had experience with both these pistols. I understand it is all about opinion and preference, I am just looking for a starting point to begin my own opinions through experience.

So, for a newbie to handguns (28yr old male), and for the general purpose of self/home defense, which would you suggest: The Springfield Armory XDM (reg or compact)or the Smith & Wesson SD?
And would you suggest starting with a 9mm or .40?
I am thinking 9mm, but based on a pretty thin opinion. Primarily based on ammo price and availability, as well as magazine capacity. My main home defense concern is that, while I can shoot additional bullets to stop a target, I want the least chance that a stray bullet can end up penetrating a neighbors house.

I know the XDm comes with a nice package by default, and the SD is available in a nice HD (Home Defense) package for just a little more. Another reason I am choosing these 2 is that they are both at a nice price point. I am trying to stay at or under $500, since it is my first handgun, and since I work retail, money and range time are in very short supply.

Other gun suggestions are always welcome and I thank you in advance for your input.


You already know the answer; get to the range, shoot them both (and others), & you'll find out. They are both fine guns but one may fit your hand better and point more naturally FOR YOU than the others. My wife loves her XD & I like it too but my S&W M&P feels better in my hand. Spend the time now to find what suites you and you'll likely save money in the long run. Some like blonds, others like dark and mysterious.

Don't forget to have fun!


New member
I envy you that first shot with a handgun. My first shooting experience was a class designed to teach basic gun safety and competence. Then we went out to a range and shot about ten different guns in all different calibers. I felt like Goldilocks. Some were too weak and boring; some overpowering and unpleasant. Then I shot a 1911 .45 and it was "just right". Hope you find something you look forward to practicing with as often as time and funds allow.

Sorry no help on either of these guns. I think I have shot a S&W M&P 9 mm and it was pretty good. But I am still in love with my 1911. Best of luck!
The best gun for home defense is a shotgun designed for that purpose. If you're working toward concealed carry that's a whole different ballgame. Everyone has their own opinion and their own favorite. A Ford sedan and a Chevy sedan both get the same job done. It boils down to what you like. My choice is a Ruger SR9C and you can pick one of those up for under $400.


New member
I would like to get a shotgun! What would be the best one to get for a person who has never shot a shotgun?? I have several handguns and I am fairly new to shooting, about a year of experience. What do you suggest??


New member

You picked two great choices to choose from, but I truly hope you put a glock in your hand to try it. 25 yrs of being at the top of the heap for out of the box reliability is saying a lot. Having said that, you cannot go wrong with either of the two choices you are considering. As stated in a previous post here, on many posts through out this site and on many posts in other forums about "which one should I get for....", the one you end up liking the most will be the one you should get.

Now, please don't think you can go without formal training...


New member
First, thanks for all your input. I kinda figured that was coming. "Its all about what feels right.." etc. I understand. I was mainly looking for "I have had better reliability with my S&W.." or "I find the Springfields tend to have less recoil..." etc, etc. But each and every post here is helpful, so thank you.

- For the record, yes, I understand that the best home defense option is a shotgun. I plan on getting one as well down the road (as well as EVENTUALLY an AR-15) but a shotgun is nothing new to me, and acquiring one is easy for me and less confusing. But your right, shotgun is "A number 1". But also bulky in a high stress situation, as well as cumbersome to load if not ready.

- And yes, I do plan to get my concealed weapon permit in the near future, thus making the handgun more for self defense rather than just home defense. Therefore, kinda cancels out the shot gun or rifle deal.

- As for a Glock, I know. ;) When I first took interest in handguns, I was dead set on getting a Glock. Primarily for reliability. I understand that they are like the iPhone of guns. I wanted one since day one, and they are the reason I first went into a gun store on my own accord to investigate getting a handgun. I will eventually own one, but for now, it is just not logical. They are just a tiny bit on the pricier side of my budget, and I really don't see myself going swimming with my gun or or having battles on the beach anytime soon, so they're undisputed reliability to work under any condition is currently an unneeded benefit. But yes, Glock always has been an option.

- As for 1911, I am told this is the best by pretty much everyone. And granted there are some cheaper ones, the majority of 1911s that I have interest in, breach my budget cap. But if money was not a concern, the 1911 would definitely be in my top 5 choices.

- Another MAJOR concern here, which I haven't really mentioned is the fact that I MAY shoot left handed. As I said, I've never officially shot before, but I do own an exceptionally realistic (before the safety scare that lead to orange barrels and markers) Marksman Repeater BB handgun. The thing is metal with a good weight, pull back slide, the butt is a little thin, but if I could make this thing a real gun it would be perfect. I mention this because when I hold it, I am more comfortable using my left hand with my right hand for stability. I can hold it right handed, it just doesn't feel as comfortable. I write left handed, but I bat and golf right handed. Rather ambidextrous. So this leads me to: Which gun might be better for a left hander? I know that the XD(m) has an ambidextrous magazine release, but I think the SD only has it for right hander. I know my terminology is bad, but I forget which is which. I think lefty is Southpaw.. ?

Anyway, thanks for everyone's input so far, and if I think of anything else I will try to post. Gotta run now, and since I have the day off, gonna try to go pay some bills and maybe swing by a local range where it appears they rent a XD. ;)


New member
Ok, well didn't get to go to the actual range, but did go to one of the larger dealers in the area and got some great info.

- First, I found out that SD9 and the XD wouldn't really be a good comparison. If I was looking at the XD, then others to look at would be the M&P and Glock.

- I also found out the being a newbie I was probably better suited for a 9mm due to less kickback and cheaper ammo. I could spend more on quantity of ammo to practice and get used to shooting and could then determine later if I wanted to bump it up to a .40 down the line. Which is kinda what I figured, I just needed a professional to tell me. Makes sense.

- I also got the chance to hold a SA XDM-9 3.8 (full grip but compact barrel) in my hand. I fell in love. If I had the money to spend, I would have bought it on the spot. Especially since I talked the guy to dropping it down to $589. It felt like it was made for my hand. The weight was perfect. The textured grip was secure but not in any way painful. The barrel length was good for eventually moving to concealed carry, yet still having the full size grip that filled my hand. Ambidextrous mag release was comfortable (which I was told the SD does not have). It just felt right.

- I felt it was a little pricey at $589 but if you take out the items that come with it in the kit (holster [$20], mag holster [$20], 2 mags [$20+], mag loader and cleaning kit, and case with lock cable) I would say that fairly brings it to the $500 +/- category.

Therefore I think we have a winner. I believe I will get the Springfield Armory XDm 9mm 3.8. Now just to make sure I have the money after bills and whatnot. Of course I would find the gun of my dreams right as the bills come and in between paychecks. ;) I will update as things change. Especially when I get it. Thanks a million for all your input, and please continue to post if you have an opinion on the matter. Hopefully other newbies to handguns will find this forum and find some helpful tid bits as well.


New member
A 1911 can easily be had for $500 look into rock island armory , citadel , ati , and para-go to a range rent as many as they have then make your decision. Try a 1911 if you can you will like!


PEW Professional
Good input above about going to the range...

Anyway, I like the M&P 9mm's... just read some of my other posts about why I like the 9mm over the .40

Good luck

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