Springfield Echelon - A New Generation of Duty Pistol

— Travis PikeCADRE Dispatch

Weren’t we all a little surprised at the Echelon? Springfield Armory has been importing 9mm, striker-fired, double-stack pistols for decades as part of the XD series. Most people expected Springfield to continue the XD lineup, but the Echelon was something entirely new.

echelon profile
The Echelon can be a duty, defensive, or competition pistol.

As usual, most of us are wary of new guns, especially newly imported guns. Could the Springfield Echelon compete in what’s become a very crowded market of polymer frame pistols? Springfield sent us an Echelon to test and review to find out if it’s worth your hard-earned dollars.

Springfield Echelon Specifications

There are a few different models of the Echelon, and we have our hands on the threaded barrel variant. Other than that, it’s fairly standard.

  • Barrel Length: 5.28 inches
  • Overall Length: 8.8 inches
  • Weight: 24.5 ounces
  • Height: 5.5 inches
  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Capacity: 17 and 20 Round Magazines
  • MSRP: $739

Echelon Features

Like most modern guns, it has an accessory rail for lights, lasers, and whatnot. It also has interchangeable backstraps to get the right size for your hand. The operating group is interconnected into what Springfield calls the COG. The Central Operating Group is the fire control group centralized into a removable chassis.

The ability to remove the chassis allows for the use of different-sized grip modules. This includes a medium, large, and small grip module. It’s impossible to find an Echelon that doesn’t fit! The grip modules are covered with the outstanding adaptive grip texture we first saw on the Hellcat.

adaptive grip texture on echelon
The adaptive grip texture makes the Echelon a comfy, easy-to-grip handgun.

Variable Interface System

Springfield also introduced the VIS, or variable interface system. This is the most ingenious optic mounting system on the market. You can mount various optics to the Echelon, and the slide is adorned with numerous holes to accommodate various screws for various footprints. There is also a series of pins that act as recoil bosses. Their placement varies, depending on the optics. There are no plates to worry about, no tolerance stacking, and the optic sits lower.

springfield echelon with red dot mounted
The VIS makes mounting optics easy.

Users who prefer to use enclosed emitter optics would be best served by looking at the EPS from Holosun and the New Trijicon RCR. For a more detailed look at options, be sure to read Accessories for your Springfield Armory Echelon.

The gun comes with a soft case and two magazines. One magazine holds 17 rounds, and the other holds 20 rounds. For states with magazine restrictions, there are 10-round options available.

Impressive Ergonomics

The Springfield Echelon comes with some interesting and very modern ergonomics. The controls are completely ambidextrous. The magazine release and slide lock are both present on the right and left sides of the gun. The Echelon also uses a flat-faced trigger that has a fairly short reach to access.

Springfield and HS Produkt wisely ditched the grip safety of the XD series and adopted the Hellcat-style adaptive grip texture. It doesn’t feel rough in the hand, but when gripped tightly, the grip digs in and prevents the gun from sliding inside your hand.

ambidextrous controls
The controls are completely ambidextrous. Not reversible, but truly ambidextrous.

The slide release is fairly small, but in a position that makes it very easy to access. It has a shelf that allows your thumb to press downward pretty easily. The magazine release is large and in charge. You won’t have any problems dropping mags.

The grip of the Echelon is fairly thin and svelte, especially compared to the competition. The Echelon feels great in my hands, not as blocky as most polymer frame handguns out there. A rear beaver-tail overhang allows for a safe, high grip.

The Echelon’s slide is milled with deep serrations that allow your hand to really dig in when you attempt to manipulate the slide. It also has a set of little wings at the rear of the slide. This makes it easy to work the slide with an optic mount. Just grip and rip, and you won’t have any problems.

Springfield Echelon slide serrations
The serrations are super deep and easy to grip.

At the Range

Once we hit the range with the Echelon, a few mags, and a range bag full of ammo and targets, I started testing its general accuracy. I attached a Shield RMScX optic to the gun and did a quick zero. Zeroing is a great way to observe the accuracy of a firearm.

With the gun resting on a table at 25 yards, I was capable of punching out a very respectable group. It was almost a perfect ragged circle — almost. Ten rounds made a group that was about 2.25 inches wide.

echelon sights
The awesome optics mounting system mounts the optic low. the stock sight will co-witness from the factory.

Off the bench and in the open, the gun performs very well. The trigger has some initial light takeup before it hits the wall. A quarter inch or so of travel later, and the trigger breaks. The final portion of the trigger pull gets stiff, but it won’t throw your shots by any means. It’s a great stock trigger. Hitting a steel gong repeatably at 25 yards won’t feel like much of a challenge to the majority of shooters. I backed off to 50 yards and could hit a full-sized IPSC target with ease.

I would feel plenty confident with this gun as a match pistol, as my duty gun, or defensive pistol.

Blasting Away

A full-sized 9mm handgun with a polymer frame isn’t going to be difficult to control. When the gun features the ability to obtain a nice high grip, it becomes even easier to control.

As for target reacquisition, it’s easy to measure the Echelon’s sight, but how fast can you get back behind the red dot? In my shooting, the sight remained almost dead on target between shots. It was so easy to track that I got annoyed by the refresh rate of the RMScX and watching the dot lag a bit between shots.

Springfield Echelon in hand
The Echelon rewrites the DNA of the Xd series.

The Echelon is easy to hold onto and very controllable. Shooting drills like the 10-10-10 drill make it obvious with easy all-black runs in well under ten seconds. Mix good accuracy with excellent control, and you get something that shoots fast and straight with minimal issues.

After blasting through 500 rounds of mostly reman 9mm ammo, the Echelon proved to be a very reliable handgun. I had no problems, jams, or failures of any kind. Outside of just shooting, I ran reloads and let those mags soak up dirt. There were no problems with the mags either.

echelon on backpack
The Echelon is a full-sized, duty-grade firearm.

Form the Echelon

The Springfield Armory Echelon turned out to be one of the great surprises of 2023. Creating an entire line of pistols can be tough to do. The Echelon proved to be a surprisingly feature-filled handgun with plenty of innovation to push it forward. Springfield didn’t rest on established laurels for this one. This is an easy-to-control, reliable, and accurate handgun that does things differently.

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