Springfield Echelon modular gun review
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It’s easy to say, “Ho hum, another polymer-framed 9mm striker-fired pistol.” We live in a golden age of well made, reliable 9mm handguns and after a while, they all start to look the same. But there’s more to the Springfield Echelon than meets the eye.

I’m not certain the Echelon would motivate me to sell my carry gun to purchase Springfield’s latest, but if I were in the market for a new 9mm pistol the Springfield would be near the top of my list.

The Echelon is nothing like the XD and not all that similar to the newer, more popular Hellcat, either. But if you like the Springfield Croation-made Hellcat you’re going to like the Croatian-made Echelon. So much for familial association.

The Echelon is fairly priced at about $650 in most places. In the tactical scheme of things can you do virtually anything with the Echelon you can do with a good GLOCK, SIG, or HK. You can probably run a combat course in good order with any of them, but there are a few innovations that make the new Springfield attractive as a stand-out.

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The Echelon a service-size handgun, at least as it’s being delivered now. The pistol comes with 17- and 20-round magazines. Its full size makes 9mm recoil modest. The polymer frame and steel slide are well textured and nicely finished. Aggressive cocking serrations (unlike the Hellcat) and a good set of sights are welcome.

My example features the optional three-dot night sight set-up. The U-notch with tritium dot front sight is an option many who carry every day will go for. I simply grabbed the first Springfield Echelon in a three county radius and this is what was available.

One of the features that make the Echelon stand out is its innovative red dot mounting system. Virtually all optic-ready polymer-frame pistols are designed for a particular optic mount. If you want to use a red dot that doesn’t work with your slide, you can make it work with an adapter plate.

Springfield Echelon modular gun review

The Echelon exhibits a fresh take on a vexing problem. It comes with what Springfield calls the Variable Interface System for mounting pistol optics. It’s a series of patterns and holes cut into the slide that take a combination of supplied self-locking pins and screws.

Springfield Echelon modular gun review

There are no plates involved. The VIS allows you to use the whatever combination of hardware works for your red dot sight without having to buy an adapter plate.

The Echelon comes with hardware for RMSc, DeltaPoint Pro and RMR mounts, which are by far the most popular mounting patterns and let you mount more than 30 different red dot sights.

Springfield Echelon modular gun review

Springfield also made their slide cut on the deeper side. Since you don’t need to use adapter plates, your red dot sits lower and you can co-witness with standard height sights. I mounted a TruGlo’s XR21 which uses the RMSc mount for testing. It was attached easily and gave me good results.

Springfield Echelon modular gun review

Springfield has also chosen to make the Echelon a modular design handgun. Much like the SIG P320, the Echelon uses a removable chassis/fire control group — Springfield calls it the central operating group — that is the serialized legal “firearm” and can be used in any number of slide/frame combinations.

Springfield Echelon modular gun review

Small and medium size frames (and you have to assume aftermarket options by other makers) will be available from Springfield down the road, making the Echelon adaptable for a range of hand sizes, carry styles and uses. To remove the COG the takedown lever is rotated and removed and the COG lifts right out. Simple enough.

The Echelon is also totally ambidextrous. That doesn’t mean it can accommodate lefties…there’s no need to swap sides on the magazine release button. The pistol comes with controls on both sides of the handgun.

Springfield Echelon modular gun review

Some pistols are prone to letting the thumb hit the slide lock during a firing string, inadvertently locking the slide open. That shouldn’t happen with this design given the slide catch’s placement.

Springfield Echelon modular gun review

The nicely textured grip fits most hands well and and the Echelon comes with three backstrap options to fit just about any hand size. There’s a decent undercut of the trigger guard as well for a higher, controllable grip.

Springfield Echelon modular gun review

A flat recoil spring and plastic guide rod ride under the 4.5-inch barrel. I imagine a market will exist for steel guide rods for the Echelon for those who insist on such things.

Shooting tests included my favorite cheap ammunition that replicates what most people feed their guns. Folks who shoot know there is a certain tier in accuracy. A really good load from, say, Black Hills Ammunition may put five shots into two inches at 25 yards. So will Federal Premium and Hornady.

We set at the MTM K Zone rest and concentrated until blood pops out on our forehead to achieve this. Armcor PMC and Sellier & Bellot may break a three to four inch group. Tula and Wolf should hit the target.

Standing and firing offhand and making combat runs with MagTech is fine. Whatever is on sale. If I elect to carry the pistol for personal defense or make it a home defense I bring out my carefully hoarded cache of premium ammunition. I did so with the Echelon.

Springfield Echelon modular gun review

I drew from a Galco Belt Slide during most of the testing. The Echelon comes on target quickly. Recoil is modest as it should be with this size and weight class. Trigger reset is sharp and tactile.

Firing strings at 5, 7, 10, and 15 yards gave very good results. The pistol ran through the allotted ammo for testing without any failures. I was pleased with the good results and burned through more of my modest hoard of 9mm ammunition.

Springfield Echelon modular gun review
The Echelon is a full-size gun, so concealment will be a challenge until smaller frame are available.

The Echelon is a very good shooter that compliments your skills. Recoil isn’t much of a consideration. During the test I found myself shooting a bit better than I should have with a new-to-me handgun. I impressed myself and I’m not easily self-impressed.

Next I settled into a secure steady firing position using the MTM K Zone shooting rest. I fired a couple of cheap loads with the expected 5-shot 3-inch groups at 25 yards. The better class of ammunition rewarded my efforts with 5-shot groups of 2.5 inch or less.

The pistol likes 124 grain +P ammunition as both Buffalo Bore and Black Hill ammunition 124 grain +P rounds put five shots into just under two inches. In one case two bullets were touching with four shots in 1.4 inches and the fifth making it a 1.75-inch group.

My conclusion: the Echelon will shoot and it will outshoot most of the polymer frame clan and quite a few steel frame guns as well. I have no complaints at all with the Echelon’s performance. I think you will find it very satisfactory as well. After hundreds of cartridges expended over the past few weeks, Springfield’s lates pistol gets a solid recommendation.

Specifications: Springfield Echelon

Caliber: 9mm
Magazine capacity: 17 and 20 (one each comes with the gun)
Height: 5.5 in
Length: 8 in
Width: 1.2 in
Weight 24 oz (unloaded)
Frame: Polymer
Slide: Melonite coated steel
Barrel length: 4.5 inch
Sights: U-notch rear, tritium front or three-dot tritium
MSRP: $679 (about $650 retail)

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style and Appearance * * * * 
Nothing clunky here and no bling. This is a serious-looking pistol highlighted by nice slide cuts.

Customization * * * (for now)
As this is a brand new platform, nothing much is available. It has a rail and is (very) optic-ready. But if Springfield does with the Echelon what SIG has done with the P320 — and you have to belive that’s their intention here with the same basic modular design — the possibilities will soon be almost endless.

Reliability * * * * *
With a wide range of loads, the pistol runs very well. I waited a few weeks into the test to come back and finish this rating…the Echelon is very good to go.

Accuracy * * * * *
The pistol is very accurate for its class and nips at the heels of the Beretta 92/SIG P226 class handguns That’s a very good class.

Concealed carry * * * *
One star off for its size. The Echelon a sold now is a full-size gun which means concealment can be a challenge. Keep in mind the different size frames coming in the not-so-distant future so you’ll be able to configure the Echelon into a more concealable, everyday carry package.

Overall rating * * * * ½
It’s nice to see another truly modular option out there. I’m not sure why it’s taken so long for someone else to get into a market that SIG’s had basically to themselves until now. The Springfield Echelon is a very capable pistol and its innovative approach to optics mounting is a plus.

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  1. Very nice even though no manual safety but has a trigger that appears to accommodate a plug. Ejector is part of the chassis, overall not bad with Tritium sights, removal sight plate, serialized chassis, definitely a hands on first buy. Not so good for the made-in crowd and the crowd who runs over lowly employees to get the bad guys at SA.

    • Congratulations, Debbie. An entire post to TTAG without the word racism, Jim or Crow! This must be a liberating moment for your keyboard.

      But, I gotta point out that the practical implications of your “made-in” and “lowly employees” comments are at odds with each other. You obviously acknowledge that this is an imported pistol, but fall flat on your nose when you try to pluck the woe-to-the hourly-worker heartstrings. Being an imported gun, means that it’s entirely the backstabbing management team at SA that is involved with this product. There is no salt-of-the-earth sweaty-shirt American factory workers bringing this gun to your local gun shop’s display case. It’s the American college-indoctrinated, tie-wearing Product Managers, Marketing Managers, and Director-and-above Traitors at Springfield Armory who cash their checks when you buy an Echelon.

      …or were you trying to shame someone for not supporting the fruits of Croatia’s sweatbox labor in order to punish the traitors in management at SA?

      If so, weird.
      Very weird.

      Could we just go back to your one-note song about racism, maybe? It sucks, but it sucks less than whatever it is you were trying for with this post.

    • “…but has a trigger that appears to accommodate a plug.”

      You mean, the ‘trigger plug’ that when someone is about to cave your head in, you will completely forget all about?

      YOU are free to get your dense head bashed in. I won’t, because there is no stupid ‘plug’ on mine…

    • It’s hilarious HS Product er Springfield can’t sell this model in ILLannoy!🙄😀

      • Sadly they can, but with 10 rnd magazines. And they sell it for the same $$$ as the non-castrated part numbers. You’d think SA would extend some “hometown discount” to the citizens they tried to screw over.

  2. I do not own a 9mm pistul but if I wanted to it would be a cz75 or a Browning HiPower.
    Plastic is for water pistols, have fun.

    • Browning works.
      Hipower works.
      Now try putting Browning Hi-Power together without the hyphen. Why? At this point, I think they’re just having a laugh.

      Dan, WordPress moderation sucks!

  3. So, it’s a 9mm polymer frame striker fired gun that happens to have a serialized FCG. Given that such a thing is basically a useless feature since swapping frame sizes almost inherently means swapping every other part (and by the time you buy a new frame, new barrel, new slide, new magazines, etc you’re within spitting distance of just buying a second, complete pistol), what exactly does this gun offer?

    Seems to me there are plenty of other manufacturers offering comparable models who *arent* gun control supporting, crony capitalism loving scumbags. No.

    • “…by the time you buy a new frame, new barrel, new slide, new magazines, etc you’re within spitting distance of just buying a second, complete pistol), what exactly does this gun offer?”

      It offers those who live in areas on the planet where they aren’t allowed to have multiple guns the ability to have the next-best thing… 🙁

      • Yup 320 for all it’s good and bad points has worked out well so far. Bitch getting 357sig ammo now that I can’t order it and have purchases recorded and tracked soon but there is always the .40 sw barrel.

    • “Ho hum, another polymer-framed 9mm striker-fired pistol.”

      Variety and competition are good, but not when a company competes with itsef. It’s another different and incompatible introduction that’s stupid.

      I get it: the XD is old and they want to replace it – but the Hellcat is new and reasonably popular.

      The author (and everybody) says this will work if SA makes lots of modular parts like SIG. If they just made their new chassis frame Hellcat-compatible, it would offer the full range of pistol sizes immediately with no “If” whatsoever.

      • Would probably be fine for 9mm /380 but I vaguely remember the 365 wasn’t up to 40/357sig for similar reasons the 45acp and 10mm 320 fcus are different sizes. Still will be interested to see what is possible with this one as it will push more refinement of the idea one way or another.

        • Right, but departments and agencies are moving away from .40, and most armies never adopted it in the first place. SIG (the benchmark in this area) has more or less abandoned the caliber conversion kits anyway. As much as I like .357 personally, building a magazine and grip that are disproportionately chunky for the caliber everybody wants so it can be adaptable to the caliber most people don’t want is a poor business move.

        • And that would support having the fcu for a 9/380 only design to allow for micro compact up to full size (and beyond). Whether or not they did it that way remains to be seen but I could see a divergence of 9mm small fcu and everything else larger fcu if they bother to keep everything else.

        • Sure, in which case it would be logical to make the “everything larger FCU” XD-compatible.

          None of what I wrote was meant to argue against innovation. Reviewers seem to like the optics mounting solution and the slide serrations. Great! Make that, but make it run on rails that support either Hellcat or XD slides. That shows loyalty to existing customers, and sets the company up with immediate real-world modularity instead of “if”.

        • Guess we will find out soon enough but hoping they are more supportive of their customer base than sig has been thus far (45/10 not intercompatabile best as I can tell).

        • Yeah I understand potentially needing different slides due to the different headstamp sizes like with glock 20,21,40,41 conversions but a slide and a barrel are a bit easier to understand than a whole new fcu, slide and barrel not sure on sig grips of either but hoping at least those carry over.

        • Right, and my G23 works perfectly fine with 9mm. It doesn’t even need a different extractor. .45 and 10 should be particularly complimentary because of the pressure / bore diameter balance.

    • It offers the manufacturer the capability of importing it as a full size pistol, and then swapping in a smaller grip frame in country, thus avoiding the “sporting purposes” limitation in the 1968 GCA.

      For an end user, you are 100% correct.

    • Nope not that.
      I’m confused on what got my comment moderated.
      I swear it’s the elf bee eyes hacking our sht.
      To much more of this and possum might make possum tracks in some other mudhole

      • Well. I’m going to finish today’s articles and then its bye bye coyote bitch for TTAG.
        It’s a real pisser to spend 5,10,15, minutes on a comment or reply just to get it moderated. It used to be fun sorting out the “what done its” however it’s become so random now its frustrating.

        • when possums fly.
          not sure why skivvies bunch around here at moderation. not sure how long the delay is, varies, but i’ve not seen any get washed clean.
          just an annoying hitch in the giddyup.

  4. So it’s a Glock for those who don’t like Glocks. I really want to see the internals, also be cool to see side by side comparison to the much cheaper Beretta APX

    • The APX is 5 oz heavier despite having a shorter barrel. I assume the APX is beefier because it was designed to accommodate .40 S&W in the future.

  5. TTAG just got a shout-out from the ‘Washington Gun Law’ YouTube channel :

  6. As cool as the optics mount looks, they would have been better off standardizing on RMR the way most of the “Gucci Glock” world has. That gives you max reliability with the same low profile we see here.

    Adapter plates suck – HS at least didn’t go down that path.

  7. Yet another rehashing of other companies’ innovations into a “new” platform. Yawn. But I see they spent as much money paying for YouTube reviews and promos as they did on the cover up and spin when they sold out gun owners in Illinois.

  8. There are people that spend their money on high quality family heirloom guns. This is not something they would likely buy. But that might not be what everyone else is trying to do.

  9. Also, this uses Modified XD mags instead of XD mags. (mag catch is in a different location)

    Another swing and a miss since it looks like (fairly or not) another cash grab by not using their existing magazine.

  10. M­y­ l­a­s­t­ p­a­y­ c­h­e­c­k­ w­a­s­ $12000 w­o­r­k­i­n­g­ 12 h­o­u­r­s­ a­ w­e­e­k­ o­n­l­i­n­e­. m­y­ s­i­s­t­e­r­s­ f­r­i­e­n­d­ h­a­s­ b­e­e­n­ a­v­e­r­a­g­i­n­g­ 15k­ f­o­r­ m­o­n­t­h­s­ n­o­w­ a­n­d­ s­h­e­ w­o­r­k­s­ a­b­o­u­t­ 20 h­o­u­r­s­ a­ w­e­e­k­. i­ c­a­n­’t­ b­e­l­i­e­v­e­ h­o­w­ e­a­s­y­ i­t­ w­a­s­ o­n­c­e­ i­ t­r­i­e­d­ i­t­ o­u­t­. t­h­i­s­ i­s­ w­h­a­t­ i­ d­o­. https://www.richepay.com/

  11. Got the X-DM Elite, works fine. Don’t see an upgrade in the Echelon and shops and on-line sellers are now blowing out the XDM’s for half the price. After all the hype, the Ech love is fading amid complaints about ejection issues and crummy magazines (not compatible with XDM’s by the way).

  12. This gun review on the Springfield Armory Echelon 9mm Pistol provides valuable insights for firearm enthusiasts! With clear and concise information, it offers readers a comprehensive understanding of the pistol’s features, performance, and suitability for various applications. Whether for self-defense, target shooting, or competitive shooting, this review helps readers make informed decisions about their firearm choices. Keep up the great work in providing informative content for the firearms community!

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