In introducing its new series of polymer-framed, striker-fired semi-automatic handguns chambered in 9 mm Luger, Springfield Armory invokes the Battle of Leuctra. In this 371 BC conflict, outnumbered Thebans defeated a force of Spartans by introducing a new tactical formation called “the echelon.” The implication is that Springfield seeks to harness this spirit of innovation to create a game-changing handgun with its Echelon series.
With the Echelon, Springfield Armory is introducing a new series of polymer-frame, striker-fired handguns with many innovative features. Image courtesy of Springfield Armory.
The Springfield Armory Echelon, produced by HS Produkt in Croatia, is a “a modular and adaptable striker-fired duty pistol.” It has several notable features, one that is quickly becoming an industry standard and the other being an entirely new innovation. The first, is its use of a modular chassis system. Springfield calls this the “central operating group” or “COG.” Constructed of stainless steel, this self-contained fire-control unit is the serialized part of the firearm and can be moved between different grip modules. Disassembly doesn’t require tools or pulling the trigger. The pistol’s slide assembly can be removed after rotating a takedown lever. Once the slide has been removed, the takedown lever and its axle can be removed from the grip module, which releases the COG for removal.
New for a Springfield pistol, the Echelon uses a self-contained fire control mechanism that allows for modularity. Image courtesy of Springfield Armory.
The COG system allows for users to choose from differently sized grip frame modules. The small and medium sizes have the same width but differ in the shape of the upper backstrap/tang area. The large grip module is wider and has a different backstrap/tang profile.
All Echelon pistols ship with the medium size, and the user can choose to purchase a large or small module. Grip size can be further customized with removable backstraps. Accessory grip modules will retail for $65 and will include three backstraps and an installed magazine release. While the first Echelon pistols being offered are “duty sized,” this modularity will undoubtedly allow for other frame-and-slide size combinations in the future.
Springfield is offering three sizes of grip modules for the Echelon (left). Each module has its own set of interchangeable backstraps (right). Image courtesy of Springfield Armory.
While the Echelon lacks the grip safety used by the XD series, a second sear is added to the fire-control mechanism to enhance drop safety. Springfield claims that, due to manufacturing techniques and close tolerances, the Echelon’s trigger has “a clean take up, defined wall, crisp break and short, positive reset” that “redefines expectations.”
The Echelon’s VIS system allows the direct mounting of many popular optics without the need for adapter plates. Image courtesy of Springfield Armory.
The other innovative part of the Echelon design is Springfield’s “Variable Integration System” or “VIS” for optics mounting. The industry standard is to have a pistol’s slide cut for one particular optic's footprint or use a series of adapter plates specific to each optic's footprint. The VIS system uses removable pins that can be configured to accept a variety of optics. This allows for the direct mounting of more than 30 popular optics, including the Trijicon RMR, Leupold DeltaPoint Pro, Shield RMSc, Holosun 507K and SIG Romeo2. The pins use a patent-pending locking design, where torquing the optic's mounting screws causes the pins to exert laterally pressure on the optic's base to eliminate any possibility of movement. Adapter plates allow the mounting of additional optics that use the ACRO or Docter footprint.
The VIS system allows for the direct mounting of popular optics, such as the Trijicon RMR pictured. Image courtesy of Springfield Armory.
Visually, the Echelon pistol looks like a cross between Springfield’s XD-M Elite series and the Hellcat Pro. The pistol’s bore axis appears lower than the XD series. The slide is a completely new design, with emphasis on its ability to be manipulated. Wide serrations on both front and rear are machined into the slide’s surface. The gripping surfaces on both the front and rear of the slide taper in and then flare into a “shelf”. These provide positive gripping points to aid in manipulating the slide rearward for chambering a round or press checking.
The Echelon uses a relief cut slide “trench” at the front and rear of the slide that allows for better manipulation of the pistol. Image courtesy of Springfield Armory.
The slide design of the Echelon facilitates racking the slide and press-checking. Image courtesy of Springfield Armory.
The Echelon’s polymer frame is black. Instead of the XD series molded checkering, the Echelon uses the “Adaptive Grip Texture” introduced in the Hellcat series that seeks to provide a secure, but not overly abrasive gripping texture. This texture is also used on the magazine release button, which is oval shaped, as well as indexing points on both sides of the frame.
The design of the Echelon combines elements of Springfield’s XD and Hellcat series. Image courtesy of Springfield Armory.
Controls on the Echelon are fully ambidextrous, with a slide release lever and magazine release button present on both sides of the pistol. The 4.5” barrel is cold hammer-forged and the slide is billet machined. Both are Melonite-treated.
The Echelon feeds from a new proprietary 17-round magazine or an extended 20-round magazine. One magazine of each capacity is supplied with the pistol. A limited capacity 10-round magazine also available. Magazines will have a suggested retail price of $45.
The Echelon uses a proprietary magazine that comes in 17-round, 20-round and 10-round capacities. Image courtesy of Springfield Armory.
The overall length for a non-threaded Echelon pistol is 8", and its width across the grip is 1.2". Its height is 5.5", and it weighs 23.9 ozs. with the 17-round magazine installed.
Among the models that Springfield is offering in the Echelon series is a pistol with an extended and threaded barrel. Image courtesy of Springfield Armory.
The Echelon is being released in four initial configurations. The base model pistol comes with Springfield’s tritium front sight and “Tactical Rack” U-notch rear, as used on the Hellcat series, and is available in both standard and low-capacity versions. MSRP for both is $679. A model with three-dot tritium sights has an MSRP of $719.
Finally, a model is offered with an extended 5.28" barrel with its muzzle threaded 1/2x28 TPI and three-dot Tritium sights (MSRP $739). For more information, visit springfield-armory.com.
Sight options on the Echelon include a tritium front dot and outlined U-notch rear (left), three-dot tritium sights (center). These sights will co-witness with many optics (right). Image courtesy of Springfield Armory.