New From Springfield Armory: Echelon!


A lot of thought went into the shaping of this pistol; it fits the
hand like a glove. The more “oval” grip profile makes it easy to control.

There’s a new service, duty and defensive pistol in town, compliments of the busy folks at Springfield Armory. While no one is saying “replacement for the XD series,” it is a brand-new, ground-up design.

To hit right on the “what makes this different” features, the Echelon is a modular pistol system with a Central Operating Group (Springfield’s name) that serves as the serialized “pistol.” Like some other models on the market, this system contains the trigger, striker, sear, etc. and can be easily moved between polymer frames of different sizes and proportions.

The Echelon is clearly built for duty, service and defensive use.
A threaded barrel model is also available.


I do like the feel of this pistol — literally. The grip is far more rounded than other polymer models — think oval with flat sides, so the front and backstrap are shaped more like semi-circles rather than flat surfaces with rounded corners. Feels great in the hands. I would describe the stippling as “skateboard tape with rounded points,” so it offers a positive grip without sandpapering your hand or gut during IWB carry.

Leading to the ambidextrous magazine release buttons are ledges with a slight shelf. If you’re a thumbs-forward shooter, it’s a nice index point for your firing hand thumb (either side). If you’re a thumbs straight-up shooter, they don’t interfere.

Above the front of the trigger guard is another textured shelf, placed perfectly for a trigger finger rest while not shooting. Your finger has to slide over a slight indentation to get there, so it’s a positive tactile indicator of a safe position. I can reach it with either a straightened or slightly bent trigger finger.

The slide has aggressive cut groove cocking serrations in the rear and even more pronounced serrations up front. At the back of that area, a recess in the slide creates a “ledge” of sorts that catches your hand and fingers to provide more leverage for press checks. You’ll also notice similar “wings” at the rear of the slide for the same purpose. If you’re a pinch racker, you’ll find it easy to get a sure grip with your thumb and forefinger. If you’re a “hand over the top” racker, your index finger and palm meat below your thumb will also catch that ledge for additional leverage.

All of this adds up to a soft shooting pistol, even with full-power 9mm self-defense loads.

The group of the day went to Norma’s Safeguard with this 0.88"
five-shot group from 25 yards.

One Size Fits Infinity?

The COS system comes packed, by default, in a medium-sized frame, but the company also offers optional small and large frames. When you open the box, you’ll also notice two extra backstrap inserts. Here’s the nifty part. Those swappable backstraps fit any of the three (current) frame sizes, so if my math is right, that gives you nine possible gun and grip sizes.

The direct optics mount system is both flexible and low. Removable
pins accommodate different optics footprints.

Optics Puzzle Solved

The Echelon is optics-ready out of the box. This sample shipped with a standard Trijicon RMR, so I shot that for a bit, then mounted the new Trijicon RMR HD, which gave me an opportunity to inspect the new mounting system. Instead of using custom mounting plates, the Echelon goes for the lower and better co-witnessing direct mount approach, using swappable pins to fit different optics like the Leupold DeltaPoint pattern. Those pins are designed with a useful twist. As you torque down on them, they press outward against the frame holes to eliminate any lateral shake or variation in mounting position. The idea is to maintain the point of aim and point of impact.

Features & Functions

The Echelon is orderable with a standard 4.5″ barrel or a 5.28″ threaded version. You can also choose the sight configuration from a U-Dot with front Tritium and luminescent ring or a standard Tritium three-dot configuration. This sample came with the U-Dot and would be my choice — it offers a fast sight picture.

The Echelon normally ships with a 17-round flush fit and 20-round extended base pad magazine. The bodies are steel and drop freely, whether full or empty. I did notice the magazine base plate has a bit of grip stippling on the sides. A nice but subtle touch to help yank one out in the event of some malfunction. If you happen to live in a “we’re here to protect you from yourself” state (insert epic eye-roll and sarcasm here), the company offers 10-round magazine configurations.

The trigger of this sample broke consistently at six pounds with a decent break after a grit-free take-up stage and about 1/8″ of movement under pressure. The reset was crisp and easy to detect.

Tom tested the Echelon with a variety of 9mm
ranging in weight from 100 to 124 grains.

Accuracy Heritage

I’ve always experienced impressive accuracy from models of the XD series; I suspect Springfield Armory pays a little extra attention to barrel and lockup tolerances. For example, an XDM OSP Threaded I tested produced a series of 25-yard, five-shot groups ranging from 0.88″ to 1.84″ with five different types of ammo.

The Echelon doesn’t disappoint, either. I tested five different loads from 25 yards and recorded the following five-shot group sizes: Norma Hexagon 124-grain (1,091 fps) 1.51″, Black Hills HoneyBadger 100-grain (1,262 fps) 1.69″, Black Hills FMJ 115-grain (1,157 fps) 1.96″, Black Hills JHP 115-grain (1,205 fps) 1.90″ and Norma Safeguard 115-grain (1,098 fps) 0.71″. Those groups were shot with a 3.25 MOA red dot. Would even smaller groups be attainable with a 1 MOA dot? I wouldn’t be surprised as the 3.25 MOA dot covered a large part of the aim point.

MSRP of the Echelon series ranges from $679 for the standard U-Dot models to $739 for the threaded three-dot version.

For more info:

Subscribe To American Handgunner

Purchase A PDF Download Of The American Handgunner Nov/Dec 2023 Issue Now!