Manufactured in Croatia by HS Produkt and distributed worldwide under the Springfield Armory brand, the Echelon is the company's first polymer frame, striker-fired pistol to be built around a modular design, with a removable serialized chassis trigger group that allows full customization and the launch of countless potential variants
The new Springfield Armory Echelon 9mm Luger semi-automatic pistol is a "first-timer" under many points of view.
Just like the XD, XDm, XDe, XDs and Hellcat pistols, the Springfield Armory Echelon is manufactured in Croatia by HS Produkt; it will however be first ever pistol to be distributed with the "Echelon" model name and under the Springfield Armory brand worldwide, while previously, the Springfield Armory brand and model names were used only on the samples sold in north America and in a handful of other markets, while the rest of the world got the same pistols under HS Produkt's own brand and model denominations.
The Echelon is also the first Springfield Armory and HS Produkt pistol to be based on a modular design, based on a trigger group self-contained within a metal chassis which is the serialized component which allows almost full customization and creation of variants virtually without limits and with less legal complications.
The Springfield Armory Echelon is aesthetically similar to some Glock-based handguns that have been floating around the global market for years now, but the similarity stops at the surface: the striker-fired design of the Echelon, technically a single-action trigger, is an elaboration and improvement of the HS-2000/XD system developed by HS Produkt.
In its baseline variant, the Springfield Armory Echelon features no manual safety and does without the XD's original grip safety, which was largely seen as a potential additional point of failure. It still features several automatic safety systems and a trigger safety.
Aside from the trigger, the only controls found on the Echelon pistol are the magazine release catch and the slide stop lever, and they're both ambidextrous.
At the heart of the Springfield Armory Echelon pistol is a self-contained, serialized, precision-machined stainless steel chassis dubbed the COG ("Central Operating Group"); vaguely inspired by the chassis system of the SIG Sauer P320 series of pistols, the COG is simpler and more self-contained in construction, is removed from the polymer frame/grip assembly in a different way, and hosts all components of the trigger, with very little – if any – parts running on its external surface.
The black polymer frame integrates a MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny rail for tactical accessories, and features a set of stippled surfaces all through the grip for a positive, firm hold in all shooting conditions – finally doing without the much berated "Grip Zone". Three interchangeable backstraps are issued with every sample, making the Springfield Armory Echelon easily adaptable to shooters of any hand size.
The slide of the Springfield Armory Echelon pistol is machined out of a solid stainless steel billet and features a full black Melonite finish; it is flared, with aggressive front and rear slide serrations, has a forward trench to facilitate press-checks, and comes standard with a tactical rack U-Notch rear sight and a tritium front sight with luminescent ring. A tritium 3-dot configuration and optional suppressor height sights are also available separately, and easily installed.
A signature feature of the Springfield Armory Echelon is the new VIS ("Variable Interface System") mounting system that makes the pistol compatible with up to thirty different micro red dot sights by using just three sets of screws and self-locking, movable pins to install the optics directly on the cut without the use of adapting plates.
Each Springfield Armory Echelon pistol features a hammer forged, stainless steel, Melonite-treated black barrel with six right-handed grooves and a 1:10" twist rate.
As of today, two different barrel lengths have been released: 11,43 cm (4.5") and 13,41 cm (5.28"). The 5.28" barrel features a 0.5x28 TPI thread at the muzzle, protected by a removable nut and providing full compatibility with muzzle accessories such as flash hiders, compensators, or sound suppressors.
The Springfield Armory Echelon also features a fully captive recoil spring; the front portion of the guide rod protrudes significantly from the front portion of the slide and is stippled to prevent the pistol from going out of battery if point-blank shooting is necessary.
All variants of the Springfield Armory Echelon released so far are chambered in 9mm Luger and feed through proprietary double-stack metal magazines. The standard capacity is 17 rounds, with 10-rounds magazines available for those Countries and jurisdiction with magazine cap laws in place, but extended polymer floorplates are also available to boost the overall capacity to twenty rounds, plus one in chamber.
The baseline 9mm Echelon variants are just the tip of the iceberg: there's only one reason why Springfield Armory and HS Produkt could have decided to go for a modular chassis pistol design, and that's to open the way to the launch of a plethora of variants all different in size, caliber, and intended use, from service to tactical applications, from concealed carry to competition.
There's no word yet as of when any of those potential variants may be launched, but it's clear that the Echelon has the capability to take on modular pistols offered by well-respected competitors such as the SIG Sauer P320 or the Beretta APX, both in terms of civilian sales and military, law enforcement, or government contracts.
The Springfield Armory Echelon is 20,32 cm / 8" or 22,35 cm / 8.8" long overall, depending on whether it comes with the basic 4.5" barrel or the threaded 5.28" barrel. The average weight ranges around 680 grams (23.9 oz) when empty.
Depending on the factory configuration and features, the Springfield Armory Echelon is sold on the US market at a manufacturing suggested retail price ranging between a minimum of $679.00 and a maximum of $739.00. No information concerning export availability and pricing on the international markets has been released so far.