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As a gun owner and reviewer, I’ve long not loved the Springfield Armory series of guns. With a few exceptions, they aren’t my favorites on the block, so when I picked up the Echelon for the first time, I was already skeptical.
But after holding it for a few minutes and liking the overall ergonomics in the hand, I knew I had to give the Springfield Echelon a fair shake.
What is the Springfield Armory Echelon?
The Echelon, produced by Springfield Armory, is a modern, striker-fired duty pistol with several unique features.
This handgun incorporates a modular design based on a durable stainless steel chassis and includes an innovative system for mounting optics.
It is designed with ergonomic considerations and is constructed to endure tough conditions.
Handgun features typically center around the same core controls and relevant feature sets, such as magazine capacity, ease of use, and ambidextrous controls.
This gun is a full-size pistol but not a large one like the Sig Spectre Comp. So, in theory, it could be concealed, but it wouldn’t be my first choice.
So it has a full-size 17-round metal magazine that feels robust and rugged. It features bullet holes to help you gauge the fullness of the magazine.
The baseplate on the magazine is polymer, and the follower is polymer. The baseplate has a matching texture with the grip frame.
Grip and Ergonomics
One, if not THE best thing about the Springfield Armory Echelon is the grip and ergonomics.
The grip texture is rough but not abrasive, providing enough grip without scaring your hand for life while shooting.
It also doesn’t feature the silly “Grip Zone” that the Springfield XD series comically had.
The grip size is also exceptional because it isn’t overly thick and gives you a really good grip on the gun.
It also has a short distance from the backstrap to the frontstrap, which I like. I have medium-sized hands, so the grip feels great in the hand.
Sights and Optics Mount
Like many pistols released this year, the Springfield Echelon features an optics cut slide.
The Echelon features a unique optic mounting system under its slide cover plate.
This system, known as the Variable Interface System (VIS), enables the direct mounting of over 30 types of optics onto the slide, eliminating the need for adapter plates.
Users can adjust the self-locking pins to fit the specific footprint of their chosen optic, allowing for a lower mount that enhances the sight picture and alignment.
That is a huge improvement that many other manufacturers haven’t caught on to just yet, but I have a feeling it’s coming.
The front 1913 rail is the industry standard to accept nearly any available pistol flashlight that mounts using a picitanny rail.
I’m a big fan of the X300, but plenty of great candidates are out there for pistol lights.
Controls on any firearm are key to having an ergonomic and effective shooting experience, so I will break them down control-by-control to get you to the finite level of the gun.
Another unique feature of the Echelon is the magazine release design. Most pistols have an “ambidextrous magazine release,” but it’s not always truly ambidextrous.
Companies mean you can switch it with a lot of extra work and definitely not quickly in the field.
The echelon allows you to use the magazine release on either side of the gun al the time, therefore making it a truly ambidextrous magazine release.
The slide stop/slide release is another ambidextrous feature on the Echelon that Springfield got right.
While it’s not big and pronounced, it is functional and easy to use. The ledge that the slide stop provides makes it extremely easy to use and if you can’t get the slide to release with one side you can pull down on both to send the slide home.
It’s interesting design created a small cut-out in the frame but allows it to ride along the slide’s base.
Surprisingly, the trigger in this gun is pretty good. The take-up goes to a hard wall that only has a little “squish” to it before the break.
The take-up has no resistance, and the wall is fairly well-defined, even with the slight squish.
Sometimes, it seems like all the polymer stricker-fired pistols look the same, but each company does have its own take on milling and control design.
Springfield Armory did a decent job with the ergonomic and aesthetic blend combo.
I think the texture of the grip frame is nice looking as well as the milling work on the slide. It’s a good mix of flat and rounded surfaces as well as had defined lines.
Springfield Echelon Ammo
I mostly shot 115-grain FMJ rounds through this gun, but I threw in a few 124-grain rounds just for testing purposes, and this gun performed without any issues whatsoever.
Shooting the Echelon
Shooting the Echelon is a lot of fun. It’s a great gun with soft recoil impulse and one that I could easily see myself shooting at the range all day long.
It also is a tack driver, once you get use to the recoil impulse and the sights it’s one that I didn’t want to like because of the previous Springfield guns but I had to admit it was a fun shooter.
This gun competes with the Glock 17 with its overall size and feature set. It’s the head-to-head competition.
It’s one of those guns that I liked the feel of it when I picked it up but I would likely have never given it a chance because of the XD series, which is discounted as can be from this gun.
What is special about the Springfield Echelon?
The VIS system and the overall ergonomics of the Echelon make it special in its class of pistols.
Is the Springfield Echelon a Glock clone?
No, the only thing the Echelon and a Glock have in common are being polymer sticker-fired pistols.
What optics are compatible with Springfield Echelon?
There are over 30 optics that are compatible with the Springfield VIS system that is featured on the Echelon.