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Springfield Armory HS Produkt Echelon


The Echelon's shape is very hand friendly.
The Echelon's shape is very hand friendly.

When the initial wave of influencer reviews hit my YouTube feed I was almost turned off to the Springfield Echelon. I ignored the videos for a couple weeks and waited for the social media feed to return to normal before even looking into the gun. I don't fault those looking to earn a lving from clicks for wanting to publish on day one, but when dozens of people do it, the reviews start to feel disingenious. Upon closer examination the Echelon looked to be something worth further study.


About that same time, we had saved enough Patron funding that it was time to take a vote on what to purchase and review. The Patrons wanted to see the Springfield Armory Prodigy, and while shopping for that I also picked up an Echelon.

The COG (chassis) is legally the firearm for the Echelon in the United States.
The COG (chassis) is legally the firearm for the Echelon in the United States.

What Is It: The Springfield Armory Echelon is (currently) a duty-sized/full size striker-fired, polymer-frame pistol that uses a removable chassis system like the Arex Delta and Sig P320. It is optics ready using a unique set of pins to eliminate the need for plates.

Produced by HS Produkt of Croatia, the Echelon uses the same polymer and texturing loved by so many on their other Hellcat models. Like the Hellcat and Hellcat Pro it seems HS Produkt has once again taken an existing concept and improved upon it.

The Echelon uses the same texture as the Hellcat and has it applied everywhere including these smart rests.
The Echelon uses the same texture as the Hellcat and has it applied everywhere including these smart rests.

Why Do We Care? I believe the Echelon represents the direction of the next generation of handguns in some ways. Aside form a new way to mount optics, the Echelon has features we've seen before, but on the Echelon they are mostly refined.

  • Polymer: Plastic is cheap and lightweight. That's why manufacturers use it, and why we buy it. Similar to the Hellcat though, the polymer on the Echelon simply feels nicer. It has some flex, and combined with the texturing is very nice in the hand. It feels like a plastic chosen with the end-user in mind, not simply because it was affordable.

  • Optics Mounting: The pin system eliminates the need for plates. This allows the optic to sit lower and reduces the amount of screws that could come loose. I imagine it's also less expensive to produce the pins than a bunch of plates; lower the potential price to consumers.

  • Ergonomics: Most pistols are, by the nature of compactness being a goal, a mechanical device somewhat shaped for a human hand to interact. The Springfield Armroy Echelon is nicely shaped and includes details like a support thumb and trigger finger rest. The fissure texture has been applied almost anywhere a hand would touch. Rather than a mechanical device that can be held, it feels like something meant to be held.

  • Slide Manipulation: Serrations are few, but broad and deep. Additionally unnecessary mass has been removed from the width of the slide to create high points that should easily catch a slipping hand both before the chamber and at the tail end of the slide.

  • Ambidextrous Controls: This is a treat not only for left-handed shooters, but also those who take training seriously and work on making their support side hand a second primary hand. The slide lock/release lever however offers very little surface area and as a result is not pleasant to use more than once or twice.

Deep cuts on the slide permit some extra ledges for slide traction on the Echelon.
Deep cuts on the slide permit some extra ledges for slide traction on the Echelon.

Anything to not like? Yes. The "COG" or chassis, while built more surdily than others out there, is not the simplest to get in and out. This may or may not be important to you depending on how often you plan on changing the grip (at the time of this writing there are no other options on the market), or doing a deep clean. I've removed and installed mine three times in the last couple of weeks. The first time it was different, but not difficult. The second and third time had me wondering if I had broken the gun and noticing that I may have deformed some of the supple plastic in the grip module. That deformation is likely user error, but also telling that the same plastic I praised above might not be a good one for doing lots of messing with.

My second gripe, which really is marketing smarts on Springfield's part is that this gun was released as a full size. Compacts and smaller are what people carry and want to buy, but with this being a new model I suspect Springfield knew it would sell regardless of size so they released the least-desirable size first. I bought one anyways because, if the Echelon's modularity does come to fruition (looking at you Steyr, Beretta, IWI...!) it should be easy enough and affordable enough to swap to a shorter frame or possibly shorter slide and barrel.

Third is the manual. The pistol comes with a nice test target, but no manual. A new chassis system, new optics-mounting system, and no manual. Digital-only manuals are not new, can reduce total cost, and allow the manufactuer to update things on the fly. However, if you want access to a manual you have to not only register the pistol with Springfield Armory (not a bad idea in case of warranty issues), but register YOURSELF with Springfield Armory. Given the company's track record with legislative issues I'm not about to give over my complete contact information to Springfield Armory. That left me guessing and scouring the internet for guidance on field stripping and other important user knowledge. As I'm sure many of you have discovered, not every video on YouTube was made by someone who knows what they're tlaking about.

Ambidextrous controls include a tiny slide release on the Echelon.
Ambidextrous controls include a tiny slide release on the Echelon.

Lastly, and it's a minor user-preference, but if you prefer the speedier use of a slide release over slingshoting the slide you're apt to find the slide release lever not suited for frequent use. It's plenty strong, but such a small surface area really digs into the thumb.

The Echelon comes with quite a bit, but no manual.
The Echelon comes with quite a bit, but no manual.

What Do you Get? In the Box with the Echelon is a 17 and 20 round magazine, an extra extension to convert the 17 round magazine to 20 rounds, two additional bakckstraps (not marked), a magazine loader, Springfield Armory-branded cable lock, test target, gun wallet, and two labeled baggies with the appropriate pins for common optic footprints.


For a closer look at the fint, finish, features, and this new chassis system see the tabletop video below.

In an update from the video, the Echelon's backstraps are very easy to change by simply pressing on a tab from within the stock.

Specifications

CALIBER: 9mm

COLOR: Black

BARREL: 4.5" Hammer Forged Steel, Melonite® Finish, 1:10

SLIDE: Billet Machined, Melonite® Finish, Optics Ready

FRAME: Black Polymer

SIGHTS: Tritium / Luminescent Front, Tactical Rack U-Dot™ Rear *** Not all models include this

RECOIL SYSTEM: Captive

GRIP WIDTH: 1.2"

MAGAZINES: (1) 17-Round, (1) 20-Round

WEIGHT: 23.9 oz w/ Flush Mag, 24.3 oz w/ Extended Mag

LENGTH: 8"

HEIGHT: 5.5" w/ Flush Mag, 6.5" w/ Extended Mag

MSRP: $679 *** Depending on trim

Online pricing at the time of writing:

From $639.99 at Brownell's

From $559.99 at Firearms Depot

From $609 at Guns.com

As low as $533.99 around the Web

From $649.99 at Palmetto State Armory

From $599.99 at Primary Arms


I was surprised HS Produkt didn't use the new 17-round Hellcat magazines for the the Echelon, but with how much of a pain micro-compact magazines can be to load was looking forward to a potentially better experience. The Echelon feels great in hand, and certainly checks a lot of boxes, but how does it shoot? For that it would be our standard range protocol of:

  • Cold Shots: Truly our first rounds through the gun, on camera, with first thoughts shared.

  • What's For Dinner™: A test to see what ammunition the gun will eat. Does the gun feed the round from slide lock, will it cycle and feed another round of the same type, does the slide lock to the rear on empty, and is there any notable point of impact change with different loads.

For this gun we used the following ammunition:

Priced and linked where found at the time this article was written


50gr+p Liberty Ammunition Civil Defense $31.99 / 20 at Optics Planet

100gr Hornady Critical Defense Lite $23.89 / 20 at Global Ordnance

115gr Sierra Sports Master JHP $6.99 / 20 at Palmetto State Armory

115gr Sig Elite Denfense V-Crown JHP $23.99 / 20 direct from Sig

115gr Wolf Steel Case: $13.77 / 50 at Sportsman's Guide

115gr Blazer Aluminum Case $17.59 / 50 at Optics Planet

124gr Hornady Critical Duty $22.61 / 20 at Global Ordnance

138gr Federal SCHP $19.59 / 20 at Optics Planet

147gr Remington High Terminal Performance JHP $15.51 / 20 at Global Ordnance

150gr Federal Syntech Action Pistol $21.05 /50 at Palmetto State Armory


  • Sights & Trigger Control: on a 6" spinner target at a distance of 12 yards. We got this from Titan Great Outdoors and use it to gauge how learnable the trigger is and usable the sights are for forced, timed, precise shots.

  • Practical Accuracy: Five shots from a distance of seven yards at a one inch target. This isn't so much about printing a tight group as it is a culmination of our shooting experience and time for us to collect thoughts prior to making a conclusion.

  • After Shots: Final impressions and reflections from the range session.

You can watch the entire experience including some interesting notes learned while shooting in the Shooting Impressions video below:

Ammunition seen in our Shooting Impressions video was made possible by our Patrons and supporters of our ammunition savings account through Ammo Squared.


I did have a few minor complaints from the range experience, but not enough to sour my opinion of the gun. Somehow I managed to pinch my trigger finger repeatedly, the tiny slide release lever gets painful quickly, and my example printed a few inches high at just seven yards. Aside from that it was a very enjoyable gun to shoot and easy to control.

There were no "wow" moments, but I also accept that after reviewing about 400 handguns that bar has been raised significantly and isn't a fair judgement of a pistol's quality. Post-range, when I stripped the pistol for cleaning I had frusterations with getting the COG (chassis) back in matched by only one experience with Sig's P365 chassis which disassembled itself during an umpteenth installation. I think if you're currently happy with your full-size pistol the Echelon is unlikely to unseat your favorite, but if you're in the market for something new that has good future potential the Echelon isn't a bad choice.

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