First Look: Echelons of Another Color

First Look: Echelons of Another Color

Mike Humphries  — editor of The Armory Life — reviews the new color variants of the Springfield Armory Echelon. The pistols feature everything that makes the Echelon great, but now in Desert FDE or OD Green Cerakote finishes. The pistols were loaned to the reviewer by Springfield Armory for the purposes of this review.

What we are considering here are two new variants of the popular Echelon 9mm pistol — one in Desert FDE, and the other in OD Green. But first, let’s back up a little bit.

At its launch in July of 2023, the Echelon immediately established itself as a trend-setting pistol. This was no small feat as the market for full-size striker-fired 9mm pistols is obviously a crowded one. Add to that the fact it’s hard to offer anything truly innovative these days in this genre, and you have a tough hill to climb. But climb that hill Springfield did, and the resulting handgun made the trek well worth the effort.

[Be sure to read Massad Ayoob’s Echelon review for additional information on the original pistol.]


In this digital image, we see the new Springfield Echelon with the Desert FDE finish. It is a complete finish with the Desert FDE uniformly applied.

So what exactly makes the Echelon so special? Frankly, that is not a simple question to answer. This is not due to a lack of specific features to describe, but rather so many it’s hard to decide where to start. But, let’s dive in and see if we can lay out the details.

More Than the Sum…

Firstly, the Echelon features a patent-pending internal chassis dubbed the “Central Operating Group”. This modular chassis, which employs cutting-edge manufacturing techniques, is an entirely self-contained and serialized part. The result is a system that can be easily moved between available grip modules in seconds.


In this image, we see the Springfield Armory Echelon in the OD Green finish. The 9mm pistol is laying on top of a 5.11 pistol case. Also present is 9x19mm Parabellum ammunition.

Which leads us to the next point — the grip module. Since the Central Operating Group is the serialized “firearm”, you can easily purchase replacement polymer grip modules that house the chassis. While the pistol comes standard with a medium grip module and three interchangeable backstraps, small and large grip modules can be purchased separately. The included three interchangeable backstraps are designed to fit all three grip module sizes.

While we are on the topic of ergonomics, let’s discuss the fact the Echelon is entirely ambidextrous. This does not mean it has swappable controls, but rather a fully ambi magazine release and full ambi slide lock lever. Further enhancing the user’s control of the pistol are four distinct engagement surfaces on the slide. A trench cut forward of the action gives shooters a natural index location for press checks and charging the firearm. The back of the slide is flared for positive purchase, while deep forward and rear serrations are carried through the corners for a firm grip from any angle.


In this photograph, we see the right side of the Springfield Armory Echelon Desert FDE. We can see the deep slide serrations and aggressive grip texture on the polymer grip module.

The Echelon’s magazine is blacked out in a scratch- and wear-resistant coating, and the two magazines included feature a capacity of 17+1 in its flush fit configuration and 20+1 with the extended base pad installed.

Housed within the Central Operating Group is everything needed to provide an extremely clean and crisp trigger pull. Entirely contained within the chassis, the firing system’s critical components are machined from tool steel and highly polished for a clean take up, defined wall, crisp break and short, positive reset. Additionally, the Echelon is designed and tested to exceed SAAMI drop test parameters and features a unique secondary sear design in the COG for an additional layer of safety.

Further adding to the Echelon’s adaptability is its truly innovative Variable Interface System, which employs patent-pending self-locking pins to complete the most versatile optics mounting system on the market. As the mounting screws are torqued to spec, the pins exert lateral pressure on the optic’s interior mounting surface to eliminate left/right movement. This ensures you maintain consistent and reliable point of aim/point of impact. In addition, the pins can be positioned to fit the footprints of more than 30 popular optics, allowing for a direct-mount fit between the pistol’s slide and optic. In fact, it allows an optic like the Trijicon RMR to sit so low that you can co-witness the pistol’s iron sights through it.

Speaking of irons, these two new color variants of the Echelon feature the popular U-Dot tritium/luminescent sights as seen on the Hellcat family of pistols. Accuracy performance is ensured by a hammer-forged 4.5” barrel.

A New Look

Since its launch, the Echelon has been offered in the same range of color options as was purportedly the Model T Ford — basically, you could have it in any color you wanted, as long as you wanted it in black. This made sense as it is a fully functional color option for a duty-style pistol like this. But, gun enthusiasts tend to like options.


As designed, the Springfield Armory Echelon allows for the direct mounting of a large number of red dot sights. In this photo, we see a Trijicon RMR 2 sight mounted onto the slide of a Desert FDE Echelon.

To be honest, these new color offerings were telegraphed a little bit to those who had been paying attention. As discussed, the Echelon’s chassis system makes swapping out grip modules quite easy. In addition to size differences, Springfield also started offering grip modules in OD Green and Desert FDE on the Springfield Armory Webstore. Priced at just $64.99 and featuring an installed ambi mag release and three interchangeable backstraps, these new grip modules were a great way to change up the color of your all-black Echelon for a very low price. The result was an eye-catching two-tone option for the pistol.

Now with these two new variants, you can have the Echelon entirely in the color of your choice. Both the Desert FDE and OD Green Echelons feature the above-mentioned grip modules, as well as a matching Cerakote finish on the slide. The controls, sights, optics cover plate, magazine, etc. are still in black, creating a nice contrast against the new color.


In this photograph, we see the new Springfield Armory Echelon in OD Green along with a variety of shooting accessories that one might take to the shooting range. These include a semi-automatic pistol case, shooting gloves and hearing protection.

For those of you not familiar with Cerakote, it is a ceramic-based coating that is quite popular in the firearms industry. It not only gives you the ability to apply a wide range of colors to materials such as metals and plastics, but it also offers a great deal of abrasion and corrosion resistance as well as hardness. Cerakote has become the gold standard for gun finishes, with an advanced formulation that reduces the need to oil the exterior for corrosion protection.

Specifications

Chambering 9mm
Barrel Length 4.5″
Weight 23.9 oz
Overall Length 8″
Sights U-Dot
Grips Modular Grip Module
Action Striker-fired, chassis
Finish Desert FDE or OD Green
Capacity 17+1 flush, 20+1 extended (two magazines included)
MSRP $719

Hands-On

I have a good amount of experience with the Echelon pistol and am a big fan of its configuration and capabilities. So, I was excited to check out these new color variants. While I know that the Desert FDE model will be extremely popular, I personally gravitate toward the OD Green variant. Frankly, I have always had a weakness for green guns. So, I was immediately drawn to the OD Green model.


In this professional photograph, the OD Green version of the Springfield Echelon is prominent in the center of the image. Surrounding it are a number of other related items including 9mm ammo and electronic hearing protection.

The finish was attractively applied, and did a very good job matching the green color of the polymer grip module (I noted that the same was true of the Desert FDE gun). Obviously, this a color change, so there was nothing new ergonomically or mechanically with the pistols. Since I liked the all-black Echelon, I liked these new variants. Now, that being said, I really like the OD Green. Will I be adding this one to my personal collection? I think I will.

Conclusion

So there you have it, two new additions to the Echelon line of pistols. If you are a fan of the Echelon but have been looking for one with a different look, then definitely check these out. In addition, if you have never tried out the Echelon and would like to give it a shot — and want something a little different than “basic black” — either of these would make for a great addition to your collection. And with an MSRP of $719, either is a great deal of gun for the money.

Editor’s Note: Please be sure to check out The Armory Life Forum, where you can comment about our daily articles, as well as just talk guns and gear. Click the “Go To Forum Thread” link below to jump in!

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