The Echelon is the latest striker fired service pistol from SA/HS-P. Is it worth the hype? The so-called hype wasn’t really much of anything. It was more an interesting visual teaser of a N and a Gladius sword. I think what the hype really is is more about all the embargoed reviews that all dropped on the same day. It’s a business practice. It doesn’t make every review a shill, but that does exist.

What the Echelon is is an extremely well thought out service pistol. If you are new to guns or handguns, this is worth taking a look at, even if all the accouterments don’t really hit you at first. If you are a gun guy, you really should put your hands on one. From top to bottom, the Echelon has the features of a more expensive gun or Gucci gun. The slide serrations are deep and allow a positive grip when charging the gun, the cut in wings in front of the breach and at the rear of the slide (ala H&K VP9) are a nice addition that doesn’t get in the way.  

The VIS system for mounting optics is extremely interesting. You get a low cut like a custom mill job but fits some 30 optics.   This Echelon was sent to me by my buddy Jon Patton from The Gun Collective, and between his round count and mine, this pistol has well over 2k rounds through it, and the optic isn’t going anywhere. Now, I’m interested in seeing how a 509t or ARCO would look on the Echelon.

The trigger. It’s a service pistol with a solid trigger. I have had zero issues making my hits count from 25 yards in. Even striking a B&C zone USPSA target at 100 yards was easy enough. It is all too easy to get wrapped up into wanting a sweet 1911/AR trigger in every firearm we own but also keep in mind this is a SERVICE PISTOL. In the end, it’s fine, and it will do the job well. I would take this trigger over most stock guns out there.  

The frame or module of the gun is excellent. The texturing is grippy without being overly aggressive. The Echelon is a chassis gun similar to the 320 series. The frame is a non serialized module and therefore not a firearm. This Echelon came with two grip modules not 100% sure if they were the Small and Medium or the Medium and Large. I opted for the larger module with the smaller, more flat backstrap. This gave me a near perfect fit to my hand with the ambi-mag release made it a breeze to drop mags with my thumb or my index finger. The take down lever itself his textured giving you an almost gas pedal feel. The slide stop is on the smaller side and is ambi. With my grip, I tend to ride the slide stop in most cases, so when I’m empty, it’s usually a tap rack situation.

The Negatives of the Echelon are minor, in my opinion, but here is what I think. Magazines. If you are a Springfield Armory fan, get ready to buy more mags. The Echelon and XD, XDm, XDM Elite mags are not backward compatible. This would be the third gen version of mags. The original XD mags (first gen), then the XDm mags (second gen). Next came the XDm Elite extended mags (gen 2.5). While these extended mags work in the XDm, the original XDm mags (second gen) will not work with an Elite that has the mag well, and SA/HS has never released factory extended base plates. 

The Echelon mags, while very similar to XDm and XDm Elite, are their own mag. Not a deal breaker just would have been nice if the “m” style mags would have worked. If you don’t have any previous gen gun/mags then this is even more minor as you will likely be buying several mags anyways.  

My only other negative is more directed at competition shooting. With the VIS system, the optic sits low like a direct milled optic cut (and that’s a good thing) and allows a good co-witness with the irons. With this review sample, it has the tritium front sight, and in conjunction with an RMR, it’s a little busy. If I was keeping this Echelon, I would either black the sights out or remove them completely. The other option is a taller optic like an SRO or an enclosed emitter optic may take care of it. Again, very minor. As a service gun, having both irons and a dot makes sense, and shooting 25 yards and in is fine. Just for me, when shooting at matches, I felt like there was a lot going on.

When I started off with this gun to review, I just didn’t care about it to a degree. Yes, I truly like the accouterments they added in, but I was also thinking it’s just another full-size service pistol. The more I’ve shot it, the more I love it. Its fit and comfort makes it a rival, dare I say it, the VP9 or my P30L and those are two of my personal favorites. The Echelon is quick on target, flat shooting, and fast! I really like this pistol, and I hated having to send it back, but I told Jon I would. In the end, I ordered one for myself, and it has become my primary shooter.

Should you check out the Echelon? Yeah, you should. Putting your hands on it at a gun shop never hurt anyone. Hopefully, this pistol will take off, and before long, you will see a variety of frame modules and more to customize it to your individual needs or to simply have fun with.  

Hey Springfield Armory & HS Produkt – do us all a favor and support this gun and the aftermarket!!  

By David Kiwacka

Life long movie, game, comic nerd that all centers around firearms. I'm as much of a nerd for those pop culture items as I am for guns. That has transitioned me to competitive shooing and half becoming a training junkie. Basically a LARPer with firearms. I've hand my hands on so many firearms that I've decided to share what I know and have learned with anyone that's interested. LARP hard and train harder.

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