Modularity: The Springer Precision Edition Echelon Pistol

When the Echelon 9mm pistol was introduced by Springfield Armory back in July it marked the company’s entry into the truly modular pistol category with the company proclaiming it as “a new standard for modern, striker-fired duty pistols.” That was their clarion call to law enforcement that Springfield had a real contender to match up against the various GLOCK models, most notably the G19, and the SIG SAUER P320.

Carving out a piece of the law enforcement market is no easy feat as GLOCK and SIG hold the lion’s share with Smith & Wesson somewhere further behind. But, word is that with the smaller agencies, the Echelon is picking up steam.

Modularity is a big part of the appeal for agencies, but modular pistols aren’t new. However, modularity in pistols really and truly took off when SIG rolled out the P320. Technically, that started back with the development in Germany of the P250, a DAO pistol specifically targeting the LE market, and potential military contracts. Fortunately, a DAO long trigger pull pistol, no matter how modular it might be, isn’t at the top of any agency’s list, particularly here in the U.S., so the P250 evolved into a striker-fired variant we know as the P320.

Besides holding huge chunks of market share in both the LE and consumer markets, there’s another thing both GLOCK and SIG have in common…a thriving aftermarket.

By virtue of its time in the market place, there’s a cottage industry in support of the GLOCK platform. In terms of aftermarket support, it ranks up there with the 1911, Ruger 10/22 and AR platforms.

While no such aftermarket of the depth and breadth of GLOCK’s has developed for SIG’s famed P Series (think P220, P226 and P229), with the rise of the P320, and its smaller, more concealable sibling, the P365, a new wave of aftermarket development has taken off, thanks in no small part to SIG itself.

From the beginning SIG embraced the aftermarket. Rather than holding it at arm’s length, like some companies do, they actively sought to collaborate with outside companies in order to supercharge the growth of aftermarket support. SIG even hosted an event at the SIG Academy in New Hampshire for their aftermarket partners.

Today, thanks to SIG’s collaborative approach, you can find any number of aftermarket components for your P320 or P365. For those wanting to stick strictly to factory built pistols, but with a customized look and feel, SIG offers the SIG Concierge Service where one can build their own P320 or P365.

Modularity can do that for you, along with a willingness from top management to work with smaller companies specializing in designing interesting and innovative aftermarket upgrades.

Which, brings us to the Springfield Echelon.

Despite being in the market for just 10 months now, the Springfield Echelon is gaining ground. Based on SIG’s ‘spec-your-own’ business model, I won’t be surprised to find something very similar to emerge for the Echelon once Springfield has fleshed out their own broad range of modular components.

Until then, you have to look to the aftermarket to trick out your Echelon. And look no further than Springer Precision.

If you’re unfamiliar with Springer Precision, change that. Scott Springer has been in business for about 16 years and designs and manufactures a variety of upgrade options for several brands of pistols, including Beretta, CZ, GLOCK, H&K, SIG SAUER, Smith & Wesson, Walther and others.

And yes, Springfield is among those brands. In fact, Springer Precision is the leading aftermarket provider for Springfield Armory pistols with upgrade options for the XD, XDM, XDM Elite, Hellcat and, of course, the new Echelon.

It did not take long after the introduction of the Echelon for Springer Precision to come out with upgrades for the new pistol. (Photo courtesy of Yamil Sued)

Shortly after the introduction of the Echelon, and thanks to his vast experience and understanding of the Springfield Armory striker-fired pistol product line, Scott Springer soon had a suite of options available for the Echelon.

In quick succession Springer Precision offered Echelon owners a stainless steel guide rod, base pads, optic plate, magwell and compensator, with more parts in the development pipeline.

While visiting my across-the-way neighbor, Yamil Sued, I got to play with what I refer to as a ‘Springer Edition’ Echelon. Yamil had the gun for photography for an upcoming article in Springfield Armory’s The Armory Life and he kindly allowed me to use some of his photos for this article.

I’ve shot the Echelon — Yamil’s, in fact — and really like it. It’s incredibly shootable and that’s a sentiment I’ve heard repeatedly, including from Jim Shepherd, who like Yamil had the gun to shoot before it was publicly announced. You can read Jim’s feature from the July 12th edition of The Outdoor Wire here.

But there are features the end user enjoys in a pistol, and in some cases really values. The tricked-out Echelon Yamil had sitting on his table, waiting to be returned to Springer Precision, was kind of a wish list gun.

The stainless steel guide rod isn’t something one usually jumps up and down about, however it’s a necessary addition for the Echelon. The added weight at the front helps with the natural ‘snappyness’ of the pistol – the only drawback to the pistol that anybody seems to notice.

Springer Precision is well known for base pads so it was no surprise when they rolled out base pads for the Echelon 17-round factory magazine. (Photos courtesy of Yamil Sued)

Base pads are Springer Precision’s stock and trade, and you can usually find them available for new model pistols on the Springer website before other companies offer them. There are two options available. The first doesn’t increase capacity but lengthens the magazine .420″ to make for easier mag changes. The second fits only the 17-round factory magazine and adds another five (5) rounds to the capacity. Both are machined from aluminum and hard anodized for durability.

Since the Echelon is an optics-ready platform, using what Springfield calls their Variable Interface System (VIS), which utilizes their patent-pending self-locking pins that can be positioned to fit various footprints, you can mount a wide range of popular optics. They also offer an ACRO style mounting plate.

But with closed emitter optics suddenly all the rage, a number of companies offer plate systems. Among them is Springer Precision. The Springer optics plate is available for the Aimpoint and Steiner products, the Holosun 509T and Holosun 407K/507K/EPS/EPS Carry options.

Low-profile and ready for either duty or carry, the Springer Precision magwell is an excellent option for those that appreciate a little assistance in the pistol reloading process. (Photos courtesy of Yamil Sued)

The one upgrade – besides the ‘must have’ guide rod – that I would get in a heartbeat is Springer Carry/Duty Magwell. I am a shameless fan of a good magwell, and there is no denying that they make reloading a lot easier and faster. This magwell is low-profile and fits the medium grip module/medium backstrap configuration. If you run one you will have to go with the Springer base pads on the 17rnd factory mags, though. Like the base pads the magwell is available in Black, Tan or Gray.

Finally, the upgrade that dramatically changes the look and feel of the Echelon is the Springer Shorty Compensator. Aesthetically speaking, it complements the look of the pistol by carrying forward the serration design of the slide. It fits the factory threaded Echelon barrel and is machined from aluminum and hard coat anodized. Use of the comp will require a lighter recoil spring (likely 14 lbs) to ensure reliable ejection.

Together, these enhancements turn an already excellent duty/carry style pistol into a sporty and rather personalized blaster. My timing was totally off when Yamil showed me the loaner he was about to return to Springer, and I was not able to take it to the range. When I asked Yamil what his take was on shooting the gun he boiled it down to its critical essence, “faster follow-up shots.”

The Echelon is a good gun, with a bright future, especially if they adopt SIG’s approach to embracing and collaborating with aftermarket companies, like Springer Precision. These are the companies making parts that consumers want, and more importantly are willing to pay good money for.

And they keep coming up with new items, like an extended mag release which Scott Springer told me is about four to six weeks away from release. Something else for Echelon owners to look forward to.

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