The Echelon Vs the XD – Springfield’s Big Blasters

Springfield Armory recently released the Echelon handgun. It’s gotten some rave reviews, and admittedly, it’s become pretty popular. The Echelon seems to be riding high, and it will likely replace the XD series of handguns sooner than later. Both the XD series and Echelon are Croatian-made weapons made by HS Produkt. With that said, if you have an XD, should you rush out to purchase an Echelon? That’s what we aim to figure out today.

The Echelon – What’s the Big Difference?

The Echelon got the Hellcat treatment. You can seriously see a direct resemblance to the Hellcat in the Echelon. Typically, a company starts with a duty-sized handgun and works its way back, but Springfield did it differently this time. The Echelon features the Hellcat’s adaptive grip texture that covers seemingly every edge of the weapon.

The slide has been cut and refined. It looks much less bulky than the XD series. It’s trim and slim. Trim and slim certainly impress me, and it makes the Echelon look much more modern than the XD series. That svelte slide features a pair of scalloped wings at the rear for an easy pull to rack the gun. The slide serrations are much deeper and more aggressive than the XD series.

The ergonomics are revamped. The grip design has been improved greatly. An overhang at the rear allows you to choke up high and tight on the gun, and the undercut on the trigger guard makes it so you can get a nice high grip that’s super comfy and allows for way more control over your gun.

Springfield finally got rid of the grip safety on the Echelon. I dislike grip safeties because, lord forbid, you get a less-than-perfect grip on the gun and can’t fire it. The XD also had issues that if the grip safety broke, the gun would lock up, making it impossible to unload safely.

We also get ambidextrous magazine releases and ambidextrous slide locks. This is a nice touch on a modern-duty pistol. We also get a full-length rail, whereas the XD series typically had a single-slot rail or maybe a two-slot rail.

The Internal Differences

The Echelon series went with a serialized chassis design, much like the P320, the P365, and several other firearms. Springfield Armory calls it the COG. The COG contains all the internals of your frame, and it’s the serialized portion of the gun. The COG can be removed and swapped between three different frames to find the right size grip for you. In the future, it will likely allow for compact and subcompact frames and sides. If the industry remains the same it will likely end in 80 lower receiver COGs as well.

The Echelon is a smooth shooter with a crisp trigger and minimal recoil.

Outside of the COG, the Echelon premiered the VIS system. The VIS system is a universal mounting solution that doesn’t rely on plates to mount a wide variety of optics. This prevents stacking tolerances, which can cause failures down the line. The VIS allows you to mount optics from Trijicon, Holosun, Shield, Leupold, and more. The only limitation so far seems to be that it’s not compatible with most enclosed emitter optics.

At the Range

Everything about the Echelon is more refined when compared to a standard XD. The Echelon is the base-level model, and to me, it’s easier to shoot and handle than the XD-M Elite series guns. These guns are designed to be the best of the best of the XD line, and the Echelon is better than the Elite series.

In terms of accuracy, the two are neck and neck. However, the Echelon seems to have a better trigger, or at least a trigger that I like more than the Elite META trigger. The biggest difference in performance comes from the gun’s ergonomics and control. With the Echelon, I felt I could shoot it faster with more accuracy. There seems to be a difference in recoil control that I account with my ability to get my hand higher on the gun more comfortably.

Courtesy Armory Life

The texture also likely helps keep the gun from moving in my hand compared to the lighter, less aggressive texture of the XD lineup. Both guns are reliable, and the Echelon mags are sturdier. The XD series had some issues with the feed lips bending during heavy use. The Echelon mags feel beefier, although it feels like a metal base plate would prevent issues we see with polymer base plates.

Forming the Echelon

The Echelon is a fantastic handgun, and it’s a worthwhile replacement to the XD series. Do you need to trade in your XD for one? If you want, sure. It’s a better gun, but if you like your XD, keep it. The guns basically do the same thing, but the Echelon just does things a little smoother.

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Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. Travis has trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army.

He serves as an NRA-certified pistol instructor and pursues a variety of firearms-based hobbies.

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3 thoughts on “The Echelon Vs the XD – Springfield’s Big Blasters”

  1. I own 3 XDs 1 of which is an M series that I carry as my duty weapon, another is a 3.3 that is my back-up weapon, all of them are as dependable and reliable as any weapon I have ever owned. I personally like the grip safety and the extra level of security it gives me, especially in the event that if a “bad guy” should happen to acquire that weapon in a tussle. I have never experienced any problems with the grip safeties on my XDs in 5 years of service and I would estimate more than 5,000 rounds thru the XD-M and probably 2,500 thru each of the other 2XDs.

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