I Carry: Springfield Armory Echelon 9 mm Pistol in a Crucial Concealment Holster

Today on "I Carry" we have a Springfield Armory Echelon 9 mm pistol with a Leupold red-dot sight in a Crucial Concealment holster.

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posted on December 22, 2023

Firearm: Springfield Armory Echelon (MSRP: $679)

We’re taking another look at Springfield Armory’s new full-size pistol, the Echelon, for a number of reasons. First and foremost, Springfield Armory has designed it to be eminently shootable, robust and accurate—all excellent features in a pistol you’d want to carry for self-defense. While it’s touted as a duty-size pistol, there’s no reason it can’t also function as a concealed-carry handgun with a few simple wardrobe adjustments.

With an overall length of 8 inches, a 4.5-inch barrel and an unloaded weight of 23.9 ounces, it’s right in line, size wise, with either the Glock G17 or Smith & Wesson M&P full size. The G17 is less than an ounce heavier and lengths are practically identical; the M&P is slightly shorter but heavier. Capacity between the three full-size pistols is identical at 17 rounds, and the width of each of the three pistols is 1.2 inches. If you can conceal a G17 or M&P, you can carry the Echelon with ease.

Of course, the real party trick for the Echelon is in the optic-mounting department. Springfield’s Variable Interface System, or VIS, allows for more than 30 different optics to be mounted directly to the slide using twin screw holes and movable pins to match different footprints. It’s ingenious and allows optics to be mounted as low as possible, without requiring adaptor plates that raise height or additional screws. It would not surprise me if systems of this type were to become commonplace in the absence of a uniform mounting footprint.

So, why opt for the Echelon? It’s a clean-slate approach to a new, full-size firearm, and that’s something to consider in a market where the SIG Sauer P320 is the “new guy” – and it’s been around for a decade now. The Echelon brings a solid platform with a great optics-mounting system, a trigger that’s quite good without any work and a texture that’s grippy without causing abrasion. All of these check the “good to have” boxes, but add them all together in a pistol priced competitively? That’s worth some investigation.

Holster: Crucial Concealment Covert OWB holster (MSRP: $65.99)

To carry the Echelon today we’ve opted for the Crucial Concealment Covert OWB holster. While you can certainly carry the Echelon using an inside-the-waistband holster, there are undeniable advantages to a form-fitting outside-the-waistband model. For starters, it sure makes using the pistol in a training scenario easier, especially when working from the holster. Secondly, it’s hard to argue against the comfort of having the pistol and holster on the outside, where you don’t have to have a second set of pants a size larger than normal. With the Crucial Concealment Covert OWB, it’s not even all that difficult to conceal with the proper cover garment, especially in the cooler months where vests, sweatshirts and other such outer garments are common.

Molded on a slight curve to conform to the body for better concealment, the Covert OWB has adjustable cant using the belt loops and adjustable, single-screw retention. An open-bottom design allows for pistols with threaded barrels to be carried, while both 1.5- and 1.75-inch belt loop versions are available. This particular holster is even available directly from Springfield Armory, allowing for one-stop shopping for accessories.

Optic: Leupold DeltaPoint Pro (MSRP: $449.99)

Since the Echelon is set up to accept a wide variety of red-dot sights with its VIS system, we wanted to try a different optical footprint. We’ve gone for a tried-and-true Leupold DeltaPoint Pro red-dot for this setup, finding the VIS to be quite easy to accommodate the Leupold—but remember, you need to order the screw set for the larger depth of the DeltaPoint Pro. Not a big deal if you know about it ahead of time—which is why we mention it.

Why the DeltaPoint Pro? Well, the model we’re using today has been kicking around for more than five years, first seeing use on a Smith & Wesson M&P for a one-day Modern Samurai Project course we reviewed in 2018. It’s still working perfectly, with the 2.5-MOA dot still shining brightly. The intuitive power management system has maintained exceptional battery life, requiring a single change of the CR2032 battery in the 5 years of use. 

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