Back in 2016, Springfield Armory released its SAINT line of AR-15s. The collection included AR pistols, standard rifles, and short-barreled rifles as well. Some were offered in different calibers, but most focused on the tried-and-true 5.56. The baseline model was simply called SAINT. The next step up was called SAINT Victor, and the top-tier package was called SAINT Edge.
The premise behind the packages was to offer high-value guns right out of the box, with no-frills upgrades needed. I recently got the opportunity to test the SAINT. We ended up on quite a journey together, but I came away with a good understanding of the rifle and appreciation for the quality it represents.
The guys at my FFL spoke highly of the SAINT when I picked it up. They spoke of it like an unlikely juggernaut, slaving away in the rental section of the range. They made it sound nearly unstoppable after thousands upon thousands of rounds.
I should preface that I have a somewhat different relationship with my buddies at the gun shop since I’m there several times a month and rarely ever shopping for guns. But this caught my ear as a potentially high-value gun for the money.
I tend to prefer ARs with rails that cover the whole barrel. The SAINT I received only had a Picatinny rail along the top of the receiver. It had an A2-style front sight, bayonet lug, sling mount, and B5 Systems furniture. This consisted of an 8-inch M-LOK handguard, Type 23 P-Grip, and Bravo Stock.
Other notables included a 16-inch, chrome-moly vanadium barrel with 1-in-8-inch twist and A2 birdcage. It had a forged 7075 T6 aluminum upper and lower. The lower included a tension system, though I found the fit fine. The bolt carrier group is Carpenter 158 Steel, HPT/MPI tested, and was also Melonite coated. Interestingly, the buffer is “H” or heavy. The gas system is mid-length and has a pinned gas block. Nearly everything else was similar or pretty close to mil-spec.
I mounted up my Vortex Diamondback 4-12x40 and headed out to the range with several hundred rounds of Patriot Defense 55-grain ammo. I started out at the 25-yard line just to see where I was. My first group had a couple of rounds that were close and one flier a few inches away. This was well outside the norm of my experience, but the trend continued. After several three-round groups, I had to bail on the mission and come back more prepared.
Upon my return, I was loaded for bear. I had remounted the scope and checked all torque specs. Loading up the same ammo, I got the same results. I used another rifle I know is accurate and shot a single hole. I then loaded 55-grain Fiocchi into the SAINT and began to see an instant change. Dialing the optic in, I put three in one hole at 25 yards. I pushed out to the 50-yard line and had a group at .46 inches. Moving out to 100 yards, I was dealing with more wind but averaged groups around 2.5 inches. I suspect I might have had tighter groups with some heavier bullet weights.
All that shooting did prove to me that the SAINT is reliable. I had no jams, no misfeeds, and no malfunctions of any kind. While diagnosing what was happening, I shot a disturbing amount – for current pandemic shortages – and the gun functioned perfectly. Removing the optic, I reinstalled the rear flip-up sight that comes stock with the SAINT. The same reliability held true. No longer burdened with a mystery, I began to have fun again.
I really enjoy B5 Systems furniture. The Bravo Stock in particular allows for a great cheek weld and binds in the shoulder pocket without being overly bulky. I thought I would appreciate the thin handguard until I started running hard through magazines.
The M-LOK is situated at 12, 2, 4, 6, 8, and 11 o’clock. The 12 o’clock position is a little problematic. It’s near the receiver and the gas tube gets closer to the handguard. If your hands drift toward the barrel nut, you may regret not having gloves. I also liked the B5 grip. It had a rough texture and a comfortable downward angle.
The controls were very familiar and what I would call mil-spec. The trigger was akin to a mil-spec or better. It was single stage with about a millimeter pull and decent break. It averaged around 4.16 ounces on my Lyman Digital Gauge. Reset was solid, audible, and tactile. The charging handle was mil-spec and among the first things I would change.
The Final Question
As I considered the results of several range trips, I found the business-minded geek in the back of my mind asking one question: “How are they making money?”
Looking at the overall performance of this gun, the upgraded features it comes with from the factory, and the fact that it has a nice Cordura case with a 30-round PMAG, I really wondered how Springfield Armory was able to pull this off. My guess is they are going with thin margins and hope to make up for it in mass sales.
What does this mean for you, the shooter? Grab one! This is a good gun for the price. It’s funny to me how many guns I’ve tested over the years that come in a cardboard box or without a magazine. That doesn’t work well when you need to go to the range. Springfield Armory gives you everything you need to go shooting.
From my experience with the SAINT, it is a reliable gun with good accuracy. Plus, you can upgrade it as you see fit.