Range Report: Springfield Saint AR-15

By Bob Campbell published on in Firearms, Range Reports

Springfield’s SAINT was the first AR-15 rifle to proudly wear the Springfield Armory stamp. The rifle has been described as entry level but this isn’t really true. There are more expensive rifles, but the Springfield isn’t cheap—it is simply below the $900 threshold. The rifle has good features, and it is built for reliability.

Springfield SAINT AR-15 rifle right profile

Springfield’s SAINT is a good-looking rifle and a good performer.

The SAINT is intended to appeal to the young and adventurous, as well as those who are serious about taking responsibility for their own safety. I agree, but older shooters such as myself who are able to discern quality at a fair price will also appreciate the SAINT. As a Springfield fan, the SAINT will take its place beside my 1903 Springfield and the modern 1911 Operator, but there is more to the puzzle than the name.

At present I have less than 600 cartridges fired through the SAINT, but the experience has been good. I fire the rifles I test on the range, and not with the typewriter. I know the difficulty in firing 1,000 rounds or more for real in an economic and physical sense. Let’s look at the particulars.

Bolt carries with crossed cannons

The bolt carrier is marked with the crossed cannons.

The SAINT features the A2 style front sight/gas block and a folding rear sight. The rear sight is stamped with the Springfield crossed cannons emblem. The rear sight isn’t target grade, but it is useful for short-range defense work and snagging predators to perhaps 100 yards—the use I will put this 6 pound 11 ounce rifle to.

The gas system is a mid-length system. Without getting into a discussion that would fill these pages, the mid length system is ideal for use with most bullet weights. The SAINT features a 16-inch barrel chambered for the 5.56mm cartridge. This means you may fire .223 Remington or 5.56mm cartridges without a hint of trouble. The 1:8-inch barrel twist is increasingly popular. Midway between the 7- and 9-inch twist, this barrel twist rate has proven accurate with the majority of loads I have tested. So far this includes loads of 52 to 77 grains.

The trigger is a GI-type that breaks clean in my example at 6.7 pounds. This is in the middle ground for an AR trigger, and it is clean and crisp. There is also a special coating that allows the trigger group to ride smoothly.

The receivers are aluminum anodized, no surprises there, but the bolt is also specially coated. The bolt is stamped with the Springfield logo. I like that a lot. Springfield has added a new design with the Accu Tite Tension system. This is a setscrew located in the lower receiver that allows the user to tighten the receivers together.

Springfield SAINT top and Springfield 1903 rifle bottom

The SAINT is shown with a 1903 Springfield. A proud tradition!

I like this feature, and I probably will not add any other tightening measures to the SAINT. The furniture is Bravo Company, and the handguard is a Springfield exclusive. The three-piece handguard features a heat shield in the lower base. The handguard offers excellent adhesion when firing. While a light may be mounted, the handguard doesn’t abrade the hand when firing in long practice sessions.

I like the stub on the end of the handguard that prevents the hand from running forward onto the gas block. Optics are not optimal for mounting to the SAINT, because the handguard isn’t free floated. However, receiver rails are available for mounting optics. The six-position stock features a squeeze lever for six-point adjustment. The handle is the famous BCM Gunfighter grip.

To begin the evaluation, I filled several magazines with Federal Cartridge Company American Eagle cartridges. The rifle has several hundred rounds through it, and I expected the same performance for this The Shooters Log test. The 55-grain FMJ cartridges burned clean. They are also affordable, and offer excellent accuracy potential in a practice load.

Meopta Red Dot on Springfield SAINT rifle

The Meopta MeoRed Red Dot gave good results.

I loaded the supplied Magpul magazine, as well as a number of magazines I had on hand. The bolt was lubricated. AR-15 rifles will run dirty, but they will not run dry. I addressed man-sized targets at 25 and 50 yards, firing as quickly as I could get on target and align the sights. Keeping the hand forward on the handguard—avoiding the gas block—and controlling the rifle, fast and accurate hits came easily. The rifle is controllable in rapid fire, but then it is an AR 15.

The advantages of the BCM handguard are several. The handguard does not abrade the hand but gives good purchase. The sights are adequate for the purpose. The Gunfighter grip is particularly ergonomic—allowing excellent control. As for absolute accuracy, with the iron sights, it isn’t difficult to secure three-shot groups of two inches at 50 yards, par for the course with an iron-sighted carbine.

Accuracy Testing

You have to go further with accuracy testing, and this means mounting a quality optic. I settled down with a mounted Lucid 1x6x24 riflescope. This optic provides a good, clear sight picture and has many advantages the trained rifleman will exploit.

I settled down on the bench and attempted the best possible accuracy from the SAINT. Hornady has introduced a new line of AR-15 ammunition. Since black rifles run on black ammunition the new loads should prove popular. My test samples of Black Hills Ammunition featured the proven 75-grain BTHP. This is a good bullet weight for long-range accuracy, and it proved to give good results in the SAINT. I also tested the a good number of popular .233 loads including a handload of my own, using the 60-grain Hornady A Max bullet.

100 Yards, 3-Shot Group

Federal American Eagle 55-grain FMJ 1.9 in.
Federal 62-grain Green Tip 1.5 in.
Federal 62-grain Bonded 1.25 in.
Hornady Steel Match 55-grain FMJ 1.95 in.
Hornady 60-grain A Max 1.35 in.
Hornady Black Ammunition 75-grain 1.25 in.
Handload/60-grain A Max, Varget Powder 1.65 in.

I have also mounted a MeoRed red dot with excellent results. For use to 50 yards, this red dot offers good hit probability, and gets the Springfield up and rolling for 3Gun Competition. I like the Springfield SAINT. I drove in the rain to get the rifle, and was at the door at the FFL when they opened. The fact that I had to wait to hit the range was a torture. I was not disappointed. The SAINT is going to be an important part of my shooting battery.

Springfield Armory SAINT
Type Semi-auto, direct impingement
 Gas System  Mid-length system
 Barrel  16 in., 1:8-in. twist, Melonite finish
 Overall Length  32.25-35.5 in.
 Weight  6 lbs., 11 oz.
 Upper Receiver  7075 T6 aluminum, hard anodized
 Lower Receiver  7075 T6 aluminum, hard anodized, Accu-Tite Tension System
 Trigger  Springfield Armory proprietary Nickel-Boron-coated, single stage
 Sights  A2-style front, flip-up, dual aperture rear
 Grip  BCM Mod. 3
 Handguard  BCM PKMR KeyMod
 Stock  BCM Gunfighter, six position
Capacity 30 rounds

Have you fired the Springfield SAINT? Which Springfield firearm is your favorite? Share your answers in the comment section.

SLRule

Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooter’s Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.

View all articles by Bob Campbell

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Comments (20)

  • Hide Behind

    |

    Oh I dunno, while not owning this particular AR, be they civilian or military all have all been capable of rapid firing, so I will not lie to Ms. VICKI.
    Under certain conditions I have fired over a hundred rounds through these semi auto weapons in under 5 minutes, and bumped fired easily more.
    Yet today, the snake has been cut up and resides in white house and pentagon and police cars so I prefer deliberate aim slow fire so as not to alarm the many she/he Ms. Vicky in our world.
    I like having the ability, a Creator given Right not a Government permission by laws, to own such weapons and used them in past to put down
    predators immediately and precision target shooting.
    Once my excuse to have such fast firing weapon was to be as close to being equal as to at that timeframe as the arms my ever increasingly oppressive government would someday threaten my beliefs and Rights.
    Ms, Vicky today you need not fear any but the very few nutcases that slaughter within US holding such guns, as the days are long gone when there was A BILL OF RIGHTS or a CONSTITUTION to be protected.
    So I can see why so many dislike black guns that fire rapidly, but as many who are ignorant as to what Liberty and Freedom along with a limited Government is, you will soon see the day when indeed rapid firing weapons are banned from civilian hands.
    They who sel, and most gun owners l do not care if gun making corporates profit motives let them join in passage of confiscatory laws, such as Springfield Arms and Rock River who threw aside IDEALS for a chance to
    lock in their profits at EXPENCE of Liberty and Freedoms .
    Do not worry Vicky because before long only those government employees active or retired who have signed a Loyalty Oath to whomever sits in White house will be protecting that white house.

    Reply

  • Mark

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    Springfield Armory and Springfield Armory Inc. are not the same entity. Springfield Armory was a United States arsenal that produced many firearms for the US military through 1968 including the 1903 bolt action rifle. Springfield Armory Inc. Is a private corporation that licensed the name in 1974 and makes the SAINT among numerous other firearms.

    Reply

  • KSBuchanan

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    I bought the Saint several months ago, and had to return to the factory (still waiting for it to be returned). It would NOT shoot properly – the accuracy was way off. I’ve had 2 other people to shoot it (at 25 yards) and the was >6″. We used different ammo and it didn’t affect accuracy. I suspect the barrel is faulty. We tried the barrel on a different lower, and still had the same results.

    Before everyone starts telling me that we are “bad shots”, we were shooting on sand bags to minimize the “human drift, pull/push” motion. I have 2 other AR (RR, DD), so I know there is something different with the Saint.

    Anyhow – it is a good looking rifle, and I’m confident that SA will resolve the issue. I can’t wait to review it properly!

    Reply

  • KSBuchanan

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    Vicki: you do realize you are trolling on a gunsite, right??? These rifles do NOT fire any faster than a hunting rifle. They fire 1 bullet at a time, and will only shoot as fast as the person pulling the trigger.

    Reply

  • Tim

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    I have the Saint. Nobody seems to mention that it comes with a full auto bolt carrier, unlike most “entry” level AR. Not sure what they come with now but when I bought mine shortly after it came out, it had one. I like full auto bolt carrier because they are more robust and may last longer.

    Reply

  • Studo Roc

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    I’ve personally taken the Saint into ownership along with 3 other ARs. This weapon has performance amongst my highest priced Colt, Bravo Co, and Daniel Defence. I’ve put just about 1k rounds down range without a single problem. My accuracy, grouping, and Zero has exceeded my expectations. The look also amazing. Always receive compliments on it. I picked mine up from GunsAmerica.com for $700 (verifiable). It’s would be a challenge to find anything equivalent for the price. Highly recommended AR. Springfield did a great job on the Saint.

    Reply

  • Docduracoat

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    Indiana Steve is right
    Springfield was instrumental in getting the anti gun bill through the Illinois house
    Now the senate is about to consider it
    ALL SHOOTERS SHOULD BOYCOTT SPRINGFIELD ARMORY
    There are plenty of competing products in the AR 15, M 14 rifle and 1911 pistol lines
    Do not buy anything from Springfield if you value gun rights

    Reply

    • Dave Dolbee

      |

      Docduracoat,

      No bill ever passed. Springfield, and others, did hire a trade association who made a bad deal in their names. Springfield immediately apologized and took corrective actions. Springfield, and the others, immediately upon hearing about it, not only backed out of the deal, they put a lot of money and effort into ensuring the bill was defeated. If I am wrong, please present your facts.

      Here is the statement, and admission of their error last Spring:

      Springfield Armory has always fought hand-in-hand with the NRA, NSSF, ISRA and many others for legislation that fiercely protects the Second Amendment, individual rights and the industry as a whole. Our fight continues today as some members of the Illinois legislature are pushing to overregulate the industry through Gun Dealer Licensing Act (SB1657).

      “At the time of my initial statement to the media, I was ill-informed of the ramifications of this bill and its detrimental effects to the Second Amendment, which I have personally fought to protect my entire life. I can tell you now, we at Springfield Armory are unequivocally 100 percent against this bill and will continue to work with the NRA and others to ensure that it is defeated,” said Dennis Reese, Chief Executive Officer, Springfield Armory.

      Springfield Armory, like Rock River Arms, was not aware of the actions taken by our trade association, IFMA, until after the fact. We take this situation very seriously and are looking into how this very unfortunate lapse in communication occurred.

      Reply

    • Indianasteve

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      This has been discussed ad nauseam. I have no need for any Sprinfield Armory or Rock River products.

      Reply

  • Indianasteve

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    Even though I have never shot one, the Saint does appear to be a lot of gun for the money. But then, there is that whole “traitor” snafu, followed up by a lot of lying to the public thing. In todays AR15 market their are a lot of good values at every price point. I have 3 AR’s now, so I am not currently looking for a 4th. But if I was, I wouldn’t be looking at a Saint.

    Good review though.

    Reply

  • Vicki

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    Why are these rapid fire weapons being sold to civilians? What need do they have for them?

    Reply

    • Indianasteve

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      I think you went to the wrong website.

      Reply

    • Phill Fowler

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      These aren’t rapid fire weapons. They shoot one bullet at a time.

      Reply

    • Brian

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      Because the military does not want them, they only shoot semi-auto, not fully automatic.

      Reply

    • Force Recon Marine

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      @Vicki The Second amendment provides for this. Besides the best personal defense aid is equitable or superior to whatever may be used against me, you, or us!!!!!. Also for the same reason you are allowed to purchase an automobile even though there is no need for one One can argue there is public transportation BUT I like to throw it back on those who believe the second amendment only covers muzzle loading firearms What’s goo for the goose so to speak.

      Reply

    • Clifffalling

      |

      Well, Vicki, while it doesn’t happen very often, on occasion black bears have been know to congregate in groups of up to 10 or 15. There isn’t too much research right now, but it does appear these roving bears (generally thought to be younger males) are searching human prey. In the last 5 years I believe there have been 7 or 8 confirmed attacks on people by these groups. In this light, a “rapid fire ” ,lightweight and reliable rifle is very useful. I just hope that wolves dont get the idea of forming packs! That could be disasterous!

      Reply

    • Jeffrey Decuypere

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      Wow ,Cliffalling I hope you are attempting to make a joke. Your Intel regarding black bears is completely fictional. And if your shooting a bear with a 5.56 caliber you need to do some balistic research. Vicky asked a serious question. This is a sorry response

      Reply

    • James

      |

      They aren’t “rapid fire” weapons. They’re semi-automatic, meaning that one pull of the trigger only fires one round of ammunition at a time. The AR15 only LOOKS like the military’s M4 battle rifle, it however, does NOT have the same rate of fire capability. The military’s rifle has the ability to fire MORE than one round per pull of the trigger, again, the civilian AR15 does NOT. The AR15 is no different in function than any other semi-automatic rifle or handgun on the civilian market, such as a simple, wooden stocked, small caliber .22lr used for plinking targets or small game. Only the uninformed anti-gun persons have an issue with the AR15 because it LOOK “scary”.
      Please become more knowledgable before making uniformed comments about a rifle or operating system.

      Reply

    • CleanCaveman

      |

      Hi Vicki. I’m sure some of your concern stems from the wake of the Vegas shooting; but as others have stated, these are “semi-automatic” rifles. This simple means that only a single bullet is fired each time that the trigger is pulled. This is no different than most pistols/handguns or even the majority of other guns on the market.

      “Assault-style” weapons is just a buzz word that the mass media has misused to strike fear into those that are uneducated on firearms. Automatic guns, or what you consider “rapid fire,” are illegal to purchase here in the United States as a civilian.

      I appreciate you coming to this forum and I hope that you become educated to understand that the look of a rifle has very little influence on its performance.

      If you have any questions, please reply and we can open up a discussion on this, because I’m sick and tired of the major news outlets using fear to drive political agendas.

      Blessings,
      Steve

      Reply

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