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