Throwback Thursday: Springfield SAINT AR-15

disassembled AR-15

Among the most modern rifles and a great seller across the board, the Springfield SAINT is by any standard a pacesetter. The SAINT has been in service for around six years and has received quite a bit of attention. The SAINT has been very successful in a crowded market.

There are less expensive AR rifles, more expensive AR rifles, some with a much longer history, but none that represent a better value. The SAINT is popular based on value and performance. The rifle has good features without stepping far off the beaten path.

As an example, while the furniture, developed along with Bravo Company, is good kit with excellent performance, the standard specifications allow easy fitting of anything else you would like in place of the stock furniture.

Springfield SAINT AR-15
The SAINT is a reliable and attractive AR rifle option.

Springfield SAINT Features

The trigger, safety, slide lock, barrel, and all internal parts are standard AR-15, interchangeable with a host of aftermarket parts. The SAINT has been upgraded to the Victor and Edge models, each offering excellent performance with the basic SAINT operating features.

The rifle isn’t going to exhibit corrosion under most conditions, as the Melonite finish is proven durable and effective in combating the elements.

SAINT Gas System

The SAINT feels right in the hands, without anything that rattles or feels out of place. When you take the proper long forward grip that allows such good control with the AR-15, the forend is comfortable and offers an excellent gripping surface.

AR sight
The SAINT features useful iron sights as issued.

After much research, the rifle was designed with a mid-length gas system. This system is often used with a 16-inch carbine-length barrel, as this system operates with lower pressure than the carbine-length system. Springfield claims the mid-length system lowers recoil compared to a carbine-length gas system. I cannot detect much difference between recoil in any AR rifle, but just the same, control is excellent with the Springfield SAINT 5.56mm rifle. Custom makers with far more experience than I, tell me the advantage of the mid-length gas system is that lowered operating pressure isn’t as hard on small parts and moving parts.

The barrel is a good tight fit. The gas block is pinned, rather than screwed on. The gas block, then, isn’t going to rotate or become loose.

Springfield SAINT Trigger

The trigger action on the four examples I have tested extensively, break consistently at 6.5 to seven pounds. There is some creep, and yet this is among the better factory AR triggers in overall feel. The parts are coated at Springfield and are high quality in fit and finish. There is no grit and excess creep. The good news is the trigger has smoothed up with use.

The trigger is well-suited to a rifle intended as an everyday working rifle for those interested in performance and value. The rifle is ready to go out of the box with flip-up iron sights. These sights are easily adjusted and work well at typical personal defense ranges to 100 yards or a little more.

Springfield SAINT Closeup
The SAINT and TRUGLO optic make a fine combination.

The rifle accepts all AR-15 magazines. The stock is no surprise. The BCM Gunfighter from Bravo Company is a six-position telescoping stock. The stock is high on possible sling mounting options. The pistol grip is well designed, a few steps above the GI unit, and allows good control in all firing stances and techniques. The handle is more arched than flat and comfortable for all hand sizes.

Accuracy and Reliability

A clean and lubricated AR-15 rifle is a model of reliability. All of the rifles I own have never failed to feed, chamber, fire, or eject. The Springfield SAINT is no exception. The rifle has proven reliable with a wide range of ammunition from 36 to 80-grain bullets and ammunition from a dozen makers.

I have fired the rifle in both slow fire and fast-paced, dynamic shooting drills. The Springfield SAINT as issued has delivered excellent results. The only change I have made with the rifle is to add a TRUGLO Omnia 6 scope. This scope offers excellent value and accuracy potential.

5.56 NATO Ammo
The rifle is most accurate with 68 to 69-grain loads, particularly handloads.

I have engaged in several range sessions devoted to absolute accuracy, firing from a solid benchrest, and attempting to achieve the best accuracy possible. Results have been interesting.

The rifle hasn’t been particularly accurate with 36 to 40-grain Varmint loads, no surprise there, but it is accurate enough for popping pests to perhaps 200 yards. With the general run of 55-grain FMJ generic loads, such as the Winchester white box loading, average accuracy is around 1.5 to 1.7 inches at 100 yards for a three-shot group. Federal American Eagle is in the same category. The Federal 62-grain Green Tip is slightly more accurate.

Among the best results are with 68-grain loads. The Hornady A-MAX has often grouped into less than one inch. The best-recorded group so far has been with a handload and the Hornady GMX 50-grain bullet. This load slipped three bullets into .75 inches.

With factory loads, the rifle seems to prefer bullets over 60 grains. I have a few of the Winchester 69-grain JSP load on hand, another brilliantly accurate loading. If I were to hunt deer-sized game with the .223 Remington, this is the load I would choose, based on my friend Roger’s long string of one-shot drops with this load in his Ruger Mini 14. This loading will consistently group into .95 inches at 100 yards. In short, the rifle is plenty accurate enough for any foreseeable chore.

The Springfield SAINT is a winner on every count, a rifle that compliments a careful shooter.

What do you think of the Springfield SAINT? Let us know in the comments below!  

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in June of 2021. It has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and clarity.

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (4)

  1. The Saint Victor in 300 BLK…A joy to shoot..mine is topped with a US Optics 1-8 scope..Gorrilla 115 grain..sig Sauer 120 grain..Barnes 120 grain is my choice out to 150 yards but a buck fell at 180 yards last season

  2. The barrel rifling has a 1/8 twist so it can handle heavier bullets that other economy AR’s can’t ( The 1/9 twist M&P15 for example) so you can run 80gr rounds through it with no problem. I installed a Strike Industries J-Comp muzzle brake/compensator and it virtually eliminated whatever little recoil was felt and muzzle rise.
    Excellent entry level AR that performs like a higher end rifle.

  3. Part II:
    User Friendless: Magpul MOE military adjustable SL stock. The Saint-15 pretty much read to go as is from the box.

  4. 3The Saint AR-15 basic variant I consider to the KIng of the Cheap AR-15s. In my personal experience, even the lauded S&W M&P 15 Sport 2 needed massive upgrades to maximize both reliability and accuracy. At most, the Saint needs both a KNS precision push rear take down pin and a Blitzkrieg Components LLC front triangle luminescent green front sight replacement post. The Xena AR-15 variant is no longer in production. And even my current Aerospace Precision assembly needed the following upgrades to maximize reliability, accuracy, and user friendliness, too. Reliability: MAS Defense Titanium nitride BCG, BCM Ambidextrous large latch charging handle, KNS precision push button pivot rear and take down pins, Reliability II: ASC components stainless steel thirty round magazine or like capacity Hexmag Series 2 polymer magazines. Accuracy: Blitzkrieg components LLC luminescent green triangle front sight post replacement. To be part coninued in part II

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