Springfield Saint Pistol: How I Set Up My AR Pistol

Springfield Saint pistol AR-15 right profile

The AR-15 rifle has done everything I have asked of it, and a couple of Scout rifles do the rest. A young friend convinced me to try Springfield Saint, and I found a useful firearm. The Springfield Saint pistol is a useful understudy to my full-size Saint rifle. After experience with the Saint rifle and Saint Victor .308, quality of the type wasn’t in question.

I was a bit late getting in the game joining the ranks of AR pistol owners. The Springfield Saint was my first. I have reached the point that every firearm doesn’t have to have a clearly defined role or chore, but it must be well made, fun to shoot, and offer something useful in the scheme of things.

Springfield Saint pistol with SB tactical brace, top and Springfield Saint carbine, bottom
The Springfield Saint pistol, top, is more compact than the Saint carbine.

Springfield Saint Pistol Features

As a truck gun and a house gun, there’s nothing quite like the AR pistol. I would still prefer the rifle, but in some situations the Springfield Saint pistol is a viable choice, perhaps it’s the best choice. I have learned that properly setting up the AR pistol will make or break the experience. A good arm brace and optic, as an example, are necessary to properly utilize the pistol.

The Saint pistol is delivered in the classic Springfield Saint soft case along with a 30-round Magpul magazine. The Springfield Saint pistol is supplied with an arm brace, relieving the buyer of a considerable aftermarket expense. The exact brace is a first-class option. The SB Tactical brace is a proven choice. If your pistol doesn’t have a brace as issued, the SB Tactical is the front runner.

The barrel is only 7.5 inches long. Springfield chose a 1:7-inch barrel twist. The barrel itself is stainless steel. Rather than the traditional chrome-plated barrel, this barrel is treated with Melanite.

I have enjoyed good service, and long wear, with Melanite in other applications. In this case, it is wait and see, but I think that a long service life is a given. The bolt carrier is also coated in Melanite.

The fit and finish of the Springfield were excellent. The original trigger was plated in Nickel Boron. While I did not continue to use the original trigger, the Saint trigger was an acceptable ‘as issued’ trigger, breaking at 7 pounds even compression. 

Dissipator on the Springfield Saint pistol
Springfield’s blast dissipator was a good feature that proved its intended purpose — especially when shooting at an indoor range.

Some furniture, such as the grip, was Bravo Company. The handguard was particularly well designed, offering excellent balance and a good grip. I haven’t mounted anything on the forend yet, but I have chosen an optics set up — or had one chosen for me. The top rail offered easy optics mounting.

A rather racy looking and effective device new to this shooter was the Springfield blast diverter. Extending about 1.25 inches from the handguard the blast diverter is a welcome addition to a firearms type that is noted for its stout muzzle blast. (As I learned at the indoor range!)

As for handling… the safety, trigger, magazine latch, bolt release, and disassembly are straight up AR-15. You may pick up the AR pistol and handle and operate the piece like the larger carbine or rifle.

Vortex magnifier mounted atop the Picatinny rail of the Springfield Saint AR-15 pistol
Perhaps the Vortex magnifier isn’t 100 percent necessary, but it is a good bet for engaging targets at longer ranges.

I elected to mount one of my favorite maker’s red dot sights, the Vortex Venom. The red dot features 10 brightness settings and may be set for a red or green dot. The Venom is compact enough and not expensive enough to be a terrible sacrifice. Clarity was good and battery life exceptional. The type is proven in other applications, and I felt the Vortex Venom a good choice for this pistol.

Vortex Venom Specifications

  • Dot size: 3 MOA
  • Mount type: Weaver/Picatinny
  • Magnification: 1x
  • Dot color: Bright Red
  • Eye relief: Unlimited
  • Adjustment graduation: 1 MOA
  • Max elevation adjustment: 130 MOA
  • Max windage adjustment: 100 MOA
  • Parallax setting: Parallax Free
  • Length: 1.9 inches
  • Weight: 1.1 ounces

Brightness settings were easily chosen. The dot, at 3 MOA, is small enough for accurate long-range shooting and large enough for real speed at close range. While the Vortex Venom has an automatic brightness function, the ability to set the dot for both dim and bright light is an advantage. As for battery life, when set at maximum illumination, you will get 150 hours and at the low setting 30,000 hours. That is amazing and represents the current technology with middle of the road red dot sights.

Windage and elevation settings are easily moved and set. Mounting the sight is easily done. Mount the Venom on the rail and tighten the screws down, forcing the Venom sight down and forward on the rail.

When firing with the Venom in place, the red dot’s advantages of unlimited eye relief and clarity were apparent. I also mounted a Vortex magnifier. The magnifier was useful for long-range use.

While the primary mission of the AR pistol is inside 100 yards, the accuracy potential of the type cannot be ignored. The AR pistol, at least in the case of the Springfield Saint, is capable of putting five shots into 1.5 inches at 50 yards, sometimes a little less. This is excellent mechanical accuracy.

The magnifier enhances the red dot and the target area. This isn’t the easiest thing to get used to — moving the magnifier to lock in step with the red dot and then moving it back out may take only a few seconds. However, it is a separate movement that will take time during a defensive situation. Just the same, I would be remiss not to explore this option. In limiting firing at 75 yards, the magnifier added to the pistol’s accuracy potential.

Vortex Venom red dot sight mounted on a Picatinny rail
Vortex offers the Venom red dot, an optic well worth its price.

Firing the Springfield Saint pistol offhand proved to be an eye opener. I fired with both eyes open. Using the brace and bracing along the forearm, I addressed multiple targets, small targets, and targets behind simulated cover quickly. The pistol has extremely high hit potential.

Firing with both eyes open, the Vortex Venom offers exceptional hit probability. A trained shooter will find this platform accurate and easy handling.

Velocity with standard ammunition was a concern. While plenty effective for home defense, velocity at 50 yards or more may be a concern. As an example, Winchester 55-grain white box USA, used extensively in this testing, clocked 2,220 fps from the Springfield Saint’s 7.5-inch barrel. Fiocchi 69-grain BTHP clocked 1,903 fps. This is much lower than the 3,000 fps/2,700 fps from a 16-inch carbine barrel. 

Bob Campbell holding the Springfield Saint AR-15 pistol for home defense
Having an AR-15 pistol, such as the Springfield Saint, proved to be a great option for CQB home defense as well as having the ability to step outside for perimeter defense or predator control.

For what it is for — quickly taking on multiple threats at close range — the AR-15 pistol is a great choice and should be very effective. Ammunition performance will fall off rapidly at longer range. A load with a polymer tip such as the Hornady V-Max or Critical Defense may be the best choice for home defense.  You will be able to strike a target far past the effective range of the cartridge.

The pistol offers exceptional hit probability. Inside of 25 yards this type of firearm has advantages in fast handling. For home defense, yes, this is the superior choice over a rifle, providing the AR pistol is properly set up.

Trigger Choice

The first item on the agenda for the trigger was reliability. This means a proven product that has seen considerable use. This meant the Patriot Ordnance Factory drop in system for this pistol. The system is hard coat anodized A2 steel.

Two bullet holes in a silhouette target about an inch apart from a double tap from the Springfield Saint pistol
This was a fast double tap at 10 yards.

From the factory, this trigger is set for 4.5 pounds compression. My example came in at exactly 4.5 pounds. The trigger, disconnect, and hammer are Nitride coated and heat treated to 70 Rockwell.

While designed with special ‘feet’ to prevent movement in the receiver, the trigger is supplied with KNS anti-walk pins. This is a rugged and reliable unit that serves well in the AR pistol. While I could get by with the factory trigger, to be all you can be, the P.O.F. trigger makes a lot of sense.

Springfield Armory Saint Pistol Specifications

Action: Semi-Auto, Direct-Impingement Gas System
Caliber: 5.56x45mm NATO
Overall Length: 26.5 inches
Barrel Length: 7.5 inches
Weight: 5 pounds, 8 ounces
Magazine Capacity: 30 rounds
Sights: Top Picatinny rail allows optical and iron sights

This combination served well and provided an excellent upgrade in performance. This pistol also has an extended bolt release. I have executed speed loads with the AR-15 for many years without an extended bolt release. After using this little lever, however, I have to admit it is positive in operation and makes for real speed.

Set up properly for my needs, the AR-15 pistol has proven accurate, reliable, and very easy to use well. I have been missing something, and the Springfield Saint pistol has earned its place as a trusted home defender that I will not be without in the future.

Do you rely on an AR-15 for home defense? Is it an AR-15 pistol or do you prefer a shotgun? How would the Springfield Saint fit into your home defense plan? Share your answers in the comment section.

  • Double silhouette long range target showing three grouped bullet holes in the 8-ring
  • Box of Hornady .223 Remington ammunition with several loose rounds
  • Springfield Saint pistol with SB tactical brace, top and Springfield Saint carbine, bottom
  • Vortex Venom red dot sight mounted on a Picatinny rail
  • Bob Campbell holding the Springfield Saint AR-15 pistol for home defense
  • Magpul bolt release added to a Springfield Saint AR-15 pistol
  • Two bullet holes in a silhouette target about an inch apart from a double tap from the Springfield Saint pistol
  • Springfield Saint pistol AR-15 right profile
  • Dissipator on the Springfield Saint pistol
  • Vortex magnifier mounted atop the Picatinny rail of the Springfield Saint AR-15 pistol

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 (7)

  1. Raymond

    A .223 presents LESS danger of over penetration than any .38, mm or .45.

    Providing you hit the target– The .223 reacts violently in a body.

    Overpenetration isnt a problem with most cartridges unless you miss


  2. Instead of the Saint Pistol, why not consider the Steyr AUG?
    It has an overall length of 28″, (vs. 26.5 of the Saint) but has a full-length 16″ barrel.
    Another option is the Sig Virtus Patrol Rifle, which has a folding stock so it has the same overall length of the AUG once folded, also 16″ barrel.

    Aside from better ballistics, the 16″ barrel also keeps you out of legal trouble if you were to accidentally install a vertical grip or replace the brace with a rifle stock making it a SBR and owning an illegal SBR could land you in jail, (10 years and/or $10K fine).

  3. Is anybody thinking here??? Talk about overpenetration, an apartment dweller may wipe out several neighbors in their “home defense” scenario. Even with the miniscule 7.5″ barrel, there is too much velocity. Up it to 10.5″ and you got whistling death in your hands. The only practical use for a gun like this is if you find yourself in the middle of a wild city riot.

  4. Good article. I mounted a Sig Romeo5 red dot on my Saint pistol. That sight is low profile and offers easy target acquisition. My personal accuracy standard confines shots to a paper plate at any yardage I intend to cover. The Saint with an SR5 easily meets that standard out to 100 yds. Best round I’ve found for accuracy is Hornady’s 5.56 Nato 75 gr InterLock HD SBR Black. It’s pretty pricey fodder, but muzzle energies out of the 7 inch barrel approach 44M with that round. That said, I don’t like cleaning an AR-anything. Too many nooks, crannies, and tubes to scrape and probe.

  5. I know I can’t be the only one to point this out, but anybody who’s the least bit familiar with Vortex optics will know that it’s the Strikefire that’s depicted in the article, while the author repeatedly refers to it as the Vortex Venom. Those are two entirely different sighting devices. I have a the StrikeFire II and the Vortex 3x magnifier that’s pictured in the article.
    As for the article itself, I have a few of my own home-built AR-15 pistols, and any one of them is as much gun, or better than the Springfield. All due respect, I find the Saint in both rifle and pistol forms to be overpriced. And the 7.5″ barrel is not a good choice in my opinion. With the 5.56mm/.223 Rem. cartridge, a barrel shouldn’t be any shorter than 10.5″, but again, that’s my own opinion. While the shorter tube depicted is indeed extremely handy in CQB, you not only give up too much from a purely ballistic point-of-view, but the sound is exponentially louder in a barrel that short. And a 10.5″ barrel is too loud as it is. The muzzle device used is a sound choice, however. Over time and with repeated use, allowing the device to accumulate as much carbon buildup as possible, it really will mitigate the horrendous muzzle blast to some degree. Not enough to negate the need for hearing protection, but it makes a big difference nonetheless. I doubt anyone in a home defense situation will have much time to insert plugs or don muffs.

  6. Hey Bob, great review. I chose the 9.6 ” and ABSOLUTELY love it. I was going to buy the 7.5″ but knew I would lose velocity so went with the 9.6″. It is a PERFECT compromise. Owning several variants of AR’s I am impressed with S.A. For the $$$ it’s tough to beat. God Bless the U.S.A.

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