Throwback Thursday: How the Springfield Saint Compares to Other AR-15 Platforms

Springfield Saint AR-15 - Intro Shot

I am pretty well known as a huge DIY AR-15 advocate, and also for some of the full-custom projects I’ve been either responsible for or associated with. That means that I’m not normally impressed with an AR-15 that comes out of a box complete. One of the reasons for that is because there’s usually something (and often a long list of some things) that I would have wanted to be done differently. I’d also be looking over it and making notes on what I had to replace to get it up to speed and then out to the range. Not the Springfield Saint.

This doesn’t mean that all things on the Springfield Saint are absolutely stops-out top of the line. It means that they are all what they should be. And they are, indeed, all there. Keep in mind that when we’re talking about AR-15s, we’re talking about pieces — parts more than we are a whole package. So when I say “they are all what they should be,” that means Springfield Armory wrote the right build sheet. They got the parts right or got the right parts… however you want to look at it.

springfield saint ar-15

A Brief History

The Saint series was introduced in 2016. That’s a good long while after when they could have done it. They fixed it before they released it. “Fixed it” means all the issues we (and me very loudly) have identified have been incorporated by Springfield Armory. (Details forthcoming…)

Note: There is a sizable model-option list across the whole Saint line, and I’m going to focus primarily on the basic carbine, simply called the Saint.

There’s also the Saint Edge and Saint Victor models, each available as carbine, short barreled rifle (SBR), or pistol — and the Victor can be a .308 Win. or 9mm. Look closely at the specifications list on the Springfield Armory website and see the detail differences. And of course, notice the retail-detail differences! As always, higher-rev is higher cost.

The Right Stuff

The carbine version, the base Saint, has a mid-length gas system. That’s a huge help! A mid-length design moves the carbine (16-inch barrel) gas port location from seven out to nine inches. The result is lower gas port pressure, nicer manners and better function.

The extended port location also means a shorter post-port barrel length, and this reduces the time the system is under max pressure. Symptoms of excessive pressure are well known: extraction and/or feeding issues and general battering of the gun and its cartridge cases.

The new USASOC contract gun, the URG-I, which I reviewed in these pages a while back, also made use of the mid-length. It works. Another nice touch on the Springfield Saint is that, like that URG-I, the gas block is pinned in place, not just affixed with set screws. Further, and always near the top of my list for a carbine build, is an H-weight tungsten buffer that comes standard on a Saint. One more thing you don’t have to buy, but would otherwise! The combination of the mid-length gas system and the heavy buffer make a Saint very soft shooting.

springfield saint edge

Specs and Features

Parts are straight off the “recommended” list, as Saint uses an M16-profile USGI-spec bolt carrier group with a select Carpenter 158 bolt. Barrel is Chromemoly Vanadium, Melonite coated inside and out, 1:8 twist and a NATO chamber. All good.

Furniture on the Saint is from Bravo Company, another good choice (very popular and highly recommended in the aftermarket). The BCM Gunfighter forend uses M-Lok attachment slots. It’s not free-floating, but it is worlds beyond USGI for ergonomics and utility.

Step up to the next level of Saint models and you’ll see a nicely designed free-float tube. That is a recommended consideration. The free-float tube makes a noticeable difference in on-target accuracy. The stock is BCM Gunfighter Mod O, and the trigger guard and grip also are from Bravo Company. Springfield knows when to invent their own wheel, and when there’s just no reason to reinvent a perfectly functioning wheel available from worthwhile others. Smart and wise.

springfield saint victor

The trigger is standard USGI congfiguration, but it’s not standard USGI performance. The parts are more precisely machined, meaning they then more precisely fit together, and the whole works is Nickle Boron-coated. It’s not bad! Expect break weight in the five-plus (a little at least) pound range, and it’s pretty clean. Worlds better than a stock USGI. Springfield Armory’s choice of trigger fits perfectly into this whole package as I’m warranting it — you really don’t have to run out and buy a Geissele before you can shoot it.

Saints come with sights! Okay, they’re nothing high-rev, but they’re there. It’s a good-enough set of “flip-style” irons, 1/2 MOA adjustable; simple, sturdy. That’s not at all a big deal to many (maybe most), because in this day we pretty much have to accept that purchasing an accessory sight is a part of a new gun package. I think it’s a wonderful thing, though, because I will recommend this gun for a brand new (at least new to AR-15s) owner. It is possible to head for the range and give it a spin just as it comes out of the box.

It ships with a Magpul brand magazine. Another bonus, another “one less thang” to purchase. Well, you’ll likely want a few more, but Magpul is good.

How It Compares

Back to the start: Springfield Armory chose a good build sheet for the Saint. There’s nothing this gun needs. There are things some shooters will want. Needs and wants are largely, honestly, subjective, and I’m stepping outside a might here to presume how we all perceive values. But, the point is, that what’s there is good; it’s well and wisely chosen.

That is, to me, what separates the Saint series from the radical majority of boxed guns I’ve seen on the market. Sgt. Martin and I used to have a laugh when someone would ask either of us, “Hey, have you seen so-and-so-manufacturer’s new AR-15?”

And we would ask, “What’s NEW about it?” Dead silence. Right. It’s an AR-15 made by someone else. In the same way, the Saint is an AR-15 made by Springfield Armory. What is new about it, though, is that they got it right. The Saint series — every variation in the lineup — has engineering ideas and specific parts incorporated to ramp up these guns to what “we,” custom builders, have been incorporating for years now.

springfield saint victor

The Saint series, though, isn’t custom guns. Maybe some, like the Saint Edge models, could be called “semi-custom,” but in truth, they are Saints upgraded with touches that builders incorporate to take another step up in performance. The value is still there. Doing my own calculations, Springfield sure doesn’t seem to be artificially running up the price to offer the higher-cost features (like some “factory custom shops” seem to do). A basic Springfield Saint has a retail of $950 or so.


When I think of factory-built “premium” AR-15s, my first thought is Wilson Combat. When I think now of “really good AR-15s,” my first thought goes to Springfield Armory. I am also fully aware that Springfield Armory is not the only source for “good” factory AR-15s, and also those at an equitable price point. However, Springfield Armory is a major maker. The Springfield Saint is backed up well by people who really truly want you to enjoy your (their) firearm.

Have you used the Springfield Saint? Do you notice any other differences when compared to other AR-15 platforms? Let us know in the Comments section.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October of 2019. It has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and clarity.

About the Author:

Glen Zediker

Glen Zediker is the owner of Zediker Publishing, which specializes in books and other publications focused primarily on AR-15s, handloading, and shooting skills. Since 1989, he has authored or co-authored 20 books.

He started shooting at age 5 and competing in NRA Smallbore rifle at age 8. He got his first AR-15 at age 15 and has now had 45 years of experience with that firearms platform. He’s worked professionally with some of the greatest shooters on the planet and leading industry professionals. And he does pretty well on his own! Glen holds a High Master classification in NRA High Power Rifle and first earned that using an AR-15 Service Rifle. He’s also competed in many other forms of competition, including USPSA, Steel Challenge, Silhouette Rifle and Pistol, Bullseye Pistol, ISSF Air Rifle, Practical Rifle and shotgun sports.

Since 1986 Glen has been a frequent and regular contributor to many publications, having had over 500 assigned articles published. See more at
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 (23)

  1. Ok , it’s another AR ish firearm. Pictures with barrel length diagrams obviously intended to confuse “Gun Grabbers”. I am not sure what the pictures are supposed to show, I see a lot of stuff that is and is not Barrel inside the brackets. lol

  2. @JOHN CONAUGHTON. John it doesn’t really matter, look at any “new” AR today, and it will pretty much be a Right-Hand only configuration. The “new” may mean it comes in other colors besides black.

    Even Stag, who claims to make a Correct-handed version, only has a left-side discharge and bolt assist, and still comes with a Right-hand only safety, charging handle, and magazine release. Ironically I understand the founder of Stag is left-handed. Yeah, that’s what I was thinking too. 🙂

    Another unfortunate example that could be a big plus is the Kel-Tec sub 2000. Just pick one up in your left hand and you will immediately feel why it is not for Correct-handed people. It is unfortunate as Kel-Tec thinks outside the box, and all the Sub 200 needs is a reversible magazine release to be able to use Left-handed. You know, like all Glocks have.

  3. @JOHN CONAUGHTON. John it doesn’t really matter, look at any “new” AR today, and it will pretty much be a Right-Hand only configuration. The “new” may mean it comes in other colors besides black.

    Even Stag, who claims to make a Correct-handed version, only has a left-side discharge and bolt assist, and still comes with a Right-hand only safety, charging handle, and magazine release. Ironically I understand the founder of Stag is left-handed. Yeah, that’s what I was thinking too. 🙂

    Another unfortunate example that could be a big plus is the Kel-Tec sub 2000. Just pick one up in your left hand and you will immediately feel why it is not for Correct-handed people. It is unfortunate as Kel-Tec thinks outside the box, and all the Sub 200 needs is a reversible magazine release to be able to use Left-handed. You know, like all Glocks have.

  4. Rockit, it also isn’t new because, based on the comments, it looks like this article was first published back in October 2019.

  5. “Hey, have you seen so-and-so-manufacturer’s new AR-15?” And we would ask, “What’s NEW about it?” As a member of the correct-handed crowd, my answer would be: It’s black, and right-hand only, just like all the others, so not interested. If any “new” AR comes out and doesn’t at least have ambidextrous safety, charging handle, and magazine release, they are not looking for my business, and today there are to many other ambidextrous platform options available to care about another Righty-only looks like all the other black righty ARs.

    Recently I saw a 50 BMG for Right-handers, and I had to laugh, because I realize somewhere there is a Right-hander that finally figured it out. It was a bolt action, with the bolt handle on the left, and the ejection port on the right. Think about that for a moment. As a correct-handed person, I love a right hand bolt action, as it allows my dominant hand to stay on the grip, keeping rearward pressure to the rear, and safety in reach at all times, while my right-hand works the bolt, I just wish we had the option for a Right-hand bolt, with a left-side discharge. LOL

    On the bright side. BCM makes good, afordable, stuff. Like ambidextrous charging handles and safety, awesome AR trigger pack, none of which is on this Saint. 🙁

  6. Speaking as a southpaw, the basic Saint lacks several important features such as an ambidextrous safety. Even the Army eventually figured that out.

  7. This article is hilarious to me, because all the things the author praises are the things I do NOT like on my ARs. I like standard GI furniture, hate free-float tubes, prefer carbine gas, prefer REAL carry handle sights or, even better, a fixed A1 carry handle. And I loathe snything Magpul plastic! Then again, out of 30-someodd ARs, my faves are my (clones), prototypes, 601s, 605’s, 607’s, and a selection of later XM177 variants, several being proper length SBRs.

  8. So on the plain Saint. It looks to me (and I’m fairly a newbie), only had an AR-15 for a little over a year, that the graphic of the barrel length is positioned over the rifle incorrectly. Doesn’t barrel length start more towards the front, where the bullet is seated into the chamber?

    On the other models, are they considered SBR’s?

  9. Bought it when it first came out. Got the desert tan one, brand new in 2017. Love it, love it.
    Bravo Company furniture all around. Feels good.
    Nice rifle.
    For hunting, shooting sports and home defense because I live out in the country
    It’s an all around nice AR-15 for the mid cost AR’s

  10. I have the Saint Victor & The Saint pistol 9.5″
    The tolerances on these rifles are extremely accurate which is how an AR should be ! You can go wrong with this platform whatsoever.

  11. I bought a new Saint a couple of year’s back and just love it. I added some thing’s to it nothing great. But I did put a Franklin Armory Binary trigger in her and she will rock! And by the time your done you’ll have nothing but rock’s in your pocket if you keep her in the fun mode. So I just switch her over and take my time and safe money. I got a Vortex Strike Fire 3 and she’s dead nut’s on at 100 yard’s and more. Great AR-15 and got her for about $889.00ish at Cabela’s. Get one of any of these Saint’s and you won’t be disappointed.

  12. When I picked up my Saint Edge, I never expected that it would become my favorite gun. I’m not the kind of guy who likes to fuss about swapping parts and custom builds and all that. But I do LOVE to shoot. I just want something that’s as close to perfect out of the box as you can get. The Saint Edge ticked the boxes.

    Now I did swap out the birdcage muzzle brake for a VG6 and installed my optics of choice, but really that’s it. This thing is light, fun, reliable, accurate and easy on the eyes. If ammo wasn’t so darned expensive now I’d have thousands of rounds through it already.

  13. I bought the saint edge,I have to say I love it.trigger is really good from factory.put about 3000 rds through it so far,different ammo.not 1 jam .not 1.another thing about the edge is this rifle under fast fire doesn’t move hardly at all.very easy to hold on target.out of the box best I ever shot.

  14. 1st time AR-15 owner. That being said, the Saint B5 was comfortable and easy to shoot. Took it home, cleaned the barrel and put 600 rounds thru it with no problems that day. Established name, good reputation, simple sights already attached and a lifetime warranty….you want more? Geez.

  15. I just bought one of these in the pistol version Friday afternoon. Took it to the range Sunday. Failure to extract on the very first round. Needed a cleaning rod to clear the spent casing. Second round, exactly the same thing. After five rounds I gave up. The extractor is destroying the casing when it fires so it has nothing to grab on to in order to extract. Extremely disappointing. This thing will be going back Monday morning. Absolutely no way I would trust my life to this weapon.

  16. New to the ar world. If I buy the saint victor 300 blackout, can I change the entire upper to 556? Seems like some of their parts are not universal but does that affect anything to change out the entire upper. My thought would be to use the 556 for target and 300 defense

  17. I own several AR’s and all shoot well. In 2017 I brought a basic Saint and OH MY. It was tough to part with that much money for a weapon until the first trigger pull.

  18. On a whim I bought a Saint pistol in .300 blk out. I had just sold my Springfield M1 Garand and wanted a good home defense gun. Having goats and chickens we attract lots of predators. The saint pistol loaded with.30 caliber 200 grain bullets is extremely effective out to 150 yards. It is accurate,reliable and light. Something the wife likes! I’ve bought many Springfield armory products in the past and never been disappointed. This is coming from a guy who had build 5 AR15 rifles in 5.56,.224, 6.5 grendel, 6.5 creedmore, 6.8spc. With Springfield armory you might pay more but you get quality.

  19. I just purchased a Panther DPMS Oracle 223/5.56. I know this is not top of the line AR build, but I would like to know what I should be looking to replace for good performance. I am a vet, but the last long gun I fired with any regularity, was my M16A2 in 1990. My son asked me to get an AR so we could shoot on weekends, and that started my choice to get back in the game. He also turned me onto CTD for good price/quality ammo & accessories, so I have not been a long time follower of your blog. Any advice for an older fella would be greatly appreciated and welcome. Thanks Rick

  20. Haven’t used the Saint yet but I’ve been drooling over it ever since I saw it. I currently own a Diamondack DB15 7.5 inch and the ATI OMNI Hybrid 7.5 inch..I was wondering if you’d do a review of the ATI OMNI?

  21. Lower chamber pressure being that it’s 9 inches instead of 7 inches I guess this is a real improvement for a product value added feature

    Standard single stage G.I. trigger but made with better fitting and tolerances for a 5 pound Crisp pull

    Flip up sites

    For $950 still a bit pricey

  22. I own the second model Saint with the free float barrel. It shoots fine, but I would caution anyone buying a Saint that thinks they might ever want to swap parts with a regular Milspec AR-15. For example, a regular length charging handle will not fit in my Saint. It took me awhile to figure out why it wasn’t fitting, but I discovered that the channel on the inside of the top of the upper reciever, that the charging handle goes into, is shorter than standard by just enough the Milspec charging handle won’t fit. I compared the Saint charging handle to the Milspec and it is shorter, so it fits in the shorter channel on the Saint. I contacted Springfield and they said they do change some things. Why they would shorten this channel and charging handle, no one seems to know, including the guy I talked to from Springfield. He also didn’t know what else they may change/have changed on the Saint line but talked like there are other things. It does shoot just fine though. I just wouldn’t have bought one if I had known and don’t want someone else to end up in the same boat.

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