AR-15s

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 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 - Side View
Overall, the Springfield Saint line offers fine (and correct) function for those who want a factory-made AR15. Anything can be improved, but nothing really has to be for most of us.

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, Saint Free-Float and Saint Victor models, each available as carbine, short barreled rifle (SBR) or pistol—and the Victor can be a .308 Win. 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-in. 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 AR-15 - Float
The Springfield Saint is available with a free-float handguard and this is a recommended option. It’s another $150 on top of the base model but well worth it.

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 AR-15 - Angled View
Springfield Armory relied on proven aftermarket parts from Bravo Company, and that’s a wise choice. The BCM parts are good, and the wisdom is sound. The sights are included: dual aperture, 1/2 MOA adjustable.

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 Victor Pistol
The Saint pistol, in particular, and in my opinion, shows a lot of current wisdom in its build. Even the muzzle device is the right choice on the 5.56! Shown is the top of the line Victor model.

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.

Conclusion

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 below.

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 (6)

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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?

  4. 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

  5. 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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