Springfield Armory has just released their new Saint AR-15 rifle with plenty of enhanced features. This is Springfield’s first move into the highly popular AR-15 market, and initial impressions of the Saint have been very positive. For the last month or so Springfield has been tempting the world with news of the Saint’s release, but initial press releases did not hint on whether the Saint would be a new pistol or rifle. The world now knows Springfield Armory has entered the AR-15 market.
Though not necessarily a surprising move, considering the extreme popularity of the AR-15, Springfield is very late to the incredible expansion of the AR-15 brand. Previously Springfield Armory had made its name for popular handguns, and the revamping of the classic M1A rifle and Model 1911. Many, including myself, had surmised the Saint was going to be a whole new line of Springfield pistols, but the Saint AR-15 may still be competitive. With enhanced features and accessories the Springfield Armory Saint is not just another AR-15.
Springfield Armory Saint
The new Saint is Springfield’s first foray into the AR-15 market. Their timing is awkward, being several years late to the incredible surge in “black rifle” popularity. However, like Springfield’s previous products, the Saint delivers much more than just another basic AR-15 platform. Once again, Springfield has brought some unique features to their newest firearm.
The Saint receivers are made from high quality Type III Hard Coat Anodized Aircraft Grade 7075 T6 Aluminum. However, Springfield went beyond the expected and added the Accu-Tite™ Tension System for an outstanding fit. One of the complaints on standard AR-15 rifles is the lack of a tight fit between the upper and lower receivers. This “wiggle room” so to speak, has been shown to affect accuracy, and is one of the key areas high-end AR-15 manufacturers seek to correct. The Accu-Tite system removes the slack and causes the upper and lower receivers to match up in a very tight fit.
Here’s a great torture test video of the new Springfield Saint.
Another area of very hot contention is the rifling of the AR-15. The Saint is chambered in 5.56mm, which means it can eat anything 5.56mm or .223. Rifles chambered in .223 may not be able to handle hotter charges of 5.56mm ammo. The original military M-16, with 20-inch barrel, was given a 1:12 rifling. That worked well for the full rifle-length system, however the huge push for carbine or at least medium length gas systems really called into question the proper rifling selection.
Most AR-15’s have a 1:9 twist rate. This provides a very good “general” use function for bullets with a 55-69 grain weight, but suffers when using heavier bullets that require more spin input to maintain accuracy. However, the 1:7 twist rate can be too much to keep lighter, varmint weight bullets stable in flight. The Springfield Saint uses a 1:8 rifling, which is not very common, but could be the true overall selection for the wide range of bullet weights.
The Saint favors several accessories from Bravo Company, including an exclusive PKMR Key Mod hand guard. The BlueSheepDog Crew have used several Bravo Company products, and have found each one to be quality built with purpose driven designs. These accessories include:
- Bravo Company 6-position butt stock
- Bravo Company trigger guard
- Bravo Company Mod 3 pistol grip
- Bravo Company exclusive PKMR Key Mod hand guard.
Each of these accessories bring valuable benefits to the shooter. The butt stock has a quality recoil pad, and an enhanced cheek weld. From personal experience I can attest to the importance of using an enhanced cheek weld on the AR-15. The cheek weld does not have to be as large or adjustable as a precision rifle butt stock, but in my opinion the basic AR-15 butt stock just doesn’t provide the requisite fit for precision shooting over rapid follow-up shots. The Bravo Company butt stock on the Saint does, and should provide excellent results for the shooter.
Standard AR-15 trigger guards are flat and not conducive to gloved shooting, and also leave a spot at the rear next to the trigger guard that can cause finger abrasions with extended shooting. The Bravo Company trigger guard fills that gap, and provides a curved guard giving ample room for trigger access when gloved.
Pistol grips are not overrated. The standard AR-15 pistol grip is too narrow and lacks grip texture. The Bravo Company Mod 3 pistol grip provides a heartier grip with better grip texture on both sides. In addition, the Mod 3 provides the shooter some storage space for important items like spare batteries, an Allen wrench, or other necessary items to keep their rifle running.
AR-15 hand guards have seen some of the most impressive gains of all AR-15 components, probably second only to butt stocks. The Saint exclusive PKMR Key Mod hand guard is one of those great additions that can make a standard AR-15 a more precision instrument in all scenarios. Though Key Mod is not my preference, it is the hottest attachment method on the market today.
The PKMR has a full-length Picatinny top rail giving the shooter plenty of options for optics. The Key Mod attachments are located at the 1:00 and 11:00 positions, which provide an excellent location for lights or lasers. This position provides easy access from the shooter’s support hand while keeping the accessories as close the to the rifle’s axis as possible without interfering with optics or grip. There is a full length Key Mod attachment series on the bottom side, as well as the 5:00 and 7:00 positions, allowing the shooter several options for a fore grip or bi-pod.
Springfield Armory Saint Features
- Barrel Configuration: Medium bull style.
- Trigger: Springfield Armory® Proprietary, Nickel Boron Coated GI.
- Sights: Springfield Armory® Low Profile Flip-Up, Dual Aperture Rear.
- Sight Adjustments: 1/2 MOA Windage.
- Trigger Guard: Bravo Company.
- Pistol Grip: Bravo Company Mod 3
- Handguard: New, Exclusive Bravo Company, KeyMod, PKMR
- Butt Stock: Bravo Company 6 Position.
- Micro-polished, Nickel-Boron treated components.
- Buffer Assembly: Carbine “H” Heavy Tungsten Buffer.
- Receiver Extension: Mil-Spec Carbine, 7075 T6 Type III Hard Anodized Aluminum
- Charging Handle: GI style
- Bolt Carrier Group: M16 BCG w/ Carpenter 158 Steel Bolt, Shot Peened & Magnetic Particle Inspected.
- Muzzle Device: Standard A2 bird-cage flash suppressor.
- Magazine: (1) 30-round Magpul PMAG Gen M3.
Springfield Armory Saint Specifications
- Upper Material: Aircraft Grade 7075 T6 Aluminum
- Lower Material: Aircraft Grade 7075 T6 Aluminum
- Receiver Coating: Type III Hard Coat Anodize
- Gas System: Mid-length gas impingement
- Overall Length: 35.5 inches (extended), 32.25 inches (collapsed)
- Barrel Length: 16.0 inches
- Barrel Type: Chrome Moly Vanadium, Melonite treated
- Caliber: 5.56mm (.223)
- Twist Rate: 1:8 RH
- Weight: 6 lbs. 11 oz. (unloaded)
- Front Sight: Standard A2
- Rear Sight: Springfield Armory® Low Profile Flip-Up Dual Aperture
- MSRP: $899.00.
Springfield Armory is late to the game for the AR-15 market. Will this be “better late than never”? We’ll have to see. However, the Saint does provide the shooter several key improvements that should grab any serious shooter’s attention. It is a well thought out rifle, with accessory improvements that are shooting specific and not just good looking. The selection of Bravo Company accessories is outstanding, and makes the Saint much more practical right out of the box.
The Springfield decision to use a bull barrel configuration is another great feature. Though the government design, with its narrower section in the middle, is much more common, a good bull barrel can improve accuracy by maintaining a constant pressure and rhythm of the barrel as the bullet travels through. I really appreciate the bull barrel selection over the standard government design.
The 1:8 rifle twist selection is a bold, but very calculated move by Springfield. This is a much less commonly used twist rate, but has been praised by many as perhaps the most universal twist rate for the range of bullet weights in the 5.56mm/.223 caliber family. The 1:8 should perform well on lightweight varmint rounds to about 40 grains, as well as heavier bullets up to 77 grains. Most AR-15’s make the sacrifice for either lighter or heavier bullets.
The 1:7 is great for the heavier bullets, with its faster twist rate, but tends to be too much for the lighter bullets. The 1:9 was thought to be the best compromise, but tends to be best in the middle bullet weight ranges. The 1:8, with bull barrel, provides fast enough rotation for the heavy bullets, while being slow enough to handle all but the very lightest varmint weight bullets. I definitely give them a thumb’s up for this choice.
Melonite treated barrel, and micro-polished Nickel-Boron treated components mean the Saint is ready to perform in the worse conditions with relative worry-free maintenance as the entire rifle is corrosion protected. Overall I like what the Saint has to offer. I only wish they had developed this about 8 years ago!