Ruger AR vs. Springfield Armory AR, by Pat Cascio

I’ve had a few requests for doing another AR versus AR article, since I did one several years back. I personally don’t like doing any sort of “Versus” firearms articles, because it is difficult, if not impossible, to remain totally unbiased. In the end, a person will usually like one firearm over another, and probably for no solid reason – just a personal bias. However, I will lay out my findings for our readers and you be the judge when you finish this article.

Right now, AR-15 styles of rifles are difficult to come by, because of all the violence in the USA – everyone wants the best of the best, to defend themselves, their loved ones, and their homes from this violence. It is obvious to most, that the politicians have tied the hands of the police, and most police officers are pretty much a target for AntiFa and Black Lives Matter. The police are being told to stand-down in many places, and allow these people to throw rocks, bottles, and fireworks at them. And, when they are actually allowed to make an arrest, many times it is for disorderly conduct. The district attorney in Multnomah Oregon – the Portland area – has told the police there to not arrest people for simple crimes like disorderly conduct, because he will not prosecute those people. Why this guy hasn’t been recalled or tossed out of office is beyond me. In any event, civilians are now having to protect themselves from this horrible violence.

Okay, I’m off my soap box!

When we look at the Ruger AR-556 and the Springfield Armory Saint AR, under much of the window dressing, they are very similar rifles for the most part. They both have different “furniture” though, and that means something to many people – we have our preferences, of course. Both guns have a barrel that is slightly over 16-inches long and have a 1:8 twist, so they can handle some heavy bullet weights. Both guns have a flat top receiver – and both come with a standard military-style front sight, however, the Ruger front sight has horizontal serrations on the back, and it made the sight (picture) really stand out for some reason, and both have a fold-down, pop-up rear sight. Both guns came with a MagPul PMag 30-round magazine, and I believe these are the best of the best when it comes to AR magazines – period! The US military has finally figured this out, and is phasing in these mags to all branches these days.

Some Specifications

The Ruger weighs in at 6.5-pounds, while the Springfield comes in at 6-lbs 4-ounces – a little bit lighter in weight. The furniture, as already mentioned is completely different on these guns. The Ruger has a skinny, polymer handguard, and standard M4 telescoping stock. The actual pistol grip is not mil-spec, and it feels great in the hand. The Springfield, has a mid-length gas system with a very slim handguard, that I was determined to NOT like – I was wrong – I loved it. The buttstock is a telescoping version and the pistol grip is quite a bit different than a mil-spec version – it is one that I love – a lot. Feels absolutely fantastic in the hand.  The Ruger comes with a polymer rear sight, and the Springfield has a metal rear sight – much more robust if you ask me. However, I took off both rear sights on the guns, and replaced them with a detachable carry hand rear sight.

The trigger pull on the Ruger is heavier than I like, however, I learned in the past, after about 500 rounds of ammo through these ARs, the trigger pull lightens up quite a bit. The good news is that it is a very crisp trigger pull. The trigger pull on the Springfield is much lighter and crisp as well, but very smooth thanks to the coating Springfield applies to the trigger group.

I won’t go into any more of the specs on these two guns, you can read all of it on the respective web sites for yourself… www.ruger.com and www.springfield-armory.com  and it is well worth the time to read all this information for yourself. Again, the particular models are the Ruger AR-556 and the Springfield Armory Saint AR.  And, to be sure, both of these ARs are the “basic” entry-level ARs being offered by these two fine companies. Of course, you can trick these ARs out to suit your tastes, however the only change I made was replacing the rear sights on both guns – in my humble opinion, both are combat-ready right out of the box.

I’m sure all our readers know that we are in another ammo drought – the worse one ever – and I don’t think we will recover from it for many years, this time around. So, I didn’t want to waste too much ammo for this article. Here is what I did: I loaded-up three 30-round magazines for each gun, and one at a time, I emptied those mags as fast as I could pull the trigger – just making sure the guns had no malfunctions. I didn’t expect any and didn’t have any problems – and the barrels on both guns were very hot after 90 rounds down range.

As to my accuracy testing, I did 5 groups with each gun at 50 yards, and took the best group as an average for my findings. Now, I did the rapid-fire test with one gun, and then immediately followed it with the accuracy testing, while the barrel was hot. When I was done with one AR, I then did the same with the other – 90-rounds rapid-fire and then 5 groups for accuracy. Both guns were fired for accuracy over a rifle padded bag, over the hood of my pick-up truck.

For my malfunction testing, I loaded all the magazines with Black Hills Ammunition 55-gr FMJ ammo. For my accuracy testing, I loaded the mags with three rounds each, of the following ammo from Black Hills: 62-gr Barnes TSX, 69-gr Matchking, 55-gr Barnes TSX  and 60-gr V-Max and 40-gr Hornady V-Max ammo…some of the best of the best, when it comes to accuracy testing – so, both guns were fed the exact same ammo. I didn’t see much sense in sending more hard to get, and expensive .223 ammo downrange for this side-by-side test article.

I honestly believed that the Ruger would handicap me with the heavier trigger pull, but it didn’t! I was more than a little surprised at this, I was sure the Springfield would turn out to be a little more accurate because of the great trigger pull. I was wrong! With both guns, all groups were right around 1.5-inches – again, at 50-yards, with “iron” sights…I think with more practice, I could shrink those groups down a bit more. However, I was shooting in a light rain and I might have been distracted a bit.

The Springfield loved the heavier 69-gr Matchking round, and I got a group just a tad under an inch and a half without too much trouble. The Ruger was matching the Springfield in this respect with this ammo. Both guns also liked the 62-gr Barnes TSX load – and both were giving me groups right at 1.5-inches. The “worst” groups of the day came from the 40-gr Hornady V-Max load, and if you call what I was getting a bad group, you’d be wrong – both guns just liked the heavier loads a little bit better. I believe that, if I mounted some kind of magnifying optics on both rifles, I could have easily gotten groups down to about ¾ of an inch or less, without too much trouble.

Both Will Do The Job

Here’s my thoughts on both the Springfield and the Ruger, either gun will more than meet and exceed your expectations for defense – be it on the mean streets or a battlefield. Both guns will last a lifetime, too. I can’t honestly say, when it came to accuracy, one gun was “better” at it than the other, and I was shooting premium .223 ammo in both guns. I thought about breaking into some of my personal stash of AR ammo, and running more varieties of ammo through both guns, but I didn’t want to get into my own ammo supply at this point in time – don’t know if I’d ever be able to replace the ammo, or when.

Of course, as I mentioned at the onset of this article, no matter how hard to try to not be biased in this sort of article, you will always “like” one gun over another – for many different reasons. When it came to the Ruger, I like that it is a “basic” no-frills AR carbine, and it felt great in my hands, and when I shouldered it. The Springfield, I like the mid-length gas system and handguard – really thought I wasn’t going to like the skinny handguard – I was 100% wrong on this. I liked the pistol grip on the Springfield a lot – of course, nothing wrong with the pistol grip on the Ruger, either – I just “preferred” the Springfield pistol grip a little bit more. Neither pistol grip was “better” than the other.

The Current Drawback: Availability

Now for the “bad” news, right now, it is extremely difficult, to almost impossible, to find any kind of decent AR-15 rifle at a reasonable price. Many ARs, when you do find them, are selling for a lot more than actual retail, and in some cases, double and even triple retail. The Ruger retails for $799 – however, I saw one distributor selling them for $850 – again, this was a distributor, selling to FFL dealers. The Springfield retails for $943 – and is going for a lot more than that, if you can find one at all.

In my opinion, regardless of who is seated as the next U.S. president, we will see a sharp uptick in violence and an even more severe gun, magazine, and ammunition shortage, all over the country. So, don’t wait. Find some kind of AR now – and pay the higher prices, if you wait until after January 20th you may not find any AR at any price. And, with a Democrat majority in both the House and Senate (with Kommie-lala Harris to break any tie votes) if Biden is seated then you can pretty much kiss new AR production good-bye. I try not to get political in my articles if I can avoid it…but in this case, you, our valued readers, had better heed my advice, and if you want an AR, get one nowif you can find one.

Sure, you can pay a lot more for a fancier AR than either the Ruger AR-556 or the Springfield Armory Saint AR, but I don’t believe you will be getting “more” of any AR. Its just hard to go wrong with a basic, no-frills AR, like the Springfield or the Ruger. And, if you want to make some changes to personalize either of these guns, you have a perfect base to start from.

I can’t say there was a clear winner in this AR versus AR article, I liked both guns – a lot! However, my biases might have come through in this piece, and I liked one a little bit more than the other – but no matter what it is a personal preference, and you have to make up your own mind as to which gun is “better” for you.




34 Comments

  1. Ruger, Springfield are very nice quality guns… very nice… I’d love to have that Ruger.
    By this time, I assume most preppers already have what they need. However, for the people who have recently come to this mindset, I would recommend that if you can’t get a good one get a mediocre one, if not that, get a used one or a “franken-stoner.” An 80% polymer lower with a bunch of random, mass produced parts is going to be better than nothing. If it doesn’t feed reliability, it can be fixed, improved later. If not by you, by someone… a friend, a family member, a vet, or if you have to, just pay a gunsmith. If you already have one, you might think about getting a couple more to pass on to your grandchildren. They’re probably not going to be able to buy them when they become adults.

    This literally might be your last chance. The mob breaking into the Capitol, is going to be used to justify an “assault rifle” ban. The narrative is going to be, “ALL Conservatives are crazy conspiracy nuts. They’re violent and want to destroy democracy, and they’re all ARMED with weapons of war, so we need to disarm the crazy people to save the children.” And history shows us the republicans will probably roll over and play dead.

    [ my bias here; at this late date, I would recommend getting something that fires 7.62×39… even if only an outrageously expensive, worn out SKS … although AK’s seem to be available, but insanely expensive. The ammo seems to be “relatively cheap” and still available… at least in my area]

    1. I own the Springfield Saint rifle and the Springfield Victor Pistol and love them both. The rifle just seems to balance well in my hands and the pistol, the same. Both are very accurate and trouble-free.
      Having a good bit of experience with many types of military firearms, I am an AK/SKS guy by default, having fallen in love, so to speak, with them in Vietnam. The Springfields are the only AR-type weapons I have ever owned, though I have fired many. These just felt so good in my hands and shot so accurately, I just had to get a set!
      No regrets!

  2. A good article, especially for the people who aren’t into the ar shooting platform but are looking to get into one ( or two ). Years ago, uncle Sam showed me how to shoot first an M1, then the M14, then the AR, but because of the shortage, I’ve gone from a .30 to a 223/556, then to a .22 [rimfire]. If it gets any worse, I’ll have to dig out my old slingshot. Now on my soapbox, what happened at the capitol was wrong and has given the democratic commies more ammo to go after everyone else. Yes they are right to go after the people that caused damage to the capitol, but it is pretty one sided, because nothing is or was being done about all the damage caused by Antifa and BLM and holding them accountable. 150 plus days of rioting in Portland Or, businesses being damaged and burned down in Minn, New York, L.A and other large cities. It is pretty much one sided. And for the store owners that tried to defend their stores with firearms, they were arrested for firearms violations. And that couple that is or was arrested in St Louis by the democratic state attorney for defending their house/ Sorry, but my soapbox is pretty shaky now, gotta go. Just my two cents.

  3. “And, to be sure, both of these ARs are the “basic” entry-level ARs being offered by these two fine companies.” &
    “Sure, you can pay a lot more for a fancier AR than either the Ruger AR-556 or the Springfield Armory Saint AR, but I don’t believe you will be getting “more” of any AR. Its just hard to go wrong with a basic, no-frills AR, like the Springfield or the Ruger. And, if you want to make some changes to personalize either of these guns, you have a perfect base to start from.” &

    [The ‘money’ quote from the article]
    “I thought about breaking into some of my personal stash of AR ammo, and running more varieties of ammo through both guns, but I didn’t want to get into my own ammo supply at this point in time – don’t know if I’d ever be able to replace the ammo, or when.”
    *******
    *******
    Me (GGHD) = For most of us, Firearms just have to be good enough to hit the target, with a good shot; be reasonably priced and a ~dependable to always work firearm. (Gaston Glock ~ became super rich, with that idea in mind for his pistol design.)

    We are in for some difficult times in the future (at least it seems so). Make sure all the preps are in place. The advertisers at SurvivalBlog sell prepping items, and ~storage foods.
    Dictators throughout history have killed large numbers of people, they didn’t want around, by intentionally causing massive starvation. … It’s a possibility now days; of course, the blame will be placed on Global Warming.
    ****
    Good article, people need basic firearms. The Gun Range in my area use to collect the spent brass on the ground, and sell it to reloaders. I don’t know, if they still do.

    I once was shooting my OWN reloads in a revolver. I had a squib stuck in the barrel, because only a small amount of powder worked.
    My conjecture based on looking in the case: I carelessly let a couple of drops of sweat fall into the case, while I was reloading. The unfired part of the powder was still gunked up and in the case. [And yes, it was a potentially dangerous accident.]

  4. Just another comment not related to the above article. Just read a head line someplace else ” Biden’s inauguration theme will be ” America United ” ” Really!! And I just saw Nancy Pelosi on a rerun of 60 minutes . When the L Stal asked Nancy why she was such an a obstructionist in getting legislation passed, she turned it around and blamed the republicans for being the obstructionists and causing all the trouble and problems. Hmm, this must be how Biden is calling for ” America United ” to be united. Sorry Mr Rawles and everyone, for going off half cocked. There is a ” prayer ” or saying out there that goes something like this. ” God give me the courage and serenity to accept things that I cannot change, and the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. ” sorry everyone, I’m just another grey haired , mid 70’s old fart waiting to be put into a reeducation camp and or ” work ” camp to do meaningful work at a minimum wage, according to Bernie Sanders supporters. Sorry everyone,

  5. Tucson gun stores are still getting ARs and AK types and the prices are still somewhat reasonable. The ammunition situation is getting tougher to find most calibers and the price at one small town shop for a box of 9mm was 45 dollars for a box of 50. Lots of guns are being sold as every time I went to a local store several customers were filling out the 4473 forms. One gun store owner will pay 35 dollars a box for 9mm ammunition. Am just expressing my thoughts as of now.

    1. BMW DOG:

      look for the small Search Box on the upper right hand of the page.

      Type in ( Glock Cascio) and hit enter. It will bring up his Glock reviews.

      Alternatively, type (Glock .40 review) and see what comes up.

      When I first started preparedness, I thought to go with the most common LEO but larger cartridge, so got the G22.

      Glock lists five different pistols in .40: the G22, G 23, G 24, G27, G35

      I ended up giving my G22 to my SIL, who has the G23, because after several hundred rounds I was having trouble with accurancy.

      I switched to a 9mm and shot a thousand rounds while getting coached by an instructor. The problem was me. When I tried the G22 again, and with skills gained, really liked the G22 (which SIL kept) for accuracy and magazine capacity.

      I will caution you that I think .40 ammo is getting very scarce compared to 9mm and .45.

      All that said, I switched to the G21 and will remain with a round that delivers a big hydrostatic shock.

      Sorry I don’t have a better comparison for you. If you haven’t got about 100 hours of coached time in during the past two years, I suggest getting a .22 caliber pistol and working with shooting techniques under a good coach. It makes a huge difference, and with accuracy, caliber counts for far less than first round hit on a vital spot.

      With ammo prices, the .22 pistol and ammo will be paid for in the savings by not spending $400 to get 400 rounds of .40 training rounds.

      Best Wishes and God Bless

      1. Thank you Wheatley. Unfortunately I don’t come up with a a search box with this iPad but just did a google search and found a few. I’ll dig more now and sure appreciate your help.
        Cheers BMW DOG

  6. Why let a disaster go to waste?

    If you don’t have a semiautomatic rifle with many magazines and ammunition, if you have the money, buy now!

    Palmetto State Armory, http://www.psa.com, is still selling AR-15’s and they are available and work well, they don’t have the name brand of Ruger or Springfield Armory but they are very good. Their prices are not the lowest but they are more than fair for the market.

    The problem is ammunition. Look to http://www.gunbroker.com or http://www.armslist.com for expensive but available ammunition.

    http://www.magpul.com sells excellent polymer magazines for AR-15’s, the military is JUST now switching to them (trust Army Ordnance to move slower than a glacier!) at STILL a
    reasonable price, though some are out of stock.

    This is an excellent article Pat and your advice is on target.

    As a country we are going in the wrong direction. The Wall Street Journal had an article in the Opinion page, just 21,500 votes judicially located in 3 states would have given Trump a second term. Too many of us gave up the Lord and the Bible.

    God Bless you all (especially folks like Pat and commentators who have given me great advice!)

  7. I’ve been in contact with most of the major ammo makers, and each and every one of them tells me that, they are back-ordered a year and beyond – so don’t expect to see any reasonable prices on ammo anytime soon…get it while you can – if you can find any at all. This article was written several months back, and the ammo situation has gotten a lot worse since then.

  8. If you don’t reload or cast bullets see if you have a friend or neighbor who does and see if he or she does calibers you need. Maybe you can pool resources and time. If the incoming has admin has its way we’ll be like the Jews in Palestine in 1948 cranking out ammo in secret basements. Gray Fox

      1. Gray

        Unfortunately I am a reloader and the components ( bullets, primers and powder) are very hard to come by now. One gun store owner in my area said primers are BO from his supplier for 10-12 months right now. I am fortunate to have a good supply for myself and fellow preppers in my group but that is what all of us face in the near future. Supply is bleak and prices are up. The days of casual burning up a couple hundred at the range are sort of over.you need to have a stash in reserve in case of who knows what may come.

  9. Hey quick update on unammo in Phoenix ax……as of last week they have announced they have closed their business……I have dealt with Howie for the last 15 years and am sorry to see them go. They were a great price seller on bulk ammo. But with what’s coming plus the non available ammo it’s probably not the last one to shutter operations.

  10. I’ve noticed 9mm steel case is more readily available, at least online. But I also know that some guns won’t shoot steel case ammo very well, example: In 7.62×39, SKS and AK’s will while Ruger Mini 30 won’t. Is there a 9mm handgun that shoots steel case ammo well? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    1. a good friend of mine is an “all-metal” gun guy and has a lot of trouble with steel ammo. my glocks eat it all day long without fail; but I like to tell him he’s limp wristed. 🙂

      1. Have had multiple Failures to Fire with Wolf brand .40 in my Glock 22 despite what looks like a good strike. Not sure if it’s the ammo or the pistol (firing pin, spring, etc) but never have that happen with better quality brass rounds. Still shoot it on my range as it’s great practice for responding to that situation. Load dummy rounds occasionally for my wife’s 9mm Sig so she will have to respond to that situation. She can load her own mags but apparently being her gun boy is why she married me.

  11. If the Grayman concept is to be implemented than any purchases now unless cash and private sales will leave an easy paper trail.
    I was going to go to a gun show in the next week or so but have decide not to go.
    If do not have supplies set now, it’s bad tactics to have a list of items you just bought.

  12. I’m just glad we now have AR comparison articles and have sometimez heated debates. Back in the 70’s when I bought my Colt AR-15 model SP1 that was about the only AR choice and you were thought of as a little weird for buying one. Thanks Pat for wading in with a great article.

  13. I always recommend setting aside some of that ammo for training. It does you no good to be sitting on 5,000 rounds of 5.56mm and not have the training on how to use it effectively. And no, the fact that your grandfather was a Marine, or your Father in Law was a State Trooper back in 1962, does not automatically confer all knowledge to you. Take 1,000 rounds and go to a good defensive rifle class. The confidence you gain in yourself, your rifle, and your ability to handle a situation is more than worth the price of admission.

  14. An AR is an AR is an AR in my opinion. I have owned and shot all different brands over the years and they all shoot pretty much the same and they’re all (as far as I know) made from 7075 T6 aluminum and except for a few differences they probably use the same CNC program. I’ve never owned one that didn’t go bang. Some manufacturers will make a little unique change or two to their gun in order to make it a “super” gun and then charge too much. I would suggest to a first time buyer to NOT by a brand name and pay a lot more but instead find a less known brand and be happy. The gun will shoot just fine. Just my experiences and I could be wrong.

  15. Thanks for another great article Mr. Cascio

    From my own personal observation guns and ammo are very scarce right now. And when you find it it’s very expensive.

    This feels different from the last scare after obama was elected. The rhetoric coming out of DC at the moment shows these people are completely unhinged.

    Their drunk with power, embolden after stealing an election. I’d say anything’s better than nothing Mini-14, Kel-Tec SU-16, etc.

    Keep trying to build that ammo supply and may God bless us all

  16. We closed out the gun and ammo corner in our trading post in December ,dropped the license , as of 1 January , sold over a million rounds of ammo in one week ,two weeks to sell out over 200 bang sticks ,and no we didn’t gouge the prices ,,,could have sold for much more but wanted it all out there in folks hands ,,wish we had had more of the CMMG 22 lr conversion ,
    Storm a coming ,,,,

    Who is John Galt?

  17. Good article and anyone would be well served to own either one of these weapons. The problem is almost akin to the problem the characters in the movie “The Road “ and another movie “ The Survivalist “ – ammunition scarcity. In the Road the main character is down to 2 rounds for his trip and the Survivalist also had 2 or 3 rounds left for his 12ga. Those were very depressing scenarios and one that hopefully most readers of this site will take heed and stockpile as much as possible for what may come- especially if the Biden/Harris team and their nefarious minions have their day.

    God help us all going forward.

  18. To Charles K ..I stocked up on steel case 9mm during obama years…I have shot it in glocks M &Ps,hi powers,uzi, sig…never a problem at all with any..some say not good for the guns…but now there is no choice and I am glad to have it …way better than nothing.

  19. Charles K, I am not a big fan of any steel case ammo. However I recently purchased three 150 round boxes of Winchester 115 grain, FMJ. I was very happy to find it for sale. Upon getting it home I found it to be steel case. I did not know Winchester made this. I thought since I had it, I would give it a try. I took it out and fired it in a Glock 19, Glock 22 with a 9mm conversion barrel and a Beretta 96 with a 92 conversion barrel. I had no problems and it functioned just fine. I say this, if you can find no other, it will most likely work for you. I still shoot brass cased ammo. But only US or NATO standard ammo. We do not know to what standard Wolf or Tulammo is loaded. I only shoot that ammo in my SKS. I saw a very nice Colt AR barrel destroyed with s steel cased squib .223 Wolf round. There is too much brass cased ammo available to bother with steel cased ammo. Glock guarantees any factory produced ammo for use in their guns. Reloads can be loaded by anyone. There is no complete trust in even US made ammo but that is who I trust the most. I hopes that helps. If I could find nothing but Tulammo or Wolf I would not feel totally unarmed. But if I had both steel and brass cased ammo available, I would choose brass every time.

    1. Thank you. My knowledge of hand guns and hand gun ammo is sorely lacking. I’d prefer brass over steel any day, but I’ll take what I can find at this point. I need training, oh, and of course, a pistol.

  20. Gray and Bwhntr65, Your experience and advice are sound. I’m just an individual that reloads and casts about 20 calibers for myself and family. In the past week I’m getting covered up with requests for ammo from people I don’t even know. Its kinda like the scenario we all read about and dread–the only person in the neighborhood with some food. I’ll let go of a little if I think a person has little or none, but in the present environment I really don’t want to sell. I’ve got plenty of components for us but it is finite. Components are definitely the issue. Brass, powder, primers and bullets have increased the expense comparable to factory and higher in most cases. If you can find factory ammo for sale now it is a good deal. Its just too bad people didn’t buy before now. If you find a reloader who’s willing to sell expect to pay full retail if not more because he’s not making any money doing it. It may help to offer him brass you don’t need or lead if he’s a caster. The only way to get primers these days is to buy them in factory loads when you can find it–every round has One.

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