Editor ‘s Note: This review is of the standard Springfield Armory SAINT AR pistol. It is not to be confused with the Saint Edge, which Pat reviewed on January 21, 2019. Pat also reviewed the Saint rifle, in February, 2017.
Most of the time, I have at least 25 products awaiting testing and a follow-up article. So, my plate is always full. When the Springfield Armory Saint AR Pistol first came out, I had to take a pass on testing it – just too much of a backlog. When things settled down a bit, I requested a sample of this AR pistol, and I regret having put it off for so long.
The concept of an AR pistol isn’t new. They’ve been around commercially since the 1990s – in many different configurations. However, many simply did not have appealing looks or ergonomics. And, many of these pistols just didn’t function well. Its not a question of just cutting down the barrel. There is a lot more involved than just that, to tune a gas system design. Plus, there was no such thing as an arm brace until just a few years back. Instead, you had a pretty much bare buffer tube, with perhaps a foam sleeve on it. And and at two different times you could not legally shoulder the pistol – if you did, it was deemed a federal crime.
Eventually ATF-approved arm braces hit the market. And while they sure made AR pistols more eye appealing, they didn’t ring my bells, not in the least. I tried several of these arm braces, and quite frankly, they sucked! No way to comfortably put that brace on your arm, and take a good sight picture. It just didn’t happen. Then some folks came up with some different arm braces, and the ATF, in their
infinite wisdom, after some waffling declared that approved arm braces could occasionally be in contact with your shoulder. However, you still can’t change anything on them. For example, if they come from the factory with a Velcro strap, then you need to leave that attached. It may sound silly, but that is how the ATF re-interpreted the law. So, I wasn’t interested in testing the waters until the Springfield Saint AR 5.56mm pistol came along.
Springfield Armory SAINT AR Pistol Specs
Let’s examine some of the salient features of the Springfield Armory Saint AR pistol. First of all, it is derived from their popular Saint AR rifle – and I’ve reviewed this in the past – one of the best AR rifles on the market for the money. So, I knew the “pistol” version would be a winner if it was based on their rifle. Keep in mind that, this pistol has an arm brace on it – not a stock. And, this particular arm brace is from SB Tactical, their SBX-K model. It is shorter than a rifle stock for an AR, and it helps reduce the Saint AR pistol’s overall length of just 26.5-inches. There is also a receiver plate with a QD swivel mount, for single point sling carry.
The barrel is a mere 7.5 inches long, with a 1:7 inch twist, and it has what Springfield calls a “blast diverter” on the end of the barrel–not a flash or sound suppressor. This directs all the noise, concussion, and debris out of the front of the barrel – not off to the side. The barrel is 416R stainless steel, treated with a Melonite coating – super tough stuff. It is actually harder than chrome lining is, and more accurate as well. Of course, it is chambered in 5.56mm – but will also shoot .223 Rem ammo. And I should mention that a version is .300 Blackout is now available.
The Saint AR pistol is built out of high end materials, too – no junk here. We have the exclusive Springfield Accu-Tite tension system, that keeps the upper and lower receivers tight against one another – for more accuracy, and it is user adjustable, too. There is no rattle when you shake this gun. The upper and lower receivers are forged out of 7075 T6 Aluminum and Type III hard coat anodized.
Another Springfield exclusive is the handguard, that is also patent-pending. It is sleek and slender, as well as allowing for the barrel to be free-floated – once again, this contributes to more accuracy. There is a hand stop on the bottom of the handguard, to prevent you hand from moving forward in front of the blast diverter, so you won’t shoot your own fingers off. The trigger is nickel boron coated, and single stage, for a fairly good trigger pull, much better than the pull on standard USGI triggers.
The bolt carrier group is machined out of Carpenter158 steel, shot peened and magnetic particle inspected – important stuff if a first class AR. Even the buffer is first class. It is filled with tungsten instead of lead – making it smooth operating. The gas system is a traditional Stoner DGI – direct gas impingement – set-up. It is specially designed for an AR pistol, and it is pinned in place.
Check out Springfield Armory’s web site for more details on any features that I didn’t mention, I think you’ll be impressed.
Sights (Lack Thereof)
This pistol comes with no sights, and for a purpose – it is designed for the end user to install whatever kind of “iron sights” or red dot scopes they like on the upper Picatinny rail. I installed a halfway decent set of sights that fold down and up, when needed or not needed. For this article, I installed a really cheap red and green dot sight set-up and it actually worked very well during my testing. I plan on installing a better dot set-up when funds are available.
Two of my volunteer testers, were more than anxious to help me run this AR pistol through its paces. One is a fairly new shooter, and he doesn’t even own his own gun, yet. The other is a seasoned Air Force veteran with more than 20 years under his belt – retired. During the course of testing this pistol, we ran a little over 700-rds down range – we hadn’t planned on shooting so much ammo, but this pistol is just a lot of fun to shoot.
Ammo For Tests
From the generous folks at Black Hills Ammunition we had their 55-gr FMJ Factory Seconds – these are brand-new rounds, that might have a tarnished case or a slight ding in the case – and it in no way affects accuracy – this is first class ammo in all respect. We also had the Black Hills 52-gr Match Hollow Point, 55-gr Soft Point, 62-gr Barnes TSX, 60-gr Hornady V-Max, 75-gr Heavy Match Hollow Point, and their 77-gr Sierra Match King Hollow Point. Quite a selection of ammo to test.
The Springfield Armory Saint AR Pistol comes in a quite nice soft padded case with one 30-rd MagPul PMAG – the best AR magazine on the market in my humble opinion. I brought along plenty of spare mags, so we could keep loading and shooting.
There was not a single malfunction of any type during our testing – that’s outstanding, for an out of the box new pistol. I will say that, the blast diverter was really something – nothing coming out the sides of it, but plenty of fire coming out the front of the gun – we are talking, in bright sunlight, a flame at least a foot long – wow! And, all the sound and muzzle blast – once again, out the front – it was loud, too. The blast diverter did its job.
We “killed” all manner of rocks – small and large – out to 100-yards if we did our part – nothing was safe from us. We settled down to do the accuracy testing, and I always just use my own results, so there is no question about how accurate any gun can be.
The Springfield Armory Saint AR Pistol was rested over a large rock, with a padded gun rest under the gun. Accuracy testing took place at 25 yards, and it was easy enough to just punch out a big hole in the target. Without much effort at all, I was getting one inch groups – yes, you read that right – one inch groups. Some groups were a bit larger, but not by much – if I did my part, and some were smaller. The overall winner in the accuracy department was the 75-gr Heavy Match Hollow Point load – it gave me several groups well below an inch – some hoovering right at ¾ of an inch. I usually only shoot one group, with each type of ammo, but this gun was so much fun to shoot, I shot quite a few groups with each load. There was no loser in any of this ammo, when it came to accuracy.
When I was working private security, at some pretty remote locations, where any assistance would be a long time coming. I could easily see myself carrying this Springfield Armory Saint AR pistol for self-defense and defense of property. It beats the daylight out of any traditional handgun, that’s for sure.
Not For Home Defense
I thought long and hard about deploying this gun for home defense – not gonna happen. With the flames shooting out the front of the blast diverter, and the loud exchange with the gun powder burning outside the barrel – this wouldn’t be my first choice – it would surely blind and deafen anyone who breaks in my home, but it would also blind and deafen me as well. I’m not saying this “pistol” cannot be used for home defense, but its not the ideal candidate for firing inside of a dwelling.
If you are looking for a top-notch, AR pistol, for your next handgun purchase, then take a close look at the Springfield Armory Saint AR pistol. It is different, unique, and it is first-class in all respects. Full retail on this dandy little “pistol” is $989 – and it is worth every dollar – if it costs more than retail, it would still be worth it. The gun is just that good.