Springfield Armory Hopes to “Defend Their Legacy” with New SAINT

The Wait is Over:  Oh, Good – Another AR-15 on the Market!

springfieldarmorysaintSpringfield Armory has been teasing and building hype for their new SAINT product for a while now with their “Defend Your Legacy” campaign and, yesterday, they revealed what it is.  It’s an AR15.  Try to contain your excitement.

If you think that releasing yet another version of a rifle that will be celebrating its 60th birthday next year is not exactly a game changing event worthy of all the hype… well, we probably won’t argue with you.  To be sure, the SAINT is a nice enough rifle, but is it really “the ultimate refinement of the AR-15 form” that they claim it to be thanks to its “relentless execution of core features?

The SAINT features a flat top upper receiver that is ready for your optics and includes a Springfield-branded flip-up rear BUIS (rumored to be a UTG Pro) but, curiously, they opted for a fixed front sight to which the handguards are anchored instead free-floating the A2 birdcage-equipped 16″ 1:8 CMV barrel inside of full-length rail system.  Do you know what you do get though?  KeyMod.  The twelve people who like KeyMod, and the three companies who make native KeyMod accessories, will be very happy about that.

Speaking of the small handful of companies who make KeyMod accessories, other than the fact that it is KeyMod (and that it is load bearing against the front sight), the handguard is probably alright, considering that it is made by Bravo Company.  However, a far cry from their Alpha handguards, the exclusive PKMT handguard looks a lot like a KeyMod version of the basic Magpul MOE-SL handguards, BCM also makes the included Gunfighter Stock and the Mod 3 Gunfighter Grip that round out the furniture department.  

The bolt carrier group is of the M16 variety and operates between the mid-length direct impingement gas system and heavy tungsten “H” buffer.  The fire control group’s components are Nickel Boron treated and polished.  Springfield Armory describes it by saying that, although “it offers the right pull weight for defensive use, you won’t feel it” – which is probably a nice way of saying that it is just a tad less gritty than the heavy standard GI trigger group on which it is based.

Despite calling the SAINT “the next generation of America’s personal defense rifle,” it is still an AR15.  It is based on a rifle designed in 1957, with the same type of front sight/handguard setup as the original and the same type of upper receiver brought to market in 1992.  To boot, the SAINT’s spec sheet says that it weighs in around 6.7 lbs unloaded – a shade over a loaded Armalite model from the late 1950s and over a full pound more than many modern lightweight builds.

On top of all that, the market is currently flooded with AR15s.  Even with the looming elections and the possibility that we may be looking at another Clinton presidency, gun stores are full of off-the-shelf Modern Sporting Rifles (MSR) with fancy furniture, free-floating chrome lined barrels, and all sorts of fancy doodads hanging off of them for well below the $900 asking price of the SAINT.  The firearms community needed another $900 entry-level AR about as badly as they needed another steel-framed snubby 6-shot .357 revolver like the Kimber K6s that the high-end 1911 and rifle maker introduced last SHOT Show.

The answer to the obvious question of “why?” might just be “because everyone else is doing it.”  Almost every other firearms manufacturer is building MSRs now, and new builders are popping up all the time; Springfield probably sees money on the table and they don’t want to leave it there.  We have not had the opportunity to handle or shoot a SAINT yet, and it is probably a fine rifle that functions as advertised – it just seems like it doesn’t bring a lot to the table.

SA will probably pick up buyers who want to have a long gun that matches their carry pistol, or who can’t decide on what furniture in which to dress their rifle, but that is a pretty slim market to target.  Not that there is anything wrong with a rifle in this configuration, but a $899 price point for the SAINT could be a hard sell when it is hanging on the wall next to an M&P15 Sport II, Colt, or other comparable (if not better) rifles that are several hundred dollars less.

Springfield Armory says that the SAINT is what an AR-15 should be.  Do you agree?

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