With more than 20 years in law enforcement, I have carried a variety of AR weapon systems. Always a huge fan of Springfield Armory®, I was pumped in 2016 when I heard that they were releasing their first AR—the SAINT™. In anticipation of its availability, I got on the wait list and purchased the very first SAINT™ that my favorite gun dealer received.
In the following six months, I exclusively shot my SAINT™ rifle during training, while instructing classes and in a variety of 2-and-3-gun matches. Firing more than 2,000 rounds during this time period (a combination of budget-minded .223 ammunition, XM193 and duty ammo), the rifle never hiccuped and ran with no malfunctions.
Very recently, I was informed by Springfield Armory® staff that a new version of the SAINT™ was in production. I was fortunate enough to be supplied with a pre-release for test and evaluation.
The new SAINT™ carries forward with the previous generation’s upgrades:
- Proprietary Bravo Company butt stock, pistol grip and trigger guard
- 16" chrome moly vanadium 1:8 mid-length barrel
- Heavy tungsten buffer
- Polished nickel boron trigger package
- Flip-up rear sight
New to the SAINT™ are my unspoken wish-list items of a free float handguard and flip-up front sight. The 12.5” M-Lock free float handguard is not a simple afterthought. Handling the fore-end, I found it to be the perfect length—slim and light, but with a very robust feel. It is octagonally shaped with flat surfaces at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions.
(left) Table Mount; (right) Barricade Mount
The flat surfaces on the handguard facilitate a stabler mount on flat, table-top-type surfaces; right and left-sided barricades; and cover points. The numbered rail slots run the entire length of the top of the fore-end, and the barrel lock-up with handguard mount is a very modern design.
THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS
The SAINT™ with Free Float Handguard clearly shines with its details. Giving this AR finer attention, I noted that the handguard is further secured and streamlined and shows a more custom finish where the handguard meets the upper receiver. The sides of the handguard envelop the front portion of the upper assembly, giving it a monolithic look and providing this area of the rifle further strength and solidity.
The flip-up front sight has three scallop cuts on each side of the front-sight post, which allows additional purchase when raising the front sight. The M-Lock slots in the fore-end give better visual access to the barrel and gas block. And the gas block is even pinned—which is something usually found more on custom builds!
Additionally, through the rear portion of the handguard, one can easily see the Springfield Armory® name stamped on the barrel—now, how cool is that?
The delivery of the SAINT™ came at a perfect time, as I was planning to shoot a rifle-only match in northern Arizona a couple of days later.
But before I could do that, I made a quick trip to the range for zeroing and a little practice time with the rifle. I put approximately 200 rounds through the gun before I was off on the three-hour road trip to the match.
At the 130-plus-round, four-stage match, the new SAINT™ was a pleasure to shoot! And as anticipated, from the first shot fired while zeroing to the last shot fired at the match, the gun ran perfectly.
Springfield Armory® has yet again stepped up its game with the new SAINT™ with Free Float Handguard. This AR easily fills multi-purpose roles. From the home-defense system to the law enforcement agency looking for a new patrol rifle, this SAINT™ realizes those missions with no question, no hesitation.