Review: Springfield Armory Saint Pistol

Review: Springfield Armory Saint Pistol

AR pistols can get folks to scratching their headsasking the question, "Why?" Well, there are a couple very goodreasons for their existence.

First, the law is more often much friendlier topistols being carried concealed than rifles. As long as you can legally carry aconcealed pistol, you can keep one on your person and in your vehicle in avariety of circumstances. On the other hand, rifles (especially loaded ones)are tightly regulated when it comes to concealment.

The second reason is AR pistols allow you to have anAR with a short barrel without the paperwork associated with having ashort-­barreled rifle. I like to invite "The Man" into mylife as little as possible, so the lack of additional paperwork and forgoingthe extra $200 in taxes (for the children, of course) are alwaysappreciated.

Springfield_Armory_Saint_Pistol

Springfield Armory unveiled its lauded Saint AR alittle over a year ago and has since expanded that line to include alightweight model and this new pistol. The Saint pistol has a7½-­inch barrel and comes chambered in 5.56 NATO.

A 7½-­inch barrel on a 5.56 pistolmight cause some initial hesitation since the 5.56 is a rifle cartridge notdesigned for that short of a barrel. Likely concerns might be low muzzlevelocity and excessive muzzle blast.

Black Hills' excellent 50-­grain VMAX loadleaves the muzzle of this pistol at 2,408 feet per second (fps). This bulletwill expand and fragment down to about 1,600 fps, due largely to the presenceof the polymer tip and thin jacket. Black Hills' load in this pistol will havegood terminal performance out to just past 250 yards, which is about as far asI'd want to shoot it. That combination would also be a really good choice forpersonal defense.

Shooting 5.56 ammunition out of a7½-­inch barrel is loud, but nowhere near as loud as I firstexpected. My previous experience with barrels this short was unpleasant due tothe muzzle being so close to the shooter's head and exit pressure (the pressurein the bore when the bullet leaves the muzzle) being so high. That combinationusually creates a lot of concussion and blast.

Springfield_Armory_Saint_Pistol_blast_diverter

Springfield Armory puts one of the most effectiveblast mitigation devices on the muzzle that I've ever witnessed. They simplycall it a "forward blast diverter" and it does just that. I startedtesting the rifle with trepidation but ended up enjoying the entiresession.

The barrel has a Melonite finish inside and out.This is an incredibly durable finish that prolongs throat life and wears likeiron. Unlike iron, it's very rust-­resistant.

Another potential concern with such a short barrelis difficult or irregular extraction. The gas system on this pistol is"pistol ­length," which makes it a couple inches shorterthan the now-­ubiquitous carbine-­length system. Shorteningthe gas system means the fired case extracts sooner with higher residualchamber pressure. I expected very fast bolt speed that would bounce fired casesso aggressively off the shell deflector that brass would land in front of themuzzle.

All the fired brass from testing wound up directlyto my right and a little to the rear, exactly where it should be. That was witheverything from 55-­grain Hornady TAP to Federal 69-­grainGold Medal Match. It took Springfield Armory technicians a lot of effort to getthis tiny AR gassed right, but they managed to pull it off.

Springfield_Armory_Saint_Pistol-ArmBrace

During testing, I put the pistol brace to myshoulder as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives currentlyallows. The brace that Springfield Armory uses on this pistol is the SBTactical SBX-­K. It is very comfortable against the shoulder and therubber around the buffer tube is comfortable on the face. Between the brace andthe heavy-­but-­crisp trigger, I had no problems gettingsolid accuracy out of the gun.

Springfield_Armory_Saint_Pistol-Performance

The proverbial cherries on top come from the BravoCompany grip and free-­floating M-­Lok forend. Both are easyto hold on to. The grip/triggerguard combination fills the annoying gap at thetriggerguard/frontstrap junction. The forend comes with a hand stop to preventgetting too close to the muzzle and has enough M-­Lok slots to mount alight or bipod should you so desire.

You'd be hard-­pressed to find a betterpersonal-defense AR pistol anywhere. Should your plans include home defense,I'd recommend use with a suppressor.

For more information, visit www.springfield-armory.com.

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