Photos by Jeff Jones
Last year, I built up my ultimate AR pistol in 5.56 NATO. Except for a slight difference in barrel length, the new SAINT Edge Pistol from Springfield Armory is virtually identical to the gun I built for myself.
Springfield doesn’t use the words “best” or “ultimate” when talking about the SAINT Edge pistol, but I sure got that impression looking at it. I checked with Springfield and was told, “The Edge is our top tier in the SAINT family and is designed to give the user everything they need on a defensive rifle/pistol, right out of the box.”
I think they’ve succeeded in their goal. When looking at all the features, this seems to me to be the best AR pistol for the money on the market.
The SAINT line was born three years ago with Springfield’s entry into the AR-15 market. What started with a basic Mil-Spec rifle has grown into 10 variations based on the SAINT platform. It includes one with a free-floating barrel inside an aluminum handguard, a short-barreled rifle (SBR), the Saint Pistol with a 7.5-inch barrel and a fixed SBX-K arm brace, and the SAINT Edge rifle, which is the Saint platform maxed out for performance. Now comes the SAINT Edge Pistol, a completely different animal than anything else they make.
On The Edge
The original SAINT pistol was available in 5.56 NATO and .300 BLK, but currently, the Saint Edge pistol is only offered in 5.56 NATO. It sticks out in Springfield’s SAINT catalog because of the excellent brace it wears — the Maxim Defense CQB pistol brace — which I believe is the best AR pistol arm brace on the market.
The Saint Edge pistol sports a lightweight profile and a 10.3-inch chrome moly barrel, which is Melonite-coated and has a 1:8-inch twist. The barrel is the heaviest part on an AR-15, and a thick barrel is absolutely not needed in an AR pistol.
I know you’re probably saying right now, “But with a thin barrel, your zero will shift when it gets hot!” Trust me, in a defensive situation where you’ve fired so much ammo that the zero on your barrel has shifted at all, the bad guys will be so close that tiny change in zero won’t matter. Meanwhile, you’ll appreciate the fact that this pistol is short and light — just 5 pounds, 11.5 ounces — with the center of gravity in the middle of the magazine well.
The barrel is tipped with a standard A2 flash hider and has a carbine-length gas system. The barrel is .625 inch at the gas block, and the low-profile gas block is an adjustable model of Springfield’s own design. Best of all, it is pinned in place. The enhanced M16 bolt carrier group is finished with Melonite, just like the barrel.
The barrel is free-floated inside an aluminum handguard roughly 9¼ inches long. The handguard has M-LOK attachment slots all around and comes with a small aluminum hand stop mounted at the front. Both the handguard and hand stop are Springfield designs.
Check out the stylized billet lower receiver. I’m not sure who started doing this kind of lower first, but a lot of the semi-custom AR shops (like Battle Arms Development) are producing them, and you’ll pay $250 for just a stripped lower. There are stylized inlets in the side of the receiver as well as slots cut into the integral, oversize triggerguard. You’ll see screws on either side of the receiver, holding the trigger and hammer pins in place, as inside the lower receiver is a drop-in cassette-type trigger unit — Springfield’s Match single-stage trigger.
I can’t tell you how many $1,500 ARs I’ve tested that have had basic triggers. The standard AR trigger pull is 6 to 7 pounds and is usually gritty, which is a technical way of saying it sucks. Any AR that costs over a grand (much less $1,500) shouldn’t have a trigger pull that sucks. The Match unit in the Edge Pistol, on the other hand, provided a nice, beautifully crisp 3¾-pound, single-stage pull with a very short reset.
Since this pistol is so light, I decided to stay that course and top it off with the lightest red dot I have, a Trijicon adjustable LED RMR with their quick-detach (QD) riser mount.
Maxim Defense PDW Brace
In both looks and functionality, the Maxim Defense CQB pistol brace is indistinguishable from the best personal-defense-weapon (PDW) stock on the market, which is also made by Maxim. Actually, that’s not totally true. In function, Maxim’s pistol brace is superior to their stock. Not only can you stick your arm through it and use it as a brace, but when shooting it off the shoulder, the rubber brace portion doesn’t slip. It’s so good, some customers are buying the brace to put on their rifles and SBRs.
The Maxim Defense is a four-position brace, and you can pull it open with one hand. It has a QD sling-swivel socket on either side, just behind the receiver. This brace has a shorter-than-Mil-Spec proprietary buffer tube. As a result, it has a smaller buffer and a stronger buffer spring, which requires a little more effort to work the charging handle than with a standard AR. Bought separately, this brace retails for $395.
The first day I brought the SAINT Edge pistol to the range, my intent was solely to have some fun. I’d brought along a lot of loaded magazines and blew through 150 rounds in about 10 minutes, until the oil on the gas block was smoking and the end of the handguard was too hot to touch. The ammo I fed it was a mixed bag of loads consisting of Winchester and Frontier 55-grain FMJ (5.56 NATO), some Hornady steel-case .223 Rem. and Black Hills’ 5.56 NATO 50-grain Optimized TSX, which is my preferred defensive load in ARs with barrels shorter than 16 inches. No matter the load, the pistol ran perfectly.
Close to Perfection
I don’t know if there’s a better AR pistol than the SAINT Edge. But I know there isn’t one for this price. This pistol is as close to perfect as any company is likely to come. The only thing I don’t like about it is the long lever on the right side of the safety, as it pokes my trigger finger. Considering it only takes about five minutes to swap out a safety, my complaint is almost inconsequential.
Oh, and did I mention that it comes with a nice black nylon case with magazine pouches? Like I said, this really is the best deal for the money.
SAINT EDGE PISTOL
Type: Direct impingement, semiautomatic
Cartridge: 5.56 NATO
Barrel: 10.3 in.; 1:8-in. twist
Overall Length: 24.6 in. (collapsed), 28.5 in. (extended)
Weight: 5 lbs., 11.5 oz. (tested)
Handguard: SA with included handstop
Brace: Maxim Defense CQB
Grip: Bravo Company Gunfighter
Finish: Type III hardcoat anodized
Trigger: SA Match single stage; 3.75 lbs. (tested)
Magazine: 30-round PMAG
Muzzle Device: A2
Sights: SA flip-up (front), SA low-profile flip-up (rear)
Manufacturer: Springfield Armory