AR-15 pistols have been around for a while but seem to have gained a lot more popularity in the past few years. In 1993, Olympic Arms began selling the OA-93 which was an AR-15 pistol that had no buffer tube. Throughout the 90’s you could also find them popping up in films such as Clear and Present Danger and Bad Boys. Personally, they never really interested me until last year when I acquired a CZ Scorpion EVO and installed a Scorpion Tailhook Brace Full Kit. It quickly became one of my favorite guns to shoot at the range but never thought of it more than that.
I also picked up a few more AR style rifles over the last year including a PSA 300AAC Blackout, PSA AR-10 and an S&W M&P 15-22 Sport to go along with my Bushmaster Patrolman AR-15. I figured that rounded out my AR collection until I started thinking about AR-15 pistols. But I hadn’t “pulled the trigger” on one yet. When Springfield Armory contacted me to do a SAINT AR-15 Pistol review, I got pretty excited.
Springfield Armory launched their first AR-15 a year ago on Nov. 1, 2016, All Saints’ Day. It is fitting that here we are a year later and they have now released the SAINT AR-15 Pistol on Nov. 1, 2017, All Saints’ Day. When they launched the SAINT AR-15 rifle, I thought it seemed like a nice rifle, but I couldn’t justify getting another AR-15 in the same caliber of the one I already have. But the SAINT AR-15 Pistol is something I don’t have, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.
In this SAINT AR-15 Pistol review, I’ll be going over the details and specs of the rifle, giving you my range report and then my concluding thoughts on the SAINT AR-15 Pistol.
Springfield Armory AR-15 Pistol Specs
The first thing I noticed about the SAINT AR-15 Pistol is the handguard and muzzle device. The handguard doesn’t seem too fat, and it feels nice no matter how you are holding it (up forward with your index finger pushed against the hand stop, in the middle or back up against the magazine well. The muzzle device isn’t your standard flash hider. They installed a forward blast diverter which pushes the sound, concussion, and debris forward toward the target. It protrudes the handguard by roughly 1.25 inches, and it looks pretty slick. They’ve also included a hand stop on the bottom of the handguard as well as plenty of room for other attachments via the M-LOK slots on the sides and bottom.
The barrel is a 7.5″ 416R stainless steel barrel with a 1:7 twist but instead of chrome it has a Melonite treatment just like its big brother which has advantages over a chrome lined barrel such as being harder and more accurate, an excellent addition to this gun.
On top, it has a Picatinny rail system which is ready for whatever optics you’d like to add and the handguard also has a Picatinny rail segment in the front. They have also etched T-Marks to the rails so you can quickly put optics back in place if you removed them. The SAINT AR-15 Pistol does not come with any flip-up sights as the SAINT AR-15 does. That’s also one of the first things I noticed. When I asked Springfield about this, they stated that they surveyed potential customers and felt that the pistol was more ideally set up for an optic and leaving off the sights would reduce the MSRP by at least $100. Deal breaker? Not for me. The first thing I did was pillage my gun safe and took the Magpul MBUS flip-up front and rear sights off my S&W M&P 15-22 as well as the Vortex SPARC II off my CZ Scorpion EVO. Using the riser that came with my SPARC II, the MBUS flip-up sights will co-witness. Is that necessary? Maybe not but I like the way it looks and functions, so that’s how I plan to leave it set up.
The upper and lower receivers are forged Type III hard-coat anodized 7075 T6 aluminum and also includes the same ACCU-Tite Tension System as the SAINT AR-15 which helps fit the upper and lower reducing any shake or rattle. What I liked is the trigger on this gun. They installed a Springfield Armory proprietary enhanced nickel boron coated GI single stage trigger. There is minimal take-up with a crisp snap and audible reset. When I was shooting it at the range, a guy a few lanes down asked what that sound was when I was shooting it. What he was hearing was the reset after each shot. After testing the trigger pull on my Lyman Trigger Pull Gauge, the trigger pull averaged to 6lb 4.5oz.
The bolt in this pistol is precision-machined from carpenter 158 steel, shot peened and magnetic particle inspected and finished in super-hard Melonite (like the barrel).
Other upgrades they added to the SAINT AR-15 Pistol include a rounded Bravo Company Trigger Guard so you can fit your finger in with gloves as well as a Bravo Company MOD 3 pistol grip. The grip does have some texturing to it, but in my opinion, it isn’t too aggressive and feels pretty good when gripping it. The trigger grip has a hinged trap door offering storage inside the pistol grip with a water-resistant rubber gasket so you can store a small bottle of oil in it. They also include a Magpul Gen 3, 30-round magazine. They even staked the castle nut which is excellent, and then end plate has a QD Swivel Mount Point that allowed me to attach a sling. These are all great additions in my opinion.
Last but not least, the pistol brace. It comes equipped with an SB Tactical SBX-K Pistol Stabilizing Brace. Is it a stock? No, it is a pistol brace. Being a brace and not a stock is one of the reason it is designated a pistol and not an SBR. We discuss this in more detail in our article “Top 7 Reason Why You Need an AR Pistol.” But can you shoulder the brace? Yes, the ATF recently published their opinion on folks shouldering pistol braces. But you can also strap it to your arm to help with stability when firing it.
Springfield Armory SAINT AR-15 Pistol Range Report
As I write this article, I’ve had my hands on the SAINT AR-15 Pistol for five days. I’ve been able to get to the range with it twice and in total put about 500 rounds through it using three different types of ammo.
- Federal Premium V-Shok 43-Grain Centerfire
- PMC Bronze 223 55 Grs. FMJ-BT
- Monarch Steel 223 Rem 55 GR
The first trip to the range was this past Saturday, and there were too many people for me to take any video. There were a lot of people there firing their hunting rifles and zeroing their scopes (something I need to do next week!). That day I zeroed in the SPARC II red dot and the flip up sights. Once those were good to go, I fired about two magazines of each type of ammo. I had zero malfunctions. The recoil wasn’t bad at all. If you are familiar with shooting an AR-15, then it is very similar. I thought it might have been somewhat different being that it was shorter than my Bushmaster Patrolman, I didn’t even notice any increase in recoil. As I mentioned above, the trigger was very nice, better than what I have on any of my ARs. There was a lot of traffic in the range that day, and I got a lot of comments from people walking by. Most of them were,”What is that?” or “That looks fun to shoot.”
Today I got to the range when it opened and since it was a weekday I had the range to myself most of the time. I brought some different magazines to try it with including some old metal magazines that I acquired from my Dad’s Navy gear after he passed away. I made sure I brought one that had seen better days.
I did get one malfunction through the whole 500 rounds. One of the Monarch Steel 223 Rem 55 GR rounds fired but the shell did not eject. I had to get a cleaning rod to dislodge it, but I think it was stuck because I had attempted to chamber another round not realizing the shell was still in it. I don’t shoot any steel case ammo often, but for this review, I wanted to test some different ammo and found a few boxes of this in my 223 ammo cans (again, acquired from my Dad’s Navy gear.) Is that a show stopper? Not in my opinion. After that malfunction, I did shoot the rest of that ammo as well as everything else without any issues whatsoever.
Most of the time I was shooting out to 25 yards and it was spot on. I know 25 yards isn’t far for a 223. I did shoot a few out to 50 yards and wound up being a little high. I’m sure I could have zeroed it in for 50 yards and spend more time with that, but I couldn’t spend all day at the range or else I wouldn’t have had time to get back and work on this review. Now that Springfield Armory has officially announced it and this SAINT AR-15 Pistol Review is up, I’ll be spending some more range time with it and do a follow-up review once I’ve had more time with it.
What do I think of the SAINT AR-15 Pistol?
Overall, I think this is a great gun and will definitely have a home in my gun safe. But I don’t think it will just be a “fun gun to shoot at the range” like my CZ Scorpion EVO. I believe that this will be a great trunk gun. I have a Tuffy Under Rear Seat Lockbox on the way that I’ll be installing in my Silverado (review to come.) Once I have that installed, I’ll be able to toss the SAINT AR-15 Pistol in it and lock it up. Will I keep it there all the time? Probably not but I think having the option to carry a compact AR-15 Pistol concealed and secure is excellent to have.
Springfield Armory also mentions that it is ideal for home defense. I live in a neighborhood with houses on both sides of me and across the street. Personally, I will stick to my full-size pistol for home defense but to each his own.
I think it is a great looking pistol and I’ll agree with Springfield, “It’s seriously fun to shoot!” The attention to detail and some of the smaller features make this a fantastic AR-15 Pistol for the money. The MSRP is $989 compared to $899 for its big brother. I’ve seen prices on the SAINT AR-15 rifle around $800 (give or take), so I would assume you will be able to pick up a SAINT AR-15 Pistol for about $900. Not bad at all.