When the Springfield Saint carbine was released last year, we thought enough of it to give it our 2017 Golden Bullseye Award for Tactical Gun of the Year. Though thoroughly modern in manufacture—and innovative with its Accu-Tite system taking the slop out between the upper and lower receivers—the original Saint has a good mix of upgraded components that make it a solid value. But when it made its debut, it had one “old-school” feature—an A2-style front sight and gas block. While all the furniture is from Bravo Company, sleek, modern and with KeyMod attachment points, there was hubbub about why there was an A2 assembly on the front of the carbine.
Springfield has positioned the Saint as a defensive carbine, and I would argue that the U.S. Army and Marine Corps, folks that have some experience with military version of the platform, still mostly issue M16s and M4s with a fixed front sight assembly. There’s something reassuring in knowing your front sight is unlikely to fall off if you forgot to tighten a screw. Simply put, some folks prefer a fixed front sight.
As a guy who’s first AR had a fixed carry handle and triangular handguards, reminiscent of “Apocalypse Now” re-runs on late-night cable, the evolution in the ergonomics of the AR has been quite a journey.
From the early pencil-barrel SP1, through the beefy barrel, Glacier Guard A2, then to the Rail Interface System (RIS)—for adding useful widgets to the fore-end—to the modern svelte AR of today, the gun started out light and handy, got husky and heavy with quad rails and accessories, and now is somewhere in between. No longer as light as an SP1 from more than a half-century ago, they are handier thanks to thinner, more ergonomic fore-ends and the use of an optic as the primary sight. In short, guns with full length rails on the top unspoiled by an A2 front sight that you can still hang things on are the way things have been headed for a while, especially in rifles used in practical competition. Springfield is responding to the trend.
Springfield Saint with Free-Float Handguard
We knew the Saint at launch was to be just the first of what would develop into a full line—and that line has expanded to include the Saint with Free Float Handguard—an aluminum one with M-Lok attachment points. The gun has a Bravo Company stock and pistol grip, but it has a proprietary fore-end retained by two Torx screws on each side. The low-profile gas block is pinned, and the gas system itself is mid length.
The price of the Saint with Free Float Handguard is competitive for its features at an MSRP of $1,049, while the original Saint has a sticker of $899. In today’s competitive AR market, $150 makes a lot of difference. And if you didn’t buy a Saint because it used KeyMod instead of M-Lok, well, not that’s not a problem anymore.
While a full review of the newest Saint is in the works, offhand groups were tight in drills and for the camera, and the handling of the latest Springfield carbine excellent.