AR pistols can get folks to scratching their heads asking the question, “Why?” Well, there are a couple very good reasons for their existence.
First, the law is more often much friendlier to pistols being carried concealed than rifles. As long as you can legally carry a concealed pistol, you can keep one on your person and in your vehicle in a variety 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 an AR with a short barrel without the paperwork associated with having a short-barreled rifle. I like to invite “The Man” into my life as little as possible, so the lack of additional paperwork and forgoing the extra $200 in taxes (for the children, of course) are always appreciated.
Springfield Armory unveiled its lauded Saint AR a little over a year ago and has since expanded that line to include a lightweight model and this new pistol. The Saint pistol has a 7½-inch barrel and comes chambered in 5.56 NATO.
A 7½-inch barrel on a 5.56 pistol might cause some initial hesitation since the 5.56 is a rifle cartridge not designed for that short of a barrel. Likely concerns might be low muzzle velocity and excessive muzzle blast.
Black Hills’ excellent 50-grain VMAX load leaves the muzzle of this pistol at 2,408 feet per second (fps). This bullet will expand and fragment down to about 1,600 fps, due largely to the presence of the polymer tip and thin jacket. Black Hills’ load in this pistol will have good terminal performance out to just past 250 yards, which is about as far as I’d want to shoot it. That combination would also be a really good choice for personal defense.
Shooting 5.56 ammunition out of a 7½-inch barrel is loud, but nowhere near as loud as I first expected. My previous experience with barrels this short was unpleasant due to the muzzle being so close to the shooter’s head and exit pressure (the pressure in the bore when the bullet leaves the muzzle) being so high. That combination usually creates a lot of concussion and blast.
Springfield Armory puts one of the most effective blast mitigation devices on the muzzle that I’ve ever witnessed. They simply call it a “forward blast diverter” and it does just that. I started testing the rifle with trepidation but ended up enjoying the entire session.
The barrel has a Melonite finish inside and out. This is an incredibly durable finish that prolongs throat life and wears like iron. Unlike iron, it’s very rust-resistant.
Another potential concern with such a short barrel is difficult or irregular extraction. The gas system on this pistol is “pistol length,” which makes it a couple inches shorter than the now-ubiquitous carbine-length system. Shortening the gas system means the fired case extracts sooner with higher residual chamber pressure. I expected very fast bolt speed that would bounce fired cases so aggressively off the shell deflector that brass would land in front of the muzzle.
All the fired brass from testing wound up directly to my right and a little to the rear, exactly where it should be. That was with everything from 55-grain Hornady TAP to Federal 69-grain Gold Medal Match. It took Springfield Armory technicians a lot of effort to get this tiny AR gassed right, but they managed to pull it off.
During testing, I put the pistol brace to my shoulder as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives currently allows. The brace that Springfield Armory uses on this pistol is the SB Tactical SBX-K. It is very comfortable against the shoulder and the rubber around the buffer tube is comfortable on the face. Between the brace and the heavy-but-crisp trigger, I had no problems getting solid accuracy out of the gun.
The proverbial cherries on top come from the Bravo Company grip and free-floating M-Lok forend. Both are easy to hold on to. The grip/triggerguard combination fills the annoying gap at the triggerguard/frontstrap junction. The forend comes with a hand stop to prevent getting too close to the muzzle and has enough M-Lok slots to mount a light or bipod should you so desire.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a better personal-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.