It is pretty hard to get excited about an AR-15 in the current marketplace, which as a consumer is a good problem to have. I am certain there is an analogy in me somewhere that is family website friendly but let’s all just use our own imaginations instead. All better? Good, me too. Anyway, a company would have to come correct at this stage of the game to impress me. So when I received news of another in the SAINT family, the Edge, I did something of an eye roll. Not that I don’t appreciate shooting new guns, I do. But I have reviewed three SAINT models in the last 365 days if you count the pistol, and I count the pistol. It was going to have to be spectacular to get my attention.
And on this one, Springfield Armory delivered in spades.
A New SAINT Offering — The Edge
The problem with the other SAINT models isn’t that they were bad rifles. They were great guns for the target audience. The original SAINT was a great entry level AR, and at $899 it was competitive. I stand by my praise of that rifle, but I already bought an entry level AR-15 in 2003. The free float handguard version was an improvement and offered more versatility for the entry-level buyer at $1,049. That $250 price increase is a valid jump for a good handguard, as anyone who has bought an aftermarket knows.
Unfortunately, I have a closet full of good handguards from prize tables and experiments. The SAINT pistol was well done, if you didn’t buy an AR pistol back in 2009. These are all fine weapons, they were just never intended for me. The new EDGE, however, was intended exactly for me. I have never seen more features packed in a rifle at this price, and you would be hard-pressed to find a brand of AR-15 I haven’t shot.
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- Type: Direct-impingement semiautomatic carbine
- Cartridge: 5.56x45mm NATO
- Capacity: 10; 20; 30 rds.
- Weight: 6 lbs, 3 oz.
- Overall Length: 35.75 in.
- Barrel Length: 16 in.; 1:8-in. twist
- Trigger: 4 lbs. (tested);Modular MatchShort Reset Single Stage
- Handguard: Springfield Armory
- MSRP: $1,299
- Manufacturer: Springfield Armory
The Down & Dirty Details
The EDGE is a no holds barred, full-bore competition rifle. It practically screams 3-Gun as soon as you pull it out of the box, and would serve just as well tactically with a swap of the muzzlebrake. Springfield Armory threw in everything, including the kitchen sink and the baby’s bath water. I am shocked they can get it out the door at a price of $1,299, and given the features, you will be too. I am not too proud to say that I openly mocked Springfield stepping into the AR game the day Trump was elected. At the time, I would equate that with investing in buggy whips as Model A’s rolled off the assembly line. I’ve had to eat those words. If this is how Springfield is going to play ball, all the other AR builders should be afraid. Very afraid.
Let’s start with what is the same as the previous SAINT models. The EDGE retains the Bravo Company pistol grip and stock, which are good choices. The handguard is free floated, built in-house and nice. It is small enough to be comfortable, and M-LOK compatible. It features the same locking tabs as the previous model, which makes it very easy to remove for maintenance. The included iron sights are awesome, regardless of who makes them. That is pretty much it.
The Revamped Receiver
The new lower is machined from billet, and looks awesome. Somebody spent some serious time programming the CNC machine. Not only does it look cool, but the detail work also helps cut weight.
I write for a living, and I don’t have enough words to do it justice. Look at the picture. I like the triangular cut out of the magazine well, both as a unique look, and as, a place I never considered you could cut weight. Kudo’s for that, instead of some useless and stupid finger grooves on the magwell. The trigger guard is integral to the lower and skeletonized for weight. This model comes with an ambidextrous safety, which is easy enough to remove if you think those get in the way. Lots of people like them, so it is a nice touch that they included it. The rear of the lower has integrated QD mounts on both sides, something I have never seen before. The real story of the lower receiver, however, is the trigger.
The original SAINT trigger was better than mil spec, but still the first thing I would change. I was a pro level 3 gun shooter, I’m a little spoiled that way. The new one though, is nothing short of amazing. Built in house, and obviously, with the input of Springfield’s competitive shooters, the new trigger is top shelf. (His name is Leatham something-or-other. You may have heard of him.) It is a one-piece unit, entirely self-contained as a cassette. It is the first true single stage trigger I have shot in an AR. There is zero creep.
My sample rifle’s trigger broke at what the gauge said was 4 pounds, but it felt like 2 pounds. This trigger lets you get all the accuracy out of the rifle possible, and for close range is lightning fast. I like it enough to move it into the number 2 slot all time of AR-15 triggers, bumping the Geisselle super dynamic down to third. If Springfield sells this as a stand-alone part in the future, they will crush the trigger market. It’s that good.
Sending Lead Downrange
The upper has some happy additions as well. The new barrel is a pencil profile, and combined with the new lower, gives the EDGE an empty weight of 6 pounds. Usually, a light barrel comes at the cost of accuracy, but the EDGE actually outperformed all my previous SAINT test models. It gave me a .91 inch five-round group with Black Hills 77-grain, the gold standard of accuracy. Out of the box, that is damn impressive in this weight class.
Keeping with the competition theme also included is a new oversized charging handle. Racking a factory handle with a 1-6X scope in the way is a pain, and a plus size latch is one of the first things you buy. Springfield included a very nice one at no extra cost. The cherry on top is the new compensator or muzzle brake, again it’s designed in-house. Pictures don’t do the brake justice, it is smaller in real life than it looks. It might look odd, square as it is, but it does an outstanding job. People that have never played competitively often dismiss reviews of AR muzzle brakes. The derisive “ that poodle shooter round doesn’t kick none anyway, cause I’m a tough guy, hold my beer” attitude is commonplace, but ignorant as the day is long. Muzzle rise might be controllable in any 5.56 platform, but a good compensator will make your follow-up shots fractions of a second faster. And that matters both in competition and combat.
Last but not least, something I forgot to mention in my video. Amazingly, the EDGE includes an infinitely adjustable gas block. The gas block itself is a feat of engineering, and another part Springfield could make a fortune on as a stand alone piece. This is getting deep into the competitive nerd weeds, but it is a bad ass feature. With a gas block like this, you can actually control the amount of gas bled off the system, reducing recoil. Tuning the gun to function exactly with your match rounds and dumping all excess does cut down reliability, but milliseconds matter. The Springfield Armory block uses a set of inserts that are like carburetor jets, a throwback to my youth racing motocross. Each jet is a rough setting, turned in and out to fine tune. Thankfully, out of the box the EDGE is set to run anything. The gas system tuning is a feature 95% of purchasers (me included) will never touch, but it is a nice option to have.
All in all, I have to contend that the EDGE is probably the best dollar you can spend in an AR-15 today. To keep it in perspective, I have a very nice LaRue PredetAR, one of my race guns. With a pencil barrel, it also shoots just under 1 MOA. But it has less features than the EDGE, weighs ¼ of a pound more, and retails for $500 over the EDGE. I think that is all I need to say.
For more information about the Springfield Saint Edge, click here.
To purchase a Springfield Saint variant on GunsAmerica, click here.