Springfield’s New Precision AR: The Saint Edge ATC Elite

Background

Continuing the evolution of Springfield’s much beloved Saint line of semi-automatic rifles comes the Saint Edge ATC and ATC Elite. ATC stands for Accurized Tactical Chassis. This monolithic chassis is at the foundation of the rifle’s accuracy and Springfield’s sub-MOA guarantee. The rifle comes in 2 models, the regular Edge ATC and an Elite model. 

Saint Edge ATC Specs

  • 18” Ballistics Advantage Barrel 1:7 Twist
  • Chambered in 223 Wylde
  • Upper Receiver: Forged 7075 T6 Aluminum
  • Lower Receiver: Machined 6061 T6 Aluminum
  • Direct Impingement Mid-Length, Low-Profile Pinned Gas Block
  • Weight 10 lbs
  • $1549 MSRP

Saint Edge ATC ELITE Specs

  • Everything in the Edge ATC base model
  • Fully adjustable B5 Systems Precision Stock
  • LaRue Tactical MBT Flat Two-Stage Trigger 
  • Cerakote Coyote Brown finish.
  • $1899 MSRP
  • Both models come with a SUB – MOA Guarantee from Springfield with match ammo

Originally, Springfield sent me the base model Edge ATC but I encountered an issue with the trigger so they sent me the upgraded ATC Elite model that includes the LaRue Tactical MBT flat two-stage trigger. I’m a huge fan of this trigger and applaud Springfield for using it. According to my trigger gauge, the MBT breaks just under 4 pounds which is in line with my experience in other builds.

I’m not going to lie to you. My first impression after unboxing the ATC Elite was “what is this?”. At a glance, it looked like the estranged lovechild between the Beretta ARX and an FAL. But this is an example of function leading form and the unique design has started to grow on me. Nevertheless, the rifle’s cosmetics are bound to be polarizing and the Internet will do what it always does. However, I applaud Springfield for taking risks and trying to push the AR-15 platform forward. I wish more manufacturers would follow their lead.

The ATC Elite comes equipped with some really good 3rd party accessories. You have a B5 systems grip which I like for any scoped AR-15’s because it gives a more vertical grip than the A2 or even Magpul’s offerings. The aggressive texture on the grip insures you have a strong purchase on the rifle but I’m sure some folks will find it too aggressive. For comparison’s sake, the B5 Systems grip feels comparable to the grip texture on an M&P 2.0. Controls are identical to any other AR-15 safety switch and bolt release are in the same position. The LaRue Tactical MBT 4 pound trigger is one of my favorite triggers and another welcome out of the box feature.

The only area I wish the ATC Elite could improve the aftermarket parts is getting rid of the included milspec charging handle. While a minor complaint, I’d expect a rifle at this price tier would come with a more ergonomic aftermarket charging handle like a Radian Raptor or even AeroPrecision’s new Breach charging handle. It’s not a big deal since I don’t find myself manipulating the charging handle too often besides charging a preliminary round.

I want to talk about the stock. While the base model ATC comes with the revered B5 Systems SOPMOD stock – the ATC Elite comes equipped with a B5 Systems collapsible precision stock and it is fantastic. I can only compare it to the Magpul PRS and LMT Precision stock but I like it about as much as my LMT (which I prefer over the Magpul PRS). It’s rigid but making adjustments is straight-forward. The rotary wheels to adjust your cheek weld and length of pull are easy to manipulate and tactile. Clicking the wheel to make adjustments is idiot-proof and once you find a position you like it’s not going anywhere. The stock is collapsible and enables shooters to customize their length of pull, comb, and also features 2 QD slots on either side. The butt-pad is comfortable without flexing but that shouldn’t matter too much since 5.56/.223 is pretty forgiving in the recoil department. However this stock retails for $225 and is a very welcome addition to the ATC Elite. Before this review, I’ve never had any hands-on experience with this stock but I’m heavily considering getting one for my next 6.5 Grendel build.

I previously stated that the foundation of the Edge ATC system is the Accurized Tactical Chassis monolithic lower. The lower receiver is designed to remove any contact with the barrel, gas system, and barrel nut and thereby improving precision. The innovative chassis accomplishes this by extending the lower receiver to connect the bottom hand-guard which protects the barrel from any possible obstructions.

The hand-guard while heavy, is smooth to the touch and held up well during testing. It engages with the monolithic lower receiver thru integrated rails pictured above and locks into place via a single set screw and locking plunger. The cerakote job on this rifle is consistent and held up well.

The hand-guard slides back into place via the integrated tracks housed inside the ATC’s monolithic lower receiver

Designated Use Case

My gut reaction after spending my first day with the Edge ATC Elite was this was a rifle looking for a problem to solve. The weight of the rifle really limits its functional applications. An AR-15 that weighs as much as an AR-10 with none of the benefits of an AR-10. It’s heavy and fires .223/5.56. I’m primarily shooting run and gun or out hunting hogs from a tripod or with shooting sticks. The Edge ATC Elite is too heavy to move quickly with and more weight than I’d care to lug around in a field late at night where I’m often walking 3-6 miles in the dark bouncing between pastures searching for sounders. I rarely shoot from a bench these days.

Taking the Edge ATC Elite out to 300 yards on a windy Texas day.

However, I’ve taken a step back and considered use cases beyond my own. The Edge ATC Elite would make an excellent bench rifle. I imagine this is perfect for someone who shoots long range from a bench, shoots for groups at a static 100 yard range, or even prairie dog hunting which is mostly done from a bench – the ATC Elite is a worthy consideration.

Range Report

I’m not fond of sub-MOA guarantees from manufacturers. There are way too many variables outside of a manufacturers control to really be able to make that kind of guarantee. This sub-MOA guarantee assumes a proficient shooter is using quality ammo which is fair enough. I spent 3 days testing this out.

Springfield was kind enough to provide 2 boxes of Federal Premium Gold Medal 77 grain .223 which uses the highly regarded Sierra MatchKing bullet. The good folks at Springfield had experienced positive results with this factory load and my experience was no different. Out of all the factory loads I tested, the Edge ATC Elite definitely preferred Federal Gold which is fortunate because it’s still relatively accessible and usually only runs $25- $30 per box.

I was able to reach out to 400 yards on a windy day from a tripod with the ATC Elite

Sighting in at 100 yards with Federal Gold, a Trijicon Accupoint 3-12x scope and a Magpul Bipod I was surprised at how shootable this rifle is. Recoil is virtually non-existent. Once my scope was dialed in it was clear that the Federal Gold was going to be hard to beat.

One of several strings shot using Federal Gold ammo from a Bipod

From a bipod, my groups averaged .8 MOA to 1.25 MOA depending on the factory load. Federal Gold, Black Hills 69 grain MatchKings and IWI Razor Core performed the best and similar to one another, averaging out at .8 MOA with an occasional group that came in slightly better.

I wanted to see how lower quality factory ammo performed such as Winchester Whitebox, Federal American Eagle, and IWI M855. All performed similarly, coming in around 1.5 – 2 MOA on average. This is to be expected and generally better than I would expect from a milspec AR-15.

Groups predictably opened up using cheaper factory loads like Hornady 55 grain FMJ-BT and Winchester Whitebox.

Since I’m not a regular bench shooter, I wanted to remove human error from the equation so I went to a local indoor range to test from a sled. Predictably, groups tightened up further. The Edge ATC really does prefer Federal Gold and thankfully that’s one of the more affordable match factory loads available.

Predictably my groups significantly improved after removing human error with a led sled.

Final Thoughts

While the Saint Edge ATC Elite isn’t for me due to my typical use cases, I know there are many shooters out there who shoot primarily from a bench and I think this rifle is worth a look. I was able to get consistent sub-MOA groups when I did my part and I’m confident a more dedicated precision shooter would be able to really get some impressive results.

Click HERE to visit Springfield Armory and learn more.

About the author: CitizenHush is the Bob Ross of 2A Twitter. A Virginian by birth but Texan by the Grace of God, Mr. Hush enjoys firearms and firearm technology.Dislikes include: Strong opinions on Cast Iron skillets, politicians, and Brass Goblins. When he’s not blasting feral hogs in Central Texas, you can find him either on the range or living his best life as a suburban ranch hand.

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Jake April 11, 2022, 11:39 am

    Their competitor across the street, Armalite, which used to be Eagle before they bought the name, made an AR called the Golden Eagle configured as a CMP Match Rifle. I bought one 28 years ago. It featured a Douglas Ultra Heavy Ultra Match 20″ 1/9 twist barrel. This thing weighs a ton and will stack M193 Ball all day at 200 yards. Don’t need any $2 a pop rounds.

  • uncle freddy April 11, 2022, 10:20 am

    Sooooo…. you never even explained how to break down the rifle to access the BCG since the mono lower has no pivot point that I can see????

  • survivor50 April 11, 2022, 9:41 am

    ” 2 MOA ” at 100 … I expect THAT from any AR I pick up and over a SAND BAG … with OPEN SIGHTS !!!
    Am I asking too much ???

    Seriously … $1550 … now who’s asking too much ???
    ( I know… I know… I admit it… I AM a CHEAP SOB !!! But I’m an ACCURATE Cheap SOB … )

  • KN April 11, 2022, 9:18 am

    I own several Frankenstein ARs made from budget brand parts including cheap barrels. All of them shoot sub MOA after thousands of rounds, and their average cost is around $400 each and weight of 6 to 8 pounds. $1900 for a 10lb Saint is paying for an overweight pretty gun with a pretty brand name. Precision is a lot easier these days with manufacturing technology advancements. Building an AR is as easy as changing a wheel on a car. Don’t feel like you need to blow two grand to get precision.

  • Abe Mendez April 11, 2022, 7:38 am

    Very well thought out and written article. Your name adds a bit of mystery to the article. Your analysis of the rifle was very thorough. I loved the quality and thoughtfulness of the photos. The gun and target layout was worth a thousand words. Overall yours was an honest essement of a grate rifle for the right person.

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