April 09, 2020
By James Tarr
It shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone that after filling every niche of the 5.56 AR market with its Saint offerings, Springfield Armory recently pivoted in a new direction and announced the Saint Victor AR chambered in .308.
With the Saint family, you have the entry-level model with a polymer handguard and fixed front sight, collapsible stock and basic controls. The top-of-the-line Saint Edge models have all the bells and whistles you could want, including custom billet receivers, a fabulous match trigger pull and custom-designed flip-up iron sights. The Saint Victor series sits in the middle of those, and I’m not surprised that the first Saint .308 Springfield decided to offer was a Victor, providing a good balance between features and price.
First, the basics. The Saint uses a direct-gas-impingement operating system, the same as the standard AR-15 and the original AR-10 before it. It is fed by detachable box magazines of the DPMS/SR25/Magpul pattern, and a 20-round Magpul PMag Gen M3 is included with the rifle.
The Saint Victor .308 sports a lightweight 16-inch chrome-moly vanadium barrel that is treated with the Melonite process inside and out for durability and corrosion resistance. The barrel has a 1:10 twist and a mid-length gas system, and because of its lightweight profile the Saint Victor .308 weighs just seven pounds, 11 ounces empty. That’s not the lightest .308 out there, but it’s definitely a lightweight compared to many other .308 ARs.
The barrel free-floats inside a 15-inch handguard of Springfield’s own design, with M-Lok attachment slots every 45 degrees around the circumference. While there is a section of rail at the end of the handguard and a section where it mates with the upper receiver, for most of its length the top of the handguard is slick both to keep it slim and to help keep the weight down.
Over the past 10 years or so, companies have been experimenting with the basic AR-10 design, trying shorter and lighter bolt carriers to give the gun a look and feel closer to that of an AR-15. Springfield hasn’t gone that route with the Saint .308, and the receivers and bolt carrier are the traditional AR-10 dimensions. Where designers have shaved weight is in the rest of the rifle—a lot of it in the barrel profile. The end result doesn’t quite feel as short and light as an AR-15, but it’s close.
You’ll see the Saint’s barrel sports a muzzle brake, a proprietary design made in-house by Springfield Armory. Yes, it noticeably increases blast, but it also tames the recoil to a tolerable level. If you want to go full Timmy Tactical and swap out that compensator for a flash hider, go for it. Just be aware the gun will definitely shove your shoulder a lot more every time you pull the trigger.
I am far from the only person to think every AR meant for serious use should have iron sights—for backup if nothing else. The iron sights on the Saint .308 were designed new for Springfield’s Saint Edge series by Leapers UTG. If the proportions look a little weird it’s because they have been designed to take up as little real estate on the rail as possible. The tradeoff is they sit a little bit taller when folded. These are pop-up sights; press a button on the left side of the body and they pop up and lock in place.
The upper and lower receivers are traditional forged models with “SPRINGFIELD SAINT” in large but subdued letters on the right side of the magazine well and the Springfield Armory crossed cannons logo on the left side. Most of the controls—charging handle, bolt release, safety selector—are traditional GI in design. The trigger is not.
All Saint Victor rifles come equipped with Springfield’s enhanced nickel-boron-coated flat single-stage trigger. Generally, I don’t care for flat-faced triggers in ARs, but I found myself really liking the model on the Victor rifles. Trigger pull on every sample I’ve tried has been about six pounds and relatively smooth, and while not exactly match grade, it is still better than the average, gritty GI trigger pull.
The low-profile gas block is an adjustable model of Springfield’s own design. If your gun is running great from the factory, you don’t need to touch a thing. However, if you want to tune the gun to a specific load or run it suppressed, Springfield provides four additional color-coded metering jet screws that are installed or removed from the front of the gas block using a provided hex wrench that slides under the handguard.
Three of the screws have orifices of different sizes to bleed off unnecessary gas pressure, but you also get an infinitely adjustable metering screw to regulate the gas flow. The owner’s manual has a lot of info and informative diagrams to help you with this.
The enhanced M16 bolt carrier group is also finished with Melonite. The bolt is 9310 steel and is high-pressure tested/magnetic particle inspected. The buffer is a heavy “H” type to help tame recoil.
At the rear of the receiver, you’ll see a QD sling swivel socket in the receiver end plate. I wish Springfield had provided a QD socket mounted on the handguard so you didn’t have to buy an aftermarket part before being able to mount a sling, but that’s a small complaint.
Hidden from view inside the receiver is Springfield’s Accu-Tite tension system. This is a nylon-tipped screw accessed through the bottom of the pistol grip. When screwed in, it binds on the bottom of the rear lug of the upper receiver, eliminating play between the two receivers. This should tighten up groups a bit, and it eliminates any rattle in the receivers.
The furniture comes from Bravo Company. There’s the BCM Gunfighter stock on a six-position receiver extension, and the BCM Gunfighter Mod 3 pistol grip, which holds your hand at a more vertical angle than the original A2 pistol grip. The Saint Victor .308 comes with iron sights and one magazine, but in addition to that you get a nylon rifle case with attached magazine pouches, which is a nice extra.
If you’re looking at this rifle from a purely defensive use standpoint, you really don’t need to equip it with anything other than a red dot sight. However, the advantage of the .308 is you can reach out and hit targets with a heavier hammer. So for all of my testing I topped my Saint Victor .308 with the Trijicon 1-8X AccuPower in a Midwest Industries mount.
At 1X I can use it like a red dot, and at 8X I can work the rifle out to the effective limits of the cartridge with its 16-inch barrel. While the provided iron sights are tall, this thick 34mm scope sitting at standard AR flattop mounting height was able to clear the folded rear sight with a few millimeters to spare. Plus, the added combined weight of the scope and mount was great in helping reduce recoil to an even greater degree.
In addition to bench testing, I also did a lot of offhand shooting and shooting from improvised supported positions like you’d use in the field. The Saint was controllable, but if there are any hard surfaces nearby that will reflect the muzzle blast from the compensator, you’ll know it.
Nobody ever complains about a lack of stopping power in the .308, and even if you’re using one of the lightweight loads with 120- or 125-grain bullets, you’re still sending bullets downrange that weight at least 50 percent more than the heaviest .223 bullets, at 75 to 90 percent of the .223’s velocity. When it comes to punching through barriers, it’s not velocity but mass that is king, and .308s have been known as “big bore battle rifles” for a long time because they get the job done.
What you’ve got with the Saint Victor .308 is a relatively lightweight AR-10 with a 16-inch barrel, collapsible stock, and pretty much all of the features shooters think are necessary on a defensive/tactical rifle. Springfield says that this is a “purpose-built defensive package” and markets it as such, but it would also work as a hunting rifle for medium-size big game—the only limitation being its short barrel, which will slightly reduce velocity and effective range over a standard .308.
I don’t need another .308, but I find myself drawn to this one because it throws big hunks of lead downrange from an attractive package. The only change I’d make would be replacing the muzzle brake with muzzle brake/flash hider like the SureFire WarComp.
Whether you’re looking for a defensive rifle that hits hard and with authority or are just looking for something a little more modern-looking than a traditional bolt- or lever-action rifle for hunting, the Saint Victor .308 can do it.
Springfield Saint Victor .308 SpecsType:
Direct-gas-impingement AR-10, mid-length gas system w/changeable gas blockCaliber:
20-round Magpul PMag Gen M3 suppliedBarrel:
16 in. Melonite-coated chrome-moly vanadium; 1:10 twist; Springfield muzzle brakeOverall Length:
7 lb., 11 oz.Receivers:
Gorged 7075 T6 aluminum, Type III hard-coat anodizedFore-ends:
15 in. free-float aluminum w/M-Lok slotsFurniture:
Bravo Company Gunfighter Mod 3 grip and Gunfighter stockTrigger:
6 lb. pull (measured); flat-face single stage; nickel boron-coatedSights:
Leapers UTG flip-up front and rearPrice:
Springfield Armory, springfield-armory.com
Springfield Saint Victor .308 Accuracy & Velocity