The Edge Resets The Performance
Bar For MID-Priced ARs
By Holt Bodinson
Given their extreme modularity, ARs are the chameleon of the firearms world. They can be configured in scores of different ways to fulfill a variety of missions. I don’t imagine Eugene Stoner had any idea he was creating a completely new industry whose products would be endless variations of the pieces and parts making up an AR—an industry so large the first 94 pages of the current Brownells catalog is devoted exclusively to them.
So when Springfield Armory decided to add quality ARs to the highly successful M1A, 1911 and XD lines, they focused on using the finest components possible while keeping their newest AR, the Saint Edge, affordable.
There are so many interesting features in the new Saint Edge, it’s hard to know where to start, so let’s look at the name first. According to Springfield’s Steve Kramer, “The name ‘Saint’ was chosen to denote how Saints are classically regarded as guardians/protectors over one’s life, like a rifle can be.”
The lower receiver is machined rather than forged, giving Springfield the flexibility to make cuts and create contours not seen in a typical AR receiver. Without sacrificing receiver strength, Springfield has milled out a series of lightening panels most visible around the ambidextrous safety selector switch and just above the trigger well. The triggerguard itself is pierced with two lightening cuts.
A larger cut-out panel and horizontal lightening cuts can be seen on the sides and front of the magazine well while the flared magazine well itself has been completely recontoured with a visually pleasing upward sweep. An additional feature of the Edge lower is it sports two QD mounting points visible below the forward assist and just aft of the takedown pin.
Springfield’s “cheesecaked” lower lends some real character to the Edge and, just as importantly, reduces the overall weight while accentuating its slim lines. The Saint Edge is a light rifle. With a set of Springfield’s low profile, fold-down sights, the Edge tips my Sunbeam scale at 6 pounds 3 ounces. But in my hands, it feels lighter—due, I think in part to its ultra-slim hand guard.
An important adjustment built into the lower is a nylon-tipped tension screw bearing against the upper to eliminate any play between upper and lower. Springfield calls it their “Accu-Tite System.” The tension screw is adjustable by the owner and the procedure is fully detailed in the owner’s manual.
The Edge upper is a flattop with its integral Picatinny rail mating seamlessly with the 12.5-inch rail of the handguard. The free-floating aluminum M-Lok-compatible handguard is a proprietary design and it is slim! Your hand easily wraps around it. And it’s comfortable as well—having been given the “melted” treatment without any sharp edges.
The Saint Edge is light in weight and has excellent ergonomics. Holt mounted a Mark 4
Leupold 2.5-8X on his test rifle to take full advantage of its accuracy potential.
Barrel, Trigger, Furniture
Riding inside the handguard is a light profile, 16-inch chrome-moly barrel given a tough Melonite finish inside and out. It has a 1:8 twist, which proved optimal on the range, generating sub-MOA 3-shot groups with a smorgasbord of bullets weighing 55 to 77 grains.
The barrel is fitted with a mid-length, multi/mode adjustable gas block. Springfield supplies 3 different gas metering screws and a T-handle wrench along with each rifle, enabling the owner to fine-tune the gas system to specific ammunition—a process clearly explained in the owner’s manual. Finishing off the muzzle is Springfield’s artillery-looking, SA-Lite muzzle-brake. Those big baffles may look out of place on a .223, but are they ever effective! You can spot your shots through the scope with this brake.
The bolt carrier group is finished with super-hard Melonite as well, and carries a premium grade bolt. Operating the bolt carrier is Springfield’s generous-sized charging handle.
The pièce de résistance in the fire-control system is a Melonite-finished trigger averaging 4 pounds, 3 ounces, for 10 pulls on a Lyman electronic scale. It’s a short-reset, single-stage, match-quality trigger made in heaven. I would say it’s the finest out-of-the-box trigger on a modestly priced AR available today.
The Edge sports some upgraded furniture, featuring Bravo Company’s rock-solid 6-position buttstock and their Mod 3 pistol grip with its internal storage compartment.
Delivering 6 sub-MOA groups (above) with 6 brands of ammunition and 4 bullet weights, the Saint Edge is a stunningly accurate AR.
It looks like it belongs on an artillery piece (below), but the muzzle-brake works so well you can spot your shots.
The Edge comes with Springfield’s proprietary 1/2 MOA windage-adjustable, dual aperture rear sight and 1/2 MOA adjustable front sight. Both are low profile, facilitating the mounting of large-tubed optics. For testing purposes I mounted a Mark 4 Leupold 2.5-8x36mm on the Picatinny rail and headed for the range.
At 100 yards the Edge placed 6 brands of ammunition and 4 different bullet weights into 6 sub-MOA groups. The smallest 3-shot group measured 0.38 inch with Federal’s Premium Gold Medal Match loaded with Sierra’s 69-grain MatchKing. The largest—measuring 0.86—was delivered with CorBon’s 55-grain FMJ. The Edge simply proved to be a remarkably accurate rifle and a testimony to the components Springfield selected in making it, as well as the skilled artisans who put them together.
To recap, the Saint is a direct-gas impingement in 5.56 NATO with a barrel length of 16 inches and a 30-round magazine. The overall length is 35.75-32.5 inches and the weight is 6 pounds, 3 ounces. The sights are half-MOA adjustable. The stock is Bravo Company’s 6-position collapsible. The price? $1,229.
Probably the best summary comes from Springfield’s Dennis Reese. “The Saint Edge is a tight, light, fast-handling machine that operators can count on—the most advanced AR-15 we’ve ever built. It’s a high quality, performance-based rifle with premium options built in. You don’t have to swap out features to upgrade it. We believe that, shot for shot, dollar for dollar, it’s the best you can get.”
Springfield Armory, (800) 680-6866