After reviewing press coverage for Springfield Armory’s new product, their Saint AR-15 platform, I am thoroughly unimpressed with the product and the reviews. Granted, I prefer the venerable M1 Garand and shoot my own mixmaster AR-15 (I’m currently in the market for an M1A Scout Squad). Still, the rifle is nothing to write home about.
It’s basically a upper-shelf AR-15 featuring Bravo Company furniture. It looks clean and I’m sure it functions great. Now, I haven’t shot it so I can’t give you a run-down on the gun, but the hype leading up to its debut was just that; hype. Pretty much every major company has its own AR-15 variant, like the expansion of 1911s years back. This is just Springfield’s “Look, I can make an AR-15 too!” Lest I be misunderstood, I’d jump at the chance to own one.
For those of you who saw the Facebook posts, the blog articles, and the website teasing their new platform, you can probably understand why I take issue with the buildup and some reactions are what bothers me. I think that Daniel Terrill from guns.com poked a little fun at the ads:
“In commercials the rifles are accented by beautiful shooters, who clearly love working out, with sweat glistening on their bodies, covered by tight Under Armour clothing, and ominous electronic music. Standing in deserts and mountaintops, they aim by leveling the fore-end with a fully extended arm — like a pro — before opening fire at an unknown enemy.”
Patrick R. over at The Firearm Blog, a pretty good joint, seemed more impressed with the awesome shooting experience Springfield setup in the Nevada desert than the rifle, posting a three-part article on it. He was clearly enthralled with our lovely city’s amusements, the helicopter ride, the shooting, and the evening zombie-exploding car events. He had every gun owner’s dream Vegas experience and I don’t begrudge him his experience one bit. TTAG’s article was a bit similar and is all on one page.
On the other hand (pay attention Springfield), are you selling a rifle or a freakin’ Vegas fun package? Press events for guns, cars, and all kinds of stuff tend to be big deals like this, with all kinds of wining and dining in various forms, for whatever you can imagine. But seriously, what the hell? Looks like Springfield was late to the game with ARs (reasons exist) and tried to wow the gun bloggers with an over-the-top event to cover up the fact their new gun has already been done many, many times before. And the bloggers took the bait with their new guns and vacations.
Ruger, probably the closest analogue to Springfield, has its SR-series piston AR platform and even a take-down model. That’s innovation. Slapping BCM parts on an AR-15 doesn’t make an innovative product. Even the charging handle and the bolt catch are standard; an ambidextrous charging handle and an enhanced bolt catch (with the paddle to lock the bolt back) seem like obvious additions. Coating the trigger part with nickel-boron and reducing the play between the receivers is something, but again, this is just another mid-level quality rifle, not anything super special.
Frankly, it seems like all the praising reviews are from guys that got free rifles or were invited on the Vegas trip. The bloggers were so “wowed” with their free shit that they forgot to tell us that this gun is nothing special and a late addition to the already crowded AR-15 market. I guess all the suspense that lead the gun-owning hoi pilloi to think Springfield was introducing a gun-centric Crossfit-style exercise program was mainly just to stoke the interest of the privileged few gun bloggers. Springfield succeeded there.