April 28, 2020
Springfield Armory introduced the .308 Winchester-chambered version of the Saint Victor rifle during the NRA show last spring, and because the company has a habit of following up rifle models with pistols it should be no surprise to anyone that Springfield is now offering a pistol version of the Saint Victor .308. The company sent me a sample just before it was announced, and I had a chance to head to the range with it.
This is a direct-gas impingement AR pistol. It sports a 10.3-inch barrel with a 1:10 twist, and the barrel is tipped with a diverter to send all the blast forward, away from the shooter. The barrel is chrome-moly vanadium steel, and it’s Melonite-coated inside and out for corrosion resistance. The gas block is a low-profile model and pinned to the barrel.
The bolt is 9310 steel and magnetic particle and high-pressure (HPT/MPI) tested, and it too has a Melonite finish. The Saint Victor .308 rifle uses a heavy H buffer, and the specs provided by Springfield indicate the same is true of the pistol, but my sample shipped with a standard-weight buffer.
At the back end of the pistol you’ll see the SBA3 adjustable arm brace on a five-position receiver extension. With the brace collapsed the pistol measures 28 inches, and extending the brace adds 2.5 inches to that length. With the brace fully extended it is just a hair under 13 inches between the rear of the brace and the trigger. The castle nut is properly staked.
The pistol grip is a Bravo Company BCM Gunfighter model. The aluminum handguard is 11 inches long and has M-Lok slots all around for attaching accessories. There is a section of rail at the top of the handguard near the muzzle if you decide you want to mount a front sight. No sights are included with the pistol. A small polymer hand stop is included with the pistol, mounted forward on the handguard.
The upper and lower receivers are traditional forged models, with “Springfield Armory” over large “Saint” lettering on the right side of the magazine well. The Springfield Armory crossed-cannons logo is engraved on the left side. The selector markings include pictographs, which I like. There is a QD sling swivel socket in the rear receiver plate, and you’ll see another in the arm brace.
The magazine release, bolt release and charging handle are traditional GI in design. The trigger is not. All Saint Victor rifles and pistols come equipped with Springfield’s enhanced nickel-boron-coated, flat, single-stage trigger. Trigger pull on every sample I’ve tried has been about six pounds and relatively smooth, which is exactly what I got with this test gun.
The pistol is fed by DPMS/Magpul pattern magazines, and one 20-round Magpul PMag is supplied with the gun—in addition to a nice nylon case with magazine pouches.
Springfield says this pistol weighs eight pounds six ounces. With an empty magazine in place my digital scale told me the pistol weighed eight pounds one ounce. The difference between my sample and the company spec can be explained by the difference in the buffers I mentioned earlier, the H buffer being heavier.
Interestingly, the Saint Victor .308 pistol weighs significantly more than the Saint Victor .308 rifle. That weight difference is due solely to the front end. Not only is the barrel of the pistol significantly thicker, the pistol’s beefy two-piece all-steel blast diverter is heavier than the muzzle brake found on the rifle.
Springfield could have used a thinner barrel to shave significant weight off the pistol, but I understand why designers didn’t. Even with a red dot mounted and a loaded 20-round magazine in place, recoil in the pistol was substantial.
Unlike a muzzle brake, the blast diverter—a proprietary design with a multi-port muzzle brake inside a steel cylinder—does nothing to reduce recoil. Its sole purpose is to reduce noise to you and those around you. While the pistol was loud to shoot, it was not abusive, even though there was a huge amount of gas coming out of the muzzle—to the point it caused my chronograph 12 feet away to sway.
There are no disassembly instructions for the muzzle device in the documentation. I was hoping if I unscrewed the cylinder it would leave the muzzle brake in place, offering a recoil-reducing option for those buyers unconcerned with noise, but when I unscrewed the exterior cylinder of the blast diverter the entire unit came off the barrel.
The barrel does not extend past the handguard, and the blast diverter has an outside diameter of 1.375 inches. Therefore, if you’re planning to mount a suppressor on this rifle, its OD can’t be any larger than the diverter’s if you want to keep the factory handguard.
While not exactly light, a short .308 is definitely more maneuverable, but the question you might have is just how much velocity you sacrifice when firing a rifle cartridge out of such a short barrel. I had the same question, and while time was short, I took the opportunity to chronograph a few loads.
Hornady’s 125-grain Custom Lite has a published velocity of 2,675 fps; out of the Saint Victor pistol it did 2,097 fps, a difference of nearly 580 fps. Hornady’s 155-grain Critical Duty load showed a velocity loss of a little more than 500 fps—as did Black Hills’ 175-grain boattail hollowpoint. The drop in velocity for SIG’s 168-grain Elite OTM was only about 440 fps.
These results show me something I’ve observed before: When firing rifle cartridges out of very short barrels, you’ll often see surprising velocity variations due to differences in powder burn rates.
I only had time for some informal accuracy testing, but this pistol seems capable of one to two m.o.a. performance with most loads. Short barrels are inherently more accurate than longer barrels because they are stiffer, and the short, thick barrel on this gun is definitely stiff.
While a niche item, Springfield has a commanding share of the AR market specifically because its builds quality guns with the features shooters are asking for. The Saint Victor .308 pistol is everything you’ve come to expect from Springfield Armory, with a bigger bang. As Springfield points out, with most .308 loads you’re getting nearly twice as much foot-pounds of energy over a .223/5.56. Suggested retail is $1,363, and the guns are shipping to dealers now.