Welcome to this month’s Rifle Roundup, where we’ll be looking at a Springfield Armory Saint that’s topped with a Holosun optic and a SureFire light.
Springfield Armory Saint M-Lok 5.56 AR-15 - MSRP: $1,023
The concept behind the defensive rifle is centuries old. From the Revolutionary War-era long rifles of the Pennsylvania farmer to the lever guns of the American frontier to the bolt-action, sporterized M1903 Springfield that my father in law used to defend his family, the rifle is and always will be an excellent defensive firearm.
The modern semi-automatic AR-pattern rifle is an extension of this legacy. The Springfield Armory Saint M-Lok 5.56 is a good example of what the modern defensive rifle looks like. It has a 16 inch barrel with a 1:8-inch twist, which allows you to accurately shoot just about any 5.56 NATO or .223 Rem. ammunition you might find. The handguard has M-Lok slots so you can mount a wide variety of lights, lasers or other accessories. The section of Picatinny rail on top of the gas block and on the upper receiver means you can choose to mount just about any type of sighting system you want on your rifle, and the adjustable stock can be set to where it’s most comfortable and practical to use.
And that’s just the beginning of you can adjust an AR-15 like the Saint M-Lok to fit you and your unique requirements. Pretty much all of the parts of the rifle can be changed out using the commonly available tools. People who buy an AR-15 for the first time are often amazed at just how easy it is to change out the trigger, stock, handguard and pretty much every component of the gun for something else, all with commonly available tools and usually without the need to send it to a gunsmith.
Which isn’t to say you’ll need to do this with Saint M-Lok 5.56 M-Lok. Quite the opposite, as it ships from the factory with pretty much everything you want in a defensive rifle, and at a pretty good price. However, today’s cars and trucks also ship with pretty much everything you want, and yet the custom auto market is still going strong. You get the idea.
Let’s talk calibers here for just a second. According to Springfield Armory’s website, the Saint M-Lok is chambered in “5.56x45 NATO (.223 REM).” This may seem confusing at first (“One gun? Two calibers? Whaaaat?”), but those two calibers are a leftover from when the military’s 5.56 NATO round was developed from the civilian .223 Rem round. The bottom line is, both calibers will work just fine in this rifle and just about any AR-pattern gun on the market today.
Which is good, because .223 Rem. / 5.56 NATO is excellent for home defense. The bullets shot from this gun are comparatively light and travel very quickly. This is great when you hit an armed attacker, but it also means that these rounds run out of steam quickly if they hit an interior wall, making this rifle and the rounds it uses an excellent choice for home defense.
If you’re looking for a rifle that will work great as a home defense gun and also provide you with hours and hours of fun on the range, you’re looking at something like the Saint M-Lok 5.56. But understand that the AR-15 is almost infinitely upgradeable, so you’ll soon be looking at accessories that will make your new rifle even better. Speaking of that, let’s talk about optics.
Holosun HS510C Optic - MSRP: $364.69
The Holosun HS510C reflex sight is a good example of the modern “red dot” optic. It uses a laser to project an aiming point on a partially reflective piece of glass. In the case of the HS510, that aiming point is either red or green, depending on which model you choose. We’re using the red laser version, which also gives us the option of using a 2 MOA dot or a 2 MOA dot and 65 MOA ring combo as a reticle. For myself, I’ve found that the 65 MOA ring is ideal for quickly placing the outside ring of the reticle on the target in fast reaction, close range situations, while the 2 MOA dot that’s inside of the ring is ideal for precise hits or longer-range shots. Like many reflex sights, the HS510C is a “1x,” or one power sight, which means it doesn’t magnify your sight picture. This is great for close range, defensive work, but not so good if you’re trying to make precision hits at 500 yards.
Ask me how I know this.
Fortunately for all of us, those sorts of distances are rarely, if ever found in a self-defense scenario, so a 1x reflex optic like the HS510C is ideal for our purposes. In addition to this, the HS510C has other great features which make it a good choice for a defensive rifle. The optic goes into sleep mode if it’s not been used for a while, yet turns on instantly if moved. It has an auto-brightness feature that adjusts to the ambient light, and there is a solar cell backup if your battery goes out. Speaking of batteries, the CR 2032 inside of this optic can be swapped out without affecting the aiming point, something that’s not always the case with a red dot optic. At under $400 and with a nice set of features, the HS510C is a popular choice for AR-15 owners, and will work quite well when it’s all on the line.
Surefire Turbo Scout Light Pro - MSRP $399
Every day it gets dark outside, and it stays that way for hours and hours. We call that “night,” and it also is quite dark inside most structures. This is why having a weapon-mounted light, or WML on a defensive firearm is a darn good idea, because you want to be absolutely 100-percent certain that what you’re about to shoot is what you’re supposed to shoot, and not something (or someone) else.
The Surefire Turbo Scout Light Pro mounts on either a Picatinny rail or an M-Lok slot and has 700 lumens of illumination power. More than that, though, it has 100,000 candela, which means those lumens are packed into a nice, tight stream, something that is really useful for a precision firearm like a rifle.
The Turbo Scout Light Pro is powered either by one 18650 rechargeable battery or two CR123A lithium batteries. It has a low-profile, adjustable mount that lets you position the light so it’s easy to reach with your support hand as you grasp the handguard. The switch in the tail cap of the light can be slightly depressed for a brief burst of light, while pressing it even more turns it on until clicked again. The light is both waterproof and dustproof and comes in really handy when it’s time to light up the night and see who is really out there.