Springfield Saint ATC Elite Review

The King

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  • Sep 17, 2004
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    Here is a quick review of the Saint ATC Elite from Springfield Armory.

    Why This Gun?
    I was always fascinated by the Drake Athena Chassis...and also horrified. Would this be the biggest waste of time ever or what?

    The claim to fame was that nothing touched the barrel nut at all...which is also something that some other companies now do in a lower profile and more traditional package.

    I wouldn't be here at all, but you see I have a dark secret... I like the HK91. A lot. Sexually. And an AR that shared some of the looks of the HK91 with a bit of a potential boost in functionality? Why the Fuck Not!?

    Street price was $1650. I have toilets that cost that much. I was in.

    TL-DR
    Fuck you! Read my shit. Enrich your brain!

    I mean, accuracy testing is still out on this thing, but I really like what I see.

    SA missed an opportunity with not going fluted on the barrel, and I'll probably drop a Ranier Ultra Match in there to shave off about a pound. Same thing with the barrel nut, it sucks some. Wasn't really meant for this gun.

    Every control but the trigger sucks ass and is getting a replacement.

    The chassis is machined SUPER good. And the H-250 Cerakote is a great color and fixes the problems with the upper being 7075 and the lower 6061 and looking weird.

    I will likely use this as my testbed for barrels in the future cause its easy to change shit on it, and when you swap uppers the optic is still zeroed.

    I suspect mounting stuff on its mlok interface is gonna suck badly. Badly.

    DICKS AHOY!
    IMG_6321.jpg



    First Glance

    Its a sexy little bastard. I'm gonna say I really love the colors. Well, color. The stock and grip match it as well as any gun I have seen ever.

    IMG_6281.jpg


    Bottom of the handguard has some junk in its trunk that breaks up the solid outline.

    IMG_6282.jpg


    SA's muzzle break seems pretty good actually. Like a SF one but with some compensation. Also, you can smash someones face in with authority if you place the muzzle in their mouth and then hit them in the chin with these serrations. It looks good, but WTF?

    IMG_6284.jpg


    I know...no pink right? She has her underwear on you sickos. Square forge (BAFE) standard USGI upper.

    IMG_6285.jpg


    Cocksucking USGI carry handle. I held back - you don't want to know how I really feel about these.

    IMG_6290.jpg


    Decent QD style end-late. Non-ambi safety, just in case you need to die when needing to switch hands. The castle nut is staked.

    IMG_6291.jpg



    GETTING SCREWED

    The SA gun includes a multi-faceted locking system that holds the upper and the front rail in perfect alignment. This is the part of the technology I'll be looking at the most, as frankly it could wear out/suck badly or be perfectly fine.

    IMG_6283.jpg

    IMG_6287.jpg

    IMG_6288.jpg



    DROP THOSE PANTIES

    Reach down and grab the SA's draw string and they come right off.

    IMG_6292.jpg

    IMG_6293.jpg


    This upper rail section thingy is a work of art.

    IMG_6294.jpg


    STANDARD NAKED AR STUFF

    BA Heavy Profile SPR Barrel. Jesus this chick needs to lose some weight here. Way to get your barrel nut from a bankrupt tractor factory, SA.

    IMG_6295.jpg


    I suspect this gas block is going to be on there. A lot. Like the nitrocarb is fucked up from the factory putting it on the first time.

    IMG_6296.jpg


    I like pinned gas blocks. Reliability usually oozes out of them.

    IMG_6297.jpg


    MPI 9130 bolt doesn't suck. Nice chromed bore as well. Looks like a Nitrocarb finish and decent staking.
    IMG_6300.jpg


    Side note - how many fucking test rounds did you fire SA? I'd like to have some barrel life left you know.

    IMG_6301.jpg

    IMG_6302.jpg


    MORE ON THE LOCATING SYSTEM

    These are part of the upper/lower/rail locating system. Man they work good too. This thing is a rock when you tighten it all.

    Check out the lock on the chassis upper rail...Its made out of depleted uranium with an outer shell of neutronium, held in place with the jack from a FMTV. It smacks of lightweight efficiency.

    IMG_6303.jpg

    IMG_6305.jpg


    If this gun works out, I'm gonna make several uppers that go in it. I'll have to duplicate these dimples, but thankfully the lower will make a perfect locating mark when you slap the undrilled upper into it and tighten.

    IMG_6316.jpg


    H buffer. Runs smooth in the tube as well.

    IMG_6307.jpg
     

    6.5SH

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    Nice write up, was expecting some keymod commentary after "dicks ahoy!". I'm guessing the serrations were intended for barricade stop/brace use, but that angle on the guard fucked up the ability to actually use it as intended.
     

    The King

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  • Sep 17, 2004
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    Nice write up, was expecting some keymod commentary after "dicks ahoy!". I'm guessing the serrations were intended for barricade stop/brace use, but that angle on the guard fucked up the ability to actually use it as intended.
    I agree ok the barricade thing - I just don’t like to barricade with the barrel on the rocks.

    It looks good.
     

    Trigger Monkey

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  • Apr 29, 2005
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    Great pics, I've got the base version coming for review here pretty soon, it'll be interesting to check out. Ironically, I sent SA an email last year asking if they'd do a DMR version of their Saint Victor and made some component suggestions based on some parts they already use on other guns. I never heard back from them but the ATC isn't what I had in mind.
     

    The King

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  • Sep 17, 2004
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    After removing the barrel from the gun and comparing it to other AR's without a barrel, I can say that it feels very similar weight wise.

    You can tell the SA has an inner fat chick that wants to lean on you to see if you stop breathing and she can get all of your shit instead of half of it...but its not horribly offensive.

    A lighter barrel is coming for sure. And yeah - the drake design could have some more cuts in the handguard area to lighten it I think, but the stuff taken out of the bottom helps for sure.

    THAT said - I love the fact that I have never felt a more solid AR platform rifle in my hands. Nothing moves in any way.
     

    Trigger Monkey

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  • Apr 29, 2005
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    I was a little disappointed to see the one MLOK slot on the bottom and it doesn't look like you'd be able to mount an ARCA plate on there anyway. If you wanted to mount this on a tripod it appears you'd have to go with a convoluted set up with a small pic rail and then an adapter set up to go from the pic rail to ARCA.
     
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    The King

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  • Sep 17, 2004
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    I shot arca setups for a long time. and then I realized that there was a lot to like with the HOG saddle. Like not having to put the arca rail weight on the gun, not having to figure out which of the arca setups...blah...blah...

    I also liked the ability to transition to a nearby target even if my tripod was accidentally locked hardcore. The Hog gives you a little flex.
     

    Trigger Monkey

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  • Apr 29, 2005
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    I see your point for sure. I've got an ARCA set up on most of my rifles but there is something about it that's a bit annoying. I'm toying with using my game changer on top of a homemade tripod table so it'd be something a little more universal.
     

    Tx_Aggie

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    I was a little disappointed to see the one MLOK slot on the bottom and it doesn't look like you'd be able to mount an ARCA plate on there anyway. If you wanted to mount this on a tripod it appears you'd have to go with a convoluted set up with a small pic rail and then an adapter set up to go from the pic rail to ARCA.

    Not with a RRS BTC style clamp, like the one on an Anvil-30. Those clamp to both Arca and Pic rails, so you'd only need a short section of Pic rail mounted into that m-lok slot.

    But I agree, a flat bottomed handguard with integrated Arca would be preferable.
     

    Trigger Monkey

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  • Apr 29, 2005
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    Not with a RRS BTC style clamp, like the one on an Anvil-30. Those clamp to both Arca and Pic rails, so you'd only need a short section of Pic rail mounted into that m-lok slot.

    But I agree, a flat bottomed handguard with integrated Arca would be preferable.

    True and I have the BTC-Pro on my Atlas to go between the two but I was thinking more generally, not everyone is running Anvil-30's.
     
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    The King

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  • Sep 17, 2004
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    I see your point for sure. I've got an ARCA set up on most of my rifles but there is something about it that's a bit annoying. I'm toying with using my game changer on top of a homemade tripod table so it'd be something a little more universal.
    I love being able to move the gun some...AND leave the gun. Clamp the HOG saddle down tight and roll.

    Its the reason I don't run a table. I want the gun to cover an area where there are yotes for example without me having to hold it or set it down.
     

    thehun

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    Great platform. Hate that it’s in .223…and specifically 1:7…

    I’ve found that .223 Wylde shines with an 18” barrel using 1:8 twist rate…
     

    Trigger Monkey

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  • Apr 29, 2005
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    I gotcha. I don't hunt coyotes but I can certainly the see the benefits of the HOG saddle in your case, it makes sense. I shoot matches every now and then or just shoot for fun so my thinking is I can strap or just set the GC on the table, set the tripod, and lay the gun across for a stage or whatever. Going back to ARCA specifically, the feel of an ARCA rail in the hand is getting old on a couple of my rifles.
     

    The King

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  • Sep 17, 2004
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    Great platform. Hate that it’s in .223…and specifically 1:7…

    I’ve found that .223 Wylde shines with an 18” barrel using 1:8 twist rate…

    I have enough experience now on 18" guns to say that the 1-8 twisters seem to shoot lighter bullets a little better and the 1-7 twisters seem to be able to lob 77/75-grainers at transonic transition with far less squirting when it hits the wall.

    Its very hard to tell until you have gone through 20 of each twist barrel though - 3 barrels from the same manufacturer with 3 consecutive serial numbers shoot so differently its not funny.

    What I like about this gun is its just a M4 upper cerakoted H-250. So I'll be able to just buy an upper for $60, cerakote it, and drop in my better grade barrels like Craddocks and Shilens and test stuff easy peasy. And the optic stays zeroed when I do that, which was always my switch barrel asspain.

    My first caliber swap is gonna be a .224V Criterion upper.
     

    thehun

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    .224V would be ideal in this.

    I’m hoping they come out with a .308/6.5 variant.
     

    The King

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  • Sep 17, 2004
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    .224V would be ideal in this.

    I’m hoping they come out with a .308/6.5 variant.
    I know Drake was close on it. I do think it would make more sense as a gun.

    My counterthought is only personal...I have a LMT 6.5 CM that shot several 3-shot .1x groups and so I don't need a Saint 6.5CM. But I might get one if this thing works out.
     
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    The King

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  • Sep 17, 2004
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    Shot first groups. Hornady 75GR frontier - not the best results. 3" Switched to 77GR MK262, got a little better. 1.5"

    75gr Hornady 556 Superformance was the best round printing a .8 group. Second group was 1.1" at 5 shots.

    I'm not taking pics and posting them on this yet because the throat is still burnishing in. I'm going to clean and fire 10 boxes 556 ball in 40 round intervals and then go back to accuracy testing.

    I have found that most barrels in AR's want some rounds before they perform the best.
     

    Trigger Monkey

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  • Apr 29, 2005
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    I've never had good results with Hornady 75gr Frontier but I shot some 55gr HP and 68gr Match that did well in a few guns. SA said they've had good results with Federal 77gr GMM out of the ATC's. I have some of that and 69gr GMM that I'm going to try out when mine comes in.
     

    6.5SH

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    Looking at the product page, LaRue trigger and Ballistic Advantage barrel. Guess that explains some of their availability issues recently.
     

    The King

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  • Sep 17, 2004
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    AAAND we are now a customer support review thread for Springfield armory. Sent them image of bore and more data -they said the CS equivalent of "oh shit".

    They are sending me a prepaid fedex label to slap on a box - something I always appreciate because shipping guns is expensive and a broke gun shouldn't get more expensive than retail all of the sudden.
     

    The King

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  • Sep 17, 2004
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    Woot. LOL. 2 different match ammo types. 100y


    Ammo1
    1641655393235.jpg


    Ammo2

    1641655425251.jpg


    I then changed guns to my known good rig I use to figure out if ammo or scopes suck, or if I need a handjob before shooting that day:

    Ammo1


    1641655503578.jpg


    Ammo2
    1641655528926.jpg
     
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    Tx_Aggie

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    It should be interesting to see how they handle the issue with the barrel. And how the gun shoots with a new barrel/upper, assuming the do right and replace it.

    Edit to add: Thanks for taking the time to start and update this thread.
     

    The King

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  • Sep 17, 2004
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    So I am lazy - and haven't updated this stuff yet. I haven't sent my rifle back off to Springfield as I'm still dealing with CommieCron.

    I did go to mock this thing up in its final form - and I noticed something that folks should be aware of.

    You can't put a picatinny rail in the Mlok slots - it goes in but there is no room to actually put something on the rail that you install.

    Translation? You pretty much can't mount stuff you might need for night work on this gun. Not if you plan on using clip-ons. You can get a SF pro Mlok light on there and thats about it.
     

    Trigger Monkey

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  • Apr 29, 2005
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    Well, it's a Ballistic Advantage barrel so you kinda roll the dice on how that's going to work out I think. I don't have a bore scope to look in the chamber but it shot 69 gr FGMM at .54", .42", and .67" and 77gr at .54", .42", and 1.19" (flubbed a round), so I'm thinking it's fine.
     

    Trigger Monkey

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    You can't put a picatinny rail in the Mlok slots - it goes in but there is no room to actually put something on the rail that you install.

    Translation? You pretty much can't mount stuff you might need for night work on this gun. Not if you plan on using clip-ons. You can get a SF pro Mlok light on there and thats about it.

    So I looked at this issue this evening and you're pretty much right, if you want to run a picatinny rail in those slots to mount an accessory, it's not happening. Fun fact, if you run an MLOK accessory in the last slot, you can't take the upper rail off because the t-nut hits the barrel nut.

    I believe there are options though if you want to run a light/laser on the ATC. For example, an MLOK offset light mount reversed to run down, will put the accessory at about 9 o'clock and pushed out from the handguard about a 1/4-3/8". Magpul, Arisaka Defense, BCM, IWC, etc...have options that will work, so I don't believe all is lost.
     

    The King

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  • Sep 17, 2004
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    Not yet but it’s on me not them. They got me a label pretty quick but I have been busy filling 5 gallon buckets with 6.5 PRC and .300 PRC brass.
     
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    The King

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  • Sep 17, 2004
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    I decided to put a nice barrel in this setup today. The replacement from SA was never gonna shoot up to my standards. And I ordered a Craddock for my BCM mk12 which I suspect will shoot fine.

    Good news? Well, I put the BCM castle nut tool on the SA upper to remove the nut. The nut slots stripped at 106.7 ft lbs of torque on the barrel nut.

    I then made a special tool to get the nut off that had about a half inch of steel you would have to break off to get it not to turn, and I added heat from a propane torch.

    I was proud of that tool - it broke at 262 ft lbs without the barrel nut letting go. SO this upper is getting the barrel nut parted on it - because why the fuck would I ever need to get that off?

    At this point there is no way that removing that nut is safe - chances are good the threads are heavily damaged. I'm betting SA hydraulically installed this nut and damaged the piss out of the threads. My reac rod was surprisingly OK.
     
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    The King

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  • Sep 17, 2004
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    Parted the barrel nut fine - then it let go.

    Upper fit to the barrel extension was "meh". Not great, but not BCM or VLTOR type fit. I took a barrel out of a BCM and had to hammer it out this week.
     

    Trigger Monkey

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  • Apr 29, 2005
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    Glad I'm not the only one that thought it was hella tight on there, a while back I tried taking the barrel nut off my SAINT Victor using heat and a BCM barrel nut tool and ended up fucking up the slots in the barrel nut. I don't know at what amount of of torque that occured but I eventually just said fuck it and put the handguard back on after I repaired the barrel nut.
     
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    The King

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  • Sep 17, 2004
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    Went out and shot with the BCM barrel - which I had suspected sucked. Wanted to try it over here just in case - and with adjustable gas to tame the can.

    Bueno? No, Senor. No bueno.

    Finding: the BCM barrel sucks still.

    This is a 1:10 mil target. so....1.5” with the occasional 2 and 3” group.

    1655235066582.jpeg
     

    bigjake83

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    I was really hoping that they would start selling this as just a chassis system so you could drop whatever barreled upper in you like. How long is that handguard? Would it cover a +2 system??

    Also do you think is would accommodate a .875 or larger gas block?
     

    The King

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  • Sep 17, 2004
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    I was really hoping that they would start selling this as just a chassis system so you could drop whatever barreled upper in you like. How long is that handguard? Would it cover a +2 system??

    Also do you think is would accommodate a .875 or larger gas block?
    +2 = no
    .875 = yeah.
     

    reubenski

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    The chassis could have been executed a lot better IMO, no doubt about that, it's a great concept but some of the design aspects make zero sense.
    Pretty sure the situation that created this rifle is someone's job got threatened that if they didn't innovate by some suspense date they're going to get replaced and so they came up with this
     

    Trigger Monkey

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    Well, the good idea fairy definitely blessed that chassis. SA licensed the chassis from Drake Associates so the initial design work was already done but I don't think there was anyone at SA to go..."maybe we should think about this a minute." I like the concept of the chassis but I believe it could've been made slimmer, lighter, and with more modularity then what's there now.

    In fairness though, the model I got to review shot very well (after I dropped in a 3 1/2 lb trigger) and it easily exceeded SA's accuracy guarantee. The wide, heavy forend made it pretty good off a front bag and it was comfortable in positions like traditional sitting and kneeling. So yeah it's ugly as sin but it seems to work. That being said, I'm not keeping this one, it's good but enough for me to switch from my SPR that's 2 lbs lighter and more maneuverable.
     

    The King

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  • Sep 17, 2004
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    I always loved the HK91 and this reminded me of it a lot.

    I will say this - it’s solid as hell. Nothing moves on the lower and rail. And it feels awesome as an off hand gun - if I were shooting lots of positional style stuff this would be very high on my list of modern guns.

    This week it gets to rock a Craddock for a little bit to see what it does.
     

    The King

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  • Sep 17, 2004
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    Well, the good idea fairy definitely blessed that chassis. SA licensed the chassis from Drake Associates so the initial design work was already done but I don't think there was anyone at SA to go..."maybe we should think about this a minute." I like the concept of the chassis but I believe it could've been made slimmer, lighter, and with more modularity then what's there now.

    In fairness though, the model I got to review shot very well (after I dropped in a 3 1/2 lb trigger) and it easily exceeded SA's accuracy guarantee. The wide, heavy forend made it pretty good off a front bag and it was comfortable in positions like traditional sitting and kneeling. So yeah it's ugly as sin but it seems to work. That being said, I'm not keeping this one, it's good but enough for me to switch from my SPR that's 2 lbs lighter and more maneuverable.
    Solid reply.

    I did kit my gun out the same as my SPR and found the chassis weighs only .5 more lbs than a Radian M1.

    With a fluted or CF barrel this unit is solidly back in the weight running.

    Im going to keep this setup as a test rig for barrels I think.
     

    Trigger Monkey

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  • Apr 29, 2005
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    I might be a little off on the 2 lbs but it was close to that , it was a noticeable difference. About a year and a half ago I sent the editor for Armory Life an email and asked him if they'd thought about making a DMR. I spec'd out some parts from what they were already using but never heard anything from it, then I saw the ATC...not what I had in mind.

    I think it'd make some kind of sense to make the standard ATC what the Elite version is now and remake the Elite with a carbon barrel, adjustable gas block, and chambered in .223 Wylde and 6 ARC. That is if SA was really wanting to innovate and take the risk, it might sell, it'd be cool to see at least.
     

    The King

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  • Sep 17, 2004
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    Also, I think this would for sure be a neat gun in 6.5CM. All the negatives go away pretty much - except I will say I wish it had some pica tinny up front or something. Turns out you can't mount shit in the mlok slot at all unless its a flashlight on an offset mount. OR make a special offset pic rail thing that goes to 90 degrees when it is in one of those slots.

    Regular pic rails don't work there because it doesn't clear the top pic rail correctly.