Springfield Armory SAINT Victor
Were it not for the military's adoption of the AR15 as the M16, the gun designed by Eugene Stoner may have just been a footnote in American arms development. On July 4, 1960, Air Force General Curtis LeMay attended a BBQ at a farm in Maryland owned by Dick Boutelle, President of Armalite Division, Fairchild Hiller Corporation. It was there that he unknowingly set in motion the steps necessary for the AR15 to become widely regarded as “America's Rifle,” found today in countless homes for self-defense, on competition ranges claiming victory, and in the field stalking wild game.
LeMay was a seasoned veteran of World War II and still holds the distinction of being the youngest four-star general in American history, having earned the fourth star in 1951 at the age of 44. At the time of the BBQ in 1960, he was the Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, making him one of the event's most esteemed guests.
Like all good Independence Day celebrations, the BBQ attendees enjoyed some trigger time with a variety of firearms, including a Colt Armalite AR15 Model 01.
Watermelons were placed downrange and General LeMay was given the opportunity to shoot this new rifle at the delicious targets out to, at least, 100 yards. After the general had destroyed the melons with ease, it was brought to his attention that there was one melon remaining.
When asked if the final target should be placed downrange, LeMay declined. Instead, he offered an alternate plan: “Let's eat the son of a bitch!”
General LeMay knew that the military was looking for a new rifle to replace the heavy M1 Garand and M14 rifles, but without reducing firepower to the level of the M1 carbine.
After the target practice (and impromptu military trial) concluded, it became clear to the general that the Colt Armalite AR15 rifle may be just the gun they were looking for. Because LeMay was so impressed with the rifle, he placed an order for 8,500 units to be delivered by Colt to the Air Force.
Now, with the benefit of 59 years' worth of hindsight, one can easily draw a (relatively) straight line from Air Force General Curtis LeMay's watermelon shoot in 1960 to the M4 rifles currently fielded by countless American soldiers overseas, as well as the AR15 rifles in equally as many American homes.
Today, Springfield Armory carries on that lineage of “America’s Rifle” with their SAINT Victor line, available in rifle, pistol, and SBR configurations. There’s even an AR-10 version in .308 Winchester.
Regardless of the configuration you choose, they all share a number of common components that have been “carefully selected for professional-grade defensive firearms” and then “built to professional standards for unrivaled performance.” Aside from being built on Springfield Armory’s highly successful SAINT platform, the new Victor line features M-LOK free float handguards, pinned low-profile gas blocks, and nickel boron coated single-stage flat-faced triggers.
The rifles come range-ready with spring-loaded flip-up iron sights, while the pistols and SBRs are ready to accept the optic of your choice. Furniture from companies like SB Tactical for the pistol brace and Bravo Company for the .308’s buttstock and pistol grip ensure quality and performance that will stand up to even the toughest use. ~ T. Logan
Logan is a historian with a focus on firearms history and development. He runs High Caliber History LLC and has more than a decade of experience working for the Smithsonian Institution, the National Park Service, and the NRA Museums. His ability to present history and research in an engaging manner has made him a sought after consultant, writer, and museum professional. The ease with which he can recall obscure historical facts and figures makes him very good at Jeopardy!, but exceptionally bad at geometry. For more information, please visit www.highcaliberhistory.com.