Springfield Armory Saint Victor Carbine STV91609B 9mm Luger


Pistol Caliber Carbines are the latest rage for action shooting sports and self-defense classes —and why not? They can weigh less, recoil less, and cost less to shoot than their centerfire rifle brethren. But as current as the concept seems, it is not exactly a new idea. History tells us that Colt Firearms finally agreed to chamber is Single Action Army pistols in 44 WCF (also known as the 44-40) in 1877. This was a major step for the company since they had refused to offer their pistols in anything except 45 Colt to that point. That concession allowed Colt’s customers (about half the cowboys in the American West) to carry a single cartridge that would fit their pistol and their 1873 Winchester rifle. This meant they could carry one type of ammo that could be used in their revolver for close-range work and the same round in a short-barreled rifle, bringing them more capacity, greater range, and better accuracy.

In today’s marketplace, when 223 Remington and 308 Winchester rounds are more available than a couple of years ago but are still expensive, the 9mm Luger appears to be the cartridge de jure. Having seemingly won the pistol caliber wars over the 45 ACP, the 9mm is the most popular centerfire cartridge in America today by a substantial margin and still growing. Our search for less-expensive training and competition options led us to three 9mm Pistol Caliber Carbines, each of which filled a slightly different niche.

These Springfield Armory Saint Victors in 9mm (top) and 308 Winchester (bottom) show how the action is designed around the cartridges.

Our first test piece is the new FPC (Folding Pistol Carbine) from Smith & Wesson. It is a lightweight break-action that we are seeing sell for under $600. The next is the brand-new Saint Victor Carbine from Springfield Armory. Based on a simplified straight-blowback action, we’ve found this PCC for a little over a grand. Our last sample is the MPX from SIG Sauer in a variant built to be competitive right out of the box for USPSA PCC division. Cost for all those bells and whistles is around $2000.

The United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) has been one of the primary driving forces in action pistol competition for well over 40 years now. Once almost exclusively the purview of shooters using large-caliber single-stack semi-autos, USPSA has diversified. Growing from two recognized divisions with specialized equipment allowed, there are currently eight certified divisions and a ninth provisional category being tested. The last two formally accepted divisions (Carry Optics and Pistol Caliber Carbine) are hot right now, and both offer some of the same advantages: lighter-recoiling chamberings (almost always 9mm), larger magazine capacities, and optical sights. All that means is that the pistols and PCCs are relatively easy to shoot, comfortable to shoot, and forgiving to those with less than eagle eyes.

Competition is a demanding taskmaster. What doesn’t work is changed or forgotten quickly and SIG Sauer has been in the forefront of these two divisions. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that they have Max Michel and Lena Miculek shooting for them and telling them what works. The SIG P320X and Legion series pistols have been a huge success for SIG in both the Production and Carry Optics Division. Likewise, the MPX pistol-caliber carbine has done the same for the PCC Division. So we were interested in seeing how the more-mature MPX platform set the tone for new pistol-caliber carbines from S&W and Springfield Armory.

To help us get the best out of the carbines, we attached a Holosun AEMS (Advanced Enclosed Micro Sight), which runs about $400 from Brownells.com. Because this test group lives in a mostly green world, we chose the red-dot option over the green. This version provides a 32-minute-of-angle (moa) circle around a 2-moa dot. Not only does the AEMS come with an expected battery life of up to 50,000 hours, the battery compartment opens from the side for easy power replacement, and the sight has a solar back up. Add in the aluminum housing along with the flip-down lens cover, and we found this to be a very sturdy sight. Here’s how the rifles performed.

Springfield Armory Saint Victor Carbine STV91609B 9mm Luger



The fastest, most accurate PCC in this test, if Springfield would put as good a trigger in this as SIG does in the MPX, they would have a solid A in our book.

Action Type Semi-auto, blowback
Overall Length 35.0 in.
Barrel Length/Twist 16 in., 1:10 in.
Overall Height w/o Scope Mount 7.1 in.
Weight Unloaded 7.0 lbs.
Weight Loaded 8.4 lbs.
Sight Radius 19.25 in.
Action Finish Matte-black Melonite
Barrel Finish Matte-black Melonite
Magazine Capacity32
Magazine Type Colt-pattern detachable box
Stock Black polymer
Stock Drop at Comb 0.5 in. below top of receiver
Stock Drop at Heel 0.5 in. below top of receiver
Stock Bedding NA
Stock Buttplate Checkered rubber
Stock Length of Pull Adj., 11.0 to 14.5 in.
Receiver Scope-Base Pattern Picatinny rail
Trigger Pull Weight 5.3 lbs.
Safety Ambidextrous thumb
Warranty Limited lifetime for original owner
Telephone (800) 680-6866
Website Springfield-Armory.com
Made In U.S.

Springfield Armory offers its modern sporting rifles in three levels — the Saint, Saint Victor, and the Edge. The 9mm PCC version is built at the Saint Victor level. Enhancements include a flat-faced nickel boron trigger along with a Melonite-coated barrel and bolt-carrier group.

We saw a lot more we liked in this carbine. The 16-inch barrel is surrounded by a 15-inch free-floating handguard. The three-gun competitor who likes to wrap his thumb forward and over the barrel has a lot of real estate to work with. Like on the M&P, seven of the eight flats on the Springfield’s octagonal handguard are full of M-Lok slots. The upper receiver and the muzzle end of the fore end are topped by a Picatinny rail. Springfield provides good pop-up iron sights which, along with the Pic rail, allow the user to run this carbine as is or to easily add an optic. Our sights were adjustable for elevation at the front and for windage on the rear. Both sights were well protected. 

The barrel is threaded, and our sample (most do) came with the Springfield forward blast diverter installed. While not a true muzzle brake, it does serve that purpose to some extent. Perhaps more important, the diverter pushes the noise forward and away from the shooter’s ears. Circular, with a diameter around 1.1 inches, the blast diverter only protrudes about 1.2 inches past the end of the handguard. The breech end of the diverter begins inside the handguard.

The action is made from forged 7075 T6 aluminum and is then Type III Hard Coat anodized. It also incorporates the Accu-Tite tensioning system. The lower receiver is machined specifically for 9mm. This is not a standard 223 lower that uses an insert. We feel this shows Springfield’s dedication to the platform and removes one more assembly where tolerances could stack and create problems. There are three different carbines in this test and three different methods for supplying ammunition. This version is built to accept Colt-pattern stick magazines. Our sample came with a single 32-round magazine, and 10-rounders are available. Additional magazines are available on the Springfield Armory website for $42 and $32 each, respectively. 

The internals are all we would expect from a well-made firearm. The proper parts have been high-pressure tested and magnetic particle inspected. The receiver features an ambidextrous safety that was easy to manipulate, along with the aforementioned trigger upgrade. We like the flat face and the consistent leverage that creates for the trigger finger. At a measured 5.25 pounds, it was also the heaviest trigger in this test, and you know what we are going to say about that. It was predictable and smooth with a short travel, but we would love to see 1 to 2 pounds come off that pull weight, especially for all the competitive shooters. 

The polymer furniture is made by B5 Systems. The pistol grip has a good, raised pattern on the sides allowing a secure purchase. The front strap feels taller and more aggressive. We liked the overall effect. The buttstock provides six adjustment notches and ends with a hard rubber pad. There is also a single QD point at the rear of the stock as well as one on the receiver end plate. For those who like a single-point sling, life is good. It is also very easy to mount an additional QD point on the M-Lok rail.

The Saint Victor uses a blowback design like the Smith, meaning that there is no mechanical lock or device that serves to delay the action from opening until peak pressures have subsided. Rather the bolt carrier group’s own weight and strong springs accomplish the same purpose. Having that much reciprocating mass changes the feel of the recoil impulse, especially when compared to the gas-piston design of the SIG MPX. The felt recoil suggested to us that the Springfield might suffer a little on the speed tests, but that was not the case. This Springfield won both speed drills, beating out both competitors by small amounts (one by as little as 0.09 seconds), but win it did. Shooting five-shot groups at 30 yards with the Springfield Saint Victor, we posted sub-inch averages with everything tried except the 147-grain handloads. Nothing really liked that load. Function and feeding were perfect through more than 200 rounds.

Our Team Said: This was the fastest, most accurate carbine in this test. If this had as good a trigger as the MPX, it would get a solid A grade. As it is, we like this one the best of this trio, and it’s half the cost of the SIG.

Reloads 147-grain FMJ Smith & Wesson FPC Springfield Saint VictorSIG Sauer MPX
Average Velocity 1062 fps 1060 fps 1044 fps
Muzzle Energy 368 ft.-lbs. 367 ft.-lbs. 356 ft.-lbs.
Best Group 2.39 in. 2.17 in. 3.61 in.
Average Group 2.91 in. 2.35 in. 3.97 in.
Remington 115-grain FMJSmith & Wesson FPC Springfield Saint Victor SIG Sauer MPX
Average Velocity 1308 fps 1335 fps 1342 fps
Muzzle Energy 437 ft.-lbs. 455 ft.-lbs. 460 ft.-lbs.
Best Group 1.08 in. 0.68 in. 1.34 in.
Average Group 1.15 in. 0.93 in. 1.47 in.
Winchester 124-grain FMJ Smith & Wesson FPC
Springfield Saint Victor
Average Velocity 1278 fps 1293 fps 1283 fps
Muzzle Energy 450 ft.-lbs. 461 ft.-lbs. 453 ft.-lbs.
Average Group 1.37 in. 0.95 in. 1.83 in.
Best Group 1.18 in. 0.79 in. 1.49 in.
Speer 147-grain Gold Dot
Smith & Wesson FPC
Springfield Saint Victor
Average Velocity 1134 fps 1167 fps 1134 fps
Muzzle Energy 420 ft.-lbs. 444 ft.-lbs. 420 ft.-lbs.
Best Group 0.91 in. 0.83 in.1.02 in.

All shooting was done at American Shooting Centers in west Houston, where we fired multiple five-shot groups at 30 yards. Averages were for three groups. Additional speed drills were run at 9 and 30 yards on steel plates. 

We tested using 115-grain FMJ Range ammo from Remington along with Winchester 124-grain “Clean” Ammo and Speer 147-grain Gold Dot. We tested with some handloaded ammo we’ve used for years, consisting of 147-grain FMJs from RMR loaded with CCI small pistol primers and Titegroup powder. These have served us well in pistol competition. The results from this test show we need to do more work to develop a proper PCC load. 

All rifles were well-sandbagged in a Caldwell TackDriver Pro rest (Brownells.com 100-027-023, $49), further supported by a large rear bag from Tab Gear (TabGear.com, $34). Velocities were measured by a LabRadar chronograph (MyLabRadar.com, $559).


DRILL Data (1x10x30)
Carbine Total Time
SIG Sauer MPX 1.3180000000000001
Smith & Wesson FPC1.2350000000000001
Springfield Saint Victor 1.2230000000000001

Process: Fire one shot from low ready at a 10-inch circle placed at 30 yards. Numbers are 

averages for four repetitions.


Carbine Total Time
SIG Sauer MPX3.7970000000000002
Smith & Wesson 4.3769999999999998
Springfield Saint Victor 3.4969999999999999

Process: Fire six shots from low ready at 4-inch plates at 9 yards. Numbers are averages for two repetitions.

Written and photographed by Joe Woolley, using evaluations from Gun Tests Team members. GT


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