June 29, 2023
While there have been hundreds of new rifles introduced over the past few years, none have seemed to gather the attention of Springfield’s 2020 Waypoint. With the Remington 700 fading from the backdrop, this left a void for the rifle shooter looking for a premium product from a name that is older than the country itself.
The Waypoint reveals a .75-MOA accuracy guarantee. This level of precision requires the sum of many well-made parts created through immensely regulated procedures, starting with the receiver. The heart and soul of each Waypoint begins life as a solid billet of steel that is hardened before ever seeing a CNC milling bit. This process makes machining more challenging, but because it eliminates flaking and overrun cutting, it yields the tightest product possible. If you’ve ever picked up one of Springfield’s signature 1911s, you’ve seen and felt the result of this laborious process. Once each block is ready for work, Springfield crafts them with a few aspects that rise above the norm. Among these is an integrated recoil lug to ensure that its position inside of the stock never changes as well as EDM wire-cut raceways for the tightest, smoothest bolt engagements possible.
For those unfamiliar with this technology, it uses an electric discharge to remove the metal instead of conventional milling or grinding. Therefore, because nothing ever touches the surface being worked on, there is no possible way of leaving behind any rough spots or tool marks. This paves the way for a refined bolt system with a continuous head and body cut with the latest CNC technology. Its dual-lug design seamlessly meshes with the chamber; this is made apparent by the resounding “cha-chunk” sound it makes when allowed to fall freely. Twin cocking cams ensure that cracking it open is just as smooth by counter-balancing each other and taking twice the load off of your wrist. Lastly, the entire assembly is nitrided to help retain its smoothness and shield it from the elements. The action feeds from common AICS-pattern magazines with a 5-round model being supplied to satisfy most hunting jurisdictions. For other needs, MDT makes magazines ranging from 3 to 12 rounds.
The Waypoint is offered in two barrel choices: a deeply-fluted, stainless-steel version and one that utilizes carbon fiber to shave weight. Both options are available chambered in 6 or 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, or .308 Winchester. Each barrel is crowned with a radial brake, which is affixed via 5/8x24 threading and makes it easy to add a sound or flash suppressor if that’s more your bag. As for my preference, I “settled” on a test gun chambered in .308 Win. and kept it classic with the stainless-steel barrel, figuring this would put it in the same class as most of the other rifles I tested over the past two years.
The barreled assembly is set into a hand-laid carbon-fiber stock that represents a unique collaboration between Springfield Armory and AG Composites. Using a proprietary blend of resin and other materials, this stock cradles the action through a system of pillar bedding and offers the shooter all of the features they desire. In total, the waypoint offers no less than five QD sockets to hang a sling wherever you like. Additionally, three M-LOK slots are located on the underside of the forend to affix accessories like bipods, sling swivels, or a Picatinny rail section for endless possibilities. My model also featured the adjustable cheek riser, which allowed me to tweak it to better fit my face; however, that would have to come after I mounted a scope.
For testing, I chose a 4-16X optic. This magnification range fits the .308 chambering perfectly, as it swings low enough for the 50-yard engagements it’ll likely see while offering 16X for those longer pokes that this cartridge is undoubtedly capable of. Springfield Armory includes a pre-mounted Picatinny rail with each Waypoint, so the installation was as simple as torquing down some ring hardware and calling it a day. For the test, I chose a high-quality hunting cartridge, an inexpensive plinker, and a match-grade offering that was built with an indisputably known, accurate bullet for this caliber.
My range session started by zeroing the rifle, cleaning it, and checking the three-shot .75-MOA claim. The rifle met it on nearly every occasion with both the Hornady Precision Hunter and the Winchester Match rounds. As predicted, the Remington practice ammo didn’t pull it off, but nobody ever claimed it would, including Remington. I did find this 150-grain load to be incredibly mild and just fine for smacking steel out to 400 yards, which is the furthest that I had to test it with. By now, I already had a thorough appreciation of this remarkably smooth action, not to mention the TriggerTech trigger, which broke exceptionally clean. It arrived from the factory set to 3.5 pounds, but I found that I could crank it down to a hair below 2.5. For those who like it a little stiffer, you can rotate the adjustment screw in the other direction to achieve a pull weight slightly heavier than 5 pounds. Something else I love about this system is the push-to-fire safety that doesn’t need to be removed or placed into a middle position to work the bolt. When you’ve just spent 10 hours in the freezing cold, this manipulation is murder on your digits, and being half delirious warrants 100-percent assurance that your weapon is on Safe when you are unloading it. Moving onto formal five-shot testing, groups opened up a bit, but that’s just a function of any average known to man. If you want to see unsatisfactory results, just give something enough trials; people are the same way. Nonetheless, they were perfectly aligned with what one should expect from this rifle and won’t be the reason game is left in the field.
I finished the rest of my ammo by firing the Waypoint in various field positions, including offhand. I found that it balanced well, with the best place to rest my support hand being directly underneath the magazine well. Proning out was also comfortable, and the rubber recoil pad kept the buttstock precisely where I needed it in between shots. The brake proved to be so efficient that I wonder if the inch-thick rubber is even necessary.
Springfield Armory did a bang-up job on this platform. Through the culmination of quality components and a thoughtful design, this offering is sure to please any precision rifle shooter or hunter. In closing, I found the 2020 Waypoint to be an excellent addition to the short-action stable while representing craftsmanship that takes it beyond “just another bolt-action rifle.”
2020 Waypoint Specifications
- Type: Bolt-action repeater
- Cartridge: .308 Winchester
- Capacity: 5 rds.
- Barrel: 20 in.
- Overall Length: 41.25 in.
- Height: 6.5 in.
- Width: 2.04 in.
- Weight: 7.7 lbs.
- Finish: Mil-spec green Cerakote
- Trigger: Single stage; adjustable 2 lbs., 9 oz. to 5 lbs., 1 oz.
- Sights: None; Picatinny rail included
- Stock: Carbon fiber
- MSRP: $2,244
- Manufacturer: Springfield Armory, springfield-armory.com
Federal Custom Shop
Factory ammunition is indeed a modern marvel. As a handloader, I have a deep appreciation for the work that must go into a round for it to shoot well in an assortment of rifles. However, if you truly want to see what your gun can do, it’s going to need a custom round made specifically for that rifle. Through a system of trial and error, handloaders can tailor a cartridge to a specific firearm to pull unheard-of performance out of it. Be that as it may, not every hunter wants to learn this set of skills, invest in the equipment, and conduct load development. This is where The Federal Custom Shop comes in. Federal’s engineers have already done the work to figure out what some of the most popular rifles in the country like, and the Springfield 2020 Waypoint is one of the latest to make the list. Using a handloaded 175-grain Terminal Ascent bullet, Federal offers a load specifically for this firearm, and together they produce outrageous results. Want ¾-MOA? Ha! My first 100-yard group put 3 rounds into a ragged hole with an outside diameter of .348 inch. That’s a group that measures only .04 inch. Even five-shot groups beat the sub-¾-MOA guarantee — not bad for “hunting ammunition.”