October 12, 2022
By Joseph von Benedikt
Springfield’s new 2020 Waypoint bolt-action rifle is one of the best of the new breed of ultralight precision rifles. It offers modern ergonomics coupled with extraordinary precision at a price well below that of most competing models. Yep, you read that right. The Waypoint is a bolt-action rifle, as far as I know the first bolt action manufactured under the Springfield Armory name since the Model 1903 was discontinued in 1949.
History buffs will rightly point out that the Springfield Armory of today is an altogether different company than the U.S. military armory of yore, which manufactured the bulk of our nation’s service rifles from 1777 until 1968. That’s true. However, a very cool parallel may be drawn between the historic company and the modern one. Both built rifles of a breed new to the American public, rifles that expanded riflemen’s capabilities and provided an entirely new world of long-range capability. I write, of course, of the Model 1903 and the 2020 Waypoint. The 1903 was the first truly successful American bolt action. Introduced to U.S. doughboys in the trenches of World War I, it demonstrated unprecedented levels of accuracy and long-range capability—particularly when compared to the popular lever-action and single-action rifles of the era.
While the brand-new 2020 Waypoint is not quite as revolutionary in terms of design, it’s a combination of light weight, admirable precision and superb ergonomics that was quite rare and very expensive until, well, this year. Traditionally, super-accurate rifles were heavy. That was just a fact of life. To achieve 10-shot groups that would routinely cluster into one ragged hole at 100 yards, heavy steel barrels and robust, heavy stocks were necessary. Modern materials and manufacturing have changed that. Carbon fiber, titanium, graphite and other space-age materials enable engineers to design parts that weigh just a fraction of what their ancestral parts did.
Precision Rifle Series Contender
Springfield’s timing in introducing the 2020 Waypoint is impeccable. The popular PRS competitive movement has introduced everyday shooters to unprecedented extreme-range accuracy. Concurrently, whether you like it or not, the long-range hunting trend burgeoned and seems here to stay. Plus backcountry hunters are always looking for accuracy without weight.
Weighing between 6.5 and 7.8 pounds—depending on choice of steel versus carbon-fiber barrel and non-adjustable versus adjustable stock—the Waypoint is priced from $1,699 to $2,399. That’s double or triple what you’d pay for a decent Remington 700 off your dealer’s shelf. But consider that this gun’s feature set would’ve commanded prices upwards of $3,000 just a year or two ago.
Let’s start with the heart of any rifle: the action. Initially, the Waypoint is short-action only in 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC and .308 Win. chamberings. Each Model 2020 action is CNC-machined from billet, and the machining is done after hardening, so no distortion or warping occurs. Bolt lug raceways are EDM cut, which results in straight, smooth perfection. Finish is mil-spec Cerakote. Springfield chose H-264 green for use with the Evergreen Camo stock and H-256P Desert Verde for the Ridgeline Camo stock.
Like the action, bolts are machined after heat-treating. The bolt body is fluted with square-bottom flutes and sports dual, opposing locking lugs up front. The bolt is finished with nitride, a durable, smooth coating. A sturdy 0.20-inch-wide extractor slides in a dovetail machined into the forward face of the right-side locking lug. This three o’clock position prevents the ejection interference that can occur when using a scope with a large windage turret.
A spring-loaded, plunger-type ejector is positioned at eight o’clock inside the bolt face, and it’s robust enough to heave empty cases well clear of the action. Aft, the bolt features dual cocking cams for an easy bolt lift. The rear of the firing pin assembly protrudes through a nicely sculpted bolt shroud, providing a visual and tactile cocking indicator. According to Springfield’s literature, the Model 2020’s lock time is 1.9 milliseconds, a figure the company claims is 45 percent faster than the competition. The bolt handle is long, and it provides easy accessibility and plenty of leverage for running the bolt. To remove the bolt, press the discreet release button located at the left rear of the action.
The bolt knob is removable. I don’t know why you’d want to swap it out, because the included knob is really nice, but you can if you want to. Like most of today’s premium match-quality custom actions, the Model 2020 has a Remington 700-type footprint, meaning it fits Remington 700 stocks and scope bases, as well as aftermarket triggers and bottom metal. Atop the action is an extended 1913-spec rail, which provides plenty of space to mount a scope with the eye relief you want. Importantly, it’s not just screwed on, it’s pinned. These pins help combat the loosening effect of recoil and ensure your scope stays securely in place for the long haul.
Each Model 2020 action is fit with a TriggerTech trigger. Although a relatively new kid on the premium-trigger block, TriggerTech has made significant inroads into the custom rifle world, and many top-shelf makers now rely on this company’s products. The version installed on the Waypoint rifle is adjustable from 2.5 to five pounds, and it has a low-profile rocker-type safety located just behind the bolt on the right rear of the action. Tested with my Lyman digital trigger gauge, as received the one on the test rifle released crisply at three pounds, 10 ounces on average and had 2.5 ounces of variation over a series of five measurements.
Today’s shooters and hunters are trending toward quality, high-capacity, detachable-box magazines. In large part, this is due to the PRS scene, and AICS-pattern magazines have emerged as the clear favorite among practical shooters. The 2020 Waypoint’s bottom metal is engineered for ideal performance with these magazines, and a five-round AICS-type mag made by Magpul is included with each rifle. High-capacity versions are readily available. To remove the magazine, press the ergonomic release located in the lower front of the well-shaped, squarish trigger guard. Polymer magazines may need to be pulled from the mag well, but metal versions should fall free without help.
Two different barrels are available on the Waypoint. Both are 20 inches, and both are generously free-floated in the fore-end. The lower-cost barrel is a deep-fluted stainless in a relatively large diameter. The premium option is a BSF “jacketed carbon fiber” barrel. It’s more expensive but lighter in weight. I was initially skeptical of the jacketed carbon-fiber barrel. Unlike the carbon-fiber barrels I’m familiar with, the BSF features a fluted, small-diameter steel barrel inside a carbon-fiber tube. It’s attached at each end under tension—a technique discovered by competitive handgun silhouette revolver shooters to improve accuracy. According to BSF, only five percent of the carbon-fiber sleeve contacts the steel barrel. The idea is that this provides an air gap to help cool the barrel, and the company says the design promotes “cold bore to warm bore repeatability.”
I served on a volunteer fire department for seven years and am familiar with the insulating properties of dead air space and the idea that little heat transfer occurs without physical contact. Science suggests that any lack of heat felt on the surface of a barrel indicates that the heat is simply isolated and contained, not reduced. So I’m skeptical of the rapid-cooling claims about the jacketed carbon-fiber barrel. That said, very good barrels are known to maintain accuracy and point of impact even when very hot, which I’ll get to shortly.
Every barrel’s muzzle is threaded and fit with a nice radial muzzle brake, which is finished in the same Cerakote color as the action and barrel shank. It’s beautifully fit, nice and flush with the contour of the barrel, and it’s easily removable for those who don’t want to use a brake while hunting or have a suppressor to mount instead. Barreled actions are mounted into an excellent carbon-fiber stock made by AG Composites. Springfield Armory worked with AG’s techs to develop the stock, and I think they got it just right. Each stock is hand-laid, a construction method that results in a super rigid, ultra-strong, lightweight stock.
There are options, too. Purchasers may opt for an adjustable comb, which adds cost and 12 ounces but allows the owner to finesse cheek weld to perfection. Alternatively, the non-adjustable stock is a great choice when keeping weight and cost low. Both options are available in Evergreen Camo and in Ridgeline Camo. Each action is pillar bedded to the stock. As a result, the action screws torque up beautifully tight, and the action recess will never crush, no matter how much oil residue sits between the action and stock or how aggressively the screws are tightened.
However, actions are not glass bedded. I was interested to find this. The action cutouts are beautifully milled, but still there’s discernible forward/rearward movement when the action screws are removed. Modern chassis-type stocks with aluminum bedding blocks have proven accurate and consistent, but those are machined metal surfaces interacting, not ultralight carbon fiber reinforced with two aluminum pillars.
At the rear of the stock, a Decelerator recoil pad tames kick. Five metal QD cups are inset for attaching a sling—one in the traditional spot on the toe of the stock, one on each side of the butt, and one on each side of the fore-end. At six o’clock on the fore-end, three M-Lok slots that are milled and reinforced with metal inside enable the use of any M-Lok accessory. M-Lok slots are now commonplace on AR-type rifles and chassis-type bolt-action stocks, and I was delighted to find them on the Waypoint. The M-Lok slots enabled me to attach a Valhalla bipod mount that positions the fore-end low in a cradle.
Atop the pinned 1913-spec scope rail I mounted a 3-15X 44mm Leupold VX-5HD riflescope with the CDS-ZL2 turret and added a lightweight anti-cant level. I was ready for the range. Rounding up three different 6mm Creedmoor factory loads and one handload, I hit the range for accuracy testing. Because of its ultralight precision concept, Springfield’s impressive accuracy claims about the carbon-fiber-sleeved BSF barrel, and the fact the firm decided not to glass-bed the action, I decided to put the Waypoint through a rather rigorous accuracy testing protocol I typically use for heavy-barreled tactical and competition rifles.
With each type of ammunition, I fired a series of three, three-shot groups without allowing the barrel to cool between. This enables me not only to see if accuracy degrades as the barrel heats but also to see whether the point of impact shifts as the barrel heats. In my experience, unless you’re shooting a very mild cartridge, such as a .223 or 6mm BR, only the very best barrels maintain both accuracy and point of impact as nine shots are fired in steady cadence.
Bad news first. With all four types of ammunition, the Waypoint’s point of impact shifted a half-m.o.a. left as the barrel got hot. But that’s not very much. At 1,000 yards, it’s just five inches. Here’s the good news. The shift didn’t occur until after shot number five or six, meaning big game hunters have plenty of on-the-money shots on tap. Better yet, in spite of the slight shift, the size of the three-shot groups was impressive. Three of the four ammo types met or exceeded Springfield’s accuracy guarantee of 3/4 m.o.a., and the best—Berger’s factory ammo—averaged 0.51 inch. For practical purposes, that’s legitimate half-m.o.a. accuracy. Even the least accurate load was still significantly sub m.o.a.
Clearly, accuracy was sufficient to meet the 3/4-m.o.a. guarantee even without glass bedding the action, so it appears that Springfield knows what it’s doing with the Waypoint. However, I can’t help but wonder what the rifle would be capable of were it glass bedded, which of course a buyer would be free to do. Benchrest accuracy testing complete, I stepped away from the bench and put the Waypoint through its paces from practical field positions, including offhand. Although the stock is engineered for prone and other supported positions, it actually shoulders, points and balances surprisingly well. The slick action and clean, crisp trigger pull made running it fast feel easy, even in challenging positions.
I liked the Waypoint so much I temporarily retired the rifle I’d planned to take on a deer hunt in my home state of Idaho and instead took the Waypoint. I was primarily helping my 10- and 12-year-old kids get a deer, so I slung the Waypoint on my back and forgot about it while we hunted. I’m usually a fan of 24-inch barrels, but I must confess that the slab-sided Waypoint and its 20-inch barrel carried beautifully that way.
Bucks were scarce, and the hunting was challenging. On day four, my daughter Audrey got behind the Waypoint on a tripod and with one shot centered the vitals of a buck 448 yards away. It was her first deer, and it was a clean kill. Even though brand new, the Waypoint is sinking roots in our family history. I’m going to have to send Springfield a check for the sample rifle, because Audrey has laid permanent claim to it. Light, deadly accurate, dependably reliable and extremely ergonomic, the Waypoint offers unprecedented performance, particularly for its price. Debatably, it’s the best of its type on the market.
Springfield Armory Model 2020 Waypoint Specs
- Type: Bolt-action, repeater
- Caliber: 6mm Creedmoor (tested), 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, .308 Win.
- Capacity: AICS-type magazines; 5-round Magpul supplied
- Barrel: 20 in., 1:7.5 twist, radial muzzle brake; BSF jacketed carbon fiber (tested)
- Overall Length: 41.5 in.
- Weight: 6 lb., 10 oz. (tested)
- Stock: AG Composites carbon fiber; Evergreen camo (tested)
- Finish: H-264 green Cerakote barrel (as tested), nitride bolt
- Trigger: TriggerTech adjustable; 3 lb., 10 oz. pull (measured)
- SIghts: None, pinned optics rail
- MSRP: $2,275 (tested)
- Manufacturer: Springfield Armory