Springfield Armory 2020 Waypoint review

Review: Spring Armory 2020 Waypoint Carbon hunting rifle


The Waypoint is the first rifle manufactured under the Springfield Armory name since the Model 1903 infantry rifle was discontinued in 1949. Typical of the new breed of precision, long-range hunting rifles, the Waypoint offers modern ergonomics, light weight, unusually fine accuracy and long-range capability superior to the average bolt-action sporter.

It is a real go-to long-range hunting rifle that is not going to give anyone fallen arches carrying it in undulating terrain. 

Springfield Armory 202 Waypoint review
The Waypoint is a very lightweight, adjustable hunting rifle that is not nearly as heavy as its appearance suggests

It has all the features of a custom rifle that any marksman could ever wish for. Although designed with hunting in mind, the Waypoint is fully capable of hitting targets out to 1000 metres if that’s how you get your kicks.

At first glance, it’s obviously not just another hunting rifle and hefting it showed the difference. 

Despite its bulky appearance the rifle weighs only 3kg (6.75lb); the weight was increased to 4kg (9lb) by adding a 1913-spec Picatinny rail and a 3-15×44 Leupold VX-HD scope.

Shouldering the outfit, I found it was easy to hold steady offhand and steady to swing on running game. 

Springfield Armory 2020 Waypoint review
The light weight ensures the Waypoint is easily carried in the field and easy to shoot in field positions

While there’s nothing revolutionary about the rifle in terms of design or construction, Springfield engineers cut weight by using modern materials — carbon-fibre, titanium, graphite and others. 

The rifle has several features that assist connecting on a distant target, from a good trigger to a man-sized stock that supports the shooter as much as it does the barrelled action.

My test rifle was in 6.5 Creedmoor and its weight saving results from a BSF-made 61cm (24”) carbon-enclosed stainless steel barrel. The Waypoint can be had with an optional fluted stainless steel barrel.

Most companies make a carbon-wrapped barrel by turning a stainless steel barrel to a soda-straw thickness and wrapping it with resin-coated carbon-fibre. BSF uses an entirely different process whereby a Type 416R stainless barrel is machined to a small diameter and fluted over most of its length before being fitted with a prefabricated carbon-fibre sleeve that contacts the barrel only at the chamber and muzzle ends, leaving its main length free-floating.

Springfield Armory 2020 Waypoint review
Matched with the right choice of high-quality scope, the Waypoint is the ideal mobile, long-range hunting outfit

BSF Barrels claims that about 95 percent of the carbon-fibre tube does not touch the barrel, and that the air space between the two enables the barrel to cool down a lot quicker. The maker also claims that because great tension is applied to the barrel by the sleeve, barrel vibrations are damped, which reduces bullet dispersion and delivers better accuracy as the barrel heats up.

The barrel has a diameter of 30.5mm (1.200”) at the receiver ring reducing to 23.6mm (0.931”) at the end of the 20-port muzzle brake. The rifled section of the barrel actually ends 5cm to the rear of the brake where a moulded-in steel insert is threaded 5/8-24 to take the brake or a thread protector. The brake increases barrel length by 5cm.

The heart of the Waypoint is the action. The receiver is a Remington Model 700 clone, CNC-machined from a billet of heat-treated Type 416 stainless steel barstock with electrical discharge machining used to cut raceways for the bolt. A precision fit eliminates the need for a bolt-guide such as a longitudinal slot for the trigger sear.

Springfield Armory 2020 Waypoint review
Springfield Armory’s stainless steel receiver has a Remington Model 700 platform. TriggerTech trigger is crisp, totally inert and easily adjustable

Springfield forsakes the washer-style 700 recoil lug in favour of making it an integral part of the receiver ring. 

The rifle comes with a 1913-spec Picatinny rail which allows scope mounting with plenty of fore-and-aft movement for eye relief. It is attached with four 6-48 socket-head screws.

An interesting refinement: In addition to the screws, holes are drilled into the tops of the receiver ring and bridge for two hardened-steel recoil pins that extend upward to engage corresponding holes in the bottom of the rail.

The bolt is machined from heat-treated Type 4140 chrome-moly bar and is easy to disassemble without tools. 

Springfield Armory 2020 Waypoint review
The nitride-coated bolt has a generous bolt handle with a 90-degree lift. The end of the firing pin acts as a cocking indicator

To ensure dimensional tolerances of bolt and receiver make close contact, both are finish-machined after heat-treating, then the bolt is nitride-coated to make its surface hard and slick. 

Dual cocking cams contribute to the already-easy 90 degree lift.

Large dual-opposed locking lugs have a length of 13.4mm (0.526”), a width of 11.6mm (0.455”) and a depth of 3.8mm (0.148”). The righthand (lower) locking lug is slotted for a sliding 6.1mm-wide extractor positioned on the rim. Because of being slotted for the extractor, some may assume it could be weaker than the left lug, but the Waypoint’s right lug has a very shallow slot and enough length to balance the lugs’ strength.

The bolt houses a plunger-type ejector.

Springfield Armory 2020 Waypoint review
The spiral-fluted bolt has two large locking lugs, a sliding extractor and plunger ejector in the recessed bolt face

The lugs turn 90 degrees to vertical as the bolt locks. About 30 percent represents initial bolt play and camming, leaving a full 60 percent for lug/seat locking engagement. The Waypoint’s breech recesses the cartridge base into a deeply recessed bolt head which in turn fits a counterbore in the barrel.

The close bolt-nose fit has the advantage of confining case-head failure and limits gas escape back into enlarged and thus more susceptible portions of the receiver. A hole in the bolt body at the edge of the right lug aligns with an identical hole in the receiver ring to vent escaping gas, including any that enters through the firing-pin hole. Any gas travelling back along the bolt body is deflected by a shrouded steel bolt sleeve.

The Springfield Armory website lists the Wayside’s locktime as being 1.9 milliseconds, a speed they claim to be 45 percent faster than the competition. It’s certainly quite a bit faster than the short-action Remington 700’s locktime of 2.6 milliseconds.

The bent-outward bolt handle has a large pear-shaped knob which is removable if you want to swap it for something else. 

Springfield Armory 2020 Waypoint review
The high comb must be removed if the bolt is to be withdrawn

The pivoting bolt release located on the left side of the bridge is a close fit and unobtrusive. 

The spiral-fluted bolt body, receiver, bottom metal, barrel shank and muzzle brake are all Cerakoted a dull black.

The Waypoint action has the TriggerTech fire control mechanism adjustable from 1.1-2.3kg (2.5 to 5lb). It is linked to a basic Remington-style two-position, rocker-type safety on the right side of the tang, just behind the bolt handle. My RCBS Trigger Pull Scale showed the trigger let off at an average 1.8kg (4lb), but an adjustment screw inside the trigger guard made it easy to lighten it to a crisp, totally inert 1.36kg (3lb).

The trigger guard and magazine well are milled aluminium. The Waypoint has a five-round AICS-type magazine made by MagPul, and higher capacity versions are available. The magazine release is located inside the front of the square-shaped trigger guard. My sample had a polymer box that needed manual help to free it from the well, but metal versions should drop out easily into the hand.

Barrelled actions are inserted into a carbon-fibre stock made by AG Composites. Each stock is hand-laid, producing a very rigid, ultra-strong lightweight stock. 

Springfield Armory 2020 Waypoint review
Trigger guard and magazine well are made in one piece from a strong alloy and are a close fit in the stock

My rifle had a comb that was adjustable for height, allowing me gain a comfortable cheek weld critical to accurate shooting. In its lowest setting, it is still too high to allow bolt removal, so you are obliged to loosen off a screw in the butt to lift the comb off the stock before getting the bolt out.

The stock has a deep butt and the comb aligns the shooter’s eye over the bore centreline for perfect scope-eye alignment. 

The above-centreline heel directs recoil straight back and spreads it evenly across the thick, soft Decelerator recoil pad, without any muzzle jump or stock torque. 

The rather thick, deeply curved grip has a tilted palm swelling on the right side which provides comfortable wrist positioning that reduces pre-shot canting and recoil torque, while also providing optimal trigger reach for controlled release.

The semi-beavertail fore-end is long, stretching 34cm (13½”) forward of the magazine and, in spite of being squarish in cross section, offers a comfortable forward grip with molded texturing allowing a secure grasp with wet or sweaty hands. 

Springfield Armory 2020 Waypoint review
The bedding system, which includes two aluminium pillars, is excellent without the need for additional bedding compound

Stocks are offered in a choice of Evergreen camo or Ridgeline camo.

The action is pillar-bedded to the stock but Springfield declined to use any glass bedding compound, something which intrigued me until I noticed how neat and close-cut the action recesses are. Two aluminium pillars ensure that the action screws can be turned up really tight without crushing any of the sharp edges of the inletting.

In company with Ken Harding, my accomplice in accuracy testing, we headed to the range with his Caldwell Lead Sled to sight-in the Waypoint and find how tight a group it could shoot at 100yd (91m). 

We learned one of the unique aspects of the Waypoint is its ability to give impressive accuracy from a wide variety of ammunition, not only premium factory loads from Hornady, Federal and others, but carefully assembled handloads.

Springfield Armory 2020 Waypoint review
The stock has been designed for prone or shooting off a bipod, although Nick found it also handles well from offhand

Springfield Armory guarantees .75-MOA accuracy with match-grade ammunition and the Waypoint met expectations. With each type of ammunition, Ken fired a series of three three-shot groups without allowing the barrel to cool between. This allowed us to not only see if groups open up as the barrel heats but also to see whether the point of impact shifts — with the same load of course.

Happily, we could detect no shift. Naturally, there was some change with loads shooting different bullets at different velocities but that’s normal. 

All of the loads we tried met or bettered sub-MOA accuracy, and the aggregate equalled Springfield’s .75-MOA guarantee. 

Several loads shooting match bullets averaged 13mm (.50”) or less, so I’m gonna stick my neck out and label the Waypoint a half-MOA performer when fed fodder that agrees with it. Believe me, I’ve struck very few hunting rifles that are so consistently accurate. Full results are listed in the table.

The next day I shot more reloads and put the Waypoint through its paces from practical field positions, including offhand and sitting. 

The stock may have been designed for prone use with a bipod attached, but it is easy to hold steady offhand and points, balances and swings smoothly. The trigger is crisp and the bolt slides back and forth smoothly — all welcome qualities.

The Waypoint is superbly made, designed for ultra-precision, and it certainly delivers that. It produced not a single malfunction of any kind over the course of many rounds of testing. 

The barrel doesn’t foul badly and is heavy enough to stay put on a rest, but not too heavy to carry over hill and dale. 

I feel that the many hunters who buy it will surely be as happy with it as I have been.

Springfield Armory 2020 Waypoint review
The single-stack AICS-style magazine clips securely into the rifle and is released by a small lever inside the trigger guard

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Manufacturer: Springfield Armory, USA
  • Type: Dual-lug bolt-action repeater
  • Calibre: 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor (tested), 6.5 PRC, .308 Win, 7mm Rem Mag, .300 Win Mag
  • Magazine: AICS-type; 5rd MagPul
  • Barrel: 61cm (24”) carbon-fibre encased stainless steel; 1:7.5 twist; muzzle brake
  • Overall length: 105cm (41.25”)
  • Weight: 3kg (6.75lb)
  • Stock: AG Composites carbon-fibre, Ridgeline camo (as tested)
  • Finish: Dull black Cerakote (as tested); nitride bolt
  • Trigger: TriggerTech adjustable from 1.1-2.3kg (2.5-5lb)
  • Sights: None; pinned 1913-spec Picatinny rail
  • Safety: Two-position Remington 700-type
  • Price: From around $5000 with carbon barrel
  • Distributor: NIOA

 

 

 


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Nick Harvey

The late Nick Harvey (1931-2024) was one of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable gun writers, a true legend of the business. He wrote about firearms and hunting for about 70 years, published many books and uncounted articles, and travelled the world to hunt and shoot. His reloading manuals are highly sought after, and his knowledge of the subject was unmatched. He was Sporting Shooter's Technical Editor for almost 50 years. His work lives on here as part of his legacy to us all.

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