September 14, 2021
When Springfield Armory introduced its Model 2020 Waypoint last September, the rifle came as a surprise to many.
The company has a celebrated reputation for producing self-defense and tactical firearms like 1911s, AR-15s and M1A1 rifles, but for it to offer a bolt-action rifle intended for hunting was an unexpected move.
What might be even more stunning is the fantastic job Springfield Armory has done in engineering and building one of the best hunting rifles of the new millennium.
To detail the Waypoint, I want to start with the rifle's stock because it’s a critical element of shooter interface. About two years ago, I visited the Alabama stock maker that Springfield Armory chose to build the Waypoint stocks.
AG Composites was founded in 2014 by an Army Ranger and two Marines. By modernizing the inclusion of carbon fiber and dedicating many man-hours to quality control, AG Composites has become a leading stock supplier to a lot of manufacturers and even sells direct to consumers.
The stock AG Composites builds for the Waypoint comes in two variations and in two color options. The base model on the rifle I tested is flawless in finish, pillar-bedded and features five smartly located quick-detach sling-swivel mounts.
It also has a three-slot M-Lok rail on the underside of the flat fore-end. The other stock version is nearly identical but comes with a three-axis adjustable comb that adds $124 to the price of the rifle. Finish options are either Evergreen (gray, tan and green) or Ridgeline (gray, tan and brown) camouflage, both of which are hand-painted. Amazingly, this extremely rigid stock, without the adjustable comb, weighs only 29 ounces, and that includes the 3/4-inch Pachmayr XL Decelerator recoil pad.
The Waypoint's receiver is drilled and tapped to accept scope bases that follow the Remington Model 700 pattern with 6x48 screws. The action contains a Remington-like, two-lug bolt with a plunger ejector. However, the bolt has an extractor similar to that of a push-feed Winchester Model 70 rifle, the ejection port is radically enlarged, and the bolt release is mounted on the left-side of the action.
While the stainless-steel action has a footprint similar to the Model 700, it features an integral recoil lug machined as part of the receiver. The radial-fluted bolt slides back and forth on EDM raceways and is smoother than any factory, and many custom, bolt-actions I've cycled.
There are two barrel options for the Waypoint. The base option is a 22-inch, fluted, stainless-steel barrel. For an additional $576, you can opt for a 22-inch, carbon-fiber-wrapped barrel from BSF, as supplied on the test rifle. Both come with an SA radial muzzle brake that’s very effective at reducing recoil by directing gas outward around the circumference of the brake.
However, considering the available chamberings for the Waypoint—6 mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC and .308 Win.—trading elevated noise for reduced recoil from cartridges that most hunters handle easily may not seem necessary. If you want to ditch the brake, a thread protector is included and is probably a good idea unless you’re recoil sensitive.
Springfield Armory Model 2020 Waypoint Specs
- Type: Bolt-action centerfire rifle
- Caliber: 6.5 Creedmoor (tested)
- Barrel: 22”; carbon-fiber-wrapped BSF; threaded muzzle with brake or cap; 1:8” twist rate
- Trigger: Adjustable TriggerTech; 2 1/2- to 5-lb. pull weight
- Magazine: AICS-pattern detachable box; 5-round capacity
- Stock: hand-laid, carbon-fiber AG Composite with M-Lok rail
- Sights: none; 15-slot Picatinny rail included
- Metal Finish: Cerakote Mil Spec Green
- Stock Finish: hand-painted Evergreen camo
- Length: 43 1/2”
- Weight: 6 1/2 lbs.
- MSRP: $2,275
To test the Waypoint, I mounted a Nightforce 4-16x50 mm ATACR in Nightforce rings on the Picatinny rail that comes with the rifle. I also installed a Valhalla M-Lok adapter to the stock so I could use my Spartan Valhalla bipod. Most of my shooting was done from the bench to determine if the rifle would meet Springfield Armory’s guarantee of 3/4-MOA precision for three shots at 100 yards, as the company notes, "with match-grade ammunition in the hands of a skilled shooter."
I fired three, five-shot groups with six different loads, and the average for all 18 five-shot groups was 1.19 inches. Granted, these were not match loads. All were hunting loads, and except for five of the 18 groups I fired, the first three shots of each group were right at or under the 3/4-inch mark. That's excellent performance from a 6 1/2-pound rifle. No doubt, the clean-breaking TriggerTech trigger assisted with precision.
To get an idea of field performance, I also worked with the Waypoint from the prone position using the bipod, as well as from various unsupported field positions. The stock's steep grip angle and narrow wrist circumference were very comfortable, and the side-mounted quick-detach sling-swivel receptacles made using a shooting sling effective and easy. I would like to see the edges of the recoil pad radiused a bit to help when shouldering the rifle from unsupported positions, but this can be easily accomplished at home with a grinding wheel.
If you're going to mount a scope like the ATACR with a large objective diameter, the stock with the adjustable comb would be beneficial. A more compact, traditional-style hunting scope will likely work just fine with the standard stock.
The Waypoint might be best described as a modern-day hunting rifle that's well-configured for precision shooting at distance, while not weighing too much or being too bulky to carry through the timber.
It's a rifle you can lie down behind and use to deliver a precision hit at well beyond a quarter of a mile, but it's also one you can carry up a mountain, snap to your shoulder in an instant and use to make a good, quick shot on a deer, bear or elk that might only give you a fleeting opportunity.
After nearly a quarter-century of writing about guns, I rarely get surprised anymore. I must admit, however, that I did not expect the Waypoint to be as svelte, accurate, smooth operating and comfortable in the field as it proved to be during testing.
Though I'm not what I'd consider a 6.5 Creedmoor disciple, I've wanted my own rifle chambered for it for a while. Until now, I'd not seen the hunting rifle I thought was properly configured to best exploit the cartridge's capabilities. The Springfield Armory Waypoint is a lot of things, but what it might be above all is the best hunting rifle offered for the 6.5 Creedmoor.
Springfield Armory Model 2020 Waypoint Shooting Results
Load: Hornady Varmint Express V-Max
- BULLET WEIGHT: 95 grs.
- Average Muzzle Velocity: 3,217 fps
- Average Group: 1.61”
Load: Barnes Vor-Tx LR LRX
- BULLET WEIGHT: 127 grs.
- Average Muzzle Velocity: 2,828 fps
- Average Group: 0.84”
Load: SIG Sauer Elite Hunter Tipped
- BULLET WEIGHT: 130 grs.
- Average Muzzle Velocity: 2,808 fps
- Average Group: 1.24”
Load: Norma American PH Swift Scirocco II
BULLET WEIGHT: 130 grs.
- Average Muzzle Velocity: 2,759 fps
- Average Group: 1.05”
Load: Federal Premium Nosler AccuBond
- BULLET WEIGHT: 140 grs.
- Average Muzzle Velocity: 2,656 fps
- Average Group: 1.08”
Load: Hornady Precision Hunter ELD-X
- BULLET WEIGHT: 143 grs.
- Average Muzzle Velocity: 2,665 fps
- Average Group: 1.34”
Muzzle velocity is the average of 10 consecutive shots fired through a Caldwell G2 chronograph positioned 10 feet from the muzzle. Average group size is the result of three consecutive, five-shot groups fired from a sandbag rest at 100 yards.