Springfield Armory is back in the bolt gun business with the 2020 Waypoint. It has the looks, but does the rifle perform?
The last bolt gun to carry the Springfield name was made over a century ago. And yes, we know there’s been a few changes in ownership of that particular brand in the past 117 trips around the sun, but it’s significant nonetheless. During a recent conversation with colleagues, one quipped that Springfield was continuing in its time-honored tradition of ripping off other companies’ bolt action designs—last time it was Mauser, this century, Remington gets the honor. A little harsh, perhaps.
There are no shortage of outfits making R700 pattern actions these days, almost all of which improve on the original and can be used to create a rifle to your exact specification, and with the advent of pre-fit barrels and drop-in stocks, bolt guns are becoming easy to work on. Which begs the question of why would anyone buy when they could build? Springfield’s answer to this is pretty simple: cost. With the 2020, they’re delivering an off-the-shelf rifle with custom features for less than the average consumer can buy the individual components that go to make it. And they’re backing it with full factory support and a .75 MOA accuracy guarantee. For all but the most hard core of DIYers, that’s pretty hard to beat.
Model 2020 Action
At the heart of the rifle is its action, and this one follows the R700 footprint, but with a few tweaks to make it stiffer and easier to use. For example, the front receiver ring incorporates additional material for a little more rigidity and features an extra gas port on the left side in order to mitigate the effects of a case head separation. The Waypoint’s recoil lug is machined as an integral part of the action, with no separate piece of stamped sheet steel, sandwiched between the barrel shoulder and action, as in the original. Rather than rely on Remington’s thin bolt stop in the left raceway, there’s a meatier version which is easier to access on the side of the rear receiver and looks like it’s been borrowed from Tikka.
While the R700 relies on a fairly abrupt cam path to provide primary extraction, the bolt handle on the Waypoint engages a much gentler profile, which should limit chances for sticky spent cases to get hung up and reduce the effort needed to pop them free. That bolt handle, by the way, is mortised all the way through the bolt body, rather than being brazed to the outside, so in the event of you needing to apply greater force than usual, it’s not going to break off. At its other end is an oversized knob, which is both easy to grab with gloved hands and threaded so that it can be swapped for a replacement, should you not care for its contours or material.
The bolt itself is spirally fluted to reduce drag, which is further reduced by polishing, and finally, nitride treating. It feels like a regular 700 that’s had a couple of hours with a Flitz cloth, and it glides in raceways formed by an EDM machine, which, unlike a R700 are cut after heat treatment—one of the reasons for the cottage industry of blueprinting actions is that they tend to warp in the heat-treat oven. The bolt face has a Sako-style extractor let into its right lug, rather than the usual spring clip; another custom touch included in the price tag. Releasing the striker is taken care of by a TriggerTech adjustable trigger, which we dialed down to 3.1 pounds for a very crisp single-stage break with about 1/16 inch of travel, measured from the tip of the blade.
A carbon-fiber stock from AG Composites is part of the package, finished in gray and brown camo and inlet for AICS pattern bottom metal. Five flush cups give plenty of options for sling mounting, and if you want more, there’s four M-lok slots at the 6 o’clock position on the forend to add your own. We used them to add an adapter for the Spartan Precision bipod system, which has become a staple of our hunts, but Pic rails and other sundries can be bolted up to your heart’s content. An adjustable cheek riser adds around 9 ounces to the weight tally, but it’s worth it to be able to fit the gun to your physique. We wish the maker had included a recess for the bolt—as it stands, you’ll need to remove the cheekpiece in order to run a cleaning rod through the bore—but this is a minor complaint. A Pachmayr recoil pad caps off the butt, and there’s room for spacers should you want to extend the 13.5-inch LOP.
The 2020's Barrel
The Waypoint’s barrel is made by BSF and while it looks carbon-wrapped, it actually features a carbon sleeve slid over a conventional, button rifled stainless tube, which is tensioned by means of a nut which engages 5/8-24 threads at the muzzle. Tensioned barrels are nothing new, and claim to offer greater consistency as things heat up—we didn’t do any 6.5 mag dumps as part of our testing, but the very first group we shot came in at 0.65 inch, and things stayed right around the half-inch mark after that using Hornady ELD-M and ELD-X bullets. A condition of the mountain goat cull hunt we took the rifle on was the use of non-lead bullets, so a handload using Barnes 127-grain LRX bullets was thrown together at the last minute, and we experienced a little vertical stringing, which usually indicates a need to be driven faster. Due to time constraints, we never quite got that hammered out, but a group of 2.25 inches at 300 yards was good enough for our purposes. Bottom line: The Waypoint can shoot.
There are a lot of good rifles in the marketplace right now, and for a company with no history of making bolt guns (at least, not in the past century) to jump in with both feet is a pretty ballsy move. Fortunately, the product they chose to introduce is pretty damn good, and when you add up the cost of a carbon-fiber stock, aftermarket trigger, sight bases, trick barrel and custom action, it becomes an even more attractive proposition.
Springfield Waypoint Specs:
Caliber: 6.5 PRC
Capacity: 4 rounds
Barrel Length: 24 inches
OAL: 43.5 inches
Weight: 7.7 pounds
For more information on the Springfield Armory 2020 Waypoint, please visit springfield-armory.com.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the February 2021 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.
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