June 30, 2021
My first thought while lifting the new Model 2020 Waypoint from its factory box was, “What were the decision-makers at Springfield Armory thinking?” Everyone knows 20-inch barrels on bolt-action rifles are old hat and long barrels are in. But the more I handled the rifle, the better I understood the intent of its designers. Everybody is turning out long-barreled guns, but quick-hand-ling, super-accurate, bolt-action deer rifles short enough to maneuver inside a cramped ground blind and to shoot from an awkward position from a tree stand have become a bit scarce.
When choosing a chambering for a Model 2020, I went with 6mm Creedmoor, but the .308 Winchester is also offered with the 20-inch barrel. Longer can be better for some applications, so the 6.5 Creedmoor is in a 22-inch barrel while the barrel for the 6.5 PRC measures 24 inches. My rifle weighs 6.75 pounds. Adding a Nightforce SHV 3-10X 42mm scope in Talley aluminum rings, a lightweight nylon sling, and five 6mm Creedmoor cartridges increased it to 8 pounds, 10.5 ounces. A small flag on the bottom of the trigger guard proudly proclaiming “Made Entirely in America” put a smile on my face.
The Alpine Hunter carbon-fiber stock is made in Alabama by AG Composites, and it is an example of how far tactical rifle styling has crept into the world of hunting rifles. The stock is available with a plain or a height-adjustable cheek rest, with the former version weighing 27.4 ounces and the latter weighing 40.1 ounces. My rifle has the plain stock, and in checking out comb height compatibility, I tried scopes of varying sizes and mounting height requirements. Cheekweld and eye alignment with either scope was quite satisfactory.
The comb and the grip of the stock are shaped for use by right-handed and left-handed shooters. Trigger reach proved to be perfect for my medium-size hand. Five steel cups for push-button-style, quick-detach sling swivels are there, one on both sides of the buttstock and fore-end, another at the bottom of the buttstock. The flat bottom of the fore-end measures 1.875 inches wide at its midpoint, and it has three metal-lined M-LOK slots. Hand-applied camo finish options on the stock are Ridgeline or Evergreen, with the latter the finish on my rifle. Recoil is efficiently absorbed by a 0.75-inch pad.
The cylindrical receiver has a diameter of 1.355 inches, and it measures 8.125 inches long. A pale green Cerakote finish contrasts nicely with the black nitride finish of the bolt and the darker splotches in the stock finish.
The receiver is machined from heat-treated Type 416 stainless-steel bar stock with Electrical Discharge Machining used to cut raceways for the bolt. A precision fit eliminates the necessity of a bolt-wobble-reducing guide.
The top of the receiver has the same contour as the Remington Model 700, so scope mounts for the two interchange. But you won’t need to go shopping because the rifle comes with a one-piece Picatinny rail attached with four 6-48 socket-head screws. In addition to the screws, holes are drilled into the tops of the receiver ring and bridge for 0.190-inch-diameter hardened steel recoil pins that extend up into corresponding holes in the bottom of the optic rail. Even if the screws should become a bit loose, the rifle will likely continue holding its zero. If another type of scope-mounting base is preferred, your options are to remove the recoil pins from the receiver (easy to do) or drill holes for the pins in the bottom of the new base.
The bolt is machined from heat-treated Type 4140 chrome-moly bar stock, and it can be disassembled for cleaning without tools. In addition to the usual dual-opposed locking lugs, the bolt has a deeply recessed face, a plunger-style ejector, and a sliding extractor in the right-side lug. Pressing on an unobtrusive latch at the left side of the receiver allows the bolt to be withdrawn from the receiver. A clearance notch at the front of the comb prevents dings in the stock. Bolt travel is 4 inches. The knob is thread-attached to the bolt handle, making it easy to switch to a different style if the shooter desires; however, at this time, Springfield does not have other styles of bolt handle knobs.
Due to special contouring of the firing pin cocking cam surface of the bolt body, bolt lift is as easy as we will likely ever see in a turnbolt action. I checked the amount of lift required to rotate the bolt to full firing pin compression, and it was 2.125 pounds compared to 4.5 pounds for the bolt of a short-action Remington Model 700. Easy bolt lift reduces elapsed time between shots fired. A black nitride coating on the bolt keeps rust at bay. It and spiraled flutes in the body of the bolt reduce friction during cycling.
Protrusion of the cocking piece at the rear of the bolt shroud indicates a cocked firing pin. In the event of a pierced primer or ruptured case during firing, propellant gas traveling back through the receiver should be deflected away from the shooter by the root of the bolt handle and by the bolt shroud. Some gas also would exit through vents located in the sides of the receiver ring, adjacent to the boltface. Locktime ranks among the quickest, and my educated guess is in the 2.6 milliseconds range of the short-action Remington Model 700.
The Model 2020 rifle comes with a Magpul PMAG AICS magazine, and it single-stacks five 6mm Creedmoor or .308 Winchester cartridges. Interior length is 2.890 inches, and the magazine is easy to field strip for cleaning without tools.
Magazine protrusion below the bottom of the stock is 1.75 inches. The balance point of my rifle is about two inches forward of the front of the magazine, so it does not interfere with a comfortable one-hand field carry. Due to more weight out front, balance points of Model 2020 rifles with longer barrels would be even farther away from the magazine.
Pushing a tab at the front of the trigger guard with the trigger finger releases the magazine to drop smoothly into the hand. Locating the tab inside the trigger guard along with giving it a low profile virtually guarantees the magazine will not be accidentally ejected and lost in the field. But for those who believe Murphy is always present, a small transverse hole through the release tab can be used to temporarily deactivate it.
The trigger is the Field model made by TriggerTech. Several rifles I have hunted with had triggers from that company, and I am greatly impressed by their durability, reliability, and overall quality. The one on the Model 2020 has an adjustment range of 2.5 to 5.0 pounds, and it departed the factory with an average of 3.75 pounds (variation over a series of measurements was 6.0 ounces). There is no detectable creep or overtravel. The trigger guard of the aluminum bottom metal is more than spacious enough for winter-time shooting with thick gloves.
Barrel options are all stainless steel or carbon-enclosed stainless steel, the latter with a difference. Barrels from other companies are made by turning a stainless-steel barrel to a thin contour and then wrapping it with resin-coated carbon fiber. At BSF Barrels, a Type 416R stainless barrel is first machined to a small contour and fluted over most of its length. It then receives a prefabricated carbon-fiber sleeve that contacts the barrel only at the chamber and muzzle ends.
BSF Barrels claims that because about 95 percent of the carbon-fiber tube does not contact the barrel, an air space between the two results in quicker barrel cool down. And because great tension is applied to the barrel by the sleeve, barrel vibration during firing is dampened, resulting in less bullet dispersion and therefore better accuracy as the barrel heats up.
Diameters of the barrel are 1.200 inches at the receiver and 0.932 inch at the muzzle, where it is threaded 5/8-24. A thread protector and a single-chamber, 20-port radial brake are included, with the brake increasing overall barrel length by 1.5 inches.
The Model 2020 rifle from Springfield comes with a 0.75-MOA accuracy guarantee for three shots. As illustrated in the accompanying accuracy results chart, it lived up to its billing with two out of five factory loads tested and came very close with a third. It also shot extremely well with a precision handload. I seldom have the time required to develop a precision handload for a rifle I am writing about, but when the Model 2020 almost broke the half-inch barrier with Berger factory ammo, I could not resist doing so. I had none of the Berger 95-grain Classic Hunter bullets on hand, but my reloading room contained plenty of the Berger 108-grain Elite Hunters, and I had already been impressed by the excellent accuracy it delivered from my other rifles in 6mm Creedmoor.
After a bit of powder-charge juggling, I found an accuracy sweet spot at 43.6 grains of VihtaVuori N560. Starting with 0.010 inch of jump, I continued to seat the bullet deeper into the case in 0.005-inch steps. The rifle started to hum at 0.025 inch of jump and then consistently shot inside 0.40 inch with 0.035 inch of free-travel. I used necked-down Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor cases and Federal GM210M primers. Average velocity in the 20-inch barrel was only 42 fps slower than from the 22-inch barrel of one of my custom rifles in 6mm Creedmoor. When shooting groups with that handload, I switched to a 24X scope. I have to confess to allowing the barrel to get pretty hot, but hot or cold, accuracy remained about the same.
Prior to shooting the rifle, I took a close look inside its barrel with my Lyman Borecam and was impressed by the smooth lands and grooves and the total absence of tool marks. During the shooting session, I scrubbed the bore with powder solvent about every 50 rounds, but no copper solvent was used. After the shooting was concluded, I cleaned the bore a final time, and a second look with the Borecam revealed a few faint streaks of bullet jacket fouling on the tops of the lands. Barnes CR-10 solvent made it go away. I then shot several more groups with the handload, and accuracy was the same as before. That’s one of the signs of a really good barrel.
As to be expected, when the mild-mannered 6mm Creedmoor is fired in a rifle with a cushiony recoil pad and an efficient muzzle brake, perceived recoil is quite close to shooting a rifle of the same weight chambered for the .22-250 cartridge. Not a single mechanical problem or other issue was experienced. Cartridges fed like they were greased, the extractor reliably snatched fired cases from a dirty chamber, and the ejector sent them sailing through the air.
As this is written, the Model 2020 is offered in four versions: stainless-steel barrel and standard stock (MSRP: $1,699); stainless-steel barrel and adjustable stock (MSRP: $1,825); carbon-fiber barrel and standard stock (MSRP: $2,275); and carbon-fiber barrel and adjustable stock (MSRP: $2,399). Merriam-Webster defines “waypoint” as an intermediate point on a route or line of travel. The fact that the introductory Model 2020 was given that name leads me to believe the future holds other variations. As I peer into my trusty crystal ball, a trim mountain rifle-style synthetic stock appears. I also see an internal box magazine version holding three or four 6mm Creedmoor rounds in a staggered fashion. In the meantime, I am quite happy with the Model 2020 as it is, and the many thousands of other hunters who buy it will surely feel the same.
Model 2020 Waypoint Specs
- TYPE: Bolt-action repeater
- CALIBER: 6mm Creedmoor
- MAGAZINE CAPACITY: 5 rounds
- BARREL: 20 in., BSF carbon-encased stainless steel
- OVERALL LENGTH: 41.25 in.
- WEIGHT, EMPTY: 6.75 lbs.
- STOCK: AG Composites Alpine Hunter carbon fiber
- LENGTH OF PULL: 14 in.
- FINISH: Green Cerakote action, Evergreen camo stock
- SIGHTS: None; Picatinny rail included
- TRIGGER: Adjustable TriggerTech Field; 3.75-lb. pull (as tested)
- SAFETY: Two position
- MSRP: $2,275
- MANUFACTURER: Springfield Armory; springfield-armory.com