I will admit, I was hesitant to see what a Springfield Armory bolt action might produce when it was announced late last year. It’s not that Springfield Armory isn’t capable, it’s that the bolt action market is both finicky and saturated. On the cheap end, Ruger has dominated the market with the American series retailing near $400. Contended by Savage, Mossberg, and Thompson Center. And at the snobby end of the spectrum, the sky is the limit. You can easily spend $8000 plus for a Victrix, Accuracy International, or a custom build. Everybody under the sun is making a bolt action these days, including upstart imports such as Bergera and Sabatti. It’s kind of an odd space to try and stake a claim in 2021.
However, we must also admit Springfield Armory has shown agility over the last 5 years that is uncanny. I had in my hands the first gen SAINT AR-15 on Nov 2nd 2015. As Donald Trump marched into office, my thought was somebody in R&D is getting fired today. Breaking into a VERY saturated AR-15 market with a Republican president incoming should be impossible. But I was wrong. The SAINT family has carved out a huge chunk of the AR market, with variants from PDW’s to competition specials. And the EDGE is still arguably the best value in AR-15’s. Springfield has also re-asserted dominance in the 1911 market with things like the 9mm Professional and the long slide 10mm. They have challenged the King of Compacts Sig P365 with the EVEN MORE CAPACITY Hellcat, and proven 20,000 round durability test.
I am happy to report that the Waypoint has positioned itself as a mid-price powerhouse contender in keeping with that theme. Priced at $2300 (as tested) down to around $1600, it isn’t going to undercut the bargain basement rifles. But it also doesn’t have Krylon for a coating and a barrel life counted in the dozens. It also doesn’t come with a certificate for a free Rolex, though it does have enough features that the Gucci end of the market should maybe be a little bit worried.
Starting the party is a carbon fiber stock, developed by AG Composites. The stock is very light, while feature-rich. It has 5 QD sling mount points, including one directly under the toe of the stock. Somebody consulted the PRS crew, as that is an ideal spot for a QD rear bag as well. Upfront we have M-Lok compatible slots for a bipod, and an adjustable cheekpiece. The stock overall is elegantly simple, very much like the stocks we see dominating PRS today. A flat base to the stock makes for easy barricade or improvised position shooting.
The action is new, a bold move by Springfield. It is made in-house and wire EDM cut for tight tolerances. It features a fluted bolt, low profile bolt stop, and a silky smooth bolt throw. It comes out of the box with an oversized bolt handle, which is also replaceable if you have a favorite on hand. It feeds from AICS style magazines, so keeping it fed will never be a problem. And it comes with a Trigger Tech trigger already installed. Trigger Tech is by far the leader in bolt action triggers, commanding 48% of the top 150 ranked PRS shooters. They aren’t cheap, so Springfield Armory was really swinging for the fences by making this the default setting.
While available in steel as well, our test gun featured a carbon fiber barrel. I had questions about this, as carbon fiber barrels are a bit of a compromise. Or perhaps were a bit of a compromise. They are a huge weight savings, no question. And a lot of both competitors and hunters use them for this reason. But, the issue has always been usually a degradation in accuracy (carbon fiber is not as rigid as steel, I don’t care how magic you cook it) and heat retention. The heat build-up not only reduces barrel life but also affects accuracy on subsequent shots. And let’s not leave out the cost. A barrel alone for say, a Remington 700, will set you back $830 from Proof Research.
Springfield instead opted for a new barrel technology. Instead of wrapping a thin steel barrel in carbon fiber, they have a carbon fiber sleeve that basically floats around the fluted steel. This in theory allows better cooling, as well as less fluctuation on a long string of fire. Not a big deal when hunting mountain goats, but a big deal for both competitive and tactical applications. They are backing it up with a .75 MOA guarantee, the best in the business outside of high end custom house guns. The barrel is capped with an excellent muzzle brake, easily removable for suppressed applications.
While billed as a hunting rifle, which it will absolutely do, the Waypoint is more. Much more. Does it mean the .75 MOA guarantee? Yes. Even though I was unable to procure match grade 6.5 Creedmoor for our test gun, it was consistently .5 MOA with Hornady American Gunner. No slight on American Gunner, I have found it to be remarkably accurate ammunition. But I would expect even better with Hornady Match. And it did it in a snowstorm, which I will concede is not this shooter’s ideal conditions.
We have to look at the Waypoint as a new gold standard in mid-priced rifles. An amazingly capable gun, especially at a bit over 7 pounds, with accuracy to spare. For my money, this is now the one to beat at the over/under $2000 price.