Every year it seems we start looking sooner than ever for standouts amid all the gear produced annually by the shooting, hunting and outdoor industry. The past 12 months stand as testament to that. Indeed, the list we tabulated includes products covered as far back as 11 American Hunter print issues—such are the lengths we go to be sure no stone is left unturned in our spirited search, review and debate of the best of the best firearms, ammo and gear produced for hunters.
Golden Bullseye winners are selected by a seven-member committee from NRA Publications that represents more than a century of collective experience in the shooting and hunting industry. To qualify for consideration, a product must have been: recently introduced and available to consumers prior to nomination; used/tested by an NRA staff member or trusted contributor; reliable in the field, meeting the consumer’s expectations; innovative in design and function; readily perceived as a value to the consumer; styled in a manner befitting the shooting, hunting and outdoor industry and its enthusiasts.
2021 Rifle of the Year: Springfield Armory Model 2020 Waypoint The Model 2020 Waypoint is the first rifle from Springfield Armory marketed exclusively to hunters.
The heart of the bolt action is a proprietary stainless steel receiver made in Geneseo, Ill., by Springfield. The dual-lug design includes dual cocking cams; an integrally machined recoil lug; low-profile bolt stop; fluted, nitride-coated bolt with a 90-degree throw; an oversized, removable bolt handle; TriggerTech trigger; Picatinny rail; and a lock time touted as 45 percent faster than competitive rifles. All metalwork is protected by Cerakote. The rifle is fed by an AICS-pattern single-stack, removable polymer magazine.
Either of two different stock configurations made by AG Composites includes hand-laid carbon fiber and pillar bedding. One of two choices of barrels (made by BSF Barrels in Wisconsin) is built around a steel bore jacketed in carbon fiber to be lightweight, another is fluted stainless steel.
The tightest group we fired from a unit with a carbon fiber-jacketed barrel measured a scant .375 inch, the largest just an inch. The 2020 Waypoint is chambered in 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC and .308 Winchester. MSRP: $1,699-$2,399; springfield-armory.com.