Though I try to stay atop the never-ending stream of new gun releases, the Springfield 2020 Redline caught me off guard. I hadn’t heard any pre-release rumors or whispers about it, and I knew one thing when it came across my computer screen a few short weeks before my annual Dall sheep hunt here in Alaska: I had to have one.
Since hunters have been packing rifles into the mountains, gun makers have been working to make them weigh less and still shoot accurately—with varying degrees of success. Cutting weight is a tradeoff that affects a rifle’s precision on paper, but also makes it more difficult to shoot accurately in the field. Finding the optimal balance of weight, ergonomics, and backcountry functionality is a mountain hunter’s holy grail. That’s the goal that the Springfield 2020 Redline aspires to. It does so by applying some of the same ergonomic features as the 2020 Waypoint in a lighter package—I couldn’t wait to get it into the mountains.
Specs and Features
Cartridge: 6.5 Creedmoor (tested), .308 Win.
Capacity: 3+1, detachable AICS-style box magazine
Weight: 6 pounds, 5 ounces (measured)
Receiver: Stainless steel
Receiver Finish: Military green Cerakote
Action: Bolt action, two-lug
Barrel: 20-inch, BSF, stainless steel, carbon-wrapped, 1:8 twist, threaded ⅝-24 at the muzzle
Optics Mounting: One-piece Picatinny rail atop receiver, Remington 700 pattern
Stock: Grayboe Trekker synthetic stock
Overall Length: 40.5 inches (measured, adjustable L.O.P)
Trigger: Triggertech adjustable, Curved shoe
Trigger Pull: 3 pounds, 9 ounces (measured)
A Modern, Light Mountain Rifle
The core of the Springfield 2020 Redline is the 2020 action that Springfield first introduced with the 2020 Waypoint. You can read more detail about the action in Shooting Editor John B. Snow’s initial review of the 2020 platform, but I'll give you the basics. The 2020 Redline action is essentially an optimized Remington M700. It uses a two-lug bolt that’s fluted and uses a sliding claw extractor, as opposed to the smaller Remington extractors that fit into the recess of the bolt face. It comes with a Triggertech adjustable trigger and the action features a bolt release button along the left side of the receiver rather than inside the trigger guard. Many custom mountain rifles use the M700 as their foundation, and that choice serves the 2020 Redline well.
The Springfield 2020 Redline’s Modern Barrel
Before carbon-wrapped barrels came along, a light mountain rifle usually came with a spaghetti-thin barrel that after two or three shots would get hotter than a uranium rod during a nuclear meltdown. Many still do. The trade-off is acceptable for many hunting situations but, all else equal, a barrel that can shed heat and hold its point of impact for more than a few rounds is better. Complicating matters, the awakening of the masses to the pleasantries and benefits of using suppressors leaves the thin-tubed ultralight rifles wanting. Suppressors can work fine on ultralight rifles, but small-diameter all-steel barrels are very sensitive to the weight of a suppressor, with drastic shifts in point of impact, and many of them are long, spindly, and awkward when a can is attached.
Like the 2020 Waypoint, the Springfield 2020 Ridgeline leverages carbon-barrel technology, using BSF stainless steel barrels that feature a carbon-fiber sleeve. It’s not correct to say these barrels are carbon-wrapped, because unlike barrels that are turned down and wrapped with laminated layers of carbon, these are turned down, fluted, then fitted with a carbon-fiber sleeve that’s held by the compression from a front cap that appears to be threaded over the muzzle.
Barrel heat isn’t much of an issue in most hunting scenarios, but I did lots of bench work with the Redline 2020, and both the barrel and solid-steel chamber area seemed to heat more slowly and dissipate heat more quickly than all the other rifles I shot alongside it.
Optimized for a Suppressor
A benefit of the larger diameter and stiffer carbon-fiber barrel on the 2020 Redline is that the rifle is a perfect fit for suppressors. The rifle comes in either 20-inch-barrel, or 16-inch-barrel configurations, and chambered in either 6.5 Creedmoor or .308 Winchester. These shorter barrels will result in a small velocity loss, but they can be fitted with a lightweight suppressor like the Silencerco Scythe Ti or Silencer Central Banish Backcountry without becoming gangly or cumbersome. I also shot the rifle with a Silencerco Omega 36M, but deemed it too heavy to carry on a sheep hunt.
On a backpack hunt, I'm only willing to hunt with a suppressor until it becomes inconvenient. This rifle is able to incorporate one seamlessly. Though I generally despise muzzle brakes, this rifle comes with a radial brake installed. Fortunately, it also includes a plain, matching-color thread protector.
A Light Stock with Precision Rifle Ergonomics
The most visually striking feature of the Springfield 2020 Redline is its stock—the Grayboe Trekker. As with barrels, selecting a stock for a lightweight hunting rifle is a trade-off. Traditionally, slimmed down M700s, Winchester Model 70s, and their clones use dainty stocks with thin fore-ends to save weight. The near mythical Kifaru Rambling Rifle basically eliminated the fore-end altogether. Grayboe took a different approach with the Trekker. It’s a slimmed-down stock that still maintains some of the favorable features of a full-size target stock: a tall cheekpiece, palmswelled vertical grip, and a flat fore-end. It weighs 23 ounces on my postage scale.
The bottom of the buttstock looks like that of a target stock that’s had the underside cut away and hogged out, and the stiff fore-end makes no contact with the barrel whatsoever. The stock comes with two sling swivel studs on the fore-end, and it’s a good platform for an ultralight bipod mount like those from Spartan Precision (that’s what I outfitted mine with). It’s also nice to rest on a shooting bag. The length of pull is adjustable by adding or removing included plastic shims between the stock and one-inch rubber recoil pad. A smart and handy feature is the small bubble level that’s built into the tang of the stock.
The Springfield 2020 Redline in the Field
The best test for any mountain rifle is to bring it to the field. The boring fact about mountain rifles is that most of the time you’re just lugging them around. You might carry a rifle around for two weeks and 80 miles in the mountains and not even get to fire the damn thing. Ask me how I know. As a result, the handling characteristics of an alpine rifle are equally as valuable as their accuracy.
Setting up for Sheep
I hastily set up my Redline, chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor with a 20-inch barrel, about a week before my hunt. Given more time, I’d have ordered a set of Talley Lightweight Rings and removed the one-piece Picatinny rail that came with the gun. I mounted a Leupold VX2 2-7x33mm CDS, which is one of my favorite scopes for a sheep rifle.
I had some handloads sitting on the shelf, so I set out to see if one would work for my sheep hunt. With my first shots, I was impressed by the ergonomics of the stock. Being a light rifle, it’s definitely not as easy to shoot accurately as a heavy chassis gun. But the cheek piece and grip allow much better control of the rifle than more attractive, traditional-style lightweight stocks. The swell on the grip filled my hand and allowed me a deep, solid hook on the trigger. My shots broke clean and I didn’t need to make any adjustments to the trigger weight.
The bolt has a 90-degree throw, but the downward-angling bolt handle allows smooth operation without banging your fingers or knuckles on the scope. When running this rifle, the bolt lift was light, it ran smoothly in the raceways, and ejected brass crisply.
I had two handloads using Hornady 143-grain ELDX bullets, one with H4895 and one with Superformance powder. Both printed 10-shot groups between .9 and .95 inches, so I chose the Superformance load—I had more of it. I zeroed the rifle and verified my elevation solutions out to 700 yards—well beyond the range I would ever make a first shot at a ram. I was ready to hunt.
A Backpacking Rifle
As mentioned, most of a wilderness hunt for sheep is simply carrying your rifle around in your backpack. There are a number of different packs and ways to carry a rifle in those packs, but I found that the 2020 Redline was as convenient to carry as any others, and the cutout in the buttstock made it especially nice for securing with a compression strap.
The bolt doesn’t lock when the rifle’s safety is engaged, but I usually secure a rifle with the bolt handle against my backpack. I have heard stories of unlucky or careless hunters losing their rifle bolt in the field when it’s pushed open by brush and then the release button is pressed against a tightly-stuffed pack.
Though it forces the user to put their booger-picking finger inside the trigger guard, the magazine release is smartly positioned for a hunter who’s carrying their rifle in a backpack. Many other magazine release designs are prone to accidentally dropping the magazine free of the rifle when carried on a pack. Hell, with some rifles, I'll even tape the magazine so it can’t be removed accidentally.
After carrying that rifle around an acceptable number of miles, I decided it was time to shoot a sheep with it. My shot was at 300 yards from a relatively awkward position, lying prone facing uphill, but shooting down over the edge of a cliff. I used the top lid of my backpack as a shooting bag, and just like on the bench, the geometry of the stock helped me break a clean, solid shot, putting an old ram down within a few yards of where he’d stood.
Like many rifles adorning gun store racks, the 2020 Redline comes with an accuracy guarantee—a three-quarter-MOA guarantee to be exact. More specifically, it guarantees “a three-shot group at 100 yards with quality match-grade factory ammunition, in the hands of a skilled shooter.”
Though we often disparage those accuracy guarantees, there’s no way that a reasonable person could say that my rifle doesn’t satisfy the terms. It’s a damn fine-shooting gun, especially considering its weight. After my sheep hunt, I switched to a Leupold Mark 5HD 3-18x44 scope for additional accuracy testing. I recorded 41 5-shot groups with 7 types of ammo, and the average of the top 10 groups, the formula we use in our annual gun test, measured .701 inches. The overall average of the 41 groups was 1.111 inches. Factory ammo standouts were Federal Premium Centerstrike 140-grain BTHP, which averaged .844 inches and Hornady 140-grain ELD Match which averaged .917 inches. Handloaded 143-grain ELD-X bullets averaged .831 inches.
What The Springfield 2020 Redline Does Well
The 2020 Redline does a great job of incorporating features that make it accurate and easier to shoot accurately while remaining lightweight. The shorter barrels allow the rifle to remain a reasonable length when paired with a suppressor.
Where The Springfield 2020 Redline Could Do Better
I haven’t been able to find many gripes about the 2020 Redline, but long-term, I would exchange the one-piece base for Talley rings, and I think it would be more aesthetically pleasing if the fore-end of the stock didn’t have an unnecessarily large gap between it and the barrel.
Read Next: Great Rifles for Mountain Hunting
Though there are some lighter options on the market such as some of Kimber’s offerings, or the ever-resilient NULA rifles, the Springfield holds its own. There aren’t many rifles in this price range that can objectively beat the 2020 Redline when it comes to the complete package of accuracy, shootability, heat dissipation, and suppressor compatibility.