A Small Game Menace: Springfield Model 2020 Rimfire (Full Review)

A Small Game Menace: Springfield Model 2020 Rimfire (Full Review)

I’m a rifle guy in the small game woods. Always have been. I don’t like picking lead BB’s out of a squirrel ham, but I also love to practice my marksmanship. While you may take a single shot all year at a whitetail or an elk, the squirrel woods give you the chance to hone your skills by taking multiple shots from various field positions. There’s really no better way to spend a Saturday morning.

That’s why I knew I wanted to get my hands on Springfield’s Model 2020 Rimfire. I’ve had good success with their centerfire Model 2020 rifle, and I was curious whether a company known for striker-fired handguns could switch gears and produce a solid squirrel gun.

I think the answer is, “Yes.” It’s not perfect, but the Model 2020 Rimfire does everything a double-deuce is supposed to–and then some.

Rimfire Feature 1 The Model 2020 Rimfire fitted with a Redfield scope and resting on a Grand Old Canister shooting bag from MDT.

Specs and Features (Test Model)

  • Caliber: .22 LR
  • Stock: AA Grade Walnut
  • Barrel: 20" #1 Sporter Contour, 1:16, Matte Blued
  • Receiver: Model 2020 Rimfire, Round 1.14" Diameter, Matte Blued
  • Optic Mounting: Interrupted Picatinny Mount, 8-40 Screws
  • Bolt: 4140 Steel, High Polish White Chrome Coating
  • Trigger: Adjustable Remington® 700 Style Trigger Group w/ Hanger System for Compatibility
  • Threaded Barrel: No
  • Muzzle Device: None
  • Magazine: 10-Round Rotary (Ruger 10/22 Style)
  • Weight: 6lbs 3oz
  • Length: 38.25"
  • MSRP: $434-$1099

A Rimfire from Springfield?

Most people probably know Springfield Armory for their handguns, AR-style rifles, and, of course, the M1A. But in 2020, the company decided to branch out. They introduced the Model 2020 Waypoint, which was billed as a kind of culmination of modern rifle advancements. Since Springfield Armory, Inc., (which is not the same Springfield Armory that made U.S. military rifles) didn’t have a history with bolt guns, they could start from scratch and offer the best materials and features.

Then, a few years later, they expanded the Model 2020 line with the Redline (a lighter version of the original) and the Rimfire.

Rimfire Feature 4

“Basically, the mindset on the Rimfire was to offer a .22 LR rifle with a higher level of refinement and performance than a standard ‘plinker,’ but at a still-reasonable price point,” Mike Humphries, Springfield’s Media Relations Manager, told me.

The 2020 Rimfire comes in two models: Target and Sporter. The Target, as its name implies, is designed for target shooting, and it would make a great starter gun for competition. It differs from the Sporter in that it comes with a polymer stock; a heavy profile, threaded barrel; and a threaded bolt handle. With an MSRP of $434, you can find units for under $400, which is an attainable price point for most hunters.

Rimfire Text

The Sporter, according to Humphries, is more of an “heirloom” rifle designed to look at home in the squirrel woods and one day be passed down to your kids. It features a slimmer profile barrel than the Target model, and it isn’t threaded (more on that in a minute). It can also be had with four grades of walnut stock. If you want a rough-and-ready plinker you don’t mind getting scratched up a bit, the “satin walnut” is a good option ($529 MSRP). But if you want a more attractive piece your grandkids will be proud to own, you can shell out the extra cheddar for a “grade AAA walnut” stock ($1099 MSRP).

The gun I have is a AA walnut, and it’s a beautiful shooting iron. I’ve always been more attracted to function than aesthetics in my firearms (all my ARs are straight black), but if you can have both, why not go for it?

Rimfire Stock 1

Rimfire Stock 2

Features: The Good

These little rifles are loaded with features, but I want to highlight three of them.

First, all Model 2020 Rimfire guns use 10-round rotary magazines compatible with Ruger 10/22 mags. This is one of the benefits of being late to the rimfire game. Springfield engineers knew that everyone has a 10/22, so rather than grab some extra cash by introducing their own proprietary magazine, they let hunters use what they already have. It was a great call, and I’ve had zero issues with feeding or reliability out of any of my 10/22 mags.

Rimfire Mag

Rimfire Safety

Rimfire Bolt

Speaking of reliability, the hard chrome bolt with a 60-degree throw makes followup shots a little quicker, and the action is smooth as can be.

Lastly, the trigger is excellent. It comes from the factory set around five pounds, which I thought was a bit too heavy. Fortunately, it’s adjustable. I took the action out of the stock (per the instructions in the user’s manual), and used an Allen wrench to adjust a screw on the front of the trigger. Now, I have a crisp, single-stage trigger set at exactly 2.5 pounds.

Rimfire Trigger

If for some reason you don’t like this trigger, it also features a trigger hanger that can accept many models of aftermarket Remington 700 triggers. Humphries said that the wide variety of Rem 700 triggers means they can’t guarantee every single one will work, but he said it should accept "many" aftermarket 700-pattern triggers.

Features: The Less Good

The 2020 Rimfire is an excellent gun, and it delivers where it matters most (see next section for details). But I do have a few gripes.

The Sporter model does not come with a threaded barrel. The Target model does, so I hesitate to even mention this as a criticism. But I’m not sure why the Sporter couldn’t have a threaded barrel as well. There’s nothing quieter than a suppressed bolt-action .22 LR, but I’ll have to get this gun threaded if I want to use it with my suppressor.

The Sporter model is also fitted with a low-profile mag release that may be a little too low profile. It’s tucked just forward of the trigger guard and takes a fair amount of force to operate. There’s no way it’s getting snagged on a coat or a branch, which is clearly the point. But it was the only negative experience I had using the rifle, so I thought it deserved a mention.

At the Range and in the Field

I once heard a well-known competitive shooter say that the rimfire game is more about the ammo than the rifle. That’s not always true since a high-end competition gun will shoot any kind of ammo better than your grandpa’s old plinker. But it does get at an important truth when you’re trying to improve your .22’s accuracy: group size can vary significantly depending on the ammo you’re using.

Rimfire Hunting 2

This rifle is a case in point. Springfield guarantees the rifle will shoot sub-one-inch three-shot groups at 50 yards using match-grade ammo. I’d say this gun blows that guarantee out of the water (in a good way). I shot five, five-shot groups with each kind of ammunition at 50 yards, and four out of six cartridge varieties posted an average of less than one inch. The SK Match loads posted a 0.45-inch group and averaged just a hair over a half-inch. Aguila Super Extra and CCI subsonic small game loads also gave me groups of 0.75 inches across the board.

Rimfire Target

Federal’s bulk ammo didn’t do quite so well. The 40-grain option would be usable as a plinker, but the 36-grain loads were all over the map. After shooting five groups, I had a tough time deciphering which shots went with which group.

Ammo SK Match 40g CCI Subsonic HP 45g Aguila Super Extra 40g CCI Green Tag 40g Federal AutoMatch 40g Federal Champion 36g
Average Group (in) 0.55 0.72 0.75 0.90 1.24 2.8
Small Group (in) 0.45 0.45 0.65 0.45 0.90 1.00

The good news is that even if the Model 2020 Rimfire doesn’t like your favorite bulk ammo, I guarantee you’ll be able to find something it does like–whether you plan to shoot this gun in competition, in the squirrel woods, or just for fun.

Speaking of the squirrel woods, I also got the chance to test out the Model 2020 Rimfire in the field. Limb chicken activity in February is somewhat more subdued than in November and December, but I still managed to bring home a few.

Rimfire Squirrel

At 7.6 pounds with a scope and a loaded mag, the rifle is comfortable to carry, and the 20-inch barrel squeezes every last drop of velocity out of the .22 LR without getting in the way of branches and vines. Plus, the light trigger allows for accurate shots from whatever weird field positions you might try your luck.

Last Shot

Are there cheaper rimfire rifles out there? Sure. But if you’re looking at the Target model, they’re not that much cheaper. And they probably won’t be able to use Ruger 10/22 mags, accept aftermarket Remington 700 triggers, or be nearly as accurate. If you’re looking for a new double-deuce rifle, I’d say the Model 2020 Rimfire is worth a serious look.

Rimfire Bipod Model 2020 Rimfire fitted with an MDT CKYE-Pod Lightweight bipod.

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