“Although there are many rifles on the market today, we wanted to focus on one thing: quality.”
Bergara B14 HMR
In New Zealand, the Bergara brand has only recently come to light – seeing them mentioned online as a great cost-effective option – and, with the B14 HMR ((Hunter Match Rifle)) – something that could potentially be used for both hunting and some competition. I know a few guys with them, had seen a couple at the range, but when a client recently brought one out for a precision rifle course and handed it over to me to set up for him, I took the opportunity to, well, pull it to bits!
Heavy Match Rifle?
At around 4.15kg (9.15 pounds) for the rifle only, with optics, the rifle really does feel nearly as heavy as my TAC A1 – so, it’s really on the heavy side, compared to say a T3X Lite (3kg’ish) or even the Tikka CTR at 3.5kg.
So, it’s not really something I would lug around for a couple of days in the bush. But, on saying that, it’s not really what I think it’s best suited for.
Hunter Match Rifle?
Really, to me, this is a crossover between a chassis style rifle and the more traditional styling of a stock. Certainly, the adjustable cheek rest, pistol grip and chunky, purposeful feel to this rifle are nice.
This middle ground between a chassis and stock has appealed to me for a while – I really like the notion of the traditional buttstock – with a slope that would allow a bit more adjust-ability than many modern chassis’ with their skeleton design do. Certainly, holding some of the newer carbon fibre stocks got me thinking about playing more with something with more ‘traditional’ lines.
On saying that, the Bergara still does have a big whack taken out of its rear – and I will have a bit more of a play this week when I get to shoot it (it needs zeroing and some data gathering) and see if I really am wanting a full-length buttstock again.
The magazines are AI pattern – and (in my case would) could be replaced with metal ones. I confirmed by pulling the one off my 700 and fitting it. Straight in. Having used the TAC A1 – and it’s double stack mags – it was kinda weird to have suck a big 10 rounder sitting out of a rifle again – it’s certainly a look I had forgotten about!
Enough talk. Let’s pull it to bits!
I suggest people pull new guns to bits before using them much – from new, a firearm often has a few things that can be ‘done’ to them to just tidy things up from the factory – and it seems that the Bergara B14 HMR is no exception.
This thing is packed with grease – which, is not exactly a bad thing – but I do find things can be a little heavy-handed from factory – they want to ensure no rust or corrosion during the trip from factory to customer – and – considering many guys never pull a bolt to bits – you want to make sure it doesn’t get the opposite way and have no lube in there at all. This is one of the main reasons I pull a new gun to bits for a good clean.
However, much to my surprise – once I wiped all the grease away – I was left with a bit of a patina on the thread where the firing pin mechanism threads into the bolt body. Now, I don’t really see this being as any kind of issue – I simply gave it a gentle wire brush and a light coating of clean grease again. Not a problem, just a surprising observation.
The trigger is nice, crisp, and well, as some would say ‘lawyer friendly’ – you can adjust it, but even at it’s lightest – it’s a ‘field safe’ weight – I believe around 2.6 pounds from the factory and basically, you can’t make it lighter, but you can make it heavier. Not sure why you would want to, but you can. It would be a sitter for a replacement trigger. Maybe a Timney 2-Stage?
The stock is solid, stable and stiff. Certainly, there seems to be minimal flex in it.
What I did notice, is that under the action, and on top of the stock there is a bit of marking from where the two are wedged together – I also noticed, what I think was oil compressed between the two. Bergara call this system the ‘mini-chassis’ – which is intended to give the stock is stiffness and provide solid and repeatable fixing. I don’t know – but I would have thought that leaving the paint of the points of contact might have been a better idea? Maybe it would be an easy tweak to sand pack the specific spots and have more metal to metal contact. Not sure.
I also noted that the action screws were less tight than the reccomendations in the user manual (according to my fix-it sticks anyhow).
Despite a couple of things (and, lets also consider that this is currently one of the cheapest options on the market for this style of rifle) initial impressions are good for this rifle. I would consider it too heavy for a regular hunting rifle, but, the weight and stiffness does in all likelyhood mean it’s going to be a shooter – which is what I will be testing next when I zero the rifle and collect some date for the client. More soon!