This week’s haul brought us something that I have been awaiting a very long time, and from a source I didn’t expect. 22 Long Rifle firearms, but made in adult-sized, have been a popular and growing segment for a couple of years now. Extremely useful as trainers for both PRS competition and hunting, not to mention as stand-alone rifles for the NLR22 series, these rifles are gaining in popularity. The unfortunate part of this was that to get a truly perfect, size correct trainer, you were going to pay upwards of $4000. Which for many of us, me included, is absolutely not going to happen for something that shoots a rimfire. I do this for a living, and I would be hard-pressed to pay that for a 300PRC. In 22 Long Rifle? You have to be joking.
But I did want one, and I’m sure I am not alone. Yes, I can modify a Ruger 10/22 to fit me, but it isn’t really what I was going for. Yes, I can drop a $500 Tikka T1 in $700 KRG chassis, and be most of the way there, but its still not quite right. I also don’t want to spend a fortune chasing my 22 solution. And then, like a knight in shining armor, what should appear? The Bergara B-14R, at a palatable $1150- $1245 MSRP, depending on how much you like carbon fiber over steel.
Now that is still a lot for a 22LR, if the goal is to plink cans in the back yard, and you are comparing it to a Cricket single shot. But, the features you get on the Bergara close that gap significantly. At least on paper. Prior to this review, I had never shot a Bergara rifle of any caliber. Their company motto is “ our barrels make the difference.” Which briefs well, but I’ve been lied to before. Shocking, I know. Given the price, I wasn’t really sure Bergara could hang. And I am happy to report to you that I was very wrong in my assumptions.
Bergara rifles are made in Bergara, Spain, hence the name. I’m sure I am not alone in not really knowing if Spain has a reputation for excellent machinists or not. The only thing I have ever owned made in Spain, that I can be sure of, is a SEAT brand sedan in Iraq. And while it worked, it wasn’t exactly show room new, which makes it hard to judge. However, regionally, other Europeans are known for weapons. The Italians, Germans, Czechs, and sometimes even English can all make outstanding firearms. It stands to reason that skills set wouldn’t be isolated.
Just pulling the B-14R out of the box shows how right that is. It is stunning in look, as well as in machining. Even with a carbon fiber barrel, it has just the right amount of heft. With the 18 inch barrel, it weighs in at 8.1 pounds and is impeccably balanced. The stock is comparable to a high-end aftermarket one, with adjustable length of pull via spacers. The cheek pad is also adjustable and locks up like a bank vault. This is no narrow chunk of plastic afterthought. The Bergara cheek pad is a seamless part of the comb, with proper width and radius like a real gun. Fore and aft there are a total of 5 sling QD points, along with double front traditional sling swivels. The forearm is flat and wide, the modern preference for shooting from barricades. It has a slight taper from 1 ¾ inches near the magazine, to just under 1 ½ inches at the barrel end. And the stock is a big part of why to love this gun. It fits and functions like it was built for you. But if you don’t happen to like it? The B-14R is sized to be compatible with any Remington 700 stock or chassis. Of which I hear there are a few around.
The magazine is a bit of genius engineering as well. While it does only hold 10 rounds of 22LR, it has the same footprint and feel as an AICS 308/6.5 CM magazine. Perfect not only for reload training, but harder to lose if you are like me. My test model fed perfectly, with the rounds easy to load in the magazine to boot.
What else does a precision gun require? How about a nice trigger. The Bergara B14R comes out of the box with an adjustable trigger, capable of 2.8 to 4.4 pounds. While 2.8 is a bit on the heavy side for a precise bolt action in my opinion, it still beats most. And if you don’t like it, the B-14R is also compatible with Remington 700 triggers. I would suggest Geisselle or Trigger Tech. The factory trigger does require you to take the stock off to adjust, but not a big deal. Two bolts come out, revealing an easily accessible Allen key adjustment on the trigger. Once I had mine set as light as possible, it did prove to be a solid worker. No creep, nice and crisp, overall a joy to work with.
Rounding out the package is an oversized bolt handle attached to Bergara’s trainer action. This is not quite the exact bolt throw of a 308, but it is close. The bolt movement is smooth and reliable, and a joy to shoot. Up top is an included Picatinny rail, so no hunting for outdated scope rings necessary. The carbon fiber barrel is threaded for a suppressor, covering all the bases.
Now that is a lot of good stuff, but the real question with something like this is always going to be accuracy. If it is going to mimic your full-size gun, or compete with the $4000 custom specials, it is going to have to be accurate. So we pulled out all the stops for our shooting test. Up top, a new Horus Vision 5-20 scope, complete with Tremor 5 reticle. This is an amazing piece of glass, which has its own full review coming up. For ammunition, we needed a step beyond some old Federal Lightning, or Remington bucket o bullets. We secured Norma Match, SK Standard Plus, and Lapua Center-X. None of those are cheap, with the Lapua at 24 cents per round, the SK at about 19. Not exactly can plinking ammo. But you do get what you pay for.
Fed a proper diet of magic 22, the Bergara did not disappoint. The Norma was under an inch, while the SK and Lapua both turned in ½ MOA 100 yard groups. Which is pretty amazing for a rimfire. Add to that, I don’t think we have reached mechanical accuracy of the gun even. I haven’t shot right handed in 9 months, until this review. Plus it was cold, uneven ground, and the light was less than ideal. That is not to make excuses, that is to tell you I think the rifle may be capable of still more. If it will consistently do ½ MOA in those conditions, and with no break in, what will it do on a sunny day in perfect conditions? The sky is the limit.
This new Bergara I have no problem calling the best deal in rimfire today. It has been a long time coming, but finally it is here. An out of the box 22LR trainer that is absolutely perfect.