The .22LR “training rifle” concept goes back decades, except back then they called them cadet rifles, low recoiling versions of service rifles used for initial marksmanship training. Over the years there’s been a steady evolution of this rimfire rifle subcategory geared toward the precision rifle crowd. The Bergara B-14R is one of the latest offerings in this segment that brings a host of features that could make it one of the best values on the market.
Why Do You Want a .22 Trainer?
For precision rifle shooters, the .22LR trainer is appealing because it provides the ability to economically hone certain skill sets without burning through barrels or extensive facilities. If I want to work on my positional shooting or try a new piece of gear, I can take 200-300 rounds with me and spend all day working out the kinks. Additionally, rimfire trainers can reinforce wind and range estimation skills since even at relatively close range, small errors could result in a miss.
The Bergara B-14R
I’ve had the good fortune of shooting quite a few .22LR rifles in my time, including one that’s thought of as the premier bolt action rimfire on the market. Of course, the draw to that particular premium action was that it could be dropped into any stock and use any trigger made for the Remington 700 footprint. This capability was huge in terms of putting together a clone of your match rifle but most people balked at dropping nearly $2,000 for just a barreled action alone. The B-14R provides a new option that costs half as much, actually comes with a stock, and also takes advantage of the substantial aftermarket for the Remington 700. In simple terms, you can have a .22 clone of your HMR or use the B-14R to perfectly clone your match rifle with the stock, trigger, and other accessories of choice.
Upon opening the box, if you didn’t know that the B-14R was a rimfire you’d probably just think it was a shorter centerfire rifle. Not much about it screams “.22LR rifle” besides the small ejection port and elongated rear receiver bridge.
This is because the action is made from the same B14 action as the HMR, giving it a Remington 700 footprint. No scope base is provided though but the action is drilled and tapped for 6-48 base screws, so most common Remington 700 bases will work. In fact, the scope base on this rifle was the one I pulled off my Bergara HMR.
The 18”, heavy contour barrel is made from 4140 Chromoly steel with a 1:16” twist and a threaded muzzle to accept ½-28 muzzle devices and suppressors. The threads looked clean and while I don’t normally run muzzle devices on my .22’s I have a feeling a suppressor would create a wonderfully quiet combination.
Pick up the bolt and at first glance, it looks kinda goofy with a back end that looks like a truncated dual lug B14 bolt pushing a blocky, floating bolt head. Like other rifles using the B14 action, the bolt has a 90° throw making bolt operation feel much the same as a full-size centerfire rifle. The enlarged bolt knob is also the same as the one on my HMR and provides plenty of leverage to actuate the bolt quickly and decisively. The actual bolt head doesn’t rotate and instead glides on the internal guide rails as smooth as glass. Dual extractors help ensure reliable extraction, something that can be problematic with some .22LR rifles that only have one extractor.
I’m also a particular fan of the B-14R’s stock as it is the same molded polymer stock found on short action HMR rifles. This one appearing to be the one used on the HMR Pro with its gray and black speckled finish. If you aren’t familiar with the HMR stock it’s a molded polymer stock but unlike cheap Tupperware stocks this one has an imbedded aluminum mini-chassis system that extends from the grip to the tip of the forend. The aluminum skeleton adds rigidity to mitigate flexing but also provides a solid mounting platform for the sling mounts and swivel studs.
To help tailor the rifle to the shooter, the stock comes with an adjustable cheekpiece that provides plenty of height adjustment for even large objective scopes. The cheek rest locks up so tight I’ve leaned on it to put as much of my weight on it as I could to get it to move and it didn’t budge. A tried and true spacer system is there to adjust the length of pull. The rifle came with three spacers, which seems like it would provide enough adjustment to accommodate everyone from a youth shooter to Lurch from the Addams Family. The stock has four QD sling mounting points, two on each side along with three standard sling swivel studs on the bottom. This set up allows me to use whatever sling I want and if I want to add a rail for an Atlas bipod that can be easily accomplished by swapping out the sling swivel studs for 10-32 button head cap screws.
Flip the stock over and you’ll see the typical AICS magazine compatible bottom metal that comes with the HMR rifles. How does that work on a rimfire though? Well, the B-14R uses a proprietary magazine that locks into the standard AICS compatible bottom metal but feeds .22LR smooth as silk.
The magazines are made from polymer and hold 10 rounds just like a full-size AICS mag would. Loading and unloading the rifle with this magazine felt literally no different than if I was loading a mag into my centerfire HMR.
To do the accuracy testing I was limited to what was available locally but I managed to pull together a good haul of premium and match grade ammunition from multiple brands. I mounted up a Burris XTR III 5.5-30X56 and settled in at the 50-yard bench to zero and shot four 5-shot groups for each type of ammo that I had. Those results are shown below but keep in mind that these are the first rounds through the rifle, there was no break in or fouling besides zeroing the rifle.
Between zeroing, shooting groups for record, and generally playing around on steel I shot about 250 rounds on the first day alone. I wasn’t always delicate in running the bolt but it fed and ejected brass smooth as silk. For the most part, I didn’t even feel the bolt pick up round until I dropped the bolt and felt a slight pressure as the bullet engaged the lands.
The trigger felt just as good as the action, there was no creep and it broke cleanly at 2 ¾ lbs with just a little bit of over travel. While I was recording the trigger pull weight I noticed that the variation over 10 trigger pulls was just a few ounces. While the 2 ¾ lbs may be on the heavy side, the trigger can be adjusted slightly lower or swapped out completely with an aftermarket Remington 700 trigger. Keep in mind that Bergara rifles have a heavier firing pin spring which means that it could be problematic when looking for triggers that break at just several ounces. That being said, there have been users that have successfully used Bix’n Andy and Elftmann triggers to get pull weights down in the 3-5 oz range.
I was happy with the rifle at 50 yards but the consistency at 100, 200, and 300 yards registered with me as I continued sending rounds downrange. At 100 yards I spent a good amount of time cleaning the berm of clay pigeon remnants, hitting pieces that were probably no bigger than a quarter. At 200 yards the 6” X 6” steel plate didn’t stand a chance either as I found myself consistently stacking rounds into an expanding grey blob before going after clay pigeon remnants on that berm too. Now, 300 yards was a little trickier given some gusty winds blowing across the range but I was still able to hit a 12” X 12” plate on the regular. Based on my experience, the level of accuracy demonstrated by the B-14R would be more than sufficient to compete and do quite well in practical precision rimfire matches.
There weren’t any local precision rimfire matches happening for some time at the time of this writing but I thought it’d be a good idea to get some practice anyway. I used targets that I designed specifically for my rimfire match rifle to work on the fundamentals and positional shooting. My first target focused on precision shooting from the prone and honestly, I felt a little rusty, but that’s why we have practice targets. My second target focused on positional shooting with a sling and as I looped up it was remarkably stable. Since the barrel is free-floated and the action secured by two substantial action screws, there was no deflection or deviation in point of impact due to the sling’s tension. At the end of my practice I knew two things, 1.) I need to work on my sling work and 2.) I think I really do love this rifle.
I think calling the B-14R perfect would be a little pretentious but I believe it represents the absolute best bang for the buck if you want to mirror your Remington 700 in .22LR form. I put close to 500 rounds of various types of ammo through the rifle and it has given me nothing but utter reliability. There wasn’t one misfeed, failure to eject, or light primer strike the entire time. On the whole, accuracy has been superb as well since the total average of the 44 5-round groups fired at 50 yards was .638”. This rifle, as they say, is a shooter and would easily fit the bill as a rimfire comp gun or short-range precision trainer. Oh yeah, if the weight is a little bothersome, Bergara is releasing a carbon fiber version as well but B-14R’s are already hitting shelves so you won’t have to wait to pick up yours.
B-14R MSRP – $1150