Late last month, we had a chance to attend an industry event full of the new hotness. With the cancelation of SHOT SHOW for 2021, Bergara opted to do something a little different with the marketing budget for the year. Can’t show off the goods at a booth in Vegas? Well, then how about a traveling roadshow where you actually get to shoot! Not only did we get to actually go hands-on with all the toys in the lineup for 2021, but I also lost zero dollars to a slot machine, which I count as a win all around.
Our leg of the Long Shot tour went through Great Falls, MT, home to the Great Falls Shooting Sports Complex. Not only was it close to home, but the GFSSC is one of the best ranges in the West. It features multiple covered bays, a 1000 yard range, and a full-up Cowboy Town for action shooting. Sadly, they did not let me try a hostage rescue 400-yard shot into those facades from out in the wheat fields, but we still had a really good time. If you are ever in Western Montana, I strongly recommend you stop by.
The best part about an event in this style is that you actually have time to really wring out the goods. With just a handful of writers, we had the chance to shoot more in a day than most of us probably do in a normal month. Especially considering the price of ammunition at the moment.
Bergara is a brand that I have just been introduced to this year, but I have so far been very impressed. Which you may have noted since I covered the B14R in 22LR twice. And in keeping with that rimfire theme, we got a look at some other options. The BMR (Bergara Micro Rimfire) is a smaller version of the B14 and is priced a bit more for the average rimfire shooter. The B14R, as noted, was built to be a full-sized trainer. As in mimic a larger rifle, but chambered in 22LR. The BMR is pure rimfire, with a very short bolt throw and a lower price tag. It is still available in a carbon fiber barrel option to save on weight, for a bit more money. But I think we will see this nest into the rimfire market nicely. MSRP $565 (steel), $659 (carbon fiber).
New for this year is the Bergara Small Batch line. Small Batch products are meant to cover niche firearms needs and are limited to runs of 200. The first up is the Sidekick, which is a pretty cool little blaster. I can see why it is a very limited run, based on need. But it is cool. The Sidekick is basically a bolt action Bergara “pistol” with a side folding stock. Our demo model was chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor, though it is also available in 308 and 223. Our tester was wearing a red dot sight, which as you can probably tell by now makes a weird package. 10.5-inch barrel, 6.5 CM, and a red dot? Yes. Would it be my first choice for elk hunting in Idaho? No. But it is neat and does fill a very odd niche for anyone that needs real boy rounds, in a very small package. Our demo model was obviously not set up for accuracy testing, and we shot it from a tripod. But hits on relatively small steel were easy out to 300 yards, and a small segment of our audience is going to absolutely want one of these.
Also on hand was the CVA Muzzleloaders, with some new for ’21 madness. You guys that read my column know I am not the hunting guy or generally the muzzleloader guy, so take this bit with a grain of salt. It comes from a rather shallow bit of experience. In fact, this was only my second time ever shooting a muzzleloader. The first being at the Thompson Center factory a few years back. But we are going to report anyway!
The big push from CVA this year is 40 caliber. Not only are they making guns in 40 cal, but they are also introducing Extended Long Range 40 caliber Powerbelt Bullets. The idea being that for the same charge of powder, a smaller and lighter bullet goes faster. Seems reasonable to me. 40 caliber is the minimum for several states to hunt with a muzzleloader, so CVA pushed the envelope to try and extend the range of a muzzleloader to reach.
Does it work? You tell me. Like I said, I am pretty light on muzzleloader experience. I can report, however, that even a rookie such as myself was making hits on a 6-inch plate at 300 yards with the setup. I will also say that CVA makes a very easy-to-use system. The new guns ship with a Paramount Collapsible Ramrod, which you can deploy and use with one hand. Even as a rookie to muzzleloaders, I found the CVA guns simple to load and use.
Also on display was an odd duck for a shooting day, but in some ways a device that stole the show. Breeo smokeless fire pits had a display up, and it turns out that they make a very cool product. I’m going to warn you now, they don’t make a cheap product. But it was very cool. The Breeo is basically an oversized biofuel stove, with an engineered airflow design that makes wood burn so hot it produces no smoke. Unlike a regular firepit, the Breeo also has an optional sear plate and grill, so you can cook while enjoying some ambiance. Probably the coolest part was the stainless steel grade specifically chosen to create a patina as it is used. The demo model started out the day fresh and shiny out of the box. But even over a single day of burning, it was developing a “case hardened” look. This is by design and makes everyone unique. The firepits start at $349, which is a sight more than a 55-gallon drum with some air holes punched in it. But they are cool looking.
All in all, we can expect some great things from Bergara and its affiliated brands this year. There is also a new product that we can’t talk about just yet but it is going to blow your socks off. Our test items for full review are rolling in as we speak, and just in time for hunting season. Hold onto your wallets, the fall is going to get wild.