400 Yard Muzzleloader! Taking Long Shots With Bergara and CVA: New Rifles!

On April 29, 2021, Bergara and CVA sponsored The Long Shot Tour, held at the Fossil Pointe Shooting Grounds, outside Decatur, Texas. These two gun makers had some new and newer firearms to show off and invited a dozen writers and editors to try out several Bergara bolt action rifles and a pair of CVA muzzleloaders, plus a CVA bolt action.

I was one of those writers.

Bergara North America was a co-sponsor of the recent Long Shot Tour.

Bergara, of Bergara, Spain, began its manufacturing career making top-quality rifle barrels, which it sold to gun makers across Europe and the United States. But in 2012, Bergara launched its own line of bolt-action rifles through its Custom Shop. Later, the gun maker introduced the B-14 Series, quickly embraced by American hunters as top-of-the-line bolt action rifles. Today, Bergara North America also offers many other rifles including the B-14 Wilderness Series, Premier Series, and Rimfire Series, the later semi-automatics.

If you hunt with or shoot muzzleloaders, you know CVA!

An icon of American Muzzle loading, Connecticut Valley Arms—better known to the hunting world as CVA–was founded in 1971 and specialized in traditional side-lock muzzle loading rifles and build-it-yourself rifle kits. CVA was among the first to introduce the in-line muzzleloader and is the nation’s most popular source for black powder hunters. CVA jumped into the centerfire market several years ago with the bolt-action rifles in the Cascade Series.

Both Bergara and CVA are owned and operated by parent company BPI Outdoors. Headquartered in Lawrenceville, Georgia, BPI Outdoors also owns Durasight Scope Mounts, PowerBelt Bullets, and hunting and shooting accessories maker Quake Industries.

BPI Outdoors is headed by CEO Nate Treadway, who was our host at The Long Shot Tour. Treadway gave an overview presentation of BPI, Bergara, and CVA, and was available throughout the day to answer questions. A dedicated hunter and conservationist, Treadway cares deeply about his company and its people.

A first-rate shooting facility, Fossil Pointe Sporting Grounds hosted the Long Shot Tour.

By the way, the Fossil Pointe Sporting Grounds is a first-class facility, from the rifle ranges we used and the various other shooting venues, to the clubhouse and the great food the staff provided us. Thank you!

I shot six different rifles at the event, shooting all of them many times at distances of up to 800 yards. My initial takes on those rifles (with detailed reviews to come):

A 400-Yard Muzzleloader?

That’s what I was told: the .40 caliber CVA Paramount HTR was capable of shooting out to four football fields in a row, accurately. My initial reaction: Uh-huh.

Okay, I figured, you could high-angle a muzzleloader and go 400 yards, and hit a large steel target, but likely not the vital zone on a deer.

Actually, I discovered that the Paramount HTR is the 6.5 Creedmoor of muzzleloaders—fast, accurate, and sexy–and is about to change muzzleloader hunting for good this fall and beyond. That’s because it truly is a 400-yard black powder rifle and capable of impressive accuracy.

A true 400-yard hunting muzzleloader, the CVA Paramount HTR.

My first four shots with the bolt-action Paramount HTR grouped at about six inches on steel at 400 yards. The rifle was loaded with a 225-grain, very aerodynamic PowerBelt ELR bullet and propelled by 150 grains of Blackhorn 209 powder. The optic was a Leupold VX 5HD 3-15×44. I watched the impact of the shots via the Long Shots Cameras set up at this and the other shooting stations, wireless cameras that provided images of the targets on a tablet.

CVA rates the muzzle velocities with the Paramount HTR’s as high as 2,850 feet per second, with only a 23-inch drop at 400 yards.

Recoil? Substantial, even with the attached muzzle brake, but not shoulder-breaking by any means. The trigger was crisp. Shooting from a table and sandbags, the Paramount’s stock fit nicely into my shoulder.

The Paramount HTR fires the very aerodynamic PowerBelt ELR .40 caliber bullets.

I watched the Paramount HTR being shot another ten or more times by the other people attending the event. And you know what didn’t happen despite all that shooting? We never cleaned the barrel. For a muzzleloader, that’s pretty damned amazing!

A Near-Perfect Compact Deer Rifle

Light, maneuverable, and very accurate, the CVA Cascade SB struck me as the perfect compact deer rifle for the tree stand or blind. Great truck gun, too, and if you are spotting and stalking especially in rough terrains, the Cascade SB would be an easy carry.

Perfect for the hunting stand, the blind or the truck: the CVA Cascade SB rifle.

The bolt action Cascade SB (Short Barrel) sports an 18-inch barrel in 6.5 Creedmoor (the model caliber I used) and .308 Win, and a 16.5-inch barrel in 300 Blackout. Weight? Under seven pounds.

The synthetic stock featured a SoftTouch finish that was nicely grippy despite the wet conditions in which we were shooting (continual rain and several storm fronts).  The barrel is also threaded for a suppressor, and the trigger was light and crisp.

The Cascade SB rifle was compact, lightweight and very accurate.

I shot at a 2 MOA target at 400 yards and watched as ten rounds of Federal Premium Fusion with a 140-grain bullet stacked up shot after shot, half of them touching, on the steel. Impressive.

A Rimfire for Hunting and Competition

I used the new BMR (Bergara Micro Rimfire) in the carbon barreled, .22 LR version, and I swear I could have drilled squirrel heads at 100 yards without a problem—shooting from a rest, of course.

A squirrel’s worst nightmare, the Bergara Micro Rimfire rifle.

No tree rodents volunteered for the job, though, so I pegged steel. Using the Long Shot Cameras system, watched shot after shot drop into a group smaller than the palm of my hand. Ammunition was CCI Green Tag Competition rounds, the scope a Leupold VX Freedom 3-9×40 Rimfire model.

The Bergara BMR uses a 5 or 10-round magazine. The barrel on the .22 LR version is 18-inches long. The Bergara Performance Trigger was light and precise.

The BMR employs a 5 or 10-round magazine.

Lightweight and very handy, you could hunt with the BMR during the AM and run a rimfire competition in the PM. The Bergara BMR is also offered in .17 HMR and .22 WMR, each of these sporting 20-inch barrels.

PRS-Ready Right out of the Box

You know you’re using a first-rate rifle when your very first shot, at 800 yards no less, damn near center punches the steel. This despite the fog, wind, and rain as a new Texas storm front threatened. Definitely a PRS style rifle at just shy of 13 pounds unloaded, the Bergara Premier Competition Rifle is currently only available in 6.5 Creedmoor, though a 6MM Creedmoor version will be available late Summer 2021.

Ready to compete the day you buy, it, the Bergara Premier Competition Rifle.

Ammunition was Federal Premium 6.5 Fusion rounds with 140-grain bullets, while the scope was a very nice Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25×56.

The Premier Competition Rifle sported an MPA BA Competition Chassis, and an amazing Frictionless Release Technology trigger from TriggerTech. The bolt worked smoothly, and the 10-round AICS-style magazine put rounds in without a hitch. 

The MPA chassis was comfortable and a real pleasure to use.

The PRC features a 26-inch heavy barrel and has a total length of 46-inches. This big boy is PRS ready right out of the box.

Compact and Accurate: CVA ACCURA X-Treme MR-X

I don’t mean this in any negative way, but the CVA ACCURA® X-Treme Series MR-X muzzleloaders would be a great choice for first-time muzzleloaders. Compact and accurate, the MR-X’s muzzle brake really cut the recoil, making it feel like a 30-30 lever action and not a black powder rifle. The barrel seemed much shorter than its 25-inches, and the rifle weighed in at just 6.35-pounds.

The CVA Accura MR-X is a 150-yard deer hunter.

And this compact break-action muzzleloader is very accurate. The rifle is available in a 50-caliber model, though I shot the .45 caliber version. Using a 285-grain PowerBelt ELR bullet and 100 grains (by volume) of Blackhorn 209 powder, the ACCURA MR-X put bullet after bullet into a 1.5-inch group at 100 yards. It is easily a 150-yard deer rifle.

The muzzle brake on the MR-X greatly reduced recoil.

The adjustable comb is a nice touch, and I saw the rifle do a dozen shots before it was cleaned, with no effect on accuracy or ease of loading. 

Going “Small” with the Sidekick

A couple to three times a year, Bergara will offer a “Small Batch” rifle, essentially a hand-crafted rifle limited to a batch size of 200 (which might go somewhat larger depending on early demand). The very first Small Batch was on hand at the Long Shot Tour, the bolt-action Sidekick.

Begara’s first “Small Batch” custom rifle, the Sidekick.

The Sidekick featured a side-folding arm brace and custom-built Multicam Black Cerakote chassis. Built to be light, compact, and versatile, the Sidekick features a 10.5-inch barrel, fluted and made of stainless steel, is magazine-fed and weighs under six pounds. Be a nice truck gun that would also do the job in the hunting blind.

The Sidekick I shot was chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor. It had a Vortex Viper red dot mounted on it, and our targets were steel silhouettes at 250 yards. Shooting off a tripod, I easily hit the body of the silhouette three times out of three. Time for headshots I figured, and also scored three of three.

Three in the noggin’ at 250 yards!

Pretty outstanding, I felt, especially considering the red dot more than covered the head at that distance. With a scope, I’m 100-percent sure this is a 1 MOA rifle out to 250 yards, and maybe further. The Sidekick is also available in .223 Wylde and .308 Win and will be shipping this summer.

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About the author: Brian McCombie writes about hunting and firearms, people and places, for a variety of publications including American Hunter, Shooting Illustrated, and SHOT Business. He loves hog hunting, 1911’s chambered in 10MM and .45 ACP, and the Chicago Bears.

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