You might not have heard of Bergara, says Dominic Griffith, but the company’s new budget rifle makes a good impression as the new kid on the block
You may not be familiar with the Bergara brand. The Bergara B14 Sporter is the new kid on the block and, as Dominic Griffith contends, one to watch.
For more rifle reviews, read Dominic Griffith’s review of the Ray Ward Magnum Mauser .375/.416. Although not built for an afternoon on the range, this rifle is designed to excel in all aspects of an African safari adventure.
THE BERGARA B14 SPORTER
Few readers, I suspect, will be familiar with the Bergara brand but that is no reason to shy away. Established in the Basque region of Spain, Bergara was well known for barrel accuracy before Ruag brought its Sporter range of rifles to the UK. The rifles are based on a Remington 700 but claim improvements to the trigger, a smoother bolt and a Winchester-style extractor. One of the benefits of being based on the Remington is that many after-market parts are interchangeable.
The Bergara B14 Sporter may be a budget rifle but it did win “Rifle of the Year” at the 2016 Shooting Industries Awards and it is easy to see why. I was offered both the black synthetic in .243 and a .308 in walnut to review. Both share a medium weight 1/10 twist barrel (which is factory screw cut), pillar-bedded action, smooth two-lug bolt, silent side-mounted “forward to fire” safety, red cocking indicator and plastic three-shot magazine. The rifle can be unloaded on safe so there is no need for a separate unload button.
The sturdy walnut stock has chequered grips and a rubber recoil pad, and brings the rifle up to 7lb 5oz in weight while the black synthetic weighs just 7lb 2oz. Both look and feel like rifles of significantly greater value but the biggest surprise is in the superb quality of the trigger even at factory setting. It performs with a crispness usually only seen at the top end of the market. The bolt, too, is smooth in operation and features a chunky spherical bolt handle.
Ruag also let me review two of its scopes including, at the budget end, a Geco 2.5-15×50 IR. Although inexpensive, it has a fine four-dot reticule, parallax adjustment and illuminated reticule. It is quite a heavy scope (750g) and at extreme magnification on the hot day of the test the image did begin to haze, particularly after several shots. For the majority of normal stalking activities, however, it would rarely be found wanting. Of course, better optical performance comes at a price. If you do want more, there is the Kahles range of scopes, including the Helia CSX 3-12×56. Weighing just 600g, it is sleek and unfussy with no additional turrets or illumination but it does boast exceptional quality and clarity of image. Available, too, was Ruag’s range of Hausken Hunter Sound Moderators. These are light, just 265g for the JD2242 model, and excellent in performance. Exclusive to this brand is a range of adaptors that makes just one moderator potentially fit any cut type, whether metric or Imperial.
ON THE RANGE
I took the Bergara B14 Sporter synthetic .243 to the range fresh out of the box. The Geco scope was mounted with Warne 902/876 rings and bases, also suitable for any Weaver dovetail mounts. A nice touch is that the supplied bases come with a “scope base shim” to counter any imperfection in scope base and ring alignment. Yes, you can always cut out a bit of a fizzy-drink can to perform the same function but it is nice to have a purpose-built part. In the rifle box you will also find a factory target showing the group achieved by that particular rifle at 50m. Fully set up with moderator attached, the total weight was now 9lb 6oz, which make it a medium-weight rifle for its class. It felt comfortable to mount, smooth to recycle and well balanced. Using the Geco 105gr ammunition supplied, and after one fouling shot, I achieved a ¾in group at 100m – the first two shots touching and the third edging away to the right. Subsequent groups mirrored this and it is difficult not to be impressed by this new entrant to the market.
In my view, the Bergara B14 Sporter is competing directly with Tikka’s T3X and, in that respect, is a strong contender. The Tikka has a brand awareness that will be difficult to break into but with a saving of some £400 over the Tikka, the Bergara will certainly win support. The Bergara B14 Sporter is a very good and apparently well-built rifle. Its trigger is excellent and it is accurate. With Ruag’s range of scopes, moderators and ammunition behind it, watch out for the new kid on the block.