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Bergara B14 Wilderness Thumbhole Carbon £1,445

There’s a lot to like about this centrefire rifle, with its tough yet lightweight build giving an accurate performance, says Bruce Potts


Bergara B14 Wilderness Thumbhole Carbon

Overall Rating: 88%%

Manufacturer: Bergara

Price as reviewed: £1,445

This Spanish rifle manufacturer has made a great name for itself thanks to its impressive barrel manufacturing. Both its centrefire and rimfire rifles offer great value and are fast becoming respected rifles here in the UK – I have a couple of their rimfires myself.

Its centrefire B14 model is the brand’s most popular, as it embraces many forms from Sporters, specialised finishes, carbon-wrapped barrels, semi-tactical, carbine length, magnum, you name it. This Wilderness series, as the name suggests, is designed for uncompromising performance out in the real world, with lightweight construction, Cerakote finishes, fluted bolts and, on this model, a thumbhole stock with carbon or steel-barrelled options.

Thumbhole stocks are my favourite, and this one is tough yet lightweight. The whole rifle is only 6lb 6oz in .308 Win, making it very hunter-friendly. This is balanced, literally, with the short 20in barrel that has a slim- profiled steel barrel beneath a carbonfibre wrap to add strength while retaining that essential lightness. This makes for a very nimble rifle in the field, which is appreciated as the years roll on.

What you have is a rifle that is strong, weatherproof (with all exposed metal parts Cerakote finished) and complemented by a precision trigger mechanism and AICScompatible detachable magazines. The Wilderness offers great value for money at £1,445, considering the carbon-wrapped barrel usually adds a premium to any rifle.

Bergara B14 Wilderness

Bergara B14 Wilderness

Need to know

  • Manufacturer Bergara, Spain
  • Model B14 Wilderness Thumbhole Carbon
  • Type Bolt action
  • Calibre .308 Win on test, 5/8-24 UNEF
  • Length 40.5in
  • Weight 6lb 6oz
  • Barrel 20in; No 6 profile carbon-wrapped
  • Finish Sniper grey Cerakote and carbon
  • Stock Thumbhole synthetic camo finish
  • LOP 13in, extension pieces to 14in
  • Trigger Single-stage adjustable
  • Safety Side lever
  • Magazine Detachable five-shot polymer
  • Price £1,445
  • Distributor Artemis Outdoors UK; 01579 362319

The thumbhole stock design is particularly comfortable, with a polymer moulded shell and adjustable cheekpiece

In depth

Most striking and in keeping with the Wilderness theme is the well-thought-out and well-designed stock, made from a tough synthetic moulded polymer with hand-painted grey/sand and stippled finish. The soft yet tough inset grip areas are very tactile, adding to the great handling of the thumbhole design with a more solid-feeling tactile grip than many synthetic stocks. The length of pull is a bit short at 13in, but you get two ½in extension pieces. The recoil pad is height adjustable, as is the cheekpiece, via a single Allen screw, which ensures comfort and correct scope-to-eye alignment to the shooter.

Smooth operation

The action is Bergara’s successful B14 model made from chrome moly. The one-piece bolt has a spiral fluted surface, twin-locking bolt system and coned head for smooth operation with 90-degree opening angle and teardrop bolt knob. Reliability is enhanced with the recessed bolt head for safe cartridge enclosure and strong inset extractor with the sprung-loaded ejector in the bolt face, which proved most energetic. Finished in sniper grey Cerakote, it will not rust, but scopes have to be mounted on separate mounts (not provided). You have a polymer AICS-compatible five-shot magazine, which is removed by a very good ambidextrous drop lever in front of the trigger-guard, which eliminates fumbling.

The trigger is Bergara’s Performance Model, which is adjustable, but why bother? It was light at 2.65lb with no creep or over-travel. The safety is traditionally a two-position system that allows the rifle to be unloaded with the safety on, sensible.

Now the interesting part. Bergara barrels are legendary for accuracy; they pride themselves on their in-house quality manufacturing. This carbon model is a hybrid between the underlying slim 4140 chrome moly barrel, which is then wrapped in carbon fibre to a No 6 varmint profile offering a stiff, accurate barrel but with reduced weight – all the rage these days. On test is the .308 model that has a sensible 20in length, so moderator fitment via the 5/8 UNEF thread does not lengthen it much.

Surrey roebuck

An outstanding Surrey roebuck harvested with a single shot from the very capable Bergara


A very capable, lightweight stalking rifle benefiting from a well-designed and adjustable stock with good weatherproofing thanks to the Cerakote finishes. I like the carbon-wrapped barrel but choose your loads wisely. I would also like a Picatinny scope rail included.

  • Accuracy 17/20Good accuracy with correct loads
  • Handling 18/20 Lightweight and stable
  • Trigger 17/20 Clean and predictable break
  • Stock 18/20 Well-designed thumbhole
  • Value 18/20 Always good value and reliable
  • Overall Score 88/100 A well-thought-out, capable rifle

Field test

I fitted a Zeiss V4 Conquest up top as it offers a lightweight scope to complement the Wilderness as well as great optics, and an Evolve sound moderator too.

Factory first, and as with all carbon-wrapped barrels you have to let them cool down after 10 to 15 shots otherwise groups enlarge. The new Hornady ECX lead-free 125-gr load shot a fast 3,037fps and 2,561ft/lb with inch groups at 100 yards; a good start. Stepping up to 150-gr and the Hornady SSTs fared less well at 2.5in groups at 2,955fps and 2,909ft/lb, but the RWS 165-gr by comparison shot sub-inch groups at 2,550fps and 2,383ft/lb.

Correct bullet choice is key; it was a bit fickle in which load it liked. Reloads sharpened the accuracy, with the GMX 110-gr lead free-bullets travelling at a stout 3,059fps velocity and 2,286ft/lb energy with a load of 46 grains of Vit N133 and 0.75in groups. The Nosler Ballistic Tips shot solid inch groups at 2,885fps and 2,774ft/lb with 42.5 grains of RL10X.

Content with my ammo choice, I set out to the field. The rut was concluding in Surrey and, loaded with the 110-gr GMX, my son and I headed to the wooded hills where we were instantly greeted with a doe and then a buck – out of range, however. A long stalk through the woods followed and we sat and waited in an isolated barn at the junction of two fields and one big wood, a favoured deer crossing spot.

After 20 minutes of watching rabbits and pigeons, it all hit the fan. A doe emerged, running from the field right in front of us, followed by a huge buck, and I had only a split second to aim and shoot. Down he went. The doe stood there bemused, the Evolve sound moderator clearly doing its job. We did not move. Then another buck came running after the doe and started chasing and mounting her 20 yards from us. We had to wait 15 minutes until they moved off to retrieve the first buck. It was a memorable evening indeed.


A very capable, lightweight stalking rifle benefiting from a well-designed and adjustable stock with good weatherproofing thanks to the Cerakote finishes.