This year’s Shooting Industry Awards winner has many of the qualities of the Remington 700 and promises to be a popular rifle, says Bruce Potts
Bergara has a good reputation in this country primarily for its imported barrels that are used for many a custom rifle project. RUAG, however, now imports its range of sporting rifles and the new Bergara B14 rifle is set to make a few rival makers sit up and take notice. Available in a small range of calibres, the overall design harks back to the Remington M700, but the Bergara B14 can be thought of as an M700 with a better build quality.
Barrel, action and finish
The action of the Bergara B14 is deliberately set up to be Remington M700-esque, but with a better design and improved problem areas that the M700 never rectified. With an all-steel construction, the B14 is available in a short- or long-action length. The short caters for .243 or .308 Winchester length cartridges, while the long handles the 6.5x55mm, .270 or 30-06 cases. The long action also comes in magnum long for 7mm Rem Mag, .300 Win Mag or .375 H and H cartridges.
The finish is a matt grey/black and looks hard-wearing, with the rounded action top accepting standard Remington 700 scope bases. There is an improved integral recoil lug for better bedding and a separate stabilising pad between this and the magazine. The bolt is very good — two large opposing locking lugs up front with a semi-coned bolt face. There was total contact at the back of the bolt lugs indicating perfect union between them and the action.
The extractor is a large claw and is better than the original M700’s sprung clip and the ejector is the typical plunger type.
The bolt handle has a good rake to it and the plastic rounded bolt handle feels good and is removable so an aftermarket tactical teardrop could be added to customise it.
The barrel is 22in long on this calibre but 24in on the long-action models. They come threaded for a sound moderator with a 14mm/1 pitch and is a Sporter medium weight profile.
It is totally free-floated from the stock for better accuracy and consistency and in .243 Win comes with a 1-in-10 twist rifling pitch, so should handle the heavier bullet weights, though 1-in-8 would be better.
Bergara barrels are very well made and are also sold as separate items for rebarrelling and custom rifle projects so you know this B14 will shoot well.
Trigger, safety and magazine
The trigger is a pure Remington clone also and as such is fine. There are adjustments for weight and pull but the factory-set 2.75lb weight was good with just a small amount of creep but the sear broke cleanly. Being a Remington clone, any aftermarket trigger can be retro fitted but the Bergara’s is fine for most hunters.
The safety is a simple toggle type with a large, knurled catch, which in its forward position is fire and rearward is safe. It does not lock the bolt so you can unload the rifle with the safety on.
The Bergara B14 now comes with a box magazine as standard. It is detachable and comes out easy with a catch sited in front of the magazine. Push back and the magazine pops out. It is all polymer, which is sensible as it will be dropped and rested on when in the field so it will take some abuse. It is single stacked feed and holds three rounds in .243 Win.
There are three stock options: oiled walnut, black synthetic on the Sporter or this Hunter version wears a soft synthetic green-coloured stock.
It is a simple Sporter design with no cheekpiece or cast and low comb. The attractive green base colour is speckled with black and beige to give a good semi-camouflage, which is further enhanced by a soft rubberised touch finish. This gives a good grip which is a good thing as the chequering is moulded-in and not that prominent. The action is bedded via pillars to secure the action accurately to the stock for enhanced precision and consistency. There is also a good, black sculpted recoil pad called the Crush Zone that is only fitted to the synthetic models. This has suitable recoil-reducing properties and there are two sling swivel studs fitted for a sling attachment.
The fore-end is slim and a little flexible, but is fully floated from the barrel so there are no problems when a bipod is fitted — the barrel clearly does not touch the stock under recoil so accuracy is maintained.
Bergara B14 on test
The rifling twist rate is 1-in-10in, so it’s fine for bullet weights up to 100-gr though I prefer a 1-in-8 that is better for the heavy bullets to stabilise them. 22in is also fine for a .243 Win; any shorter and velocities and energies can become difficult to meet the minimum deer-legal requirements.
The box magazine was very slick and fed superbly in the Bergara. No malfunctions and a very positive lock-up meant the Bergara B14 shot some lovely groups. Factory-wise a .243 Win can shoot light 55-gr bullets for vermin up to 100-105-gr bullets for deer. The mid-weights are good for both, dependent on the style and structure of the bullet.
Best factory load was the Winchester 80-gr soft points, at 3,194 fps velocity for 1,813 ft/lb energy. The B14 hovered just below the 1in mark for three rounds at 100 yards. But all of the factory loads shot less than 1.25in, which is impressive. Reloads improved matters as you would expect. The lighter Speer TNT 70-gr bullet is, as its name suggests, a light-jacketed bullet for fast expansion. This would be a very good vermin and fox bullet as it achieved 3,399 fps for 1,796 ft/lb energy and three shots printed 0.75-in groups.
Another good reload suitable for stalkers north of the border (who require a 100-gr bullet for large species deer) was the Hornady 100-gr Interlock. This bullet seems to work well in 1-in-10 twist rates in the test rifles.
Again, the rifle shot 0.75in groups for 2,867 fps and 1,825 ft/lb energy so plenty of energy for down-range performance. There is controlled bullet expansion from the Interlock design, and even with the Hausken reflex type sound moderator fitted, the rifle’s overall length is still well balanced. Incidentally this moderator was well made and very effective at noise reduction.
Read more about the winner’s of the Shooting Industry Awards 2016 here.
The Bergara B14 is imported by RUAG, tel 01579 362319 or visit their website.
This is a well-appointed rifle that may look similar to the Remington 700 but is better as all the faults have been ironed out.