Rupert Blackwall puts the new Bergara B14 rifle package through its paces
When I was tasked the with job of reviewing this rifle package, I knew that it was going to be as much of a fact-finding test as the rifle and sound moderator are new to me. Luckily, Kahles optics is a product that I have plenty of experience with.
Many of you have heard of the company, but might not know the pedigree behind this manufacturer. Kahles, the oldest scope manufacturer in the world, started producing scopes in 1898. The company produced scopes through both World Wars, and was the first company to produce a variable power scope, a waterproof scope and implemented multi-coating to its glass.
So, when I was given a Kahles Helia 5 in 2.4–12×56 as part of the package, I was relieved — this is a scope I have had a lot of experience with, having used one in the field for the past 18 months. I first came across this scope when the local rep came to my shop and let us have a demo model.
My first impression was how good the edge-to-edge clarity is. The scope gives a very wide field of view on 2 or 4 mag — useful if you ever fancy using it for driven boar. Kahles Helia 5 has superb light transmission (93% day/92% night), so can be in play until nightfall.
There are two illuminated reticule options: 4-dot and 4GB. The 4GB has a drop compensator, which is what I had on test. A wheel to the left of the turrets controls the illumination, which has another neat feature — the counter balance system, which means that if the rifle is at 90° or on its side it turns the illuminator off.
I have used this scope for hunting boar in moonlight, in forestry and early morning stalking. I always found the scope to give me great clarity in low-light conditions. One complaint I would have is the lack of reticle options and the poor quality packaging, though the importer tells me Kahles is resolving this. It is certainly a scope worth looking at, especially against the other core European brands.
Bergara B14 sporter rifle
This rifle has some familiarities to the Remington 700. The action is similar, but a lot smoother and with a few advantages such as a Sako-style extractor claw. The bolt is a two-lug locking bolt that has a 90° lift and a slightly larger bolt knob to most standard rifles, measuring 7/8 of an inch,
which certainly helps for a quicker reload!
The trigger-pull comes standard with a 2lb 10oz weight of pull and is reasonably crisp. The trigger unit is fully adjustable, so you can lighten it if you wish. The action uses standard Remington scope mounts, which is useful and it gives plenty of options. The action also has an integral sleeved lug under the action that has been nicely machined to the action, which is important for the bedding.
One slight let down is that the floorplate is alloy, while the cover plate is plastic, which makes the underside of the rifle look a little cheap. Bergara does have a detachable magazine system, but I wasn’t testing that version. The magazine holds four cartridges in standard calibres and three in Magnums.
The barrel is made by Bergara and is button-holed rifling, which is stress relieved at the end of the process. This .243 has a one-in-10 twist rate and comes in a standard length of 21¼in (54cm). The muzzle diameter measures 16mm and the thread is an M14, so a standard Sporter profile giving the rifle a comfortable weight for stalking or vermin control. These rifles are also available in calibres from .243 to .300WinMag.
The stock shape is not the prettiest in my eyes, but it is comfortable, especially for those with larger hands, which has always been a complaint with quite a few American rifle stocks. The stock length is 14¼in and has a 1¼in soft rubber crush-zone pad.
Hausken JD 184 suppressor
My first impression was the weight, 290g to be exact, with a total length of 184mm and a diameter of 50mm. The moderator sleeves over the barrel by 65mm. Hausken Sound Suppressors are made in Norway in hard-anodised, high-quality aluminium for durability. Each suppressor has two main parts. The baffles are machined from a solid aluminium bolt. The outer casing is produced in either aluminum or titanium, depending upon the calibre.
The .243Win was based on the case of the .308 Win. The .243Win is an accurate but load-sensitive cartridge, good for muntjac, roe, fallow and fox hunting, as well as for chamois in Austria, but it’s not allowed in Germany. The .243Win is a versatile calibre, but it’s often used for larger UK species, which it was never intended for. It was only designed as a light deer round and heavy varmint calibre.
The RWS .243 round we are using for this test has a Teilmantel soft-point bullet — a well-proven projectile still favoured by many today. It has a high to very high energy output in game and a somewhat stronger fragmentation, therefore exit holes are not always present. This RWS round has a muzzle velocity of 2,950fps and produces 1,978ft/lb, adequate for the species mentioned.
I set myself up to zero at 100m. I filled the magazine up with four rounds and one in the chamber, and this is when I had a problem with this particular rifle. After firing the first round I tried to feed the second, which felt like pushing a old nail into the chamber. So I reloaded the magazine to see if it would do it again.
Unfortunately there was fault on the feed: the rounds were wanting to lift out of the magazine too early. I continued shooting it as a single shot rifle. The trigger pull was okay, though I’d prefer something sharper, which you can do with these rifles by a competent gunmaker. The Kahles glass was very crisp and adjusted the point of impact perfectly. With the fine crosshair I also used the red dot, which helps to draw your eye to the centre of the target.
The moderator was very impressive, especially as it was not the most expensive on the market place. I found the reduction in recoil as good as any other moderator I have tested on this calibre. This all helped to pull the group together nicely once I got use the trigger-pull, with sub 1/2in groups, which would tighten up more once the rifle has been scrubbed through a few more times.
For more information on the rifle, scope and moderator, visit www.ruag.co.uk.
Certainly has a place on the UK market