And now for something completely different. The emergence of new rimfire competitions like PRC 22 and the amazing growth in long range target shooting with rimfires has led to the emergence of many new rifle models and chassis systems to go with them.
It has also led to an emerging class of totally new “trainer” rimfires, designed from the ground up to mimic the action and performance of their centrefire big brothers, as well as their potential for accessorising and customisation.
One of the most interesting and well thought of these has been the Bergara B-14R series, not well known in Australia yet but I predict they will be, at least in the precision shooting fraternity.
As soon as I could get one for testing I did, and this rifle was obtained through the efforts of Cleaver Firearms, who were most helpful. Our mate at Ozzie Reviews also tested it, as you’ll see in the video below.
Bergara centrefire rifles are well known for having very accurate barrels. Made in Spain, they are becoming more and more popular, offering very good value for money.
The Bergara B-14R is marketed as a trainer rifle. It is specifically designed to replicate the size, weight and design of the Remington 700 centrefire rifle system. This explains the larger-than-normal magazine and the heavy 4.2kg weight.
Everything is completely compatible with Remington 700 parts, meaning it is hugely adaptable as the Rem 700 has perhaps the most aftermarket items available of any rifle on the planet. This is certainly no walkabout hunting rifle due to its weight, far better suited for precision use at the range, although it would work well on bunnies at distance from prone or out of a vehicle.
You can simply switch the trigger for any of the aftermarket Rem 700 ones like Timney or Jewell, although I must admit the Bergara trigger as supplied is perfect for my use. It breaks as cleanly as any custom job at around 635g or 1.4lb and is easily adjustable.
Likewise, if you don’t like the stock (once again it was absolutely perfect for me, comparing favourably to extremely expensive aftermarket target rigs) you can easily swap it for a chassis system or anything else you prefer.
The stock is fully adjustable for both length via spacers that are easily removed or added, and for cheek height with a simple wing-type screw. The grip places your hand in a great position for prone or bench shooting. I find it very stable and comfortable and I believe the stock contributes markedly to the sheer consistency of accuracy when firing.
In fact, you can buy the stock as a standalone item for use with a Rem 700 for around $865, showing that it is a high-quality item in its own right.
A Remington 700 pic rail or scope mounts screw right onto the action.
The magazine is interchangeable with the ASIC type used in customised Rem 700s. With over 1000 rounds downrange I have yet to experience even one hitch with it. It feed so smoothly that the you really cannot tell the difference between feeding a cartridge or running the bolt closed on an empty magazine.
The magazine is a true gem as it seems to hold the cartridges perfectly positioned so they do not scrape the chamber as they enter, a great contribution to its accuracy, no doubt.
Now for the big question, how does it shoot? In short, extremely well!
The action cycles very smoothly and apart from the lack of recoil and noise, you would swear you were shooting a centrefire rifle. In every respect other than ammunition this feels like a centrefire.
The Bergara shoots most types of .22 ammo well and is not as fussy as most top-end target rimfires. However, for outright consistency this B-14R has a distinct preference for SK ammo in general and the SK Rifle match version in particular, with 50 yard groups usually around 10mm (0.4 inch) or less.
Even the low-cost standby in everyone’s cupboard, CCI Standard, shoots very well in this Bergara, and on the day we took the pictures of groups we achieved an 8.1mm (.320 inch) five-shot group at 50.
I had a slight wind running left to right but still decided to try shooting at 100 yards (apologies for no picture due to my own mismanagement) and managed to keep four groups in a row of between 19.05-21.15mm (0.75-0.84 inch) at 100 yards in field conditions off a bipod. Amazing really.
I was also testing the new rimfire steel KYL (Know Your Limits) target system from STS targets, a South Australian supplier of high quality steel targets. I was rewarded with a clean sweep of all eight targets (from 2” down to ¼” in size) at 50 yards the first time I trialled it using CCI standard. The Bergara made it almost easy.
These KYL targets provide hours of fun and unending challenge as you just keep moving them further away every time you start pinging them with regularity.
I was also using a Zero Tech Thrive 2.5-15×50 scope, which is a great test unit for a number of rifles and will be reviewed in a separate article shortly.
The Bergara B-14R is also available as a barrelled action only (no stock supplied) if you already have a preferred Rem 700 compatible chassis or stock on hand. Plus there is a carbon barrel version available that is about 460g (1lb) lighter.
Negatives: My only slight complaint is that the rifle does not come supplied with a pic rail for scope mounting, a small thing but something I would have liked to see at this price point. Other than that minor quibble I could not fault it.
I believe Bergara rimfires will become far more well known at ranges across the country. They are not cheap but still offer exceptional value for money given their performance and setup straight from the factory.
BERGARA B-14R SPECIFICATIONS
Action: B-14R bolt action
Barrel: 4140 Bergara barrel
Barrel length: 457mm (18”)
Threaded muzzle: 1/2-28
Weight: 4.2kg (9.25lb)
Length: 965mm (38”) with spacers
Magazine: 10 round
Scope mounts: 6-48 screws, Rem 700 compatible
Price (2021): From $1899 (barrelled action available from $1299)