In a world where development has gone semi-auto mad, its refreshing to see a company take a step back and work on refining what has worked for over a hundred years – the traditional hunting bolt-action rifle. Introduced just a few years ago, the Bergara B-14 rifles are exactly that, traditional hunting bolt-action rifles, this time designed to provide premium feel for less.
Their goal, create a sub-MOA rifle while keeping weight to a minimum and premium features to a maximum.
Did Bergara meet that goal? Read below to find out.
The Bergara B-14 Rifle:
From a ways away, the B-14 looks pretty much like most other traditional hunting rifles, a fact that works in its favor. If it looked like anything else on a rack, it would look queer compared to the traditionalists in the room. Getting closer though, the Woodsman starts to stand out, primarily by the stock’s fine wood grain and sheen under solid light.
The sample sent for review was a dark european walnut, featuring vertical striping down the length, giving it a zebra-like effect. No gouges, marks, or defects were found and it glistened under bright light. Its a tasteful design, keeping itself is thin, a straight comb to reduce weight, and with checking on the grip and fore-grip. The butt plate features a recoil pad (Bergara labeled) and both the tip of the forend and bottom of the stock as complete with traditional sling swivels.
The secret is that the stock is not a direct wood to action interface, even using common bedding epoxies. Instead, Bergara opts to oversize the mounting holes and pre-fill with metal-infused expoxy and then CNC machine epoxy in the stock prior to its interface with the action. Bergara touts, “The result is 2 solid epoxy pillars that surround the action screws.” I’ll take them at their word, as the action was solid, with no wobble or movement and the matching of wood to receiver was fantastic. Straight action to straight stock walls with only one mis-match inside the bolt handle recess, typically covered up by the bolt handle.
The action is unique to and manufactured by Bergara. Its a hybrid of sorts, using a two-lugs, a Sako-style extractor and a standard spring ejector. The bolt nose is coned for smooth feeding and extraction. The bolt itself is multi-pieced with the bolt sleeve unfinished, bright steel with slight machine marks, which are only just noticeable during cycling of the bolt. The bolt handle is a a standard smooth sphere, sized just right for fast manipulation (at least for my “normal” sized hands). The bolt is finished with a machined hood, matching the lines of the action and flowing into the stock. A nice touch.
The weapon itself is striker-fired, cock on open rotation of the bolt. The firing pin is exposed to the rear of the bolt hood, with a nice red mark indicating the weapon is cocked. To fire, move the right-side Remington-700 style safety forward and pull on the curved Bergara trigger to release the striker.
The trigger itself is a smooth-faced and curved affair with little pomp and circumstance. Its single-stage set at about 3 lbs from the factory. My Lyman Trigger Pull Gauge, clocked it at 3.2 lbs, with a max variation of .22 lbs. As a single stage, there is no take-up, one’s digit is right into the action upon touching the metal face. Travel is minimal and only during the most focused of pulls could I detect any creep. One will not notice it at all during hunting sessions.
The receiver is steel, blued to match the barrel. The Woodsman is offered in both hinged plate and detachable magazine versions (depending on caliber. The barrel is a #3 profile, balancing weight and rigidity–favoring weight. Material is 4140 carbon steel, finished in the same matte blue. Length is set at 22 inches with a recessed crown with only the slightest hint of a chamfer into the rifling. Disappointingly, there was no threading at the muzzle. The barrel is free-floated with sufficient gap from the forearm that it takes significant pressure to get the two to meet. Chambering is C.I.P. .308 Winchester (with proof marks from the Spanish government), set at a faster 1/10 twist to handle heavy loads.
All in all, general fit and finish is very good, with small marks and MiM lines from appropriate components. Nothing distracting or inappropriate for the price point, with features such as the excellent match of the stock to action drawing praise from fellow range-goers.
If the B-14 shoots as well as it handles and looks, Bergara has met its objectives easily.
Shooting the B-14
*Author’s note – the rifle arrived with scope pre-attached. The scope a 5-25×52 model from Swarovski from their Z5 series, specifically the Z5 5-25×52 P BT L. The rifle was tested with the scope as mounted from the Bergara factory.
Heading to the range, the weapon was transported in the included Bergara case. The case itself is demure, but inside features psedo-felt and pre-molded inserts for the rifle, ammunition, velcro tie-downs for the scoped rifle. There are some foam sections, but they are color-matched to the plastic and pre-cut for easy customization of personal accessories. I would even suspect the case is TSA-approved with cut-outs for locks built in to the handle-area.
Opening the action is smooth, with distinct points in the cycle for the striker cocking and release of the lugs in the receiver. Pulling to the rear is smooth, but if one pays attention those machine marks on the bolt sleeve are noticeable – again nothing that one will see or feel during non-review shooting.
Loading is easy, rounds click under the receiver’s lips without issue. Total capacity is 5 or 4+1. I could not get a 5th round into the magazine while hand-loading one into the chamber. The magazine took Fiocchi, Federal Gold Metal Match, Gorilla, and cheap steel case without issues. Initial function testing with the Fiocchi revealed that one needed to be sure to align the rounds above the magazine before pressing down. If the rim was behind the magazine the shoulder could be pressed and cause an annoying need to remove a very stuck round. Based on this, I would recommend the detachable magazine fed version.
For accuracy testing, the rifle was tested with four loads, Fiocchi .308 Winchester (150 grain FMJ), Federal Gold Metal Match (168 grain), Gorilla (175 grain SMK’s), and a horrendously cheap load from Century Arms called “Hot Shot” that was loaded with 146 grain FMJ’s. Initial results from Fiocchi had groups around 2″ at 100 yards. Some groups came down to 1.5″, but they had an annoying tendency to throw an uncalled flyer to the right. It got worse as the barrel got “hot” with only 20 rounds down the pipe. The groups were moving right.
Moving to the Gorilla, the accuracy was about the same, tightening up a little, printing some 1.25″ groups center-to-center. Shooting through the box, I saw the same tendency to open up to double-triple the base accuracy on what most would consider a “warm” barrel (not yet hot, as I could still touch it). Given this across multiple ammunition types, I would say the barrel was not stress relieved in manufacturing, which was done to reduce costs. For best accuracy, a cold barrel is not just recommended, it’s critical.
Letting it cool, the GMM was up and it was a breath of fresh air. Groups consistently printed .7″ with the largest clocking in at .96″ center to center. The gun did meet its “MOA Guarantee” showing a preference for the 169 grain loads. Hand-loaders will like working with the #3 profile barrel, but if the barrel is not actually stress relieved, it will be a long day at the range waiting for it to cool.
Recoil was decidedly bolt-action .308. Its a harsh push that is thankfully broken by the recoil pad. After 200 rounds for the first day, my shoulder still ached. It highlights what I think is a need for nearly any modern rifle – a threaded muzzle. Adding in a simple brake would make shooting it far more pleasant, however those shooting few rounds or hunting will find no discomfort in the pulses’ familiarity.
About the only complaint I have for the rifle was the stock. While beautiful, when mounted with a 52mm objective scope, it sat about 1/4″ too high for a good cheek weld. As such, it forced me into a pseudo chin-weld, which was sufficient just not ideal. The straight comb will be better matched with a smaller diameter objective like 40mm and slightly lower rings. I can’t hold this against the gun as that was the choice of a Marketing team who set the rifle up (it should be noted that the Swarovski glass was sublime).
Despite the groups opening up significantly when hot, they did plateau. Shooting at 12″ steel at 200 yards was 100% across 5 shot groups. The gun did have some trouble getting onto 4″ steel at the same range when piping hot using Fiocchi. Undeterred, the day was finished with clang after clang into the audible reporting targets.
- Lightweight, well-balanced, easy to maneuver.
- Meets sub-MOA Guarantee
- Compatibility with Remington 700 style rings and bases.
- Excellent trigger
- Blued barrel and action only. Would like to see some sort of true corrosion resistant coatings.
- No threaded barrel. With today’s variety of suppressors and muzzle devices, this is an oversight.
- Yes, the world has gone nuts for magazine fed firearms, its for a reason. A detachable box magazine would have been appreciated, which Bergara does offer (I recommend that version over the hinged plate).
- This is right-handed shooter friendly. Lefties will find it decidedly biased.
- Available in multiple calibers:
- 300 Win Mag (1/10)
- .30-06 (1/10)
- .270 (1/10)
- .308 (1/10)
- 6.5 Creedmoor (1/8) *Hinged Floor Plate Only
- 7mm Remington Magnum (1/9) *Hinged Floor Plate Only
- MSRP of $945
If judging the book by the cover, this rifle would be a best-seller. Assuming all have the same external quality of the wood, the B-14 is absolutely gorgeous for a mass-manufactured firearm. Opening the pages, one finds a few folded corners, but the substance is still there. The rifle shoots sub MOA consistently (at least on a cold bore) and functions well.
My take-away – for those doing occasional hunting and target shooting, this rifle has zero’d in on an audience with a sub-MOA guarantee and hits it squarely. Its a beautifully made production gun.