Bergara B14 HMR in .300 Win Mag - test & review
PUBLISHED: 16:13 01 June 2018
Chris Parkin puts the Bergara B14 to the test and discovers an accomplished, all-round rifle that is reasonably priced too!
PROS: Excellent trigger and overall build with intelligent stock design; The barrel showed good thermal stability with a hot cartridge burning 80gr of powder; Not light, but not too heavy for an occasional stalking trip with a biathlon sling; Stable recoil manners with or without the moderator; Very good value for money
CONS: No Left Hander
VERDICT: I really liked the 6.5 Creedmoor short action HMR, and this big boomer shows how inherently sound the overall design is when submitted to more recoil. I can’t wait to see the short 22-250 which will be a cracking varminter
Overall length - 1200mm/47.25”
Weight - 4.6kg/10.2lbs
Magazine capacity - 5+1
Trigger - Single stage, 950gr break
Barrel length - 660mm/26”, 1 in 10” twist, button Rifled
Stock material - Injection moulded polymer with integral aluminium bedding block and skeleton
Length of Pull - 335mm/13.2”– 365mm/14.4”
Bergara BMP 6.5 Creedmoor - £1127
Kahles K624i - £2550.00
Hausken WD60, Tier One Picatinny rail and 34mm Rings, RWS, Norma and GECO Ammunition
Contact - RUAG, 01579 362319, www.ruag.co.uk
Hornady 165 GMX and BTSP Interlock ammunition
Hornady Edgar Brothers 01625 613177 www.edgarbrothers.com
IN DEPTH TEST AND REVIEW
After shooting B14 sporting rifles and the BMP chassis rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor, I was fortunate to be loaned an HMR in the same calibre for a longer trial and video review. The HMR format impressed me as much as I suspected it would when I first saw it at the British Shooting Show in 2017.
I heard a lot of chatter about a long-action version chambered in .300 Win Mag which was set to appear in the US to massive fanfare – the Creedmoor was already showing sales beyond Bergara’s manufacturing capacity.
The .300 WM appeared at BSS 2018 and I was quick to get one ordered. It shows the same build and differences as the regular short-action rifle does to a Remington 700, with a single-stack magazine holding five rounds being the only difference other than bolt travel.
A 26” No.5 profile barrel (19mm at the muzzle) is an ideal companion for a longer-range rifle hoping to achieve the most velocity from a cartridge burning around 80gr of powder and driving .30-cal bullets from 110 to 230gr, a 180-grainer likely to be projected at a speed approaching 3,000 feet per second (914m/s).
The stock is an injection-moulded polymer vertical grip design showing similar ergonomics to a Macmillan A5. It has an adjustable cheekpiece with forceful thumbscrew to lock it in place and marking lines on the front post to indicate position.
You can shoot thumb up or wrapped around the vertical pistol grip carrying moulded stippling. Three 10mm spacers are fitted to adjust length of pull between the maximum 365mm (14.4”), down to 335mm (13.2”) which will suit most shooters. Reach to the single-stage trigger is perfectly specified, allowing your index finger pad to sit relaxed with a trigger pull directed toward the centre of the recoil pad in your shoulder for minimal aiming disturbance. Any aftermarket Remington compatible unit will fit but you are unlikely to need it: mine had a fraction of discernible creep that soon bedded in to virtually nothing with a reliably predictable break of 950g.
The twin-lug bolt opens 90° to cycle the action with an oversized, conical bolt-handle to speed up processing, adding leverage with less disturbance to the rifle’s aim. There are no ‘three rings of steel’ so famously advertised by Remington, but the action shows a single Sako-style extractor claw rather than the internal circlip of its forefather.
Primary extraction of the large 62,000 Psi (CIP) belted magnum is plentiful, although the sprung plunger in the bolt-face is quite delicate in its ejection, the cases not thrown more than 30cm laterally from the gun (a factor I also found on the Creedmoor even with its smaller, lighter case).
The action and floorplate are seated within the stock with a recoil lug sandwiched at the front between the receiver and threaded barrel. I like the Bergara update of enclosing this lug within the action’s face to ensure it will return exactly to position if you ever have a barrel change. I especially like the aluminium skeleton moulded within the polymer stock, extending from the grip to the tip of the fore-end from the machined bedding block the action sits in. Twin-action screws fasten everything in place and I was pleased to see no stress applied to the action when they were tightened to 65”/lb.
Each round is push-fed from the magazine up the feed ramp into the chamber and, like all long-action rounds, feed and reliability is that little bit more assured than shorter cases with a correspondingly shorter overall length to jump the ‘moat’ formed by the bolt’s locking abutments.
RUAG kindly supplied me with a full armoury of Tier-One scope rings and Picatinny rail (screwed to the action with four bolts) as well as a Kahles 624i FFP optic well suited to some long-range steel plate shooting.
I also had two Hausken sound moderators, the larger of which, a Hunter WD 60 still weighing only 414g for its 224mm length, does a fantastic job of reducing both noise and recoil. I have shot .300 WM for nearly 10 years and am well aware of its character – this moderator really impressed me!
Ammunition came from RWS, Norma (180gr Oryx), GECO (180gr SP) and Hornady (165 GMX) with a selection of polymer tipped and spitzer bullets in the 165-180gr region. These were all designed for hunting and tested for accuracy on paper to assure me of the gun’s likely capability, because were I to be seriously shooting long range, I would use a 200gr+ bullet with a B.C. above 0.6 to make the most of the .300’s capability. Unless you use 300gr bullets in a .338 Lapua, the plain old .300 can cope well out beyond 1,000m and be pushed as far as a mile, although that is stretching things significantly.
My own .300 WM driving a 208gr Hornady A-Max closely mirrors the ballistics in terms of windage and drops of my .260 Rem shooting a 139gr load to about 1,200m, yet the recoil is the major difference with the .300. I shot with the WD60 in place for most of the test as it tamed the stout cartridge well and wasn’t as disturbing as a braked muzzle.
I spent a lot of time at 300m which will interest those wanting to use such a rifle for long-range culling. None of the ammo was cloverleafing on paper at 100m, yet none threw flyers either. I did get the gun quite hot with some 15 and 20 round strings (in very cold wind chill conditions) to show the thermal consistency of Bergara’s steel.
If I were handloading, I’m confident this would have been improved upon and could have been tailored to my needs, but the 26” tube showed good velocity with little point of impact shift between any of the ammunition types at 100m.
180gr GECO developed 959m/s (3,147 fps/3,959 ft/lb), the largest energy output with the similar 180gr Oryx lagging a little with 882m/s (2,894 fps/3,348 ft/lb). Hornady 165gr GMX developed 957m/s (3,141 fps/3,615 ft/lb) with the best consistency out to 400m for elevation and wind resistance on steel targets but none were a disappointment.
After a good clean, a second experiment on paper actually showed some RWS Doppelkern to have the most consistent accuracy, with two sequential cloverleaf groups of five rounds, whereas all the rest stuck into the ¾” bracket and stayed that way.
I wouldn’t normally have set off to the range to shoot over 100 rounds of .300, but this gun was a soft shooter. The heavier bullets were detectable with a shade more recoil, but even so, the superb moderator and versatile length of pull adjustment in the stock allowed repetitive hold, aim and recoil control, and the trigger was a blessing.
To be honest, I would like to have kept the 6.5 Creedmoor HMR as it just oozed reloading potential and the .300 did too. Neither are expensive rifles for what they are capable of if paper and steel are your game.
On the other hand, all the ammo tested was reliable for any realistic hunting and the gun, although bulkier than a sporting rifle, was a good compromise for occasional use on game from static positions. It did shoot accurately from quad sticks with the rear butt hook wedging into position, but the steady push of recoil did lose your sight picture from a standing shot on sticks.
Fore-end stiffness was assured and the free float never wavered. If you are of bigger build, this gun might suit you perfectly for stalking as the generous length of pull without undue weight does nicely for long stalks on the hill with a biathlon sling, but it is never going to be a fast, pointable woodland rifle.
At a base weight of 4.6kg, you can add another 2.5kg for a suitable scope, mounts, bipod and moderator. With the base rifle at 47.25” long before you add a moderator (totalling 1,360mm), think carefully!