Gun test: Bergara BXR Carbon .22 LR semi auto rifle
- Credit: Broadsword
Broadsword loves a semi-auto rifle, and this all-new lightweight Bergara is no exception - check out his detailed test and review of the Bergara BXR Carbon .22 LR semi auto rifle
Having been very impressed with the bolt-action B14R .22 LR rimfire Bergara rifle recently, and subsequently buying a barrelled action for a custom project, it was now the turn of the BXR, the semi-automatic version. These Bergara rimfires are a natural progression from their B14 centrefire series and sit between the regular .22 rimfire semi brands and custom-made semi-autos.
Outwardly, the stock is basically the same as the B14R, which in turn is a Bergara HMR-style stock but without the adjustable cheekpiece while maintaining that sturdy black/grey speckled tactile finish and rigid form.
There are two versions of this model, just like the B14R, a carbon fibre tensioned barrel or steel fluted barrelled version. You also have an integrated 30 MOA Picatinny scope rail, improved trigger mechanisms, extended mag release lever, and 10-shot rotary magazine system, plus the ability to interchange certain parts with custom Ruger 10/22 items. Plus, there’s also the option to order each model as a barrelled action only.
The 16.5" barrel is shorter than the B14R bolt-action version at 18" and balances very well in this trim semi-auto. You have 2" of visible steel barrel protruding from the action before it is reduced in diameter and then wrapped in carbon fibre. The outside diameter is then 0.92" and at the muzzle end it has a steel collar threaded for ½" UNEF and two tension screws in its face to keep the carbon fibre shroud in position.
It is fully free-floated from the barrel channel, which is quite narrow at the forend, but due to its light nature there’s no barrel contact, even when a bipod is fitted and during the ‘bounce’ on firing.
These types of barrels, like the 10/22 Ruger, are easily removed from the action but this Bergara is different. You have to release the screws set into the front of the horizontal barrel union tang piece that is integral to the action. It forms a solid and reproducible mating of barrel to action.
The action is a piece of art – lovely smooth coating of Graphite Black Cerakote, which is both elegant and practical when it comes to repelling the elements and I love the enlarged all-in-one scope mounting Picatinny rail system. It forms part of the top of the action in one sculptured piece and has an extended length that hangs over the barrel by 1.0".
This allows for a very good choice of length of scope when mounting, providing 5.5" of mounting length and with a very generous 30 MOA bias. This helps with slower subsonics for extended range use and maximum sight adjustment if necessary, and for keeping your rifle’s scope optically centred whilst allowing for max internal adjustment.
The bolt is very well machined with a typical single right-sited extractor claw and cut-through bolt face which allows the ejector spur to contact the spent cases base when the bolt moves rearward and ejects the case.
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The bolt rides on a steel guide bar for support and ensures correct travel and non-torquing of the bolt body and has what looks like a titanium nitrided finish (or something similar) for smoothness and to avoid any crud build up. The bolt handle has an extended profile of 0.75" and is scalloped on front and back, providing an instant and firm grip. You also have a manually operated bolt lock back lever sited to the left front of the trigger guard. Push in and it locks the bolt back; to release, just pull the bolt back a little and it automatically releases, handy for magazine removal or cleaning.
Trigger, mag and safety
The magazine is unsurprisingly, a 10/22 clone, so a 10-shot rotary system keeping the profile level with the stock which looks better, although aftermarket high-capacity mags will fit. To release the mag you have a very good and oversized ambidextrous T profiled release lever accessible from both sides of the trigger guard.
The thick-profiled polymer trigger guard is practical if the rifle is rested in the mud or on wet grass, so it won’t rust, and also houses the cross-bolt safety system. It’s simple but it works and basically just blocks any trigger movement. The trigger is a single unit and has a curved, smooth synthetic trigger blade with a small amount of initial travel to this single-stage unit with a release weight of 3.1lb. There is almost no over travel, allowing for a very fast second, third shot.
The stock is Bergara’s tactical adjustable length-of-pull spacer system with integrated QD flush cup sling mounts and swivel mounts. It follows the same profile as the B14R but with a more rounded pistol grip top to match the curved lines of the action.
It is missing the adjustable cheekpiece system, which actually I don’t miss, as the comb is high on this BXR for comfortable scope use. The colour is grey/black speckle – it is very nice and has a very tactile, semi-raised surface finish.
The boxy forend is 1.65" wide and has moulded in stippled panels to aid grip which is mimicked in the pistol grip area with extended panels to the rear to grip the palm.
A supporting hand cup at the heel aids in grip whilst on a bipod and it also has removable spacers to alter the length of pull from 12.0" to 13.75" with the 3/8th spacers (10mm) taking care of the fit for larger or smaller shooters.
The bedding system is identical to that of the Ruger 10/22, so any aftermarket stock would fit. As mentioned earlier, Bergara offer this BXR as a barrelled action only if you want to go the custom route, which is very tempting.
The captive single Allen screw is the only bedding screw that holds the action to the stock, but the large mortised recoil lug/stock screw tang sits very square and secure for its 1.0 x 0.85" proportional foot print. This tang is integral to the aluminium action billet, so perfectly machined true and solid.
When removing the stock, remember to push the safety to the mid position so the trigger guard can slide out of the stock with the extended magazine release lever. The forend is honey combed to reduce weight yet the polymer stock itself is very rigid and I could not twist it at all.
On the range and in the field
I fitted a Zeiss V4 scope in superb Tier One mounts and an MAE P/H-style .22 rimfire moderator.
Like all semi-automatics, there will be ammunition types and velocities it likes and dislikes and this BXR was no different. I guess the vast majority of shooters will want to use this BXR for vermin control, so subsonic velocity levels will need to function reliably and for those that like gallery shooting, high-volume reliability is key. As with all rimfires, it is imperative when testing and switching between ammo to shoot at least 20 rounds of the new ammo to condition the barrel to the next brand. Different lubes used will affect the accuracy and not give a true result. Lecture over!
First up are the magazines, I did notice that you need to push each round to the rear completely as it has a tendency to stop 4mm short and this caused several malfunctions, especially with the longer or larger 42gr and 45gr bulleted ammunition.
In fact, I use ammunition from slow subsonics (i.e. CCI Suppressor rounds at 931 fps) and I had no problems; obviously, the CB long rounds did not cycle or function in the BXR, so don`t try it.
The CCI Suppressor rounds are 45gr but worked fine, so they clearly have more inertia to operate the semi-auto bolt system, but the Eley 38gr at just 952 fps were struggling a little to fully cycle – I had the occasional eject but the bolt did not retract far enough back to pick up the next round. The 40gr Normas at the same velocity as the Eleys functioned fine though, so either bullet weight or lube were perhaps causing the Eley hang-ups. That’s all fine, as you never get a rifle to shoot all the tested rounds ok, especially a semi-auto.
The Winchester 42gr Max bullets shot the highest velocity for a subsonic round tested and gave good accuracy but I did have stoppages with this round.
Regarding accuracy, I tested the Bergara at 30 yards, my usual semi-auto zero range. Best accuracy went to the Eley Subs for five rounds at 0.41" edge to edge, but as previously stated they were not 100% reliable!
Next best were the Hornady Varmints and Norma Subsonics at 0.49" and 0.52" respectively. Interestingly, the Hornadys had a velocity of an average 1075 fps for 102.7 ft/lb energy with a round-nosed bullet whereas the Norma’s 40gr bullet is a hollow-point and although the velocity was lower at 952 fps for 80.5 ft/lb energy they would be my choice for rabbits.
The CCI Subs are a 40gr bullet, these were not the segmenting types, as I had run out! Yet they provided an average velocity of 1054 fps for 98.7 ft/lb energy and impressive 0.57" five shot groups.
If you want a totally reliable and accurate semi-automatic, the RWS Semi Autos (strangely enough!) were very good. We had consistent 0.66" groups at 30 yards and a velocity of 1075 fps and 102.7 ft/lb energy.
In terms of handling, the BXR is lovely, unsurprisingly the carbon fibre wrapped barrel system reduces the weight significantly as the steel version weighs 5.2lb compared to this 4.7lb carbon fibre variant. It also dissipates heat quicker. It balances perfectly in the hand, even with a scope and mounts fitted and that trigger is a surprise too (in a good way) with a totally predictable and light pull, very unlike a normal semi-auto. That certainly helps with the accuracy and also a confident second shot too.
I fuelled up with some Norma Subs for reliability, accuracy and aided by the super quiet MAE mod we were all set. Slung over the shoulder you hardly noticed it walking around the fields and woods and checking the magazine was loaded correctly and sighted in 1" high at 30 yards we harvesting some great bunnies out to 65 yards with this lightweight Bergara.
Bergara seem to have a knack of producing rifles with that blend of great workmanship, innovative design, accuracy and practical use. I liked the BXR, a little ammo fussy like all semis, but superbly lightweight, accurate and offering a ‘factory custom’ that is actually cheaper than the same spec customised 10/22 would be. What’s not to like?!
Model: BXR, carbon fibre
Overall Length: 34.5”
Barrel length: 16.5”, ½” UNEF muzzle thread
Finish: Carbon Fibre and Graphite Black Cerakote
Stock: Synthetic black/grey speckle and adjustable length of pull
Magazine: 10 shot detachable
Trigger: Single stage adjustable
Price: BXR001 - STEEL £760.00 inc VAT
Price: BXR002 - CARBON: £880.00 inc VAT
RUAG UK Ltd - Bergara, Norma, RWS ammo
Tel: 01579 362319
JMS Sporting - MAE sound moderators
Tel: 07771 962121
Zeiss UK - Z4 Scope
Tel: 01223 401500
Norman Clark Ammunition
Tel: 01788 579651