Bergara B14 HMR
- By Pete Moore
- 2 Comments
- Last updated: 21/02/2018
I’ve said this before; but now and again a rifle comes along that really impresses in terms of performance, and even sometimes, looks. For me, the last one was Mauser’s M12 Impact, a tad short in the barrel for my tastes, but accuracy potential was amazing, plus I do like this model regardless! But, let’s now turn our attention to the Spanish firm of Bergara; initially, in the UK, best known for their barrels. But, it was not long before they started offering rifles; the first being the BX11 switch barrel, which shot well but I found it a bit heavy and bulky and now is discontinued.
About three-years ago, they re-launched with the B14 series, very much Remington 700s but with subtle improvements that still used the same footprint; so, accessories, such as box mag systems and scope mounts, were common and readily available. Hand on heart, currently if given the choice between a comparable Remy 700 or B14 I would pick the latter! The B14 range offers three models – Sporter, Sporter Varmint and Hunter; same action, just different stock material and barrel options.
This year, in the UK, Bergara launched two new guns in the B14 series; the HMR (Hunting & Match Rifle) and the BMP (Bergara Match Precision). Confusing initials, as the HMR is best known as Hornady’s 17-calibre Magnum Rimfire and a BMP is a Russian Boyevaya Mashina Pekhoty – infantry fighting vehicle; but I digress!
What really sets the HMR and BMP apart from the rest of the B14 family, is their configuration and roles. The HMR is what the Americans would term as a VT (varmint target), mating a standard action with a medium barrel and heavier stock that can be used for target work and also double as a hunting or varmint gun given the calibre. The BMP addresses the growing interest in chassis system rifles. Envisaged more for precision shooting, they use a fully adjustable, aluminium stock that gives 100% rigidity with a true, freefloating longer/heavier barrel. Combined with a decent trigger and normally a box magazine system, they offer an off-the-shelf solution that you could only get before from a custom build.
I was sent both rifles by importers RUAG AmmoTec UK Ltd. and this month the HMR is in the slot. However, my new Editorial Assistant, Ed Jackson, who is also a keen rifleman, took one look at the BMP and immediately bought it in 6.5 Creedmoor. So, you can expect a full review pretty soon once he has got his head around it. But just to whet your appetite, here’s the spec’s: BMP - 6.5 Creedmoor, 1-8-inch twist, 24- inch barrel and in 308 Win you get the choice of 20- and 24- inch tubes in 1-10-inch twist. Al barrels have an O/D of 21.2mm and are threaded 18x1mm.
As more hunter than target shooter, I prefer the HMR with its quality moulded stock, with what Bergara calls a ‘mini chassis’, which is an integral, aluminium bedding block that the barrelled action bolts to. The action void is precisely finished and pleasingly the B14 action uses a fixed (Remy 700 style) recoil lug. I was surprised the action was not also synthetically bedded, which is something I would do as a matter of course!
The stock is a good compromise between the HMR’s stated abilities and good looking too! The colour is brown with a black, splatter pattern over the top that also gives a deal of grip. There are also cast-in textured panels on the grip and forend too. The butt is under-cut to form a rear grasping hook, which is excellent for prone shooting and the pistol grip is near vertical and fills the hand nicely. A height-adjustable comb is controlled by a simple thumb lever on the right side and length of pull (LOP) is by three, removable spacers and a thick recoil pad. Maximum LOP is 14.5-inches, so more than enough! The forend is medium width and seriously rigid, as it has a central strengthening bar and free-floats the barrel too. Bergara have done a good job here, as the tube sits dead centre in the channel, with no metal touching anything.
Three QD sling studs are fitted; one under the butt and two up front, plus four, flush cup/sockets for QD swivels (two either side) at front of forend and rear of butt. Overall, this is a very nice piece of furniture and eminently shootable!
In essence, the action is a copy of the Remy 700 with a twin lug, coned bolt that uses a Sako-style extractor and spring/ plunger ejector. This last means that no matter how slowly or quickly you cycle the action, ejection is positive. The bolt lever is extended with a large handle, which makes for some very slick manipulation! The trigger mech looks very 700 too, and though set for a quoted 3lbs, is adjustable, much like a Remy is. The blade is mid-width and well curved and comfortable on the finger. The safety is a 2-position rolling lever, rear right of the receiver and pushes forward to FIRE and reverse for SAFE. With the safety on, bolt operation is still possible and its position means little disturbance to the firing hand position.
Feed is from a polymer, 5-shot magazine, which is an in-house design and also AICS (Accuracy International Chassis System) compatible! For its range role, the option of a 10-shot version would be good, but as of yet, no sign! The release catch is a big, push-forward ambi lever at the front of the trigger guard and the clip falls free easily. Finally, and unsurprisingly, the receiver bridges are cut for 700 mounts, I fitted a set of Burris swing-offs. Barrel and calibre choice in the HMR goes to a 22-inch 6.5 Creedmoor (1-8- inch twist and 19mm O/D) and two 308 Winchesters, both 1-10-inch twist, a 20-inch, also 19mm O/D and a heavy 24-inch (21.2mm O/D). The latter is threaded 18x1mm and the two formers 15x1mm. My tester was the 20-inch 308, which size to weight and calibre-wise will pretty much do anything!
The overall feel of the HMR was most pleasing and to say it feels just right would be an understatement! It’s one of those rifles you wish you had, as I was comparing it to some of my favourites and it was hard to fault! Plus, as we shall see, the price is highly competitive; frankly, you are getting a lot of gun for not a lot of money!
Along with the HMR, RUAG also sent a GECO Gold 2-15x50i scope, which showed good optics and quality. Ammunition went to Norma 170-grain TipStrike (ballistic tip), RWS 165-grain HIT non-lead BT and GECO 170-grain soft tip. Supported, off a bench, the HMR was shooting an average of 1-inch with all loads, including the non-lead RWS HIT. I feel sure that it could do better with reloads, as my pet load of a 168-grain ballistic tip over 44-grains of Vit N140 would shoot ½-inch in my old Remy 700 Light Sporting Rifle. But saying that, an inch is still respectable and like any gun, it’s just a matter of finding something it really likes, which has never been a problem.
Though the 308 Winchester is always a snappy cartridge, the weight of the HMR at 9lbs went some way to soaking it up. Bolt operation and general feed was 100% and the ejection port is big enough for easy single loading and unloading too. The maximum LOP from the box was fine for me, but it’s the work of minutes to take off some of the spacers to suit shooters with shorter arms!
Though makes of ammo will show different speeds, I did note a common theme in relation to the extreme velocity spread (ES) over the three loads. The 165-grain RWS HIT averaged at 2641fps with an ES of 27fps, the Norma 170-grain Tip Strike did 2612fps and an ES of 24fps, finally the GECO 170-grain SP produced 2511fps and 29fps ES. So, just 5fps difference, which must be down to barrel quality, which is the only common denominator! Well, that’s my theory!
I have no beef at all with the B14 HMR, as it’s a super rifle with great accuracy potential. However, the dual role nature of the build makes it significantly heavier than a sporter, which might not suit some hunters. Conversely, if it’s more target you are doing, the heavier 24-inch 308 Win might be the better choice.