Over the past two years, I’ve shot three Bergara rifles extensively. All are from the Custom Shop. One is a Medium Tactical .308 (in a version they no longer make) that will shoot five-shot .500-inch groups all day long. The second is a Heavy Tactical .308 (also a discontinued version) that will shoot five-shot .270-inch groups all day long and into the evening. The third was a Mountain Hunter, a lightweight, 20-inch-barreled .30/06 carbine, which was, as nearly as I can tell, the most accurate sporting rifle I’ve ever fired. I base this on the fact that it would shoot everything I fed it well under an inch (usually around .700) and, far more unusual, it would put 150-, 165-, and 180-grain bullets into the same group. Different makes and shapes of bullets didn’t matter. I haven’t seen this kind of consistency before or since.
So it was that the B-14 Woodsman came to me with high expectations attached. It’s not a light rifle. The weight, with a 3X-9X Meopta Meopro scope on board, is 8 pounds 12 ounces, which is heavy by today’s standards, but, as Peter Barrett used to say, if you can’t carry your rifle what the hell are you doing out there in the first place?
The stock is dense walnut, absolutely devoid of figure, which is fine for a working rifle, and given an absolutely flat oil finish, which is a rarity these days, and allows you to spruce the stock up yourself if you know anything about oil finishes. There’s lots of checkering, and it’s well executed.
The action is markedly slick. The bolt fairly flies back and forth; the floorplate doesn’t pop open uninvited; and feeding and cycling are all fine. This rifle, being a .270, comes with a 24-inch barrel in what appears to be a #2 contour. Bergara barrels are something of a conundrum. They’re not the smoothest bores in the world, but on the other hand, considering the way they shoot, who cares? This rifle copper fouls notably, and you have to keep ahead of it.
This rifle costs $2,000 less than the Mountain Hunter and shoots the same eye-bugging groups. I didn’t put a wide a variety of ammo through it, because I long ago came to believe that the best bullet weight for the .270 is 150-grain, so I stuck with them mostly, with some 140-grainers thrown in for variety.
There was nothing I could feed this rifle that didn’t group well. Hornady 150-grain SSTs went into .622. Sierra 140-grain GameKings printed .625. The best group I got, shot with Sierras, went .296. The test target that came with the rifle was .249. And keep in mind that all this was done with hunting bullets, not match slugs, because no one makes match bullets in .277.
Like the Mountain Hunter, the B-14 printed different handloads in the same group, which you hardly ever see. If I switched from H4831 to Reloader 22 to IMR 4831 and swapped out CCI 250 primers for Federal 215s or Winchester WLRs, the group sizes would vary, but the groups would all be in the same place on the paper.
Why do Bergaras shoot like this? I have no idea. They’re conventional rifles. Granted, they’re very nicely put together, but then so are other rifles, and they don’t shoot like this. Perhaps, as the company claims, the barrels make the difference. Something is making the difference.
This is one of those rare rifles that has it all: nice looks, all the little stuff done right, super accuracy, and a price you can live with. Hell, if they made it left-handed I would own two or three.