July 13, 2020
By Keith Wood
Whether you are familiar with the Bergara name or not, they play a key (and often unrecognized role) in producing some of America’s most popular hunting rifles. Bergara is an OEM manufacturer of barrels for numerous companies, some of whom are household names. Besides feeding barrels to some of the giants in the firearm industry, Bergara has increasingly become known for its own rifles. Among these is the B-14 Wilderness Ridge chambered in the popular Hornady .300 PRC.
Bergara Rifles take their name from the town in northern Spain’s gunmaking region where the rifles and barrels are produced. Bergara also builds some custom rifles at the company’s headquarters in Lawrenceville, Georgia. I’ve been on the floor of that custom shop and it is an impressive place. Bergara produces a wide variety of rifles of varying features, configurations and prices. I’ve shot and hunted with five different Bergara models and have been impressed with each of them. The Wilderness Ridge line was designed to bridge the gap between the B-14 line of rifles and the company’s Premier Series rifles, offering some of the features of the higher-grade guns without all of the cost.
We have to start somewhere so let’s start with the component that the company is best known for: the barrel. Our test rifle came with a 26-inch button-rifled, stress-relieved carbon steel No.5 taper barrel. Like all Wilderness Ridge rifles, the barrel came threaded 5/8-24 and was fit with a removeable Omni muzzle brake. The rifling twist on the .300 PRC is 1-in-9” so the heaviest of bullets can be stabilized easily. The barrel and the remainder of the metal parts come finished in Sniper Grey Cerakote.
The action footprint on the B-14 is very similar to that of a Remington 700. The two-lug push-feed action is tubular, thus making it easy to machine precisely and simple to bed. If the 700 action has a shortcoming it is the extractor and I consider the B-14’s sliding plate extractor to be an upgrade. A loaded chamber indicator at the rear of the cocking piece is a nice touch and the knurled oversized bolt handle is hard to miss on fast reloads. The rifle feeds from an internal magazine with a hinged floorplate. The .300 PRC models hold 2+1 but I was able to get three rounds into the magazine with a little force.
The synthetic stock is an American sporter style with minimal drop and a straight comb. The stock has what Bergara calls a SoftTouch finish, which is exactly what it sounds like—the exterior of the stock has a bit of rubberish ‘give’ that makes it comfortable to handle and shoot. Four checkered panels are molded into the stock and a hand-painted finish is applied so, appearance-wise, every stock will be slightly different.
At nearly eight pounds, this is not a flyweight rifle but you wouldn’t want it to be in this chambering. The .300 PRC (Precision Rifle Cartridge) was developed by Hornady and introduced to the public last year. The beltless cartridge is basically what the .300 Winchester Magnum would be if it were designed today. Hornady took advantage of many of the design elements of the smaller 6.5 Creedmoor and scaled them to this 30-caliber cartridge. These elements were a tight throat that prevents bullets from yawing before they reach the rifling as well as a chamber designed to use heavy-for-caliber bullets such as Hornady’s 212-grain Precision Hunter load with its expanding ELD-X bullet. Even with the heavy bullet, our PRC produced velocities of 2,858 feet per second.
Due to the current demand for ammunition, we only had Hornady’s Precision Hunter load available to test. I’ve shot the .300 PRC out to 1,000 yards on a pair of rifles and have been extremely impressed with its performance. This was to be my first outing with a sporter-weight .300 PRC and I was pleasantly surprised at the moderate recoil. Thanks to the highly-effective brake, the stock geometry and the soft recoil pad, the Wilderness Ridge was easy on the shoulder.
The trigger on our Wilderness Ridge broke consistently at 2.5 pounds from the factory but is adjustable as well. The combination of the great trigger, good overall balance and comfortable stock made the rifle very shootable from field positions. My best three-shot group from the bench measured 0.64” while our average group size was 0.83”. This is, in my experience, typical (which is to say “great”) Bergara accuracy. But 100-yard paper targets weren’t exactly what this rifle and cartridge were designed for, so I quickly transitioned to more practical targets. My furthest steel plate is at 400 yards and I dialed up 6 MOA using the Leupold’s CDS dial to put me on target. My first shot was slightly high and left so I corrected and fired two more rounds which landed about an inch apart. This rifle is capable of taking game at far longer ranges than I would ever consider.
The Wilderness Ridge packs a lot of performance into a rifle that retails for under $1,100. It is available in calibers ranging from the 6.5 Creedmoor to the .300 PRC and several in-between. This rifle would be ideal for a variety of hunting scenarios including late-season deer or elk where shots can be on the long side, and equally suited for heavier game such as moose and the big bears. This is a solidly-built rifle, packed with features at a very reasonable price.
Bergara B14 Wilderness Ridge Specifications
- Type: Bolt-action
- Caliber: .300 PRC (tested)
- Magazine Capacity: 2+1
- Barrel: 26” chromoly (threaded w/brake)
- Overall length: 46”
- Weight, empty: 7 pounds, 14 ounces
- Stock: SoftTouch synthetic
- Finish: Sniper Grey Cerakote
- Sights: None, equipped with Picatinny rail for scope mounting
- Trigger: 2.5-pound pull, Adjustable
- Price: $1,066
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