September 09, 2019
By Keith Wood
If you don’t know Bergara Rifles, you’re probably not alone. I’d never heard of the Bergara brand until a decade or so ago. Named for the town in Spain’s gunmaking country where the company is based, Bergara is a relative newcomer to branded rifles in the U.S. Over the past several years, though, this company has established itself as one of the leading producers of factory and custom sporting rifles in the world. Though you may never have heard of the company, you’ve probably used their barrels—Bergara’s button-rifled barrels are used by numerous U.S. rifle manufacturers as OEM parts.
Though all Bergara barrel blanks are made in Spain’s Basque country, finished rifles are either made in Spain or in the company’s Lawrenceville, Georgia custom shop. As part of the standard-production B14 series of rifles, the Ridge CRP is made in Spain and imported into the U.S. Davidson’s, one of the nation’s major firearm distributors, is offering the Ridge as an exclusive, turn-key package that includes a rifle, scope, mounts and soft case. The Ridge package is available in .308 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor and .300 Winchester Magnum—three of the most useful hunting cartridges ever designed. We tested one chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor.
If you haven’t noticed, more and more riflemakers are building guns that look and act more like tactical guns than hunting rifles. That’s fine for the shooters that appreciate those virtues, but many hunters prefer a rifle with more traditional lines and features. The B14 Ridge strikes an even balance between traditional styling and modern features. The Ridge is neither a featherweight nor a heavy gun, weighing-in at 8.1 pounds with a threaded No. 5 contour 24-inch light varmint barrel. Though the trend these days is clearly toward superlight hunting rifles, I have found many of them to be unforgiving to shoot in the field.
A rifle that shoots great from the bench but not on a mountainside is no good to me. The Ridge’s mass is just right for general big-game use.
The Ridge wears a synthetic stock, the same one used on the B14 Hunter, that has a nearly straight comb and no cheekpiece. The black and gray surface of the stock is covered in a coating that Bergara calls SoftTouch, which is a slightly springy non-slip coating. The stock’s comb height puts the shooter’s eye directly in-line with the scope, which is a key but often overlooked factor in hitting what one is aiming at. A fixed three-round magazine with a hinged floorplate means there is no detachable mag box to lose—call it idiot proof. The matte blue finish is attractive and functional. The barrel is threaded 5/8-24 for mounting a suppressor or muzzle brake, and if no device is desired, a knurled thread protector makes that feature all but invisible.
The tubular B14 action borrows features from some of the most successful hunting rifles on the market and adds a few of its own design elements. Like the Remington 700, the Bergara’s bolt has dual opposing locking lugs and a recessed bolt face. Like the Winchester Model 70, the B14 uses a coned breech to aid feeding. The ejector is a spring-loaded plunger type, and the extractor is a sliding plate milled into the right locking lug. The two-position manual safety sits on the right side of the tang. Finally, a cocking indicator projects from the rear of the bolt shroud and provides both visual and tactile confirmation that the cocking piece is ready to fire. The bolt knob is oversized, which makes it easy to cycle from various shooting positions. The single-stage trigger on our example broke cleanly at a hair over three pounds, which, to me, is just right on a hunting rifle.
The net effect of all of these features is a rifle that feeds, fires, and ejects flawlessly, which are all good things. Accuracy is important to many of us, especially since it is one of the few tangible performance qualities of a firearm that we can actually measure. The B14 Ridge is guaranteed to shoot sub-MOA, and our test rifle beat that standard by a healthy margin. The rifle’s best three-shot group, shot with Hornady’s 140-grain Match load, measured a mere 0.32-inch. Impressive, sure, but what about hunting ammunition? The 129-grain American Whitetail load, also from Hornady, averaged 0.81-inch. at 100 yards. I’ve tested and hunted with three other Bergara rifles, so I was not surprised by this level of performance as they all seem to want to shoot. This accuracy is a testament to the company’s excellent barrels, and also a careful manufacturing and assembly process that eliminates unnecessary variables.
As part of the package, this rifle includes a Burris Droptine 4.5-14x42mm scope, mounted in Burris two-piece TAC mounts and rings. The Burris features an adjustable objective, click adjustable capped windage and elevation turrets that work in ¼-MOA increments, and a simple but effective Ballistic Plex reticle. Unlike some of the very busy reticles we see on optics these days, the Ballistic Plex is a basic duplex with the addition of four elevation holds below the crosshair. At full magnification, the holds are at 1.4, 4.3, 7.2, and 10.5 MOA, which with many common hunting loads roughly translates to bullet drop at 200, 300, 400 and 500 yards. On its own, this scope retails for $311.
With the scope mounted, the Ridge weighs-in at 9.5 pounds. Way back in 1964 in his second edition of The Rifle Book, Jack O’Connor opined that a scoped rifle for all-around use should weigh between eight and 10½ pounds. The more that I hunt, the more I agree with that seemingly ancient opinion.
As a writer who tests quite a few hunting rifles, I am often asked for my recommendation on which rifle a hunter should buy. These days, more often than not, when a hunter is looking for a traditional rifle with a budget around $1,000, I’m likely to recommend a Bergara. These are well-built rifles with useful features and out of the box accuracy that is difficult to match. The B14 Ridge CRP is an excellent package that includes an accurate and reliable rifle, a good optic and solid mounts.
The Essentials Gear Box.
Our editors have hand-picked these essential pieces of gear to make you a more successful hunter when you hit the game trails this season.