One day the powers that be at Bergara looked around, realized that a whole bunch of big-name rifle manufacturers were using the barrels produced at their factory, and decided to join the club. Bergara the barrel maker soon became Bergara the barrel and rifle maker. Less than a decade later the company now builds 19 bolt guns on two actions and is better known for these than its barrels. There are hunting rifles, tactical rifles and match rifles. In the middle of all this stands the nicely balanced B-14 HMR, which perhaps more than any other offering from Bergara proves its considerable capabilities as a rifle maker.
The HMR abbreviation stands for Hunting and Match Rifle, alluding to the gun’s “crossover” status. At a little more than 9 pounds with a 22-inch, No. 5 contour barrel chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor, the HMR isn’t too heavy or bulky for carrying through the foothills. Several features of the HMR’s adjustable stock and its compatibility with AICS-pattern detachable box magazines, not to mention its heavier-than-average barrel, make it worthy of a precision rifle match, too. All this comes at a price of not much more than a grand.
But before we get into stock and barrel, let’s look at the B-14 action. The B-14 is Bergara’s production-line action, developed in-house, based on a Remington Model 700 footprint and manufactured at the company’s factory in Spain. It has a two-lug bolt with a sliding-plate extractor, plunger ejector and coned nose. The latter, combined with a breech that receives a matching treatment, promotes smooth feeding. A two-position toggle safety does not lock the bolt, which glides on slick raceways. These features earned the B-14, and the series of rifles built on the action, a 2018 Golden Bullseye Award for American Hunter’s Rifle of the Year.
The bottom of the B-14 receiver joins with a magazine well that permits the use of detachable box magazines. The magazine well, paddle-type magazine release and trigger guard are all part of one robust bottom-metal unit, which fits neatly in the stock and secures to the barreled action via two screws. Bergara includes one, five-round Magpul PMag with the HMR.
Of course the barrel is Bergara’s own, made from a bar of 4140 chrome-moly steel that is first straightened to ensure it deviates less than .004 inch along its length. After a deep-hole drill forms the bore, the internal surface is honed until it gleams. A carbide button cuts rifling with incredibly consistent groove diameters, and then the barrel is relieved of stresses that may have formed during the rifling procedure. This is the multi-step process that made Bergara known for its fine barrels, and it’s part of the reason why the company claims all its B-14 rifles are capable of sub-MOA accuracy.
Bergara refers to the No. 5 contour barrel on the HMR as a “lightweight varmint” profile. It measures .7 inch just behind the 5/8x24-inch muzzle threads, which come with a thread protector.
Perhaps even more than the barrel, the stock is what lets the HMR cross over into precision territory. To aid accuracy, an aluminum mini chassis molded into the polymer stock from pistol grip to fore-end provides a solid, consistent bedding interface for the barreled action, and it permits the barrel to float freely. Three sling-swivel studs (two on the fore-end) and four quick-detach sling-swivel cups (two on each side) provide lots of options for attaching a sling or bipod.
The stock’s adjustable comb height and length of pull also aid accuracy; you’ll shoot better with a rifle that fits you than with one that does not. Loosening a large thumbscrew on the side of the buttstock permits raising the comb more than 1.25 inches. Four polymer spacers allow a length-of-pull range of 13.25-14.5 inches. A near-vertical pistol grip helps isolate the trigger finger, while a hook on the bottom edge of the buttstock is useful in steadying the rifle with the support hand while shooting from a bipod.
Yet Bergara didn’t snub the “H” in HMR. The stock doesn’t have the clumsy feel of some target guns, and the widths of the fore-end and buttstock resemble those found on hunting rifles. Also consider the 22-inch barrel of my sample: long enough to get decent velocity to help with holds during a match, but short enough to be maneuverable on a hunt.
During testing, the HMR demonstrated that it could handily serve in the hunting or precision shooting role. On a calm day when the temperature was around 45 degrees Fahrenheit at the 340 Defense range in Summit Point, W.Va., I fired five-shot groups from 100 yards and noted nearly all of them measured sub-MOA. The HMR proved its usefulness as a hunting rifle when I crawled through the snow alongside my friend Chad Schearer to set up on a grazing mule deer buck. The cover ran out 240 yards from the deer, but with the rifle propped up by my elbows, the Leupold’s crosshair stayed on his chest. I had rung 4-inch steel plates at 300 yards with the rifle the week before, shooting from a similar position, so when the buck turned broadside I pressed the trigger. The 120-grain Hornady GMX furrowed the old buck’s heart and made me thankful that Bergara no longer produces only barrels.