Bergara is on a roll. The company’s high-end Custom Series rifles are extremely accurate and well-built, and their affordable B-14 series of bolt guns are frequently mentioned as one of the best bargains in the world of hunting rifles. Positioned between the budget-friendly B-14 Performance line and the Custom Series rifles is Bergara’s Premier Series bolt-action rifles, which incorporate high-end features into a more affordable production rifle package.
New this year to Bergara’s Premier Series is the Highlander. As you might expect, these rifles come with Bergara’s own 416 stainless steel fluted threaded barrels that are precisely honed at the company’s factory in Spain. The one-piece bolt features Bergara’s non-rotating gas shield, coned bolt nose and sliding plate extractor, and the free-floating design leads to consistent contact with the lug abutments in the action for improved accuracy.
The Highlander’s bolt handle is threaded into place and can be replaced if you prefer. Bergara rifles come with crisp, smooth, TriggerTech adjustable triggers—which are among the very best in any production rifle—and the rifle’s two-position rocker-type safety allow the Highlander to be loaded and unloaded with the safety engaged. The rifle features an internal box magazine with a hinged floorplate; the floorplate release button is located at the front of the trigger guard.
Rounding out the Highlander design is a straight-comb stock with a gray and grown camo pattern and a Cerakote Sniper Gray finish on the barrel, action and bolt handle while the bolt stop and shroud are nitrocarburized for maximum corrosion resistance. The Highlander is available in 10 chambering options ranging from 6.5 Creedmoor to .300 Win. Mag., including the hot new Hornady 6.5 PRC and .300 PRC cartridges. There’s also a .308 Win. version with a 20-inch barrel that measures just 38.5-inches overall, making it an ideal brush or treestand rifle.
Weights vary by caliber, ranging from 7.2 to 7.7 pounds. Magazine capacity is 3 or 4 rounds, depending upon caliber. All Highlander rifles come with a 24-inch barrel except the aforementioned 20-inch .308 model and the 7mm-08 Rem. version, which is equipped with a 22-inch pipe. Like other Bergara rifles the Highlander accepts Remington 700 bases with 8x40 screws. MSRP for the new rifle is $1,850, and Bergara promises that they will shoot sub-MOA with factory match ammunition.
The build quality of the Highlander is truly superb. Action-to-stock fit is excellent with none of the wide gaps you’ll find on lesser rifles, and the trigger is, as previously mentioned, among the finest you’ll encounter in a factory gun. The bolt slides smoothly down the raceway, and the Bergara action has proven to be extremely reliable.
I’d expect that with a little load experimentation (and if the shooter does their part) this rifle will shoot well below an inch at 100 yards. They aren’t the lightest guns in the roundup, but if you’re not climbing lots of tall mountains or hiking long distances, the added weight shouldn’t be a factor, and the Highlander’s heft will help absorb recoil. Yes, $1,850 isn’t cheap, but when you start examining the Highlander’s long list of features, the quality of the machining and the rifle’s components the Bergara stands out as a semi-custom rifle at a moderate price—and it’s one of the best new hunting rifles for 2019.