Bergara 14R - first day out (grab-a-cuppa-joe long) - RimfireCentral.com Forums

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Old 10-16-2020, 10:38 AM
flangster

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Bergara 14R - first day out (grab-a-cuppa-joe long)



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Apologies for the length of the following. Hopefully this will be useful for those of you who are thinking about a Bergara 14R.

I had my new Bergara 14R out today for the first time under the worst possible conditions for a new .22 LR rifle. 10-15 mph gusty winds – not much for you folks in Tornado Alley but pretty windy for the Northeast. So this is less of a definitive accuracy write-up than a first impression review. I have already gotten a couple of PMs here along the lines of “which do you like better, the Bergara or the Vudoo?” I’ll start this by saying, I straight up have no idea in terms of how the Bergara really shoots. In terms of fit, finish, feel, the Vudoo is really the nicer rifle. But is it worth twice the price of the Bergara? You’ll have to decide that for yourselves. The comparison isn’t helped by fact that the very first time I had the Vudoo out, and the very first five shot group out of the Vudoo was one the best I have ever shot out of any rifle.

So, I bought the Bergara 14R as a barreled action from Brownells – not for nothing, but the Brownells ad showed the action coming with an ACIS trigger guard/bottom metal. The piece was not actually included with the rifle. So when the Bergara arrived, I had to buy that part on my own. $169 additional. This sort of kills the value of the barreled action as its price and the bottom metal put it within $100 of the whole rifle. Here's the picture from the Brownell's page:



And one of the reasons that I bought a barreled action though was that I had a couple of R700 stocks sitting around. One was a walnut "long range shooting" stock from Stockys with an aluminum bedding block. The profile of the Stocky's stock is kind of like Boyd's ProVarmit -- it has a widish forearm with a flat-ish butt -- not really a BR stock, but more like a BR design than a sporter, in my opinion. The Bergara is supposed to be compatible with Remington 700 stocks, triggers, etc. Is it? Well, yes and no. The Bergara recoil lug is longer than that of the Vudoo, which has led to some problems. Also. the Stocky’s is not inlet for an ACIS bottom metal, so I have some work to do with chisels and a drill press with carbide bits. For the test, I had to pull the Vudoo out of its Grayboe stock and put the Bergara in. While the B14R mags fit OK in the Vudoo’s bottom metal, they are a little stiff.

So, how’s the fit and finish? Well, the rifle design owes an obvious debt to the Vudoo. I wouldn’t be surprised if there weren’t a little discussion taking place between the lawyers about the magazine design. But the looks do mask some finish differences, and the Bergara is the rougher of the two rifles. For instance, the Bergara bolt has a similar grittiness to a new CZ bolt. The Vudoo was slick as snail snot right out of the box. The B14R bolt will smooth up with use, I expect, so not a huge deal there.

The B14R barreled action has a matte black finish. It is not like the melonited finish on the Vudoo. The Vudoo is more than twice the cost of the Bergara, and the exterior finish is one of the places that you notice the difference. Case in point: I mentioned above that I was going to use the Stocky's stock. I unpack the action, get out the stock and. . . . that's odd. ([email protected]) The action is rocking back and forth in the Stocky's stock. Turns out that the Bergara action's recoil lug is about 5mm too long and it is bottoming out on the lug recess in the Stocky's aluminum bedding block. And that's when I noticed that in my testing (rocking the action back and forth and looking for the point of contact) I had begun to wear the finish a bit off the recoil lug. This is not a huge deal, as I may wind up grinding down the recoil lug, but worth mentioning. In comparison, the Vudoo's melonited finish is really quite tough. They both have a matte black look. Neither is as classy as Anschutz bluing, in my opinion, but not bad. It should go without saying that my stock fitment issue is one you won't face if you buy the complete rifle.

I have temporarily solved my stock issue, by placing the Bergara action in the Vudoo's Greyboe stock. The Vudoo action has a much shallower recoil lug and so in comparison to the B14R, the Vudoo would fit in the Stocky's stock without a problem.

The Bergara bolt has mid-bolt locking lugs like the Vudoo. I think the bolt throw is about 90 degrees. I am going to use mine with a Warner-style rail on top, so I don't foresee bolt clearance issues with my scope. Still, the bolt throw is not what I'd call "low profile." The B14R firing pin hits at 12:00 o’clock inside the .22 cartridge rim, which is interesting. Here’s an image of some of yesterday’s spent cases. The FP is hitting about .5mm inside the rim. Nice!



I did stick a Teslong borescope down the Bergara barrel. My chamber looks like it was cut with a dull reamer. The lede has little "notches" in the lands (see below), which I associate with CZ's mass-produced barrels and getting the last bit of production out of every button reamer they pull through. I've no idea how this will affect accuracy, and won't know until I shoot it more. The bore looks good, and slugs smoothly, with no noticeable tight spots or "pulsing." The bore does not feel tapered at all at the muzzle. The crown itself is a sharp 90 degree cut, with no chamfer. Before I shot it, there were still metal shavings in the grooves at the muzzle, so I conclude that it hasn't been test fired. Here are the pix -- maybe you will see something I don't. Lede first (2) , then crown (2) and then the bore. The bore basically looks uniformly like this down its 18-inch length. I will say that for no reason I can pin down, I prefer a longer barrel. Once again, I'll forgive all if the rifle shoots well. But that's my own bias: the 18-inch barrel just feels/looks a bit stubby to me, but the length is probably not worth complaining about. B14R lede, crown, and bore:









Just as a point of comparison, here’s the Vudoo lede: no smeared lands (although an embarrassing carbon ring from being shot a bit).





Here are the first B14R targets.



As I mentioned the wind was pretty nasty this afternoon. But the performance of the rifle seemed to track, roughly with the cost of the ammo being shot out of it. Most of these are 10-shot groups unless otherwise noted. I was shooting off a bi-pod with a rear Protektor back w/bunny ears. Not my usual set up. But I was having trouble getting my front rest low enough and this seemed the most expedient solution. As you can also see, I was able to shoot some ragged groups. I think on a calmer day the rifle would perform well. The trigger is crisp, if not particularly light and an upgrade there might help. On the Vudoo I have a Bix N Andy sport tac, which is really a cut above. That was extra to the price of the Vudoo though, so there is an element of you-get-what-you pay-for there. I know I have a Timney single stage around somewhere. It is worth mounting that up on the Bergara and seeing whether it makes the rifle easier to control at ignition. I shot all of the groups above with a Dead Air Mask and no earmuffs. I would like to see how the rifle shoots without a can hanging on the end of the barrel. Suppressor fit was drama free.

Ultimately: am I pleased? Yes, I think the Bergara has potential. But I’d also say that even though the B14R is positioned as a Vudoo-killer, it really is made at a different price point, and this shows up in a couple of places. Case in point: you have a problem with the Vudoo? Without too much trouble you can contact – talk with – the designer of the rifle. The Vudoo guys understand, I think, that folks expect excellence at the Vudoo price point and they have been committed to that, in my experience. The Bergara is an import . . . dunno who designed/built etc. Bergara’s response to Brownell’s about the missing bottom metal: "that’s just how it comes, sir." Like I say: at a price point. There is no shame in that. I keep looking for that champagne performance at a beer price. That is part of the CZ's appeal too, I think.

Final note: I realize there are observations above that make it sound like I am being critical of the Bergara. I'm not! I think my Bergara will shake out well, and I am interested to get it out to the range again on a calmer day. As with everything here this is one guy's first-day notes on one production copy. My sense is that if the rifle shoots Center-X and SK Rifle Match like I think it is going to, it will get a spot in the regular rotation.
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Last edited by flangster; 10-16-2020 at 10:52 AM.
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Old 10-16-2020, 11:01 AM
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Excellent review. I also was thinking of buying the barreled receiver from Brownell because I have several Remington 700 SA stocks on hand. I guess I'll go with a complete rifle. Those groups show a lot of promise! As you say, we all look for champagne performance at beer prices and usually fail miserably, but this rifle looks like it may come through with the right ammo and a little more break in and tweaks! I hope you'll keep posting as you continue with the break in!
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Old 10-16-2020, 11:20 AM
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That's a nice, detailed review. Thank you. I agree that if the bottom iron is shown in the ad and no disclaimer is made, it should be included. I also agree that a longer barrel would be nice.

Looking at the groups you shot in 10 ~ 15 mph winds, I expect your Bergara to shoot lights out when it's calm.

It's my hope that someone soon releases a benchrest stock for the B14r. That's how I use mine and I want a stock that rides the bags better than the factory stock.

I don't know if it's the chamber or what but after a few hundred rounds, mine grows a pretty good carbon ring. I use Bore Tech Carbon Remover which does a great job so it's no big deal to keep the carbon out.

While I haven't kept count of the rounds I've put through my Bergara, I estimate it's a thousand or more. I have four magazines and function has been perfect. Absolutely no failures to feed, fire or eject. NONE.
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Old 10-16-2020, 11:33 AM
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Good review, thanks for sharing. I am just finishing up my own B14R build, like you I bought a the BA from Brownells and received no bottom metal. Not an issue for me as I went with a KRG chassis, but still annoying as it's shown in the Brownells photo. I think that's more Brownells fault than Bergara's though. I'm sure Bergara is thinking most people are going to drop the BA into a chassis system where factory bottom metal isn't needed.

Nice to hear the differences between the Vudoo, although I don't think anyone is touting it as a Vudoo killer. I was able to build a complete B14R with all the fixins minus the optic for much less than a Vudoo BA. Performance might be similar, but I don't think anyone shopping a V-22 is going to get a B14R thinking it will be the same fit/finish/service level.

Good luck with it!
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Old 10-18-2020, 03:01 AM
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Just as everyone else said, nice review of the B-14R. I was also duped by a misleading photo showing the bottom metal. As you know by now I went with the MDT XRS chassis to not have to buy the DBM. Worked out good for me but still feel mislead.

Considering the wind the groups were not bad IMO. I would note that both of my receivers are really smooth from the start. My rifling in the CF model looks really nice and honestly I don't remember what the steel barrel model looks like.

My steel barrel model is actually at Mark Penrod's place getting a makeover. Good luck with it and keep posting back here with results when the wind is better.
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Old 10-18-2020, 06:29 AM
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Thanks for the review, flangster. The comments and observations are very relevant. The borescope photos illustrate well the nature of the leade area. As a barrel maker first, perhaps Bergara should be doing better there. The pictures of the firing pin imprint are a welcome addition to a review.
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Old 10-18-2020, 06:48 AM
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Thanks, folks. Perhaps the comparison to the Vudoo is a bit unfair, given the rifles' price points. But I do think they fit into the same "What is this rifle for?" category. I am looking forward to getting the rifle out on a day with less wind. Today might have been that day, but my club is closed Sundays. I do have a couple of CZ 455 barrels with similar-looking ledes. The rifles themselves shot OK. When I sent one out to be threaded though, I chose one with a good looking lede, though. Today I will be working on the Stocky's stock to get the bottom metal to fit. File & fit, file & fit. I have pretty rudimentary tools, though: files, a Dremmel, a drill press with some carbide bits ..And I am no Teddy Bear Rat in my skill set.
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Old 10-18-2020, 10:01 AM
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Last night we went to our local Scheel's to buy a extra mag for my T1x. Of course we had to take a few minutes to look at the 22 rifle rack. Once again I handled the B14R with steel barrel and CF wrapped barrel. I've handled them before but this time I looked them over much harder. I was actually impressed by the fit and finish on both. I've never had the opportunity to handle a Vudoo but I would expect those to be even better considering the price. As much as I'd like to have a Vudoo I just can't justify spending that kind of money on one. After handling the Bergaras last night I'm pretty sure I'll be owning one at some point. It's just a matter of which one. I was surprised that the weight on both seemed about the same. Other than the cool factor I'm not sure what the benefit the CF wrapped barrel would have. I'd probably opt to save $100 and just get the steel one
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Old 10-18-2020, 10:14 AM
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Thank you for the excellent write up. No apologies needed for the length! It was well worth the read. I hope to see a follow up report after you get some rounds down range on a nicer day.
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Old 10-18-2020, 10:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flangster View Post
Thanks, folks. Perhaps the comparison to the Vudoo is a bit unfair, given the rifles' price points. But I do think they fit into the same "What is this rifle for?" category. I am looking forward to getting the rifle out on a day with less wind. Today might have been that day, but my club is closed Sundays. I do have a couple of CZ 455 barrels with similar-looking ledes. The rifles themselves shot OK. When I sent one out to be threaded though, I chose one with a good looking lede, though. Today I will be working on the Stocky's stock to get the bottom metal to fit. File & fit, file & fit. I have pretty rudimentary tools, though: files, a Dremmel, a drill press with some carbide bits ..And I am no Teddy Bear Rat in my skill set.
Several years ago DrGunner lent me his borescope for a few days. At the time my CZ 452 American was fairly new. I was surprised by how smeared the start of the lands were. I remember thinking that no amount of shooting was ever going to clean that mess up. Despite that the rifle shot pretty well for a sporter. So I didn't worry about it. Fast forward several years I now have several bricks of ammo through it. I bought one of those Teslong borescopes about a year ago. I was pleasantly surprised when I looked at the CZ. The leade looks perfect. I'd never believe if I didn't see it for myself but it's true
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Old 10-18-2020, 01:14 PM
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Here's hoping that a couple of thousand rounds downrange smooth things up a bit at the lede. Thanks for the ray of hope! As I said above, if the rifle shoots, I'll forgive a lot on aesthetic defects.
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Old 10-18-2020, 06:53 PM
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I have been very pleased with my Bergara. Best 5 shot group at 100 yds was .590" with Center-X. Several were in the .625" range. Installed a Shilen Competition trigger last night set at 3 oz. Way too much wind today. Hopefully Monday will be calmer.
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