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Bergara's B-14 Ridge Carbon Feature-Packed Backcountry Hunting Rifle

With a carbon-fiber-wrapped barrel, fluted bolt, great trigger and light weight, the Bergara B-14 Ridge Carbon is everything a backcountry hunter needs out of the box.

Bergara's B-14 Ridge Carbon Feature-Packed Backcountry Hunting Rifle

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Bergara.” The unfamiliar word rolled off my tongue with promise. “I’m not familiar with the brand. Where are they made?” “Spain, actually,” came the response from the guy behind the gun counter. My eyebrows went up. I was familiar with the beautifully made Spanish AYA side-by-side shotguns but no Spanish rifles. “Any good?” I asked. “Yep. Personally, I think they’re what the Remington 700 always should have been,” said the clerk, without hesitation.

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Bergara B-14 actions have Remington Model 700 footprints and receiver tops, so they accept scope bases, aftermarket triggers, and stocks designed for Model 700s.

That interchange occurred years ago, when Bergara was just a fledgling brand in the United States. But that comment about the rifle being what the Remington 700 always should have been stuck with me. Time proved that—at least in certain ways—the gunshop employee was right. Bergara earned a name for excellent accuracy, dependable reliability, and a forward-looking design ethos that keeps up with trends. This latter characteristic is apparent in the company’s newest variation on the proven B-14 Wilderness Series hunting line—the Ridge Carbon. It’s engineered to be light enough to pack into gnarly country, and it sports a carbon-fiber-wrapped barrel that should provide an elevated level of precision. I think it’s worth noting that as part of Bergara’s “Wilderness” named line of rifles, the B-14 Ridge Carbon is touted to be quite light. Not crazy light, but at an advertised 6 pounds, 8 ounces, it is light enough. Now, I’m a lightweight-rifle snob. I drool when numbers come in under 7 pounds. So, I had to lay the bare B-14 Ridge Carbon across my scale (plus, it felt a little heavy to my weight-snobbish fist). Perhaps it would have tipped the scale at 6.5 pounds without the factory-installed optic rail atop the action and the radial Omni muzzle brake, but with them in place, it scaled exactly 7.0 pounds.

The Action

With that task accomplished, I closely examined the B-14 action. It has robust receiver rings front and rear, which provide plenty of space to mount scope bases. A two-position, rocker-type safety is located at the right rear of the action. It does not lock the bolt closed when engaged, so the shooter can remove a live round from the chamber with the safety “On.” Continuing with the Remington Model 700 comparison, unlike the Model 700, the B-14 action has a bolt release button in the left side of the rear receiver ring. It makes removing the bolt easy. Spiral fluting lightens the bolt body, and black Cerakote in the flutes provides a nice contrasting look. Up front, the bolt is graced with dual, opposing locking lugs. A robust, 0.18-inch-wide, sliding-plate-type extractor is dovetailed into the right-side locking lug, slightly above the 3 o’clock position.

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The B-14 bolt has a plate-type extractor dovetailed into the right locking lug. Modest flutes reduce weight, and a beefy, knurled bolt handle makes for fumble-free, low-effort operation.

This is important because it circumvents both the weak C-clip-type extractor of the Model 700 and the reliability-destroying characteristic of extractors placed above the recoil lug at 2 o’clock or thereabouts. Those are notorious for throwing cases up at such an angle that they bounce off the massive windage turrets common on today’s scopes and right back into the action. A plunger-type ejector is embedded into the face of the bolt at about 8 o’clock. It reliably heaves fired cartridge cases out the ejection port. At the back end is a well-contoured bolt shroud, hollowed for reduced weight. The tail of the cocking piece/firing pin protrudes from beneath it. It has a protected notch filled with bright red paint and ably serves as a “cocked” indicator. One thing Bergara’s B-14 actions are known for is smoothness, and the Ridge Carbon holds that reputation up with flying colors. The bolt body is glass smooth, and working the bolt rearward and forward made me say, “Ooh.” Another nice feature is the firing-pin spring is not so stiff that it makes the bolt hard to open. I can lie prone and single-finger the bolt open without undue effort after a shot.

Bergara’s Wilderness Series is not part of the company’s Premier line of hunting rifles and does not have a premium, match-quality trigger. Still, the standard Bergara Performance Trigger is user adjustable from about 2.5 to 4 pounds, without removing the action from the stock. The one in my rifle was usable, and though it was slightly mushy, it released at just 2 pounds, 7 ounces (as it came from the factory), with about 2 ounces of variation over a series of five measurements. I can live very happily with that. I’m a floorplate guy, preferring a good, traditional hinged magazine cover to the detachable magazines so in vogue these days, and the B-14 Ridge Carbon is fitted with a nicely profiled, aesthetic trigger bow and floorplate. From what I can tell, the assembly is cast of some type of metal, and it’s finished in a nice nonglare matte black. The magazine capacity is four rounds in standard cartridges and three rounds in magnums. Currently, the Ridge Carbon is offered in 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, .308 Winchester, and .300 Winchester Magnum. Mine is chambered for the 6.5 Creedmoor. While the bolt and bolt shroud are matte black (matching the bottom metal), the body of the action, the barrel shank, and the muzzle are finished in Sniper Gray Cerakote. It’s a super-robust, corrosion- and abrasion-resistant, ceramic-based finish. I’d like to note that the B-14 has the same action footprint, scope-base dimensions, and trigger footprint as the Remington Model 700, so with rare exceptions, any aftermarket part made for the Model 700 fits the B-14.

The Barrel

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Bergara’s carbon-fiber-wrapped barrel is made in-house. It’s generously free-floated in the sleek fore-end of the stock.

Barrel lengths are 20 inches on the .308 Win., 22 inches on the 6.5 Creedmoor and 6.5 PRC, and 24 inches on the .300 Win. Mag. “MADE IN SPAIN” is engraved on the shank of the barrel. And Bergara makes and carbon-fiber wraps the barrels. The barrel’s core is 410 stainless. The rifling twist rate is 1:8 on both 6.5mm chamberings and 1:10 on both .30-caliber versions. I’ve been unable to determine how large in diameter the barrel’s core is or how thick the carbon-fiber wrap is. However, visually, it’s easy to see that the barrel is turned a whisker below final diameter and then finished with a nicely applied, thin carbon-fiber finish layer that shows off a basketweave pattern. Up front, the muzzle is threaded 5/8-24 for easy compatibility with most American-made centerfire suppressors. And as mentioned earlier, mine came factory-fitted with an Omni muzzle brake.

The Stock

The barreled action is mated with an injection-molded stock. Spinning the action bolts out, pulling the action, and examining the bed revealed that it appears to be well fitted with small metal pillars around the action bolts, but it is not glass bedded. The stock’s lines are quite classic, with a clean, open grip; an oval fore-end shape; and quite a lot of drop in the buttstock. The stock’s surface finish is a cool, subtle gray and tan overlaid with fine black spiderwebbing. Whatever final coat Bergara uses, it results in a nice, soft-touch, rubbery surface that provides a sure grip in mud and sweat.

Shooting Results

To wring out the Bergara B-14 Ridge Carbon at my shooting range, I mounted a Leupold VX-6HD 3-18X 44mm scope in low-height 30mm Warne Mountain Tech rings. It went on beautifully—a benefit of the full-length, 1913-spec Picatinny optic rail factory-mounted atop the receiver. However, here I need to detail a couple of things I’d change about this model. Such optic rails are trendy and popular and make great—although misguided—selling points. They’re appropriate on dedicated precision rifles, but they add weight to a backcountry hunting rifle. Worse, with such a rail, there’s no way to mount the scope low and tight to the action. Combined with the significant amount of drop in the Ridge Carbon’s stock, the resulting high-mounted scope eliminates the shooter’s ability to achieve a consistent cheekweld. If I were going to keep this rifle, I’d remove the full-length rail and mount the scope tight to the action in low, lightweight bases and rings.

When I began loading and firing the B-14 Ridge Carbon, a second disadvantage of the full-length optic rail made itself obvious. It’s difficult for big thumbs to fit under and push cartridges down into the magazine. Two-piece mounts would better enable ready access to the magazine. Some shooters may point out that a full-length rail is said to add accuracy-enhancing stiffness to an action. Personally, I’ve fired so many super-accurate rifles fitted with two-piece bases that I just don’t put much stock in that claim. As I loaded, fired, and ejected 6.5 Creedmoor rounds in the B-14 action, I was surprised to find the ejection port much shorter than I’m used to. It measures just 2.40 inches, which is 0.4 inch shorter than a 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge. Unfamiliar with handling such an abbreviated loading and ejection port, I fumbled at first to load rounds smoothly into the magazine. And as mentioned, the full-length optic rail and my stout thumbs didn’t help.

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The Ridge Carbon’s composite stock is injection molded and features small metal pillars around the action bolts.

Also interesting—and fumble-inducing for me—is the fact that the boltface retracts a long way past the rear of the ejection port. As in, about 0.6 inch as best I could measure it. I’m used to loading my bolt-action rifles with the muzzle slightly elevated, which causes cartridges to slide to the rear against the boltface, and then pressing the rounds down into the magazine. It’s a time-proven method that all early bolt actions were engineered for, and it enabled soldiers to load without looking at their rifles. It does the same for hunters and is particularly crucial for hunters in pursuit of dangerous game. With this method, however, the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridges were so far rearward past the front wall of the ejection port that my thumb pressed down just behind the cartridge shoulder region, often causing the round to nose-dive in the magazine and become stuck. It didn’t help that the boltface retracts past the rear top edge of the magazine, and the rims of those rounds were hanging up on the top edge of the magazine.

It was fiddly, but I eventually figured out how to load the magazine without tangles. I just had to thumb each cartridge down in a slightly forward position, then hook my thumb on the cartridge shoulder and stroke it rearward until the base contacted the rear of the magazine. From that point on, the rifle digested cartridges perfectly. And I must point out that feeding from the magazine into the chamber and fired-case extraction and ejection were ultrasmooth. Now to the shooting results. First down the pipe toward the 100-yard berm was Hornady’s Precision Hunter ammo loaded with 143-grain ELD-X bullets. The load shot reasonably well, with one startling group coming in at 0.29 inch. Next, I tested Hornady’s Match ammo loaded with 140-grain ELD Match bullets, and it turned in perfectly consistent sub-MOA groups.

Recommended


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Since my rifle is chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor—a cartridge known for accuracy and consistent, long shot strings—and the barrel is intended to be an accuracy and consistency upgrade from an all-steel tube, I ran the B-14 Ridge Carbon through a quite rigorous test protocol. I fired three consecutive three-shot groups without allowing the barrel to cool between groups. This routine enabled me to determine whether accuracy degraded as the barrel heated and whether any point of impact shift occurred. I’m happy to report that neither occurred. The rifle met Bergara’s sub-MOA accuracy guarantee with three of the six loads I fired. In addition to the difficulty I experienced in achieving a consistent cheekweld, I noticed the fore-end was quite flexible. My rest was a Harris bipod, and I used a bunny-ear leather sandbag beneath the toe of the stock.

Usually, that combination provides a rock-steady arrangement. However, as I fished for a chinweld in lieu of a cheekweld, the fore-end braced still by the bipod would flex and the crosshairs would wiggle. Thankfully, the barrel was generously free-floated in the fore-end, so I don’t believe that flexibility had a negative effect on accuracy, aside from making the rifle challenging to hold absolutely steady. The cost of the Bergara B-14 Ridge Carbon is $1,599. It’s neither a budget rifle nor a top-shelf rifle. It’s a reasonable price for a rifle with a carbon-fiber-wrapped barrel and a Cerakote finish, especially one that comes with a sub-MOA accuracy guarantee. The Ridge Carbon is a solid, hardworking rifle that’ll provide yeoman’s service in the backcountry—just like Remington’s Model 700 did back in its heyday.

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Three out of six loads tested met Bergara’s sub-MOA accuracy guarantee. Hornady’s 140- grain ELD Match ammo took top honors, averaging exactly what this group measures: 0.71 inch at 100 yards.

Bergara B-14 Ridge Carbon Specs

  • Type: Bolt-action, repeater
  • Caliber: 6.5 Creedmoor
  • Magazine Capacity: 4 rds. 
  • Barrel: 22 in. 
  • Overall Length: 41.50 in. 
  • Weight: 7 lbs.
  • Stock: Composite
  • Length of Pull: 13.5 in. 
  • Finish: Sniper gray Cerakote action, carbon-wrapped barrel, gray and tan stock with black spiderwebbing
  • Sights: None, full-length optic rail
  • Trigger: 2.4 lbs. (tested)
  • Safety: Two position
  • MSRP: $1,599
  • Manufacturer: Bergara



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