Periodically, I review a rifle that costs $1,000 or so and conclude by saying that if you want something better, you’ll have to spend three times as much. Bergara Rifles are what you get for three times as much. Bergara is a barrel maker in the town of that name in Spain’s Basque country, and has now branched out into rifle manufacturing in Georgia, in the United States, employing the talents of Production Manager Don Hanus, a 22-year Marine Corps veteran who was Production Chief and Chief Instructor for the Marines’ Precision Weapons Section at Quantico, Virginia. The man knows his stuff.
Bergara builds barrels in the same way that Titan Machine in Maine builds Forbes rifles. There are no little old men with files. There are very modern machines, and people who really know how to run them, and a general insistence on perfection. Each barrel blank is inspected before drilling, and must meet a deviation of less than .004-inch. If it doesn’t, it’s straightened, and then goes to a four-spindle machine that drills the correct-sized hole.
Now, let me quote from the Bergara catalog: “Most other barrel manufacturers move from deep-hole drilling to reaming, a process that leaves tool marks in the bore. Instead of reaming, Bergara uses three separate honing spindles that utilize diamond-tipped bits. These bits polish the bore’s interior surface to a mirror-like finish without tool marks.” And they are not woofing. I’ve had my Hawkeye Bore Scope up and down every inch of the barrel on my rifle, and the whole thing is slick as glass.
The next step is button rifling with a groove diameter deviation of less than .0002-inch. This tolerance is usually achieved by hand-lapping. And finally, the barrel is stress-relieved.
Bergara offers a homolgated (as the car makers say) line of rifles that is heavy on tactical. There is a limited number of calibers available for each model, and a short list of options. Each rifle is built to order, and by hand. They are: the Heavy Tactical Chassis Stock (BCR20), Heavy Tactical (BCR19) which looks to have a McMillan fiberglass stock, Medium Tactical Chassis Stock (BCR18), and Medium Tactical (BCR17) fiberglass again. The sporting models commence with the Long Range Hunter (BCR15), Sport Hunter (BCR13, the general-purpose hunting rifle), and Mountain Hunter (BCR12, the rifle I got). Prices for the tactical guns run from $4,000 to $5,000 before options, and for the sporters, $3,500 to $4,000.
Now at this point you’re probably saying to yourself, “This old bastard has gone off to some other universe. Why don’t they step on him like a bug and put him out of his misery?” I can see your point. I can feel your pain. It’s a lot of money for a rifle that will probably, in a hunting lifetime, not get you a single head of game more than a rifle that costs one-quarter as much.
It all depends on how much you yearn for perfection, how much you relish very, very small groups, and how much you enjoy owning something that other shooters don’t know about and probably can’t even appreciate.
We’ll get to that part in the next post.