Review: Bergara Heavy Tactical Rifle

“Squared away” in the Marine Corps is an adjective applied to a jarhead whose rifle is immaculate, whose K-Bar is sharp enough to take scalps if the Adjutant General isn’t looking, who can max his PT test, has a perfect salute, and will make Gunnery Sergeant on his second enlistment. Bergara Rifles, which is under the control and command of retired Master Gunnery Sergeant Dan Hanus, is squared away. I say this being in recent receipt of a Bergara Heavy Tactical Rifle (BCR 19), a veritable paragon on the gunmaker’s art.

Since the whole world is now tactical and long range, I wanted to try out the Bergara Heavy Tactical rifle, which is a pretty fair approximation of the Marine Corps’ M40A3 sniper rifle, except that it employs Bergara’s own compact, slick action instead of a reworked Remington 700. The M40A3 comes in 7.62mm and scales 16.5 pounds. The Heavy Tactical Rifle comes in .308, .300 Win Mag and, on special order, .338 Lapua. Its weight is 12.5 pounds without scope, and the Bergara barrel is a 24-inch #7 contour and can be threaded for an optional muzzle brake.

When the Heavy Tactical Rifle arrived it came with a barrel coin, which is a slab of steel cut off the end of the blank and stamped with the caliber and rate of twist. No one ever sent me a barrel coin before. Oh, one of the guys at Nosler sent me flowers once, but that was a long time ago. Anyway, taped to the McMillan A4 buttstock was a hex key for locking and unlocking the adjustable comb. I probably have 50 of these little wrenches, but the folks at Bergara wanted to make good and sure I could adjust the stock, so they taped one where I’d be sure to find it. Squared away.

The Heavy Tactical comes with Badger Ordnance bottom metal and a choice of 5- or 10-round detachable magazines, and either a Shilen or Timney trigger. There is a choice of camo patterns, at least half a dozen other options.

A tactical rifle has only two requirements: It has to be very accurate, and it has to be very consistent. The last shot in a string has to go exactly where the first shot went no matter how many shots, or how hot it gets. But let’s go into accuracy first.

For this rifle, I worked up a load for the Sierra MatchKing 175-grain bullet, which was developed in conjunction with the Army sniper program; what was needed was a bullet that would remain supersonic at 1,000 yards when started out at 2,550 fps. The 168-grain bullet then in use would not carry well enough, but adding 7 grains and raising the ballistic coefficient to .496 did the trick.

Some rifles are coy about shooting well, and require many trips to the range and much experimenting. This one did not. I went out the first trip with two trial loads, one for the MatchKings and one for 175-grain Bergers, and the MatchKings came through. The average 5-shot group at 100 yards was .350; the smallest group was .250, and I believe this is the first five-shot quarter-inch group I’ve fired in five years. You just don’t see them that often unless you’re a benchrester, and I am not.

About consistency, what I can tell you is this: I've fired 20-round strings, pretty much as fast as I could, on days when the temperature was in the 80s, and got the barrel so hot that a half-hour later it was still warm to the touch. But the 20th shot went to the same point of impact as the first shot.
You'll note I haven't mentioned price. The Heavy Tactical is an expensive gun. It could not be otherwise. What you're paying for is not only the materials, but expertise as well. If Dan Hanus builds them any more accurate, they're going to have to call his guns something new. "Rifles" would no longer seem to apply.