Bergara Premier Series rifle
The Bergara Approach Premier Series rifle. Bergara

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Last week I had the pleasure of hunting near Great Falls, Montana, with Chad Schearer, who is a licensed guide, hunter of worldwide experience, host of his own TV show, and able to put up with my nonsense for more than two hours at a time. I was interested in an eating-type mule deer, and rather than fly out one of my own rifles, Chad loaned me a suppressed Bergara Approach to shoot. This is not your typical loaner rifle, and we will get to why Chad uses it, but first a brief re-introduction to the hardware.

The Approach is one of the Bergara Premier Series, which is assembled on a custom basis. It’s a hunting rifle, and for a sporter, it’s a heavy gun. The standard barrel taper is 5½ (compared to 1, 2, or 3 for factory rifles), and the weight, in 6.5 Creedmoor, is just under 9 pounds. At the muzzle is a Sandman-S suppressor, which is sold by Dead Air Armament. The Sandman is just under 7 inches long and weighs 18.5 ounces. It reduces the report of the Creedmoor to about the level of a .22 WMR, and stifles the recoil to the point where you can see the fur part, as they say.

The Sandman costs $1,000, so I asked Chad why he went to the expense, and he gave me two reasons: First he is around 50, and already wearing hearing aids, and he’d like to have some hearing left when he reaches my age. Second, he gets paid to enable clients to put animals on the ground, and some of his clients are, to put it kindly, marksmanship-deprived. These folks do much better with a rifle that has no recoil to speak of and doesn’t leave their ears hanging in bloody tatters, so he went to the extra expense.

Chad’s sighting system is designed to make things as easy as possible. He uses a scope whose reticle has a small crosshair at the center and mil wires below. The rifles is sighted dead-on at 100 yards. Since most shots here are at this distance, he tells his clients to put the crosshair on the boiler room and squeeze, and not worry about holdover. This works out to 200 yards. Beyond 200, no one cranks the elevation knob. Chad knows the trajectory of the 6.5 CM cold, and he’ll tell you “First wire below the crosshair,” or second, or whatever, and that’s that.

You can, of course, miss with such a rifle, but it would take some work.

And a couple of incidental notes:

If you’re feeling bitter, resentful, and deprived because Premier Series rifles are made right-hand only, cheer up and start saving your money. In 2019 they’re going to be made in southpaw as well.

Also, I discovered that if you wear hearing aids, the airlines may let you board first, along with the other handicapped passengers. You’re obliged to inform a flight attendant, or whatever they now call them, that you’re deaf, and they’ll let you amble down the ramp ahead of the slavering masses.

This worked with United, and they were quite nice about it. However, if there’s one consistent thing about airline policies, it’s inconsistency, so if you go whining that you’re deaf and can you board early, you may end up being Taken Away for Questioning, and never be seen again.