If you missed my last article on the Bergara BMR, do yourself a favor and go check it out after this one. I was pleasantly surprised by that rifle, which was also the very first Bergara I’ve had the pleasure to shoot. So, it should come as no surprise that when this Bergara HMR showed up, I was quite excited to see if it too would exceed my expectations. What I couldn’t have anticipated was how deep down the Bergara hole I would fall.
What is the HMR?
The B-14 action is the heart of many of Bergara's centerfire rifles, such as the HMR model. The B-14 action shares some of the best features with the Remington 700 action, which allows it to utilize the large aftermarket support that it inherited from Big Green. A two-lug 90-degree bolt throw locks up the one-piece bolt into the action. It is retained by a left-hand-side bolt stop machined into the back of the action.
The B-14 uses a trigger of Bergara’s making but can be easily replaced by one of the many suitable aftermarket options. I found it to be completely unnecessary as the factory trigger feels fantastic. The safety is located just right of the bolt shroud in a standard pull-for-safe, push-for-fire configuration. Underneath the action is the detachable box magazine, a standard AICS pattern. The rifle came with a five-round magazine, but I also ran some of my 10-round Magpul units. The mags are released in a typical fashion by pushing a catch at the front of the trigger guard forward.
The match-grade barrel is of a heavy-contour design and threaded 5/8-24 TPI at the end. It came with a nice radially-ported muzzle brake, which can be removed to install a suppressor. The 6.5 Creedmoor model I tested featured a 24-inch barrel with a 1-8 twist. This is ideal for stabilizing most factory loads. The B-14 is perfectly rounded out with a quality 20-MOA scope base and a handsome sniper-gray Cerakote finish.
The molded stock is built around Bergara’s mini-chassis and hosts a few of its own features. It has a fully adjustable length of pull and an adjustable comb. The former is adjusted by removing or adding spacers. The comb is adjusted with a wing nut on one side of the buttstock. Both are easy enough to adjust, and I believe that Bergara got it right by making the comb adjustable while taking the simple spacer path for the LOP adjustment.
There are sling-attachment cups at both the front and rear of the stock as well as double front-sling studs if you choose to go that way. The whole thing is finished with a cunning paint scheme that is only flashy to the human eye.
A Good Rifle Needs a Good Scope
I was very excited to get this rifle warmed up, but first I needed a good little scope to mount on it. I chose the U.S. Optics TS-25X.
The TS series of U.S. Optics scopes are lightweight and have all the features a rifleman needs. I mounted the scope in a pair of Warne rings and boresighted the rifle before heading out to shoot it. I picture this rifle as a perfect companion for a hunter who means real business, someone who aims to get what they’re after.
The five to 25-power range of the TS-25X gives serious marksmen all the power they need, and the JVCR reticle is handy for measuring corrections at whatever range a hunter may require. The hunter I have in mind must be a serious one because, at just under 12 pounds, they are going to need to be serious to pack this around.
Once the scope was mounted and leveled, I threw on one of my Harris bipods and stuffed the rifle in a case.
The sun had been shining all morning long, and the wavy rays of a mirage were quite visible on the flat desert plain where I lay. My shooting mat was already warm to the touch as I lay there stuffing a few cartridges into the magazines for the HMR. The cartridges were Winchester Deer Season Copper Impact. This ammunition features a 125-grain Copper Extreme Point bullet, a lead-free projectile that utilizes a red polymer tip but is not made by Hornady.
After loading my magazines, I lay behind the rifle and peered through the scope at my distant target. Moisture began to accumulate on my cheek as I rested on the stock of the HMR, slowly adjusting my hold to get the very best and most solid position. The curved shoe of the trigger felt perfectly mated to my finger as I pressed, and I watched the impact of my very first shot move through the target. My boresight job had been on point, and almost no adjustments were needed.
I sent a couple of magazines of ammunition through the rifle and was quite pleased with the results. Running the bolt on the rifle was smooth and easy. The brass piled up so neatly next to me that it seemed like someone had placed it there with care. I pushed the rifle out a few hundred yards further, and hits came easily. The feeding and ejection of this rifle are very reliable, as was the clean break of the trigger.
A few days later, I took the rifle to another one of my spacious hides in the high alpine forests of the Rocky Mountains. I wanted to see how the HMR would fare as a rugged mountain rifle. The thin air at 9,000 feet taxes your lungs and circulatory system for sure, but it also helps bullets fly better and farther. So, I figured this was a place the HMR would shine.
I hiked into a large bowl carved from rock and filled with both snow and pine trees. It may have felt like summer was almost here, but it snowed more than half a foot just a few days prior. I found a comfortable spot to set up my gear and began searching for prospective targets, preferably hares, marmots, and squirrels.
In the meantime, I figured I would test my aim on the other opportunities before me. I picked a distant slope that had exposed soil and found one of many small patches of snow that was quickly melting under the morning sun. The snow was perhaps the size of a clay pigeon, and I decided to play a little game with myself.
Each of the snow patches I found represented the kill zone on a potential monster buck. I wanted to see how I would do engaging random “bucks” at varying distances and angles while fighting the switching wind. The first one was at 375 yards, a very likely distance to find a deer in these mountains. I had changed up the rifle just a bit since my last trip out, and it now featured a Yankee Hill Machine R9 suppressor on its muzzle.
I had since run out of the Winchester ammo and was now shooting some Desert Tech Munitions 140-grain Match ammunition. I rested the rifle on the bipod legs and settled in on my first snow patch. I had adjusted the TS-25X scope for the anticipated drop over the distance. All that was left to do was estimate a few other corrections if needed. There was a stiff breeze blowing from right to left, but my shot would take the bullet under the wind and parallel to a rock rim, so I gave just a slight favor to the right.
I also knew that my drop chart was for a lower elevation, so I chose to favor low expecting the shot to hit a little high. With everything in place, I began my trigger press. Leaning into the bipod, I anticipated the gentle recoil, hoping to see everything. The trigger broke clean, and I focused on steadying my view to see the impact. To my great pleasure, I watched the small pile of snow explode and scatter in the dry dirt around it. I ran the bolt on the HMR and smiled.
I repeated this process over and over as the day went on, picking out new targets and testing my ability to make first-round hits.
I’ll not bore you with the rest of my day in the mountains. I missed a few for sure. But the evidence in favor of the HMR was overwhelmingly positive. This rifle and scope combination just shoot. The only things I could find to complain about were very small. There was the slightest gritty feeling when closing the last few degrees of the bolt throw. It’s certainly possible I got some dirt in there somehow, or maybe it just needs to be greased. Either way, it wasn’t a big deal. Twelve pounds is also not most people’s ideal weight for a hunting rifle, but it would make an excellent weight for a match gun.
If anything, it’s a bit light for such a chore, but that’s it. I just plain like this rifle and most things about it. I would feel extremely confident taking this rifle hunting or to a match knowing that any failures would be my own. If you haven’t yet, get on the Bergara train. The price is very affordable, and the results are worth every penny.