Firearm technology is always racing forward, with innovations gaining popularity by making firearms more elegant and easy to use. Things like better triggers, barrel quality, and carbon fiber have been some of the best upgrades in firearm technology in the past 10 years or so. With this technology getting better by the year, I had the opportunity to review some of these features in the Bergara B-14 HMR Carbon Wilderness.
The HMR Carbon Wilderness features a fantastic adjustable trigger out of the box with a quality carbon fiber-wrapped barrel to help with weight. Throwing all kinds of improved technology into one gun would be enough to excite anyone who holds it, but the question should be asked if it’s worth the cost of all those upgrades. That will be the question we’re going to answer with a review of the B-14 HMR Carbon Wilderness
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Few rifle manufacturers have gained more popularity in the past few years than Bergara. My experience with these rifles has been extremely positive, with their barrels and triggers being some of the biggest touchpoints that left an impression on me. The B-14 HMR Carbon Wilderness is a newly released rifle submodel from Bergara that features the benefits of one of their best-selling rifles (the Hunting Match Rifle or HMR) but with a Carbon Fiber barrel. Not only does this shed weight off the rifle, but you get to keep the consistency of Bergara barrels.
I couldn’t keep the tests limited to 100 yards, so I took it to my thousand-yard range a few hours away for testing. The B-14, in my opinion, is what the Remington 700 should have been, and I was very impressed with what this rifle was capable of out of the box. Here are my first impressions of the HMR Carbon Wilderness chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor.
Out of the box, this rifle feels powerful. It’s perfectly balanced and holds up very well in every shooting position. Comfort is massive when you’re practicing the consistency of your shot, and this rifle just melts into your body. The cheek riser doesn’t feel cheap, loose, or easy to break, there are QD sling mounts on both the right and left sides of the gun, and it was the easiest thing to get this rifle mounted up with a scope. With the balance this rifle presents, I could see myself shooting off-hand (standing) with no problem at all. The stock had a very pleasant camo paint job, and the rifle was attractive in general. The HMR in this rifle’s name stands for “Hunting and Match Rifle” so I can appreciate the design aspects that Bergara placed on this firearm for both shooting disciplines.
While I didn’t have the equipment to weigh the trigger pull, it was very clean, brisk, and light. This contributed to the test results achieved on the range, as the trigger in a gun is one of the most important aspects of shooting accurately. It is worth noting, however, that even though this rifle features a carbon fiber barrel, it felt like a normally weighted firearm. I say this by comparing the B-14 to something a little more traditional like a Winchester Model 70. Both rifles start at around 7.5 pounds (depending on which Model 70 you look at) but only one features the carbon fiber barrel.
Just from researching the B-14, I could tell the weight most likely came from the well-built polymer stock that also has a “mini-chassis” embedded in the stock. Seeing how this gun was made for both competition and hunting, I’m glad to see the HMR Carbon Wilderness feature a very usable overall weight with a stock profile that supports match shooting. The Bergara B-14 HMR Carbon Wilderness packs a ton of features into a utilitarian firearm, so we might as well highlight the feature list.
I’ll note while we’re still early on in the article that this firearm MSRP’s for $1,850. As many enthusiasts ask the question, we need to go through the general features so you can keep in mind what you’re getting for the money. Fair warning, but this list has some massive touchpoints that are a big reason why Bergara is hitting it out of the park with their B-14 series. Here’s the feature list for the B-14 HMR Carbon Wilderness:
- Carbon Fiber Barrel
- 7.5 Pounds (No Optic)
- Detachable Box Mag
- Installed 20 MOA Base
- Crisp, Adjustable Trigger
- Hand Painted Stock W/ Mini-Chassis
- Threaded Barrel W/ Muzzle Brake
Shedding 2 pounds of weight is no easy task. The benefit of having 2 pounds less on your firearm is that it becomes more packable and more comfortable if you’re carrying it for lengthy amounts of time. I like to be just under 10 pounds overall with my hunting firearms, so the B-14 would be able to achieve that once a lightweight optic is installed. This more than qualifies this gun for hunting applications, but it would be impossible for me to own this and not shoot steel matches with it every weekend.
Detachable box magazines are becoming more common with bolt-action rifles. Everything from storing ammunition to clearing jams is easier when there’s a box mag involved. For a rifle at this price point, I’m glad to see they kept a box magazine feature. My other 6.5 Creedmoor utilizes a blind magazine system and it’s way more of a headache than a box magazine system.
Any base would have been a great feature to have. I hate the idea of spending over $1,000 on a rifle only to find I need to spend more money on a scope base that needs to fit the receiver. The same goes for a muzzle brake when the rifle comes with a threaded barrel. It’s nice that this rifle comes with a muzzle brake and a scope base. Not only does it add to the features, but it keeps the customer from spending more money on things that are necessary to experience the most efficient version of the rifle.
The stock and the trigger are one of the biggest features that combine comfort and consistency in one gun. The trigger is adjustable, but I found it to be crisp and perfect out of the box. The stock feels good regardless of my shooting position, and it’s usable with my QD slings OR my traditional slings. It even has two swivel studs on the forearm in case you want to run a bipod and a traditional sling. Additionally, the use of a mini-chassis inside the stock allows the relationship between stock and receiver to be uniform, solid, and consistent. It’s easy to talk about these as features, but we should give the ergonomics and design their own section.
Ergonomics & Design
At face value, I genuinely didn’t think the stock on the HMR Carbon Wilderness was a good profile for hunting applications. After shooting it on the bench and the mat, I can see how some hunters might enjoy the stock design. Tripod and bipod hunting are gaining popularity, and this stock profile fits perfectly for either of those setups. Anytime you’re going from a moving position to a static shooting position is one where you would greatly benefit from this stock profile. While you can certainly shoot this rifle standing up (off-hand) I think that’s where a more traditional stock profile might be better. However, sitting, lying down, or any supported position allows the HMR to become an extension of your body.
The hand spots on the HMR take some getting used to, but that’s mostly because a lot of the guns I shoot have more swept-back grips compared to the more straight grip style of the Bergara. While the length of pull was perfect for me out of the box, it looks like that’s an adjustable part of the stock, so you can finely tailor that to your needs.
The stock also features QD sling points at four points on the stock; two on either side of the forearm and two on either side of the butt. This is perfect for when you’re packing your rifle for long distances, as you can carry the rifle on its side while it’s on your back or your pack. This prevents any magazines or grips from sticking into your back and gives you a nice, flat back to rest on. The HMR stock design is one of Bergara’s more popular designs, and after handling one for myself, I can see why.
Reliable cartridge feeding has been a major touch-point with the more expensive hunting rifles. Many manufacturers have put out box-fed magazines that users report feeding issues in the field. This is a big problem for hunters because you need the ability to make fast and calculated follow-up shots, and if you’re worried about your gun feeding properly, it could be the difference between making that follow-up shot or losing your game.
Unfortunately, I did experience some feeding issues while using the B-14 on the bench and the mat. When feeding a round, the tip of the bullet would hit the feed ram, tilting the bullet up slightly while going up the feed ramp. On occasion, this would cause the base of the cartridge to tilt down, causing it to slip off of the bolt face and no longer feed. It looks like a stovepipe malfunction, but it’s very clearable by backing the bolt up slightly and letting the base of the cartridge spring back up to catch the bolt.
Though this was somewhat of a nuisance during testing, it’s most likely caused by the lack of an anti-tilt follower in the magazine. This is not an issue with the firearm, so I could see Bergara coming out with new magazines to fix this issue. If the Carbon Wilderness has this feeding issue, it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that any Bergara rifle model with this magazine could have the same problem. This was the only feeding issue I observed, and it was not a consistent malfunction. However, for a rifle as nice and expensive as the B-14 HMR Carbon Wilderness, I expected flawless feeding. Maybe it’s a rifle break-in thing, but from my observations, it was a magazine failure more than anything. With feeding out of the way, I need to preach about how this gun shot.
Holy cow can this gun shoot. Bergara guarantees sub-MOA groups with this specific firearm, and that is definitely how it shot during my range visit. In my initial sight-in, I did have a flyer that opened the group up to .802” but that was from me pulling the shot.
My biggest feat of the day, however, came when I transitioned to the 1,000-yard range. The rifle was sighted in at 100 and I had no ballistic calculator or spotter. The B-14 rang steel at 1,000 yards within my first 5-shots. This was an 18-inch wide by 24-inch tall target, so it’s not like I was shooting playing cards at 1,000 but I was very impressed regardless. I had only ever shot 1,000 yards one time before this visit and the rifle was consistent enough for me to continuously make those shots AND spot their impact.
After my first impact, 15 more rounds were sent through the barrel and I only missed 1 or 2 times due to wind changes. The gun was extremely pleasant to shoot, but also as consistent as you can get for a factory rifle. Some enthusiasts might take a rifle and swap parts like the trigger or stock to make it a better-fitting package for their purpose, but the B-14 HMR Carbon Wilderness requires no such part swapping as every component feels as quality as the next. It’s this performance that solidifies my stance that the B-14 HMR Carbon Wilderness is a great multi-use firearm.
I know I had some feeding issues with this rifle, but that doesn’t kill the whole rifle for me. There are still a ton of awesome things about this gun that are important to highlight. Here are the pros I found while testing the Bergara B-14 HMR Carbon Wilderness:
- Carbon Fiber stood up to barrel heat very well
- Amazing trigger
- 1,000 yards in 5 shots
- Bolt ran like glass
- Awesome stock design
I ran a full box of 20 rounds through the barrel without stopping. This included my sight in, and then taking a poke at steel at 200 and 300 yards away. I wanted to get a feel for how the gun ran with target transition and engagement and I was not disappointed. It was also surprising to see that after 20 rounds, the barrel was not nearly as hot as I thought it would be. You could’ve fully grabbed the barrel after 20 rounds and felt the heat without being burned. Part of this is most likely from the thickness of the carbon wrap, but being this resistant to the head could open up the applications for this gun.
The trigger is a huge pro to this rifle setup. Yes, it’s adjustable with an Allen wrench, but you may find that it’s pretty sharp out of the box. I might go as far as to say that it could be the best factory trigger to come in a bolt-action rifle for a gun in this price range. This is arguably the most important contact point between you and the rifle, so it needs to be correct. This rifle achieves that.
The design features for the Carbon Wilderness tie everything together. Even with the few feeding issues, this bolt is absolute glass when it cycles properly. The stock also lends itself to making the shooter feel comfortable, allowing for more consistent shooting. I attribute my ability to hit that plate at 1,000 in 5 shots to the design features and overall smoothness of this rifle. Comfort leads to consistency and consistency is the key to accuracy.
This is going to be a short list. There wasn’t much that stuck out in my testing as negative aside from the feeding issues, and since feeding had its section above, there isn’t a big need to rehash it in this section of the article. Regardless, here are the two cons that I found for this rifle:
- Magazine feeding issue
- Very loud
Muzzle brakes are not new to the hunting community. They’re great for recoil management and allow you to become your own spotter. When you can recover from your shot promptly, you can provide much better follow-up shots on your target. It’s not so fun, however, to hear this rifle shoot. It was honestly surprising how loud this 6.5 Creedmoor was. This wouldn’t be a big deal for a bench shooter, but it’s something to consider for hunters who don’t wear hearing protection on their hunts. A great idea would be to take off the brake and slap a suppressor on the end to make those hunting shots nice and quiet. If it were me, however, I would just wear a set of plugs or muffs whenever I go out to hunt.
When first receiving the B-14 HMR Carbon Wilderness, I understood that it was meant to be a multi-purpose rifle. It wasn’t until I shot it that I fully realized how widely applicable this platform is. I would be more cautionary taking this firearm to shoot competitions with high-volume fire, but the barrel was fine with me putting 20 straight rounds through it at once, so you may be okay if you wanted to shoot matches with it.
All of this is to say that the B-14 HMR Carbon Wilderness is as diverse of a shooting platform as you want it to be. If you needed one rifle to do a lot of things, this would be the gun to buy. The accuracy is what you need out of a multi-use firearm and the rifle has the stock ergonomics that provide you with an applicable tool for whatever application you have in mind.
Cost vs. Value
It’s no secret that this firearm’s MSRP is $1,850 but what are you getting for that kind of cash? I’d like to note that Bergara is famous for two things: very nice factory triggers, and very nice factory barrels. Bergara was built on a foundation of making barrels for other firearm manufacturers before they started making guns themselves. They got to perfect their methods before releasing their first firearm, and it shows.
It’s also worth noting that if you were building a bolt action rifle, or even doing a barrel swap on one of your current bolt rifles, a good-quality Carbon Fiber barrel would run you upwards of $800-$1,200 depending on cartridge and specifications. When you put that into perspective, you’re spending around $850 on an action, stock, trigger, and magazine system. To me, that’s very reasonable with how nice the build quality is.
So is the Bergara B-14 HMR Carbon Wilderness worth it? If you’re looking for a carbon option for one of your favorite do-all rifles, it’s worth the money. This is about as close to a custom gun setup as you can get out of the box, and you can tell because of the trigger quality, stock design, and barrel quality. There was no guessing while shooting this firearm, and it noticeably enhanced my ability as a shooter through its consistency.
It’s a shame that this rifle experienced feeding issues with the magazine, but that didn’t take away from the impacts I got at distance. It’s impossible not to smile when you’re at the range with this gun, and it got a couple of people asking what I was shooting. So not only is it a head-turner, but it lays down the performance to back up the price point and the looks.
If you needed one gun for many different applications, you would be foolish not to give the Bergara B-14 HMR Carbon Wilderness a serious look in consideration. The weight is on the money for hunting, but it’s also accurate and consistent enough to be very deadly at a distance. The stock has design features that I haven’t found in other stocks, and a mini-chassis keeps everything nice and consistent. With a bolt that moves like glass and a trigger that is leading the industry, it’s a tough rifle to look past. For a turn-key option that doesn’t mess around, check out Bergara’s Website and see if the B-14 HMR Carbon Wilderness would fit your needs.
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Growing up, Buck was taught about firearm history and appraisal. Getting to know so many different firearm platforms eventually lead to his long-distance shooting exploration. While his main hunting past time is coyotes, he still find just as much satisfaction punching steel at distance. Every shot taken is with the purpose to become a better shooter.