In 2006, Spanish company Bergara created a good name for itself in the shooting world by producing accurate barrels that placed one bullet after another in the exact same spot.Bergara followed up in 2012 with a line of custom rifles made in the U.S., featuring its barrels on actions made by other manufacturers. In 2015 Bergara started producing its Premier series and then the B-14 series of production rifles. These rifles have been well received by shooters and hunters and have taken up the majority of Bergara’s sales.
“But the custom rifles were our first product line and we can never walk away from them,” said Nate Treadaway, chief executive officer of BPI Outdoors, which oversees Bergara, CVA muzzleloaders and several other shooting-related companies.
Bergara uses its Premier action on its custom rifles, although it will build rifles with about any brand of bolt action. The custom rifle line includes the Sport Hunter, Varmint Hunter, Long Range Hunter, Competition, Heavy Tactical and Heavy Tactical Chassis. These rifles are chambered in 13 cartridges from the .22-250 Remington and 6mm Creedmoor to the .300 and .338 Winchester Magnums.
“The air is pretty thin up there for rifles that cost several thousand dollars,” Treadaway said. “But there are still guys who want to buy unique and special rifles.” For employees in its custom shop in Lawrenceville, Georgia, Bergara recruits former military personnel who worked in the U.S. Marine’s Precision Weapons Section. Their duties, among others, were to build and maintain the Marine’s bolt-action M40A5 sniper rifle. “So they are experts at making accurate rifles,” Treadaway said.
Barrels installed on custom rifles are the same Bergara barrels used on Premier rifles. However, the custom shop’s two full-time employees take accuracy several stages farther with barrels for custom rifles. They inspect barrel bores with a scope for flaws, lap the bores, cut chambers by hand and watchfully crown barrels. The barrel breach is trued, matched to an action, and the barreled action is inletted into a McMillian stock – or a customer’s stock choice.
From there the sky is the limit for options. The Premier action is the most popular, although customers can select any action they want. Barrels can be fluted, and contours vary from lightweight and standard sporter to lightweight and standard varmint. Most standard cartridges are made with a 22-inch barrel, and magnums are made with a 24-inch barrel. Customers can choose a Timney or Jewell trigger, a blind magazine or a magazine with a hinged floorplate, or a detachable magazine.
Building a rifle from start to finish takes about 40 hours, Treadaway said. The Premier action is the heart of Bergara custom rifles. “The action is made in Georgia,” he said, “and soon we hope to have it made in-house.”
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Nobember - December 2018