What bolt action hunting rifle for just under $900.00 ?

My youngest son John has been hunting for 20 years, using a nearly 50-year-old 6mm Remington and a 100-plus-year-old 30-06 rifle! He’s done well with them, but mentioned that he’d like a rifle better suited for long range use, on game up to the size of an elk out to 500 yards.I told him I’d like to buy that rifle for his birthday, but he needed to do the research and I wanted to keep the price to $1,000. 

I’d seen some great Bergara rifles here at Ultimate Reloader, and recommended that John take a look at Bergara. My son and I often hunt mule deer, bear and occasionally elk. A 300 yard shot is pretty routine for us, because of the areas we hunt. He looked at rifles from several manufacturers, made his selection, and I ordered the rifle for him. 

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About the Rifle

He selected the Bergara Wilderness Ridge rifle for all-around big game hunting. 

This one is a 7mm Remington Magnum, a cartridge with which I’m quite familiar. I’ve done a lot of loading and shooting with the 7mm Rem Mag over the years and have taken elk, bear and mule deer with it. The cartridge offers good power, good accuracy potential, flat trajectory, and produces recoil that most experienced shooters can handle well. 

The Wilderness Ridge attracted us because it was reasonably priced, portable, had great accuracy potential and appeared to be well-suited for hunting in inclement weather. 

From Bergara: 

The Wilderness Series tackles the need for rifles that can withstand the rugged and unforgiving wilderness while blending into those very same elements – hence Bergara’s hand-painted camouflage stocks with added webbing for increased texture and grip. All Wilderness Series barreled actions feature Sniper Grey Cerakote® finishes for advanced protection in extremely harsh weather.

The B-14 Wilderness Ridge rifle features an American-style synthetic stock with SoftTouch finish. This rifle is also outfitted with a Bergara Performance Trigger and a hinged floor plate. The world-renowned (#5) Bergara barrel is finished in Sniper Grey Cerakote and features a seamless, omnidirectional, and multi-ported muzzle brake that will reduce felt recoil by up to 35 percent. The Wilderness Ridge is complemented by our super-smooth B-14 Action, which is a two-lug system with a sliding plate extractor and a coned bolt nose and breech to ensure smooth feeding and extraction of the cartridge. It has been factory drilled and tapped to fit Remington 700 style rings and bases.

The B-14 Wilderness Series provides a great deal of added value for the hunter that wants a no-nonsense performer that is built to withstand the backcountry. We are breaking through the uninhabited and inhospitable regions to bring you the weather protection needed to withstand these conditions.

We believe the word wilderness, while may be rugged, harsh and unforgiving, describes an experience rather than a location. We built the B-14 Wilderness Series to match every stride taken off the beaten trail.

    • NEW FOR 2021: Fluted, 4140 chromoly steel, one piece bolt body
    • Weight: 7.4-7.9
    • Overall Length: 39.5”-46”
    • Barrel Length: 20”-26”
    • Barrel Taper: No. 5
    • Muzzle: Threaded 5/8-24” with Omni Muzzle Brake
    • Finish: Sniper Grey Cerakote
    • Magazine: Hinged floor plate
    • Magazine Capacity: 4 standard, 3 magnum, 2 round capacity: 300 PRC, 28 Nosler, 6.5 PRC
    • Stock: American-style synthetic with SoftTouch finish
    • Trigger: Bergara Performance Trigger
    • Scope Mount: Fits Remington 700 bases with 6-48 screws

CALIBER/TWIST: 6.5 CREEDMOOR/1:8, 6.5 PRC/1:8, .308 WIN/1:10, 7MM REM MAG/1:9.5, .300 WIN MAG/1:10, 300 PRC/1:9, 28 Nosler/1:9.5

All B-14 Wilderness rifles are guaranteed to produce groups of 1.0 MOA or less at 100 yards with quality factory match grade ammunition.

MSRP $1049

The adjustable trigger was set at a crisp 2.5 pounds. The two-position safety feels positive and the rifle can be left on “safe” while loading and unloading. 

The free-floated 24” threaded barrel (⅝ – 24) has a Cerakote finish and an Omni muzzle brake. The #5 contour barrel adds a bit of a muzzle heavy feel and helps the rifle hang steady on target. Also included is a thread protector. Any number of good suppressors could be used as well. 

I was very pleased with the smooth bolt! With its smooth operation and good-sized bolt handle, it’s easy to get a second or third shot off in a hurry. This can be important while hunting. The rifle has a Remington 700 footprint allowing for nearly innumerable options. 

The magazine has a hinged floor plate and holds three belted magnum cases. Larger diameter cases like the 6.5 and 300 PRC’s are limited to two cartridges in the magazine, while it can hold three magnum cartridges like the 7mm Remington Magnum or four standard diameter cartridges like the 308 Winchester or the 6.5 Creedmoor. 

The synthetic stock appears sturdy, has a good recoil pad, and a nice paint job from the factory. The fore-end does flex a bit when side pressure is applied, so if the shooter is going to “sling up” for stability, it’s probably best to not apply too much sling pressure lest the stock bend and contact the barrel. 

John is still scope-shopping. He’ll find what he wants, but in the meantime the Bergara needed a scope. I had a set of Leupold STD bases and rings in a parts drawer that fit perfectly. I then pulled the 4.5-14x Leupold Vari X III off my 204 varmint/coyote rifle and installed it on the Bergara. 

Bergara’s Wilderness Ridge rifle is available in an array of big game hunting cartridges including 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, 7mm Remington Magnum, .28 Nosler, 308 Winchester, 300 Win mag and 300 PRC. 

Range Results

Bergara recommends a barrel break-in routine, so my son and I settled on that project. Some shooters claim barrel break in isn’t necessary, others claim it’s vital to getting the best from the rifle. 

When I’m breaking in a rifle barrel, I also use the time to sight it in and get accustomed to shooting the rifle. I also collect preliminary chronograph data. John did the shooting and I helped him do the cleaning. 

With mule deer in mind, I headed to the loading bench, screwed in my Hornady dies and loaded 150 grain Hornady ELD-X hunting bullets over 76.5 grains of IMR 8133, just a half grain under the book max according to Hodgdon. I’ve done former load testing on both. 

High-Velocity 7mm Rem Mag Loads with IMR Enduron Powders – Ultimate Reloader 

TESTED: Hornady 7mm 150 grain CX Bullets w/Ballistics Gel (7mm Rem Mag) – Ultimate Reloader 

Shooting Impressions

This is an easy rifle to shoot! Though the 7mm Rem Mag isn’t known for ferocious recoil, it is a magnum and makes itself known to the shooter. Good ear protection is vital, especially with the muzzle brake. It put a grin on both of our faces. Recoil was not bad due to good stock design, which seemed to bring the recoil back straight to the shoulder rather than permitting much muzzle rise. The stock was very comfortable both from the bench and from various field positions. With a #5 contour barrel, the Wilderness Ridge is not a light rifle, and weight attenuates the recoil of magnum rifles. It also “hangs on target well” to use an old expression. The ample recoil pad took some of the sting out quite nicely, and the muzzle brake also contributed significantly to recoil reduction. 

Tyler Hale and I headed up to the Ultimate Reloader 100-yard rifle range to test the rifle and my handloads. The bore was squeaky clean, so I fired a three-shot group to foul the barrel. It looked pretty good, well under an inch but a bit off the bullseye dot. I made a scope adjustment then fired a three-shot group for size. Wow! All three shots drilled into the 1” dot.  Knowing my limits as a shooter, I elected to stop. 

Gavin later measured the tight group and declared it to be .500”— my goodness! Power and precision. 

We were seeing velocities of nearly 3200 fps with a commonly available hunting bullet, and roughly ½ MOA accuracy! I’ve seen highly regarded $5,000+ 308 SWAT sniper rifles fail to meet that accuracy level. If a hunter misses with this, it’s not the rifle’s fault.

Conclusion

The Bergara Wilderness Ridge rifle is an interesting newer design with the elements of a very good hunting rifle. It’s a little heavier than some rifles, considerably lighter than others. It’s comfortable to shoot and reasonable to carry. The accuracy guarantee was easily met by our hunting handloads. 

The Bergara B-14 Wilderness Ridge rifle is certainly worth considering if you’re in the market for a new hunting rifle. At under $1,000 retail, especially with the $849 deal I found, it offers a lot of rifle for the money. With some work and a little luck we may be able to feature it in use this fall. 

I’m glad I was able to give my son an up-to-date general purpose hunting rifle capable of taking any game in North America, in any climate. I might even get one myself! 

If you are interested in the rifle featured in this article, you can check out out on Bergara’s website:

Bergara Wilderness Ridge rifle

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Thanks,
Guy Miner

One thought on “What bolt action hunting rifle for just under $900.00 ?”

  1. I bought my 13 year old son a Bergara B-14 Woodsman (just old school and like the wood stock) in .243 Win. It shoots great and it will be deer and speed goat gun. Elk rifle comes later.

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