Bergara certainly has had a great response to their B-14 line of rifles. With the B-14 Squared Crest, Bergara’s taken this mid-budget/high-performance concept a big step forward, creating a lightweight 7lb powerhouse for the backcountry and mountain hunter.
The biggest standout feature of the B-14 Squared Crest is its monocoque carbon fiber stock. I had no idea what that meant or how to say it. Turns out it’s a froggy term meaning “single shell.” I’m still not sure how to pronounce it but it’s fun to say no matter what version I try.
Bergara’s stock uses an outer shell of carbon fiber layers with a resin core and then further adds rigidity by running what is essentially a carbon fiber beam-like layer right down the center. The result is a very light stock that still maintains the full size and exceptional rigidity you want.
The stock’s shape is ideal for most folks’ version of shooting. The fore-end is wide and flat, with a ridge running along each side. That ridge helps the shooter get a thumb over for a solid grip when kneeling, standing, or off-hand, and the wide fore-end rests solidly on a bag, a pack, or a blind’s windowsill. The raised comb brings the eye up for shooters who are likely to use glass with higher magnifications and their large objective bells.
The buttstock includes spacers to adjust length of pull, which is nice for shorter shooters as well as those of us taller hunters who hunt in very different seasons. Early MLD season in Texas is a far cry from Mule Deer in Idaho or Nebraska, where temperature is concerned. It’s nice to be able to pull out a spacer for those hunts where you’ll be wearing extra layers and still have the same length of pull.
The buttstock also has a wide palm swell and a great overall geometry. It pulls back into the shoulder well and really lets the shooter relax behind the gun and keep it still.
When shooting for groups, I found a minimal amount of input was required to keep the gun steady. I could keep my eye in the glass to spot my shots at 600 yards. Considering the very light weight of the gun, that steadiness, throughout the firing sequence, is in large part due to the overall geometry and feel of stock.
The push-feed action includes a tapered bolt with a single large plunger. With the magazine fully inserted, the round lines up fairly well with the bore from the outset, and a minimal amount of bullet nose change is required to drive the round into the breech. The sliding ejector threw empties out with a solid pull and I never had any issues with the round feeding or ejecting reliably.
Well, that’s mostly true. I loaded up a few max pressure rounds at home and shot them in the afternoon when the temperature was 106 degrees with 75% humidity. (It was gross). I noted a sticky bolt for those rounds with accompanying pressure signs at the primer, but the rifle ripped them right out with a good yank on the large bolt handle.
The Bergara B-14 Squared Crest is fed with a supplied five-round plastic box magazine. The action is AICS-compatible and high-quality metal magazine can be found easily, although usually at a high price.
Bergara prides itself on its barrels and indeed the Spanish company started out making barrels for other manufacturers. For the B-14 Squared Crest, Bergara chose a slightly shorter than “standard” barrel length for a magnum chambered rifle, at 22 inches.
Most likely due to the heat I was testing it in, my rounds measured as fast or faster than the ammunition manufacturer’s estimate, and those are done with a 26″ barrel. Bergara chose a 4140 CrMo barrel with deep flutes.
Terminating the barrel is Bergara’s Omni muzzle brake. It’s not particularly aggressive and the blast doesn’t overpower ear protection or throw dirt all over the place, but I still can’t stand brakes at all. I shot the gun with and without the brake, but also attached an AB Raptor suppressor to the rifle for most of the review. The silencer didn’t affect accuracy one bit and made the overall shooting experience much more enjoyable.
The action and the barrel are Cerakoted sniper grey, and the whole color scheme fits well with the carbon fiber stock. Bergara hasn’t been shy about putting some character into their guns and the B-14 Squared Crest is an example of good design highlighted by a great style.
The B-14 Crest features a two-position push-off safety with a fairly standard wide curved trigger. The trigger pulled measured a nice 3lbs, 1.5oz over five pulls from my Lyman digital trigger scale. The break is nice and crisp, with a clearly defined wall. The downside is, if you miss a shot with this rifle, you can’t blame a sloppy trigger.
As with most rifles chambered for the .300 Win Mag, the Bergara head-spaces off the belt. The 300 WinMag round is one of the few common cartridges I don’t load because I just hate all belted cartridges for bolt guns, so I borrowed a neck-sizing die and seater die from a friend.
Using those dies, 200gr Nosler Accubond bullets and 76 grains of H1000, the Bergara printed very consistent .8-inch groups. That mid-pressure round leaves the muzzle at 2,750fps and would put a hurt on any North American or African plains game that walks the Earth. A competent hunter should be able to do that well out past 600 yards with this rifle.
I had two commercial rounds to test, which included Remington’s Cor Lokt 150gr soft point cartridge and Browning’s 180gr Silver Series plated soft point cartridge. The Browning round was the winner, producing very consistent groups dead-on at 1MOA. The slightly more expensive Remington Cor Lokt 150gr soft point cartridge trailed, printing 1.3-inch groups.
All groups were 5-round groups averaged over four shots strings, shot untimed on a fouled bore from a Caldwell Stinger Shooting rest with a Leupold Mark 5 scope at 25X. I’m grateful these rounds were provided by TTAG (and AmmoToGo), as I could find no other commercial .300 WinMag cartridges available at my local gun stores.
All in all, I put 300 rounds through the B-14 Squared Crest over the course of a couple of weeks. Despite the ridiculous heat in these parts, it performed admirably. Within the first 40 rounds I was hitting a 14-inch target at 800 yards with regularity from a bench.
With the heat, the mirage was so bad at 1,000 yards I had a hard time determining which of the targets was really there, but when I guessed right, strikes on a 19-inch silhouette were more common than not, and that was done with commercial ammunition.
Off the bench, the B-14 Squared Crest handles very well. The light weight material of the stock means that Bergara can still put a full, thick stock on the gun, retain a decent barrel profile, and end up with a lightweight, but well-balanced rifle.
From any position — the kneel, sitting, or standing with a shooter’s sling — the B-14 Squared Crest remained steady and on target. And despite the rifle’s light weight and magnum chambering, recoil was easily managed, with follow-up shots not a challenge at all.
Bergara did a great job with this rifle. They could have gone a step further with a carbon fiber barrel or maybe a pencil profile, but that would have unbalanced the rifle and made recoil more severe.
As it is, the Bergara B-14 Squared Crest is a fantastic gun for the price. It’s very accurate, reliable, handles well, and because of its light weight, it’s easy to pack up and down the mountains it was intended for.
Specifications: Bergara B-14 Squared Crest
Caliber: .300 Winchester Magnum (other calibers available)
Barrel Material: 4140 CrMo
Barrel Finish: Sniper Gray
Barrel Threads: 5/8″-24
Frame Material: Steel
Frame Finish: Cerakote Sniper Gray
Stock Type: Raised Comb
Stock Material: Carbon Fiber
Stock Colo: Black/Gray Camo
Muzzle Device: Bergara Omni Detachable Muzzle Brake
Magazine Style: AICS Detachable box
Magazine capacity: 5 round box included
Overall Length: 43.5″
Barrel Length: 22″
Barrel Twist: 1/10
MSRP: $1,999 (Found easily online for under $1,700)
Style and Appearance * * * * *
The wood on this thing looks great. Seriously though, good job getting the metal and carbon fiber thing right. Too many companies end up with some garish monstrosity when the try it, but the Spaniards nailed it here.
Customization * * * *
There’s more and more out there for the B-14 line of guns, which speaks to their popularity. But the ease of finding new magazines, the 20MOA top rail included, and the detachable muzzle brake go a long was to making this gun easy to make yours.
Reliability * * * * *
Perfect, despite some slightly overpressure rounds.
Accuracy * * * *
There are almost certainly some commercial loads that would have shot better than the ones I could find, but even with relatively inexpensive rounds, minute of angle groups were not a challenge. The first (and only) handload I tried measured at .8″.
Overall * * * * 1/2
It’s a pretty darn near perfect feel on the stock. The whole gun moves well and it proved accurate and reliable. I’d have liked to see a group size even smaller, but with the fairly small sample size available to me (and the caliber itself), the B-14 Squared Crest did very well. If you are looking for a mountain rifle that doesn’t hurt to shoot and still performs extremely well, this Bergara should be high on your list.