I’ve been shooting the just-announced Bergara Premier Competition rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor for months. Any discussion of it has been embargoed during that time. Beautiful people of TTAG, keeping this exceptional rifle a secret has not been easy.
The phenomenal growth of PRS and its popularity has renewed my faith in America. Tens of thousands of men and women across the country have gotten into the sport, which focuses on long range accuracy from a range of positions and scenarios. Even better, the popularity of the sport has spawned a myriad of other long range and precision shooting events across the US and beyond.
Like many of the shooting sports, PRS has become a bit of a gear race, and to be competitive, that gear can become, well, out of reach for most shooters. To keep the sport inclusive, it has split into divisions, including a Production Class.
Production Class rifles must be priced under $2,500 as listed on the company website. There are other limitations to Production Class, and they all essentially fall into the general rule that the gun has to be run as it was made. No trigger work, no accurizing by the user or a gunsmith, only calibers specifically offered by the manufacturer.
The Bergara Premier Competition Rifle fits just under the price limit and is perfect for any level of competition, exactly as shipped.
If you don’t mind spending the extra money and you don’t mind taking your chances, the newest technology on the market is pretty cool. That’s not what Bergara has done with the Premier Competition bolt action rifle. There’s really nothing new here at all. Instead, Bergara has taken their well-proven barrels and combined them with some of the most proven brands and technologies in competition shooting.
Bergara has been known for world-class barrels for decades. They’ve made barrels for some of Europe’s finest gun makers, as well as for the bolt action and AR markets here in the US. For the Premier Competition Rifle, each barrel is deep bored, honed, and button rifled entirely in-house by Bergara.
The barrel on the Premier Competition Rifle is a heck of a chunk of 416 stainless steel. It’s 26″ long and .875″ in diameter at its smallest point, making up much of the weight of the rifle.
The goal certainly isn’t a lightweight rifle, and it’s not supposed to be. The goal is a barrel that doesn’t heat up, doesn’t “walk” on long strings, and helps the gun stay still so that you can spot your hits, misses, and bullet trace.
In looking at the Premier Competition Rifle, you might think it’s front-end heavy and unwieldy. It’s not…at all. Yes, that’s a thick diameter at the end of the barrel, but there’s an even thicker one at the receiver.
That, combined with the overall chassis geometry, means the center of weight of the rifle is just forward of the magazine well. Grab-and-go carry is easy, as well as movement on or around supports and barricades.
I was surprised to find no obnoxious muzzle brake included with the rifle. Instead a simple, robust thread protector screws over the standard 5/8-24 threads. You can leave this alone, attach a muzzle brake to turn the almost non-existent recoil to increased noise and blast, or do the decent thing and throw a suppressor on it. I ran a Silencerco Omega 300 on the Bergara Premier Competition for most of the review.
The action sits in a Remington 700 short action footprint. The spiral fluted Bergara bolt is interesting, but again, well proven. It’s a floating head design with tapered lugs to aid feeding.
You’ll also find a kind of Sako-esque extractor that’s built directly into one of the lugs along with dual plunger ejection. I didn’t expect any feeding issues and I didn’t get any.
As I said, I’ve actually had this gun for months and I’ve been waiting on Bergara to lift the publishing embargo for a while now. I’ve shot my own reloads in the gun, with bullets ranging from the 120gr Nosler Accubond Long Range to the 143gr Hornady ELD-X. I’ve used several powders and whatever primers I could find. Brass was from Petersen, Hornady, and Starline.
I’ve also shot commercial rounds from Hornady and Federal. I never had any trouble with the gun at all. No round failed to load or extract, no matter how many times it had been reloaded. Magazines never failed to lock in or drop freely with a push of the big flat paddle release.
Bergara included Trigger Tech’s Remington 700 Primary trigger with a flat shoe for the Premier Competition Rifle. The Primary model has zero creep with a clean break and a natural position for the finger to pull straight back. It’s user-adjustable from 1.5 to 4 lbs. I brought it down to 1.5 lbs and it maintained that pull weight within 1 oz for five trigger pulls on a Lyman digital trigger scale. Outstanding.
Beyond the shiny, fat barrel, the eye is immediately drawn to the Masterpiece Arms Short Action 6061 aluminum chassis. Bergara went with a very chassis that’s well-known PRS competition and throughout the precision shooting world. And for good reason.
I’ve gotten to shoot quite a few different chassis over the last few years and I keep coming back to this one. If you want to see how popular the MPA chassis is, peruse the current PRS rankings. Note that the top-ranked pro shooter, Morgun King, is shooting the same chassis as the Bergara Premier Competition Rifle.
Of course, the length of pull and cheek rest height are adjustable. The buttstock is removable with a single screw and ends with a hard rubber textured butt pad. The rear end of the gun also includes MPA’s “Ultra Bag Rider.” This long piece of plastic is flat at the bottom to sit firmly on a shooting bag and to not just raise the butt of the gun, but to keep it from canting left or right as well.
Also note the bubble level that’s built right into the back of the receiver. There’s no worry of trying to find one to fit your scope rings or wonder whether or not there’s space under the tube to fit one on the receiver’s top rail. This one is easy to see and sits right in your line of sight. It’s user-replaceable, if you so choose.
There’s ample rail space for the primary optic on top of the receiver. You’ll also find an additional rail forward of the optic. This is especially valuable if you want to mount a night vision-capable optic in front of the scope, though there are other applications as well.
There’s even more rail, but this one is mounted at the bottom of the gun and forward of the chassis. This gives the shooter an extra few inches forward to mount the bipod for better stability.
The grip will look strange to most folks more familiar with hunting rifles. It’s built that way for good reason and the MPA grip really helps to mitigate user error.
Like most shooters, I tend to muscle the gun with my hand to get it lined up. That’s a bad habit and will never get consistent results. The hack I use, like many others, is to put the thumb of my shooting hand on the right side of the gun, and put just the front tips of my fingers pushing back onto the grip.
The flat, straight grip of the MPA chassis, as well as the right side thumb rest, encourage this kind of grip, and keep the firing hand and trigger finger pulling straight back…and only straight back.
The front is the MPA “3 in 1” style. This design provides the shooter with a wide range of options. It’s wide and flat for shooting off a bag or backpack. You’ll also find multiple mounting mounting points for the direct attachment of a ball head for use on a tripod. But the real joy for a dedicated PRS and competition shooter is the ARCA Swiss rail.
The ARCA rail, when included with the corresponding mount on your tripod or bipod, allows the user to simply release a lever and slide the the rifle forward or back on the rail. When it’s right where you want it, press the lever closed.
It’s very fast, and allows the shooter to get quickly into a wide range of stable positions with the gun. That means that in order to take full advantage of the ARCA rail, you’ll need to get the corresponding mount for, well, everything you want to mount the gun to.
Bergara guarantees minute of angle accuracy for the Premier Competition. That’s almost funny. If you can’t get a commercial round to shoot better than 1 MOA, call a doctor, you’re having a seizure.
No round I shot — commercial or homemade — shot worse than 3/4″ five-round groups averaged over four shot strings at 100 yards when fired from a Caldwell Stinger shooting rest. That includes two different commercial hunting rounds.
I didn’t intentionally try to build a pet load for this gun, but a 143gr Hornady ELD-X bullet pushed by 40.5gr of Hybrid 100V printed two .4″ groups. Ten shot groups didn’t quite hit the .6″ center-to-center mark. I have no need for a round proven to be a deer and pig slayer to do better than that.
The best-shooting commercial round was Hornady’s 140gr ELD-Match round, printing right at half an inch for the one and only box of it I had.
Because of the wide forend and overall balance of the gun, shooting from a tripod or off a bagged-up tree limb was comfortable. If you’re still, the gun is be still. With any AICS-style magazine and any appropriate optic, the gun is going to weigh near 15 lbs. Recoil is practically theoretical. You can shoot this gun day after day (until the throat is done) and never flinch or get sore. It’s an absolute joy to shoot.
It also just looks cool. The lines and cuts of the MPA chassis always look like they belong in the future (and they do). Bergara chose to leave their stainless steel barrel clean, which somehow accentuates the graphite black Cerakote of the chassis itself. The matte black of the receiver and accents throughout the rifle continue the subdued, classy theme.
The price tag of the Bergara Premier Competition Rifle is built to get under the $2,500 cap imposed by the Production Class specifications. Still, I’m surprised this rifle is this inexpensive.
Just a few years ago, I paid $1,000 over that price for an almost identical rifle. This is one of those rare cases (especially lately) where you couldn’t buy the individual unfinished parts as cheaply as you can buy the complete and finished rifle from Bergara. The Premier Competition is a great rifle, and a solid deal.
Specifications: Bergara Premier Competition Rifle
Caliber/Twist: 6.5 Creedmoor/1:8 , 6mm Creedmoor/1:7.5
Weight: 12.7 lbs
Overall Length: 46”
Barrel Length: 26”
Barrel Taper: No. 7
Muzzle: Threaded 5/8-24”
Magazine: AICS style detachable
Magazine Capacity: 10 round magazine provided
Trigger: TriggerTech® Frictionless Release Technology™
Finish: Graphite Black Cerakote
Stock: MPA Comp Chassis Kit B
Scope Mount: Fits Remington 700 bases with 8-40 screws
Integrated QD flush cup sling mounts in forend and buttstock
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style and Appearance * * * * *
Great decisions by Bergara have resulted in a production gun that looks better than most custom models. It all fits together nicely.
Customization * * * * *
This is a chassis gun and customization comes standard with a chassis rifle in a Remington 700 footprint.
Reliability * * * * *
There was never a question.
Accuracy * * * * *
I would expect this gun to print at least 3/4 MOA groups, and anything worse than that would mean a zero star review from me. I was getting better than 1 MOA kneeling with a hunting round from a tripod. I got much better than that from a proper rest shooting 10-round groups. I’m not surprised at all, considering the barrel and the components.
Overall * * * * *
I’ve done over 300 reviews and I don’t remember the last time I gave a gun all five stars. The Bergara Premier Competition Rifle starts with a solid action and superb barrel, and backs it up with an exceptional, proven trigger, and one of the best (I think the best) chassis in the business. All for under $2,500. Bergara took no chances here and has delivered an absolutely superb rifle.