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Bergara Ridge Carbon Bolt-Action Rifle: Goldilocks Gun

The Bergara Ridge Carbon bolt-action rifle is light enough to carry all day yet heavy enough to shoot well. It's just right.

Bergara Ridge Carbon Bolt-Action Rifle: Goldilocks Gun

Modern hunting rifles, especially those that sit at the higher end of the market, have evolved into a few select categories. Walnut stocks and polished blued steel have all but disappeared, and modern design elements reign. One of the most popular classes of the current big game crop are the lightweight mountain rifles with carbon-fiber-wrapped barrels, synthetic stocks and other advanced features that endear them to hunters.

One might call them lightweight precision hunting rifles. The appeal of these guns is how well they blend useful accuracy with relatively light weight. Bergara’s answer to this category is the Ridge Carbon, a capable yet reasonably priced bolt-action rifle that is part of the company’s B-14 Wilderness series.

A few words about the maker. Bergara is a Spanish firm. The town of Bergara lies between Bilbao and Pamplona in the traditional gun-making region of northern Spain.

Bergara Ridge Carbon B-14 action with internal magazine
While most Bergaras use detachable box magazines, the B-14 action on the Ridge Carbon is equipped with a traditional internal magazine with a hinged steel floorplate.

Making barrels was the company’s core business. Though Bergara has quickly established itself in the U.S. market as a quality rifle builder, its prowess at making precision barrels goes back decades. Various brand-name manufacturers use Bergara’s barrels, thanks to their reputation for consistent quality. During the manufacturing process, barrels are checked for alignment, deep-hole drilled, honed, button-rifled and stress-relieved. Thanks to these procedures, the deviation of groove diameter on Bergara barrels is less than .0002 inch.

Barrel making is as much art as science, and many firms prefer to buy their barrels rather than build that expertise in-house. A few years back, I took a stroll around Bergara’s Lawrenceville, Georgia, facility and saw crates of rifles destined to be shipped to several well-known firms on this continent. The company names printed on those crates were ones known for great accuracy, proof positive that these are fantastic barrels.

When it decided to enter the rifle production market several years ago, Bergara combined that barrel-making prowess with the expertise of some of the best precision rifle builders in the U.S. These craftsmen—who learned their trade building sniper rifles at the U.S. Marine Corps Precision Weapons Section in Quantico, Virginia—applied those talents to designing rifles for sporting use.

Bergara Ridge Carbon rifle two-position safety and cocking indicator
The two-position safety sits adjacent to the tang, and a cocking indicator extends from the rear of the bolt, which features an oversize knob.

What started as a small line of custom rifles blossomed into a major manufacturing enterprise on both sides of the Atlantic. The results of Bergara’s efforts are some of the best out-of-the-box hunting rifles available, especially when cost is considered. I’ve tested eight or so over the years, and all have been real shooters.

The Ridge Carbon starts with Bergara’s proven B-14 action. The B-14 combines the attributes of several legacy receivers with a few tweaks of its own. The action itself is tubular, making it relatively simple to manufacture and to bed. The top of the receiver is drilled and tapped for scope mounts and is compatible with bases designed for the Remington 700.

The B-14 uses a two-lug bolt with a cone breech to facilitate reliable feeding. There is a sliding plate extractor and a plunger-type ejector. A recoil lug is sandwiched between the barrel shank and the face of the receiver, and it fits inside a milled pocket to ensure it maintains its position. The action is coated with Sniper Grey Cerakote for protection.

The bolt body is spiral fluted, and the bolt handle includes an oversize “tactical” knob. The bolt release sits at the nine o’clock position of the receiver. An indicator that extends from the rear of the cocking piece gives the user a visual and tactile confirmation that the firing pin is in the ready position.

Bergara Ridge Carbon rifle Omni multi-port muzzle brake
The 22-inch carbon-wrapped barrel is threaded 5/8x24 and equipped with an Omni multi-port muzzle brake.

The safety is a two-position lever located on the right side of the tang. The position of the safety means it can be disengaged with the firing hand while maintaining a solid grip on the stock. Forward is the Fire position.

Although Bergara offers hunting rifles with detachable box magazines, the Ridge Carbon is equipped with a traditional internal magazine with a hinged steel floorplate. I prefer this setup for most hunting situations since there is no magazine to misplace. My sample came chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor, and the magazine holds four rounds of this cartridge. A button located on the front side of the trigger guard releases the floorplate to facilitate unloading but holds it securely otherwise.

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The stock on the Ridge Carbon is synthetic. Although it is injection molded, it is sufficiently rigid to ensure the fore-end does not touch the free-floating barrel under pressure—a common ailment with “Tupperware”-style factory stocks. Steel pillars are molded into the stock’s action screw inlets.

The stock is of a traditional American sporter style with an open grip, a straight comb and a medium-size fore-end, a stock designed for practical use in real field conditions. This is exactly the style I prefer for big game. The stock is painted in a tan and green camouflage pattern with black speckles and includes a rubber recoil pad. The SoftTouch finish on the stock is comfortable yet easy to grip. Two traditional sling swivel studs are included.

Bergara Ridge Carbon rifle two-lug bolt
The B-14 action uses a two-lug bolt with a coned breech, a sliding plate extractor and a plunger-style ejector. Feeding and extraction are flawless.

The trigger on the Ridge Carbon is very nice, far better than one would expect to find on a factory rifle. The trigger is a single-stage with no discernible take-up or creep. Mine broke at a civilized 2.75 pounds straight out of the box. Such a great trigger can really allow the shooter to make the most of a rifle in practical scenarios.

As its name suggests, the Ridge Carbon is equipped with a carbon-fiber-wrapped barrel made in-house by Bergara. Carbon-wrapped barrels begin with a traditional stainless steel core, turned to a narrow profile, and are covered in a 45-degree, anti-torsion carbon fabric. The carbon fiber provides rigidity with minimal weight and facilitates heat dissipation.

The profile is a relatively heavy No. 6 contour but, thanks to the materials used, it’s very light. In my 6.5 Creedmoor chambering, the barrel was 22 inches long and threaded 5/8x24 at the muzzle. A multi-port Omni muzzle brake comes installed on the rifle. The brake can be removed and either a suppressor or thread protector (not included) can take its place at the muzzle.

I am a fan of carbon-fiber-wrapped barrels and own several rifles equipped with them. Mine shoot extremely well, but none of those barrels could be considered inexpensive. As an example, the current retail price for a Proof Research carbon and steel barrel is $929. Add in the cost of an action and a decent synthetic stock and you’re easily looking at more than two grand. With a suggested retail price of $1,599, the Ridge Carbon provides a great deal of value.

Bergara Ridge Carbon  Accuracy Results Chart

The Ridge Carbon is ideally sized, in my opinion. At 6.5 pounds naked and with an overall length of 41.5 inches, it is portable yet shootable. Extremely lightweight rifles are nice to carry in the mountains but difficult to shoot well, while heavyweight precision rifles are the opposite. The Ridge Carbon sits in the Goldilocks spot for me—light enough to carry but heavy enough to shoot well.

I bench-tested the Ridge Carbon with four different loads, each of them designed for hunting rather than match use. Don’t get me started on the use of match bullets for big game hunting. Accuracy ranged from good to great depending on the load, easily surpassing the company’s sub-m.o.a. guarantee. Shooting tight groups was made easier thanks to the great trigger and a well-designed stock. With the muzzle brake installed, recoil was extremely light.

It bears noting that, as with most factory rifles, the stock on this rifle is simply bolted on, not bedded. This kind of accuracy without hand bedding is pretty unusual and is a testament to the fit between the components. A gunsmith or capable hobbyist could spend a few minutes with some epoxy, and I’d bet that the already great accuracy would be even better.

I did not conduct any empirical tests to evaluate the barrel cooling properties but, anecdotally, the carbon-fiber design worked well. I fired 50 or more rounds in less than an hour, and most test groups were fired back to back, taking only the time to reload between strings. There was no sign of a wandering point of impact, and the barrel shank remained only warm to the touch. The ambient air temperature was around 75 degrees.

I’ve hunted with B-14 rifles in the past, and they have always performed in the field. The Ridge Carbon is nearly identical to my primary whitetail rifle, one that I built in my own shop, which tells you how much I currently favor this “lightweight precision” style. Besides the 6.5 Creedmoor chambering, the Ridge Carbon is also available in .308 Win., 6.5 PRC and .300 Win. Mag., all of which are extremely versatile cartridges.

The Ridge Carbon is a worthy successor to the other models in the B-14 Wilderness series, combining practical features in a portable, accurate and attractive package. This isn’t an inexpensive rifle on its face, but when you break down the cost of the components used, it is priced very reasonably. For many shooters, the Ridge Carbon would be capable of handling all their big game hunting needs.

BERGARA RIDGE CARBON SPECIFICATIONS

  • TYPE: Bolt-action centerfire
  • CALIBER: 6.5 Creedmoor (tested), 6.5 PRC, .308, .300 Win. Mag.
  • CAPACITY: 4+1
  • BARREL: 22 in. carbon-fiber-wrapped; 1:8 twist, threaded 5/8x24; muzzle brake
  • OVERALL LENGTH: 41.5 in.
  • WEIGHT: 6 lb., 8 oz.
  • FINISH: Sniper Grey Cerakote
  • STOCK: American sporter-style synthetic
  • SIGHTS: None; drilled and tapped
  • SAFETY: Receiver-mounted two-position
  • TRIGGER: Single-stage, 2.75 lb. pull (measured)
  • PRICE: $1,599
  • MANUFACTURER: Bergara USA, bergara.online/us/



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