Bergara Highlander Winning Early Praise; New Hunting Rifle is Versatile & Accurate
My favorite of the new hunting rifles seen at SHOT Show 2019 is the Bergara Highlander, a U.S.-made rifle in the company's Premier Series line. This $1,850 gem is going to be a big hit with hunters, whether they're hunting species from deer to plains game on African safaris. Bergara debuted the Highlander at the Safari Club International gathering in Reno, Nevada, two weeks before SHOT and company reps confided that they took orders for more than 30 new rifles right off that show's floor.
Bergara set this rifle up at a long-distance lane at SHOT's Range Day. Target distance was some 800-900 meters, as I recall. Due to the incredible winds, we had to hold our aim considerably left of the steel plate target. It as amazing how many times the plate lit up with hits from 6.5 rounds under such extreme conditions.
The Highlander is one of the new rifles in the Premier Series. Bergara says it's an extension of the Custom Series, but with standardized features that enable easier production and assembly. Still, the components are premium. The 416 stainless steel barrels get Bergara's proprietary honing process at the barrel-making facility in Bergara, Spain. Once the barrels come to the United States, they're given a Cerakote Sniper Gray finish. The muzzle is threaded 5/8-24” with a thread protector. Barrel lengths include 20, 22 and 24 inches.
The rifle's action is also proprietary. As nicely explained on Bergara's web site: This action is designed as a two-lug system that features a separate floating bolt head to ensure contact with the lug abutments in the action. It also features a cone-shaped bolt nose for smooth feeding of the cartridge, and a spring-loaded sliding plate extractor located in the front of the lower locking lug. The one-piece bolt body is stainless steel with a pad at the rear to accept the threaded-in bolt handle. The bolt shroud and bolt stop are fully Nitrided for extreme durability, as well as its self-lubricating properties. The bolt handle is finished in Cerakote for the utmost protection. All I can add to that is the action is super smooth, not super stiff or, at the opposite end, super sloppy.
The two-position safety is part of the trigger assembly. The trigger is a TriggerTech® model with Frictionless Release Technology™. This integration allows the bolt handle not to lock in the closed position, letting you unload the rifle while it's on safety. Nice!
Here are more reasons why hunters will like it. It weighs between 7.2 and 7.7 pounds -- very manageable, even for the mountains. The magazine has a hinged floorplate and can hold four standard cartridges or three magnums. Available calibers include: 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, .270 Win., 7mm-08, .280 AI, .308 Win., .30-06, 7mm Mag., .300 Win. Mag., and 300 PRC. All are top, big game hunting calibers.
Bergara also is getting traction from another new Premier Series rifle, the Ridgeback, which has a detachable 5-round magazine and Grayboe fiberglass stock. See more about both guns at Bergara USA.