JUL 8, 2024

Bergara's 22 Magnum

By Jay Pinsky

In the world of 22 Rimfire rifles, a select few manufacturers make fine, elegant rifles. These works of art elicit ohs and ahs for their beauty and craftsmanship. Still, their price tags are in stark contrast to arguably the 22 rimfires' most substantial claim to firearm immortality—affordability. On the flip side, there certainly is no shortage of gun makers who turn out very inexpensive rimfire rifles whose most extraordinary claim to fame is that they go bang.

Then there's the Bergara BMR (Bergara Micro Rifle), a rifle that gives the rimfire crowd the best of both worlds: an affordable, quality platform that skimps on nothing mechanically and is aesthetically pleasing enough to cause vain gray squirrels to comb their fur before accepting a bullet fired from one.

I kid, slightly.

The Bergara BMR Steel, chambered in 22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire (WMR), sitting in my gun safe is a handsome rifle. Better yet, its form, function, and minute-of-squirrel eyeball accuracy made the Spanish squirrel siren a rifle I paid for long before my rifle review was done. This is the highest approval rating frugal gun writers like me can give a firearm.

Bergara built the BMR as a scaled-down (in size and price) version of their B-14R trainer based on Bergara's legendary B-14 platform. If you're looking for an accurate long-range rimfire rifle for matches or pound-for-pound centerfire rifle-type familiarity, the 8.3 lbs., $1129 MSRP B14R (22 WMR) is your best Bergara choice. I'm not. I'm all about hunting. I wanted a smaller, faster, lighter, and, yes, less expensive rifle. My BMR 22 WMR Steel is a mere 5.8 lbs. for $619 MSRP. The fancier uptown BMR, known formally as the BMR Carbon because of its carbon barrel, costs a few bucks more and weighs a few ounces less. Carbon is cool, but saving about $100 still gets me an absurdly capable small-game rifle - and more ammo.

Why 22 WMR? I can spew ballistics at you comparing the 22 Rimfire to the more powerful 22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire, but that's not why I wanted one. I don’t know that any squirrel I ever killed knew the difference between the two. Nope, I think they're cool, and that's plenty enough of a reason for me.

The BMR 22 WMR Steel has a 20-inch, 4140 CrMo steel barrel with a #4 taper. It's threaded properly at the business end of the barrel with 1/2-28 threads to accept your favorite rimfire suppressor. I doubt my micro magnum will see daylight again without the CZ rimfire suppressor it wears now. Thus, I never shot the rifle for accuracy without the suppressor attached. What can I say? I'm an imperfect person.

The superb Bergara free-floated barrel has a 1:16 twist, which worked quite well for the 30-grain (Hornady V-Max), 40-grain (CCI Maxi-Mag), and even 50-grain (Federal Game-Shok) ammunition I fed it. It shot everything under an inch or better (5-shot group) at 50 yards, which was my squirrel-head zero. The best groups came from CCI's Maxi-Mag 40 grainers (.620-inch), which clocked an average of 1924.8 fps, but again, everything I fed it worked and worked well. I used Garmin’s all-world Xero C1 Pro Chronograph. If you need a clever case for your Garmin, check out Skinner Sights.

For this review, I used a Leupold VX-3HD 4.5-14x40 riflescope, identical to the scope I used on most of my centerfires. I took this one off a custom 9.3x62mm Mauser in my gun safe. Why this optic? It works and always has. It has years of proven reliability with me on everything from 223s to 7x57 Mausers to the Crusader's Course at FTW on a 375 H&H. Lastly, squirrels are small, fast, and easily some of the most agile creatures in the forest, so clear, contrasty glass isn't a luxury – it's a difference maker. Bergara makes mounting an optic easy with its BMR-specific Picatinny rail, available in 0 MOA or 30 MOA. Note - If you're a fan of bore-sighting your rifle the easy way, try Real Avid's Master Scope Mounting Kit. Do yourself a favor and check out Real Avid's gunsmithing tools. I've become fond of their simplicity, functionality, and durability. If you can't find them at your local gun shop, try Brownells online.

This rifle's solid, repeatable accuracy results from a combination of things, the weakest of which is me as a shooter. The Bergara barrel, action, and trigger, compatible with most Remington Model 700 style aftermarket triggers with a side bolt release, all work well together. The stock Bergara trigger broke consistently at 3 lbs. (I used a Wheeler Trigger Pull Gauge, and it broke a hair close to three pounds by my 50-year-old eyes, so we'll go with that). The rifle bolt, safety, and magazine system functions like the hunting and precision rimfire tool it is designed to be.

The barreled action sits in a gray Bergara composite stock with black speckles. Its more urban-than-rural look never spooked the local Virginia squirrel population, which is not a claim I will ever make. The stock's dexterity is intentional and meant to be carried in your hands or slung on your shoulder. It doesn't feel cheap, and it gives me confidence that as I hunt with this rifle for years to come, the stock won't be the failing point of the gun.

The rifle comes with both a 5-shot and a ten-shot magazine. Both worked for me, so pick your poison. Yes, the bottom metal isn't metal. It's plastic, but I prefer it. Why? It doesn't go "ting," it isn't going to rust, bend, or likely break, and it's lighter. It probably helped reduce Bergara's costs, but I wonder if I care. I prefer the plastic.

The Bergara BMR Magnum Steel is a small, nimble, lightweight rifle that is accurate, reliable, and affordable. The BMR 22 Long Rifle and 17 HMR versions are likely just as good, if not better, but does anything flow off the tongue better in the squirrel woods than saying 22 Magnum? You can get a lighter, fancier BMR with a carbon barrel, but it costs a little more.

The bottom line is this: if you’re looking for a small game hunting tool to eliminate any firearms-related excuses this upcoming season, check out Bergara’s BMR rifle line. But if you need a hardware scapegoat for an empty game vest after a full day of hunting squirrels, rabbits, prairie dogs, or groundhogs, I’d pass on anything from Bergara.

Action: BMR
Barrel: 4140 steel matted blued finish. No. 4 taper
Twist: 1:16 for .22LR and .22WMR and 1:9 for the .17HMR
Barrel length: 18” or 20”
Threaded muzzle: 1/2-28” with thread protector
Weight: 5.5 – 5.8 Lbs
Length: 36” or 38” overall
Mag capacity: 5 and 10-round magazines included
Scope mounts: 0 MOAs Rail Included
Trigger: Bergara Performance Trigger. Compatible Rem700
Stock: Tactical grey with black specks.