The break of a trigger. The fall of the rifle’s striker. Wait a bit…a puff of dust. A scurrying prairie dog. A miss. But not by much, and the next .22LR round from the Bergara BMR Carbon rifle would be already on its way.
I’ve found prairie dog “hunting” with a .22LR to be one of the best overall marksmanship challenges available, and certainly one of the most fun. They’re small, moving targets of varying size at a range of distances.
You’ll be shooting too fast and at too many targets to use a laser range finder on each target. You’ll shoot from the bench, from a tripod, from a fence post, from the kneeling position or off-hand.
With a center-fire rifle, you can challenge yourself by getting out past the 400-yard line. With a .22LR, you’ll be challenged at every distance from 50 to 250 yards, and maybe even further.
So If I want to test myself and a rimfire rifle, I take it on a prairie dog hunt. Ever since my first prairie dog hunt a few years ago, I’ve been hooked. I’ve been quite a few times now since then, and each year I meet a few friends in Wyoming for a dedicated two-day hunt. This year, I brought the Bergara BMR Carbon rifle with me.
It did not disappoint.
The BMR Carbon is Bergara’s crossover rimfire rifle. It’s great for rimfire varminting and designed to fit under the $1,200 MSRP price point (to include both the rifle and scope). It’s also a solid choice for competition in the NRL22 Base Class.
With its 18″ barrel and light weight, I knew it was fun to shoot, but at first, I seriously doubted it had the chops for longer range varminting or competition.
The day I was to leave for Wyoming was a hectic one, and I barely had time to sight in the rifle before I had to get in the truck and head north. During sight-in, it didn’t group well. In fact, the very poor groupings forced me to bring two rifles. I was looking at 4-inch groups and larger at 100 yards using CCI Standard Velocity ammunition. Considering the size of a prairie dog, that wouldn’t do.
With the big change in environmentals from central Texas to southeastern Wyoming, I re-zeroed once we got there. It was shooting a little better. And then a little better, and then even better than that. I kept shooting. By the end of the first 50-round box, that little gun was printing a lot of 1 MOA groups. Well now, that would do just fine.
Zeroed at 100 yards, I would soon be getting regular hits on prairie dogs at 200 yards and beyond, as long as I got the wind right.
The bench back home verified the results. Shooting from a Caldwell Stinger shooting rest with a Nightforce SHV scope mounted and at 20X magnification, my 5-round 50-yard groups were all just under 1″ with readily available and inexpensive CCI Standard Velocity ammunition.
Newly-acquired Lapua Center-X ammunition really showed what this rifle can do, printing extremely consistent .5-inch groups under the same conditions. Apparently, like every other barrel on earth, the BMR Carbon just needed a bit of warming up.
Part of the reason for that accuracy is a darn good factory trigger. It’s user-adjustable and with the turn of a hex wrench, I was able to dial it down to a few ounces shy of 3 lbs. As it is, the trigger is crisp and clean, with very little squish or grit.
What’s particularly great is that, if for any reason you want to swap it out, the Bergara BMR is compatible with most aftermarket triggers. I can directly confirm that it works with Jewell, Timney and Trigger Tech aftermarket triggers.
The other part of the rifle’s accuracy comes from the barrel itself. Bergara started out as a barrel company and they take pride in their quality. This particular version is their twill-weave carbon fiber tube wrapped around micro-grooved steel.
For general plinking and varminting, the carbon fiber barrel is the way to go. It’s very light, with the entire gun weighing in at just 5 lbs. It’s nothing to carry, but weighty enough to stay still on a bag.
That said, those of you considering using a BMR for competition should probably choose the stainless barrel version instead, as the $90 you’ll save would probably be better put to use toward the highest quality optic you can afford. The stainless barrel will only add about half a pound to the rifle’s total weight.
No matter which barrel you choose, the BMR comes threaded and ready for whatever silencer you may choose. For this gun I put on an Underground Tactical “Little Puff” model for almost all of the shooting. The only time I took the silencer off was to measure groups.
A precise rimfire rifle is fun, but a silenced precise rimfire rifle is an absolute joy. When using any subsonic ammunition, the loudest thing I heard was the sound of the striker falling after I pulled the trigger.
For varminting, that’s particularly fun, as misses appear as nothing more than dirt kicking up around the animal. I had several instances of prairie dogs jumping over to inspect where the round had struck the sand near them. Since the bolt has a 90 degree throw and short travel, along with virtually no recoil to take the shooter’s eye out of the glass, follow-up shots on the curious critters were quick, fun, and — more often than not — lethal.
Included with the BMR are two single stack magazines, one 5-rounder and one 10-rounder. They slip right in with a solid push, and pop right out with the press of the ambidextrous paddle release. You can find additional magazines online for about $35.
When it comes to reliability, the BMR Carbon rifle performed flawlessly. I now have well over 500 rounds through it…probably closer to 700. The vast majority of that was shooting CCI’s 40gr Standard Velocity ammo, but I also shot the Lapua Center-X rounds, Herter’s Target Rimfire ammunition, and a 50-round box of some ancient mystery load marked only “Olin Corporation” that chrono’ed at a little over 1,400 fps.
I had no issues of any kind. Not a single round failed to load, fire, or eject. Most of that shooting was done with the Little Puff silencer attached and I didn’t clean the gun, at all, not even once, for the entire review. I lubed it a few times with CLP.
That is outstanding reliability in a rimfire although, to be fair, most of the issue with rimfire reliability is in the ammo, not the gun.
If I had any complaints about the BMR at all, it’s the stock. The lack of bedding wasn’t much of a concern as there was very little recoil to move the gun around inside of it. No, it’s the geometry itself wasn’t ideal.
For any scope with a large diameter bell, you’re likely going to have to install high rings on the stock 30 MOA base, as I did with the Nightforce SHV I used for the prairie dog shoot and throughout this review. That puts the eye up pretty high, and the comb of the stock is a bit low, meaning for most shooters the cheek-stock weld is a bit precarious. Of course, that’s easily fixed with an aftermarket adjustable cheek piece or, better yet, a kitchen sponge and some duct tape.
There’s no feed ramp, but the action doesn’t put the round perfectly in line with the bore upon entry, so there is a concern that a soft lead bullet may deform a bit upon entry.
For the last several years I’ve gone out on hunts with guide Cole Kirchefer and I’ll continue to do so as long as he’ll take my money. The number of vermin Cole has available for targeting in Wyoming and Nebraska is simply staggering.
I always do a two-day hunt. I love shooting, but by the end of the second day, I’m almost tired of it. Almost. Smacking those little devils at 250 yards with the BMR Carbon rifle never really gets old.
Specifications: Bergara Micro Rimfire (BMR)
Barrel: Carbon Fiber Bergara Barrel. No. 6 taper
Twist: 1:16 for .22 LR and .22 WMR and 1:9 for the .17 HMR
Barrel length: 18” (.22 LR) or 20” (.17 HMR and .22 WMR)
Threaded muzzle: 1/2-28” with thread protector
Weight: 5 – 5.4 lbs. depending on caliber
Length: 36” or 38” overall
Mag capacity: 5 and 10 round magazine included
Scope mounts: 30 MOA Rail Included
Trigger: Bergara Performance Trigger. Compatible Rem700
Stock: Black with tactical grey specks
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style and Appearance * * * *
The carbon fiber wrapped barrel blends well with the flecked paint stock. The finish is smooth and even throughout.
Customization * * * *
Threaded barrel, user adjustable trigger, and the ability to swap in Remington 700 compatible triggers add a solid extra star above average.
Reliability * * * * *
Accuracy * * * *
1MOA groups for a rimfire at this price point is excellent.
Overall * * * * 1/2
The Bergara Micro Rimfire is a great value. Both versions are light, with the BMR Carbon’s weight distribution and feel being just about perfect. The precision this relatively inexpensive little provides is plenty to be competitive in its class, and capable of whacking small game and varmints well past what most folks think is even possible with a rimfire. The next step up in precision rimfires comes with a very big step in price, and it’s hard to argue you’re not getting more than you paid for with the BMR.