My review of the Bergara BA13 Take Down Rifle was published in the SSAA earlier this year and is re-posted here.
The ethos of hunting is the skilful stalk culminating in a carefully placed shot. Nothing epitomises that vision better than the single-shot rifle. Single-shot rifles remain popular with hunters who aspire to that concept in hunting. As you can probably tell, I am a great fan of single-shot rifles and when a chance came to review the Bergara BA13 Take Down rifle in 243 Winchester, I leapt at the opportunity. The BA13 is produced in a choice of calibres which also include 222 Rem, 300 AAC, 308 Win, 30-06 and 45-70 Govt.
The beauty of the BA13 Take Down is, as the name suggests, it disassembles into its three component pieces, with a boxlock breech assembly, just like a shotgun. The disassembly and assembly require no tools and is accomplished in seconds. This provides for convenient carry in a backpack, making for easier travel through rough country when hiking into your favourite hunting spot. When travelling in the public domain, the rifle can be discreetly packed in a suitcase. If travelling by air, it must be declared and the usual processes followed, but avoids toting those big, long gun cases that are so obvious.
For yachties, pilots, farmers or road-warriors wanting an easily-stowed rifle for occasional or emergency use, the robust BA13 Take Down in stainless steel would be a great choice. It would also be a great choice for young hunters taking to the field on their first hunting experiences, focussing them on the importance of that first shot while handling an inherently safe and simple-to-use firearm.
Bergara is distributed in Australia by Herron Security & Sport. Bergara itself is a Spanish company that began making muzzleloaders back in 1969. Since 2004 the company has become a manufacturer of precision rifle barrels, using the latest technology in that field, and supplies these to other rifle makers. It has also developed a line of its own centrefire rifles.
The Bergara BA 13 Barrel
The BA13 Take Down is produced with a choice of 16.5 and 20 inch fluted barrels in both blued and stainless steel, either AIS14041 carbon steel or AIS416 stainless steel. The barrels are deep-drilled, honed and button rifled. The twist in the 243 Win barrel is 1:10 inch, sufficient to stabilize the heavier projectiles. The muzzle is threaded and capped. The thread is the standard 5/8” 24 UNEF.
The twist rate in the other calibres are as follows, 1:14 in 222 Rem, 1:8 in 300 AAC, 1:12 in 308 Win, 1:10 in 30-06 and 1:20 in 45-70 Govt. The 16.5 inch barrel version, only made in 300 AAC and 308 Win, comes with a 1:8 twist. Unlike other single-shot rifles in the Bergara stable, the BA13 does not feature interchangeable barrels. The barrel that comes with the rifle is specific to the rifle.
Bergara BA 13 Sights
The Bergara BA13 Take Down comes fitted, as standard, with a picatinny rail and open sights. The barrel is drilled and tapped to allow the picatinny rail to be securely attached directly to the barrel. Being barrel mounted, there will be no issue with change of sighting when the rifle is reassembled. Bergara does not consider the use of LoctiteTM to be necessary. While I do not disagree with that one bit, I routinely use a dab of low-strength LoctiteTM and a torque wrench to set all the screws on my rifles, and did so with the Bergara BA13 Take Down as well.
The open sights feature fibre-optic dots, two green dots on either side of the rear sight notch and a red bead on the front sight, making target acquisition and aiming much easier. With tip-off scope mounts you would have the option to revert to these open sights for hunting at close range in thick cover. Fibre-optic technology is a wonderful innovation for open sights, especially for older shooters whose eyesight is not what it used to be. Remember, when adjusting open sights, the rear sight needs to be moved in the direction you want the point of impact to move – that is up to move the POI up and left to move it left, for example.
Bergara BA 13 Action
The Bergara BA13 is a break-action single-shot rifle. The trigger guard features an extended lever. By pulling that trigger guard lever rearwards, the boxlock mechanism is released, and the rifle’s action can be opened. The BA13 has an extractor, not an ejector. That means the fired case is pushed back about 5mm to provide enough finger grip to be removed by hand. It does not get forcibly flicked out by an ejector mechanism.
When closing the action it is best to do so with a positive snapping motion to ensure positive closure and locking of the breech. The action is fitted with an external hammer which must be manually cocked. Closing the breech does not cock the rifle. The hammer features a cocking spur at right angles to the hammer, which can be quickly and easily moved to either left or right-hand configuration. This spur is particularly useful for easy cocking when there is a scope fitted.
There is no safety catch because the rifle does not require one. The BA13 has a rebound mechanism, making the rifle inherently safe to carry, uncocked, with a round up the spout. If somehow you could knock the rifle and cause the hammer to fall without pulling the trigger, it will only go to a safe half-cocked position. Likewise on loading a cartridge, and after firing, the hammer sits at half-cock well clear of the firing pin.
I found the trigger to be more than acceptable for a hunting rifle. It broke consistently and crisply at 4.5 pounds of pull, with only the barest hint of creep. To un-cock the loaded rifle, hook your thumb securely over the hammer spur to prevent the hammer moving. Point the rifle in a safe direction, just in case there is an unintended discharge. While restraining the hammer with your thumb, squeeze the trigger to release the hammer. Slowly and carefully let the hammer move back to the half-cock position.
Being a hammer mechanism, there will be a little more lock time on pulling the trigger compared to a bolt action rifle. We are talking tiny fractions of a second here, and there would be negligible impact on any shooter with correct trigger technique. Should the need arise, the firing pin can be quickly and easily removed for cleaning. By cocking the hammer, naturally with an unloaded rifle, a screw immediately above the firing pin can be assessed. Removing that screw enables withdrawal of the firing pin and spring.
Bergara BA 13 Stock
The stock is two-piece and made of injection-moulded synthetic. It can be had in black, wood coloured, Xtra green Realtree camo and also as a black thumbhole. The finish is matte. The forend has a recessed latch with allows removal and the subsequent quick disassembly of the firearm. The barrel free floats in the forend. There are a couple of cross pieces moulded into the barrel channel of the forend. That, and the substantial metal mechanism for attaching the forend, provide more than enough rigidity to what is a short piece of furniture anyway.
A flush-fitting, QD attachment lug is moulded integrally with the buttstock while a standard QD stud is fitted to the fore end. Pressed checkering provides a comfortable and secure grip of the rifle. A thick, soft rubber recoil pad provides all the required comfort when shooting the larger calibre options in this light little rifle, which weighs less than 3 kilos.
Bergara BA 13 Accuracy off the Bench
I sourced some quality factory ammunition and bought a batch of once-fired cases from my local gun store, along with a selection of my preferred Nosler projectiles. My hunting buddy provided a set of 243 Winchester dies and a look through the ADI reloading guide confirmed that my stock of AR2213SC was a good choice of propellant. The rifle was supplied without a scope. I fitted my 4-20×50 SFE scope, which I generally use for load development and testing on new rifles. For a hunting rig, that scope is a bit heavy and bulky but was ideal for the range work.
During a series of range visits to my local SSAA facility, I ran a wide variety of handloads and the factory ammo through the BA13. The results of that were quite pleasing. The factory ammunition shot in the 1 to 1.5MOA range, which is fine for hunting. The Federal 80 grain soft-points and the Fusion 95 grain protected point averaged a smidge over 1 MOA. The Federal Vital-Shok 75 grain hollow-points shot more around the 1.5MOA mark.
I ran these range shots over the chronograph. With the short, 20 inch barrel I had been expecting some loss of muzzle velocity. There was some, to be sure, but I was pleasantly surprised to note that it was less than I had expected. With a propellant charge of 47 grains of AR2213SC, the measured muzzle velocity of the Nosler projectiles was 2,970 fps for the 90 grain Ballistic Tip, 2,990 fps for the 90 grain Accubond and 3,070 fps for the 85 grain Partition.
I followed my standard approach to the handloading. That involves seating the projectiles to SAAMI specification and varying the propellant charge from the listed minimum up towards the recommended maximum, keeping a close eye on any signs of pressure. Having found the load that gave the best accuracy I then used that load and tried varying the projectile seating depth, looking for a smidge more accuracy.
As I have noticed with other calibres, the Nosler Ballistic Tips shot best when seated about 20 thou clear of the lands, while the Partitions liked to be seated well back at 140 thou clear. Both these loads delivered consistent groups in the 0.4 to 0.7 MOA range. That is excellent accuracy for hunting purposes. The Accubonds shot more around the 1MOA mark, which was a surprise given how well they shoot in other calibres I use. With more time, I would have experimented with some alternate propellants and am confident I could have gotten better from the ABs. However, with the 85 grain Nosler Partition performing so well, it was the obvious choice for a hunting load to take afield.
Hunting with the Bergara BA 13
Having homed in on a sweet load at the local rifle range, I was eager to take the Bergara BA13 Take Down out hunting. Luckily, I did not have to wait long for a golden opportunity. Our venison supply was dwindling, so my wife and I set off for a few days of hunting Chital deer. I loaded half a dozen rounds with the Nosler 85 grain Partition that had performed so well at the range. That was loaded over 47 grains of AR2213SC with the Partition seated 140 thou clear of the lands.
This is exactly the sort of application that the Bergara BA13 is designed for; stalking through the bush looking to place a single, carefully-aimed shot. We had a lot of fun in making a number of stalks. There were a couple of opportunities, but they were not ideal, so we let them pass. Then late one afternoon, we stalked along the river bank where we knew there was a small mob of deer camped.
As we stalked in close, they became alert and moved out into the open, getting ready to sprint away. Kathy froze as I slipped in behind a tree trunk and brought the rifle up. I thumbed the hammer back and took aim. The trigger broke crisply and the plump doe never knew what hit her. The Partition struck exactly where I wanted it to and the deer flopped over.
I have also taken the Bergara BA13 on a number of jungle stalks close to home. Normally, in these locations, I sit back 150 metres, or more, from the jungle edge and use my long-barrelled magnum on the wild dogs and boar that emerge from the thick rainforest jungle. With stubby little Bergara, I was able to sneak through the thick jungle, seeking to bushwhack the dogs and pigs on their home turf. The fast handling little Bergara will give me every chance of success when the opportunity arises.
Bergara BA 13 Summary
The Bergara BA13 Take Down will appeal to a lot of shooters. Available in a range of popular calibres, this little single-shot carbine handles well and is very pointy. With a crisp trigger and good accuracy, it has everything you would want in such a rifle. The fibre-optical open sights are outstanding and the standard picatinny rail will let you mount an optical sight of your choice. For those who want to fully embrace the ethic of the single-shot hunt, or just want a discreet take-down emergency rifle for the aircraft, boat or vehicle, this is the rifle for you. At a recommended retail price of AU$850, it provides all the convenience and functionality of similar rifles that are many times that price and can only be considered a bargain.