Bergara BA13 Takedown .45-70 review

Review: Bergara BA13 Takedown single-shot rifle


The Bergara BA13 takedown carbine in .45-70 is not only the backpacking sambar hunter’s dream, but an effective buffalo gun, a David against Goliath and capable of bulldozing the largest trophy buffalo bull. For the hunter who wants a strong single-shot rifle in .45-70, Bergara’s light and affordable BA13 takedown is an ideal choice.

The .45-70 has staged a major comeback in popularity and currently it is being chambered in a number of lever-action and single-shot rifles that are, generally speaking, fairly expensive, unlike the Bergara.

Bergara BA13 Takedown .45-70 review
The 300gn Hornady hollow point leaving the muzzle of the Bergara at around 2000fps proved devastatingly effective on this boar in the scrub

The BA13 single-shot has a strong action which allows the use of heavy charges of smokeless powders. This convinced me that I should find out what kind of performance this handy carbine would be capable of with carefully developed handloads.

The little Bergara chambered for the .45-70 is one of the sweetest sambar rifles a hunter will ever carry. It is lightweight and powerful with the extent of the latter being determined only by how much recoil you can handle. At about 3.6kg with a scope attached, the BA13 is a real hell-raiser when you start shooting 350 and 400gn bullets at around 2100fps.

This is close to the limit in velocity to which heavy bullets can be driven from the Bergara, but nor is there any comparison between handloads and the milquetoast variety of .45-70 factory cartridges.

This robust single-shot carbine is made in Spain and fitted with the company’s own accuracy-guaranteed, hand-lapped barrels, each of which undergoes rigorous inspection before leaving the factory. 

Bergara BA13 Takedown .45-70 review
A very compact rifle at just 89cm overall, the BA13 carries like a .22 rimfire

I have long been a fan of these Spanish single-shots because after years of using and testing them in the field and on the range they not only functioned flawlessly, but different calibres all produced excellent accuracy with a variety of factory ammunition and handloads. The Bergara is a quality product at an affordable price.

To break the carbine down into its three major component parts, you remove the forearm by pulling a lever recessed into its underside, then simply swivel the barrel downward while pulling back on the trigger guard and lifting it off the hinge pin.

Basically, the Bergara has a simple break-open breech and robust straight-walled receiver which is hinged to a partially fluted medium-weight barrel. It has an injection-moulded synthetic ambidextrous stock with panels of chequering on buttstock and forearm, sling swivel bases and a black Cantonera Crush Zone recoil pad. The forearm has a slight schnabel tip and is rounded to fit comfortably in the hand. Overall length is a handy, fast-handling 89cm.

Bergara BA13 Takedown .45-70 review
The action is opened by pulling back on a spur on the trigger guard and rotating the barrel downward

The grip is slim, oval in cross-section, gently curved and angled to properly position the trigger finger. Point patterns of moulded-in chequering on both sides of the forearm and grip provide a secure grasp, critical when you’re shooting the hard-kicking .45-70.

Although lightweight, the Bergara has a very strong locking system. Previous models I tested were in .243 Win and .270 Win — two high-intensity cartridges loaded to 60,000psi. The BA13 carbine gets its strength from a massive steel lug 66mm (2.6”) long, 20mm (13/16″) deep and 16.5mm (0.65″) wide, welded to the barrel under the chamber. This is similar in design to the under-lug bolting system used in many double-barrel shotguns and combination guns.

The rear face of the lug has a notch which engages a spring-loaded locking lug under the standing breech as the barrel is rotated into battery. When the system is locked, hold-down pressure is applied to maintain secure breech closure.

A spring-loaded extractor is housed in the floor of the chamber. As the breech is opened it lifts the fired case high enough to be plucked out with the fingers.

Bergara BA13 Takedown .45-70 review
The breech opens widely to insert a cartridge. Note the heavy steel locking block and hammer extension

The gun doesn’t cock itself on closure. An exterior rebounding hammer allows the gun to be cocked without having to break open the action.

The trigger is adjustable for weight of pull between 1.3 and 2.3kg (3-5lb).

The 51cm (20”) blued carbon-steel 4140 chrome-moly barrel comes with sights and has hefty dimensions, particularly around the breech, which has a diameter of over 25mm (1”) at the chamber end. It tapers to 19mm (¾”) at the muzzle, which is threaded 5/8×24 UNF for a brake or suppressor. 

The barrel is ‘through hardened’, a process whereby steel of a certain carbon content is heated to high temperatures and then quenched resulting in a strong, tough barrel which has the same hardness factor from the surface to the bore. 

Bergara BA13 Takedown .45-70 review
The Bergara has an extractor to lift cartridges high enough to be pulled out by your fingers

Some .45-70 rifles have the original twist of 1:38 but the Bergara has the faster twist rate of 1:20.

I used Durasight rings to mount a Sightron 1.5-5x scope on the Picatinny-type rail attached to the top of the Bergara’s barrel.

Modern .45-70 factory ammunition is loaded to a low maximum average pressure level because of the weakness of old or replica firearms, but it gets an extra boost when handloads are used in a strong single-shot rifle like the Bergara. This variation in firearm strength is why handloading data in various manuals is presented in three sections: trap-doors, lever-actions and strong actions.

SAAMI rates the maximum average pressure at 35,000 CUP in a strong action with maximum loads of medium-burning propellants like Alliant Reloder 10x, Benchmark 2 and AR2206H, with AR2208 on the slow end. With charges that vary in weight from 55 to 62 grains, these loads not only fill the case but some powder charges are compressed.

Today, there is plenty of strong .45-70 brass to choose from and I used new Starline cases. These proved exceedingly tough, withstanding both extremely heavy handloads and repeated full-length sizing for up to 10 firings without a failure of any kind. Trimming was needed only infrequently.

Bergara BA13 Takedown .45-70 review
The BA13 is well made. It suits open-sight use or fitment of a low-mounted scope

The BA13 carbine is intended for hunting, period! It carries like a .22 rimfire but kicks like a mule with any of the heavier handloads.

It’s surprisingly accurate considering its lightness and short barrel — with the right loads. It showed a marked preference for the Hornady 325gn FTX bullet and gave the best accuracy with the heavier loads, but you have to hold rock steady against the punishing recoil!

The rifle is strong, too, digesting any and all .45-70 loads that could be considered sensible.

When I tested a new Marlin 1895 I was aware of the severe restriction the lever action places on overall cartridge length. This restriction does not apply to strong single-shots like the BA13, making it possible to produce loads with a COAL of up to 69.22mm (2.725”) to utilise the full potential of the .45-70 and turning it into a modern timber-hunting cartridge.

Bergara BA13 Takedown .45-70 review
The Bergara BA13 taken down, showing the massive locking block and forearm attachment which is adjustable and can be tightened

For deer, you can load the Hornady 325gn FTX to move out at 2150fps for 3336ft-lb of muzzle energy, dropping 5” over 200yd from a 150yd zero. Or you can go to the 350gn FTX and attain 2050fps for 3266ft-lb. Either of these energy figures betters the output of cartridges like the .358 Win and the .444 Marlin. As a matter of fact, they even exceed the listed muzzle energy for the potent .350 Rem Mag!

The result of chronographing handloads determined that barrel length has little effect upon velocity. Results were surprising, indicating that with medium-burning powders velocity loss runs between 20 and 25fps per barrel inch. Thus a 24” barrel could be expected to deliver only 80 to 100fps more than the Bergara’s 20” barrel, making little difference in the field.

Bergara BA13 Takedown .45-70 review

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Manufacturer: Bergara, Spain.
  • Calibres: .45-70 Govt (tested), .243, .308, .30-06, 8×57 JRS, .300 BLK
  • Type: Break-action single-shot
  • Barrel: Blued carbon-steel, fluted, 51cm long, 5/8×24 threaded muzzle
  • Rifling: 6 grooves, R/H 1:20 twist
  • Overall length: 89cm (35”)
  • Weight: 3.2kg (6.8lb)
  • Safety: Internal interlock safety with rebounding hammer
  • Sights: Iron sights on barrel, Picatinny rail attached
  • Stock: Black synthetic, ambidextrous with molded checkering
  • Finish: Matte black metalwork
  • Price: Around $1000
  • Distributor: Herron Security & Sport

 

 

 


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Nick Harvey

The late Nick Harvey (1931-2024) was one of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable gun writers, a true legend of the business. He wrote about firearms and hunting for about 70 years, published many books and uncounted articles, and travelled the world to hunt and shoot. His reloading manuals are highly sought after, and his knowledge of the subject was unmatched. He was Sporting Shooter's Technical Editor for almost 50 years. His work lives on here as part of his legacy to us all.

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