I’ll be the first to admit it; I wasn’t a fan of chassis stocks when they first came out. Call it aesthetics, tradition or whatever you want, but they just seemed weird and over the top to me. However, that all changed the moment I put together a bug hole of a group with one at 300 yards and realized that there are some serious advantages to all-metal construction. The idea makes sense too; instead of trying to figure out what size and what kind of aluminum pillars to use, why not just make the whole stock out of aluminum? This certainly works, at least until you slip a disc trying to pick one up. In the PRS circuit, weight is a good thing, as it mitigates recoil and makes impacts easier to spot.
However, when taking a gun afield, it’s a complete hindrance. The extra weight makes it tough on the back and kills any offhand shooting characteristics that the rifle might have had if it were in a conventional stock. In other words, if you need to take a shot at something while standing with a 12-pound gun, you might as well have your buddy start dialing Domino’s as you flick the safety off. So, what do you do if you want the precision of a chassis rifle but the shootability of a hunting rifle? Turn to other metals. New for 2022, Bergara shook things up with the MgLite, its first bolt-action chassis rifle made from lightweight magnesium.
Bergara MgLite Details
One of the rarer materials used in fabrication, magnesium is 33 percent lighter than aluminum and 75 percent lighter than most steel. Therefore, when you pick up the MgLite, you’ll nearly launch it through the ceiling. That’s because, in addition to replacing aluminum with magnesium, it also replaces steel with carbon fiber—well, mostly. The barrel on the MgLite features CURE technology, which interweaves steel and carbon fiber to produce a lightweight barrel that dissipates heat more efficiently than other designs. Carbon fiber is also used extensively in the buttstock and pistol grip to yield a precision rifle that weighs less than 6.5 pounds. Lastly, every bit of material that can be removed is, as witnessed in the fluted bolt, relieved knob and skeletonized triggerguard and grip.
Some might consider the forend to be skeletonized, but those in the know will recognize it as just the gratuitous implantation of M-Lok rail slots. It makes perfect sense to me. If you’re going to cut some holes, might as well make them useful. Aside from M-Lok, the rail of the MgLite can accept any ARCA Swiss accessory. So, I used this opportunity to work with an Accu-Tac BR-4 G2 bipod, better known as the Cadillac of stability.
Two-Lug Action Design
Bergara felt no need to reinvent the wheel with the MgLite’s action and simply went with what they know works, its two-lug premier system. With a floating bolthead, this action self-aligns under the pressure of a firing cartridge and ensures that each bullet enters the chamber the same way each and every time. The receiver comes drilled and tapped to accept common Remington 700 hardware, which I maintain a drawer full. To that end, it also accepts Rem 700 trigger groups, but as the gun comes with a TriggerTech Primary, there isn’t a whole lot of room for improvement.
My test gun came from the factory set with a 3.5-pound pull but after cranking on the adjustment screw a bit, I was able to drop it down to 1 pound, 9 ounces. That’s stupid light for a hunting rifle and downright impressive overall. Furthermore, I liked that I didn’t have to remove the stock to do this, as this requires retorquing the action screws and usually re-zeroing to some extent. From here, all I needed was glass, so using a 20-MOA rail, I mounted up a Maven CRS.1 3-12x40mm scope and had everything that I needed to get out on the range for a thorough field test.
I selected hunting ammunition from both Hornady and Winchester to cover rounds that served the general purpose of this rifle and a match-grade target round from Sierra because the MgLite seemed like the kind of gun that would appreciate its precision. Aside from paper, I tossed a few Caldwell Auto-Reset Targets out at distances of 300 and 400 yards to get a little bit of steel in my diet. As I prepped my first magazine, I noticed that they went with an AICS style setup, something that ensures aftermarket options and the capability for a handloader to seat a bullet to the lands.
Something else I didn’t notice until I put my cheek to the gun was the bubble level that is embedded in the stock. Arguably this makes more sense in a hunting rifle than it does in a target rifle, as it’s all but guaranteed that your support structure will never be level. As I ripped my first shot off, I confirmed the effectiveness of the included Omni radial brake that is all but necessary on a lightweight centerfire rifle. Additionally, the paper-thin rubber recoil pad also did its job and represented some excellent engineering, as it was the right thickness to soak up the kick without adding extra weight or length to the firearm.
Rounds Downrange With the Bergara MgLite
I continued my testing procedure by firing five-shot groups of each ammo type while observing barrel temperature. After each group, I gripped it just forward of the receiver, and although hot to the touch, it took more than 15 rounds to get there. If this were a pencil-contour, all-steel barrel, it would have reached this temperature in less than five shots. Additionally, it only took a few minutes to cool to the point where I could grab it again, which might take half an hour on a conventional firearm. In other words, the CURE construction works.
All of the ammunition performed well with the best group and average surprisingly going to one of the hunting rounds. It would appear that the MgLite shoots bullets in the 125-grain range the best; however, without handloading a few different heavy options (or finding more on the shelf), we can’t tell for sure. On the other hand, if you have no interest in rolling your own, just stock up on Winchester’s Deer Season XP, and you are good to go. I finished my day whacking the longer-range steel targets with the remaining ammo by using the BDC reticle in my Maven and admittedly had far too much fun doing so to call the experience “work.”
As I cleaned off my bench, I snapped the stock into the closed position and realized that this gun could be packed away into even a modest hiking pack, making it perfect for a trip out west. Of course, if I did that, I’d likely want it chambered in the heavier 6.5 PRC or .300 Win Mag, both of which are available for the MgLite. Bergara even makes one in .308 Winchester, which is losing fashion in the target world but is still firmly planted amongst hunters. When looking at all of these options, it’s plain to see that in the right chambering, the MgLite can very well be the only rifle you need in your safe. For more information, visit bergara.online.
SPECIFICATIONS: Bergara MgLite
- Caliber: 6.5 Creedmoor
- Barrel: 22 inches
- OA Length: 43 inches
- Weight: 6.8 pounds (empty)
- Stock: XLR magnesium chassis w/folder
- Action: Bolt
- Finish: Graphite black Cerakote
- Capacity: 5+1, 10+1
- MSRP: $3,229
Bergara MgLite Performance
|Sierra Comp 140-gr. BTHP||2,661||1.63|
|Hornady Precision Hunter 143-gr. ELD-X||2,744||2.62|
|Winchester Deer Season 125-gr. Extreme Point||2,829||0.86|
This story originally appeared in the August-September 2022 issue of Ballistic Magazine. Get your copy today at OutdoorGroupStore.com.