By: Warren Gray

Copyright © 2022

What else can be said except, WOW!…Who would have ever thought that a full-chassis build could come to life as a dedicated, lightweight, hunting rifle?…Our new Bergara ‘Cure’ carbon-fiber barrel makes this rifle build feel like you’re holding a mountain rifle, and the accuracy is just next-level!”

— Benjamin “Ben” Fleming, V.P. of Sales for Bergara Rifles USA, 2022.

Special operations forces need weapons and equipment that are rugged, reliable, lightweight, and extremely accurate in order to perform their hazardous duties in all types of hostile environments, and they are constantly experimenting with new products in order to upgrade and improve their combat gear. In 2018, the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM, or just SOCOM) officially announced that they would begin acquiring the FN Mk. 20 SSR in 6.5mm Creedmoor (6.5CM) as their new, standard, sniper rifle (See my Gunpowder Magazine article, “SOCOM Sniper Rifle: The FN Mk. 20 6.5CM” from January 8, 2022 for more details.)

This was because, when tested against the venerable, 7.62x51mm NATO sniper cartridge in October 2017, the 6.5CM chambering performed the best by far, doubling hit probability at 1,000 meters, increasing effective range by at least 40 percent, reducing wind drift by 30 to 40 percent, and retaining 30 percent more energy, all with significantly less recoil than standard, 7.62mm rounds.

The FN Mk. 20 SSR is a fine sniper rifle, especially in 6.5CM chambering, and Special Forces snipers prefer a semiautomatic weapon to a bolt-action firearm due to the rate of fire, especially against moving targets. The U.S. Army does, however, still utilize some great, bolt-action firearms, such as the impressive, Remington M2010 Enhanced Sniper Rifle (ESR) in .300 Winchester Magnum, the new, Barrett MRAD Mk. 22 Advanced Sniper Rifle (ASR) in .338 Lapua Magnum for SOCOM, and the truly-impressive CheyTac M200 Intervention in .408 CheyTac (combat-tested, but not a standard, U.S. Armed Forces weapon. In use with British, Czech, Polish, and Turkish Special Forces.)

Every so often, a brand-new product is introduced, which turns heads and changes opinions for a variety of reasons. As a retired, military officer with special operations experience, and as a deer hunter and firearms enthusiast, I’m always on the lookout for something with definite, military or special operations potential, and the amazing, new (introduced at the January 18-21, 2022, SHOT Show in Las Vegas, Nevada) Bergara Premier MG Lite rifle in 6.5CM (#BPR37-65CM), manufactured in Bergara, Spain (just 12 miles south of the Bay of Biscay and Atlantic Ocean), certainly caught my attention.

It has an ultra-lightweight, modular, XLR Element 4.0 magnesium chassis in flat dark earth (FDE) finish, so its name comes from the chemical symbol for magnesium, “Mg,” and its extremely lightweight construction. Magnesium, the lightest metal found on Earth,  is actually 34-percent lighter than aluminum, has a greater strength-to-weight ratio, and is more resistant to heat and vibration, but it’s more expensive to manufacture than aluminum.

At a mere 6.7 pounds, the MG Lite is a full three pounds (28-percent) lighter than the SOCOM Mk. 20 rifle, barely over half the weight of the 12.1-pound ESR, and less than half the weight of a Mk. 22, at 14 to 15 pounds, depending upon barrel length. It’s already chambered for 6.5mm Creedmoor, SOCOM’s new, standard, sniper cartridge, and it’s simple, rugged, reliable, and tremendously accurate, with three-shot groups averaging .48 to .65 minute of angle (MOA), meaning .48 to .65-inch at 100 yards, with Hornady AMAX 140-grain, factory ammunition in an actual test by Gavin Gear at Ultimate Reloader. In fact, Bergara guarantees accuracy of 1.0 MOA or less with standard, factory loads, such as the Hornady Precision Hunter series, in their Premier series of rifles.

The MG Lite is available in either 6.5CM, 6.5mm PRC, .308/7.62mm NATO, or .300 Winchester Magnum. The 6.5 PRC (Precision Rifle Cartridge), introduced in 2018, is essentially a magnum version of the 6.5CM, firing exactly the same bullets, but approximately 200 to 250 feet per second faster than the 6.5CM, with about 20 percent flatter trajectory, less wind drift, and more energy than the Creedmoor at longer ranges. But the accuracy difference at 500 yards is minimal, the 6.5 PRC magazine holds just three rounds instead of five for the 6.5CM (although an optional, synthetic, 10-round, #BA0017 AICS [Accuracy International Chassis System]-style magazine is available in 6.5CM), PRC ammunition is much harder to find, and the MG Lite 6.5 PRC version has 38-percent more recoil. Ouch! So, the 6.5CM choice is a much better option overall, and is already SOCOM’s preferred, sniper round, anyway!

Mark Huelsing, the host of the Hunt Backcountry Podcast, compared the 6.5CM and 6.5 PRC cartridges on February 3, 2021, and chose the 6.5mm Creedmoor. He stated that, “The 6.5 Creedmoor is very effective…at the distances I will be hunting…(and) is terminally effective at 500 to 600 yards under most conditions. That’s plenty for me…If you truly want ‘more power’…move up from 6.5 calibers altogether and choose a .30-caliber or 7mm magnum…6.5 Creedmoor (ammo) is going to be cheaper and more readily available than the 6.5 PRC…if you…shoot year-round…the cost difference between the two can be significant.

“The difference in barrel life between 6.5 Creedmoor and 6.5 PRC mattered…to shoot this rifle as much as possible. And also, because this rifle features a carbon barrel that is not cheap to replace…I can conservatively get twice as many rounds, and likely more, from the same barrel in a 6.5 Creedmoor…and it would cost upwards of $1,000 (or more) to replace a carbon barrel on this rifle…I am generally an advocate for reducing recoil when possible, allowing the shooter to spot my impacts and easily be ‘on target’ for any follow-up shots that may be needed…the importance of staying in the scope, seeing impacts, and being ready for follow-up shots…the lighter-recoiling Creedmoor keeps this lightweight rifle very shootable and easy to control.”

Aside from the super-lightweight, magnesium chassis, the rifle’s heft is further reduced by mounting one of Bergara’s brand-new, high-technology, free-floating, No. 6 C6 “CURE” carbon-wrapped barrels with ColdBore technology, which is two pounds lighter than a conventional, steel barrel of the same dimensions. According to their web site, “Bergara cured the carbon barrel problem of inconsistency by getting steel and carbon to perfectly work together by managing heat.”

The CURE barrel is comprised of a Bergara Precision Barrel (premium stainless-steel) at the core, with threaded muzzle, surrounded by a layer of thermally-conductive resin, wrapped in heat-dissipating, stainless-steel mesh, and finished with two additional layers of unidirectional carbon-fiber, and 45-degree-weave, anti-torsion carbon on the outside. This results in a barrel that’s exceptionally straight, rigid, lightweight, and rapidly dissipates the heat generated from multiple shots, reducing barrel temperature by an average of 50 degrees, which greatly improves accuracy.

The company proudly states that, “Bergara…has become the barrel source of numerous, top-tier gun manufacturers in both Europe and the United States…As Bergara rapidly grew, (we) then assembled a hand-picked group…who built the rifles used by U.S. Marines both in combat and competition all over the world. And still today, these Marines form the core of our production team.

“We inspect every (steel barrel) bar to ensure it meets a deviation of less than 4/1,000 (or .004) of an inch…Bergara uses three separate honing spindles that utilize diamond-tipped bits that polish the interior surface of the barrel to a mirror-like finish that is almost completely free of tool marks…A carbide rifling button is drawn through the barrel to produce…a groove diameter deviation of less than 2/10,000 (or .0002”) of an inch.” In addition, all Bergara Premier series rifles are carefully built by hand.

The Bergara MG Lite barrel is 22 inches long, which is a standard, civilian, hunting length, with a 5/8×24” threaded muzzle for attaching a suppressor, and comes standard with an effective, Omni muzzle brake. The rifling twist is 1:8 inches. By comparison, the M2010 sniper rifle has a 24-inch barrel, and the Mk. 22 has a 27-inch barrel. Only the semiautomatic Mk. 20 barrel is slightly shorter, at 20 inches, but Bergara could certainly manufacture a shorter barrel, if that’s what the military desired.

The ultra-light, XLR Element 4.0 magnesium chassis is the first rifle chassis system in the world to weigh under two pounds, actually, just 28 ounces! It’s configured with a folding, carbon-fiber buttstock and carbon-fiber pistol grip for further weight reduction and strength, and was specifically designed for backcountry hunters. It features an integrated, bubble level in order to enhance accuracy.

The Bergara Premier, stainless-steel action utilizes a two-lug system, with a separate, floating bolt head, a one-piece, spiral-fluted, stainless-steel bolt to reduce weight, and a cone-shaped, bolt nose to ensure smooth feeding of cartridges into the chamber. The entire firing assembly can be removed without tools by simply twisting the bolt shroud.

An externally-adjustable, TriggerTech trigger is included, with Frictionless Release  Technology, and the trigger pressure breaks cleanly at almost exactly three pounds, according to Ultimate Reloader, who tested one, eliminating creep and heavy pull weights for greater precision while shooting, and a two-position safety is part of the trigger assembly. The scope mount is compatible with standard, Remington 700 bases with 8-40 screws, for ease and simplicity when fitting any desired scope.

The barrel and buttstock come in Graphite Black Cerakote finish, with a flat dark earth (FDE) chassis, so the entire, MG Lite rifle already has a very military appearance, is already suppressor-ready, already chambered for SOCOM’s favorite, new, sniper round, and has the serious potential to be the lightest-weight, sniper rifle in the world! With an MSRP of $3,299, it’s also $1,200 (27-percent) less expensive than the existing, Mk. 20 rifle, only one-sixth of the price of the Remington M2010 ESR ($19,718) rifle, one-fifth of the price of the Barrett Mk. 22 ASR ($16,770) rifle, or just 29-percent of the cost of a CheyTac M200 Intervention ($11,388.)

The U.S. military’s time-honored, “Mark” or “Mk.” designations have recently expanded to include the Mk. 23 (H&K Mark 23 pistol), the Mk. 24 (HK45CT, used by Navy SEALs), Mk. 25 (SIG P226R, formerly favored by Navy SEALs), Mk. 26 (Glock-26, used by Delta Force), Mk. 27 (Glock-19, now used by practically the entire, SOCOM community, but especially by Delta Force, Navy SEALs, Special Forces, CIA, etc.), Mk. 28 (Glock-17), and Mk. 29 (Glock-34, favored by Army Rangers.)

I really like the concept of a possible, future, “Mk. 30 LSR” (Lightweight, Sniper Rifle), in the form of the Bergara Premier MG Lite in 6.5CM. It already has everything that a special operations sniper could ask for, being exceptionally rugged, reliable, lightweight, compact, portable, comparatively inexpensive, and extremely accurate (sub-MOA), all the way out to 1,500 yards.

If I had to carry a sniper rifle on foot over the towering, Zagros Mountains of northern Iraq (nearly 1,000 miles long and up to 14,465 feet tall, higher than Pike’s Peak, Colorado), my absolute, first choice would be the Bergara MG Lite. Let’s hope that SOCOM learns about this rare gem of a high-precision rifle soon, and adopts it for frontline, combat duty. As Ben Fleming of Bergara recently declared regarding this extra-special rifle, “What else can be said except, WOW!”

Warren Gray is a retired, U.S. Air Force intelligence officer with experience in joint special operations and counterterrorism. He served in Europe and the Middle East, earned Air Force and Navy parachutist wings, four college degrees, and was a distinguished graduate of the Air Force Intelligence Operations Specialist Course, and the USAF Combat Targeting School. He is currently a published author, historian, and hunter. You may visit his web site at: