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While at the SHOT show, I blogged about the technological bolt-action marvels from German marques such as Mauser, J.P. Sauer, Merkel, and Blaser.  While restrictive European gun laws have pushed the Germans to focus on interchangeable barrels, caliber conversions and platform versatility, high-end American gun makers remain dedicated to old school designs focused on accuracy, workmanship, and value.  So if you are looking for something that is truly “new” when it comes to bolt action hunting rifles, you probably aren’t going to find much from the domestic manufacturers.  But companies such as Cooper Firearms of Montana, Inc.  will provide you with dead-nuts accurate rifles with drop-dead gorgeous looks . . .

Founded in 1990, Cooper Firearms of Montana, Inc is a relatively new player in the domestic rifle market. The company was founded by a small group of employees from Kimber of Oregon, including Dan Cooper, who decided to part ways with their former employer and open their own shop. Together, Cooper’s team of wunderkinds had over 50 years of combined experience, so it didn’t take long for Cooper to establish a reputation for making some of the finest shooting bolt-actions adorned in high-grade wood in the U.S.  Despite keeping the namesake, Dan Cooper is no longer involved in the business at all, nor has he been for quite a few years.

One of the things that I really appreciate about Cooper firearms is that their actions feature a bolt handle that raises up only 60 degrees (instead of the typical 90-degree throws on Remington Model 700s, Mauser actions such as the Winchester Model 70, and Savage rifles).  Some folks argue that 60-degree throws are harder to use because the rifle must be cocked over a shorter throw distance, but I’ve never found that to be the case on high quality rifles.

Another attribute of a Cooper rifle is extreme accuracy.  Each Cooper comes with a 1/2 MOA accuracy guarantee and a test target to prove it.  In my experience, Cooper rifles will often far exceed this standard.  Admittedly, most of my experience is with the smaller varmint Cooper rifles, such as the Model 21 and the Model 57-M (rimfire),  which typically  provide “one ragged hole” accuracy.   I look forward to one day owning a Cooper Model 56 in one of the larger calibers such as .300 Win Mag.  In the meantime, I’ll have to be content to dream about them.  Here’s a little Cooper eye candy for the armed intelligentsia (from the 2014 SHOT show):


Courtesy Joe Grine

Courtesy Joe Grine

Courtesy Joe Grine

Courtesy Joe Grine

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  1. Not my usual cup of tea (blue steel and walnut guns) but those are some striking rifles. Absolutely beautiful wood. Though not a huge bolt gun guy, I would love to have one of those.

      • While I do think those are beautiful rifles, I’m with Wes I can’t support a company that gives aid and comfort to the enemy.

        • Cooper Rifles’ Director of Operations, Michael Weyant, confirmed that Dan Cooper is no longer involved in the business at all, nor has he been for quite a few years. He stated that “Mr. Cooper opted to sell the company to its current owner in its entirety after he made some rather unpopular, and personal, political statements. They do not reflect the views of our company and as you may guess in such a time I feel it is critical that we allow the people of the world to understand that we are not associated with Mr. Cooper at all.” Edits to story added.

    • 1. As for Cooper’s controlling interest in the company: You don’t get forced into resignation when that is the case. It’s quite clear someone else financed a large part of the company’s growth.

      2. I’ve seen Cooper hunting in three photos taken in different locations holding or standing with very different types of game. In none of them is he holding a gun with a fancy stock.

      3. Cooper wasn’t fired simply for his politics. He was in charge when a statement countering the attack on his Obama support arose, absolutely was responsible for the content of his own posted response, and in that response he tried to lie his way out by stating that he was just backing Obama to defeat Hillary in the primaries, but that he then contributed to the McCain campaign and backed it. He didn’t realize that this was a lie that only took thirty seconds to expose. I don’t know which was worse, his Obama support or his false description of his campaign donations and position.

    • Too bad Romney didn’t win. After all, he never signed an assault weapon ban at the state level, or directed the prosecution of otherwise law-abiding gun owners……


      • And precisely how does that make Obama anything other than the gun grabbing socialist that he has always been? Or make anyone supporting him other than foolish, evil, or both?

        • It doesn’t Stilcho, but since Absood believes the governments role is to provide financial security and to ensure equality of outcomes, he is willing to overlook the fact that Obama is far worse than Romney ever would have been.

  2. Yeah…..I hunted one time with a dude that had a fancy wooded thunder stick..he fell and gouged a deep slice into that beautiful wood stock…I laughed and he was pissed. Of course I had to laugh….I tried to talk him out of spending top dollar for a nice piece of wood then take it up the side of a rocky mountain??!! Since I did not and would not go hunting with what I can say now…with an idiot…let Karma commence!!

    Makes no sense but hell….spend your money. Impractical as it gets.

  3. Boing!
    This is serious gun pr0n for me.

    Thank you Mr. Grine!

    I’ll take mine with the manlicher stock in 7mm mag please.

  4. The are gorgeous, and we certainly have an atavistic affinity for beautiful wood handles on our tools, but is anyone, anywhere, developing an alternative material for stocks and other usually wood hardware that is rational replacement and does not look like cheap plastic? Other than the laminates, I mean.

    This could even apply to the tactical firearms market since most of the MSRs (AR/AK variants) either look like crappy plastic or really crappy wood.

    Just wonderin’ while I drool over these.

  5. I have a weak spot for fine side by sides, but for some reason I have never really been drawn to any rifles much beyond the price of a Model 70.

    I’ll carry my A.H. Fox through every bog and aspen stand east of the Mississippi in search of grouse, but I shudder at the thought of even putting my grimey mitts on such a beautiful rifle, let alone carrying it into rough terrain and snowy weather. Don’t ask me where that logical inconsistency comes from.

    • Haha.
      Shenandoah, it’s the same logic that would make me proud to put the first scratch in that fine lumber.
      And every time I slung that wonderful bang stick, I would see that scar and smile at the memory.

  6. 60-degree bolt throw a functional liability? You have never used a Lee-Enfield SMLE or No4 in a 5 or 10 rounds rapid course. They are so much faster than a Mauser type action it is a competitive advantage.

  7. Absolutely beautiful. I am a complete rifle loony and these qualify as serious wood. Yeah, I said it. I would love a metric set of these: 6.5×55, 7×57, 8×57, and 9.3×62. Why? Because I can.

  8. I live in Germany and have a Jagdschein (hunting license) I am not sure what restrictive laws TTAC refers to, but when it comes to rifles here in Germany if you are a hunter you may own as many as you want. We are restricted to 2 handguns (for more you need a sport shooters license) but if you want to but 100 rifles it is not an issue. .22 kits are very popular for semi-auto handguns as they do not count as an extra handgun.

    Having said that, many of my friends have Blaser R98/93 with the interchangeable barrels. They look cool but cost a fortune and the extra barels cost more than say a nice Browing X Bolt. THe other thing no one ever mentions is the absolutely insane prices of things like scope mount. For most Blasers you are looking at $600-$1000. A Mauser M03 only takes their scope mount and it costs around $600 USD here.

      • But what restrictive rules make multi caliber rifles supposedly more popular there? Handguns sure but what rules make single rifles with multiethnic barrel more popular than multiple rifles?

      • [Flame Deleted] My point was that once you can legally purchase a rifle in germany you can buy as many as you want. So the uber expensive switch barrel rifles never made much sense to me.

        The US Gov sent me here for work so i have to follow German law. Yes they are restrictive but if i want to hunt and shoot i have no choice.

        [Flame Deleted]

  9. Reading some of the replys on here truly saddens me. We are slowly teaching new generations of shooters and hunters that an injected molded stock and cerakoted metal rifle somehow is more attractive than figured walnut and blued steel. Craftsmanship, talent, and taste are taking a back seat to low cost alternatives and the gun companies are eating it up happily producing guns that take no skilled craftsman to make and charging a fortune to sell it.

    • I disagree. Some of us would simply rather not risk damaging something so beautiful. I managed to chip my 46 year old Sako Forrester Deluxe this last hunting season. Damn shame.

      Given the option, I’d take a working rifle with a synthetic stock made by Carolina Custom Riles.

      • What happened to patina and pride of use? My ruger has the blue worn away in spots from decades in its split leather holster. IMO it makes it look beautiful and highlights it’s purpose. If I had the means to own a fine rifle without having a heart attack at the thought of devaluing an investment it would surely get used, acquiring dings and scratches along the way.

        • Drew, I agree. There is an aesthetic that has been lost. I can only equate it with the Japanese concept Wabi-Sabi, a natural simple beauty (Wabi) combined with the charm of a thing grown old in use, its impermanence showing through wear, imperfections, even signs that the object has been repaired. This is the beauty of very good or high grade wood on a working gun that has been in the field for years. The beauty of the wood still shows through the low gloss finish. The inevitable scratches and dings do not offend the eye as they would on a high-gloss piece so fine it cannot have been meant for use.

          I value the old aesthetic of the very good wood cut to a fitted stock, and given an oil or matte lac finish. When such a stock has been much used it is more beautiful than when new. A stock can be beautiful but shaped mainly and obviously for use. It will not fit a second or third owner well except by luck. Today we have a bifurcated aesthetic, in which a gun stock must be overly fine or excessively utilitarian. It does not have to be that way. I note this, for those who scoff: PH’s in Africa and Alaska recommend synthetic or laminate stocks. Yet when you meet them, they are almost always holding a decent wood-stocked gun. The thing speaks for itself.

  10. Having these types of rifles doesn’t make anyone a better person nor a better hunter. Been there around the snobs who….for some obscene reason of self worth…preceived that their expensive thunder stick would elevate these owners to new heights of respect and success.

    The one word that I will use for an appropriate description of the attitudes of way too many owners of these fancy shoot’n irons is Bullshitters!

    Now if a person desires to have one of these rifles and doesn’t try to smear their bullshit into your face…hell…spend away…but anyone with any knowledge of rifles knows that price doesn’t equal a better shoot’n stick nor any more success in filling a tag…fact.

    • Dunno where you got your knowledge, but I got 17 LH rifles and my Coope 28r shoots circles around all of them except a couple of Model 700s that have been re-barreled and accurized.

  11. Subject is Cooper model 52 in 338 Win ejection problems. Bought the gun new in Jan 16. Started breaking it in and noticed very quickly that it wouldnt eject brass after the shot. Some would hit the scope and fall back into the chamber and others just laid in the chamber when you cycled the bolt. Sent it back to Cooper and they “fixed it”. Got it back and put in already shot empty cases. First one worked and next 2 failed. Several failures so I made a you-tube video and sent them.. They “fixed it” again…I do think they really tried and returned the gun. Short,story is the problem was still there…hitting the scope and landing back in the chamber. I called Cooper and asked for a new gun or refund. Answer was no….choices were to return gun for further repair or contact the selling dealer. Fortunately I had bought the gun from Scheels and they refunded my money without hesitation. So, beware the Model 52 in long actions…and thankfully I Bought the gun from a store like Scheels….otherwise I Would be putting another few thousand miles on the boxed gun shipping it back to Cooper. This was a gun costing $2300…very disappointed. My BIL has a Remington 700 with a scope mounted with low rings…it will throw the spent case out so far and hard that youre hunting for it. For me, one Cooper was plenty.


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