The firearms market of the 21st century has powerful manufacturers that got their start in the latter part of the 19th century. A lot has changed in firearm designs and manufacturing in this time, but the desire for superb accuracy still reigns as important today as it did in years gone by. Cooper Firearms of Montana, while a relatively young company, understands shooters desire for accuracy and since 1990 has built their company around producing highly accurate and aesthetically pleasing rifles. For this review, we'll be taking a closer look at the Model 54 Jackson Hunter rifle.
When first taking a look at the Cooper offerings it can be a bit bewildering to figure out precisely how to configure a rifle. Loosely speaking, Cooper produces a few action lengths (rimfire, short action, long action, etc) and actions (single shot, repeater, etc) and combines them with a variety of stock options.
Cooper Firearms Model 54 Jackson Hunter
When picking out a Cooper it is generally best to start with the cartridge that you would like to own, then work your way through the actions available and stock options. The Model 21, 22, and 38 are single shots. The 52, 54, and the 56 are repeaters with some models configured with a detachable box magazine. The 52 is for long action 30-06 derived cartridges, while the 54 is for short action cartridges, and the 56 is for long action magnum cartridges.
Coopers are known for exceptional accuracy. Rimfires are guaranteed to shoot ¼" for five shots at 25 yards. Centerfires are guaranteed to shoot 1/2" for three shots at 100 yards. Cooper usually includes a test target with each rifle that notes the type of powder and bullet used to obtain the documented accuracy. Indeed our review model, chambered in 308 Winchester, shoots outstanding with IMR 4064 and 168gr Sierra Match King bullets, delivering one hole three shot groups at 100 yards.
Cooper deliver excellent accuracy. Three shot one hole group at
100 yards with IMR 4064 and 168gr Sierra Match King bullets.
The Cooper trigger is adjustable by removing the stock and can be adjusted from 1.5-3.5 lbs of pull. Our review gun has a crisp clean trigger with no overtravel or creep and we saw no need to adjust it or lighten the trigger out of the box.
All metal trigger housing.
The Jackson Hunter model has a synthetic black Monte Carlo stock with distinctive red splattering on it for texture. The stocks are made by Cooper and have good ergonomics. Overall the gun weighed in at 6.5 lbs which is relatively light for a hunting rifle.
The distinctive red splattered stock has a raised Monte Carlo style comb.
Cooper barrels have a recessed target crown.
The barrel is free floated in a precision fitted stock.
The model 54 uses a detachable metal box magazine. The magazine itself is entirely made of metal and it's best to remove the magazine with the muzzle level with the ground. In this position the magazine quickly drops out, removing the magazine with the muzzle upright seemed a bit sticky, but this may be because the rifle is new.
The detachable box magazine locks up at the front of the magazine.
The model 54 uses an all metal detachable box magazine.
The bolt face uses a three lug lock up system with a Sako style extractor which makes for reliable feeding and ejection. The bolt and action assembly is precision machined and is very smooth out the box with little noise when cycling the action. The safety is a standard two position version typical on other rifles on the market today.
The Cooper Bolt uses a three lug design with a Sako Style extractor.
Two position safety on the right hand side of the action.
The action has a sloped feed ramp.
So what's not to like about the Cooper? A minor point is that Cooper uses its own base pattern that is unique to Cooper rifles. So when ordering a Cooper its best to order the bases with the gun or you may have trouble finding the correct base in your local market. Leupold windage adjustable bases as well as Talley bases are offered from Cooper. Another issue is the price, which for our review model is about $1700 with bases, which many may find too steep of a price. However, considering what it would cost for a competent gunsmith to bring an entry level or mid-range rifle up to Cooper's standard, $1700 isn't out of line.
The final issue with Cooper is the wait time for a gun. At the time of writing, standard Coopers are taking 6-8 months to produce, while anything with fancier options such as upgraded wood or color case hardening is taking at least 8-12 months to produce. So plan accordingly if you would like to be hunting with a Cooper next fall.
Cooper firearms are worth considering if you are looking for an upper-end rifle offering that offers exceptional out-of-the-box accuracy. While the wait times to obtain a new Cooper are long, the asking price is reasonable considering the overall quality and value of the Cooper line.
For more information visit Cooper Firearms .