Cooper Firearms Model 54 Jackson Hunter Review

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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.


Cooper Firearms ain't what they used to be

I have a Cooper Model 54 in 22-250 and it is a winner. I took it to the range this past Thursday and shot a 1" 20 shot group. That's what I paid almost custom price for.

I also have a Cooper Model 52 in 30-06. This rifle is a piece of crap. First visit to the range and it patterned, not grouped the shots. Called Cooper and they suggested a different ammo. Took it to the range the next week, and yep it patterned the shots, did not group them. Called Cooper, they suggested yet another ammo. Took it to the range the next week - yep, it patterned the shots again. Called Cooper, they suggested switching out the bases. So I purchased new bases from them, and had an armorer at the local gunshop switch them out. He noted that the front base from the manufacturer was not tight and had no remnant of LockTite. Went back to the range, and yep - it patterned again. Called Cooper, they suggested that I "might have a defective gun". They must have a PhD in rocket science.

Last night I had a gunsmith friend look at it. The first thing we did was to turn it over and examine the bolts. The front one was ready to fall out, and the rear one could be loosened with a thumbnail. We then took the action and barrel out of the stock - no glass bedding, no pilar bedding - hummm. The hole for the front screw looked oval rather than circular as it should ahve been and the front screw looked like it was too short to adequately hold the stock on.

Called Cooper and was given the run around again. Got the telephone number of the NEW owner who resides in Connecticutt. He was evasive and didn't help the situation. I informed him that I have three Wilson Combat (also poor customer service), two Ed Browns (great customer service), two AYA shotguns, etc. All the owner had to say was - Doc send it to us and we'll replace it. That would have solved the problem. It's obvious that I spend a lot of money on guns, but he didn't take that approach. Thus, I'm returning it to the gun shop for a refund and they'll get a refund from Cooper. I'm still out the taxes, the hundreds of dollars for the custom ammo, the extra magazine, and the four months of frustration.

My advice is to BE WARY OF PURCHASING A COOPER, and if you have issues with the rifle don't expect much from the manufacturer.



Soreshoulderer's picture


Howdy fellers, this is my first post here.

I just wanted to say, that I appreciate solid quality in riflery. I own 2 MKV's, 300WBY, and 340WBY, as well as a  Cooper MDL 22, Montana Varminter, 6.5x284. The Cooper was given to me as a Valentine by my lovely wife, recently, as a souvenir of my years in Montana. I am still getting set up to use it, assembling reloading dies, scope ect.

My real comment was that they just don't make them like they used to. My first centerfire bolt rifle that I bought, was a Rem MDL 700 ADL,7mag, that I bought in 1976. At the time I thought it was all there was. My uncle educated me about the way things are. The  Mdl 700, the Savage, A-bolt, X-bolt and Tikka are what could only be considered economy models, compared to ways rifles once were offered. The Mauser 98, 03 Springfeild, Mdl 70's were at one time all solid. The bolts were solid, the recievers were all machined from single forged billets of steel. In 1898 the state of the art of mettalurgy required this.

My purpose isn't to denigrate the modern rifles, but to contrast their manufacture and properties with those of old rifle makers. I really believe that the Savage design is ingenious. To the bean counters at Savage, Remington, Winchester, Browning, ect. Somethings had to change to increase profitss and make their product more affordable to the consumer. So the Solid bolt, and the integral recoil lug had to go. They were replaced by washerd recoil lugs, and fused, hollow or alloyed bolts, along with other time and materiel saving measures.

What I consider impressive is that all those rifles I said were cost cutters are for the most part known for their accuracy. All the rifles still made in the old way are very expensive in materiels and manhours and the buyer pays for it.

I only own bolt action rifles made by Weatherby, Cooper and Zastava, all solid and integral. I reload, shoot and hunt with some very high intensity cartridges, and I want everything as solid as possible between me and the forces within. Very nice Walnut and quality checkering ect doesn't hurt either.

Cooper Firearms

Great review. I own and have shot a lot of great rifles, but the Coopers are one of the best. For the money you are getting a lot, compare them to Dakotas. Just got a Mod 54 in 6.5 Creedmoore with 24 in barrel and it will shoot 1/2 groups.

hunter25's picture

This is a great review and I

This is a great review and I really wish I had read some like this in the past. At 1,700 it does seem like a lot of money but I think the value is worth it. Okay it is a lot of money but again with all you are getting it's not so bad. My main hunitng rifle is a Remington XCR in 7mag. The limited cammo stock and special finish cost me just over 900 dollars. Now around six years later I have replaces the stock for a better one at several hundred and replaced the really crappy trigger with a Jewell. All told with my scope, mounts and some other extras to make it shoot well I have a $2,000 Remington. It's a geat rifle and I love it but for around the same price I could have had the Cooper and probably a somewaht better shooter to boot. Any way I will never part with my 7 as it's just the way I want it now but I still will dream about these custom jobs.

Really nice guns. A little

Really nice guns. A little pricey, and I don't like the looks of the stock of the one tested. Otherwise if I wasn't into muzzleloaders. I'd consider one. I've seen how accurate they are on The Best of The West show.

numbnutz's picture

I really like the Cooper

I really like the Cooper rifles. There are very expensive for sure but if I had the money I would invest in a fine rifle from Cooper rifles. They show case their rifles on the show "The Best of The West" I'm not a fan of long range hunting by any means but those boys sure can shoot. Your pretty much getting a custom rifle when you order one of these guns. I think that show just picked them up as a sponsor and stuff a few months ago. The shooters on that show swear by these rifles. I'm not sure I need a $1700 dollar rifle to make me a better shooter.I would just like one to have for myself and be able to pass it down to my son when I'm to old to use it. I have always wanted a few very nice rifles to have and be able to pass down. Thanks for the review and when I'm in the market for a nice custom rifle I will be ordering a Cooper rifle.

Retired2hunt's picture

  I am a little more familair


I am a little more familair now based on this article and it sure looks like a fine firearm... but for $1700 it is out of my league... unless I win the state lottery.

I am with you swisheroutdoors - is it really going to make me shoot more accurately?  Everything (so far) that has been in front of me and in my crosshairs has been harvested.  I did upgrade my scope recently but I still am using a simple Winchester 30-06.  I just re-sighted in my rifle yesterday in preparation for my November hunt.  I am ready.

Back to the firearm.  It sure looks nice.  I do like the all metal magazine that is detachable.  I also like the safety mechanism over the 2 point lever I have on my Winchester.  The three lug design is probably more durable than the two lug design I have.  I don't care for the stock coloring... but after looking at their web site just now I see you can get it in a walnut finish.  Whoa - they also sell rifles in the $3900 range.

Nice looking firearm but too pricey for me for now.  Time to go to the store and buy my lottery ticket!


swisheroutdoors's picture

Quality Product makes a better shooter?

I dwell from time to time if I were to purchase a quality high end rifle would I be a better shot.  Last year was the 1st time I had ever not recovered a deer and without a doubt I know it was poor shooting.  With that said, Yes I confess I need to spend more time on the range.  Way more time.  Then I also wonder am I just limited because the weapon I'm using as great as I think it is might not be optimal in certain conditions.  Fair enough.  Younger companies appeal to me.  They have a family sense about them and focus in craftsmanship.  I feel Cooper is just one of those companies.  I admire the stock options.  Cooper rifles "delivering one hole three shot groups at 100 yards" out of the box is an attractive plus for me.  I've never taken any animal beyond 50yrds.  Most have been 30yrds or less.  Lately I have been hunting where the potential for 100yrd shot is there but I can tell you I'm not comfortable with it so I won’t take it.  Maybe it’s time for me to use a weapon that deliverers.  Maybe it’s time for a cooper.  Anyone out there familiar with this firearm?

ndemiter's picture

i like your patience and

i like your patience and determination to take animal at ranges you are comfortable with. but i kind of think that if you shot a good, quality made rifle with some quality optics, your comfort range would quickly increase well beyond 100 yards. i used to dread long shots myself. then i upgraded my optics on my weatherby 30-06, and before you know it, i knocked down an antelope doe at 540 yards with a perfect heart shot.

i routinely shoot prairie dogs at around 200 yards now with my 243, and feel loads of comfort in handling the rifle.

before you spend the money though, on a new setup, try out a friends first, and try different calibers, scopes and loads to see what you're going to like. if you get the chance try all of the high end guns you can get your hands on.

part of my "thing" is to be the most proficient i can be with every tool i own. everything from knowing how to set my clock radio to shooting my rifles well. the most important thing is to keep having fun while huntin. maybe you shouldn't ask yourself if having a new gun will make you shoot better; instead ask yourself if you need that new rifle to have fun while shooting and hunting?

The targets sent with Cooper

The targets sent with Cooper rifles are not shot at 100 yds. They are shot at 40 something yds unless they have changed. I have three and they are very accurate but they are not benchrest rifles.

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