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Cooper Firearms of Montana---what's the consensus?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by esheato, Mar 24, 2004.

  1. esheato

    esheato Well-Known Member

    I've been looking for a nice bolt action rifle. Something in the .22 caliber area for shooting one hole groups and shooting the eyes out of varmints.

    Lately I've been interested in the Ackley versions of traditional cartridges, and the .223 AI has been an entertaining thought.

    One possible solution is to buy a Rem 700 and trick it out the way I want it...but I'm looking for something a little more classy and a tad less money.

    I ran across Cooper Firearms of Montana and they have exactly what I'm looking for. The Montana Varminter in .223 AI. Put the bolt on the left side and I'd be happy. The gun runs $1400 and I've convinced myself that I could afford that.

    Half inch guarantee at 100 yards is very promising...and with handloading I know I could do better than that.

    What's the general consensus on the company? I've heard there is up to a nine month wait on their rifles so they have to be doing something right.

    There isn't a whole lot of information out there on the .223 AI or Cooper Firearms...someone out there give me the real deal.

  2. chevrofreak

    chevrofreak Well-Known Member

    A local store has these Cooper rifles in a nice display case, along with their test targets. The test targets are shot using some insane scope, I believe 32 magnification. On most of the targets you cant even pick out individual bullet holes. On one of them it was one single hole just barely larger than the caliber it was shot with.
  3. QuarterBoreGunner

    QuarterBoreGunner Well-Known Member

    Hopefully Ken Lunde will see this thread; he has a few Coopers and should be able to answer any questions you might have; I've seen his in pictures and they are magnificient. Last range day I had, the shooter next to me had a Cooper in .17 HMRF with very nice wood- didn't get a chance to see the groups though.

    I have lust in my heart for their Varmit Extreme in .220 or .243... now I just have to locate that great big pile of money that I misplaced.
  4. Smoke

    Smoke Well-Known Member

    Local gentleman has two. These things make me confess there is lust in my heart.

  5. esheato

    esheato Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the replies. So far, it sounds as if they're worth it.

    Anyone have any info on the .223 Ackley Improved?

  6. JohnBT

    JohnBT Well-Known Member

    Don't do it, it's like eating one potato chip.

    99.5% or more of what you'll hear about Cooper is very, very good. Well made, accurate, handle better than they look(and that's saying a lot.)

    A local store stocks them...well, they're a dealer and they sell them as fast as they get them in and they always seem like they're waiting on another dozen and a half to arrive. The last time I checked all they had on hand were 4 Classics in .17HMR. They called Cooper for me and it would have been 7 to 9 months to order a .22LR. There was another customer standing there visiting and he'd been waiting something like a year on one of the small esoteric centerfire caliber varmint guns.

    Anyway, so I called around and found a Custom Classic .22LR at Whittaker Guns to give to my father. Later on I lucked into a nice new Cooper Arms t-shirt and my dad said I could keep the shirt. :) Tried to give me his favorite Python, but I didn't take it.

    The test targets are shot indoors off bags at 46 or 47 yards because that's all the room they have inside.

    One post I read was from a guy who bought a used Cooper and it wouldn't shoot straight for him. Cooper told him to send it back. They worked it over, recrowned it, set the barrel back - and got zip, no real improvement. So they rebarreled it. All the guy paid was one-way shipping.

    Unfortunately, now all of my $600 and $700 rifles look like - well - $600 and $700 rifles. After buying a Custom Classic I find myself looking at the Classics and thinking "It's only $1099, what a deal."


    Here are 2 dealers. There are some others listed in the Cooper forum at rimfirecentral.com if you search around a bit. They all have good reputations. I bought from Whittaker sight unseen because they don't do pics, but the woman on the phone said the gun was pretty. She was right. IIRC she said they were the #2 Cooper dealer.


  7. lunde

    lunde Well-Known Member

    I have five Cooper Arms rifles in my safe, the sixth is on its way to my dealer as I write this (I ordered it in early October), and the seventh should get to me in May (I ordered it in early December).

    My favorite among the five I own is an M21 Montana Varminter (aka, MTV) in .223. It has gorgeous wood, which I'd rate as AAA Claro walnut (they are supposed to come with AA+ grade). The best part is that it shoots consistent five-shot 1/4-inch groups at 100 yards using varmint ammo (40gr V-Max).

    The ones I have are: M21 MTV .223, M21 MTV 6PPC, M22 MTV .243, M22 MTV .308, and M57-M LVT .17HMR. The sixth one that I will have in the next couple of weeks is an M22 MTV .22-250, and the seventh is an M21 MTV .204 Ruger.

    As you can clearly see, I prefer the Montana Varminter configuration. ;)

    My M22 .243 and M22 .308 both shoot half-inch or better groups at 100 yards. I have used only factory ammo in my M22 .243 thus far, with such results (the Federal load using the Speer 70gr TNT bullet). I am using handloads in my M22 .308 (Sierra 150gr Spitzer Boat Tail, a hunting load that I used to get an antelope last October).

    My dad owns fourteen Cooper Arms rifles, and he got me into them. One of his is a .223 AI. He has a total of three or four Coopers chambered in AI calibers, I think.

    For the person considering a Varminter Extreme, I suggest a Montana Varminter instead. For what you get, the Montana Varminter seems to be a better value. Compared to the standard Varminter, you get better grade wood, a steel grip cap, and the buick holes in the forearm. If you want to spend the extra bucks, there's nothing wrong with a Varminter Extreme, though.

    I bought three of my Coopers (including the sixth and seventh) from First Stop Guns in Rapid City, SD. I found the rest on GunsAmerica.

    I am attaching photos of my M21 MTV .223, along with one of the targets I shot with it showing two side-by-side 1/4-inch groups.






  8. lunde

    lunde Well-Known Member

    BTW, the March 2004 issue of "Guns" magazine has a short article about Cooper Arms rifles. I scanned it into PDF, so if anyone is interested in it, send me an email (lunde@adobe.com). It's about 750K or so.
  9. BigG

    BigG Well-Known Member

    See em at gun shows

    They look like a mighty nice shootin arn and the test targets look like they were made by a paper punch. Haven't shot one but they are mighty temptin! :cool:
  10. esheato

    esheato Well-Known Member


    Alright, that settles it. I'm saving up for one. M21 Montana Varminter in .223 AI. I'm going to give them a call today and see what their wait time is. Thanks for the detailed descriptions and the pictures. It definitely made up my mind.


    EDIT: Just phoned them. Nine month wait and $150 extra for the gun to be made for a lefty.
  11. lunde

    lunde Well-Known Member

    A good place through which to order the rifle is First Stop Guns in Rapid City. Their phone number is 888-404-5211, and ask for Mark. He will be out Friday through Sunday, so today would be a good time to call him. He requires a minimum down payment. While the wait may seem like a long time, I know from experience that the time will go by quickly, and before you know it, you'll have the exact rifle you want. If you do order through Mark, be sure to tell him I sent you.
  12. esheato

    esheato Well-Known Member

    You're making this to easy for me. :p I just phoned Mark. Very nice guy. I can put a little money down, and it'll be ordered. Pay it off over the 9 month wait plus he's saving me 300 bucks off the listed price. What a deal!

    There are a few options worth thinking about too though. Checkered bolt knob for one. Is it worth it to go for the wood upgrade? I'm thinking not after seeing your stock. As if you couldn't tell, I'm very excited about this gun. :D
  13. lunde

    lunde Well-Known Member

    esheato, you wrote:
    None of my bolt knobs are checkered, but if that's your thing, and you'd be happier with it, go for it. It's a personal decision, for sure.

    As for the wood, there's no guarantee that yours will be like mine. Of my Coopers, the one I photographed stands out among the others.
  14. Mgraff

    Mgraff Well-Known Member

    I have shot a couple of them...NICE!!! They are equal in accuracy to any of the custom rifles I own! That being said I do have friend who bought 2 and both of them had the holes for the scope bases drilled wrong, both were off center, just the front 2 holes which makes mounting a scope pretty damn tough, and getting a zero even tougher! He returned the rifles, and Cooper fixed fixed or replaced them. That is the ONLY negative thing I have ever heard or seen from Cooper. I think my next varmit gun will be a 25-06 from Cooper, even with the troubles my shooting buddy had.


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