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Cooper .22-250s
Testing a Pair of Varmint Rifles
John Haviland

The .22-250 Remington is a varmint cartridge that always delivers great accuracy and top velocity to hit small targets across far distances. Cooper Firearms of Montana chambers the .22-250 in a variety of bolt-action rifles, such as its Model 54 stocked with stunning wood or its new Raptor Model 22R with a Manners stock. Either way, the end result is great accuracy.

In years past, Cooper was known for its beautiful Claro walnut stocks of figured feather, flame and fiddleback. French and English walnut, maple and exotic woods are also available in grades that reach as deep as a pocketbook can afford. Stock designs include Classic, Custom Classic, Western Classic, Mannlicher, Jackson Game and Hunter and Schnabel.

Tastes change, though, and today the majority of Cooper customers, young and old, want a synthetic stock on their rifles. It’s all about utility. When a hunter buys a rifle with a synthetic stock there’s no heartbreak from scratching or ruining it. “What little interest remains in wood is in high-grade stocks,” said Glenn May, one of Cooper’s gunsmiths and sales representative.

One such .22-250 rifle is a Custom Model 54 with a blond maple stock with auburn bands running its entire length that contrasts nicely with a black-matte finish on its metal and 26-inch heavy barrel. The stock is a hybrid of Cooper’s Hi-line Varminter and a hunting stock. The stock has a high comb with a rollover cheek piece that provides plenty of contact for a shooter’s cheek and positions the eye to see through a high-mounted scope. The beavertail forend fills the forward hand and steadies the rifle on a rest. The deep flute on the right side of the nose of the comb is the stock’s most notable feature. The deep hollow looks somewhat excessive but has a pleasing shape. Grasping the grip, the base of the thumb fits exactly in the flute, the wrist remains straight and the hand is so deep into the stock the web of the hand is aligned with the centerline of the bore.

With the shooter’s hand deep into the stock and fingers around the grip, the rifle is easy to control. “We made about a dozen trial stocks before we got the shape right for that flute,” May said.

Model 50 series rifles are bolt-action repeaters with, depending on the cartridge, either a four- or three-round straight stack magazine. For years Cooper fans asked for a repeating rifle chambered in big-game cartridges. Cooper responded in 2007 with its Model 52 chambered in standard and magnum-length cartridges, followed by the Model 54 short action chambered in .22-250 Remington through .308 Winchester. Dan Cooper, the original owner of the company, designed the repeating rifles. He believed a magazine directly attached to a receiver adversely affected accuracy, so Cooper rifles are made with a magazine attached to a frame.

The Model 54 magazine and action provide plenty of room for .22-250 cartridges that measure longer than the established maximum of 2.35 inches. For instance, .22250 cartridges with a length of 2.45 inches fit with room to spare in the Model 54 magazine. That cartridge length set Sierra 55-grain BlitzKing bullets short of contacting the rifling with the base of the bullets three-quarters of the way into the neck to hold and align them.

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Rifle Special Edition Varmint Fall 2019

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