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VOLUMES 143 & 144--------MAY/JUNE 2014
SHOOTIN', HUNTIN', AND RELOADIN'
WITH THE OL' MISSOURI HILLBILLY


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HUNTER EDUCATION

OLD MISSOURI HILLBILLY SITE
June 25, 2014 with additions June 28, 2014

As previously reported, getting the new Cooper and Browning rifles in hand was to occur on May 15th and 19th respectively.  Everything went as scheduled and I now have the two guns in the safe.  (Dang, if I could score like this every month or so, I'd have my gun safe even more full than it already is!)

Picking up the Browning X Bolt required a day trip to Marlin, WA.  Chuck Ray, our Eastern Washington Hunter Education Coordinator, lives nearby and was the conduit for obtaining the rifle.  Chuck is a Federal Firearms License holder, and has for many years handled the Federal paperwork and transfers of firearms for Hunter Education Instructors for various reasons.  In this case the Browning was my firearm choice as the prize for being named Hunter Education Instructor of the year back in March of 2013.

As I've written previously, my first choice was the X Bolt Medallion, but after having one on order for over a year, with no delivery in sight, decided I could live with the less fancy X Bolt Hunter.

With the paperwork and NICS phone call completed, the Browning traveled home with us.

The pick up of the Cooper a few days earlier, was turned into a mini-vacation, with a couple of nights in Missoula, MT, eating good restaurant food, and playing a little golf.  The transfer of the firearm from the Stevensville factory to owner was a little more involved than receiving the Browning from Chuck.

Cooper firearms are normally sold through a network of authorized dealers, and Cooper itself is not equipped to do the paperwork and NICS  check.  So, after unpacking the gun in the front office, doing the appropriate oohs and aahs, Cooper employee Glenn May, transported the gun to the nearest authorized dealer just up the road between Florence and Lolo, MT.

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Customer Service representative Mike Hudgins unveiling the Cooper on the reception counter in the front office.

Glenn had us follow his truck to Trader Brothers where the actual transfer of the rifle would occur.
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The story was that Glenn needed to pick up some brass and bullets  for use at the Cooper test firing range.  I suspect that may have been some 'busy work' in order to make  sure that our experience with Cooper would be first class.

Here's Glenn with the boxed rifle on the porch at Trader Brothers.

As we entered the Trader Brothers establishment, it became apparent that this was much more than a 'gun store.'

Being anxious to get the transaction completed, I didn't take mental inventory of the other items for sale or trade, but I do know there was a lot of various 'stuff' in the Trader Brothers store.

At this point we met the proprietor of Trader Brothers, Chad Schneiter.  Chad made quick work of completing the required forms and doing the NICS phone call.  There were signs clearly stating that handling a firearms transfer required a $25 fee, but when I reached for my wallet, I was told there would be no charge!

Chad said, "We are a Cooper dealer and try to do all we can for the Cooper folks.  They're good people down there!"

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Chad Schneiter behind the gun counter at Trader Brothers.

So, if you find yourself traveling U. S. Highway 93 between Missoula and Hamilton, MT, watch for the big Trader Brothers sign near Florence and drop in for a look-see at their stock of firearms and related items.

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After returning home with the Browning, I retrieved the Cooper from the safe for our first look at the rifles side by side.

The Cooper was obviously somewhat heavier than the Browning, and the beauty of the stock and case coloring on the action stood out in comparison.

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Home with the two new rifles.

Now, here is the first installment in taking a look at the two rifles and making some comparisons.  Later we will disassemble and take a good look at the innards, and later still test for function and accuracy.  Those will be subjects for future newsletters.  Let's start with a general description of the guns.

Both are left-hand bolt actions in .280 Remington caliber.  Both have three lug bolts providing for an approximate 60 degree bolt lift to open and cycle the action.  Both have Sako style extractors with spring loaded plunger ejectors in the bolt face.  Both are magazine fed via a detachable box magazine. 

Keeping in mind that the Cooper is a semi-custom model, and the Browning is an 'off the shelf' 'plain-jane' version of their X Bolt rifle, the similarities begin to fade at this point.  Here they are.  Even from a distance, one can begin to see some of the differences one would expect between semi-custom and off the shelf.
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The Browning features a plain, straight grain walnut stock with a satin finish, while the Cooper sports a AAA+ Claro Walnut stock with lots of figure and contrast.  Being in the semi-custom realm allowed me to choose the stock blank for my rifle as we placed our order while at the factory.

There are checkered panels on either side of the grip area and another on the bottom of the fore-end, curving about one third of the way up both sides on the Browning.  The Cooper checkering is much more elaborate, in what the Company calls ‘Les Brownell wraparound western fleur’ pattern at 22 lines per inch.  A soft recoil pad finishes off the butt stock on both rifles.


Browning metal is a matte blue.  The barrel is 22 inches long, round, and slender.  Sling swivels are the 'screw-in' stud type, front and back.  The Cooper is high-gloss blue everywhere but the action and bottom of the magazine, which are case colored.  The Cooper barrel is 24 inches long, octagonal, and thicker in profile than the Browning.  Sling swivels are inletted on the Cooper, with the twin screws securing each of them being 'timed' with the action screws.  (In this case, 'timed' means that the screw slots are all aligned with the long axis of the rifle when tightened)

The Cooper's barrel and more dense stock wood accounts for most of the weight difference in the two rifles.  On my postal scale, the Browning weighs in at 6 lbs 12.8 oz while the digital readout says 8 lbs 9.2 oz for the Cooper.

The Browning magazine is some sort of polymer plastic featuring a rotary follower while the Cooper is a straight stack configuration.  Both feed each cartridge from the center of the action rather that the staggered feeding a la Remington Model 700, Mauser Model 98, and many others.  The Browning  magazine holds four cartridges and the Cooper three, in this ‘non-belted' caliber.
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Here are some closer pictures of the rifles comparing appearance.
The butt stock area shows a clear difference between plain walnut and AAA+ Claro.  The same holds true for the checkering and figure in the respective stocks as we look at the rest of the wood.
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The wood around the actions continues with lots of fiddleback in the Cooper and just a bit of figure in the Browning.




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Next we look at the fore stocks and find that the ‘fiddleback’ continues in the Claro.  Also we can note that the checkering is much more extensive on the Cooper.  It’s also finer, yet remains well defined.




Here are more photos:


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Note the beautiful case coloring on the action

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Action areas

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Both bolt releases are in the same location and operate in an identical manner.  Both are positive at stopping the bolt, yet the springs are soft enough to re-insert the bolts with little resistance.

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A closer look at the Browning Action.  Note the four screw holes for each scope mount baseBrowning claims this is for extra strength, some pundits say the holes were moved to the sides because the metal above the bolt is too thin to firmly hold base screws.

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Closeup of the two Sako style extractors mentioned above.  The Cooper is on the left.  It appears that the Browning extractor is a little beefier, while the bolt lugs on the Cooper are clearly longer.

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Extractors and Plunger EjectorsAgain, the Cooper is on the left.

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Two views of the magazines.  Browning at top.

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The safeties are 'two position' with the Cooper's beside the bolt shroud and the Browning's on the tang.  Both feel positive, yet are easy to manipulate.  The protrusions below the bolt shrouds are 'cocking indicators' showing that both rifles are cocked and ready to fire if ammunition were in the chamber.

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Regarding this button on top of the bolt handle and its feature, I have to say advantage Browning.  On the X Bolt, when the safety is on, the bolt is locked closed.  However, pushing this little button allows the bolt to be opened to remove a cartridge from the chamber without disengaging the safety.  The Cooper's bolt can be opened with the safety engaged, with no provision for locking the bolt in the closed position.  As a matter of personal preference I want the bolt locked down when the safety is on to avoid any inadvertent opening when snagged on brush or other obstacle.  Ruger and Winchester bolt actions with their three position wing safeties are, in my opinion, better than either the Browning or Cooper.
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I concluded that no Semi-Custom rifle would be complete without a custom serial number, so here's a closeup of the serial number on mine.

Turning to another subject, Rick had another birthday on May 31st!!  It continues to shock Little Heifer and I, that we can have a kid that is 51 years old, when we are barely beyond that ourselves!

Since other things were happening on May 31st, our family celebration was held on June 1st.  We started in mid afternoon with dinner at Texas Roadhouse in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.  Birthdays are celebrated at Texas Roadhouse by seating the honoree on a western saddle, placing a small (by Texas standards) cowboy hat on his or her head, and doing the appropriate YA HOO'S by staff and patrons.

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Cowboy up, Rick

The celebration continued at our house with Strawberry Cheesecake after dinner.

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No room for 51 actual candles here.

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The birthday gift from Ann and I was no surprise.  We have been giving Rick his hunting license and tags for the past several years.  The package includes a small game license along with deer, bear, cougar, and elk tags.  On that note, I should mention that no one in the family drew special tags in the annual drawings.  This year there'll be no second deer, moose, or special trophy elk hunts for any of us.

The other recent big event in all our lives was Jennifer's graduation from high school.  The day started with early dinner at Rock City Grill in Spokane for those invitees to the graduation.  This was followed by the actual ceremony at the INB Performing Arts Center.

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All dressed up, ready for the walk.

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Receiving the diploma from School Board Chair, Mike Novakovich


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Proud Grandparents outside in the wind after the ceremony.

The graduation was on June 9th.  The following Sunday, the 15th, we had a bit of a private celebration to present Jennifer with her card and gift.

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I guess ten hundreds might put that sort of look on someone's face.

After the excitement of the actual graduation had calmed, Rick and Christi held a graduation party in their shop and backyard.  These festivities occurred on June 21st, with many of Jennifer's school friends and others in attendance.

I understand that one of the most popular party games played by the younger set today is 'beer pong', with the beer part assuming the participants are actually old enough to drink alcohol.  The game at Jennifer's party was changed slightly, to 'water pong'.  The play is to toss ping pong balls from one end of a table to the other, into plastic cups about one third full of water.  Keeping a ball in a cup results in the removal of that cup from the opponent's group.  The object is to remove all the opponent's cups before they get yours.  (I suspect there are drinking rules involved as well if it were real beer pong)

Jennifer challenged Grandpa to a game and the results were a very rich dose of beginner's luck!
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Yup, the old guy whupped up on the kid.

This fall will usher in the reality of being grandparents to a college student.  Jennifer has been accepted at Washington State University in Pullman, and will begin sometime in late August.  We are still trying to digest what it will mean to have a Cougar in the family.

Again, don't forget that future newsletters will be found right here at jimparman.com.  The format and styles may change as I learn the new software, but the content will continue to be as best I remember it!



This month's hillbilly wisdom is another from the facebook compilation of Grandparent's wisest sayings:

"Don't cook bacon in the nude!"

Well, it's time to shut down here, so. . . . .
'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!

THE OL' HILLBILLY
 
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