Cooper Backcountry lightweight rifle in .300 winchester magnum
Preparing for my upcoming CA Desert Bighorn Sheep I bought a Cooper Backcountry lightweight rifle in .300 winchester magnum. My beautiful custom classic in .270 shot so well I was confident they could make a light weight and accurate rifle. The rifle is 5 3/4 pounds! Should serve me well on any sheep hunts. I topped it with my go to Leupold 4.5-14×40 scope with the compensation drop (CDS) turret system. The hunt requires using non-lead bullets so I bought Hornady Superformance GMX and Barnes TTSX. The fast Hornady rounds are slated at 3260 so was hopeful they would shoot well. My first chance to sight it in at Los Altos and while they looked promising they just did not cooperate. I cleaned it well saturday night and returned Sunday to try the Barnes loads. My first group was an inch. Second group one ragged hole. My six 3 shot groups averaged 7/8″ so happy it is shooting them well!
Cooper test target and my target behind (Barnes TTSX)
Next step is attending Kyler Hamann’s ‘Boar Sight Shooting School‘ Kyler was the guide on my first hunt ever in 2002 when I took a great trophy wild boar. He has an incredible set up with hanging 8″ steel plates at distances out to 600 yards to replicate ethical shots on game. He even has a 30″ plate at 1000. I brought all five of my rifles dialed in and hoping to see them shine at distances I might reasonably take shots at game. For the Sheep hunt the goal is to be able to shoot 400 yards. The guides at Dry Creek say most shots are around 200 but want to be ready. I did not have time to have a turret made for the Backcountry so I had to fish one out of my bag that looked close. My 30.06 for Hornady 150 SST looked close all out to 400 where it drops about an inch more. So meet Kyler at the gate and follow him to the bench and start off with the Cooper. Just resting it on bags it rings the 300 plate no problem. After a couple shots on it the plate is hung up. He also has a board next to it for a group. I shoot a group at 300 as he watches through the spotting scope. It’s about 1.5″ at 300 yards. So time to try the 400. I hit the 400. Ask him to video and see if I can do it again. So happy to hear the distant ting and know I just put a round into 8″ vital zone of a Desert Bighorn. (volume up to hear the hit)
This is a great day and I shoot all five of my rifles. The two the really did well are my Remington custom rifle. This rifle was the original bargain basement ADL I took that pig with in 2002 with a Simmons 8 point scope and factory trigger. Since completely customized. It had no problem hitting the 400 and even the 500 yard plate. I didn’t try the Backcountry at 500 knowing that turret would be off. My other Cooper with the beautiful presentation grade stock has been sitting in my safe for seven years. It also hit the 500 yard plate! I’m a Cooper believer.
300 yard group with Cooper BackCountry (shot in black .270)
After finishing shooting all my rifles we decided to try to hit the 1000 yard plate with my Remington. My dial only goes to 600 and we could not even get it to the point we could correct from. Kyler asked me if I wanted to try his Cooper XLR Long Range rifle. Also in .300 win mag. Sure why not. He has it topped with a great NightForce scope. My first shot is near target and Kyler makes corrections on the dial. I have a clear image and my second shot is a hit. And my third shot hits again! Incredible to be making accurate shots at 1000 yards. That is a long way. Kyler tells me I hit it, and near center, all before I even hear the sound. I finish up by putting a bipod on the Backcountry to prep for hunting pigs at sunset. It should be fine at hunting distances. I lay down and hit the 225 plate, the 250 plate, and then the 225 again. Call myself ready. Well we saw a couple small pigs but not the boar I was hoping for. My freezers are full of elk and deer so we called it a night!
Kyler’s Cooper XLR Long Range in .300wm
I have a Cooper Jackson Excaliber rifle on the way in .300 Weatherby. I’ll be bringing that to the range when it’s all sighted in with turret. I will definitely come back again one more time before the Cady Mountains sheep hunt which starts right after Christmas.
The long awaited Diamond C Outfitters promo video is finally done! Set to ‘Thunderstruck’ by AC/DC, it is pretty fast paced encapsulation of what looks like ten years of hunting seasons. Several of my deer shots are recorded including my 2007 3×4 shot prone in the upper ranch. Also both my 2009 bucks, Twin Towers that drops like a rock and my late season 5×4 buck that kicks out at the shot. Both the pig hunting bow shots are mine, my first pig kill with a bow the same day I shot Twin Towers. Also a 60 yard ( lucky ) shot on a grey boar that was heading up the rear on the group of pigs when I shot the black sow. One thing you notice is just how many women hunters the Carr’s take each year. Lots of capable women hunting out there. So many great bucks and great memories!
Went to the range today to check the zero on two of my rifles. Going hunting next week back at the Diamond C ranch again. I’m hoping to use my bow but like to have a rifle handy in case this year turns out to be anything like last year.
Went up to Los Altos Rod and Gun Club off of Skyline. Had one of those perfect range sessions where I only need to take three shots with each rifle and I’m good to go. Started off with my Sako M85 Stainless Hunter in 30.06. I have added the Leupold CDS Turret to the 4.5-14 scope indexed for the Hornady Superformance 150gr SST load.
First shot just outside the circle and second in the same hole. I shouldn’t have looked through the spotting scope as the prospect of shooting a one hole group is usually enough to get you too excited to finish it off. Third shot just to the left for a .410 inch group.
Second up is my prized Cooper 52 Custom Classic in .270 Winchester. Trying out some hand loads with 140gr Nosler Accubond bullets over 53.5grs of IMR4831 for 2910fps. My CDS scope is indexed to the same load at approx 2900. All three shots in the circle for a .896″ group. I wish every day at the range went this well.
Saturday I went to the annual 200 yard shoot hosted by my local chapter of Safari Club International. We usually have about 15 guys show up to sight in their rifles for hunting season at the Chabot 200 yard range which we have to ourselves for the day.
I started out with my prized Cooper which I received last year in time to take my best Blacktail Buck to date. I had the rifle custom made in .270 winchester and waited almost two years for it to arrive.
I had bought some of the new Federal .270 with a 110 gr Barnes Tipped Triple Shocks which are rated at 3400 fps. This load was very interesting as it approximates the extremely flat trajectory of the .257 Weatherby out of a .270 Winchester. This load sighted dead on at 200 is only 5″ low at 300 yards and with a slightly higher adjustment could be a great deer load out to 400. My main concern is can the twist on my barrel stabilize such a light bullet. After a few groups I think the answer is, not well enough. I was able to shoot a couple 2″ groups however it’s not as accurate as I had hoped. The rifle is so accurate with more typical .270 loads I’ll probably just go back to 140gr Accubonds.
Next up was my Sako 85 in 30.06. This is a great all weather rifle and my go to gun for when I don’t want to carry the Cooper around, like in rain or snow. I have it set up for the Barnes 180 gr Triple Shocks so that it’s legal for pigs in the California A Zone which does not allow lead in an attempt to help save the endangered California Condor.
The Sako always seems to deliver great accuracy. It was also my best group of the day at 1 1/2″. Many of the guys out there shoot nice groups but I’m always curious how far they are off from their ‘Point of Aim’. While I’m trying to shoot under 2″ at 200 yards, most all of my shots all day were within 3 of my Point of Aim and most were under 2.
My last rifle of the day is my Sauer 202 in .300 Weatherby. This is a finicky gun for some reason. I took a nice elk with it in New Mexico only after coming up with a good handload. Today I’m just sighting in a box of 180 gr Nosler Partitions. It does about what I expected which is around a 3″ group at 200 yards. Still all three shots are within 2″ of my ‘point of aim’ and it’s still a great elk rifle with that level of accuracy.
Was a great day, always enjoy shooting with these guys as many of them have exotic hunting planned for the fall. I shot next to Mike Borel our chapter president. He always does some amazing groups with his Browning A-Bolt in .280 with a carbon fiber wrapped Christensen barrel. He’s off to Switzerland for Ibex this fall.