VOLUMES 133 & 134-----------JULY/AUGUST 2013
SHOOTIN', HUNTIN', AND RELOADIN'
WITH THE OL' MISSOURI HILLBILLY
August 19, 2013
Hello again everyone. Have some exciting news this time, but that will come later in the broadcast!
First, let me correct errors in my last posting in the Hunter Education section. We deliberately did not schedule any classes in June this year to avoid the 'end of school' hassles that occurred during our June class last year.
So why did I post that our third class of the year ended on June 20th? DamifIknow? Nonetheless, the error has been corrected and the photo page now shows the correct date of July 20th! Sorry for the confusion. (Now that I have publicly apologized for my errors, and groveled before the world, I think I'll run for Mayor of New York City! Hell, it seems to work for ol' Anthony Weiner!)
We've been seeing a bit more moose activity than usual at the ranch this summer. The past few weeks have turned up a cow with calf in tow, what appears to be a yearling female, and at least one, perhaps two small bulls.
The reason for being unsure about the bull sightings, they occurred 2 or 3 weeks apart during the time when antlered species are in the midst of the phenomenon of the fastest growth of any bony substance known to man. So, while one set of antlers we observed was somewhat smaller than the other, I suppose it's possible that they simply grew bigger by the second sighting? Don't matter much, as no one in the family drew a moose permit this year anyway!
I only managed to get photos of the yearling cow, so here she is standing about 50 feet behind the house. Picture taken from the back deck.
Moose on the loose, July 25, 2013
Our first piece of exciting news, is that Little Heifer has a new rifle!
We've been inquiring at various area sporting goods stores about a specialty rifle configuration featured by Savage Arms. It's called the 'Lady Hunter' and is supposedly configured specifically for a woman's physique, taking into account the typically shorter arms, longer neck, narrower shoulders, and boobies. No one with whom we checked, had one in stock.
We finally asked the folks at our local Post Falls, Idaho Cabela's store to see if they could find one for Ann. A few short days later John called to say they had found the rifle in another store in the .308 Winchester caliber we were seeking. He also said it would be a real bargain at just under $500. (MSRP on this gun is $840) Ann told John to order it in.
We were able to pick up the Savage on July 1st. As Ann was doing the NICS paperwork I perused scopes and mounts for the little rifle. After discussing several alternatives, she chose a Redfield Revolution, 2X to 7X variable with a 33mm objective and their Accu-Range reticle.
The Redfield brand was purchased by Leupold a few years ago, and they are building scopes under that name as their 'economy' brand. They have the same lifetime warranty that applies to the flagship Leupold brand, and I have one just like it on a Weatherby Vanguard in 7MM Remington Magnum. So far, other than the bolt handle being on the wrong side, I have no complaints as the Weatherby 'shoots where the scope looks' and kills deer very dead!
All in all, we were able to purchase gun, scope, bases, and rings for just about the MSRP of the rifle alone, and even better, our accumulated Cabela's Club points paid for all but a few dollars of the total! We were told that the discounted price of the rifle was due to a 'closeout' of that particular model in Cabela's retail stores.
Here is the Lady Hunter in the gun cradle with scope and mounts. We have not yet mounted the scope as we are debating about whether to keep the one piece base or exchange it for the two piece unit. Neither one sets the ring spacing as wide as we'd like, so we may even go with a different brand.
Scope mounting, when done properly, is almost a newsletter of its own and has been featured in these pages as well as under my byline in Outlook Magazine a few years back. Here is a link to that January 2008 newsletter if you'd like to review it. Scope Mounting
Now to the second piece of exciting news! No, wait! Let's visit Cooper Firearms before we get to that.
On October 1st last year, Ann and I visited the Cooper Firearms facility in Stevensville, Montana. The write-up and photos of that visit were reported in the September/October 2012 newsletter. You can see that newsletter by clicking HERE.
During that visit we learned that Cooper was relocating to the other side of town. (In Stevensville, that ain't all that far.) Cooper had simply outgrown the existing facility, which had become cluttered, crowded, and frankly, a bit unkempt. We ended the October 2012 visit with a promise (Laura and Mike might have interpreted it as a threat) to return when the Company was settled in the new facility.
That promise (threat) was fulfilled on June 27th. We arrived at the new facility at noon, and, after greetings from Laura Kelly and Mike Hudgins, the four of us adjourned to Kodiak Jax for lunch. Even though I had put forth the lunch invitation, Laura managed to sneak away from the table and pay for all our lunches before I could get my hands on the check!
Mike Hudgins, Laura Kelly, and Ann
Next came a tour of the new facility. The Company's 50 or so employees sure have a lot more elbow room and pleasant surroundings than the old digs. The new site was formerly the domain of a log home manufacturer, and the two main manufacturing buildings have been remodeled, spruced up, and laid out in a manner that streamlines the process of making Cooper's fine rifles. We'll concentrate on lots of photos of this brightly lit, modern facility and what some new endeavors might be.
The first building we visited houses the metal working area and the beginning of the stock preparation. First stop was the area where the CNC machining and other metal work is done.
Mike Hudgins in the machining room
Nearby, two facing CNC units were busy turning round pieces of steel stock into completed actions, applying logos, and serial numbers on a run of tactical, competition rifles being built by Cooper for Colt Firearms. These rifles are listed by Colt as their Model 2012.
Jeffrey John explaining how this machine not only engraves the actions, it even tells him when the tools are getting dull
Automatically machining a rifle action
Actions for Colt Model 2012 tactical competition rifles
Nearly completed Colt Model 2012 rifles
After the actions are completed, barrels are fitted and chambered. Barrels for Cooper rifles are manufactured to Cooper specifications by Wilson Arms' custom shop in Branford, Connecticut. The barrels are chambered, threaded, and fitted in the Stevensville facility.
Barrels and actions in various stages of completion
We moved on to the stock blank storage, where the various grades and types of wood are awaiting their marriage to someone's rifle.
V. V. W. (Very Valuable Wood)
Here another CNC unit is busy cutting a stock blank to near complete shape and inletting, before being finished and hand fitted to a specific barreled action
Next we traversed a covered walkway to the second manufacturing building which houses the stock fitting, checkering, finishing, and final assembly of the rifles, along with the test firing range, handloading room, and a greatly expanded customer service and custom shop. Also the bluing tanks are located here.
Interesting way to state this job description
After twice seeing Robin Bassett applying his woodworking skills, I think there's a bit more to this than "Stock Sander"
Becky Reimers executing the very delicate stock checkering in her quiet, darkened cubicle
Work station where some of those final touches are applied and minutes later, Tina Grapp, Maryann Hockenbury, and Lenna Brist, some of the Cooper staff who do the applying
Wayne Dreese, assembling the test ammo and Kevin Gordon, the man who shoots it
Cooper rifles are test fired in the underground range with handloaded ammunition. The original plan for the new facility was to have a 100 yard range, but due to some unspecified 'technical difficulties' the underground shooting lane distance is the same as at the old location at 50 yards.
The tour of the expanded custom shop and customer service area included some interesting news. Up to now Cooper has been what is known in the business as a 'semi-custom' rifle maker. While there are numerous variations and options available, each of the basic rifle models has a particular set of specifications that don't vary a lot.
During the past trade show season, Cooper representatives carried along a sample of a 'full custom rifle' for display at the various show venues. Based upon the feedback from attendees, the Cooper folks believe that moving into the 'full custom' arena can be profitable for them. Thus, we may begin to see full custom Coopers on the market in the not too distant future.
I believe the CS - 1 on this action, designates it as number one out of the Custom Shop
Our final stop on the tour was the main office building. This was the showpiece of the log home manufacturer formerly occupying this property.
No office is complete without a pleasant greeter, as in Bonnie Small
We finally sat down at the table in the conference room. On the wall, was displayed the various models in the Cooper lineup.
The Cooper Rifles
Take particular note of the rifle second from the right in that upright group in the center of the board. That's MY exciting news. After much soul searching and discussion, I (we) decided to get that first semi-custom rifle for my modest collection!
Can I justify a need to own a Cooper rifle? Of course not! But, like I told a feller once who seemed determined to take every last dollar to his grave, "I ain't never seen a hearse with a trailer hitch on it!"
Of course my rifle will be a mirror image of the one in the picture, because I need the bolt handle to be on the opposite side. Mine will be the 'Western Classic' left hand version of the Model 52 in .280 Remington caliber.
For the rest of the description, I'll quote the Cooper catalog: "The Western Classic features AAA+ claro walnut, shawdowline beaded cheek piece, African ebony tip, Western fleur wrap around hand checkering, oil finish, Pachmyr® pad, standard sling swivel studs, steel grip cap, and chrome-moly premium match grade octagon barrel. All metal work is a high gloss finish. Selected metal work is highlighted with case coloring."
A little photoshop manipulation makes this factory sample into a left hand action. Note the beautiful case coloring on the receiver. In addition to the basic features, my rifle will have special serial number, JLPARMAN, checkered bolt knob, inletted sling swivels, and case colored Talley scope rings
You thought we were done, but there was one more stop before we left. Being at the factory gives one an opportunity to select the specific stock blank that will end up on your rifle. Several of those AAA+ blanks were pulled from the shelves and lightly sprayed with water to bring out the grain and color.
Mike carried this one into the sunlight to better show the figure and contrast, and it is the one I ultimately chose
So, there you have it. I'll anxiously await the next several months when I get that call to, "Come on over and pick up your Cooper!"
As soon as the Cooper arrives I plan on conducting a 'shoot-off' evaluation between it and an 'off the shelf' commercial firearm in the same caliber which I also have on order. Meanwhile I'm working on getting a 'full custom' rifle on loan for a few days in hopes of making this a three way contest. Stay tuned as this develops further next spring.
Cooper Firearms markets their rifles through a network of authorized retailers. To find a dealer near you, check the Cooper website. www.cooperfirearms.com and go to the 'Find a Dealer' section.
In spite of my sense of the importance in obtaining my first semi-custom firearm, there is one July occurrence that takes precedence! Jennifer turned 17 years of age on July 31st!
A gift opening and ice cream cake sharing was held at Rick, Christi, and Jennifer's house the evening of July 30th. In spite of my protestations that no gifts be allowed until the actual birthday, I was overruled as usual. Apparently a date with a new boyfriend was on the agenda for the evening of July 31st, so the day early celebration was mandated.
Jennifer with some of her cards
Getting ready to dig into the loot
Apparently Cash is good As Well As Elk Ivory necklace and earrings
The cash was from Mom and Dad and the jewelry from Grandma and Grandpa.
This month's hillbilly wisdom comes from a quote that Ann found in some of her reading. Author unknown:
"Footprints on the sands of time are not made sitting down."
Well, It's time to shut down here, So . . . .
'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!!!