A while back Len Backus and I were on the phone discussing future articles. After talking a while Len said, “John, you are really stuck on the 6.5mm?” I had to think a moment and said “Len, I guess you are right.” Let it be known I am a hunter first, reloader second and a non-competitive target shooter. I expect most of my rifles to shoot MOA or better and will not keep one that does not. Several years ago I was shooting 6mm cartridges. I felt that the 6mm Remington was the best Texas whitetail cartridge available and pretty much still feel that way. Slowly the 6.5 s came to my attention. First it was the .260 and it went on from there up to a custom 6.5-06. So naturally when Lapua came out with the 6.5x47 I just had to give it a try.
Bench time at the range.
Finding a rifle would not be easy. It seems there were no major manufactures willing to put the cartridge in their lineup, so far. I had to consider a custom rifle. I did not want a rifle that was a dressed up Remington with a custom barrel. I have a couple of those and they are fine and accurate but I wanted a full blown custom rifle. Since I had a couple Coopers in the safe, I could not think of a better combination. I was pleased to see the 6.5x47 in their available chamberings.
After a phone call, I had the Cooper folks working on a Model 54 which is basically a drop box magazine, heavy barrel rifle. After a wait of about six months it finally arrived. The first thing I do with a new rifle is to get its real specifications. The rifle with Leopold bases, weighed in at 9 lbs. 5 oz. The barrel was a 26 inch stainless semi-heavy which tapered to .799 inch at the muzzle with a 1 in 8 inch twist. The crown was nicely finished to a recessed target style. The trigger pull averaged over five pulls at 1 lb. 13oz. with no creep. I believe in Cooper and Lapua so much, I purchased this rifle. Yes, I could have gotten a loaner, but like Len said, I like 6.5mm.
Shooting at 250 yards.
Cooper makes a fine rifle at a price that is far lower than other “custom” rifles. They have designed their own action that has a three lug bolt that only needs a 60 degree lift. The barrels are of match quality and are made by Wilson. The metal work shows absolutely no machine marks. The stock is hand laid Kevlar with an aircraft grade aluminum bedding block. The bedding is so tight that I would have had to tap on the action to get it out of the stock, which I did not feel was necessary. The model I ordered was a model 54 with a drop box magazine. The only complaint I have with this rifle is the magazine release is small and difficult to engage. One thing is for sure. You will not accidently release the magazine.
Next was to decide what scope would be appropriate for this rifle and cartridge combination. I decided on the Trijicon TR23-1. I have followed Trijicon for years but just did not like that big wide post sticking up in the middle of my sight picture. This scope had a simple duplex reticle with an amber dot in the center. Now I can work with this scope. Scopes between 16 and 20 are the optimum for me, especially at one hundred yards. Using anything over 20 power, I seem to concentrate more on scope movement than being consistent on my point of aim.
Trijicon adjustment knobs.
I found the Trijicon scope to be exceptionally well made and easy to use. The glass was clear through all powers. The adjustments were precise and it returned to zero with no problems. The lighted reticle did not help me much for long range shooting, but I believe it will be great for next deer season or coyotes. You will not hear me say this often, but the Trijicon is worth the money.