Cooper 22ML Muzzleloader Test Thread

robby denning

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Hey Roksliders
While most of us know that Cooper Firearms builds accurate centerfire rifles, fewer know about their 22ML line of muzzleloaders.

We put out one of the first reviews back in 2015, written by Glenn May of Cooper: COOPER MODEL 22ML Muzzleloader - Rokslide

I think Glenn gave an honest review and since that time, many shooters have attested to the accuracy of the 22ML.

We really wanted to do our own test but hadn't had any staff hunts to give one of the 22MLs our own test & review. Although I have no idea if I'll draw any muzz tags this year, I'm tired of waiting to give this smokepole a run down, so I begged one off Cooper.

My first 22ML arrived this week. Cooper offers the gun in several of their rifle, stock, and finish configurations, and in 50 cal. and 45 cal.

Mine is the Open Country Long Range (name from this Rokslide contest here). I would have opted for one of the lighter options (they have several in the 7.75lb range) but this gun was ready to ship, and I knew many of you will be wondering about the Long Range capability, so I took it like a man and agreed to the extra 1.9lb penalty of the Open Country platform (luckily, this one weighed in at 8.7lbs).

As a deer hunter only, I choose the .45 cal option, but the gun is offered in .50 cal too. This is a 209 gun (other primer options in the works to satisfy Northwestern states rules like WA, OR, ID.) This gun is legal in the rest of the West's muzzleloader only seasons and virtually all of the rest of the country's muzz and rifle seasons.

Here are a few of the specs:
Synthetic Stock Black w/Tan Webbing
Matte Action
26" Stainless Barrel
.45 Cal Wilson Barrel 1:20 Twist
1" Pachmayr Decelerator Pad
9.6 lbs (mine tipped the scale at 8.7)
Timney Trigger, (I already measured mine: a crisp 2.5lbs pull)

 
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robby denning

robby denning

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It came with a Ken Farrell 0 MOA Picatinny Rail. I promptly mounted up my old Leupold 3-9x VII scope for load development (I'll switch to a peep or my Vortex 1.5-8x LH if I draw a tag, depending on the state's rules) using new Weaver rings.





As soon as the wind lays down, I'll get it to the range. If you want to follow this project, be sure and subscribe at "Thread Tools", top of this post.
I'll answer any questions I can for you all, so feel free to post up anytime.
 
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sneaky

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I'm in. My 92 Backcountry is a tack driver, they do good work.

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robby denning

robby denning

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I sent this thread link over to Glen at Cooper to make sure I got the specs right. He offered a few clarifications and other options:

> As to the weight, the muzzleloader version of the Open Country
> Long Range is less than the Model 52 version. The weight of yours is
> typical of the 45 cal version & the 50 cal would be slightly lighter.
> Fluted barrels are also optional & remove a slight amount of weight.
> Our specs book & literature will be edited to show the real weight.
> The pic rail angle on the Model 52 Open Country is 10 MOA
> standard but 0, 10, & 20 MOA angled rails are available for both
> rifles. I believe your particular rail is a 0 MOA because it was the
> only height we had in stock when that particular rifle was built.
> They could be ordered with 0, 10, or 20. The rail could also be
> omitted to save nearly half a pound in weight. Ken Farrell Inc has
> just started making an alloy version of their Model 52 rail which
> cuts its weight in half. They are popular on the Model 92's.
> Hopefully they begin making them for our other models too.
> We've recently switched from Timney triggers to Trigger Tech
> triggers, I can't remember which yours has. They are very similar
> though. New rifles can be ordered with Timney or Jewell triggers if
> someone desires.
 

sabotloader

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Robby, when you get a chance could you get some pictures of the breech plug and the bolt face? I am really curious about those two items. Actually got a bunch of questions but I will wait till you get and push some bullets through it.
 
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robby denning

robby denning

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Here you go Mike. Primer seats in bolt face, not breechplug to reduce chance of stuck primer, FYI,



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sabotloader

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Thanks Robby! I really appreciate the pic's

Questions for when you get a chance... where does the gas seal between breech plug and bolt face occur? Is there a specific primer they recommend? Is there a shelf in the breech plug the nose of the primer presses on to create the seal? I can see on the bolt face that a seal is probably formed there between the top of the primer and the face of the bolt but then how is the gas sealed between the nose of the prime in the breech plug?
 
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robby denning

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Mike, primer seals in the hole in the breechplug. I get about 6 shots before I need to clean the bolt face’s recess that holds the primer. Just a quick scrape with a pick and I’m good for another 6 shots. Hope that answers it.


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robby denning

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After 4 weeks of almost non stop wind, she finally laid down and I made it to the range today.

Thanks to Vandal for the invite to shoot at his farm. (Be sure and check out his great muzz buck http://www.rokslide.com/forums/mule-deer/93189-2017-muzz-buck-2.html#post915337)

Shooting muzzleloaders, I’ve learned to avoid public gun ranges, there’s just too much going on with a muzzleloader to have to wait on anybody.

Dang it was good to be shooting again.I’ve worked 6 days a week too many hours a day since hunting season ended.

This was just supposed to be a bore sight/sight-in day, nothing too serious but I did get a few good groups and ended the session with a legal load for Colorado (and any conical-only states that accept Powerbelts).

I didn’t set up my bench, just shot over the hood. But I still got some good groups. I’ll get those up here over the next few posts

The Cooper is a good looking gun, fits my 5’9” 180lb frame well, cheek weld is good with this scope/mount combo. Although I don’t like heavy guns, they sure are easier to steady.



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robby denning

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After a 50 yard bore sight, I fired one barrel fouler and nearly hit the bullseye, so I moved to 100 yds.

1st group 100gr Blackhorn 209 (BH 209) behind 180gr Precision Rifle QT, lit by Federal Shotshell primer:


Wow, 0.75”

I then jumped up to the 240gr QT, (with 100gr BH 209)my preferred weight to shoot Big mule deer with a sabot


3”, Not good



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robby denning

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Then I went to try 120gr BH, and when I pulled the ramrod, the guide snapped off the barrel. Screw broke. Not happy about this as it’ll be a pain to fix. Hope this is a fluke!!!
Doctored it with electrical tape. Could have left it off but leaving ramrod out can change barrel harmonics.


Next group @120gr BH:

5”, that Really blew up so I dropped to 90gr BH

Bam! 1” group

So that’s two 1” or better groups, those loads would be legal in NV, UT, two states I’ve applied in this year (and AZ, NM)

Now to move to a conical to be legal in ID, CO, potential states for me this year, although until Cooper offers an open breech/#11 or Musket cap conversion, ignition system isn’t legal in ID

Note, I don’t have my regs but it’s possible that little Powerbelt isn’t legal in Idaho as it’s copper plated, I’ll check and repost



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robby denning

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Although still loading fine, I cleaned the gun with Montana Extreme solvent and a 12-gauge nylon brush followed by a half dozen cotton patches as I don’t mix sabots and conicals

Loaded 225gr HP Powerbelts in front of 100gr BH:



1.4” group, nice

Meant to jump to jump to 110gr BH but forgot to reset my powder gauge so I shot another 100gr group

Another 1.4”, which might indicate low S.D.

Jumped to 110 gr

2” group, ehhhh (but after seeing the next group, that variation could just be me).

Jumped to 120gr

0.63”. Double wow.

120gr is cooking so I set up the chronograph


That’s pretty good but the Powerbelt is going to be the lowest B.C. bullet, so it will shed that speed quickly. But the gun certainly likes them.

I’m wrapping it up for today, gonna crunch these numbers and make some decisions on loads before I swap to a peep. I’ll keep you posted.

Other than the broken rod guide, gun seems to have some great potential right out of the box. I really like the trigger. I’m getting blackened primers which indicates a less than great gas seal but I’ve seen this with all the other 209 guns I’ve shot, TC & Knight, so it’s not a dealbreaker for me if they shoot.
 
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sneaky

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Deer everywhere across the West are hoping you don't draw any muzzy tags. #legendary shootin'

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robby denning

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I shoot 195 grain Precision’s with 90 gr BH in my TC G2 .45. It’s a killer.
I’ve tried those 195s out of my old Khanke 45, and was getting MOA groups out to 200 yards. Thanks for the reminder, I might try them in this gun depending on how everything comes together.


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robby denning

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I try to always clean my gun within a day of the range so I don’t forget and am ready to roll next time the winds are down.

I forgot to put anti-seize on the breech plug so I was a little concerned, but with the tool provide by Cooper, it was less than 10lbs pressure to remove it


Montana Xtreme makes a 209 solvent I think, but this stuff has served me well


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sabotloader

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Mike, primer seals in the hole in the breechplug. I get about 6 shots before I need to clean the bolt face’s recess that holds the primer. Just a quick scrape with a pick and I’m good for another 6 shots. Hope that answers it.


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yep! that tells me what I was asking - thanks

When shooting BH, you really do not need to worry about the BP seizing. I normally just put a small amount of bore oil on the BP threads and plug the BP in. Shooting any of the other subs you will need to remember to protect the plug form seizing.

I guess I am a creature of habit but lately I do wrap the BP with white Teflon tape just in case I might shoot T7.
 
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