Cooper Jackson Squirrel Rifle Review

Cooper Jackson Squirrel Rifle Review

The Cooper Jackson Squirrel Rifle Review by Yankee Hunter.  Built by Cooper Rifles Of Montana, the JSR is the holy grail for squirrel hunting junkies .  Lured by its beauty, I cheated on my Ruger 77/22. I’m only Human.  I’m sorry, please forgive me.

Aiming the Jackson Squirrel Rifle

Cheating On A Ruger

My squirrel gun was a solid Ruger 77/22 that I got for Christmas when I was 17. I like to love to hunt for squirrels and thought it was time to drop the cash for an ultra-fancy squirrel rig. The Ruger did a fine job but I thought I needed something a bit nicer and a bit more accurate, especially at longer ranges. I imagined myself sniping squirrels from tree tops at ridiculous distances- and looking good doing it- so I took the plunge and ordered the holy grail of squirrel guns- a Cooper Jackson Squirrel Rifle– the Things That Dreams Are Made Of!

.17 Mach II Kills Squirrels Like A Laser

When trying to decide what caliber to order my Jackson Squirrel Rifle, I considered going with the good old .22 rimfire, but then figured it would be worthwhile to investigate other options.
I scoured forum posts on rimfirecentral.com and read that the .17 Mach II cartridge had a laser trajectory at 100 yards and after researching it a bit more, I decided to order my Cooper in this relatively new offering.

Cooper Rifles Proven Accuracy

All Cooper rifles come from the factory with a proof target.
These proof targets are shot at the factory, probably by a shooting machine, with a Leupold 36x scope. They’re impressive to say the least.Cooper Factory Target

Delicate Triggers For Squirrel Rifles

The Cooper Jackson Squirrel Rifle, like all Cooper rifles, comes with an adjustable trigger that even a non-gunsmith can easily adjust. I adjusted mine down to “very light”. I say “very light” because I don’t own a trigger scale, but I’d guess it breaks at around 1 lb- perfect for shooting super tight groups and head shots on grey squirrels.

Best Looking Squirrel Rifle Award

The best looking squirrel rifle award goes to the Cooper Jackson Squirrel Rifle. There’s no doubt its good looks fueled my Fascination. Mine came with a beautiful piece of walnut that looked like hunk of Hershey’s Chocolate with dark swirls.

Leupold Scope For A Squirrel Rifle

My Jackson Squirrel Rifle had to be topped with a Leupold. I only use Leupold scopes on my rifles. They come with lifetime guarantee and I’ve sent several back to the factory over the years to be cleaned and refurbed- a service Leupold provides for no charge. Because the .17 Mach II shoots far and fast, I chose the Leupold VX-II in 4x12x40mm.

Putting The Jackson Squirrel Rifle To The Test

My JSR arrived in the summer so it was first put to test on groundhogs. On its first hunt, my JSR accounted for two whistle pigs. I was pretty amazed at the lethality of the .17 Mach II. Groundhogs can be amazingly tough and hard to kill but the Mach II took them out cleanly, one at 100 yards, the other around 40. The next test was squirrels.  But after several squirrel hunts, I slowly came to realize that the JSR was not the squirrel rifle for me. It took me awhile to accept it, but here’s why:

So while the Jackson Squirrel Rifle is amazingly beautiful and inherently accurate, it just didn’t work for me in the field. The bolt on the JSR is very sensitive and does not lock.  I found it inadvertently opening while being carried in the field. TInspecting the bolt on a Jackson Squirrel Riflehe safety is a tiny serrated switch positioned on the left and being Ruger guy, I was used to the right hand 3-position safety and I had trouble getting used to it. The safety, while effective, just didn’t feel like it was there- like it wasn’t substantial enough for a field gun. The stock was gorgeous but it didn’t fit me right and the cheek piece didn’t suit me. Maybe it’s my body type or bone structure, but the stock felt too long and I had trouble getting a full field of view in the Leupold scope and found myself having to monkey around to acquire targets in the field. The gun was almost too nice to take into the field. I took care of my Ruger, but I certainly didn’t baby it. I felt obligated to baby the JSR. It was just too pretty to not baby. It’s too nice to drop in the bottom of a muddy canoe and too sexy for the bed of my pickup.

Choosing A Rifle: Born To Make Mistakes

Cooper Jackson Squirrel Rifle ReviewWhile the JSR and the Mach II should have been the ultimate combination for long-range bushy tails, I came to realize that I’m not really a long-range hunter. Almost all of my squirrel shots are under 40 yards, and some are much closer. I hunt brushy woodlots and ridges that really don’t offer the long shots that I’d imagined. The JSR is longer and heavier gun than I was used to carrying. The 77/22 was lighter and seemed to sling-up more comfortably and handled quickly for the point-aim-shoot type of squirrel hunting that I do. The JSR seemed better suited to a sedentary type of hunting and a solid rest.  The feather light trigger is the way to go for precision shooting but it caused me to shoot prematurely, especially when shooting off hand.

Conclusion On The Cooper Jackson Squirrel Rifle

While Cooper builds a solid, made-in-the-USA, fancy, super accurate rifle, in the end I found that it just didn’t fit me or work for me in real-world field applications.  That’s no knock against the JSR or Cooper Rifles. I’m just saying that when the rubber met the road, it was not the right tool for my type of squirrel hunting. I was disappointed for sure but even though I cheated,  my Ruger 77/22 welcomed me back with open arms.

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