Cooey: The Unassuming Canadian Workhorse

Cooey is a brand name that will be immediately recognized by Canadians, but pretty much unknown everywhere else. Founded in 1903 by Herbert Cooey, the company would produce a series of simple and practical firearms that became hugely popular and common in Canada. The basic models were the single-shot .22 Model 39, the bolt action magazine-fed .22 Model 60, and the break action single-shot Model 84 shotgun (and the Model 64 semiautomatic .22, made after the company was sold out of the Cooey family). These are not particularly exciting firearms, but they are ubiquitous across Canada, having served Canadian families reliably for a
century now.

19 Comments

  1. Cooley was sold to Lakefield that was located in Lakefield Ontario. I have had many cooey’s And they are amazing firearms! I still hunt the model 60 that was given to me by my dad , he got it second hand years before. It still works flawlessly!

  2. I’m pretty sure the name of the company that bought the Cooey tooling is Lakefield, and not Lakeside. Their Mark II bolt action rifle is the now-ubiquitous Savage Mark II (although the design has evolved over the years).

    An interesting side note is that Lakefield either worked with or was part of Mossberg and had their own semi-auto .22 rifle – the Mark III that also shares a magazine design with the bolt-action Mark II.

    Pure speculation on my part, but I think the Cooey 64 design replaced the Mark III so that the Mark III tooling could be pressed into making more Mark IIs. The Mark III’s tubular receiver (vs. the square receiver on the Model 64 or for that matter, 10/22 and Marlin semi-auto .22s) looks closely related to the Mark II. https://www.icollector.com/Lakefield-Mossberg-Model-Mark-III-22-LR-Cal-Mag-Fed-Semi-Auto-Rifle-w-20-bbl-blued-finish-ba_i27777991

  3. By sheer coincidence I had chance to shoot Cooey small bore rifle yesterday. It was the repeater Ian shows first. It is bit finicky in sense that you must insert round directly into chamber (if you lay it in the receiver it will snub). I was quite impressed with its accuracy firing it at 50 meters. The separate cocking makes it very safe to operate.

    As already mentioned by Kevin, it is Lakefield Arms (now division of Savage Arms), not “Lakeside” who succeeded Cooey.

  4. The first shot i ever fired was from a single barrel “winchester cooey” .410″.

    It was even proved for 3″ magnums.

    My mother used to shoot jackdaws off the house chimneys with it (given half a chance they’ll build massive nests of twigs in chimneys)

    There’d probably be a major terrorism alert if she did that now.

    I don’t know what the tie in with Winchester was.
    Apparently there was even a cylindrical receiver “Cooey” branded winchester model 70

  5. The once-common .22 Stevens Model 70 “visible loading rifle” is a pump-action gun that also pulls the whole magazine tube back (whereupon a lifter pushes the cartridge straight up, and that cartridge ejects the extracted spent case held up above it by the bolt-head). Unlike the Cooey it is a pain to disassemble or reassemble, and many of these guns exist now only as boxes of stray parts.

    Simple, economical, durable — it boosts my morale to see these Cooeys, and the thinking that went into them.

  6. A lot of childhood memories there. I still have my granddads .22lr cooey that was bought previous to ww1.It has a very small action and stock a true boys gun My dad bought a .25rf cooey back about 1980 we had 4 boxes of ammo and had great fun shooting it.
    I saw a very old mod.39 with a threaded barrel at a gunshoe in Orangeville about 1970.
    Maybe maxim sold some of his products up in canada
    My first semiauto was a model 64 it cost me all of 35 dollars second hand in 1973
    There even cooeys in France a friend of mine has a cooey single barrel 12 gauge

  7. I’ve got 2 Cooeys. The model 39 I bought when I was 14 and a Ranger (one of Eaton’s dept store’s brand names) that still harvests small game.
    Great rifles. I’ll never part with them except to pass them on to my grandkids.

  8. 1) When I saw Cooey, I thought “Australia” –
    “a call used to attract attention, esp (originally) a long loud high-pitched call on two notes used in the Australian bush”
    but I learned that’s “Cooeee!”
    2)I always admire a simple, straight forward, easy to operate and maintain design in any form of machinery. Canada has now atoned for Charles Ross
    3) Where’s the automatic and sniper rifle conversions from the Kaiser War? (Weren’t they sent to arm the Home Guard in 1940?)
    4) Kieth, now there’s a distinction, “My mother was a terrorist”
    5) Storks are notorious for building huge nests (IIRC, up to one ton) on top of chimneys

    • “(…)Canada has now atoned for Charles Ross(…)”
      Note that he also designed .22 rim-fire single-shot rifle, known today as Ross Cadet training rifle https://www.rifleman.org.uk/Ross_cadet_training_rifle.htm
      It was straight-pull like “full-size” Ross, but interestingly
      Normally, if the bolt is closed, cocking the action, the bolt is locked forward. Pressing the release lever will open the bolt under the striker spring pressure; if a cartridge is loaded when this is done, and if the action is in good operating condition, the cartridge will be ejected as the bolt opens when the release lever is pressed.

      If the bolt is pushed into the closed position while the release is pressed, the bolt will not lock forward, and should simply spring open again. If the bolt is closed with the trigger pulled, the bolt will lock forward and the release lever must be pressed to open it.

  9. There were a lot of deactivated Cooey 840 shotguns avalable in the UK some years ago.
    Does anybody know what their story is? Did they have any military, police or other government
    role where they would be issued in relatively large numbers?
    Mine has no markings other than those you would expect on a civilian weapon.

  10. Interesting fact, in 1953 a Native American (Cree) woman named Bella Twin shot the largest Grizzly Bear in North America. It was south of Slave Lake Alberta and the rifle used was a Cooey Ace 1 single shot. Ammo was a single round of CIL-made .22 Long.

  11. Ian i might mention you forgot to mention famous cooey mod 82. It was a military trainer. Look it up it will interest you as somewhat forgotten weapon. Essentially mod 75 with full wood stock imitating lee rife.
    As for lakeside as other mentioned it was lakefield who got the tooling. Also i have talked to a relative of cooey family the company sold to olin/winchester. He did say that winchester was interested in company for a while and they did offer Late H Cooey significant offer he could not refuse.

  12. My cadet squadron had Cooey model 82s rifles converted to “DP” for drill. We used CNo.7 Long Branch Enfields for target shooting, so I assume the idea was not bash up the more expensive and still live CNo.7s by having clumsy cadets dropping them.

  13. The trigger system bears some similarities with European simple single shot .22 rifles from Correct, Anschütz et cetera. Those uses a round cocking piece that was shape like an airgun diablo, and essentialy worked like the Cooeys mechanism without need to orientate it in the receiver by the nub riding in the receivers slot. I wonder who was first to come out with this design.

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