Mention Colt as a brand and certain images spring to mind. What those images are can depend largely on your generation. For me it’s a mix of three: the classic Peacemaker from the Westerns of my childhood, the iconic 1911 from my own carry as a concealed pistol, and the M16/AR-15 I’ve worked with professionally and privately for over 40 years now. Adjusting a few years in either direction might bring a Python PPC .357 Mag revolver to mind for a competitor, the Anaconda .44 Mag to a hunter, or the latest Mustang Pocketlite .380 ACP for a current shooter. Among Colt’s many legendary models during the company’s existence there’s one area that’s been extensively under-serviced: When you say “Colt,” you normally don’t think “bolt action rifle.” This has changed, and now you can.

The M2012LT308G

High performance and high quality tend to live in the same neighborhood as high prices. You get what you pay for, and if you’re looking for a budget kick-around for the pickup, try Wal-Mart instead. Fabricated overall to jointly agreed-on specifications, the Colt M2012LT is built around Cooper’s forged steel, open-top, bolt action, which is short-bedded directly below the chamber and surrounds a helically fluted, three-lugged bolt that provides a 60-degree bolt lift and carries a short spring-loaded extractor and plunger ejector in its face.

The Colt M2012LT port is sizable enough for reliable ejection; and the Colt M2012LT uses a detachable steel mag (five-shot mag supplied, 10-shot mag available) that can’t be topped off through that port. The mag locks solidly into the alloy bottom metal via a no-fumble, forward-push steel serrated lever latch located outside the triggerguard, just behind the mag.

The Picatinny rail adds a strong base for any optic choice.
The Picatinny rail adds a strong base for any optic choice.

The “sightless” rifle comes with a 6-inch section of Picatinny rail mounted behind a heavy 22-inch, fluted, free-floated, button-rifled barrel that is fitted at the muzzle with a proprietary brake designed and fabricated in-house at the Cooper factory. In fact, the rifle’s manufactured almost entirely in-house, including the stock, for maximum control over components and consistency.

On the left side of the action’s rear, a small pivoting tab releases the bolt for removal; on the right side, the two-position safety varies a bit from tradition in not locking the bolt along with the trigger when activated. Down below there’s an extremely nice single-stage Timney trigger with a 4-pound break that doesn’t know the meaning of the terms “creep,” “take-up,” or “overtravel.” The trigger sits in front of a very comfortable right-hand palm swell/pistol-grip stock section, and a Pachmayr Decelerator Pad brings up the rear. Elsewhere, there are two sling/bipod studs fore and one aft.

Range Time

Although it admittedly doesn’t do long-range justice to the rifle, I happened to have a Colt Competition-marked Leupold 1.25×4 Patrol scope on hand from another project waiting to go back to that company when the M2012 arrived, and since it was already in a heavy duty alloy Leupold IMS (Integral Mounting System) rail mount and ready to go, I used it for accuracy testing here.

Out to the 200-yard maximum distance I use at my local range, brightness and clarity are both more important than extreme magnification, and neither was a problem with that 30mm glass. (Ideally, if I were going to keep a Patrol scope on this rifle, it would be the 3-9x40mm model, which wouldn’t be a bad all-round choice for the gun.)

The Patrol scope features Leupold’s Fire Dot SPR reticle, with 8 levels of brightness for its center dot, internal motion-detector circuitry that switches it on with movement or off while sitting still, mil-dot-style ranging hashmarks on its stadia, and finger-adjustable elevation and windage turrets. This one was originally shipped for use on a .223 AR-15, but Leupold rushed a Bullet Drop Compensation (BDC) elevation turret drum fabricated by their Custom Shop to mate up with 165-168-grain .308 ballistics for the M2012. With more specific load info, incidentally, they can cut a drum for your exact load if you give them the weight and velocity. Here, we just kept it to a generic weight range.

The best group of two range sessions was a three-shot set in 0.31 inches with the Hornady 168-grain TAP, at a full 200 yards.
The best group of two range sessions was a three-shot set in 0.31 inches with the Hornady 168-grain TAP, at a full 200 yards.

While precision rifles are not my primary field of interest, I have been around one or two, and this one produced a couple surprises at the range. During two sessions, the four-power scope was no handicap at either 100 or 200 yards.

Colt expects one minute of angle (MOA) at 100 yards and Cooper expects half-minute accuracy, all with premium ammunition. While I couldn’t quite pull that off at 100 yards, I did come close. The biggest surprise, besides the very low recoil levels from the efficient muzzle brake combined with the 8.5-pound rifle under a 12-ounce optic, was that the M2012 actually shot those two loads tighter at 200 yards than it did at 100.

Final Notes on the M2012LT308G

Overall, this rifle takes no backseat to anything in its class or price range, and may quite easily come out in front. Colt hasn’t pulled any punches in re-entering the bolt-action arena, and as a precision rifle with law enforcement, bench and hunting applications, the M2012LT easily earns its $2,795 price tag.

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