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We have studied the properties of copper vapor lasers configured as oscillators with unstable resonator optics and as power amplifiers. With the unstable resonator, a 26-fold reduction in the oscillator beam divergence has been achieved over the value observed with stable optics without any power degradation. Time-dependent beam divergence effects in the unstable resonator have also been measured and explained. Small-signal gain, saturation fluence, and available stored energy density parameters have also been measured in oscillator amplifier experiments for both the 510.6 and 578.2 nm transitions as a function of the copper number density. These results quantify the maximum power per unit length available from these devices and furthermore, demonstrate efficient extraction of power from copper vapor lasers operated as amplifiers.