Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 10, No. 1 January 2002
Happy New Year!
The major gap in our education has been
complete absence of the study of comparative religion. I have a
couple of pretty respectable degrees, but I blush to admit that I
am hard put to differentiate between a Suni and a Suffi - just
as I cannot tell a Southern Methodist from a Northern Shrike. So I
have been reading up on the matter in an effort to find out just
what it is we are fighting about, but it is not easy to investigate
the philosophical nature of Islam. To begin with, Moslem doctrine
forbids the translation of what may be called its scripture into
any language other than Arabic, a language which does not translate
well. The matter is made further difficult by the fact that the
Koran appears to be dauntingly disorganized. It is only in part a
theological treatise, covering as it does all sorts of oddments
about lifestyle, physical conditioning, sanitation, and what may be
called "differential morality." There is certainly more to it than
meets the eye, since its appeal to large numbers of people of
different cultural backgrounds over several centuries is
startlingly strong. I must admit that I do not find any doctrine
here that is worth fighting about. Nonetheless, these people want
to fight about it, and that makes them both dangerous and silly at
the same time, a condition difficult for a rationalist to
I must admit that any body of religious doctrine is difficult for a
rationalist to accept, since faith, by definition, is "the evidence
of things unseen." This by no means diminishes the importance of
faith in the human adventure, but it does leave at least some of us
with a strong resistance to "polypragmatocracy " (the rule of the
busybody). Some people want to be told how they should
think about matters of faith and morals. Others feel that these
matters should be left up to the individual. We do not object to
the moral doctrines held by other people (as long as they do not
result in savagery), but we do believe that people of maturity
should be left free to decide religious matters for themselves.
And thereby hangs the tale. The devout Moslem demands that other
people share his faith or die. That is not a foolish fancy -
it is right there in the book. The devout Moslem does not
necessarily hate the Infidel, he simply cannot accept his
existence, and there you have the Holy War. It may be that OBL's
days are briefly numbered, but whether he lives or dies, Islam
remains the core of the Holy War. I cannot handle the Arabic
language, and therefore it is not possible for me to interpret the
Koran. The fact remains that we do have a Holy War on our hands,
and how we pursue it remains to be seen. I do not know what we have
in mind for the next step, but we do have good feelings about Mr.
Rumsfeld. His conduct of what must be regarded as the preliminary
skirmishes appear to have been carried out with neatness and
dispatch. Now let us remain ready for Phase Two of the
We are informed that in Africa today,
north of the "Mason-Dixon Line," a professional hunter is required
to pack a rifle at all times. (He is not, however, required to pack
any ammunition.) This is the "new Africa."
We were distressed to learn that Peter
Blake of New Zealand, a yachtsman with two first places in the
America Cup, was recently murdered by pirates on the Amazon. We
have no details, but we understand that the governments of the
world stand firm in their conviction that decent people should not
attempt to fight back against pirates. Whatever the political
situation may be, we insist that if you venture out on the blue
water you had best be armed and ready. Boat-against-boat action is
usually best handled by the 30 caliber machinegun, but even a
pistol may well suffice, if it is handled properly by the right
Now that you have your copy of the second
issue of the Gargantuan Gunsite Gossip (G2), we
advise that you get it hardbound as soon as convenient. That book
is a scanner, to be browsed through at length. Best tidy it
up so that you do not wear it out.
Doubtless you have noted the recent tendency on the part of various
gun writers to denigrate the 30-06 cartridge. The late Charley
Askins demonstrated this attitude some years ago in a magazine
article, and now we see that a currently active colleague has taken
up the tattered banner of iconoclasm again.
The trouble with the 30-06 is that, like Julius Caesar, it is
. It is not only too good, but it is too old -
now only four years short of its centennial. People have been
trying to improve upon it since before I was born (and that was a
very long time ago), but without success. Its great virtue seems to
be its unacceptable versatility, which is a drawback in the age of
specialization. I acquired my personal 06 when I was in high
school, and while I have obtained a number of other weapons since
then, I have never felt a real need to improve upon the cartridge.
The 30-06 is nobody's first choice for elephants, nor is it ideal
for prairie dogs, but it will suffice for either of those if that
is all that is available, and it will account comfortably for
everything in between - including Homo sapiens
The cartridge was deemed too large for optimum portability after
the Korean War, and was replaced by the US government with the 7.62
NATO cartridge, or 308 as we call it now. The 308 is a tad smaller
than the 06, but this is a minor point to the individual owner, and
with the advent of the more modern propellants any power difference
between the two cartridges is negligible.
The 30-06 retains a minor, but not inconsiderable, edge over the
more modern 308 in its accommodation of the 220-grain bullet, which
renders it a practically perfect cartridge for the African
buschveldt today, where versatility in one loading can be very
useful. The 30-06/220 is eminently suitable for kudu or lion, yet
will not tear up an impala or a springbok (whereas the 30-06/150
I grew up on the 30-06, and that makes me a dinosaur, but I am
nowise ashamed of that. In my teens I took four-for-four (bighorn
through moose) with four shots in Alberta, and I have since taken a
fair list of quadrupeds, big and little, with the same round.
Today I might fancy the 308 over the 06 simply because I can get it
in Scout configuration. The Scout, after all, comes
over-the-counter in 308. The difference in "field effect" between
the 308/150 and 30-06/150 is negligible, so the handiness of the
Scout favors it in high mountains and tundra. If the hunter is
going to ride around in vehicles, however, handiness hardly
There need be no discussion of intrinsic accuracy, since that is a
function of rifle execution rather than cartridge design. Given
equally fine launchers, both cartridges will deliver one-holers at
reasonable ranges, and will shoot flatter than the marksman can
appreciate out to where he can no longer see his target
The 30-06 ("United States cartridge, caliber 30, model of 1906")
was and remains king. If the 308 now encroaches upon it that is
because of improvements in rifle design, rather than new
cartridges. Let him who would denigrate the King place himself well
beyond the castle walls lest he be overheard. The punishment for
can be both undignified and uncomfortable.
"But there ain't many troubles that a man caint fix
With seven hundred dollars and a thirty ought six."
Guru say: The purpose of training
is to fit you for a trade. The purpose of education is to
make you better company for yourself.
I do not suppose that I will have much
effect when I call upon the faithful to knock off this "internet
war." Those of us in the family should devote ourselves to
confounding the hoplophobes, rather than insulting each other. It
was not very long ago that we had no problem here, when all the
good guys were wearing the same uniform and fighting the same
battle, but unfortunately faction has a way of rearing its ugly
head. We American shooters who constitute the foundation of
liberty, are philosophically correct, but we are not strong enough
to aid the enemy by fighting amongst ourselves. Please do not
throw rocks at people on your own side of the barricade.
Despite our temporary victory at the polls, there are still plenty
of people who voted the wrong way - and will continue to do
so. Schumer, I understand, is still alive and well.
Those of you who are involved in designing
practical pistol matches should bear in mind that the "Tac-load"
has no place in competition. The Tac-load is a step to be taken
between actions, not during them. In a competition you are always
fighting the clock, but not between engagements in a street
We are awash with opinions about the
nature of the Holy War. Opinions are cheap, and long may they wave,
but it would indeed be nice if these opinionators would study up on
this subject before they presume to pontificate. I have been
reading up like mad over the past thirty days and have become
impressed by how little I know. This intercultural conflict is not
easy to understand, and it has been made more difficult by the
linguistic problem. The theologians insist that it is forbidden to
translate the Koran into any language other than Arabic. I assume
that is the reason for the prophet's injunction. Be that as it may,
whenever a commentator presumes to tell us in English about the
nature of Islam, he rather gives himself away. It does seem
difficult to deny, however, that to a Moslem an Infidel is
basically nasty, who can only be redeemed by conversion to Islam.
So here we go. It is not going to be an easy
I guess you have noticed that OBL is (or
was) left-handed. There may be a lesson in this, but I sure do not
know what it is.
Over the years I have developed the
notion that there is a definite connection between marksmanship and
morality. A good shot is nearly always a good man, and conversely
the bad guys usually cannot shoot for sour owl jowls. This
proposition cannot be proven, of course, but I think it has to do
with the fact that the essence of good marksmanship is
self-control, and it seems pretty clear that self-control
is the foundation of good morals. Hurray for our side!
A couple of years back, the NRA committee
on hunter assistance quizzed itself on the subject of "the great
hunts." As Ortega tells us, hunting is one of the four activities
which men of all cultures and all regions have always enjoyed when
temporarily freed from the lash of poverty. (The other three, for
those who are interested, are racing, dancing and conversation.)
Hunting is universal - it is the universal indulgence. Thus we
may ask ourselves, if everybody hunts who can, what are the great
hunts? This is a matter of individual choice, of course, but when
we sift out the choices we find a certain agreement, and the list
comes out something like this:
- The Rocky Mountain Bighorn. All of the mountain sheep afford
splendid challenges - calling for skill, stamina, dedication,
and the heart of a naturalist. Among them all the American bighorn
offers the ultimate scenery and the finest ambience, in addition to
a grand trophy and the very best venison.
- The Auerhahn. This is generally held to be the finest of
the gallinaceous birds. It is almost impossible to hunt in
Continental Europe today, though not so difficult in Scandinavia.
In most jurisdictions the sportsman is allowed only one specimen
- The Plantantion Quail. Down in the Deep South the traditional
quail hunt combines sport and ceremony with great elegance. The
shooting is just one aspect of this party, but the dogs, the mule
wagon, the red eye gravy and grits, and the choice bourbon in the
evening all make up into a special case.
- The Nandi Lion. Rounding up a lion in a circle of spearmen in
the traditional fashion is certainly one of the great hunting
adventures. It is legally unacceptable today, but its day is not
- The Howdah Tiger. The old-fashioned tiger hunt from the back of
an elephant is another leisure that is probably extinct, but its
memory should not be allowed to vanish.
- The "Wild Boar" (Sus scrofa). The big pig is taken
properly only with cold steel, either afoot with a pike or mounted
with a lance. Either system is difficult to arrange today but
nonetheless very choice, calling for strength, stamina, skill, and
physical courage. (These beasties can be distinctly dangerous. You
may remember that Adonis was killed by a wild boar.)
- The Buffalo. The Cape African buffalo (Syncerus caffer)
has nothing much to do with the Cape, but we seem to be stuck with
the title. There is one school of hunters which maintains that old
Nyati is the most dangerous of game animals currently pursued.
Danger, of course, depends upon circumstances which are not always
easy to arrange, but the buffalo does kill people, even in today's
"politically correct" atmosphere. If the hunter is well armed,
knows his bovine anatomy, is a reasonably good shot, and is in full
control of his nerves, he is pretty safe from buffalo. But of
course those conditions are not always present at the same
- Ovis poli. The poli is the grandest of the sheep in
person, but his landscape is dreary. In a good specimen, he is the
grandest of all trophies to hang on the wall, but it is now not
very difficult, though expensive, to gather him up.
- Coue's Deer. This delicate little creature is the ultimate of
the whitetail, and thus, probably the ultimate deer of any kind.
His habitat is restricted to the Southwest of the US, and he is not
plentiful, but under the right circumstances he makes up into one
of the very best hunts.
"Think, therefore, on revenge and cease to weep."
I suggest that you do not come to pistol
school with a pistol which may not be cocked ("double-action
only"). You will hold yourself back and perplex the other members
of the class.
This current rage for the "Pocket Ten"
seems to be doing well across the counter. A Pocket Ten is a pretty
good idea, but not one worth ringing bells about. The purpose of
the pistol is completely defensive, and it is not clear that
reducing its defensive capability is a particularly worthy notion.
Certainly a compact handgun is easier to pack around, but ease of
use would seem to be a secondary consideration. According to Combat
Master Clint Smith, it is more important that a pistol be
comforting than comfortable. Naturally the
shooter wishes to optimize his circumstances, but he ought not to
do this at risk of his life. The logogram DVC represents the
equality of precision, power and quickness. It does not seem wise
to emphasize one element over another.
In that regard we learn, to our mild disgust, that some outfit back
in the East has decided that they own some sort of copyright on the
logogram and that, therefore, we (the practitioners of the modern
technique of defensive pistolcraft) must not go around putting
DVC on anything. The trouble with this is that we have been
putting those letters in various form on all sorts of artwork for
about 40 years, and we are not inclined to start melting down our
belt buckles, gunstocks and cap ornaments. It is unfortunate that
people who have no style of their own wish to inflict their own low
standards upon other people.
A correspondent recently mentioned that a
relative of his had been "a member of the US Navy." Somehow I do
not think you can be a "member" of the Navy. The old-fashioned term
for a sailor was "sailor," with or without sails. Better a US
Marine than a "member of the US Marine Corps," or so it seems to
So it appears that the home of the brave
includes citizens who may be intimidated by the presence of a
plastic knife! One may only be terrorized if he allows himself to
be. Terror is a bad word and should be abandoned. Apparently
we are living in an age when word usage may be dictated by the
timid, the cowardly and the dishonorable. Let us turn that around
and set up proper English usage to suit people who are worthy of
it. Just as you cannot be enslaved against your will, you cannot be
terrorized against your will. We inherit a noble tradition. Let us
now resolve to live up to it!
People who presume to teach us about such
things suggest that we change our ready ammunition every six
months. I guess this is a good policy, but I do not regard it as a
flat rule. The shelf-life of high quality smallarms ammunition is
almost indefinite. On the other hand, shooting up your ready stock
at least every six months will provide you with more time on the
range; and that, of course, is a good thing in itself.
I suppose I should not keep repeating it,
but the presence of an intermediate eye relief telescope sight does
not make a rifle a Scout. There are about seven essential
attributes to the scout concept, and taken together they make up
into a "symbiosis" - a total which is greater than the sum of
Odd, but no one seems to have mentioned
that the principal objurgators of the Jews in modern time are the
Nazis and the Moslems.
In view of all this talk about military
justice and "tribunals," we look back upon the time we spent in and
around courts martial as a junior officer. In those days my bible
was "Naval Courts and Boards", which was later followed by the
Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). All involved agreed that
if you are innocent, you want a military court. If you are guilty,
you want a civil court. The military court will attempt to find out
what happened. A civil court, too often, is merely a procedural
confrontation between two technicians.
I do not see how we can fight a war
against terrorism, any more than we can fight a war against
gravity. If we are going to fight, we are going to have to
find a target, and that target will have to be human, rather than
"You do not survive a gunfight. You win a
Colonel Bob Brown
During the holidays just past, we were
feted with the usual exhortations about "peace." Peace is a nice
thing, but it is not overly impressive. All you need to do to
achieve peace is to give up, and as to that, we will all have
all the peace we need - all too soon. Perhaps we should
consider the paraphrase "Peace on Earth - To Men of Good
Will." Those people who want all infidels dead do not seem to
fit into that category.
Several correspondents have informed us
that according to the Koran, Moslems are forbidden to fight any but
defensive wars. Since I do not read Arabic, I cannot be sure
about this, but it seems that the Arabs had to defend themselves
furiously all the way from Mecca (in Arabia) to Tours (in France),
going backwards all the time. Those Christians must have been
pretty clever in order to get around behind the ragheads, who then
defended themselves in reverse for several thousand miles
and several hundred years.
Our two favorite columnists are Thomas
Sowell and Florence King. Miss King just threw us a real beauty in
National Review. She asserts that her mother (an
unreconstructed Southern Lady) disputed this "sensitivity" about
busting the ragheads during Ramadan, as follows: "That's the best
time to get 'em - when they've got their faces in the rug and
their asses in the air."
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal
use only. Not for publication.