Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 10, No. 12 November 2002
As our civilization continues along its
degenerate way, we note that the acceptance of specialization in
life is achieving new lows. It appears that post-modern man is
content to manifest no interest in anything beyond the confines of
his own little cubicle. In my youth it was assumed that a grown man
should know a good bit about a whole number of things, besides any
specialty that might take his fancy. I do not remember visiting a
household which was totally without personal firearms - always
a 22, and usually a shotgun. Today the press assumes a curious
obligation to inform us (not necessarily correctly) about matters
relating to firearms. Generally speaking, journalists and
commentators do not choose to educate us about cooking, or
motoring, or swimming, or equitation, or flying an airplane, but
they seem to be anxious to tell us all about firearms, and
furthermore they assume that no one will know anything about
firearms unless he has been instructed in the military. Actually
military instruction in firearms is pretty rudimentary. Any well
educated youth should know more about marksmanship and gunhandling
when he enters the service than he is likely to learn after he does
so. The notion that our finally apprehended Muhammad (may peace be
upon him) had to have been trained in the military before he could
use a rifle is an example of this. This mass murderer displayed no
particular knowledge or skill in his disgusting rampage, yet a
number of journalistic types seems to think that he is some kind of
It is sad evidence that we shooters are a distinct minority in our
urban culture. At our recent Reunion at Whittington Center,
we were much gratified by the presence of seventeen young people
who participated with both eagerness and distinction. One little
girl of eight applied for permission to recite the General Rules
of Gunhandling before the audience. The skies may be grey, but
there is still some hope. May God defend the right!
We were amused to hear that on his
fiftieth birthday President Putin of Russia had a mountain in
Kyrgyzstan named after him. The President of Kyrgyzstan who sought
to honor Putin is named Askar Askayev. Apparently the Kyrgyzi have
so many mountains that they can afford to be profligate in their
nomenclature. "Rudel, Cooper and Putin" make a truly exotic
We do not see much of interest in the way
of new models in firearms. The ones we have do just fine, and this
is a cause for concern amongst the marketeers. It is necessary to
advance all sorts of specious claims in order to make us unhappy
with what we already have, but people who know very little about a
subject, from motorcycles to flyswatters, are easy marks for those
who wish to make them discontented with what they have. This is
Reports back from the war in Afghanistan
tell us that nearly all individual weaponry is nocturnal, and that
optical sights are the way to go. The trouble with telescope sights
has always been fragility, but apparently new production has been
able to withstand the rigors of hard field service without
We also hear from recent battle reports that the 223 cartridge is
not a successful combat round. It will kill, certainly, as our
recent urban atrocities have proven, but it is not a stopper. It is
a pretty good murder weapon for use across the street against an
unsuspecting non-combatant, but it is hardly a good thing to take
into battle. The Pentagon is looking around for something to
replace it. Why we need something superior to the 308 is unclear,
but there are people in positions of authority who join the popular
notion that anything developed before they were born is useless.
This idea carries over into certain military offices which are
concerned with long range sniping. Certainly a 300 Magnum may be
technically superior to a 30-06, and a 338 may be superior to a 300
Magnum, but it is hard to postulate a situation in which an
individual rifleman is better than a 30-06. As always, it is the
man, not the instrument, which wins the day.
"People never lie so much as:
After a hunt,
during a war,
or before an election."
Is it not curious how fashions and
language change? One can hardly read a news item without running
across "terror" used as an adjective, or "terrorism" as a movement.
We do not bother to define these terms, but that is probably just
as well. Forced to the wall, I would opine that "terrorism," in its
modern sense, is indiscriminate war conducted for political reasons
against non-combatants. It differs from war in that it has no
objective, and it differs from crime in that money is not involved.
By whatever definition, it is entirely unconscionable, and if I
were king, I would reintroduce exemplary capital punishment as its
reward. The old-fashioned British custom of hanging in irons comes
Family member and Shooting
Master John Pepper points out his annoyance with the
journalistic term "gunned down." A man is not gunned down when he
is shot, rather he is gunned down appropriately by a butt stroke. I
am familiar with the butt stroke, both in training and in practice,
and I do agree with John. The butt stroke, properly delivered with
a full-size rifle, is every bit as decisive as a rifle shot. Its
utility, however, is restricted by its very short range
We certainly miss the days of Margaret
Thatcher's leadership in England. When Argentina seized the
Falklands, she simply called upon the British military
establishment to retake them. It is said that the War Minister
mentioned to the Prime Minister that such an action would result in
fairly heavy British casualties. Her response was, "General, you
just take back the Falklands. Let me worry about the
casualties." Now there is the sort of political leadership that
shows us the way!
This matter of arming the pilots of
commercial aircraft is not as simple as it appears. A man is not
armed because he has custody of a weapon. He is armed only if he
has the skill to use it well. And getting that skill across to tens
of thousands of airline pilots in a short time is too much to
expect. Gun fighting is one part technique and three parts
attitude. Teaching technique is fairly simple, provided the student
is properly motivated, but teaching attitude is more complex. The
right man with the right attitude is a more efficient combatant in
the close confines of an airplane cockpit than the wrong man armed
with a machine pistol. Once again it is the man, rather than the
gun, that matters.
Piracy continues apace in the disputed
waters of the world. Indonesia, India, the Red Sea, the Horn of
Africa, and the Gulf of Guinea are hot spots. The fanatical modi
operandi are conspicuously low tech, conducted principally with
edged weapons. This means they could be stopped cold by properly
organized crews. However, recruiting, training, paying, and arming
miscellaneous coast-wise civil sailors is probably an impossible
People still raise the question of why we
hunt. Fortunately tastes differ, but in my opinion we hunt:
- Because we want to;
- For meat;
- For memories of adventure.
Trophies, of course, should constitute our most elegant souvenirs,
but I do not see their size as being of primary importance.
Naturally one admires a prime specimen more than a juvenile, but
the record book is hardly an end in itself. Hunting should be an
individual delight, not a competitive exercise. Hemingway made
himself look quaint in his preoccupation with inches, or so it
seems to me.
We learn that Norinco in China is now
producing an elegant replica of the "Broomhandle" Mauser, famed in
song and story. This piece serves no practical purpose that I can
see, but it is a delight to play with. A friend of ours used one
extensively at Catalina Island when I was a boy, and as a boat gun
with butt-stock attached it was great fun. I do not feel like
acquiring one just now, but if anyone of the family wishes
to bring one by we would be most happy to spend an afternoon
playing with it.
Further reports from the various fronts
in the Holy War suggest that THEY are not clued in. It is
heartening to observe that people who believe that by memorizing
the Koran and praying five times a day they will achieve all that
is necessary in their war against the West. If one is instructed
from infancy that one is holy, nothing else is necessary. He is
unlikely to fight skilfully with modern weapons. Most of the
atrocities so far committed have been carried out by people who
welcome death in a holy cause. Such people are certainly deadly,
but they are not efficient in the fight against the
We believe that this initial radial
deviation test, which we dreamed up to establish the precision
capacity of a rifle/sight/rifleman combination, is worth widespread
distribution. It serves to establish the hitting capacity of the
combination in a meaningful fashion. It should be conducted at 200
yards (or 200 meters) and by means of a series of single shots. In
the field, of course, only the first shot counts, not group size.
The exercise should be conducted three times to avoid the influence
of luck. One shot is fired from a cold, clean barrel, and its index
is the distance between the exact point of aim and the point of
impact. The smaller the deviation, the higher the score.
This is not an entertainment exercise, since too little shooting is
involved, but it does serve as a precise evaluation of the
combination being examined.
I repeat that I think we are missing a
bet in not using pigs and pig products as weapons in the Holy War.
If you happen to have any hollow point ammunition you might think
of filling the point with pig fat in order to increase your
I do not pretend to own the English
language, and I do not claim to own the term "scout," but the scout
rifle concept is mine, and I know what I mean by it, even if others
do not. The essential element of the Scout Rifle, as I see it, is
"friendliness," combined with all-purpose utility. The piece should
be short, light and handy, and still dispose of sufficient power
and range to accomplish any reasonable task in the hands of a
The Scout Rifle need not be fitted with a telescope sight
(!!!). I took "Scout I" to Central America on a series of extensive
bush prowls. I subsequently mounted an intermediate-eye-relief, low
power telescope on this piece, but I do not think this improved its
The Scout Rifle is an instrument for a man operating alone, and
this does not involve volume of fire. The bolt-action, in various
guises, is probably the most suitable, though there is much to be
said for a single-shot action which permits shorter overall length
of the assembled weapon. The self-loaders, in general, are too
bulky and too complex for maximum friendliness.
I could go on, but I have written this up elsewhere. I wish to
point out, however, that when somebody extols his 375 Scout, or his
223 Scout, or his Garand Scout, he is missing the target - at
least my target.
In reflecting sadly upon the Wichita
Horror of December 2000, we ponder again upon the disgusting
unwillingness of victims to fight back. In this atrocity, two men
armed with pistols assaulted, brutalized, abused, and killed four
out of five victims, one of whom was left for dead. These actions
took place at arm's length! The victims apparently just gave up
simply because two goblins happened to have possession of a pistol
apiece - and they died. We thought by now that
everyone realized that the only acceptable response to the threat
of lethal violence is immediate and savage counterattack. If you
resist, you just may get killed. If you don't resist, you almost
certainly will get killed. It is a tough choice,
but there is only one right answer.
Our British friends are quick to point
out the horrible state of public conduct in the United States. They
must feel justified in doing so because the streets are so safe in
England, where the effective disarmament of the citizenry has
resulted in the highest rate of violent street crime in the
A family member recently wrote in
and asked how he could pin the grip safety shut on his 1911,
claiming that no available gunsmith would perform this task for
fear of litigation. Personally I think the smiths declined this
task because it is so easy that they cannot charge much for it. You
simply pin opposing holes in the bottom of the grip safety and the
top of the mainspring housing. These holes are about the diameter
of piano wire. Then, with the grip safety pressed shut, you insert
the piano wire pin and slide the mainspring housing up into
position to take the other end of the pin. Once this arrangement is
installed, it can be removed in seconds, for those who are
terrified of regulators.
I suppose it is flattering to receive the
amount of political bitching that we get here at Gunsite, but I
fear that there is not much I can do about the vagaries of the
current situation in Washington, Brussels or Riyadh. In a
representative republic such as ours, the government is supposed to
be responsible to the people. If you do not like what the
government is doing, get into it yourself and bring about the
"Weapons protect the weak from the
strong, not the other way around." The passengers of Flight 93
showed us the way to defend ourselves - they fought back. If
every passenger fought back immediately, no terrorist could
succeed. If every victim fought back immediately, no criminal could
succeed. No one lives forever.
(An Ode to the Rifle)
You hold in your hands the bow of Diana,
The spear of Achilles, the hammer of Thor.
Now you command both precision and distance.
To dominant power you've opened the door.
Your rifle embodies the gift of Hephaistos,
The grant of Olympus to hapless mankind.
Your rifle's a thing of both power and beauty,
Its proper employment ennobles the mind.
Bare-handed you live at the mercy of numbers,
But numbers can never match rifleman's skill.
Your rifle essentially makes you the master.
It creates and maintains humanity's will.
Vulcan has given you means to establish
Divine domination o'er man, beast and foe.
Your rifle's the sorcerous scepter of power.
Direct it with wisdom and judgement bestow.
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal
use only. Not for publication.