Jeff Cooper's Commentaries

Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 12, No. 8          June 2004

Summer Storm

We all had a nifty 4th of July celebration at Gunsite, and were anxious to pay all due respect to the heroic tradition upon which our national holiday is founded. We broadcast a tidy selection of the wisdom of our Founding Fathers and found them particularly appropriate to this critical period in our history. Having taken permanent leave of Ronald Reagan, we now seek new leadership suited to the times. This is not easy, as our political situation does not tend to produce inspiring leadership. In theory, Americans should not need leaders, but still it is comforting to see them show up, as Mount Rushmore attests.

As noted, there is a wide difference in attitude separating those Americans who praise and deserve liberty from those who do not much care about liberty as long as the machinery works. This seems to split the electorate between free minds and slave minds. Unfortunately the division seems to be pretty close to 50-50. Our Founding Fathers deserve better of their posterity.

The Theodore Roosevelt Reunion this year is set to go at Whittington on 15, 16, 17 October. We have much to discuss and much to celebrate, along with a good deal at which to take alarm. We look forward to your contributions, and expect the full standard of excellence which we have enjoyed in the past.

Our reports from the front continue to emphasize the value of personally controlled fire, even in this age of electronics, despite the fact that we try to give the enemy every possible advantage in this conflict. The box score is pretty much what we should expect. The press tells us only about the casualties we suffer, which are painful, of course, but should always be balanced against some notion of what we deliver in return. We did not start this jihad, they did, and it is interesting to see how ready they are to sacrifice their foot soldiers with no risk to those who give the orders. You do not see any of these Mullahs blowing themselves up. If indiscriminate self-immolation truly insures paradise one would think that some of the people doing the preaching would try the stunt themselves. It would seem that these jihadis in power are basically unconvinced of their own announced position, or else they are just thugs, which according to the historical record is quite possible.

We are much pleased at the way daughter Lindy's book "C Stories" has turned out. I hope that the content is as good as the package, which was dreamed up by Paul Kirchner, Jim Wasserman and Lindy. The deluxe edition was sold out before it could be delivered. I guess that is a good sign.

Further research has discovered four distinct human blood types on the Ice Man's copper chopper. It seems obvious that the artifact was basically an anti-personnel device.

We now see a flashlight advertised as "digital." Various thoughtful people have written in to tell us what exactly is meant by "digital," but somehow they are hard put to tell us why this matters. In following Formula 1 motor racing, we must conclude that the superb Ferrari pit crew must be thoroughly digital at this time.

It seems that the 458 Winchester Magnum was never a thoroughly satisfactory cartridge. It has been in large measure superseded by the 458 Lott, of the same ballistics as the 460 G&A Special, which I have used with total satisfaction for many years. If Jack Lott's cartridge has a weakness, it is that it is too long, which encourages short-stroking with those who do not practice enough bolt work. The G&A cartridge is shorter, which may be an advantage, but since it has no belt it head-spaces on the shoulder, which is not pronounced enough to afford total reliability. With the heavy rifle cartridges it is important to cycle all rounds through the action of the individual weapon before taking the combination to the field. I have heard of no cartridge failures from Africa for some time, so I guess they all work pretty well in the hands of people who know what they are doing. Too many hunters, however, are not, properly speaking, riflemen, and they seem to think that the outfitter will take care of all problems involving firearms. In the great hunting age of the early 20th century, hunters usually gave the matter of weaponcraft adequate thought, even if it was not always properly organized. Reading Afrikana today suggests that this is the case. Competence with any craft is something which must be earned and cannot be bought.

The 1911 pistol continues to hold up better in the sand box than any other sidearm in use. Of course it must be kept clean, which is not always easy. The old 1911 continues along its way to replacing the dog as man's best friend.

If you had only one personal firearm, what would it be? Now there is a subject worth discussion far too complicated for a simple answer. If you allow yourself two or three or even four individual instruments, the problem becomes much simpler, but it depends finally upon your lifestyle and your political position. Unfortunately, such matters are usually left up to the whims of unqualified bureaucrats, usually of the socialist persuasion, who regard the individual as a possession of the state, rather than the other way around.

Heckler & Koch announce a new sporting bolt-action rifle, which is probably a very nice piece, though it appears to offer no startling innovation, thus lagging far behind the Blaser R93 and the Steyr Scout.

We seem to be developing two species of infantryman as the war progresses, the Fusilier and the Grenadier. The diversification of their task is great enough to warrant almost a different uniform or branch of service such as used to exist between infantry and cavalry. Today the enemy fights principally with the RPG, the rocket propelled grenade, which is basically a slob's weapon and serves very well in the slob armies. Back during the Korean War, I was working with irregular forces in East Asia and I saw possibilities for the RPG at that time which have only come to light recently. It appears to get back eventually to the nature of the combatant, involving his mechanical background and his political motivation. The fact that Islam fields inept armies needs not alter our attitude, but we should take note of the problem.

We note a nifty new production from Springfield Armory, which is essentially a modernized version of the redoubtable M14. If you have a private army, you should probably consider this. It fires a 308 cartridge and can be fitted with something resembling a scoutscope. At just under ten pounds it is quite heavy for its power, but it features a very efficient muzzle brake and an indestructible plastic stock. What we need is a designator for it, so I guess the term we will have to use will be "Socom 16." That is not really satisfactory, but that is what we will have to call it.

I see no possible need for the proposed 6.8 military cartridge. We have the 308 in stock. Clearly I need education in this matter.

It is interesting to learn that "McClusky's Turn" has now become a recognized figure of speech for war buffs. If you do not know about McClusky's Turn, you should. When Lieutenant Commander Wade McClusky, leading 32 SBD's, turned left instead of right on his approach to the Japanese fleet at Midway, his decision determined the outcome of the battle, and thus the outcome of the war in the Pacific. If you ever make a chance decision which results in overwhelming triumph, you have made a McClusky Turn. I do not know whether the people of McClusky's hometown have decided to change the name of Lackawanna, New York, to McClusky, New York.

A View From The Eye Of The Storm

Extracts from a talk delivered by Haim Harari, a notable Israeli theoretical scientist, at a meeting of the International Advisory Board of a large multinational corporation, April 2004.
"… The root of the trouble is that this entire Moslem region is totally dysfunctional, by any standard of the word, and would have been so even if Israel would have joined the Arab league and an independent Palestine would have existed for 100 years. The 22 member countries of the Arab league, from Mauritania to the Gulf States, have a total population of 300 millions, larger than the US and almost as large as the EU before its expansion. They have a land area larger than either the US or all of Europe. These 22 countries, with all their oil and natural resources, have a combined GDP smaller than that of Netherlands plus Belgium and equal to half of the GDP of California alone. Within this meager GDP, the gaps between rich and poor are beyond belief and too many of the rich made their money not by succeeding in business, but by being corrupt rulers. The social status of women is far below what it was in the Western World 150 years ago. Human rights are below any reasonable standard, in spite of the grotesque fact that Libya was elected Chair of the UN Human Rights commission. According to a report prepared by a committee of Arab intellectuals and published under the auspices of the UN, the number of books translated by the entire Arab world is much smaller than what little Greece alone translates. The total number of scientific publications of 300 million Arabs is less than that of 6 million Israelis. Birth rates in the region are very high, increasing the poverty, the social gaps and the cultural decline. And all of this is happening in a region, which only 30 years ago, was believed to be the next wealthy part of the world, and in a Moslem area, which developed, at some point in history, one of the most advanced cultures in the world.

"I should also say a word about the millions of decent, honest, good people who are either devout Moslems or are not very religious but grew up in Moslem families. They are double victims of an outside world, which now develops Islamophobia and of their own environment, which breaks their heart by being totally dysfunctional. The problem is that the vast silent majority of these Moslems are not part of the terror and of the incitement but they also do not stand up against it. They become accomplices, by omission, and this applies to political leaders, intellectuals, business people and many others. Many of them can certainly tell right from wrong, but are afraid to express their views. …

"What is behind the suicide murders? Money, power and cold-blooded murderous incitement, nothing else. It has nothing to do with true fanatic religious beliefs. No Moslem preacher has ever blown himself up. No son of an Arab politician or religious leader has ever blown himself up. No relative of anyone influential has done it. Wouldn't you expect some of the religious leaders to do it themselves, or to talk their sons into doing it, if this is truly a supreme act of religious fervor? Aren't they interested in the benefits of going to Heaven? Instead, they send outcast women, naive children, retarded people and young incited hotheads. They promise them the delights, mostly sexual, of the next world, and pay their families handsomely after the supreme act is performed and enough innocent people are dead. …

"… A suicide murder is simply a horrible, vicious weapon of cruel, inhuman, cynical, well-funded terrorists, with no regard to human life, including the life of their fellow countrymen, but with very high regard to their own affluent well-being and their hunger for power. …

"… The Spanish trains and the Istanbul bombings are only the beginning. The unity of the Civilized World in fighting this horror is absolutely indispensable. Until Europe wakes up, this unity will not be achieved. …

"Above all, never surrender to terror. No one will ever know whether the recent elections in Spain would have yielded a different result, if not for the train bombings a few days earlier. But it really does not matter. What matters is that the terrorists believe that they caused the result and that they won by driving Spain out of Iraq. The Spanish story will surely end up being extremely costly to other European countries, including France, who is now expelling inciting preachers and forbidding veils and including others who sent troops to Iraq. In the long run, Spain itself will pay even more. …

"I have no doubt that the civilized world will prevail. But the longer it takes us to understand the new landscape of this war, the more costly and painful the victory will be. Europe, more than any other region, is the key. Its understandable recoil from wars, following the horrors of World War II, may cost thousands of additional innocent lives, before the tide will turn."

We are embarrassed to discover a flagrant error in "C Stories" It occurs toward the bottom of page 59. What is referred to there as an "Osprey" is actually a "Kingfisher." I cannot imagine how that got by, but it is entirely my fault. Please make the correction in your own copy.

A good many years ago we had the chance to run what was then called the Advanced Military Combat Course down at Camp Pendleton. It was set up as an exercise for Marines who had finished their basic training with the rifle and were ready for something resembling combat simulation. Reaction courses can use all sorts of fancy embellishments such as simulated enemy fire, bombs bursting in air and scrambling targets. The troops used the M16, of course, but I shot what may be called the ancestor of the modern Scout concept, a nifty little M600 in 308, mounted with a 2½ power Bushnell intermediate eye relief telescope. The results were impressive. The M16's tactical reaction times and tactical maneuvers were satisfactory, but the Scout got hits. There were 20 targets on the course, and while they did show a number of random 22 hits, each displayed a single 30-caliber impact pretty close to dead center - in about half the time necessary for the "poodle shooters." This does not establish a Scout rifle as the ideal weapon for close combat, but it does get one to thinking. Now that the Steyr Scout is available as a production item, I regard it as the current ideal of the general-purpose rifle. There may be better choices for special tasks, but if you do not know what the exact task is going to be, the SS is your first choice every time.

We do wish that the press would quit belaboring the unthinkable - which is a leftist victory in November. With the Holy War in full cry, we can certainly do without enemies here at home. God save the Republic!

"In 1981, when John Brook was coordinator at Gunsite, he proposed that we put out a newsletter, since everybody else was doing so. I regarded the idea somewhat askance, since I would have to write it, and I am no fonder of extra chores than the next man. But John's view prevailed, and Gunsite Gossip was launched. Later John opined that this was the worst idea he ever had, but I reversed my own view. I think it turned out to be a good idea. A lot of people seem to enjoy reading it, and I enjoy writing it, and a good time is had by all.

"Originally the paper was intended solely for graduates of our academy. …

"… Tom Siatos, of Petersen Publications, suggested that he put Gunsite Gossip into Guns & Ammo magazine as a regular column. Here again I was dubious, maintaining that the uninhibited and socially oriented commentary of the paper made it unsuitable for publication in a national magazine. He said, `Let me worry about that.' So I did. What currently appears in Guns & Ammo as `Cooper's Corner' is extracted from Gunsite Gossip, as I write a good deal more each month than there is room for in the magazine. It apparently delights some people and infuriates others, which I find most gratifying. Unfortunately those who praise it tend to write to me, while those who curse it write to the magazine. I certainly do not object to praise, but I always love a fight and relish the chance to cross swords personally with those who complain about me to the editors.

"Gunsite Gossip is obviously not all my own work, as I quote freely from other commentators whose thoughts I admire. I do not apologize for this, since in an era when few read broadly, such hits of eclectic wisdom are herein made more readily available.

"From the beginning I have affected the `editorial we,' which annoys some people very much. Obviously I rather like it, and since I have no boss I can write to please myself. One cannot write to please any group, since groups are made up of individuals. One can write to please the king, or his wife, or a publisher, or a client, but he cannot write to please the `average reader,' because there is no such person. So I write for my own amusement and let the chips fall where they may.

"In our currently polarized society one might expect that only those who love liberty more than equality would fancy personal weapons and skill-at-arms, but this is not universally true. The men of the left, `who don't care what anyone does as long as it is compulsory,' find my views obnoxious. So be it. I do not care for theirs, either. The objective of Gunsite Gossip is to edify the shooter and to irritate the liberal.

"See what you think."
Jeff Cooper, Gunsite, 1990

Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal use only. Not for publication.