Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 13, No. 7 July 2005
The world toddles along in its customary
random fashion. Looking back over the past couple of generations,
we do not see much to celebrate, apart from all this
digital technology. Apparently what is digital is good,
and what is good is digital, or something. We are pleased, of
course, with the notable success of certain outstanding sporting
rifles in the field, but that hardly compensates for the annoying
continuation of the jihad in its many pernicious aspects. To pursue
this Holy War in which we are now engaged will need an objective.
If we can identify a clear-cut target, we certainly have the means
by which to defeat it, but our avowed adversaries, at this time,
persist in screening it to the extent that we have total confusion
of our targets. On the one hand, the wahabis insist that
they seek nothing but peace and good will, and on the other hand,
they insist on indiscriminate murder as their fundamental
I do not pretend to have an answer to this question, but I am
convinced that surrender is absolutely not the answer.
These people maintain that they do not fear death, and some of them
at least act as if they mean it. They do, however, seem to fear
pollution, and that just may be an objective of sorts. Tradition
has it that the Ay-rab is horrified by anything swine-like. If this
is true, we may possibly resort to pig-like pollution of these
murderers and their survivors. It would hardly seem couth to drench
these people in bacon fat but, for lack of any other option, we
might give it a try. Our adversaries are very nasty people; perhaps
they will respond to very nasty tactics. Two wrongs do not
necessarily make a right, but on the other hand the lesser of two
wrongs might achieve an improved confrontation.
Did we note that 50 percent of the people
you run across are below average?
On the good side, we hear of very
satisfactory field results with our recent developments in both
cartridges and sporting weapons. For example, we now have a
recorded 63-inch kudu taken with the Steyr Scout; as well as with
the 376 Steyr cartridge - in proper Scout configuration, of
course. This last combination (which I like to call the Dragoon) is
as close to perfection as is possible to obtain for both the Low
Veldt and Alaska. Neither the factory nor the importer seems to be
aware of this, but then marketing is a subject so arcane as to be
beyond the understanding of us country boys. Right now, for
example, it is difficult to obtain either a Scout or a Dragoon with
the proper Mannlicher bolt handle. Somebody suggested that a
ping-pong ball offers a better grip for the proper operation of the
bolt, and somebody bought the idea. It is not a good idea. Speed of
the second shot is more a function of recoil recovery than of bolt
work. We see illustrations in the popular press of people who seem
terribly concerned with speed of the second shot, but who persist
in removing the butt from the shoulder when operating the weapon.
Any reputable school or training system insures that the butt
remains in the shoulder when the bolt is operated, but then as the
Marine said in the fighting top of the Bonhomme Richard, "There is
always some S.O.B. who never gets the word."
It is not surprising to learn that the red
dot sight on the M16 works pretty well in war, as long as the range
is kept short.
From my early youth we have marveled at
the grandeur of the great sheep at the roof of the world. These are
the Marco Polo sheep and the various subspecies of argali.
Certainly those great 60 inch spirals are truly awe inspiring, and
should cap the collections of the dedicated hunter/naturalist.
There is, however, another aspect of this, and that is atmosphere
or background. The great sheep of the Himalaya or the Pamir are
normally found above timberline, grazing on relatively flat gravel
slopes above vegetation and waterfall. The American Rocky Mountain
bighorn, however, inhabits some of the grandest and most dramatic
scenery in the world. Just barging into his preferred terrain is a
joy in itself, with or without successful harvest. I've come to
think that the Rocky Mountain bighorn is the grandest of all
trophies, possibly excepting one which we will discuss
We have one more buffalo disaster from
Kenya (where hunting is forbidden, as you know). I do not have
details yet about this case yet but, of course, buffalo will not
bother you if you do not hunt them first. (Everybody knows
As to trophies, I would place Shinano as
first overall. Shinano was the world's greatest warship. It was the
ultimate carrier, based upon the frame used for the Yamato and
Musashi, the two ultimate battleships. Japan attempted to sweep the
seas by the creation of three unmatchable battleships. The project
was undertaken in the late 20s or early 30s and was completed with
the Yamato and Musashi. But then the Japanese decided that the
weapon of the future had to be the aircraft carrier, and they
converted number three of the super team and called it Shinano. It
was brought to near completion in Japan's inland sea - but not
without the knowledge of the US Navy. We knew what was going on,
and when time came for time trials of the super carrier, we had it
on our submarine screen as the super target. When Shinano emerged
from the inland sea and cruised right around the bottom of the
Japanese chain, we had a submarine waiting for it. This sub was the
Archerfish, and while it could not hope to cruise with Shinano even
at trial speed, it could wait in ambush. And so it did. The carrier
completed some tests and then headed back to its home port, where
Archerfish was waiting. By superb submanship, Shinano was
intercepted, and since it was unaware and unprepared, it was sunk
by four well-placed torpedoes which caught it without the
protection of its water-tight integrity.
Now there is a trophy. Joe Enright, the skipper of
Archerfish, could not very well hang Shinano on his trophy room
wall, but he knew what it was to be the greatest trophy hunter of
We have very good reports from Mesopotamia
regarding our current weaponry. It turns out that if you hit a man
two or three times in the upper chest area with a 223, you will
take him cleanly out of the fight. Of course one such hit with a
308 will do the same.
We also hear that the endurability of the old 1911 stands still
unchallenged. If you need a pistol, you need a real
pistol. The best available 9mm serves best as a badge of
In an example of where our current public
schooling system is taking us, we recently overheard a comment from
a middle-aged woman to the effect that the Nips would not have
attacked us at Pearl Harbor if it had not been that we hit them
first with the A-bomb. (Honest to God!)
In connection with all of the excitement
about the forthcoming London Olympics, we might remember that the
original Olympics were specifically and forcefully non-national.
Any athlete on his way to or from the games had free passage
through all city states, and free hospitality.
It is time to remind ourselves again that
O.J. Simpson and Lon Horiuchi are still running free as of
If you are serious about big game
hunting, here, there or elsewhere, practice your off-hand. Remember
that you can do this without recourse to the range. Dry firing does
wonders once you have learned the basics.
I did not put any material concerning the fist rest or Hawkins
position into "The Art of the Rifle." I intend to remedy
this with an appropriate short piece in due course. The fist rest,
in which the bight of the forward loop of the sling is used as a
sort of forward pistol grip, is extremely useful and should remain
where your built-in bipod is inapplicable. More than half of recent
field reports emphasize the fist rest.
The bench rest, on the other hand, is not really a field expedient.
It is a means of overcoming a very bad trigger action, from the
bench or on the range.
Income tax remission for holders of the
Medal of Honor is an idea which seems to be gathering momentum.
Whoever gets this put across rates a gold star for the
Such reports as we get back concerning
The Project suggest that most people seem to think that this should
be attacked by way of highly esoteric equipment. The Project, for
those who came in late, consists of the placement of 20 shots in a
20-inch circle in 20 seconds at 1000 yards. There are those who
claim that this is impossible, and certainly it is very, very
difficult, but then so was the 4-minute-mile until somebody
achieved it. We have the equipment necessary for The Project right
now. As far as I know, however, we do not yet have the
All systems are go
at Whittington in September. Please remember
that your "theatrical"contribution should be regarded as the price
of admission. Dream up something appropriate to the great Theodore
Roosevelt (or from Rudyard Kipling). You do not have to memorize
it, but it is better if you do. My father required me to memorize
"Horatius at the Bridge" by MacCaulay when I was in junior high
school, and I still have that whole thing pretty much to memory.
Those family members
who have sons are reminded that heroic
verse is one of the great gifts that may be given. Poetry surpasses
prose in this because it sticks in the memory better. Kipling's "If"
has served as a moral guide for young
men for over a century, and in the current unisex world it may be
equally applicable to daughters. (Brother and sister teams
For those who are thinking of equipping
your own private army, the Socom 16 appears to be the best thing
now available. It has not been excessively tested, but it seems to
be assembled from proven elements.
Question: If you are only going to have
one firearm available in your home, what should it be? Comrade
Mugabe, up there in what used to be Rhodesia, has decreed that the
answer is zero - no private firearms of any sort. One wonders
how that bird manages to survive. I suppose that the prospect of a
retaliatory blood-bath intimidates a lot of people. Possibly this
is true, but what intimidates many should not intimidate all. The
men who signed our Declaration of Independence put their heads in a
noose in so doing. It would be nice to think that there are still
men of that sort available today. "By my troth I care not. Man owes
God a death, and he that dies this day is quit for the
It would be nice if we could prevail upon
people to refer to a "cougar" rather than to a "mountain lion." A
cougar (puma, panther, painter, etc.) is almost nothing like a
lion, apart from sharing approximately the same color. Lions are
fierce, cougars are not. Cougars have been known to attack people,
especially children, but not as a normal thing.
There is a great deal of foolish
discussion bouncing around concerning the proper arm position for
serious pistol work. Jack Weaver's classic contribution consists in
power control. If you crank that left elbow down and pull positive
counter-pressure, you dampen recoil very considerably. If you use
mechanical means of reducing recoil, and if you lay great
importance upon very rapid bursts of succeeding shots, this may
matter, but in the overall picture, I do not believe it does. It
hardly matters whether you use the Weaver Stance or the Isosceles
"with both arms straight" as long as you get hits, and those hits
should be delivered with a major powered sidearm under controlled
conditions. The argument is silly, and I wish it would go
You must remember that with the rifle it
is not how far away the shot was, but how close you were able to
get. I have been shooting seriously since my late teens, and I have
taken just six long shots that I remember. (By long shots I mean
shots 300 meters or over.) I do not mean to set myself up as an
example, but I need to point out that if one is forced to take a
long shot, he owes himself an explanation. "There was no way I
could get any closer."
This has been a pretty active year for
bears in all sorts of places. It is not surprising to hear of bear
incidents in Alaska, but we have others, both in the Continental US
and in such an unlikely place as Rumania. Bears are not cuddly,
wherever you find them. They are not what anyone would call
ferocious as a rule, but they can turn hostile quickly, and a
full-grown bear of any species must be taken seriously, no matter
where found. We have published our Gunsite Bear Rules
several times, and I see no need to do it again, but bears kill
(and eat) people with fair regularity wherever they are found. I
have no personal case studies of bear defense, but it is clear that
all principles of personal defense apply to bears as fully as to
other large animals. Clearly, bullet placement is particularly
important with any large, strong animal.
You will recall that it has been
suggested that the reason for the production of the 700 Nitro
Express was the unavailability of anything bigger than a 600. For
the same reason, we now see offered a 50 ACP pistol.
Let us bear in mind that a court
martial is not a punishment. It is a means of determining the
guilt or innocence of an individual charged with breaking the law.
A court martial can impose a severe sentence in the due course of
inquiry. In World War II, the United States found one man
guilty of a capital military offense. That is to say that
he did something which would not have been a serious offense had it
not been committed under combat conditions in time of war. This was
the notable case of Private Eddie Slovik, and he was shot for
refusing to fight. That was one incident not previously encountered
and unlikely to be repeated. But a court martial must be understood
to be just that - a court in which evidence is
presented for and against the accused party, who may be punished if
found guilty by anything from a literary reprimand to death. To
"court martial" a man is not to punish him. It is, on the contrary,
a means of deciding whether or not he should be punished.
So now the Bantu bosses of South Africa
have decided to change the name of the traditional capitol,
Pretoria. The new word is Tshwane. This seems to us to be a
conspicuously lousy idea. Andries Pretorius was one of the
outstanding heros of modern time. Changing Pretoria to Tshwane
suggests changing the name of Washington, DC to Nat Turner City.
South Africa was one of our favorite places prior to the
revolution, but time has a way of marching on.
Having invented my own personal color
code for individual response to personal danger, I like to feel
that I ought to know just what it implies. This is, of course, not
obligatory. I may have designed the code, but nobody is obliged to
observe it as I declared it. Still I wish people who wish to use it
would use it as designed, rather than as improvised after the fact.
Specifically, I would like to insist that my own four-stage color
code refers to decisions to take deadly action, rather than a
degree of danger. As I have designed it, the color code designates
that psychological condition which enables you to take action which
is very unusual in your experience and which may result in lethal
violence. A reasonably well-adjusted human being finds it very
difficult to take lethal action against another human being. It is
so difficult that it may prevent him from saving his own life. I
have described it, taught it and written it up several times, and I
am satisfied that it works as I have created it. It has on several
occasions saved the life of the individual who had used it
correctly. Put as simply as possible, the color code runs White,
Yellow, Orange, and Red. It does not need amplification, but it
does cover the subject in hand completely.
- In White you are unprepared and unready to take lethal action.
If you are attacked in White you will probably die unless your
adversary is totally inept.
- In Yellow you bring yourself to the understanding that your
life may be in danger and that you may have to do something about
- In Orange you have determined upon a specific adversary and are
prepared to take action which may result in his death, but you are
not in a lethal mode.
- In Red you are in a lethal mode and will shoot if circumstances
That is putting it as quickly as possible, and we can go into it
further at your convenience.
As the English language continues to be
bollixed up by various sorts of mechanical innovation, we would
like to point out that "access" is not a verb.
Does it not seem strange that the ancient
Greeks were able to achieve a totally painless courtesy death, or
courtesy capital punishment, by means of an infusion of what they
called "hemlock." We have impeccable eyewitness proof of this in
Plato's account of the execution of Socrates. Personally, I do not
see any need to be particularly tender to an atrocious felon, but
modern penologists do not seem to have read any history.
Unyielding events in South Africa suggest
that the children have been placed in charge of the bus - or
did we say that already.
Recent "kindergarten" sessions have been
conducted here at Gunsite with conspicuous success. Kinder,
accompanied by their parents, make wonderful students. They want to
learn, and they apply themselves with more enthusiasm than their
parents often show. I must admit that this never occurred to me
when I was teaching here, but if the current management is content
with very small classes this development is most
Of all the words of tongue or pen the kindest are
"It has already been taken care of."
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal
use only. Not for publication.