Jeff Cooper's Commentaries

Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 1, No. 4           16 July 1993

The Time of The Lion

It was just a year ago, on 5 August in 1992, that I scored on the lion that is now the glory of the Sconce Armory. It was a wonderful experience, and I will be forever grateful to Danie van Graan of Engonyameni for setting it up for me.

That whole adventure last year was marvelous and I still find it hard to believe that everything turned out so well. This was due in large measure to the expert administrative effort of Barry Miller. It is good to know that he will be administering us again next May. We now have eight participants for the Babanikulu adventure. Remember that the cut off date for deposits is 15 September.

I have been aware of the handguns made by Korth in Germany for some years now. This organization maintains that it produces pistols without regard for cost, and thus comes up with the perfected item. That is an interesting idea and I was quite pleased just this week to be asked by a factory representative if I would like to evaluate the product. This may work in rather neatly with the Tenth IPSC World Shoot to be held at Bisley in England in mid-September. It may take an act of Parliament to get a German demonstration pistol into England to be shown off at a sporting event, but we will pool our resources and give it a try.

I suppose everybody by now has heard about the way Mike Royko socked it to Tom Foley, Speaker of the House. Foley had urged his colleagues to support Bill Clinton's money package and wound up declaiming, "It is now time to stand and deliver!" What neither Foley nor any member of the House (or of the press apart from Royko) caught was that this command "Stand and Deliver" was the notorious order of English highwaymen who wished to initiate an armed robbery. "Stand and Deliver" means essentially "Your money or your life," and this is what Tom Foley has handed out to the American people. Most appropriate, don't you think? We have always known that the tax-and-spend people in Washington were out to rob us, and now we hear it from their own leadership.

Mike Royko's observations on this matter appeared in his column, which has now been copied, paraphrased and widely distributed. Ol' Mike is not our most favorite pundit, but he sure hit the target with this one.

Family member Jack Buchmiller points out that since 1967 about 200 convicted felons have been executed in this country, as opposed to 80 odd suspected miscreants at Waco.

A while back I referred to Israel incorrectly as a "lock-step theocracy." Family member Dr. Tom Berger has pointed out my error to me and I wish to make amends. The term "lockstep theocracy" might well be applied to Saudi Arabia, and certainly to Iran, but while Israel is indeed a religious state, it does not insist upon religious conformity. The point I was trying to make is that a goy would not find himself socially at home in the republic even if he managed to learn Hebrew, which is a very difficult language. In any case, I overspoke. Shalom!

Now I must confess to still another error. When I said that the combustible case of the 120mm gun of the M1A1 tank could be ignited by a cigarette, I was wrong. Colonel Clint Ancker, who is in a position to know, tells me that the case is coated with a fireproof finish that takes quite a bit of heat to set off. In an incident he spoke of, a long primer tube on the base cap accidentally came into contact with a new round after ejection. That primer tube is really hot and a disaster occurred.

Clint further informs me that smoking is absolutely forbidden in and around any armored vehicle. I take heed, but I have known smoking regulations (as well as other regulations) to be violated from time to time. Keeping people from lighting up when on night watch in the jungles of the South Pacific was a continuous headache. (Which causes us to wonder just how fire proof the new Voere caseless cartridge may be.)

The Clay Bird Exercise here at Gunsite during its good old days was one of the high points of the rifle program. Certainly a rifleman is unlikely to have to take on a target of that type for serious purposes, but a man who can mount up and bust a clay with his hunting rifle is a real master of the snap-shot, and here at Gunsite was the only place where he could learn such things.

Now, however, the Clay Bird program has been abolished as unsafe by Colonel Bob Young. The old order changes indeed.

We would like to think that the Clay Bird Exercise maybe revived by either Clint Smith or Naish Piazza. It was a feather in our cap and we miss it.

From family member Curt Rich:
I am told now that all 120mm guns are required to have the following warning on the barrel: a federal law requires this warning. "Do not stand in front while gun is being fired."

Did you hear of that proposed wedding on Kodiak Island in which the bride and groom will bind their vows by giving and receiving personal 22 caliber pistols? I have always thought highly of Alaska, except that it rains too much. Possibly the 22s in this case will be stainless.

I note with both puzzlement and delight that I seem to be a member of the Texas State Legislature. In a letter to the editor in the San Antonio Express News for Sunday, June 27, 1993, the author of the letter grants special thanks to handgun bill sponsor State Representative Jeff Cooper, Republican, Houston. And here I did not even run for office!

I point out again that under the new management at Gunsite I am editorially gagged. The straight word goes out as "Jeff Cooper's Commentaries," but what appears as "Gunsite Gossip" is systematically expurgated.

If you wish to communicate with me, please use either the telephone or our newly installed personal fax machine in the bedroom of the Sconce. The number in both cases is:
To the various family members who have requested to be put on the select list for "Jeff Cooper's Commentaries" I must point out that I am forbidden to put out bulletins or information for money, and I cannot very well carry the financial load of my own newsletter out-of-pocket. I suggest that all the faithful pass the word freely.

Dr. Charles A. Luxenberg reports from Israel that children on field trips are required to be accompanied by a specified number of adults who are required to be personally armed at all times.

I have checked out with the people at the Whittington Center near Raton, New Mexico, and I find that they would be happy to welcome us on the occasion of TR Declamation Day, which I have tentatively scheduled for the weekend following TR's birthday, which occurs on 27 October.

Those of you who were in attendance will remember how much fun we had at our poetry recitation last February. Everyone enjoyed himself so much that the cry went out, "Let's do this again!"

So I will try. First I will try to get Dr. David Kahn to cruise down and help set up a mock up of a Kenayathlon contest so that we will be able to walk through and try our hand with our Scout Rifles. Next I will endeavor to set up some amusing pistol challenges for those who have not taken the rifle course. Next I will endeavor to organize a couple of seminars on such pertinent topics as: "Why men fight."

And then, of course, we will set up the Declamation. Please don't feel intimidated by this. You don't have to write your own poetry. (Most homemade verse is lousy.) Second, you don't have to memorize the entire piece, although it sounds better if you do. We will try to have prizes or recognition for every possible class, even including any liberals who may wish to show up. Larry Larsen has reserved "The Grave of a Hundred Head". Otherwise, the range is clear.

There are good Olympic-type accommodations for $15.00 a night and food maybe catered if we get enough applications.

Before finalizing this enterprise I must be sure of some twenty odd participants. More, of course, would be merrier. Mark the dates - October 30, 31 - and sign right up. I would appreciate a speedy response on this since I have to let the people at Whittington know.

I report deep personal sorrow at the death of old-time family member Richard Coombe of Australia, Killed in the operation of his helicopter service in Northern Queensland at the age of 50. Richard and his wife Kate were married in Prescott under the sponsorship of Jeff and Janelle Cooper, and subsequently we visited with them at their home in Virginia when Richard was on duty with the Australian Embassy in Washington.

Richard was an Orange Gunsite graduate, a fine shot and a gallant man. We extend our most profound sympathy and condolences to Kate and her two daughters.
"Death comes with a crawl, or it comes with a pounce, but whether he's slow or spry, it's not the fact that you're dead that counts, but only, how did you die?"

I suppose no one now has not seen "Jurassic Park." I find it fascinating, however, that no viewer, commentator nor critic has thought to take issue with Spielberg's choice of a police riot gun as a dinosaur repellent. Some dinosaurs were pretty small and a single slug from a 12-gauge might be just the ticket, but then, of course, you have old T. rex.

Maybe we can have some input on the ideal anti-dinosaur piece up at Whittington. Remember that lizards are not readily susceptible to shock. I know from personal experience that the 44 Magnum is a bad choice for iguanas.

It appears that the coyotes are setting up a considerable howl in Los Angeles and vicinity. The current population is estimated at five thousand and, of course, coyotes adapt easily to the lifestyle of the Hollywood Hills. They make out very well on a diet of domestic cats and dogs, with an occasional infant thrown in for seasoning. They could be rapidly thinned out, of course, by homeowners with shotguns, but such an idea cannot even be expressed in the presence of the bunny-huggers of the show business. The City of Los Angeles has been trapping them in a haphazard way for some years, but now a board of commissioners has ruled this out completely. What happens next is anybody's guess. The current view of the regulators is that any steps taken to alleviate the problem will invite lawsuits, so a strong positive decision was taken to do nothing. That's what we like about politicians - their conspicuous moral courage.

Those of you who are signing up for the Babamkulu expedition next May will be pleased to learn that the Swift Bullet Company now has offerings in 30-caliber. These are available in 150, 180 and 200-grain weights. For Africa I suggest the 180 in the 308, and the 200 in the 30-06. I have had great success with the 250-grain 36-caliber Swift, but I don't know how the smaller missiles will perform. They will probably slip right through an impala or a springbok without expanding, but we will see. The 36/250 is what slew the lion, but I must reserve judgment on the 30 calibers.

Many of you know that Allan Swanson and his father Jim placed first and third in the last Kenayathlon. These gentlemen are old-time Orange Gunsite graduates and can be expected to do good things with a rifle whenever called upon. When reporting the occasion, they expressed some surprise at the curiously low level of gun handling displayed by many of the contestants. Hardly anyone seemed to know that one works the bolt with the butt in the shoulder. No one except our people thought of using a tree rest, although on at least two firing points it was the obvious way to go. It is pertinent to point out that the one long shot taken at Engonyameni last year was grandson Tyler's impala - from a tree rest. The range? Long. Tyler held at eye level. That indicates a drop of around twenty inches from a 200-meter zero.

It does seem that generalized rifle marksmanship is almost a lost art. There are people who can shoot off the bench, and there are people who can display area fire at 600 meters with the poodle shooter, but practical rifle marksmanship, which is concerned with first-shot hits rather than volume of fire, appears to be going the way of cultivated conversation.

Randy Weaver's acquittal offers one small ray of light in this dark night of the federal ninja. As you know, the feds stormed his house on suspicion and murdered his wife and young child in the process. Then they proceeded to haul him up for murder because they thought he shot one of their men. As it turns out, it seems most likely that they shot one of their own men, but they are the last people in the world to admit this.

Bo Grits was recently interviewed on a radio station in Los Angeles covering this subject. This recording seems to have a fairly straight-forward account of the occasion. Nothing as yet has been done with the agent who deliberately shot to death an unarmed woman and her child. As far as I can tell, he has neither been transferred nor fired, but what he deserves is obviously a long jail sentence rather than official disapproval - and he apparently is not even going to get that.

It will certainly be interesting to see how this turns out. Nothing as yet has been done with the narc who shot Dick Scott to death in his home in the Ventura Hills, and no one as yet has been called on the carpet for the Waco atrocity.

How long are the American people going to put up with this sort of thing? It is popular, at this time, to compare the behavior of our uncontrolled federal agents to that of the Nazis in the Third Reich. It may be that this is a valid comparison, but the Nazis are long ago and far away, whereas the ninja in the US are right now in full-cry and apparently without fear of any sort of control. They move mainly at night. They conceal their faces. They use overwhelming firepower and they make almost no effort to identify their targets. They are scarier than the Nazis - who at least never concealed their faces.

I recently had an occasion to study an "ode to the double rifle" appearing in a prominent periodical. The author is convinced that a double rifle is the only satisfactory sporting arm. And he goes into his case at length. Now, I readily admit that double rifles have a certain charm, and under certain specialized circumstances, considerable utility, but it is well to leave their advantages where they can be seen and evaluated, without making statements that impugn the sincerity of the narrator.

The double rifle, indeed, is shorter than any repeating rifle by the length of one cartridge, assuming identical barrel lengths. This can be important when hunting dangerous game in thick cover.

It is true that the double rifle is quicker with the second shot than any manually operated repeater. The difference, however, is slight. A properly operated bolt gun can be back on target and ready by the time the shooter can recover from recoil, if that recoil is severe. When I had occasion to fire two quick shots from a heavy bolt rifle on buffalo in the Tamafuta country in `87, my companions both reported that it sounded like I was using a semi-auto. When my granddaughter, Lisa, laid out her first impala at 162 steps from sitting, she had worked the bolt and was back on target by the time the empty hit the ground.

As I see it, however, the biggest disadvantage of the double gun is its sighting system. The author of the ode just mentioned seemed to feel this didn't matter, since in a dangerous game situation one does not sight anyway, but simply points and pulls the trigger. That's what he said. One should not get too personal in discussions such as this, but I must point out that I have seen buffalo killed at 15, 11 and 9 paces (the last example being my own), and I took the lion at 12. You don't really need good sights at distances such as this, but in every case sights were used. To suggest that one does not use sights on dangerous game is to invite disaster. The fact that strange things have taken place does not repudiate this. If you are not going to use the sights, just make sure the muzzle is touching the target.

From the Prescott Courier via the Associated Press, Johannesburg, South Africa:
"A newspaper told of a family on vacation who stopped at a routine police checkpoint. The father was asked if he had a gun. No, he replied. The officer exclaimed, Why not? and lectured the man on the dangers of traveling unarmed."

"Not long ago at the entrance to a government building I handed my purse to a guard for checking. Your gun is in here?, he asked, with a smile, and returned it without looking inside. There was no gun inside."

"In over 15 years of knocking about in Africa, we have been continually gratified by the intelligent manner in which personal firearms are supervised. Of course this may all change if Mandella's boys get into power."

Kevin Wilmeth

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