Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 1, No. 5 3 August 1993
We can tell that these are truly the Dog
Days when all the dogs and cats are afflicted with what we used to
call "the hot floppsies." This is not a simulating time of year,
but it does afford such luxuries as vine ripened tomatoes and corn
fresh off the stalk, which are certainly enough to make up for a
good deal of unpleasantness. The heat wave seems to be general
throughout the lower 48, and we can't think of a really enjoyable
place to go shooting. I suppose it is better to be too hot than too
cold, but still we welcome the forthcoming turning of the seasons.
I expect to be in England in September for the Tenth Annual World
Shoot of the International Practical Shooting Confederation, and I
feel reasonably sure that whatever it will be at Bisley it won't be
Did you note the piece recently about the
concept of the Makarov 380 as the perfect defensive pistol? I might
put this forth as an excellent candidate for the
Waffenpösselhaft Award for 1993, except for the intrusion of
the Springfield Armory single-shot target pistol in rifle calibers.
What will they think of next?
Recently a family member (who does
not wish his name broadcast since he is a full-time lawman) was in
attendance at a military smallarms school. This was considered an
elite organization to which only the crème de la crème were
invited. It was conducted by the Defense Department, which might
have put us on the alert.
When our friend showed up for work with his 1911 it was immediately
explained to him by the teachers at the school that what he was
carrying was obsolete, irrelevant and immaterial. It would handicap
him in the conduct of the training. Naturally, being one of the
enlightened, he stated that he would try and struggle along. In the
final shooting exercises our friend was so far ahead of the rest of
the school that he was, in effect, in a different category. This
did not endear him to the management.
In view of the continued propaganda effort
on the part of our ill-wishers who insist upon our poor
health - both mine and that of the countess - I was given
some excellent advice by Dan Dennehy. He advises me to take two
aspirin and call him back in a year. Eventually, of course, we may
indeed come down with something. As of right now, however, we feel
To those of you who have not yet seen it,
we most strongly commend the tape "Waco: The Big Lie"
The American Justice Federation,
3850 South Emerson Avenue,
Indianapolis, Indiana 46203.
This is the unexpurgated record of the atrocity at Waco, and while
it does not have all the answers, it certainly poses all the
questions. To see the federal ninja pouring a torrent of
minor-caliber pistol fire into the side of a building with no
targets certainly raises one of the questions. To see one of the
boys shoot himself in the leg while climbing a ladder asks another.
But the big one, of course, is why the United States government, in
its majesty, saw fit to declare war upon a group of citizens guilty
of no offense.
The only defense that the feds have suggested up to now is that the
whole thing is a hoax. When you look at the tape, see if you think
that it is.
If there are any members of the
family who have not yet read "Meditations on
Hunting," by José Ortega y Gasset, it is certainly time to
remedy that defect. This is the classical answer to the bambiists,
and it is stated in such clear, powerful prose that it leaves no
response other than maudlin emotion.
Did you note that Bill Sessions was fired
as a Director of the FBI for the wrong reasons? His disregard for
the Constitution of the United States was not called to question,
only the fact that he seems to have been caught in some small
financial transgressions. This suggests how we finally put away Al
Capone for income tax evasion.
Now we need the heads of Reno and Higgins. Note that Senator Larry
Craig of Idaho is hard at work on that one.
In that connection, note the following
private transmission from Bill Berlat in Tucson, Arizona,
"An incident you might appreciate. Upon my return to
the office I found that the BATF, with the assistance of the local
SWAT team, broke into a client's home, unannounced, late afternoon,
concussion grenades and all. My clients are very reputable folks
living in a fine townhome project near their restaurant. After
pinning my client to the floor (a 79 year-old lady) they proceeded
to extract a daughter from the shower with her children. The son,
who was not discovered, and who saw no identifying markings nor any
announcements of police, was about to shoot the man who was
guarding his mother when the BATman lowered his weapon and
he could see the marking on his chest. I can only imagine, with
some horror, what would have happened had Jimmy shot him. Needless
to say all were emotionally damaged. Response - sorry, we had
the wrong address."
(At least they said they were sorry. Usually they don't.)
I have had several inquiries about the
slide-action 223 now being built in South Africa. This piece is a
clear-cut evasion of the South African prohibition of
semi-automatic center-fire rifles - an expedient designed to
control the profusion of AK47s smuggled down into the Republic from
the communist nations to the north. As far as I can see, it has no
advantages over any other 223 except that it is legal in South
Africa, and in Britain where a similar prohibition obtains. If
anyone in this country feels he needs a street sweeper, I strongly
suggest, as I have in the past, the GPR (Gunsite Police Rifle),
which is a Model 94 Winchester in 30-30 or 44 Magnum, equipped with
From family member
the following anecdote about the Texas Rangers,
It seems that on 10 May 1920 Ranger "Kiowa" Jones
filled out his scout report. The form called for various things,
such as number of miles traveled, arrests made, names and so on.
And one of the blanks called for "disposition of prisoner." Jones
wrote in long-hand, "Damn bad I had to kill him in a
(See how lucky Rodney King was to escape with his life.)
What does one do when he finds himself
inadvertently involved in a bank robbery? We had a family
member recently who handled this problem well. When people
started shooting next door, he ducked out to the street, produced
his piece and took cover behind a parked car. Oddly enough, in this
case the police arrived before the bad guys got away. Whereupon our
friend simply holstered and cleared out. He did not get involved,
yet he did not abandon his duty as a good citizen. He tells me he
would have shot if circumstances had called for it. In any event,
he was ready, and that's what he learned at school.
Do you think that authors should know
something about the subjects they write about? The answer to this
question used to be an unqualified Yes, but standards have slipped
in this area as in so many others. When fiction writers get
involved in weaponry they apparently take the view that since their
readers don't know anything about it either, they can speak freely.
I suppose this doesn't matter much in a day when nobody reads
We all ascribe to the doctrine of the
one-shot kill. Icing one's target instantly and painlessly with one
round is a noble goal. Be aware, however, that things do not always
work out as planned. Whatever you are shooting at, be instantly
ready with your second shot. You need not use it, but have it
ready. In the case of the bolt-action rifle, the piece should be
reloaded and back on target by the time the empty hits the ground.
Granddaughter Lisa demonstrated this, to the delight of all
concerned, last year in Africa.
The matter of the idealized bolt-action
keeps coming up. None such is available today, probably because
very few people understand the bolt-action rifle, and the
manufacturers are unwilling to take a chance on the production of
Not that there is anything mysterious here. It would indeed be odd
if we were unable to improve upon a concept which was basically a
creation of the 19th century. It is certainly true that a dozen or
more "modernized" bolt-action rifles have appeared in the last
couple of decades, but oddly enough they do not seem to have been
designed by people who shoot much.
Let us consider a few of the desiderata which should be available
in a bolt-action designed for the 21st century.
A bolt-action should be glassy smooth and instantly operable. The
bolt should have a 90 degrees throw, but it should start at 45
degrees below horizontal, as in the Krag, thus obviating the need
for a bent bolt handle to stay out of the line of sight. Reduced
rotary movement offers illusory advantages in that it increases
camming pressure and sacrifices ease of operation.
A modern bolt-action should be instantly convertible from right to
left-hand operation. About one customer in six is left-handed, and
should not need to put in for special consideration.
The bolt-action should use two, horizontally-opposed locking lugs.
Its extractor should not interrupt the circle of the bolt-face, nor
should its ejector. (Again, note the Krag bolt-face.)
The modern bolt-action should include a magazine cut-off, a device
which I have found eminently useful all my shooting life (which
goes back a long way).
The modern bolt-action should feature a rotary box magazine with a
shoulder detent to avoid masking soft-point spitzers flat while
waiting their turn. (Personally, I would prefer something on the
order of Savage 99, but the Mannlicher-type - if made of
steel - would do as well.)
The modern bolt-action should permit direct feeding into the
chamber without use of the magazine.
The modern bolt-action should feature a strong, simple,
single-stage trigger, releasing without apparent motion at 50 oz or
a bit less.
While I have certain reservations (along with my good friend and
mentor Ian McFarlane of Okavango) about mechanical safety latches,
it would be impossible to sell a rifle that did not include one. It
should be operable with either hand. It should not extrude from the
rifle to catch on things (as is the case with the Winchester
three-position safety.) And it should disconnect the trigger and
sear from the striker, while at the same time positively locking
the striker. (People who count upon a safety latch to render a
firearm inoperable are living in a dream world.)
The modern bolt-action should be available in three lengths -
short (308), standard (30-06), and long (505 Gibbs).
And last but not least, the modern bolt-action should be
factory-fitted with an integral ghost ring aperture sight mounted
in the receiver bridge, as was the case with the old ZKK. Telescope
sights are here to stay, but they do not invalidate the need for
reserve iron sights, and those iron sights should be efficient, as
opposed to the V-shaped arrangements now considered factory
There are a couple of extra considerations involving the fitting,
bedding and trigger adjustment of the modern bolt-action, but they
go into the shop manual.
I don't suppose anyone is going to pay any attention to this sort
of thing. Marketing will always be a more important factor to the
manufacturers than excellence of design. Besides, the weapons we
have been using since the turn of the century have given us
excellent service. Still, it is nice to speculate upon the search
for excellence, Even if nothing comes of it, it makes good campfire
The following quotation was sent to me by
Marti Tueller (Mrs. Dennis Tueller) and I find it most comforting
during this troublesome interlude.
"As to the abuses I meet with, I number them among my
honors. One cannot behave so as to obtain the esteem of the wise
and the good without drawing on oneself at the same time the envy
and malice of the foolish and wicked, and the latter is testimony
of the former. The best men have always had their share of this
treatment, and the more of it in proportion to their different and
greater degree of merit. A man, therefore, has some reason to be
ashamed of himself when he meets with none of it."
Benjamin Franklin, 1767
We get the following information in a
clipping furnished us by family member
Dr. Sylvain Fribourg.
It seems that only last June on the "Miracle Mile" (an
area that the Countess and I used to frequent in our early days) a
goblin attempted to break into an apartment armed with a pistol. He
ordered the man to lie down on his face so that he could be bound.
I have always wondered how you manage to tie somebody up when you
have a firearm ready in your hand. This problem hadn't occurred to
the goblin who could think of nothing better to do than to stick
the piece in his belt. When he then attempted to proceed with his
enterprise, the woman of the couple simply hauled out his pistol
and killed him with it.
The news account remarks in some amazement that the woman in this
case "had never used a gun before." She didn't have to, since the
piece was a crunchenticker
and all that she had to do was
haul back on the trigger. This is the second case we have heard of
in which the good guy destroyed the bad guy because the bad guy had
opted for a double-action automatic pistol. Such goings
Family member Ken Pantling, from
Norwich, raises an interesting question. When you "black-ball" an
applicant for admission, are you being racist, or sexist, or
Family member John Schaefer, of
New Jersey, warns us of forthcoming action by Hillary Clinton
against lead. She is evidently agitating the EPA in this matter.
The idea is to shoot down small shooting ranges.
Theodore Roosevelt Day at
Whittington Center, New Mexico, is now quite firm. The program
seems to be expanding and we will now endeavor to program "The Wind
and The Lion" as well as other tapes of consuming interest. Our
seminars will discuss several of the psychological aspects of
weaponcraft as well as the future of the art with rifle, pistol,
shotgun and squirt gun. Contributory ideas are most welcome as we
hope to honor TR in a manner which would bring him
The dates, again, are: 30, 31 October.
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal
use only. Not for publication.