Jeff Cooper's Commentaries

Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 1, No. 9           October 1993

TR Week '93

The month of October has fully lived up to its billing, at least in the Southwest. The turning leaves have never been more beautiful and family members have reported back conspicuous success in the field. In that connection, some discussion has arisen about the use of the 270 on elk. We have kicked this around at some length with John Gannaway, brother Jay Marks, and family member Steve Lunceford, and we conclude that if you cannot flatten your elk with a 270, you probably cannot flatten him with a 375 either. Bullet selection has much to do with this. The more or less standard 130 bullet for the 270 is probably a bit light for animals in the 500 to 1000 pound class, but the 150, if properly constructed, should give no pause. Both Steve, and the late, great Jack O'Connor, have shot up the place in good style in Africa, and our good friend and host, Ian McFarlane of Okavango, maintains that he fed his family for over twenty years with this cartridge. Personally, I consider the 270 to be the ideal deer, sheep, and antelope cartridge. I would not select it as first choice for Africa, but I certainly would not complain if that is what I had.

Does anybody know why the current breed of half-educated journalists insist upon referring to a "9 millimeter, semi-automatic handgun" when the word they are groping for is "pistol"?

It is interesting to hear certain kinds of people insist that the citizen cannot fight the government. This would have been news to the men of Lexington and Concord, as well as the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan. The citizen most certainly can fight the government, and usually wins when he tries. Organized national armies are useful primarily for fighting against other organized national armies. When they try to fight against the people, they find themselves at a very serious disadvantage. If you will just look around at the state of the world today, you will see that the guerillero has the upper hand. Irregulars usually defeat regulars, providing they have the will. Such fighting is horrible to contemplate, but will continue to dominate brute strength.

I learned from a recent re-reading of Dante's Inferno that he reserved the seventh circle of hell for those who betrayed their benefactors. How appropriate, just at this time!

This "family values" concept seems to be burgeoning amongst the counterculture. Just recently in Phoenix a professional burglar went about his business accompanied by his wife and children. (Was he perhaps thinking of the statement, "The family that preys together, stays together"?) In any case, when he was shot dead by one of his victims in broad daylight, his wife, who was driving the getaway car, and his children, who were interested observers, were much upset. One observer opined in the newspaper that you should not shoot people for stealing stuff. It gives one to wonder. Obviously, the constituted minions of the law are doing little about people who steal stuff. Perhaps it is indeed time for "the militia" to take over. Remember that according to the Founding Fathers the militia is constituted of all the people, except for a few public servants.

The interview with Gordon Liddy, back in DC, was most pleasurable. He is a man of the same stamp as Sir Thomas More and Solzhenytsin, among others. The motto of such people is, "Do your worst, I do not coerce!" The human race is honored by such.
"One man with courage makes a majority"

Andrew Jackson

Following is a sentence passed by Judge W. Wyatt McKay of Trumbull County, Ohio, via Mike Royko:
"When you slithered out of your hole that day, and you spewed your venom all over this defenseless 12-year-old girl, you made this court's top 10 hit list. In a way, the best sentence this court could give would be no sentence at all, because if you left this courtroom I don't think you would be alive 10 minutes. You are nothing but a weed, a weed among wheat... And when we have a weed, it's my job to eradicate the weed, because if you don't you will choke the wheat. Therefore, I'm going to take you off the streets for just as long as I possibly can. It means you aren't even eligible for parole until you're 92. That leaves only one more count, aggravated robbery... You stole this little girl's bra as a souvenir, probably to brag about it to your friends later on. Well, I'm going to give you a souvenir of Trumbull County justice. And that is, you will receive a maximum sentence of 10 to 25 on the aggravated robbery for the stealing of that bra. And I hope that if you last 25 years in prison that you remember that souvenir."

"Get this scum out of here!"

From looking at the photographs in current periodicals, I gather that they have not heard about Rule 3 at Camp Perry.

In view of the significant importance of the second shot to the humane hunter, I cannot but wonder why we do not see more double rifles in use by the muzzle-loading people. The reason probably is availability and cost, but money matters do not seem to trouble the "rooney-gunners" in international competition.

Those of you who still may have not gotten the picture about what has taken place here at Gunsite since April of this year can get a good view of things by reading the chapter titled, "The Scouring of the Shire" in The Return of the King, which is the last volume of the Tolkien Trilogy. In effect, Saruman has taken over the shire, but let all note what became of Saruman.

It is interesting to note the whimpering tone of journalists and commentators when they speak of battle casualties. Any man who puts on the uniform and takes the oath certainly must be aware that his violent death in action is a distinct possibility. The soldier asks for no sympathy, but what he does need is a legitimate military objective handed to him by his commander-in-chief. No fighting man has ever resented the deadly perils of his profession as long as he was truthfully told the merits of his cause. As the Romans put it, "Dulce et decorum pro patrim mori est." But you really have to understand what is meant by "pro patria."

We learn with great interest from J.P. Denis in Belgium that the PPC people have come up with a new design for a sight for the Scout Rifle. As you know, a big problem in creating a modern Scout is partly the absence of a suitable action, but more importantly the absence of a proper sighting system and a mounting system for that sight. Family member and IPSC founder, Roger Swaelens, of Brussels, is due over here next month with samples. It is furiously to hope that we have something here.

"The Senate judiciary committee in 1982 recommended they get rid of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Here's the problem. There are 4,600 BATF agents. And they would go, according to their bureaucracy, to one of two other agencies if they were to dissolve the BATF. And that is to the Secret Service or to US Customs. Customs and Secret Service said, no, they wouldn't accept the (BATF) agents. They called them, `substandard.'"

"So these (BATF) people are civil service employees and you just can't fire them. They couldn't turn them into mailmen. And so very frankly we came to a Catch-22 situation because since we don't have an Al Capone running illegal liquor - the BATF was brought on board for that purpose - there's no major problem anymore with tobacco or with firearms, then the BATF now this year - 1993 - has a $400 million budget. And, to stay in business, the BATF tries the best they can to get as many cases as possible to justify continuing."

"So if Clinton wants to cut the budget, let's start with the BATF. And let's find some way to get around this civil service problem of what to do with these 4,600 officers."

"You know we've got for example 6,500 FBI agents who were dedicated as counter-intelligence. They used to follow Russians around. Well, now that Yeltsin is our friend and Gorbachev is the man of the decade, literally these 6,500 FBI agents are out of a job."

"Now they have reassigned 1,500 FBI agents to track gangs. Well, this means you've got Effrem Zimbalist, Jr. basically looking after people that are spray painting the sides of schools. But that still leaves 5,000 FBI and at least 4,600 BATF who are looking for something to do."

Bo Grits

To "blackball" a person has traditionally meant to veto his admission into a private club by casting a black ball into the box. In this curious age of "political correctness" one wonders whether the term "to blackball" should be considered racist, sexist, illegal, immoral, or fattening.

The Babamkulu lists are now closed, and we have on the rolls two aspirants who have not yet qualified with the rifle. If everybody shows up who has signed up, we will be faced with some interesting administrative problems. However, problems are meant to be solved, and I do not feel intimidated by these. We have a great program set up, and a lot of good people working on it, and I expect that a glorious time will be had by all.

An international conference on practical rifle competition is tentatively scheduled for spring of next year. This offers the promise of setting up a series of guidelines and parameters which may prevent practical rifle from going the way of practical ("impractical") pistol. We will see what we can do about that and keep you informed.

Back in the Dark Ages, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation occupied a place of glory in the eyes of the young. The FBI under John Edgar Hoover was an organization to be held up as a goal for young men of sufficient "patriotism, valor, fidelity, and abilities."

Now then, see what has happened! In addition to its various other transgressions, such as the Randy Weaver disaster in Idaho, the FBI has now come out for the disarmament of the American people, and has issued an official press release totally exonerating the Bureau for any sort of transgression in the Waco atrocity. I do not suppose there is anyone who has not seen the Linda Thompson tape of the action of the Federal ninja at Waco. The attempt to clear the Feds of any sort of misdemeanor in that episode completely destroys the credibility of the Bureau. Lo how the mighty are fallen!

The following situation report on South Africa was just faxed to us by Barry Miller:
"The political situation here is much as anticipated. The ANC is improving its stance on a daily basis in terms of economic policy."

"The PAC are currently a political joke. They have large support from the youth and radical element but are disorganized. At this stage, they are not a force to be reckoned with. This may change later."

"There is an element of the ANC that is scary. This is the communist/liberal faction that pop up their heads every now and then with pathetic suggestions and policy statements. It appears that a lot of this is used as vote catching material."

"We are still on stream for a coalition government for the next four or five years. This means change will be very diluted."

Anyone who knows anything about marksmanship knows that it is something one does not boast about. You may remember that Billy Dickson always attributed his long shot on the Indian to pure luck, and this was always called mere modesty on his part. Other examples will occur to you. However, if you would like a conspicuous case study of how it was done, consider the famous "Tinian shot" delivered during the occupation of Saipan and Tinian during the Pacific War.

When we had taken Saipan, it was planned to move across the intervening straight and land on the north end of Tinian Island, utilizing as much supporting artillery as we could muster, in addition to aerial bombardment and naval gunfire. To bring this off we moved all of the guns available on Saipan to the southern tip of the island and set them into position to fire across the straight on targets selected as appropriate. The smallest guns were placed as far forward as possible. In the case of the 75 millimeter pack-howitzers, this was right on the beach. Now the 75 millimeter pack-howitzer in not much of a cannon. Its principal virtue is that it is light and compact and can be moved around in difficult terrain with minimum effort. It fires a 3-inch shell at high angle to a fairly modest range - say, 2,500 yards. When all was ready, the signal was given to commence registering across the straight, starting with the little guns first. One battery of 75 pack-howitzers fired one round, which arched over the separating water and came down almost vertically.

It so happened that I was present at this time, riding offshore some 3,000 yards to the east of the straight. I was looking right at the point of impact. The result was unbelievable. The first thing I saw was a white, hemispherical flash, perhaps 500 yards in diameter. Out of this boiled a huge black column of smoke thrusting skyward into the traditional mushroom cloud. There was no sound, but we could see the shock wave moving out towards us across the water in a curved pattern. In a moment that shock wave struck the escorting destroyers and heeled them radically over in the water. The curve raced on towards us and we turned away and covered our ears. What hit us then is indescribable in words, but it was a sensation one is unlikely to forget.

What evidently happened was that first ranging shot from the 75-millimeter battery had found its way down some sort of ventilating shaft into the main ammunition depot on the north end of the island, and everything went up together.

I never heard what reports were circulated around amongst the artillerymen on Saipan, but one can guess at a number of appropriate wisecracks:
  1. You want me to do that again?
  2. Now you guys with the big guns can have your turn.
  3. That was Number One gun. Now I am going to try with Number Two.
  4. Why didn't I think of that last week?
  5. Everybody break for chow.
And so on. That was the "Tinian shot." Anytime you feel like bragging about something, keep that one in mind.

The following update on "Miranda" is submitted by family member Steve Munden.
"You have the right to remain helpless. Should you choose to waive this right, anything you do may be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an assailant. If you cannot find one for yourself, the court will release one for you."

Hard as it may be to believe, there are still people around who do not know about the "ghost-ring" sight. This sighting system was described in the early decades of the twentieth century by both Townsend Whelen and Karamojo Bell. It is so far superior to any form of open sight, for either snap shooting or precision work, that there is simply nothing to discuss. Yet, the manufacturers of the world have not heard about this, and they keep putting sighting systems on their rifles as issued over the counter that are little better than useless. As far as I know, there is no rifle in the world which comes from the factory to the shooter with a ghost-ring sight installed. Back in the `20s and `30s, before the public gave up on iron sights completely and went to the telescope, there were some good sights on commercial rifles. The last that I know of was the retractable aperture on the ZKK actions from Brno in Czechoslovakia. Those have not been available now for at least fifteen years.

It is certainly true that the telescope sight in its various forms is a superior system for most field rifle shooting, but telescopes break and a truly serviceable rifle should be equipped with a set of iron sights which will do the job in the event of glass breakage. This, of course, points to the ghost-ring, but as of now you will have to make it up yourself.

Sad to say, no one seems to be able to build a satisfactory butt magazine. I have been using same in both light and medium rifles for some ten years with great satisfaction. The butt mag is one of those things that you do not appreciate until you have had a chance to use it, but unfortunately it calls for custom design.

Family member Brent Clifton offers one as an accessory which he designed slant-wise to accommodate long cartridges. (Both of mine, built here at Gunsite by John Mahan, are limited to short cartridges.) However, the first models of the "slant-cuff" gave problems. Brent will have a revised 30-06 version for examination at Whittington on TR Day.

Family member Dr. Werner Weissenhofer reports from Vienna. It seems that a felon armed with a 357 revolver robbed a bank. As he left the bank, he was accosted by a policeman whom he murdered with one shot. Great excitement ensued, with the felon taking hostages and racing madly around from one store to another. When the forces of law and order had been mobilized and surrounded the goblin, a policeman volunteered to trade himself to the goblin for two hostages. This offer was accepted, at which time the felon fired at the policeman and seriously wounded him. The forces of law and order opened up with everything they had, which was mostly AUG and Glock fire. Shortly, the goblin killed himself with one round. He had fired three times and achieved three hits. The police, according to their official report, fired 1,261 rounds without drawing blood.

At one time, we used to refer to an event of this sort as a "Chinese Fire Drill." Later we came to call if "Father's Day in Harlem." After the interment of the Ayatollah Khomeini, we began to call it "An Iranian Funeral." Now, I guess we can call it "A Viennese Bank Robbery."

As I have often stated, if someone wants to shoot at me, I sure hope he does it on full-auto.

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