Jeff Cooper's Commentaries

Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 2, No. 1           1 January 1994

Happy New Year

We were certainly happy to be able to put 1993 behind us, doubtless the worst year we can remember. From Belfast to Bosnia, from Somaliland to Ceylon, from Korea to Kabul, from Gotham to Gunsite, and from Waco to Washington, it was a year we do not wish to dwell better, since it could hardly be worse. Let us see to it.

The bright spot of `93 was our great Gunsite Reunion honoring Theodore Roosevelt's birthday at the Whittington Center in New Mexico. We already have plans for the next event in `94 and we hope that this will be the beginning of a great tradition.

Nineteen ninety-four is the centennial of the great Winchester lever-action 30-30, one of the outstanding artifacts of modern times One correspondent has suggested that it should be replaced in its tactical niche by the Russian SKS in caliber 7.62x39, but somehow we tend to resist this notion. Among other things the SKS is clumsy, and its appearance aggravates the hoplophobes. I do not wish to sound chicken in this matter, but one of the nice things about the Model 94 is its innocent "Old West" appearance. If John Wayne loved it, it's got to be good.

The forthcoming SHOT show in Dallas may show us various new things. Steve Hornady has promised us a "quantum leap" in loaded rifle ammunition, and the IPSC booth will display a Belgian assembly of existing parts which is intended to serve as a prototype for practical rifle competition. Doubtless there will be many other things of note, and we will report upon them in the next issue of this paper.

Speaking of the Hornady operation, we regret to report that they are no longer manufacturing the excellent jacketed-truncated-cone (JTC) bullet for the 45 auto. This was the best projectile for this cartridge so far seen, and it has been our mainstay for duty operations for lo these many years.

It seems to be a principle of our modern industrial society to cease producing anything good as soon as it is discovered to be good. This may be the result of a general philosophy in sales to cause the consumer to grab whatever it is he likes at once before it is taken off the market. I can think of a dozen examples in the firearms field, and scores more throughout industry in general.
"If it is good, get it now. It won't be here tomorrow!"

This Russian patriot Zhirinovsky now claims that Russia should reclaim Finland, Poland, the Baltic states, and Alaska. Much as our State Department enjoys giving in on all points suggested by European claimants, I do not think we should let Zhirinovsky have Alaska, which is our national game preserve. On the other hand, in the true spirit of negotiation, maybe we should make him an offer. Chick Hastings suggests that we offer him the District of Columbia, New York City, and San Francisco.

Bambi's revenge continues. We read of a sportsman who got scooped up by a crocodile in Northern Australia, and of a gent who was done in by a nilgai down on a game farm in Texas. I do not think, however, that the beasties stand to win in the long run. There are too many of us and too few of them.

Family member and long-time Orange Gunsite staffer, Dr. Lloyd Pond of New Mexico, has sometimes pointed out that the advantages of the Weaver Stance over the isosceles are attributable to basic anatomical geometry. Now we get further corroboration from Dr. Edward P. Jastram, III of Montana:
"It turns out that the reflexive facilitation inhibition patterns of gait involve the muscles of the shoulder girdle and upper extremities as well as those of the lower, and that the precision with which one may use his muscles specific for stability, trigger and recoil control is position dependent."
I am not sure I fully understand that, but I have seen the Weaver Stance prevail and have taught it ever since its invention by Jack Weaver and its analysis by John Plahn so many years ago. Now it appears that the notion can be said to be "medically approved."

Let us not fail to celebrate Dan Dennehy's birthday on 15 January. This is a National Gunsite Holiday and all family members are authorized to take the day off.

From our enemies in the media we learn that the passage of the Brady Bill, while admittedly a totally ineffectual measure, was nonetheless a victory because it diminished the power of the National Rifle Association. From our standpoint, it is hard to believe that it did. It made Congress, not the NRA, look silly. But mostly it made these hoplophobic news commentators look even sillier. These people remind us of the spoiled child who threatens to hold his breath until he turns blue if he does not get his way, whether or not his way makes any sense - even to him.

From family member Bob Budz the following:
"Big Brother is now here - and look, he is retarded!"

Of course not all pundits are our enemies. Joe Sobran is a strong warrior on our side. Consider the following, extracted from his column appearing on 12 December in the Washington Times.
"Because the state can no longer protect us from crime, it wants to take away from us the means of protecting ourselves. This is the logic of gun control."

"In short, we - or our rulers, at any rate - now make law lawlessly. Bill Clinton wants to license all handguns in the United States. He affects not to know that the Second Amendment forbids the federal government to infringe our right to keep and bear arms. He doesn't ask, because he doesn't care, where the federal government gets the lawful power to require the licensing of guns. He thinks it has the actual political power to do it, and for him that is all that counts."

"So law-abiding citizens are left at a disadvantage - caught between a criminal class that disdains the law and a ruling class that disdains the Constitution."
That is beautifully put and, we hope, widely read.

From South Africa we hear of a most curious example of gun theft. In South Africa, as you know, a lost firearm is a serious matter before the law and the bereaved owner must be able to prove to the satisfaction of the authorities that he had manifested no contributory negligence. It turns out that a shooter from Durban many years ago had his P35 stolen. But just last month he was notified by the police that it had been recovered. When he went down to pick up his pistol he first maintained that it was not his, since it was quite a bit different from the piece he had lost. The police insisted that it had to be his because the numbers matched. Upon further examination the man noted that most things about the weapon had been improved, including sights, speed safety, and stock. It was also cleaner and in better shape than when he had lost it. This is one of the most curious stories I have heard. One certainly does not think of a thief as being a pistolero, but then who knows what the odyssey of that pistol may have been? Somebody along the line had an appreciation of good equipment. One wonders if he will turn up to congratulate the original owner.

I continue to get good reports about the Para-Ordnance 45 Auto. I have not yet used it to the extent necessary to form an opinion, but I will talk to the people at SHOT and see what the latest developments are.

In this degenerate period in the life of the republic, I most strongly urge all responsible people to find a copy of the Constitution of the United States and to read the Tenth Amendment thereto with great care. I have not yet heard it proposed that legislators and executives who are ignorant of the supreme law of the land may be charged with "political malpractice," but it is high time that someone brought this up.

Back in the Dark Ages when I was but a lad, the following advice about the military services was often heard:
"If you want to learn a trade, join the Army.
If you want a clean bunk every night, join the Navy.
If you want to fly, join the Air Force.
If you want to fight, join the Marines."
That advice may no longer be applicable in the Billarial administration, but those people now in the White House will not be around forever - much as it may seem so with every passing week.

It now appears that I will be chatting with Gordon Liddy again on the air on Monday, 7 February. I enjoyed our session last fall and I look forward to exchanging ideas again with a man of courage. He who is able to look the power of the state squarely in the eye without flinching is all too rare in the Age of the Common Man.

A couple of years ago we coined the appellation, "Preoccupation with Inconsequential Increments," or PII. This peculiarity lies in attributing importance to measurable deviations so small as to be meaningless. You see it in the people who shoot test groups in rifles, awarding a prize to a group which is only thousandths of an inch smaller than those unrewarded. One sees it in speed records awarded in one-thousandths of one mile-per-hour. One sees it in basketball scores which, nearing the century mark, are separated by less than three points. In all such cases Score A is "better" than Score B, but who cares?

An increment may be termed inconsequential when it has no significant relationship to the purpose of the exercise. Of course if the purpose of the exercise is in itself inconsequential some may not think this to be foolish. A very distinguished general at Quantico once caused the sign to be placed over the exit door of every office asking, in brilliant scarlet and gold, "What are you trying to do?" There was a man who knew more about human nature than most.

"Jeff Cooper's Commentaries," a sort of zamizdat Gunsite Gossip from behind the rice curtain here at Gunsite, is furnished regularly to both Guns & Ammo magazine and the current owner of the Gunsite Training Center. It is not available by subscription, due to the terms of the sale of the ranch, but appears to be much in demand. If you like it, show it to a friend. If he likes it, he may show it to a friend. This way I may still put out the word.

The next time you kill a buffalo bear in mind this recipe that I recently ran across in an old English cookbook: "Take the heavy thigh bones and roast them in the coals until they crack; then carefully spoon out the marrow, season it with salt and cayenne, and spread the mixture on toast." Funny I never ran across that before!

Riflemaster and longtime Orange Gunsite stalwart, Larry Larsen, has joined the Babamkulu adventure for May of this year and he faces that delightful quandary about which rifle to take. He will not be hunting buffalo or elephant, so he does not need a heavy (with which Gunsite would provide him as holding the Gunsite Expert Badge.)

His choice is therefore between the 30-06 220 and the 350 250 ("Fireplug.") Either will do very well in the hands of a master marksman, so there is really very little to discuss. However, if Larry scores in Africa with his Fireplug he will then rate a Fireplug pin with a blood-red center. On the other hand, if he scores with the 30-06, he will be in a position to promote conspicuous international amity by leaving his ammunition behind. Fireplug ammunition is useless in Africa, since there are no weapons there to take it, but that is certainly not true of 30-06, which has been world-standard since before I was born.

In either case Larry will rate the brassard of the Gunsite African Rifles, which really dresses up one's uniform.

Joe Sobran, the columnist we mentioned previously, has come up with a nifty epithet for that zoological accretion with which Bill and Hillary have surrounded themselves in the White House, to wit: "The gaffe menagerie."

"That circus in DC would be funny if it didn't hurt so much."

Maggie Sullivan

The Nazis may have left us the Volkswagen and the freeway, but they have also handed us a nasty little terminological keepsake in the term "Assault Rifle." As you doubtless know, the Germans decided that they had to have something better for their tank-riders in Russia than either the G98 Mauser or the MP40 Schmeisser, the one being too clumsy and slow to fire, and the other, in 9mmP, under-powered. So they came up with a sort of hybrid piece splitting the difference. This was first called the MP (for Maschine Pistole) 44, but since it did not take a pistol cartridge but rather a shortened 8mm rifle cartridge, they changed its name to StG44 for "Sturmgewehr" which is literally translated as "assault rifle." When the Soviets picked over the wreckage of the Third Reich they really cottoned to the idea of the Sturmgewehr and came up with the Kalashnikov family of similar characteristics but using a different cartridge. This, of course, was the AK47. Weapons of this sort have a definite utility in armored warfare, though it is distinctly specialized. However, the Soviets and their satellites produced the AK47 and subsequent clones in such vast numbers that this piece is now world-standard from Beirut to the Bronx. Its tactical characteristics are not as important as its title. "Assault Rifle" is something the hoplophobes can really get hold of and wave around, whether or not they have any idea of what they are talking about - which usually they do not. So I guess we can attribute part of our problem here in the period of Clintomania to German ingenuity - not to the weapon itself, but to its title. Thanks a lot!

An Italian correspondent, viewing the current situation here at Gunsite, opined that the new owner had bought the box and thrown away the contents. This puts it very well. Italian is not only a beautiful language, but also a very expressive one.

One Jun Yamasaki, a Japanese bureaucrat, observes pungently that:
"When a rabbit raised in a zoo is suddenly kicked out into the wild, it is likely to be eaten."
There is a man of perceptivity!

Family member Mike Cox, who is now stationed in Saudi Arabia, recently took advantage of geography to split down to Africa for a bit of hunting. I understand his reasons for this, but he did make what I consider to be a couple of mistakes. He decided to hunt buffalo on his first venture, and to use a borrowed piece when he got there. He also had not come to rifle school, though presumably he knew how to shoot.

His outfitter handed him a 375. Now this cartridge may be world standard and certainly has killed innumerable buffalo, but it is not a proper buffalo gun.

Mike's first shot was perfectly placed in the shoulder, but as is not uncommon, the buff took no notice of it and disappeared into thick thorn. Mike then proceeded to short-stroke his rifle and jam it up tight. The PH immediately swapped the jammed 375 for his 458. With the second shot the buff went down and the hunter proceeded to short-stroke that one. The buff then got up and Mike shot him twice more with the 375, concluding the action. The range was about 12 paces and both hunters well and truly had blood on their shoes.

Now this was very exciting, and turned out well, but it makes two points. One, work that bolt, in front of your televisor, for at least a month before you take off. And two, use enough gun for buffalo.

To complete his adventure, Mike went up to Vic Falls where he had a run-in with a bunch of baboons. The ape chieftain, feeling his band threatened by a man without a gun, started throwing rocks. I have always been under the impression that while apes can throw things, they cannot throw them accurately since their brains are not arranged that way. In this case, however, Mike said that a couple of rocks about the size of softballs flew by close aboard. Mike happened to be wearing a sheath knife, and when he drew it, it seemed to get the attention of the ape. He threatened with his teeth, but chose not to close to hand-to-hand distance.

I do not recount this to embarrass good old Mike, but only to point out that there are things to be learned about the African bush even today in the Age of the Wimp

Prayer for 1994:
"Let each man get what he deserves."

Brad Ackman

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