Jeff Cooper's Commentaries

Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 2, No. 10          11 August 1994

Dog Days, 1994

Hot, isn't it? This may not be the hottest summer on record, but it is certainly a standout, even in places like Moscow, Tokyo and Fairbanks. Maybe somebody down there is trying to tell us something.

As we write this, the so-called Crime Bill of the Clinton Administration is still being pushed. The utter hypocrisy of this proposition emphasizes the near total collapse of our political system. This proposed bill can do nothing about crime, and its proponents know that. They insult the intelligence of their constituents by assuming that voting for a bill which is called a "Crime Bill" will gain the votes of innocents who are concerned about crime and admire the antics of those who would "do something about it," whether or not what they propose to do has any relation to reality.

Apart from the banning of "assault weapons" (which are almost never used in crime,) this bill promises to fund the employment of 100 thousand more police officers. We have enough police officers, who almost invariably catch the goblins. What is not done with the goblins after they are caught is the root of the crime.

Today's criminals know they have little to fear from the police or the law, and that situation is not going to be corrected by throwing money at it, but you good people who read these words know all that. Apparently there are a great many people who do not know all that, and certainly the publicity media are not interested in correcting the situation.

It may be that this ridiculous Crime Bill will be shot down, but that will not win the war. Those people will be back with something else, as bad or worse. The struggle will continue, and it is up to each of us to pull his weight. At this time in our history, complacency is a sin.

Note that the goblins choose as victims only those they deem to be patsies. Louis Awerbuck and Chris Pollack have recently gleaned the following statement from a restroom wall:
"There are no victims, only volunteers. You volunteer by looking uncertain and afraid. You volunteer by being, as grass-eaters invariably are, unprepared to confront the hazards of life."
As it used to be emphasized at Orange Gunsite, you are an easy mark in White, but you are a difficult problem in Orange.

Family member and Shooting Master Louis Awerbuck recently showed us a most interesting device, which amounts to a ghost-ring for a pistol. It is not as obtrusive as one might expect, and it is a great deal less so than any form of glass sight. The large diameter aperture sits low over the rear of the slide, and it does not interfere with a holster which permits the use of a "target sight." I think it deserves study, and I will do what I can to promote this.

We learn that the federal assassin Lon Horiuchi is now being afforded personal security by the state. Perhaps the need for this man to look over his shoulder for the rest of his life is in some measure adequate punishment for his crimes.

Again we call your attention to the Second Annual Gunsite Reunion and Theodore Roosevelt Memorial to be held at the Whittington Shooting Center in New Mexico on 21, 22 and 23 October.

It happens that the shooting center is not sending out applications, but requesting that all reservations be made by telephone (505-445-3615.) There will be shooting for rifle, pistol and shotgun, but no competition for prizes. We want to keep the event informal and pleasurable, without any pushing and shoving.

There will be recitations on Friday and Saturday nights, and we ask again that you tell us what you intend to declaim so that we can avoid a duplication of effort. The presentations do not need to be in verse and they need not be memorized, so there is no need to be bashful. (If anybody is up for "The Ballad of East and West," please let me know so I can change my target.)

Accommodations are amazingly reasonable - $16.00 per night for one, and $28.00 for a couple. Hot meals are available at the cafeteria and there is a kitchenette in each wing of the sleeping quarters.

Any posters or portraits of TR that you wish to furnish will be properly displayed.

(The weather will be warmer this year - since it could not be any colder than it was last year.)

The fifth of this month was Lion Day, the anniversary of our face-off with the king of beasts, down in the Lowveldt. We encouraged all hands connected with that operation to "splice the main brace" on the day.

"And all the time - such is the tragic comedy of our situation - we continue to clamor for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful."

C.S.Lewis, via Eric Ching

Family member and Rifle Master Larry Larsen informs us that as the years roll by he seems to need a smaller aperture in his ghost-ring. Naturally a smaller aperture is a little slower, but it may indeed help those of us of retirement age. I must look into this further. (I note that Danie van Graan of Engonyameni has never believed in a ghost-ring, but uses a disk, even on his lion-stopping 45-70. It may be that Danie is older than I thought.)

Note that while the illustrious 50-caliber Browning machinegun is increasingly overlooked by the designers of combat vehicles, it still stands in the hotspots of the world as the King Machinegun. The armorers, who usually live well to the rear, theorize that the 50 is too much for antipersonnel use and too little for use against armor. This is theoretically true, but the great advantage of the 50 is its ammunition supply. You can carry enough 50-caliber ammunition to stay in action for quite some time, but when you move up to a 20, 25 or 30mm automatic cannon you find that you run out pretty fast, especially on full auto. You also discover that replenishing the ammunition of these light machine cannon can be a frustrating task. With the Bradley, for example, you pretty much have to call off the war in order to re-load your vehicle with that 25mm fodder.

The 50 will not punch a hole in a modern tank, but it will raise amazing cane with a truck, or a parked airplane, or any sort of boat or improvised revetment. We have a friend who served two tours up on the north perimeter of I Corps in Viet Nam, and he claims that that quad-50 mounted on a half-track was essentially the modern equivalent of Thor's Lawnmower.

In the face of the increasing wave of oppression which is the mood in Washington, note that there are both municipalities and counties in the south and in the west which are turning to armament ordnances, which require citizens to be armed, to increase the security of their streets. The newest county we learn of in this regard is Catron County, New Mexico.

This from the Wall Street Journal:
"But even better equipment can't seem to solve the department's more basic shortcomings. In the late 1980s the police began to phase in new 9mm service pistols. Within a short time, it became evident that such weaponry was beyond the grasp of many cops. Between early 1989 and late 1992, more than one out of every seven shots fired by Washington police officers was fired accidentally."
More all the time it seems evident that the large caliber revolver should be the primary sidearm of the police.

Tanya Metaksa, the new head of the Institute of Legislative Action for the NRA, puts it very well when she says,
"Mr. Magaw (Director of US BATF) is typical of a Clinton administration that doesn't know the law, doesn't know how to deal with violent criminals, doesn't understand firearms and doesn't give straight answers to the American people."

It appears that the 1903 Springfield is becoming increasingly hard to find. Let us not let this situation get out of hand. There should be an 03 in every well-ordered household, either for field use or as a basis for "sporterizing."

Likewise, since our current masters in Washington seem intent on trashing the M1, every well-ordered household should be with one of those also.

In that connection I notice that the unfortunate Haitians seem intent upon repelling borders with M1s. The photo was in the press. If the United States deems it necessary to invade the island, our forces will naturally be equipped with all the most modern and sophisticated support weapons, against which the poor old Haitians will be practically helpless. But when it comes to the individual arm carried by the individual soldier, a man with an M1 is two and a half laps ahead of a man with an M16.

"Our politicians continue to promise more uniformed reinforcement. What we get in Tampa are the loveliest young women one would ever hope to see across the dinner table. They are not what one would hope to see when calling for help dealing with a 6' 3" 250-pound prison-physique on the rampage. These gendarmettes are gorgeous but mostly useless. Then again, many cops are useless, and not so pleasant to look at."

Ron Bales

Family member Randy Umbs has found the good life in up in northern Wisconsin. Among the many other amenities of his new situation, he has discovered the sport of logging competition. I was fascinated to hear of the machination of the gamesmen in this activity. Now it appears we have chain saws which are useful for nothing except competition. They sport snowmobile engines, 30-inch bars and can only be hefted by weight lifters. Randy tells me that these devices can cut through a 30-inch log 3 times in 5 seconds. (That's what he said - 30 inches, 3 times, 5 seconds.) So now we have the "competition chain saw." Heavens to Elizabeth!

Our continued African studies in depth turn up all sorts of interesting information. For example, the Zulus at Isandhlwana had very few rifles, but they wiped out the British force largely with spears. In the aftermath of that disaster, the Zulus acquired a great many rifles left on the field. They grabbed these up eagerly and used them in the subsequent fights at Kambula and Ulundi, in which they were totally overwhelmed by British musketry. Moral: It is not enough to snatch up an advanced piece of equipment. You must also know how to use it.

Going further into those actions we discovered, somewhat to our surprise, that the Zulus used a large number of rifles at Rorke's Drift, without much success, but that the British officers used large-bore 6-shot revolvers to greater effect than their troops achieved with the single-shot Martini-Henry. A large-capacity handgun really comes into its own when you are faced with the problem of repelling boarders at short range. That, however, is certainly a specialized task.

Ernie Pfaff recently told us that he was quite impressed with a group of law enforcement people with whom he formed contact and had joined in shooting. I expressed some surprise at this because law enforcement groups, in general, do not shoot well. Ernie got back to me later with the statement that he had found out in passing that practically all of the group he was talking about were Orange Gunsite graduates.

A family member recently reported a case in Texas in which two police officers expended 60 rounds on one felon to obtain two hits, one in the hand and one in the leg. Obviously Spray-and-Pray is the order of the day. It seems to me that these gross failures cannot be due to bad marksmanship. Certainly any miss is bad marksmanship, but failure to concentrate on the front sight, and failure to surprise yourself with the trigger-break, and failure to concentrate on the problem at hand to the exclusion of anything extraneous is a failure of mental conditioning. Now mental conditioning cannot be successfully achieved without the confidence imparted by a reasonable degree of basic marksmanship. Your mind-set cannot be right unless you know you can hit, but hitting your adversary in a vital spot across the room is simply not very hard, unless you count on rapid volume of fire rather than concentration on your shooting to achieve hits.

While we are satisfied that the intermediate-eye-relief (IER) telescope sight is a vast improvement on any general purpose rifle, we must admit that it is no appreciable help in slow fire. In shooting from a hochsitz, or hunting mountain sheep, or hunting antelope on the plains, the snapshot is simply not involved. To disregard the snapshot, however, is to neglect one's repertoire. I have seen the snapshot used with splendid effect five times in the field, and snapshooting with a short-eye-relief telescope is unnecessarily difficult. For this reason the Scout Rifle, which is emphatically a general purpose rifle, must normally carry an IER glass.

And while on that subject bear in mind that the Ching Sling is essential to the Scout concept, and it should be made of leather or very heavy-bodied plastic. Flimsy nylon webbing will not do.

In perusing the offerings in the new Gun Digest catalog, I was impressed by the extraordinary diversity afforded in weapon type, weight, class and price. At one end of the scale you may now acquire a Century Enfield Sporter No. 4 for $156.00, and this ought to be a truly outstanding utility gun. At the other end, Heym will build you a magazine rifle in caliber 600 Nitro Express for a mere $11,500.00. In the middle ranges, you can obtain a very nicely made conventional bolt-action rifle (without sights) for between $2,000 and $3,000. On the other hand, you cannot obtain a properly setup Scout Rifle at any price, though Parker Hale advertises one (which does not measure up) for about $500.00.

I suppose there is no point in talking to the family or the readers of this Commentary about rifles available for sale, since you people already have your rifles - like the ladies of Boston who already have their hats.

"Your comments on the M99 in 250 Savage brought back memories. When I was a kid we frequently vacationed at a camp in upstate New York. The owner had an M99 in 250 and a freezer full of venison. Each one was a one-shot kill. It was fitted with a two and a half power scope of ancient construction and was well worn and lovingly cared for. It had never failed him! Wish I had it! Still can't figure out what all the current fuss over high velocity is all about. If you can't do it at 2,700fps you just plain can't do it."

John Schaefer

It is a truism that one does well what he enjoys doing, and going back over some writings of the young Hemingway we discover his insistence that one kills well only if he enjoys killing. Hemingway was speaking of bull fighting, but the idea may be extended beyond that. David is said to be the greatest killer amongst the ancient Jews - shall we assume he enjoyed his work? Both Sulla and Julius Caesar seemed to have enjoyed it, and coming down to modern times we can discover from his writings that Wade Hampton evidently did, as well as Stonewall Jackson and Nathan Forrest. Grant, on the other hand, evidently did not, but to be an effective soldier one does not have to be a recreational killer.

I once spent a couple of weeks in a hospital bed adjoining that of a Marine officer of distinguished record who told me, in confidence, that what he enjoyed more than anything else was killing Japs. This attitude may be improper in today's diminished society, but the gentleman concerned is now dead and his reputation is safe.

Hemingway goes on to explain this by saying that the act of killing may or may not be difficult in itself (as it is for bird shooting or aerial combat,) but is somehow a howl of defiance - defiance of man's inevitable end. In this sense, to kill is to spit in the face of death, paradoxical as that may sound to some. I think the matter is worth study - though do not tell anybody I said so.

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