Jeff Cooper's Commentaries

Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 2, No. 15          30 November 1994

December, 1994

Troubled times indeed!

Here at the Gunsite Sconce we are involved in a very large correspondence. This means that I communicate with a great many different people, though possibly their political diversification may not be great. As it happens, however, the people I talk to, both in person and by mail, seem to be divided into three categories. In the first are those who feel that the United States and Western civilization in general are in trouble. The second is composed of people who feel that we are all involved in very deep trouble. And the third group feels that we are tottering on the brink of disaster. No one, of course, can predict the future, but when we, as a nation, have placed our faith in democracy - a form of government which depends essentially upon the virtue of the people - what hope is there when such virtue no longer exists? We should not be pessimistic, especially at this time of year, but the republic, as well as our culture at large, is in for rough times - and rougher ahead. Let us hope that we are worthy of the sacrifices of our forefathers!

Recently in the waiting room of an office in Prescott we heard a customer, looking at us, remark, "The man has a pistol." My response was, "Yea, we just won the election!" I do not know if the customer got the point, but I did enjoy the exchange.

The Revolution of `94 went quite well, as everyone is pleased to see. It is now up to the new team in Washington to take advantage of the mood of the times. The Billary Administration must remain in the saddle for another two years, of course, but having lost both stirrups and one rein, it may be that the horse has more to say about the direction of travel than the rider.

It is vital that we must not go limp simply because we won a battle. That was not the whole war, and much fighting remains ahead. In the pursuit of liberty we can never relax.

You all noticed that the part played by the NRA in the Revolution of `94 was significant. Some of the losers claim that it was decisive. May it be so! Most of the press, and even some of our own membership, have recently taken the view that the NRA is a paper tiger, unable to make any difference where it counts. This is just not so, and the shooters of this country remain a political force to contend with despite the complaints of the limp left. Sign up a new member every month! Only by doing so can you discharge your duty to the republic.

A correspondent recently attempted to convince us that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms should now be referred to as "ATF" rather than BATF. We disagree strongly. As long as this nefarious branch of the federal ninja may be referred to as the "BATmen," we have a certain semantic advantage.

We note the announcement of the new "450 Rigby" cartridge. This is a proprietary round suitable (for the present) only in the 450 Rigby rifle. Its ballistics are just a tad short of those of Baby, throwing a 45-caliber bullet at a starting velocity of 2,350. I do not know why this cartridge is needed when we now have a good assortment of practical heavy cartridges for bolt-action rifles, but need has never been an important factor in cartridge design. The combination of rifle and cartridge should do very well indeed for those fortunate enough to be able to hunt heavy animals. We wish the combination all success.

After much juggling around it now appears that our rifle class at Whittington Center is set for 3-8 April, and that is just one session. If the demand appears, we will schedule another.

(Future pistol sessions are not yet firm.)

The following material is from "National Review" for November 21, 1994.
"We simply do not understand. Assault rifles were banned by the crime bill. The crime bill passed. Even Republicans voted for it. It was signed into law. Assault weapons are illegal. You cannot have one. Nobody has one. They are all gone. They will never bother the decent citizens of this country again. Crime has ended. We outlawed crime. Nobody could have shot at the White House with an assault weapon. Clinton flacks must have made up the whole incident.

"Of course it wasn't an `assault rifle,' but a Chinese automatic. That's okay: half the people who supported the crime bill didn't know the difference either."

Those of you who wondered what "PPC" signified in the design of some new cartridges may stop wondering. Those three letters stand for Pindell Palmsano Canucce. Now you can relax.

While assisting in zeroing operations for the current elk season, we discovered again, as if we had ever forgotten, that almost the first thing one should check when taking out a rifle which has been out of use for some time is the solidity of the telescope mounting system. All telescope mounting screws should be locked tight and checked for that before any attempt is made to zero the piece. Three of us forgot that last month and were much embarrassed at the result.

Those of you who feel the need should note that Don Mitchell is now offering a 10-round magazine for the 1911 pistol. You can inquire about this from,
Mitchell Arms, 3400 West MacArthur Blvd, Santa Ana, CA 92704

You may have missed it, but a memorial was recently set up to honor the memory of the four ninja who died in the Waco massacre (by whose hand is not clear). It did not last long. It has been removed by persons unknown and not yet rediscovered.

As to that, it seems to me that a monument to the eighty-odd innocents who perished at the hands of the feds at Waco might be in order. It seems likely that money for such an operation could be easily amassed, and think what a blow that would be for the cause of liberty at this time!

Our man in the megalopolis informs us that the word is now out that Aristide has offered to send troops to Washington in order to maintain the Clintons in power.

"The Boers knocked us silly at a mile." I am a great admirer of Mr. Rudyard Kipling, but the notion that the Boers were spectacular "long shooters" is without accurate foundation. The Boers were hunters who lived by their rifles. Any hunter knows that the rule is to get closer if you can. The difference between a deadly shot and a lesser man is concentration. When an experienced hunter presses the trigger he knows that he has a clean kill. Too often a soldier shoots only to make noise or to provide "suppressive fire," which, as the saying goes, "doesn't." A spectacular example of this occurred on the summit of Majuba Hill in 1881. The two sides enjoyed no particular difference in efficiency of armament, but where the British fired by volley, the Boers shot to kill. The range varied from 75 to 25 meters (we walked it!), and the effect of carefully delivered fire at short range was simply appalling. The panic that ensued has been minimized in the journalistic accounts written in English, but anyone can go to the site and relive the experience on the ground, if he so wishes.

We were once told personally by General Robert Cushman, Commandant of the Marine Corps, that the only thing that really scared him was the one occasion in the South Pacific when he encountered carefully aimed rifle fire from the Nips. He told me that he thanked God that this was the only occasion on which the Nips seemed to be able to deliver it.

Only hits count. Perhaps we forgot to preach that in the past.

In our concentration on Lon Horiuchi, the man who shot Vicky Weaver in the face while she was holding her baby, we must not forget that he was not the only one involved. One Richard Rogers, of the FBI hostage rescue organization, is the man who set the rules of engagement both at the Randy Weaver ranch and at Waco. As far as I can determine, he is the man who gave the orders that Horiuchi carried out. Richard Rogers - this is a name to bear in mind.

As procedures for implementing the new concealed-carry law in Arizona proceed, we are amused by the provision that the applicant must be exposed to sixteen hours of qualified instruction before being certified. So how do you suppose the good people in the state house came up with sixteen hours? Our guess is that they took the number of days in the shortest month in the year and subtracted from that the number of months in the year. Alternatively they could have taken the number of hoofs on a cow and multiplied it by the number of paws on a dog. It should be obvious even to a legislator that the number of hours one is exposed to instruction has nothing whatever to do with the amount of information imparted. A man can sleep through sixteen hours of instruction just as well as he can sleep through thirty minutes thereof. However this is not important. The important thing is, in the words of Patrick Henry, "That every man be armed." As long as we screen out the loonies, the rest will take care of themselves.

In that connection I should point out that at least one certifying officer in Arizona uses our film "Liberty's Teeth" as part of the sixteen-hour session necessary for certification. Applicants can sleep through that too, but we would like to think that we hold their attention for at least some of the period.

We are informed by our man in Guatemala that the BATmen are now active there. Just what excuse there is for funding these unpleasant people in their activities overseas is not clear. The sooner the BATF is abolished, the better. Why on earth it now seems necessary to send these people overseas to look after the record-keeping for American citizens seems ludicrous. It is clear that once an organization is founded and funded at the federal level, it looses sight of its purpose in life and simply seeks to perpetuate itself - at whatever costs the taxpayers. Let us pray that the new boys in Washington understand that!

"Judging from Waco and the Weavers, the feds are almost one hundred times more likely to kill an innocent person than a guilty one."

Jack Buchmiller

We have recently been reading up on the life and times of Nathan Bedford Forrest, CSA, properly termed the "Tiger of Tennessee." This was an amazing man, declared by no less authority than U.S. Grant to be the finest general of the Confederacy. When our Civil War broke out there was a lot of enthusiasm but little organization, and one of the things most notably missing on the Southern side was simply the firearm. This did not bother Forrest very much since he simply stipulated that anyone who wished to join him must furnish his own horse and "gun." The result was that the majority of Forrest's troopers in the early part of the war were armed with double-barreled shotguns. This traditional fowling piece may certainly not be the ideal personal weapon for the infantry, but in the hands of a bunch of howling horsemen attacking suddenly out of the dark it was decisively effective. Always outnumbered, Forrest attacked mainly at night, and at night a shotgun has a great deal to be said for it.

We have scheduled an IPSC meeting at Las Vegas in connection with the SHOT show to be held there in mid-January. The purpose of this meeting, which I am to chair, is to settle upon a proper format in which to conduct practical rifle competition in coming years. This procedure is complicated by the fact that the governments of the world are in general opposed to the practical use of the rifle by private citizens. There are other obstacles that will occur to you. In any case, we intend to kick these matters around on 18 January and see if we can come up with a workable consensus. May God defend the right!

We seldom go to the movies anymore, but I have always had a persistent taste for Westerns, and it does not seem to be so very uncommon. During the Thanksgiving festivities, it happens I caught two modern, big budget Westerns largely to see how they had improved over the more traditional examples, if at all.

I discovered some interesting things. The first, the weaponcraft has shown no significant improvement. While the directors may be careful to use firearms which are correctly assigned to the period under discussion, they do not understand that Hollywood holsters are a development of the post war world. It is interesting to see a gunfighter of the 1880s portrayed as drawing from a 1955 model holster.

The second point which intrudes is language. The conventional obscenity of the 1960s and since was never used in the 19th century, as far as anyone can determine from informal writings and conversation. On the other hand, there are forbidden words today which were commonplace in the 19th century. The result is the portrayal of people whose speech is totally unconvincing.

A third point, and probably the most critical, is that Hollywood has now discovered "Post Operational Trauma" (POT). The notion that a man will get all shook up after he has killed another is a post-Korean War development. Nobody from Little David to George Patton was ever upset after he had killed a man for a good reason. Furthermore, this POT business is not common today, as we can tell by talking to participants in current violence. To have some legendary "gunfighter" of the old West go all to pieces because he has just shot the bad guy is ridiculous, but, like arugula, it is fashionable, so we must not criticize it.

One good thing we noted about the Westerns was their demonstration of the principle that Personal Unilateral Disarmament (sometimes referred to as "gun control") is absolutely useless in the suppression of crime. "No guns in town" has always been the first step of the oppressor.

I am sometimes asked why I do not do more literary work on the subject of defensive pistolcraft. I hate to say it, but the answer is that I believe that I have discovered what I need to know about defensive pistolcraft. I know what works, and I have proved it. No subject of this sort may ever be considered completely and finally closed, but I have not seen anything written nor heard anything spoken within the last decade which has caused any fundamental change in doctrine or equipment already discovered.

The subject of personal defense is far more psychological than technical. As soon as you decide and insist that you will not be victimized, you have done more than any weapon can to provide for your safety.

Bear in mind that a legal verdict of "innocent" does not mean that the accused did not commit the felonious act. For example, Hinckley was found "innocent" of shooting Reagan, but there is absolutely no question that he did. All a verdict of "innocent" means is that the legal procedures in force at the moment could not establish a fact "beyond a reasonable doubt." It now appears that our football player may be found legally innocent of murdering his wife, but he knows what he did - and so do his attorneys.

I say again, as forcefully as may be, that one should not go for buff on his first time out. On your first African excursion you should go for antelope, zebra and pigs, if you choose, but do not stake your whole enterprise on one critical objective.

If you go to the right place you may indeed connect, but the buffalo experience may or may not be the Wagnerian climax that you expect. It is quite possible to deck a buffalo with no drama at all, and if you have saved and saved, and planned and planned, and sacrificed and sacrificed to get to a place where you get your buffalo, see him, fire one shot, and watch him drop in his tracks, you may well get the notion that you have spent your life hunting the wrong thing. Buffalo indeed can provide excitement, but a really dramatic buffalo kill is about as probable as a really good bullfight. If you do not work up to it, you may not even appreciate it if it happens. The African experience should be enjoyed for its own sake and not for the sake of any specific objective. The joy is in the hunt itself and not in the trophy. The buffalo is grand, but he is by no means the only reason to go to Africa.

The Scout rifle project has aroused a good deal of interest, but there is still a bit of misunderstanding about the concept. Fundamentally, no one can appreciate the merits of a Scout rifle until he has used it under field conditions. One cannot make assumptions about it based upon theoretical speculation, because a Scout rifle when properly set up constitutes an accretion of increments which together constitute an object which is greater than the sum of its parts - a synergism.

Thus one cannot build an approximation of a Scout and expect results. The job should be done right or not at all.

"If I can't get within three football fields, it is not my rifle that needs the work."

Kevin Wilmeth

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