Jeff Cooper's Commentaries

Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 2, No. 6           25 April 1994

Maytime Supplement

We are now off to the wars, to be gone some weeks. Thus I will not be able to put out a full issue of this paper prior to my return. However, since the build up of material keeps right on coming it seems a good idea to send you the following short issue. We expect to be back from Africa with a full report next month.

A couple of new bumper stickers have come to our attention, as follows:
"Don't bury your guns, shoot them!"

"If Vince Foster had had a gun he would be alive today."

In making preparations to take to the field I discover yet again that the manufacturers of telescope sights are paying attention to the wrong things. The makers insist upon giving us variable power - because it is assumed that is what the market demands. No one has explained what the use of a variable power telescope may be. The mechanism makes the eyepiece too long, it adds complexity and thus cost to the instrument, and all too often it changes the zero when the magnification is changed. And all this to no purpose.

Secondly, the manufacturers make a big issue of width of field, which, considering the various increments involved, is a trivial consideration. When the telescope is used properly, the left eye picks up the target while the right eye picks up the reticle. One does not need a wide field as long as the vision is clear at the center.

Furthermore, the manufacturers do not seem to realize that the big problems with telescope sights are fragility and dishonesty. A telescope sight is fragile if it breaks, and it does. It is dishonest when it does not make the adjustments indicated on the dials. It is infuriating to apply a left hand correction and wind up with a change in elevation. It is infuriating to apply a six-inch correction and wind up with 12 inches. The way to avoid this is to make a telescope with no moving parts whatsoever, but the makers insist that such an instrument would never sell - and sales, rather than excellence, are what the manufacturer must place foremost.

I am taking a Schmidt & Bender telescope to Africa - a very expensive instrument. I cannot properly evaluate its structural strength, but I can attest its honesty. We will see.

Let us all gather round to meet the New Woman of The Nineties. Her name is Tonya Rodham Bobbitt.

Must we really and truly defer to the thought police? Thomas Jefferson's "eternal hostility to every form of tyranny over the mind of man" seems to have been forgotten in this degenerating age. Consider that Winchester's "Black Talon" ammunition has been withdrawn from the market, not because of anything that may be wrong with it, but because the title upsets the wimps. The Black Talon bullet is simply another form of expanding bullet, a device we have had at our disposal since the turn of the century. A new product, just different enough to escape censorship, will now be released under the name "Supreme Fail Safe." I do not know if this sort of thing is inherent in "democracy," but if it is, it may be time to try something else.

We must hasten to correct an error in the Maytime Commentary. In discussing rifle design we let slip the comment that "Most rifle stocks are too short." The truth is that most rifle stocks are too long. We caught that before the magazine went to press, but most of you got it the other way around. Sorry about that!

[Note: This error was corrected in the internet version - Barry.]

You may have noticed Janet Reno's notable pronouncement to the effect that she came from a place where she had been born and raised. Last week on the radio we heard her state that she had had various conferences with "survivors of homicides." This unpleasant woman, who holds one of the highest offices in the land, appears to be a borderline illiterate, besides which we all remember that she offered to take all responsibility for the massacre at Waco, and then did nothing of the sort. She is still on the payroll.

Note the new 45 auto now being manufactured in Hungary for export. Original reports from Africa indicate that it is a very serviceable item, and the price, of course, is right. You better hurry on down to your local friendly gun dealer before the BATmen discover it.

Let us never forget that Marxism is still the enemy - and still virulent. Marxist governments are in the saddle in Serbia, China, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, American academe, and perhaps a couple of other places we have missed. Additionally, the press insists that the African National Congress will dictate the future of South Africa. The African National Congress is not only a companion of the South African Communist Party, but its leader, Nelson Mandela, is an avowed and professed Marxist. The Cold War is far from over.

In making our travel plans we were shocked to discover that the favored anti-malarial prophylaxis at this time costs $5.00 per pill! That is more per shot than Courvoisier VSOP, and besides it is no particular fun to take. At this extraordinary price I would like to think that Larium will work. Unfortunately, there is no way I will ever discover that.

We have an excellent field report on the results of the Brenneke 12-gauge slug on a buffalo at 9 yards. It achieved full penetration, destroyed the heart (rendering it inedible), and lodged under the skin at the far side. It did not drop the beast in its tracks, but it killed him in a few yards. We have always preached that the 12-gauge Brenneke slug is a very efficient defensive projectile for heavy animals - providing that you use it at short range. Its ballistic shape is poor, cutting its effectiveness down radically as range increases. If you get involved with a dangerous animal, remember he cannot hurt you if he cannot touch you. If you use your weaponry properly, at 20-yards and under, you should make out very well.

If has long been accepted that the 458 Winchester Magnum cartridge, while certainly a world-standard caliber, has turned out to be something of a swindle. While it is advertised in the books as roughly equivalent to the old rim-case express rifles, it simply does not measure up on the chronograph. Specifically, it will rarely achieve 2,000-feet per second with its 500-grain bullet. Here, it would seem, is an item in which to employ the new Hornady "enhanced performance" ammunition. Do not hold your breath, however. The 458 is not a big seller.

In a recent conversation with an active-duty Marine, we encountered a tale which astonishes almost as much as it discourages. This Marine is a gunnery sergeant of distinguished record, and quite young for his rank. (As is common knowledge, the rank of gunnery sergeant Marine Corps is probably the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a man - certainly better than Senator, Judge or President - and even higher than Commandant, US Marine Corps.)

It turns out that this gunny had married happily (he thought) and became the proud father of two children, whereupon his wife left him - on the grounds that as a sniper he had become "a killer." We have not heard the girl's story - perhaps something else was involved - but it is impossible to believe that any woman would not understand that a Marine is essentially a killing machine, and he was a Marine when she married him. Apparently this girl was so completely ignorant that she had never heard of Joshua or David or Julius Caesar or Hannibal or King Arthur - to say nothing of George Washington, Mad Anthony Wayne, Sam Houston, Stonewall Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, Douglas MacArthur or George Patton. She had no conception of what an honor it was to be the wife of a hero. If she is truly that ignorant, it is just as well that she left him. He is better off without her.

"We have tried to reward overall self-sensitive and self-controlled performance with a sportsman's trophy. To sophisticated folk's way of thinking, this prize, given to the entrant who best used his equipment and best exercised his judgment, is the most important categorical award of all. That riflist may not have a notably high score, but he will see everything, he will shoot at nothing he should not, and he will not miss. That riflist is truly a hunter in the greatest sense."

Dr. David N. Kahn, speaking of the Keneyathlon

I now have two first-hand accounts of sportsmen who seem to have been astonished and dismayed to discover that dangerous game may indeed be dangerous.

One of these events occurred to a bear hunter, who advanced upon a bear that he thought was dead, but which rolled over with its last breath and caught the hunter back-handed across the face, breaking his nose. This man was horrified. He swore he would never hunt again and sold his rifle at ten cents on the dollar to his partner.

In the other instance the hunter socked a lion pretty well in the center of the shoulder with his 375 whereupon it turned and ran right up the gun. In working the bolt he flipped that three-position safety to mid-point, failed to get a round off, and was saved by his PH at arm's length. He, too, was horrified to find that dangerous game is dangerous.

Now what do you suppose we have here? The whole point of hunting dangerous game is that the beast may jolly well kill you if you do not conduct yourself properly. That is the idea. The hunting of dangerous game is rarely as hard on the constitution of the hunter as the hunting of mountain sheep, but that is its charm for those of us who are no longer in Olympic condition. Only those in peak athletic condition may know of the joys of hunting the crags, but those of us who may be past our physical prime can still know the thrill of tangling with something deadly at short range. I find it difficult to believe that there are people who do not know that, but there are a lot of things I find it difficult to believe.

The American people have not yet demonstrated that they have sufficient gumption to stand up to the federal ninja, and these feds keep getting worse. One does not know whether to be more exasperated by their effrontery or their incompetence. Note that Janet Reno has been taking "training" in crisis management from the FBI. I have never know a more striking example of the blind leading the blind.

When one raises the issue of the free status of Lon Horiuchi, the murderer of Vickie Weaver, the surprisingly common answer is, "Nothing can be done to him because he is a federal agent!" So now, in their own eyes, federal agents are above the law. Several periodicals have pointed out recently that we are on our way to a police state. From this point it appears we have already arrived.

Here in Arizona recently, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (properly termed a rogue organization in various periodicals) called a meeting of senior state law enforcement officials for the purpose of instructing them in their duties and responsibilities toward Big Brother. They presented a twenty-two page letter informing the local police as to how they were to act as servants of the feds in the performance of their duties. Having done that, they walked out of the meeting, not waiting around to listen to any questions about what right they had to give orders to local law enforcement. This, of course, did not sit well with the local people, and it does cast a shadow of what may be coming down the road. The schism between federal and local law enforcement may, if worse comes to worst, be the hope of the republic.

The Blaser R93 rifle came through in the nick of time. We plan to use it in Africa, and to report on it fully upon our return.

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