Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 3, No. 1 13 January 1995
Well 1994 certainly had both its good
points and bad, but it is now past and it is up to us to do what we
can with 1995.
The political outlook is pretty good, though in our enthusiasm we
sometimes overlook the obvious obstacles in a leftover liberal
Whitehouse, our inimical press and an overall moral malaise. We
have mounted a pretty good horse, and we have a pretty good saddle,
but the race has not even begun, much less finished.
We hope all you good old Orange Gunsiters
properly observed Dan Dennehy's birthday. If you take 16 January
off, by all means take it off for a good reason.
We look forward to new and inspiring
developments in the firearms parade at the SHOT show coming up
shortly. Every once in a while somebody comes up with something
good on that occasion. Last year we noted the appearance of the
Blaser 93 rifle, which is a true step forward in rifle design, if
not the ultimate answer. I heard nothing concrete from Steyr
Mannlicher last year, but I have a letter from the company this
time inviting me to discover and enjoy the progress that has been
made at the factory on the design and production of a true Scout
rifle. May it indeed be so! It has been five years since we talked
to the design people in Austria, but as the company spokesman told
me last year, "These things take time."
By the time you read this we will have
chaired the IPSC Practical Rifle meeting scheduled for 18 January
in Las Vegas. The problems involved in the organization of
international practical rifle shooting are daunting, mainly because
of the voice of the gamesman who does not really care what the
rules are as long as he stands a good chance to win. We certainly
will give it our best shot.
"Personally I dread the weighty taxes, grinding
inconveniences, and petty indignities of the leviathan state more
than I dread violent confrontation with its enforcers."
We have been simultaneously amused and
annoyed at all this media excitement about the "Rhino" pistol
bullet. We have had both expanding bullets and armor piercing
bullets for pistols for some decades now. On the other hand, it is
apparent that the case workers of the media know nothing about
either of those things. At least the manufacturer got a lot of
publicity, and we wish him well, which is more than we can say for
the hysterical newscasts.
"Speaking for myself, there is only one government on
earth I don't feel safe from - and it isn't Russia's."
In the general disorganization following
the change of purpose in Gunsite management, we find that among
other nuisances stray cattle loom large. Maybe what we need is an
imported pair of lions to keep the pests down.
The editorial staff of the Southwest
Pistol League magazine has come up with a curious debate about what
may be the purpose of the Southwest Pistol League. Well, I do not
know what the purpose is now, but I do know what it was when the
league was founded, because I founded it.
The purpose of the league, when founded, was to discover, by means
of open, unrestricted, diversified competition with the heavy-duty
sidearm, just what weapons, what tactics, what principles, and what
general equipment would serve best in a fight. I remember that on
one occasion the late, great John Plahn exclaimed to me, "Jeff, the
rest of us are in this just to have fun, but you are using us as a
research tool!" Exactly. That was what I was doing.
It may now be that that purpose was accomplished, though that would
be a very dangerous position to take. Certainly, however, the
so-called "race guns" that now lead the competition have indicated
that a majority of the contestants have simply lost the point. They
do not know what the purpose is. That is the reason why the
question has come up for debate in the periodical.
Here at the Sconce
formulated our two New Year's Resolutions as follows:
- For Jeff - finish "The Art of the Rifle"
- For Janelle - uncover a space on her desk large enough in
which to sign checks
In our despairing pursuit of precise
communication we are continually affronted by the newspaper term
"innocent civilians." I am not at all sure what makes a civilian
innocent, but when war invades populous places there are
going to be non-combatants who will suffer from the efforts of
uniformed soldiery. Whether they are innocent or not is a
very complex question. Almost by definition guerilleros are
"innocent" in that they are not soldiers paid by any military
force. Throughout the beastly wars of the late twentieth century,
large numbers of unpaid, ununiformed, non-combatants have been
caught up in disaster and slaughtered wholesale. This is, of
course, tragic, but it does not imply that the innocents have been
murdered by the guilty. Sometimes it has been conspicuously to the
contrary. Let us watch that!
We have up till now received almost no
financial support for the Waco Monument to the non-combatants who
died there at the hands of the federal ninja. Perhaps this is not a
good idea, but we do intend to pursue it.
A while back we commented upon how
popular it is to embellish a point by mentioning that "studies have
shown" it to be so. Now we have a really good one. A sociologist
group at Harvard has come up with the shocking conclusion that
citizens who have received adequate training in smallarms are
distinctly more likely to keep their personal weapons at the ready
at home. The idea that a ready weapon is automatically a horribly
anti-social manifestation seems so obvious to these Harvard types
that they published the results of this survey, with a wringing of
hands in the New York Times.
We of course know that the only proper way to maintain a personally
owned weapon in the household is loaded and ready. It would seem
obvious even to a Harvard man that an unloaded weapon is totally
useless. The interesting thing is that the newspapers who printed
this piece and other newspapers who picked it up and reprinted it
never seemed to think further about the matter.
I would certainly like to think that those people who received
weapons training have profited by it, but we are not up against
reasoned argument here. Hoplophobia is after all a true phobia,
which means that it is not susceptible to reasoned
We were interested to hear of the death
of Joe Slovo, the evil genius of the INC. It is unseemly to rejoice
in anyone's demise, but Joe Slovo was a man we could well do
without - from beginning to end. A dedicated Lithuanian
Marxist, he rushed off a couple of decades ago to South Africa
where he became the guru of the African National Congress. These
people would have been better off without him, and by God's grace
they are without him now.
Having nothing to lose, I am going to
climb out on a loose limb and make a horrifying statement. To wit:
group size is spinach.
Well, wash my mouth out with soap! To a large number of smallarms
enthusiasts in the world, group size is everything. If
that is the way they want it, that is all right with me, but I must
say that these people are devoting a great deal of attention to an
essentially trivial matter. Certainly a very accurate rifle -
or pistol - is a satisfying instrument to own and use. Whether
it makes any difference in practical application is another matter.
Consider for a moment that group size is normally measured by group
diameter from the impact centers of the two widest shots in the
group. Consider further that even if that is a good measure, group
radius is of considerably more interest, since group radius
measures the distance between the theoretical point of aim and the
worst shot in the group. And let us further consider that in any
given group the majority of hits is likely to be located in the
center of the group, so we can further cut down the "range probable
error" to one-quarter of group diameter. In no case do we know of a
man who can shoot well enough to appreciate that. I was told
recently by a colleague that he was attempting to do some head-size
groups at 500 meters coming up summer. I responded that I had once
shot an ornamental 500-meter group with an SSG, using 1962 Lake
City Match ammunition, but that since I had shot it from a
bench it did not really count. I did not wish to hurt his
feelings, but I do wish to point out that what the shooter can do
from a bench is no measure of how he can shoot.
We are into the chapter in "The Art of the Rifle" in which
we examine the true nature of marksmanship. This subject becomes
more complex the more we study it. It is a humbling
"Faced with the pain of freedom, man begs for his
Gerry Spence, in "From Freedom to Slavery"
This comment from Ken Mitchell in regard
to my use of the term "ninja" for our current variety of masked
"Your critic is incorrect, and I believe that your use
of the term `ninja' to refer to government agents engaged in
violent assault on American citizens is not only appropriate, but
historically accurate. The ninja in the Japanese Shogunate era (ca.
1600-1750) were hired assassins, and nothing more. To the extent
that they battled oppression or tyranny, they did so at the behest
of other tyrant oppressors; imagine an FBI sniper taking out a BATF
supervisor, for example."
Just this week we received yet another
report of the dropping of the striker in the Remington action when
the safety was eased off. Not that we were in any doubt about this,
having experienced these failures ourselves, but we are much
annoyed when salesmen and gunsmiths inform the ignorant that this
failure simply cannot happen.
Please note the correction from last
year's terminal commentary. Colonel Ulving of the Swedish Army is
spelled Sverker rather than Swerker.
Just now we learn of a buffalo fatality
occurring up near Arusha back in September of the year just past.
The account is written by the professional hunter involved, and as
usual he gives us much detail but not quite enough. For example, he
does not mention what cartridges were used. Given the general scene
as observed in Africa, I would be willing to bet a certain amount
that the rifles used were caliber 375.
The PH, the client, and an apprentice PH, accompanied by two
trackers, followed a shootable bull into some fairly thick cover.
In an open space they got a shot at some 60 meters. The buff
disappeared, and they followed him into thicker cover. Following a
wounded buff into thick cover is one of life's great experiences,
and in this case it turned out to be the last experience - for
the principal. At ranges of perhaps ten paces, two more shots were
fired - one to the head, one to the shoulder. When on the next
close-range sighting the buff came straight in, the PH fired one
more shot and was runover without serious injury by the buffalo,
who, now reduced to crawling, made it to the client, got his horns
under him and tossed him aside. The client was not mangled, but
received a couple of horn wounds to the thighs, one of which to the
inside of the right thigh apparently punctured the femoral artery.
All hands did what they could to stop the bleeding, but it had gone
too far by the time they got the pressure bandages in place and the
client was dead on arrival at the hospital.
This is all very grand, as the sportsman died a man's death in his
prime in noble adventure. What impresses me most, however, is the
iron courage of the buffalo which, though mortally wounded, pressed
home his attack and destroyed his tormentor.
Old Synceros caffer - the African buffalo - is not
very pretty, but he just may be the grandest game animal in the
world, regardless of the size of his trophy.
I do not choose to regard this episode as evidence of inadequate
gunpower, since to begin with I do not know what gun was used, but
the blood from that first bullet hole was light and frothy,
indicating a lung shot. Regardless of what cartridge you use, you
will not stop a buffalo with a lung shot. It is easy to be somewhat
shaken on your first sight of the black bull, but above everything
else you must shoot with extreme care. The buff may never start a
fight, but you may be sure that he stands ready, willing and able
to finish it.
(French horns in the distance.)
Remember when Kennesaw, Georgia, made it
mandatory for all households to be armed, and the media viewed this
with dismay? Well note further that in Kennesaw, Georgia, where
there used to be very little armed violence, there now seems to be
What was it that Heinlein said about an armed society?
"I am not prejudiced, I am postjudiced. Postjudice is
the compliment that common sense pays to experience."
It appears to us now that current
American society in general believes that any amount of learning is
a dangerous thing. To quote Florence King again,
"The egalitarian left says it isn't relevant, and the
philistine right it won't help you earn a living. Probably not, but
it makes life liveable."
Looking at the world situation at this
time a number of powerful popular commandments seem to take center
- For the politician, the commandment is: "Empower thyself!"
- For the Third World chieftain: "Enrich thyself!"
- For the populace at large: "Amuse thyself!"
- For the good citizen: "Enlighten thyself!"
Now then let us all choose up sides and see who wins the
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal
use only. Not for publication.