Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 3, No. 2 31 January 1995
Ground Hog Day, 1995
Well, yes, February. A generally dreary
month, but lightened up this time by a chance to visit with Ian
McFarlane (our man in Okavango) and Danie van Graan (our man in the
Lowveld.) It appears that hunting possibilities in Africa have not
yet been seriously obstructed by the communist element in the ANC.
General Denis Earp, the IPSC Regional Director for South Africa,
tells us that the bad guys in the new government are keeping a low
profile, waiting to see how much financial help they can get from
the non-communist West before they tighten the screws on their own
people. The possession of personal firearms in South Africa has
always been favorable to travel there. I have been more comfortable
personally in South Africa than in any other country, since I much
prefer to travel with my own weapons. Nothing has gone wrong yet,
but total gun prohibition has been proposed in some circles, and
how this will effect hunting in the future remains to be
Herewith wisdom of one John Markoff,
reprinted in the New York Times
"The American people must be willing to give up a
degree of personal privacy in exchange for safety and security, the
head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation said."
Louis Freeh, meet Benjamin Franklin!
At the SHOT show we held a long discussion
with Herr Ulrich Zedrosser, who is Chief of Design for
Steyr-Mannlicher, and we conclude that the prospects for the
production Scout are still promising - despite nearly five
years of delay. The prototype will make weight (3.5kg, minus.) It
will, for the time being, mount the Burris scoutscope, since no
other manufacturer will make a glass for the project. The sight
will be mounted on a forward extension of the receiver so as to
clear the magazine well. Adjustments will remain in the glass,
rather than the mount. Both 5-round and 10-round magazines will be
available, and the piece will be fitted for the Ching Sling. Stock
length will be fully adjustable, and a flush bi-pod will be
standard. A spare 5-round magazine will be carried in the butt. A
radical bolt-lock system will be featured for greater safety and
ease of travel. All of this is good news, and Herr Zedrosser hopes
to have a prototype available for shooting when we visit the
factory in June.
It has been a long time, but we still hope for the best.
Note that the date for the next
Keneyathlon at Whittington is 4-6 June.
On the matter of Scouts, we are mildly
annoyed to discover that the term has been picked up and run off
with by all sorts of people who have never seen a true Scout and do
not know what it is. Most of these people do not realize that a
Scout must make weight, and it must use a general-purpose cartridge
readily available worldwide and suitable for any target up to
buffalo. This points towards 308, but options include 30-06, 303
British, and the 7-08 for jurisdictions where 30 calibers are
prohibited. It does not include the 223.
Anybody is at liberty to call anything whatever he wants, but the
Scout attributes were fully discussed at the Scout conference held
nearly ten years ago at Gunsite, and customized versions have
distinguished themselves all over the world. I have tried to write
the matter up on several occasions, but I am amazed at the number
of people who adopt a term without reading into it.
I just got a fascinating report on the
effect of a 30-30 on a police vest. The round did not penetrate,
but it took the recipient temporarily out of the fight. We have
wondered about that.
The "double-action" self-loading pistol
has certainly grabbed the attention of the law enforcement
establishment, presumably because it is "safe." Actually, incidents
with the US police over the past few years have demonstrated that
the trigger-cocking auto is noticeably less safe than the
single-action version, as well as less safe than the revolver. Of
course, safety is a curious concept when applied to lethal weapons.
To the extent that a firearm is safe, it is useless, but in the
Age of Litigation everyone seems more concerned about lawsuits
than about getting the job done, and since people properly
qualified in firearms are rarely found in lawsuits various problems
For example, in Lexington, Kentucky, recently the county coroner
ruled that when a police officer making an arrest used the
hammer-dropper to make the weapon safe, and shot the suspect
through the head, the fatality was "unintentional." It is probably
true to say that the cop did not intend to kill the suspect, but
what he was doing pointing his pistol at the head while he dropped
the hammer is another matter. That hammer-dropper does not
always work. We thought everybody knew that. Certainly the
Walther people, who invented it back in 1935, formally cautioned
their users about it in writing.
Funny we did not have all this trouble with accidental discharge,
either with revolvers or with single-action auto-pistols, in my
youth. Apparently nitwittedness is one of the flowers of the Age
of the Common Man.
As always we delighted in the Perazzi
display. Perazzi shotguns are things of beauty, and one can spend
hours in simple admiration. The top grade has a sticker price of
about $85,000, and it is pleasant to realize that there are people
who will manufacture such things, and also people who will purchase
them. "It's a great world after all!" I certainly have no intention
of ever acquiring a Perazzi, anymore than acquiring a McClaran, or
a Stradivarius, but it is nice to know such things exist.
Money is coming in very slowly for the
fund for the Waco Memorial. We have a family member resident
in Waco who can handle the project at such time as we have
collected about $5,000; meanwhile, you may send your contributions
directly to me and we will keep them in the appropriate
Contrary to long standing rumor, Leupold
is not going to produce a scoutscope. I checked this out with the
head man at the Leupold booth and I do not think that he was lying
Our man in Saudi Arabia, whose name will
remain private because of the possibility of his future employment
there, tells us that the ragheads have really taken to the concept
of spray-and-pray. Their idea of training is to acquire an enormous
amount of the least powerful ammunition available and bum it up,
preferably on full-auto. When one sheik, after going through
several magazines with an MP5, noted that there were no holes in
his target, he observed he needed more practice.
Items of interest noted at the SHOT show
A nifty Marlin 45-70 carbine, totally stainless, in takedown. The
perfect instrument for bear and lion guides. If you are interested
Jim West, 907-344-4500, fax: 907-344-4005 in Anchorage,
A brand new solid copper shotgun slug from Remington, promising
superior accuracy and quick expansion.
A Voere 6mm rifle taking the caseless cartridge. They are working
up to 6.5, and when they get to 7, I will be interested.
303 British ammunition available from Hansen in quantity. (This for
those who have been acquiring the fine war-surplus Enfield
The excellent 45 caliber 230-grain JTC bullet available from
An African police shotgun with two magazine tubes, offering
instantaneous selection of projectile type.
Note that Finland's five million people
own four million personal firearms. Just wait till Congressman
Schumer finds out about that!
I had a pleasant session at SHOT with the
Blaser rifle, Model of 93. It is not new this year, and I acquired
one last year for our Babamkulu expedition, but it is a notable
instrument with many outstanding advantages. It is not a Scout, and
it cannot be made into one, but as a sheep and antelope rifle it is
The IPSC Rifle Conference, held the day
before the SHOT show began, was interesting, if not conclusive. A
divergence in view between those who wish to play war games with
22s, and those who are more interested in serious rifle work, is
very evident. When matters on this subject were brought to a vote,
it came out consistently at 5 to 4, one way or another. A vote that
close is not a mandate, and the rifle committee cannot offer it as
such at the general meeting forthcoming this August in Sweden.
- We did agree upon a weight ceiling of 5 kilos, which is better
than meaningless, but only a little.
- A range limit of 500 meters for international competition.
- No minimum caliber.
- Major and minor power factor.
- Two divisions: manual and self-loading.
- No limit on action type.
- No limit on electronic sights.
- All equipment to be fitted to the weapon throughout the match
and not changed.
- Scoring methods may be used at the discretion of the
director to include Comstock, One Shot Virginia, and Kahn-Hamilton
(as used in the Keneyathlon.
Nick Alexakos, Regional Director for Canada, was designated as the
sub-committee on target design.
Our hope lies in course design, and we are very fortunate in having
General Denis Earp, Regional Director for South Africa, in charge
of approving all courses to be used in international competition.
If courses of fire are realistic and well-designed, nearly all of
our difficulties will be solved.
Through Randy Umbs, our man in Wisconsin,
we have finally acquired a practical explanation for golf. It turns
out that dog droppings freeze iron-hard in the Wisconsin winters,
and one can make excellent practice with his 4-iron lobbing these
remnants onto adjoining property. Chipping one down the neighbor's
chimney is the equivalent of a hole-in-one.
Back in the Dark Ages when I was
first interested in riflery, I was fascinated with hopping up the
30-06 cartridge. I, along with many others in the shooting world,
was sold the notion that "more is better." Early versions were the
30 Newton, the 300 Holland and Holland, and the 30 Halger. It did
not occur to us innocents to ask why one would want more than what
the 30-06 offers to the riflemen.
Well, it shoots flatter. (A bit, and that bit is so small that it
makes no difference, since on the back curve of the trajectory
differences in drop do not matter as long as they are known in
Well, it hits harder. (Yes, a bit, and to what purpose? If you sock
any sort of beast short of buffalo in the proper place with a
30-06, you have him.) A friend, who was demonstrating the Blaser
rifle at SHOT, told me that his most popular caliber is the 300
Weatherby Magnum. It turns out that he sells his rifles primarily
to rich Texas cowboys who figure that they cannot do it with a
30-06, so they better have a 300 Magnum. Personally I am
Those who insist that the citizen has no
chance against the army must be pondering the situation in
Chechnya. Of course the Russians will win, if they have not done so
already, but the Chechens are still there in the hills and their
efforts so far have almost upset the Russian government. When it
comes to pass that citizens must take up arms against their own
government, the results are uniformly dreadful, but the outcome is
not necessarily foregone.
"When law and morality contradict each other the
citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his sense of
morality or losing his respect for the law."
The "new criminalization" is perhaps the most disgusting feature of
the leviathan state. It results from the criminal enforcement of
regulations against citizens who are doing nothing wrong other than
violating a regulation of which they had no knowledge. This lets
the regulators run wild and gives the citizen no recourse to his
representatives because they, the representatives, have nothing
direct to do with the regulation.
It is time to come down hard on these regulators. I have been
waiting for the news that the new boys in Washington are planning
to do something about the BATF - so far with no results. I
continue to wait. You continue to wait. Let us not wait
A couple of the faithful have pointed out
that we have not had really enough of Roosevelt at the Roosevelt
Memorial, and I agree. Let all the faithful make an issue of
bringing up quotes from TR for recitation at the next reunion. They
do not have to be in verse, as TR did not write much verse, but his
prose is outstanding and well suited to declamation. Everybody
bring a short punch line to the next meeting in October.
The recent annual report on accident
facts published by the National Safety Council in the Fall of 1994
reveals some very interesting data. The rate of accidental deaths
for motor vehicles came to around 42,000, as opposed to 1,600
attributable to firearms. Thus, you are approximately 26 times more
likely to die in a motor vehicle accident than you are from a
firearms accident. You are twice as likely to die from "medical
misadventure" than from a firearms accident. The firearms
fatalities in 1903 came on at 3.1 per hundred thousand. The rate is
now 0.6 per hundred thousand.
I have been doing my best as a member of
the Education and Training Committee of the National Rifle
Association to standardize firearm safety rules worldwide. I have
not met with any conspicuous success. Every time I point out that
the four general rules of gun safety have been promulgated,
observed and proven over the past three decades, I get static from
employees who wish to complicate matters in order to justify their
salaries. However, the four suffice. They do not need editing,
amplification, or complication. Simplicity is what we need. Whether
we get it or not remains to be seen.
In the publication of the Southwest
Pistol League, which I founded so long ago, there was a recent
exchange between editors regarding the purpose of the organization.
I found this interesting and submitted the following letter to the
editor in consideration thereof:
"I was much interested to read the editorial
`Competition Notes' on the third page of No. 11 and 12 of the
"At issue is the purpose of the Southwest Pistol League - an
"I once worked for a superb general at Quantico who posted up over
the exit doorway of every office in the school complex the
question, `What are you trying to do?' written in gold letters upon
a scarlet background. That is truly a shocking question for the
majority of the human race, which really has only a vague notion of
what it is trying to do."
"I cannot say what the purpose of the Southwest Pistol League is at
this time, though I certainly know what it was when I founded it.
That purpose was to discover, by means of open, unrestricted,
diversified, realistic competition, the best weapons, equipment and
technique to fulfill the lifesaving mission of the combat pistol.
(Some may remember that the original title of the organization was
the Southwest Combat Pistol League, the word Combat extracted by
the California Secretary of State when we became incorporated.) My
thoughts, along with those of the other founders, was that only
competition can develop excellence, but this is true only as long
as the mode of competition reflects the purpose of the exercise.
Once the goal of competition becomes simply winning, all sorts of
irrelevant challenges may be substituted for relevance - as
with, for example, checkers, frisbee or croquet."
"What we wanted to find out was how best to use a pistol in combat,
and what the best pistol was. All of us had been previously trained
by the military and/or the police and had always been faced with
the problem of bringing a large number of people up to some minimum
standard with the least time, trouble and expense. All you had to
do in the public sector was shoot `expert,' but in competition you
had to shoot better than your opponent. This kicked the lid off
practical pistolcraft and turned the handgun from a rather trivial
badge of office into a serious weapon."
"The revolution we created in the pursuit of that original purpose
seems to have been achieved. Jack Weaver showed us how to shoot.
John Plahn systematized the technique, and I explored the proper
means of imparting it."
"However, as soon as competition became an end in itself,
forgetting its purpose, the activity became trivialized and further
progress came to a halt. This is not necessarily a disaster, since
what we had learned is still there for those who wish to learn it,
regardless of the bizarre impracticality that has set in.
"Practical" pistol shooting certainly can be fun - every bit
as much fun as impractical pistol shooting - but fun is not
the purpose of the exercise. I remember once that John Plahn
addressed me with some force saying, `Jeff, the rest of us are in
this to have a good time, but you are using us as a research tool!'
Just so, I learned what I needed to learn, as did many others, by
the same process, and now we know how to use the combat pistol. The
purpose has been accomplished."
The following penetrating paragraph is
from family member
Ed Detrixhe of Clyde, Kansas:
"The first thing a conservative notices about leftists
is how afraid they are. Any conversation with them soon, no
immediately, leads to something they fear, and they fear almost
everything. They fear food, tobacco, the sun, clothing, cars, open
discussion, life, death, etc. Because of many of these deep fears
it is not surprising that they are passionately interested in
making life `safe.' Life must be renewed. If something incidental,
such as this freedom or that freedom, must be given up in order for
life to be `safer,' than so be it. (Perhaps this makes perfect
sense because when someone is consumed by fear he is in effect
imprisoned. Accordingly, the meaning of freedom
As the proverbial old Indian said:
"The first thing is to overcome fear. When that is
accomplished everything takes care of itself."
As our calendar fills up for the coming
year, the Countess and I are tempted to cancel the month of June
for lack of space.
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal
use only. Not for publication.