Jeff Cooper's Commentaries

Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 4, No. 3           February, 1996


We are thankful to note that, contrary to the vicious weather conditions in most of the United States, the weather here at Gunsite has continued mild and pleasant up til now, and that our shooting activities are in no way inhibited. What with experimenting on the design of the Mitchell pistol, and checking out the Wild West "co-pilot", and working out with the new model Leupold Scoutscope, and setting up daughter Lindy's Springfield pseudoscout for Africa, we are delighted to be able to continue our shooting activities without problems of mud and snow.

I seem to have sprung my right knee in painful fashion, but I refuse to let that interfere with my shooting activities. If I must be forced to let others do all the running and jumping - for the time being - I will be content to move and shoot carefully. In Africa you do not turn your back and run away. Anything that is big enough to kill you can easily outrun you.

Those involved in competition should remember that the start signal should always be visual rather than audible. In the real world, you start because of what you see, not because of what you hear.

A correspondent from Bosnia showed us a copy of a general order for operations in that peculiar land which specified no personal guns and no beer. I do not know who is in charge of those operations, but whoever it is seems to lack all concept of historical continuity.

I can cite two campaigns which were called off when the beer supply ran out. You may remember that the proprietor of one of the early English exploratory expeditions of the New World was threatened with hanging when he returned to Britain because he did not supply enough beer, and the crew had to make it all the way back to England on nothing but water. The guy who promulgated this order simply "doesn't know where it's at," to use the modern vulgar parlance.

As to personal weapons, to deny a soldier his weapons is to negate his existence as a soldier.

But, of course, these people of ours in the Balkans are not soldiers, they are peacekeepers, according to their Commander-in-Chief, who seems to have had his own difficulties with history.

Among the ill-used words I see in print one that has puzzled me for many years is "crossfire." Just what is a crossfire? A shot across the bows, perhaps?

The presumably authentic word we get in Washington is that Horiuchi will walk free, but that the BATF is being stalked and may be torpedoed. Well, as we have mentioned before, the murderer of Nicole Simpson and the murderer of Vince Foster are walking free. We should not expect too much of our current system of jurisprudence.

In current parlance a "wildcat" cartridge is simply one that is non-standard and has to be made up personally or on order for use in weapons chambered for it. For most of my shooting career I have been mildly opposed to wildcats on the grounds that existing and available standard loads will do everything needful, and to restrict one's weapon to specialized ammunition runs the risk of running out in far parts without the capacity for re-supply.

I have found these points to be generally true, but not exclusively so. While one of my favorite cartridges is the ancient and honorable 30-06, another is what may be called the "350 Remington Magnum, Improved" for which ammunition must be custom made-to-order.

One of the outstanding requirements of the Scout rifle is that it takes the 308 cartridge, which is universally available worldwide, but one wonders in this day of modern transportation methods if there really is any danger of running out of the personal supply carried by the shooter.

One of the things that seems to have been moderately common back in the great hunting days, when distances had to be covered by packstring or porter, was that loads could be lost under rigorous conditions. When the mule carrying the ammunition pack lost his footing and plunged over the lip of the waterfall, there would be little hope of re-supply at the next trading post if the ammunition was not of a standard pattern. These conditions no longer apply, and on hunts shorter than thirty days or less one needs only enough of his particular brand for zeroing and record shots, a number rarely exceeding 20 rounds.

Thus it is that I think the notion of "over-the-counter re-supply" is essentially trivial. Even as World War II fades into the past it is well to remember that "Red Mike" Edson, battalion commander on Guadalcanal and later president of the NRA, opined that under conditions of more or less continuous engagement the trooper could get along very well on 25 rounds a week. This idea would probably cause a modern ordnance specialist to faint dead away.

In any case, my suspicions of the wildcat concept have been allayed with time.

Is it not interesting that where our founding fathers attempted to create in the New World a classless society, we have indeed achieved that, but seem to have replaced it with a caste-based society? One can work his way up the ladder in a class-based society, but nothing can be done about caste, which is the basis for the polarization of our people as we now see it developing.

Long ago and far away, when I was the merest tad, my family was taken on a tour of the battlefield of Verdun, one of the great slaughter pens of World War I. Scampering about the field of action I retrieved from the mud a bayonet, badly rusted and with the wooden hilt rotted away. This souvenir stayed in my possession for a long lifetime, until the notion came to me to avail myself of the expert services of the distinguished knifemaker Dan Dennehy. When it was polished up we discovered that this bayonet was a product of Waffenfabrik Mauser of Oberndorf. Dan stripped away the remains of the rotted wood and refitted the piece with a modern Micarta hilt. Now we have what might be called a "sporterized Mauser," probably a unique collector's piece.

From what we hear word-of-mouth from academia, it would appear that our modern academics cannot ride, cannot shoot, and are afraid to speak the truth. Presumably they have never heard of either Herodotus or Theodore Roosevelt - a couple of dead white males.

A correspondent recently wrote in to tell us of a case in which a large magazine saved the day. It seems that the felon was finally tagged with the last round of a 14-shot pistol. The case is noted, but what may be more noteworthy is corroboration of the inadequacy of the 9mm Parabellum round. In this instance the felon, who had decked two police officers, showed no particular distress at being shot through the heart, but got into his car and drove off, only to crash some blocks later as the blood supply ceased in his brain. We had a case somewhat similar to this in Phoenix some years back, where a police officer in a car was shot through the heart with a 38 Special revolver and reported over his radio that he had been hit, but was all right, whereupon, after driving a few blocks, he passed out and died.

The heart shot is not normally a quick stopper, unless the weapon is of more than adequate power for its task. A heart-shot quadruped normally runs off like the wind, only to drop after a fairly short distance. Likewise the human goblin may be shot through the heart and still have sufficient time in action to take care of the person who fired the shot.

If you liked Ruby Ridge, you will love Clinton's second term.

Following the demise of the Colonial Era, a considerable number of miscreants have discovered that the post-colonial gentry in their midst have been disinclined by generations of law and order to fight back. In New Guinea, for example, the bad guys - who are referred to as "raskols" - have taken to pillaging the innocent in large numbers, assuming their victims will offer no resistance. As you might suppose, times have a way of changing. Recently at Port Moresby one Mr. Cragnolini, an Australian businessman, simply refused to go along with a band of raskols who burst into a restaurant in which he and his wife were dining. The news report says that there were eleven goblins, and Cragnolini cleaned up on the lot, decking four, killing two, and scattering the rest.

This was a fine performance and hailed as heroism downunder, but it simply corroborates the fact that the human hyenas of the world are astonished and dismayed when their intended victims fight back. The answer to street violence is counterattack rather than more jails.

In view of the recent shenanigans in Washington, does it not seem that things run better when the government is shut down? Of course, the administration only furloughed "non-essential" workers. Just what the government is doing hiring non-essential workers is not explained.

We recently ran across the formation of the "Anti-Hopefully Society" founded by an English professor who seems to care about English, unlike most. His position is that people who go around saying "hopefully," when what they mean is "I hope," should be informed of the error of their ways. We have sent in our subscription.

In a recent curious case the subject was struck in the left side of the face by a 380. The bullet was deflected by his jawbone down through his neck and into his torso beneath the shoulder blade. The subject did not respond to the blow, walked to the ambulance, was treated at the hospital for infection and sent home with a Tylenol. According to the account he was laughing and joking with bystanders throughout the experience and did not return for medical assistance on the following day. Moral: If you insist on using a miniature sidearm, confine your hits to the eye sockets.

To no one's surprise, Spc New was convicted of disobedience, since he admittedly disobeyed an order. The question has never been whether this man disobeyed an order, but whether that order was lawful for his commander-in-chief to issue. A court martial must find Spc New guilty, but the issue must go much higher than that. Whether an American soldier who has sworn to support and defend the Constitution of the United States may be ordered into the service of another sovereignty would seem unacceptable on the face of it, but the matter must go beyond the army and on up.

For a soldier to decide whether the order he receives from his superiors is lawful or not is a very sticky wicket. Theoretically it is not up to the man receiving the order, but the Nuremburg trials set the precedent that it was. Here we have a real can of worms, but I hope that the court finds for Spc New, and that after discharge he runs for Congress.

We have been experimenting with the new model Leupold Scoutscope, and we discover that it offers a larger "light pencil" than its precursors, which makes it somewhat easier to use on the snapshot. The difference is not great, but it is there. Daughter Lindy will be taking one of these glasses to Africa shortly, and while she almost certainly will not have to try a snapshot, it is nice to know that she has an edge.

The following is from family member Walt Mansell of Red Bluff, California:
"For several decades we in law enforcement decried the ineffectiveness of the 38 Special cartridge, as compared to better rounds such as the 357 Magnum and the 45 ACP. It is very hard for us to understand, on a personal level, the great acceptance the 9mm has enjoyed among the American law enforcement community, and to a great extent with the many civilian gunwriters who support it as ideal for personal defense. If, in the real world, a 9mm bullet will do anything a 38 Special bullet will not do, I have not seen any evidence of it. Somewhat tongue in cheek, the only advantage we have seen of a high-capacity 9mm semiautomatic pistol over a simple 38 Special revolver is that it allows the shooter to miss more often."

Note that twenty-eight states now have "right to carry" laws on the books, and that crime is down. The notion that the state can grant such a right is philosophically moot, but let us be glad with what we've got.

We receive so many queries about the Scout rifle concept and specifications that it is with great relief that we see a full piece on this subject in the March issue of Guns & Ammo magazine. The author is our good friend, client and family member Finn Aagaard. We will make copies and have them ready for issue.

The great weakness of the Scout concept is that one cannot get one now. You can have one made to order if you find the right source, but it will not be perfect and it will take both time and money. Eventually, God willing, the production scout from Steyr-Mannlicher will be available over the counter. Meanwhile, one is best advised to stay with the rifle he has and try to avoid going grey while waiting.

Correspondent M.T. Lumley of Missouri opines that where the Romans kept the masses in order by providing them with bread and games, we now provide them with foodstamps and football.

An interesting parallel.

By great good fortune Gunsite stalwart Paul Kirchner discovered a number of articles by George Patton in the Yale Library, which were published in the Cavalry Journal back before World War I. It is well known that George Patton was an accomplished swordsman, but his Olympic-style fencing on foot is not reflected at all in his observations on the cavalry sword. When he wrote these pieces Patton was very young and fell into the youthful error of assuming that fighting is going to take place according to preconceived notions. His theory was that the cavalry saber is totally an offensive instrument, intended for shock action by mass cavalry charging knee-to-knee into an obligingly massed enemy. Thus he is only interested in the point and not at all in either cut or parry. To learn to hit accurately with a cut from on top of a galloping horse is simply too much of a task to be trained into a short-term soldier. I have tried using the cavalry saber from the top deck of a power tricycle and I can verify Patton's observations to the effect that hitting with the point is easy, but the delivery of a satisfactorily destructive cut at speed is a skill that must involve many long hours of practice. (Besides which the power tricycle is a more stable platform than a galloping horse.)

Pondering these points I see more reason in the use of the lance in recent cavalry actions, as by the British in India and Africa. The lance affords more reach than the saber and it is only at a disadvantage in the melee or mixup after the charge has been delivered, in which I for one would be much happier with a pistol.

According to Louis Farrakhan, who now aspires to take over Jessie Jackson's place as fuhrer of the anti-white revolution, "We do not say that a woman's place is in the home, but we do say that a woman's base is in the home." I think that is a pretty good line, but since I was chided for admiring a recent statement of Comrade Mugabe I suppose I will get some static on this matter too.

We discover with some gratification that a Swiss citizen, in order to maintain his rights of citizenship, must qualify annually with his rifle, even when he is on station overseas. We knew that the Swiss had to do this while in Switzerland, but we find that Swiss diplomats in Washington are experiencing some difficulty in finding a facility on which to maintain their Swiss citizenship. Riflemaster John Pepper has been helpful in this matter by encouraging these people to make use of the Fort Meade ranges where he conducts his training and competition operations.

Those who suggest the feasibility of a nationwide pistol permit must realize that such a procedure would be un-constitutional according to the Tenth Amendment (assuming anyone still pays any attention to the Tenth Amendment). However, since the Constitution preceding the Bill of Rights makes it clear that states are bound to honor the acts of other states it would seem to follow that a citizen who has a permit to carry in a permit-to-carry state may expect his permit to honored in any other permit-to-carry state. The legal aspects of this issue are not fully understood and one should not expect the gendarme on the beat to be fully apprised of the situation.

In continuing experiment with the reduced size of the butt of the Mitchell pistol, a number of people have insisted that the slim gun kicks less than the standard model. Now changing the shape of the butt can do nothing to affect the force of recoil, physics not yet having been corrected to conform with the mood of the times, but the thought occurs that perceived recoil can indeed be reduced by giving the shooter a better grip on his weapon. Any hand can achieve a more secure grip on his piece if his hand wraps further around it, and a small hand should find this particularly noticeable. This notion had not previously occurred to me, partly because my hand is somewhat larger than average, but we may indeed have a strong selling point here.

"In this country we have no place for hyphenated Americans."

Theodore Roosevelt

We hear that one of the men shot at Tiananmen Square was able to speak out as follows before he died:
"Tell the American people never to lose their guns. As long as they keep their guns in their hands what's happened here will never happen there."

"During the mandatory segment on Post Operational Trauma, as required by the State of Texas, I am compelled to inform the students that if they do 'ice a goblin,' they may need to seek psychiatric counseling to help them deal with the guilt and remorse that often follows. During that whole session, 'Gunny' Gillis kept cocking his ear, raising his hand and croaking, 'What?, What is it?' It seems that Gunny had never heard of POT, it having not been invented by psychologists until after his day. He had known some people with frazzled nerves from living on the edge for weeks at a time, but this was something new to him and he couldn't quite grasp the concept. All he knew was that after he had carried his flame-thrower all over Tarawa, he was just plain relieved and glad that it was over."

Gary L. Swan, Marion, Texas

"God give us men of such a type as the time demands.
Strong minds, great hearts, true faith and willing hands;
Men whom the lust of office does not kill;
Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy;
Men who possess opinions and a will;
Men who have honor; men who will not lie;

"Men who can stand before a demagogue
And damn his treacherous flatteries without winking;
Tall men, sun crowned, who live above the fog
In public duty and in private thinking;
For while the rabble with their thumb worn creeds,
Their profession and their little deeds
Mingle in selfish strife; lo; Freedom weeps;
Wrong rules the land, and waiting justice sleeps."

From Zarapath News,
published by the Scottish Rite, Davenport, Iowa

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