Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 5, No. 2 February, 1997
Our November hunt in Montana was most
enjoyable, and all our freezers are full. Rifle Master John
Gannaway used his standard 350 Super Scout, I used the Lion Scout,
and Lindy used her Springfield with the new hopped-up Federal
ammunition. Clearly we were all somewhat overgunned, but no harm
came of that. Two shots were taken from vertical post rest, one
from offhand, and one from sitting. Ranges were 40 paces, 83 paces,
cross-canyon estimated at 200, and one quite long. It was
impractical to pace the distance on this one.
There was nothing extraordinary about the hunt, but we are
certainly enjoying the venison. Our long-time favorite method is
fondue - bite-sized pieces skewered on long forks and seared
quickly in hot oil. The Countess experimented with tenderloin tips
marinated in our favorite Roman dressing (one-third olive oil,
one-third soy sauce, one-third sweet sherry) and sauteed quickly.
Superb! The sausage was particularly well composed and we have been
enjoying it for breakfast on all suitable occasions.
We have not heard from Don Mitchell for
some time, and Mitchell Arms was not present at SHOT. I must assume
that the Mitchell pistol, about which I had high hopes, is not in
The SHOT Show and SCI Shows were pretty
fascinating, though it does take a tremendous amount of walking to
see all the necessary sights, and even then there is much missed.
The most interesting thing that I saw was the Czech 97, a
single-stack, single-action 45 caliber derivative of the Czech 75.
This piece is in prototype stage at present, but it shares the
necessary characteristics of a sound defensive pistol with the
notably comfortable handling characteristics of its Czech
ancestors. I have been invited to visit the factory in March in an
attempt to clean up the act.
The Czech 550 series of rifles seems to be a promising development
of the Mauser, but at present displaying an unsatisfactory
trigger-action. That can be fixed, of course.
It is certainly difficult to render a calm
and compassionate view of our current system of justice. After a
legal friend of ours had his car trashed on the street, apparently
just for kicks, he suggested that the proper solution to our inner
city problem might be the mass drowning of street punks. Every
month in a different big city we should sew up a thousand of them
in a huge sack and dump it into the Mississippi. Such ideas may
appear fanciful, but the decent people of this country are
increasingly driven against the wall. We have now made clear to the
world that you should not cut the throat of the mother of your
children - for fear of being heavily fined. While the federal
ninja drive around in their black uniforms and face masks, we note
that they never seem to bother the street gangs. Kids who have
parents seem to have no fear of chastisement, and certainly those
without do not even consider the possibility of retribution for
their sins. It is a bad scene, but as Bill Buckley recently put it,
"Exasperation must never edge over into despair."
At the SHOT show Smith & Wesson
introduced a bitsy 22 revolver that packs eight rounds and weighs
just 9 ounces. Its concept is delightful, but its execution is
severely handicapped by its trigger-action. The double-action pull
weighs 14 pounds. (The DA pull on the Countess' M-60 goes at 9.) We
had three different girls try it and each insisted that the action
was much too heavy for precise shooting. If a 22 is to be used for
defensive purposes, precise shooting is absolutely essential, since
the only successful target is the eye socket of the attacker.
When we complained about this trigger to the management, we were
told that it could not be smoothed up or lightened in view of the
unreliability of ignition in rimfire cartridges. I shoot 22 rimfire
regularly - several times a week - and I had not run
across this problem until now. It may be that the quality control
in rimfire ammunition has been degenerating, like many other
things, while I was not looking.
We heard the Feds recently insisting that
those are not black helicopters, they are dark green. Sorry
Our good friends the van Graans from
Africa tell us of a splendid procedure that they have set up at
their hunting lodge for the indoctrination of their growing
daughters, Tanya and Liezl. When the girls need spending money,
they are permitted to go out on the ground and harvest a
medium-sized blue wildebeeste. (They are forbidden to take trophy
wildebeeste, which are reserved for visiting clients). They use
their mother's 308 and they are allowed to keep all the meat and
sell it on the market at Nelspruit for cash. They are required to
do all the necessary work except driving the meat to market.
What a nifty way to raise children! Danie and Karin are to be
It has been suggested that a handheld
laser range finder may be obtained on request in the "gun writer
mode." The yards it measures are 20 inches long.
The winter meeting of the NRA in Arlington
produced exactly the amount of bitter squabbling that we expected.
The leadership spent practically its entire time in infighting, to
the delight of the Schumer/Schroeder/Feinstein/Brady crowd. The
"palace coup," of which you may have heard, was not successful, but
the vote was so close that the losers survived to fight another
day - presumably at Seattle.
Please do not regard the reduction in our cash reserves from 80
million to 50 million as a disaster. Our cash is not simply to
keep, but rather to spend judiciously, and our progress has been
considerable. The periodic reports from headquarters serve to keep
you informed of battles we have won, as well as those we have lost.
The war continues but we remain ahead of our adversaries in
altitude, airspeed and gunpower.
One of the curious legalisms we discover
back in the Darkest East is the fact that while New York
state has an open season on deer and permits its citizens to take
the field with a rifle, the state policy on training insists that a
student may not even be allowed to touch a rifle that is not his.
Apparently they do not mind if you take to the woods, but they do
object if you try to learn how.
My special interest over the past months
has been the updating and rewriting of the NRA Personal Protection
Manual. The committee assigned this task consisted of T.J.
Johnston, Leroy Pyle and Jeff Cooper. We put together what I think
is a good paper, but due to certain obstructive proposals, we
almost did not get it approved in the time allotted. Due to the
outstanding efforts of T.J., who stayed up all night clarifying the
documents, we were able to place the program in the hands of the
headquarters staff for editing in accordance with headquarters
literary policy. There remained a couple of obstructionists lurking
in the shadows, but with good luck and a tail wind, I think we can
present a new personal protection program to our membership which
will bring NRA doctrine in line with the modern technique. High
Additionally we discover that that Bureau
of Land Management nastiness is temporarily on hold and may well be
terminated without further discussion. These people keep trying to
slip things over on us when we are not watching, but fortunately
for us the NRA is watching, and almost all the time we are
The Steyr Mannlicher display was
interesting, though, as we had been told, the production scout was
not yet in evidence. Several of the features recommended on the
scout, however, were included on the "sporting rifle," such as the
double magazine-detent, the trigger-guard adaptor, and hammerhead
sling sockets to accommodate the Ching Sling. The factory people
suggested that they might be able to put on a demonstration of the
production scout in the states sometime in the fall, possibly in
connection with the proposed Scout Conference. We will
The proliferation of right-to-carry laws
throughout the states has drawn plaintive complaints from the
criminal element. They feel that it makes their profession too
dangerous when the streets are full of "civilians" who may or may
not be armed. Poor babies!
When discussing rifles we must take care
to watch our terminology. In the matter of sights, let us make sure
that we know that iron sights may be either open sights or aperture
sights. The ghost-ring is a certain type of aperture sight which
provides speed, full observation and precision. It is properly
mounted well to the rear on the receiver bridge, the cocking piece,
or sometimes on the tang. The open sight, on the other hand, is a
notch mounted well forward, with resulting reduced sight radius,
and it demands a triple focus on rear sight, front sight and
target, which is physiologically impossible. Contrary to widespread
belief, while it is quicker to use than the ill-conceived aperture
sight on the Springfield 1903, it is measurably slower than a
ghost-ring, and it obscures the lower half of the shooter's field
of view, which can be distinctly dangerous under some
I am very much in favor of the ghost-ring but I do not favor any
form of open sight. The so-called "express sight," which is a
certain variety of open sight, has been favored for a century for
use on heavy rifles and dangerous game. It will do for this
purpose, but it is not as fast as a ghost-ring, and life and death
situations with dangerous animals take place at ranges so short
that small increments in accuracy are meaningless.
(Incidently, a telescope sight is a poor system for use on
dangerous game. Anything that is big enough to kill you is easy to
see, and even the best telescope is excessively fragile for
crawling around in the underbrush.)
A correspondent sent us a clipping
describing a recent occasion in Louisville in which a group of old
poker-playing codgers had their game interrupted by three masked,
shotgun-wielding goblins who beat in the door. The geriatric squad
neatly repelled boarders, leaving one dead. ("You should have seen
the two that got away.") As we have taught for decades, a properly
organized defender has a distinct tactical edge over an armed
robber. By the time the goblin has discovered that his proposed
victim is not going to do what he is told, it may well be too
Curiously enough, a very similar situation occurred with some
friends of my father's at the LA Country Club back in the Middle
Ages. When the goblin lined up the sportsmen and proceeded to
search them for valuables, one old gentleman took the situation in
hand and shot the miscreant neatly through the head with his Colt
45 "Double-Action Army." The NRA motto now is "I refuse to be a
victim." So be it.
We took some time to check out the
"Kimber Clone" at the SHOT Show. It seems to be a well-made arm,
but it does not include any of the minor, but important,
modifications which might make the 1911 better. Specifically it is
not slimlined, and it retains the annoying grip safety.
When I put out that list of Good
Things To Do
in a previous issue, I apparently did not get my
point across. Several correspondents have written in to extol
various acts of heroism, which are certainly good things to do, but
which are not for just anyone. I intentionally excluded from my own
list those acts which are beyond the reach of the ordinary citizen,
such as quarterbacking the Super Bowl, climbing the north face of
the Eiger, or killing a buffalo with a spear. Some of the items on
my list do call for a certain amount of money - spending a
weekend at the Connaught, for example - but it costs nothing
to write a sonnet, or memorize Kipling's
, or study Greek. The list that I prepared was one of
pleasures; heroics are another matter.
When some time ago I opined that "The
kindest words of tongue or pen are these: It has already been taken
care of," I was taken to task by a correspondent for utilizing a
terminal preposition. I was taught in sixth grade English a
preposition is properly placed in front of something, rather than
behind it. Understood. However, we should be careful not to confuse
a preposition with a proposition. An example of a terminal
preposition is "Where are you at?" For a terminal proposition we
like daughter Lindy's suggestion: "Feeling lucky, punk?"
"The best thing that government can do is get out of
Nobel Prizewinner in Economics
We do not know whether to be amused or
annoyed by the repeatedly held injunction of the lawmen to the
miscreant that "Somebody may get hurt." It has always seemed to me
that was the idea. The bad guy ought to get hurt, and he should
understand full well that he is the "one most likely." We would
have a much better society if those who choose to prey upon us
understood that the proper response to a homicidal threat is a
bullet up the nose.
In observing our political scene, it is
necessary to remember that in any democracy the absolute goal of
the politician is power. Not money, power. This means that the only
thing of any consequence to a politician is re-election. He will
walk on eyeballs to be re-elected, and the only time that principle
means anything to him is when it happens to coincide with what
appears to him the best course towards his own re-election. Now the
only way to get power is to take it from someone who already has
it. Under our system, the theory is that the people at large are
sovereign and have the power, but the only way the politician can
achieve power is to take it from the people who already have
it - or should have it. This makes for a permanent conflict in
principle between the voter and his representative. This is not
cheerful, but it is nonetheless a fact.
Of the three systems of government enunciated by Aristotle -
monarchy (tyranny), aristocracy (oligarchy), and polity
(democracy) - polity (democracy) is the best, not because of
its inherent virtue, but because of its basic lack of efficiency.
An inefficient government is best for the people, simply because it
is inherently incapable of doing anything well, and the less it
does the better.
The following nifty anecdote from our old
friend Ian McFarlane, the professional hunter from Botswana:
"About 03:00 we received a radio message that a Bushman
tracker had returned to one of the camps with a chest shot from an
AK and was brought into Runtu Hospital by helicopter. On
notification that the patient had arrived and was in theater, we
found him standing there smoking a cigarette. He had a wound on the
left chest in front and in the back. We took X-rays and found
indeed that it was through and through. We cleaned and closed the
wound, and kept him for a week in case of infection. This did not
happen, but during that time we found out that the Bushman had been
wounded early in the morning of the previous day. He tracked his
antagonist during the day for about twelve hours. He said he could
have shot his man a few times during the day, but he wanted to
shoot him in the abdomen so that he would die painfully and slowly.
Just before sundown, he got his shot properly placed, and then
walked another eight hours back to base."
The wound, of course, was delivered by the 30 caliber Russian Short
cartridge of the AK47. Presumably the bullet had an iron core and a
copper jacket, allowing no deformation. Still, getting shot through
the chest with a 30 caliber Russian Short might be thought to be
enough to spoil one's appetite, but these Bushmen are great little
guys. I have associated with them just enough to appreciate their
"Hunting inculcates patience, demands discipline and
iron nerve, and develops serenity of spirit that makes for long
love of life."
"The fear and hatred of crime and criminals by the
right, and the fear and hatred of the right by the left, serve to
enlist both sides of the conventional political spectrum in
promoting the new police state. The avoidance of publicity about
the abuses of federal police agencies tends over time to normalize
such behavior in the minds of citizens; to legitimatize it and to
render it a routine part of government functions."
After sitting through three days of long
winded and often acrimonious discussion in Arlington, we come back
to the truth of the venerable aphorism, "The trouble with politics
We repeat Colman's law to the effect that
in any sidearm the probability of hits is inversely proportional to
the number of rounds in the magazine. The more rounds you have
available, the less likely you are to hit anything - unless,
of course, you are an expert combatant. There are not many expert
combatants, and so we see the increasing popularity of fully
automatic handheld fire using pistol cartridges. I will not forget
that the last time anyone tried to kill me (whom I could see trying
to do it) he had a 30-round magazine in his machine pistol and he
went dry and lost the fight. There is one important advantage to
handheld automatic fire and that is intimidation. A great many
people are seriously upset when anyone starts to hose them down
with a "machinegun."
On the occasion when our son-in-law Bruce had the night watch up on
the line with I CORPS, his first response when someone
reported a penetration was to make sure that everybody in the
command had his M16 set on the semi-auto mode. He got his medal for
keeping his head when a lot of people around him might have been
expected to do otherwise.
Our usually impeachable source from the
Washington scene insists that there is no truth in the rumor that
Hillary is pushing O.J. Simpson for Attorney General.
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal
use only. Not for publication.