Jeff Cooper's Commentaries

Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 6, No. 7           July, 1998


Suddenly it is mid-year. My how the time do fly! The summer solstice is the official beginning of summer, which has never been our favorite season - since leaving school. In school, of course, things were different. Mr. Nourse, our esteemed boys' vice principal at John Boroughs Junior High School, once wrote as follows:
"Parents look forward to vacations with misgivings. Girls with eagerness. Boys with joy.

Parents look forward to the end of vacations with relief. Girls with regret. Boys with despair."
Yes, Virginia, there is a gender gap.

We continue to be amused by the odd term "double-action only" as applied to trigger-cocking self-loading pistols. It would seem obvious that nothing can be double and single at the same time, and you can only fire a double-cruncher one way. However, a good many people do not seem to care what they say. Our Uncle Argus, of affectionate memory, once stated upon the appearance of a dreadful looking mutt in the yard, "Fine looking dog - if you don't care what you say." It is pretty hard to maintain communication if people do not care what they say.

The new Taurus field pistol in caliber 454 Casull seemed attractive to those who like to hunt big game with a handgun. On first examination it seems very interesting. We shall see how it stands the test of time.

Perhaps you heard of the recent cougar incident up in Colorado only a couple miles from the winter residence of daughter Parry and her family. It seems this foot slogger was set upon, without apparent provocation, by the cat while walking on a forest trail. He threw it off with his Swiss army knife and his thumb, which he drove into the beast's eye. A cougar is not a very big animal, and though very strong, rarely seems to kill when it attacks humans; but, as with the leopard, it usually sets up a painful and expensive stay in the hospital.

Welcome to the vast right wing conspiracy! That is us, in case you have not noticed a conspiring recently.

The International Palma Match, as you know, is fired at 1,000 yards. It must be fired with ammunition suitable for the military arm of the nation entering the match, though now the "second-line" 30 caliber military cartridges are accepted. The contestants have discovered that when using 150-grain, 30 caliber bullets there is a tendency for accuracy to fall off as the projectile drops back through the speed of sound. Consequently the trend now is to build great, long barrels for Palma Match rifles in the attempt to boost velocity up to where bullets will still reach the target at supersonic speed. We wait to see whether this really has any affect on international scores.

We continue to be annoyed by commentators who insist that a certain type of firearm - a 1911 auto, for example - is designed only "to kill people." If we overlook the capacity of the defensive handgun to intimidate an attacker, that idea may be true, but we could respond by saying that a scalpel is only designed "to cut people." But we can hardly expect the logical approach from our entrenched hoplophobes. I cannot believe that all these people are essentially stupid. What they are, I propose, is simply envious. The man who cannot cope automatically envies the man who can.

As previously reported, the 308/165 performed with complete satisfaction in Africa last May. The preferred combination, however, remains the 30-06/220, in the African consensus.

We notice that the BATmen have officially announced that they would prefer to be called ATmen. That is to say, they call themselves the "Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms" rather than the "Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms." (Apparently the Feds are going to keep the B in FBI.) It is immodest to give one's self too much importance, but if I have caused the BATmen to change their name because of my writings, I will be highly satisfied. I guess I am on the ninja hit list, but perhaps that is just boasting.

To no one's surprise the proliferation of concealed carry laws in this country has resulted in a noticeable reduction in crime. The new laws do create a problem for the street punk, since he can no longer tell who is armed and who is not.

Note that family member Curt Rich has just released a new and very important work called "Drive to Survive." Curt, in addition to being a fully experienced combat infantry officer, is also a firearms enthusiast, but above that, he has driving credentials as long as your arm. He knows whereof he speaks. I have read the draft from beginning to end, and I counsel all the faithful to purchase not one, but two, copies of this book - one to read and to loan. Here is a "how-to" book which may really make a difference, if we can get enough people to read it.

In a previous issue we opened a discussion as to the purpose of education. This has developed quite a response, but has not produced a philosophically authoritative consensus. The main hurdle seems to be the confusion of education with trade schooling.

Most people seem to think that trade schools are a good thing, especially those who feel that the purpose of education is to get a job of some sort. But many large organizations, for example the Marine Corps, feel that they are better off running their own trade schools than depending upon diplomas from institutes over which they have little control.

In any case, I do not believe that one can successfully argue that the purpose of education is access to gainful employment. To the extent that this may be true, it is a secondary goal.

To my mind, the purpose of education is to produce a cultivated individual. That, of course, is dodging the issue, since we must define what we mean by "cultivated." This definition, however, gives us a place to start, and that is something we can not ignore if we wish to arrive at a meaningful conclusion.

The German Mateba automatic revolver in caliber 357 seems to be going great guns. I am going to make an effort to get a chance to shoot one of those, if only to find out what its appeal is.

It appears that the cardinal sin in the view of the wimp culture is that of being "judgmental." The only way to avoid being judgmental is to have no principles. We were given our brains in order to make judgments, and that includes value judgments. Values, by definition, are valuable, so by all means let us be judgmental! Jump into the argument and win!

In a recent issue of Safari Times Terry Blauwkamp analyzed a questionnaire put to hunters in both North America and Africa to develop a body of doctrine which might be useful to aspirants, whether hunters or outfitters. The results were most interesting.

More than 40 African PH's responded to the questionnaire, and they pretty well corroborated what we have come to accept as proper African doctrine. By 28 to five the opinion was that hunters bring telescope sights that are too big. By 14 to one they voted against quick detachable mounts. Variable scopes were scorned - they were always set wrong at the wrong time. Reloaded ammunition was found reliable by a score of 34 to four. Factory ammunition was successful by a score of 31 to five. However, the majority questioned said that reloaders tend to be better shots than those who do not reload. Premium bullets were highly regarded - by a score of 29 to nine. The general opinion was that American hunters are "velocity crazy," always opting for the higher velocity and the lighter bullet in any given load, which is the reverse of what most of the African hunters recommend. And here is the item which indicates what the professional hunters base their observation on. The average number of shots taken to down an animal was 6.6.

The major point upon which I disagree with the majority of those questioned was the suitability of the 375 for buffalo. They liked it, I don't. Properly placed, a 375 will do for buffalo, but a bigger gun provides a certain edge, and if you are going to carry a bigger gun, I think you should make it a big one. (The matter of recoil control enters here, but I am not going to make much of that. Recoil effect upon the shooter is about 85 percent mental. Proper training, understanding and practice will handle it. There are those who say that some people are physiologically over-sensitive to recoil. If this is true, I suggest that the individuals involved should not hunt buffalo.)

"If you don't mind being where you are, you are not lost."

Bruce Truter

Those interested in criminology should reflect that back in the early 18th century there was a considerable piracy problem throughout the world, but concentrated heavily in the Caribbean and the Southeastern United States coast. It was solved in a rather obvious way. All governments concerned agreed that piracy on the high seas was a capital offense and should be punished by death. All pirates captured were hanged on the spot, regardless of extenuating circumstances. Piracy stopped.

I only fired once on our recent hunt in Africa, but I had the chance to observe more field shooting on the part of other people than ever before. I learned many things. Ranges in the delta were longer on this occasion than previously, running up to just short of 300 paces. This did not reduce our score because everybody involved had been proven to be a good shot before coming along.

We found it a good practice to call one's shot on game, even more than on paper targets. Every time that striker goes forward the shooter should tell himself exactly where that shot went, immediately after working the bolt. We took much pleasure in "catch and release" hunting. This amounts to "snapping in" on game targets with an empty chamber. I particularly prize one such that I took on a particularly fine lion. I do not have his skin, but I have nearly equivalent satisfaction.

One of the high points of this last hunt was a fire raid on an adjoining camp by an adventurous leopard. The cat broke into the kitchen when all hands were asleep, and located a rack of biltong hanging to cure above the butchering table. When he leaped up on the table it went over, breaking loose the pipeline on the gas-powered refrigerator. The pipe was brushed against something hot and caught fire. Much annoyed, the leopard rushed off into the dark, leaving the kitchen tent to burn almost to the ground. That is a new one in our experience.

Our host up in the delta does business with all sorts of clients, and told us a tale of an interesting Chicago-type confrontation. Some of these hunters are disreputable types, and this one client proved no exception. He paid his obligations by check, and then when he was safely back in Chicago he stopped payment, his excuse being that the hunt did not turn out to be exactly what he wanted. Now this is definitely a version of defrauding an innkeeper, but it is pretty hard for a hardworking PH from Southern Africa to bring suit against some rich kid in Chicago.

The matter turned out rather well, however. The following year Ian took out a group of "self-made Chicago businessmen" who had connections at home. When he told them the tale they looked serious and told him not to worry, the matter would be taken care of. As soon as they got back to base, they took steps. Immediately a new check was forthcoming, and this one was honored. There is much to be said for the way the brotherhood does business.

I suggest you get your order in for your Steyr Scout before the crazies on the other side discover how efficient it is. The people who are terrified at the ownership of "automatic weapons" will have great cause for alarm if they ever find out about the Scout.

And when you get it, I recommend that you strip off the extensions on the butt. You want a Scout to be as compact as possible, and a short stock is a definite asset on the snap shot.

(Contrary to what you might suppose, I do not receive one penny from either Steyr Mannlicher or Gun South Incorporated. I know that may be hard to believe on the part of the money-minded, but it is nonetheless the fact.)

How many of you know what a fossa is? Neither did we. It turns out that the ferocious fossa (ferox is his specific name) is a sort of outsized mustelid that serves to keep down the population of lemurs on Madagascar. He is not a true weasel, however, since he has claws that retract like those of a cat, but he weighs about 50lbs and is conspicuously agile in the trees. As with his distant cousins the wolverine and the ratel, he shows no fear of man, but as of yet he has not killed anybody except lemurs. It amazes me never before to have heard of this fascinating beast.

At the recent general meeting of the NRA in Philadelphia, we had occasion to talk briefly with family member John Milius, of cinematic fame. His situation in Hollywood, while eminently successful, is pretty dreary. He represents the tradition of American heroism, which the show people in general are trying to eradicate. For example, he told us that his "Roughriders" (the best movie we had seen in a long time) was not mentioned for any sort of recognition by the Hollywood establishment. The New York Times reviewer, moreover, complained that the Roughriders movie made us proud of our historic heritage, rather than ashamed, as we ought to have been. That's the word, "ashamed"! John is definitely swimming against the tide, and more power to him!

"The desire to order other people around and make them conform to one own's vision takes many forms."

Thomas Sowell
Which emphasizes the great difference between those of us who are activist gun owners and other "extremists" who devote themselves to causes. Unlike the zealots who agitate for other causes, from tobacco bans to bunny hugging, we shooters have no wish to push other people around. Our major desire is that they leave us alone. It is odd that nobody has mentioned that difference before.

Many of you are aware of the classic adventure tale "Jock of the Bushveldt" (if not, you should be). This work, written by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, has enjoyed intermittent periods of popularity ever since I was a school boy. Now it is being printed again, but note that it has become a victim of what may be called "fictional revisionism." Fitzpatrick, who knew very well of what he spoke, portrays the racial situation during the Low Veldt gold rush at the end of the last century just as it was, and, of course, it was not "politically correct." So a couple of editors, with disgusting and immodest arrogance, have sought to "purify" this classic tale so as not to injure anyone's tender feelings. Thus it is that if you undertake to acquire a copy of "Jock," be sure you get it in unexpurgated form. In its new edited version, it suggests telling the story of Tarzan without the apes.

"When the fog of battle closes in, victory is won by sergeants rather than generals."

The Guru

Anyone for "three weapon golf"? In this game you do your driving with a 60mm mortar, utilizing a smoke bomb. You make your approach with a hunting bow, using a 6 inch balloon as your target. You do your putting with a 1-second draw from the leather using the major-caliber pistol of your choice. Impossible, you say? I bet Bill Gates could arrange it if he cared to.

It is widely assumed that feral domestic animals are more dangerous to their human associates than their wild brethren. (Okay, I am sorry about the passive voice, which my esteemed superior, General Cushman, told me never to use; so I will say, "I have always assumed this to be the case.") Just last year up in Zimbabwe the game rancher Allan Fisher was very nearly killed by a "pet" kudu that he had raised from infancy into a fully mature 50-inch bull. He was in the process of distributing food for his animals one morning when he was struck violently from behind and smashed to the ground. Kudu, unlike sable and roan, do not use their horns efficiently, and this one savaged Marsh with head and hooves, as well as with the points of his horns. Marsh got hold of the horns and the kudu dragged him here and there until losing him in a clump of trees. His shoulder had been crushed down into his thorax, collapsing a lung and driving his heart out of place. His condition was life-threatening for two days, and he may never regain the full use of his right arm.

This was a pet kudu, heretofore gentle and unaggressive. What went wrong? Your guess is as good as anyone's.

"Statistically, fighting back is safer than giving in."

Curt Rich

This trigger-lock business is just about as ridiculous as any political issue can get. As we have pointed out before, if you want to render your handgun inoperative all you need to do is take it apart. With a solid frame revolver you need only snap a cheap padlock through its top strap. Why should you buy a trigger-lock? Well, obviously the answer is so that people who make, distribute and sell trigger-locks can prosper. This transparent marketing ploy is so obtuse that I would think even a politician could see through it.

If you have a mean little kid in your household, you are simply going to have to explain life to him. Trying to frustrate him by gadgetry is a futile pastime. A mischievous little kid can out-fathom any sort of restrictive device - while you wait.

Despite what you may have read or heard, Charlton Heston's presidency is not going to change the NRA. Our principles are sound. Our philosophy is unassailable, and we are not out of any so-called "mainstream." It is the media which stand outside the mainstream in their ivory towers in the megalopolis. We in the NRA hope that Charlton Heston's extraordinary oratory and personal charisma may move these louts in the media into the mainstream.

As with most vital issues, the irreconcilables stand at either end and are not going to be moved by political pressure. It is the undecided in the middle who need to be convinced, and I think Mr. Heston is an ideal choice to do just that.

I note with distaste that there are some people who have been graduated from Grey Gunsite who call themselves Gunsite graduates. Technically they are, but no one should ever confuse them with the family of Orange Gunsite graduates.

There may be more to Philadelphia than meets the eye, but W.C. Fields could not find it, and neither could I when I was stationed there as a fresh-caught second lieutenant back in the dim, dead days before World War II. What Philadelphia does offer is Independence Hall, which every patriot should visit, and the Old Original Bookbinders restaurant, which is one of America's outstanding landmarks of gastronomy. As an officer in basic school, I was entitled to liberty (conditions permitting) from close of inspection on Saturday til Monday morning. It was my custom to make a beeline for the Bookbinders, where I would enjoy a bowl of snapper soup and one medium lobster, after which I would take the train for New York.

We were careful to drop in on the occasion of the NRA general meeting just past, and we can say with satisfaction that the restaurant is just the same as it was - except for the prices. I could afford to dine at the Bookbinders on a second lieutenant's pay in 1941, but no second lieutenant can eat there now unless someone else is buying him dinner - so much has inflation diminished our lifestyle in half a century.

The more I see in the field and on the range, and the more I read in the magazines and see on the tube, the more I realize that nobody has been to school. Violations of correct technique are the rule, rather than the exception. It is a good thing that we have a couple of good texts on the market to show people the way, but considering how few people read, the future does not look bright.

We all mourn the passing of Barry Goldwater, who enjoyed the title of "Mr. Conservative" for many years. He was an honest-to-God man, and he will be remembered for many years for a number of things, but his most powerful pronouncement, of course, was as follows:
"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."
The faint of heart will do well to study that pronouncement.

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