Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 7, No. 12 November, 1999
If we wish to lead a good life, we should
count our blessings continuously. But in this country, we set a day
aside decreed by George Washington in order to give proper thanks
for the blessings of liberty bequeathed to us by those
extraordinary men who were not afraid to put their lives on the
line for the cause. It seems clear that our liberties are more
endangered at the turn of the XXI century than they were two
hundred years ago. It is tragic to note that large numbers of
American citizens are deeply uninterested in liberty, which is the
thing most worthy of all for fighting for. The socialist promises
security in return for the surrender of an increasing portion of
liberty. As Franklin put it, the coward deserves neither.
I ask myself this question frequently, and ponder about whether I
am worthy of my ancestors. Whenever I quail at the thought of the
Left triumphant, I try to give myself a moral shot in the arm by
reading the inspiring words of those "Dead White Males."
As of now, we still have a firm hold on the legal structure of our
liberties, which is, of course, The Bill of Rights of the US
Constitution. The people in Washington frequently find this
annoying, as well they should. The Constitution was specifically
designed to annoy the central government. It is critical, however,
that the people, and particularly our legislators, understand this.
As it is proclaimed at the Alamo Monument, "Freedom isn't free!"
There is a price, and historically that price has been paid more
often in blood than in cash. This idea is frequently labeled
"extremist" by the Left, and it may indeed be so, but this nation
was founded by extremists, and what we may be thankful for at this
Thanksgiving holiday is the fact that extremists made this country
"the last, best hope of earth."
We hope that you are enjoying a notable
hunting season. May all that wild meat in your freezer serve to
keep you healthy, happy, and grateful for the good things in
The change-over in policies here at
Gunsite proceeds with appropriate deliberation. One cannot undo
seven years of degeneration by a mere stroke of the pen. I wish I
could provide you with a quick and simple analysis of the local
scene, but I cannot do that at this time. The best thing we can say
right now is that the previous owner is gone completely, and that
is cause for rejoicing.
We have sometimes felt that a
garbage-mouth is evidence of a paltry vocabulary. Some recent
social observers, however, have said that this use of unimaginative
obscenity in speech and writing is simply a function of
conformity - doing what everybody else is doing. When children
are properly raised they eschew conformity. Legend has it that when
Alexander of Macedon was a boy, he never did anything that all the
other boys did as a matter of principle. Peer pressure should be
spat upon at an early age - by both mothers and
Reports of successes with the Steyr Scout
keep right on pouring in. It is not an exaggeration to claim that
the weapon is a triumph of design. It will apparently take some
time for the press to find out about the Scout, but gun writers as
a group tend to be set in their ways, and it will take a lot of
field work, well away from both the office desk and the bench rest,
to establish across the board what is obvious to those of us now on
In the 376 version, the situation is not so clear. I have been
asked politely by the factory not to refer to the weapon as a
"Dragoon," but then the piece in my possession has the word
"Dragoon" stamped clearly and brightly on the receiver. This 376
Steyr cartridge is a compact bruiser and not a piece for the faint
of heart. Magnum ballistics in a 7-pound rifle introduce certain
stress problems which were difficult to anticipate. The tendency
for the butt magazine well to flex open on recoil was
unexpected - at least by me. If you mount the butt properly
into your shoulder and take the thrust from midpoint to the heel,
all is well. If, on the other hand, you mount the piece too high
and take the thrust with the toe, you may drop the magazine
The 376 ammunition may be something of a problem for some time to
come. It is important to remember that this cartridge is not for
deer. The Dragoon, or whatever you call it, is absolutely not a
deer gun. The 308 is a deer cartridge, but the 376, while it will
certainly kill a deer, is an exaggeration for such purposes. Unless
your proposed target weighs a thousand pounds or more, you are far
better off with the original 308.
(It has been suggested that we advertise the new piece as "No gun
for a lady." This may sell 300 examples within the week.)
When our good friend and colleague Bob
Brown was recently asked his age in the course of an interview, his
reply was, "I am so old that I can remember when the Kennedys
killed their women one at a time."
I guess it is not surprising that military
heroic reputation is largely a function of publicity. Everybody
knows who Alvin York was because Theodore Roosevelt wrote him up in
fine style. Very few know of Sam Woodfill, who pulled off a very
similar individual feat within a week of York's act, and also
received the Medal of Honor. Likewise, everybody knows of Carlos
Hathcock's achievements as a sniper in Vietnam, but very few know
of Charles Mawhinney, who was also a sniper in Vietnam and ran up a
slightly higher score than Hathcock (103 to 93). Hathcock had a
book written about him, but Mawhinney did not. It is wrong to be
competitive in these matters. Both of these Marines did splendid
jobs, and the one does not rate precedence over the other. It is
just to point out that you are a hero only if people say you are.
If you do not get the notices, you do not lead the parade.
An interesting sidelight on Mawhinney has to do with remounting his
sight. When he took some leave, he left explicit instructions that
no one was to mess with the zero on his rifle. When he went back to
duty, he discovered his instructions had been disregarded and
proceeded to miss on his first two shots. Moral: "When you get a
good zero, leave it alone." I thought everybody knew that, but
obviously I was wrong.
To the family
"Understanding Firearm Ballistics"
Robert A. Rinker, Mulberry House Publishing, Apache
Junction, Arizona, 85217.
A "busybody war" is one which is fought in
order to straighten out the morals, ethics, practices or religion
of another group of people. Defensive wars are morally justified,
and we can even put down reasons for wars of conquest, but "nanny
wars" are disgusting. The American Civil War is an example of one,
as is the Boer War in South Africa. In both these cases, the more
powerful side fought basically for the purpose of changing the
lifestyle of the other. Losers fight well in these busybody wars,
as morally they should. What the invader thinks when he attacks to
make sure that "those other people" part their hair on the right
side is not always easy to discover.
("Charge! Get in there and give it your best to make sure these
creeps clean up their act!" Men rarely choose to die for reasons
I should not brag about it but I cannot
resist this: A correspondent recently told me that when he
discovered some of my writings he sought to amass the entire series
of works on the grounds that "truth is addictive." Gee wheez,
Neighbor and colleague Colonel Bob Young
recently dug up a curious piece of professional history that
certainly came as a surprise to me. It turns out that the 4th
Commandant of the Marine Corps, Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Gale,
was dismissed from the service by a general court martial for what
must be seen as generally disreputable behavior. Apparently he was
a drunk and a roughneck and a dedicated lowbrow who did not conduct
himself as an officer and a gentleman, openly frequenting brothels
and generally helling around. On one occasion before he was
commandant, Gale took offense when one of his Marines was clapped
in irons by a naval officer without consulting Gale. Waiting until
both officers were on liberty, Gale called out the naval officer
and killed him. Anthony Gale is the only Marine commandant of whom
we do not have a portrait in Washington. It seems he was a little
too much of an "Old Marine" even for the "Old Corps."
As an amateur of semantics, I am
increasingly annoyed by the use of the word "tactical" as an
adjective to apply to everything from fishing tackle to potato
soup. Some people obviously believe that if you paint anything
black, that makes it "tactical." Perhaps if you paint it red it
would become "strategic." I once did a little book called "Fighting
Handguns" for Petersen Publications. Perhaps it is time to redo the
pictures and captions and retitle it "Tactical Handguns."
The new Marine Corps is something else
again. Our current Commandant, General Jones, has decided that the
Marine Corps should be a "kinder and gentler" organization in order
to encourage kinder and gentler recruits to stay in as career
Marines. I am sure the General knows what he is talking about, but
we Globe, Eagle and Anchor dinosaurs do not fancy the Marine Corps
as a soft organization. When I was on active duty it was said, "If
you want to learn a trade, join the Army. If you want a clean bunk
every night, joint the Navy. If you want to fly, join the Air
Force. If you want to fight, join the Marines." Times have
When I asked for audience participation
on the matter of the fossa, I had no idea my audience was so large.
Everybody from here to there has been writing me to explain about
the fossa. In this age of communication, I now have a stack of
letters setting me straight. I do appreciate this kind assistance,
but I must say that source material in The Age of The
Internet is difficult to assess. I hear people tell me now that
the fossa is a civet, which it is not. I have been told in no
uncertain terms that its claws are retractable or are not
retractable, according to which item you saw. I have been told that
it is a variety of mongoose. A term I enjoy most is "the panther of
Madagathcer." It seems obvious that people do not know as much
about the fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox) as they thought they
did. I was attracted to the beast because, of course, ferox means
fierce, or ferocious, and that certainly arouses one's curiosity.
(As did Ursus horribilis in an earlier age.) We have so much
interest now in this beast that I am thinking of organizing the
International Fossa Foundation, in which we can all be
called "Founding Fossas." Let us hope to hold regular meetings at
Tananarive with prizes for those members who ferret out the most
Many thanks again for all of those who leapt into the
I would like to think that nobody knows,
but somebody must have. In a previous issue I quoted Rousseau when
I meant Voltaire. Hush my little old mouth!
At the 1999 SHOT Show, I ran across the
major-caliber titanium pocket revolver from Taurus of Brazil. At 19
ounces in 45 Colt it took my fancy, and it was made almost entirely
of titanium, which is strictly Star Wars stuff. I have been trying
until quite recently to get my hands on a personal copy of this
piece, but without success up until last month. I now have my own
"Super Snubby," which I suppose might be called the "Titan." The
piece was offered in 44 Special and 41 Magnum, as well as 357, for
obscure reasons. But in 45 Colt, it is pretty fascinating. It
includes a 5-shot cylinder that rotates to the left, a right-hand
twist in its 2-inch barrel, and (get this) a key lock on the
hammer! (Let's see now: if you want to make sure your gun will not
shoot, do not load it. If it is a self-loader, simply take it
apart. If you suspect some mean little kid will find the ammunition
and load it without your authorization, simply swing out the
cylinder and put a cheap padlock around the top strap. This
hysterical striving to avoid litigation at any cost - even the
cost of appearing a blithering idiot - seems to be a curse of
But let it pass. I think the Titan is much fun. Its trigger
action is almost unworkable, but can be modified by any competent
gunsmith, since both hammer and trigger are of steel, as are the
ejector rod and star. Also the barrel includes a steel sleeve.
Obviously titanium, while pretty spectacular in some ways, does not
replace steel in others.
As you might suppose, the recoil of a 19 ounce revolver in 45 Colt
is noticeable. However, the designer incorporated a set of very
comfortable over-sized soft rubber stocks, which obviate damage to
the fingers, though they can do nothing to soften the blow. Thus
the Titan - the Super Snubby. Good
Our good friend and host Johannes Roller
of Vienna has proposed a classical menu for our forthcoming feast
of bison (when as and if). He suggests glazed onions, sauteed
mushrooms, potatoes Duchesse, and a particularly sound Cabernet. As
with the classic recipe for "Jugged Hare," the opening instruction
is "First catch your hare." We will do our best.
Sam Colt must be turning in his grave.
Referring to the recent cowardly behavior of the Colt Company, one
commentator pointed out that the Colt Company invented the
"six-shooter." Let us correct that. The Colt Company did not invent
the six-shooter. Sam Colt invented the six-shooter, and went down
in history as the man who made all men free and equal. I did a
research paper on "Sam Colt as a Progressive Industrialist" when I
was back in graduate school. It was well received, and I think I
will dig it up again in honor of the occasion.
Family member Joshua Robinson, son
of family member Art Robinson, recently had occasion to
repel cougars up on their establishment in Oregon, using his
personally owned Scout rifle. We will ask for details and get back
I believe you have noticed that these
middle aged richniks who wander around conventions and tournaments
and such, are usually accompanied by conspicuously beautiful girls,
whom they refer to as "nieces." We recently caught a photograph of
Donald Trump at some occasion with his current "niece," who
appeared in the picture to be quite up to the assignment. We see
that Trump is thinking of running for president. It would certainly
be amusing if he actually got there and moved into the White House
with the nation's "First Niece."
At the Gunsite Reunion just
past, we introduced the drill known as the "Guatemalan Steak
House," which is a competitive exercise which I took from life down
in Guatemala some years ago. A young lady in the audience, Diana
Torres, asked in all innocence why people in these circumstances
seem to want to kill each other. Now, that is indeed a deep
question, and I must think about it sometime and try to cover the
subject in print. I guess we will have to start with
As someone has pointed out, while Karl
Marx advocated the achievement of the "classless society," he never
quite made it. Now, however, we have indeed reached a society in
which nobody has any class.
Statistics from the California Department
of Justice tell us that in the years 1994 through 1997 84.9% of
homicides committed in California were committed by "non-white"
perpetrators. Any conclusions drawn from this figure depend upon
what sort of person is defined as "non-white." Categories in the
table list: White, Hispanic, Black and Other. I assume that "Other"
suggests Oriental ancestry, but if "Hispanic" means "Mexican,"
certain problems arise. The people we know of in California as
"Mexican" are primarily a mixture of European and Indian, though in
what proportions we cannot say. The difficulty here is that a large
number of Mexican citizens have no trace of Indian blood at
all - witness such stage personalities as Dolores del Rio,
Cesar Romero, and Margarita Cansino (Rita Hayworth). When we start
basing our conclusions on something known as "race," we had best be
very sure of our scholarship.
You may remember that at the 1998 Reunion
at Whittington, family member Marc Heim of Switzerland
distinguished himself by breaking four out of five clay birds in
the air with his Scout rifle. Breaking those clays with a rifle is
a good trick, and doing it even once is very satisfying. If you can
bring off two out of five, everybody applauds. Four out of five,
however, is so outstanding as to be worthy of a medal. In the
decades during which I have taught marksmanship, I have run into
some truly great performers, and Marc is right up there with the
It has been suggested that it is
impossible to take seriously a man who is wearing an earring.
Having cast through that matter with some care historically, I am
forced to agree. Even scouring the steppes of Central Asia or the
wilds of Borneo we still do not discover earrings in the ears of
men of importance. Contradictory opinions will be entertained,
naturally, but best be sure of your sources.
Reports we get from the wars in the
Caucasus (Chechnya and Dagestan) tell us that the Russians have
been learning many interesting things about this sort of warfare.
The weapon of choice for infantry, as we approach the turn of the
century, is unquestionably the rocket propelled grenade (RPG). When
available, which is most of the time, it seems to have pretty much
replaced the squirt gun for close range anti-personnel use. Beyond
that, we discover that aimed rifle fire has been staging something
of a comeback. Handheld full auto-fire has decreased in both
effectiveness and importance.
The matter of morale continues in all aspects of warfare. A man
fights better when he is convinced that God is on his side, and a
man fights best in defense of his own home territory. These wars in
the Caucasus are effectively religious, since while the invading
Russians are nominally atheist, the defending Caucasians seem to be
sincere Moslems. The predominant motive of the Russian trooper is
to get out of this mess and get home to Moscow, while the
predominant motivation of the Chechen or Dagestani is to kill the
unbeliever. The Russians find this intensely irritating and it
causes Yeltsin to give forth with angry bluster about
"extermination." All this is very interesting, but it does not
arouse one's enthusiasm.
I suppose you are all aware of the fact
that a Texas hamlet down on the Mexican border has taken civic
action to secede from the United States. This is the municipality
of El Cenizo, which has passed ordinances rejecting US border
control. Secession is basically a federal matter (remember the war
we fought about that), but first I'd like to see what Governor Bush
the Younger plans to do about this.
Family member Mike Baker
contributes the following observation from Florida. When asked for
an essay on "Good Government" in high school, the winning response
was as follows, to wit: "Good government! Good government! Sit!
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal
use only. Not for publication.