Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 7, No. 4 March, 1999
Rustles of Spring
Ordinarily, we title this issue
"Winterset," but this year we experienced such a paltry winter that
there is nothing to set. With almost no precipitation between
solstice and equinox, the country hereabouts is ready to blow away
in the wind. There are people who complain about rainy days. We
wish they could send us a few.
It is possible to say that the revolution
in pistolcraft in the 20th century began with Fairbairn in China,
though his pioneering did not achieve wide acceptance. In the 30s
the FBI created the so-called Practical Pistol Course, which was a
step forward in that it departed from conventional bullseye
shooting and sought to impart tactical skills. The effort was
primitive and did not get very far, but at least it was a start.
Then in 1948, Cooper and Taft began experimenting with courses of
marksmanship related to the realistic use of the sidearm. This
resulted in the "Advanced Military Combat Pistol Course," which was
printed up in an Army field manual. This was another step, but it
was by no means the answer. In 1959 the Bear Valley Gunslingers
were established in California with the avowed purpose of
introducing realism and variety into sporting pistol competition.
In due course the Gunslingers evolved into the Southwest ("Combat")
Pistol League, spreading the game out over the Southwest and
conducting matches in all sorts of different venues.
The purpose of all this was to "get real" and to evaluate the
systems by which fighting skills with the handgun could be properly
evaluated and rewarded. The next step was IPSC (the International
Practical Shooting Confederation) founded in 1976 in Columbia,
Missouri, in an attempt to spread the new doctrine worldwide.
There were serious problems here.
- Any international competition must submit itself to the
jurisdiction of the nation in which it is held. Certain useful
techniques are viewed askance, or in some cases forbidden, in
countries where the nature of the art is not fully
understood - and that includes most of them.
- Pistolcraft is by nature a fighting art, and in our
increasingly emasculate century fighting is held to be politically
incorrect. (We had to extract the word "Combat" from the title of
the Southwest Combat Pistol League because it offended the
California Secretary of State. The poor fellow!)
- The gamesmen appeared. These are the people who are more
interested in competition than they are in excellence. As long as
the nature of competition is kept as realistic as possible this is
not a serious matter, but it became apparent that while perhaps 40
percent of competitors were interested in practical pistolcraft,
about 60 percent were interested only in trophies and free trips.
In theory, IPSC was a good idea, but it came to pass that despite
even the extraordinary talents and efforts of President Jean-Pierre
Denis, the gamesmen won.
This whole business was not a total failure, however. We did, over
a period of some 30 years, discover the best techniques and systems
for the use of the combat handgun. This knowledge is now
universally available, although a great many people, especially in
law enforcement, do not seem to realize this. The doctrine,
however, is there. It has saved countless lives. It is a good
thing. As the millennium bows out, we can take satisfaction in
Thomas Sowell, who is one of our favorite
pundits, opines that the Great Acquittal was the greatest
national disaster since Pearl Harbor. I would go one step further
and say that the Great Acquittal was the greatest disaster in the
history of the Republic. It established that the moral and ethical
principles on which the Republic is founded do not necessarily
work. Pearl Harbor was a nasty blow, but it was not a disaster. We
lost some thousand people and millions of dollars worth of
obsolescent equipment, but we found our soul, and we closed ranks
to victory. The Great Acquittal suggests that we have lost our
soul. The facts were all there, but the facts were unimportant in
view of perceived need to be re-elected. According to this
doctrine, principle does not matter. Facts do not matter. Morality
does not matter - as long as the Party prevails.
Well, Alcibiades told us that democracy would not work some four
centuries before Christ, but he was only a dead, white
Shooting Master John Gannaway ran the new
"high energy" ammunition from Federal through the Scout. The
180-grain bullet left the 19-inch barrel at an average speed of
2651fps. Pre-war 30-06/180s left a 24-inch barrel at right on 2700.
Thus it appears that your Scout rifle performs like a full-house
30-06. Who could ask for anything more!
John continues his swath-cutting amongst
the shotgunners, and he not only shoots like a champion, but he
knows why. Following his advice we recommend the book "More
Shotguns and Shooting" by Michael MacIntosh (Country Sport
Press, Selma, Alabama 36701). This work is not only completely
authoritative, but most attractively written.
Our neighbor Dr. Joel Eisenberg was
recently mugged by an obstreperous javelina while taking his
after-dark constitutional. There he was, wandering around in the
dark (without his pistol), when this mean little pig tried to run
him off the place. If a man chooses to wander around unarmed that
is his affair, but he should not be surprised if things do not
always turn out as he expected. Fortunately no blood was shed on
either side, though there was a good deal of shouting and gnashing
We all note and mourn the passing of
Carlos Hathcock, the renowned Marine Corp sniper from Vietnam. Here
is a man who truly got out of his rifle everything that it was
intended to do.
I have recently noticed certain writings and comments on the
subject of sniping which suggest that the sniper is some kind of a
social outcast who does things for which he should be ashamed. I do
not understand this, and I wonder how much basis there is in it. I
asked a couple of experienced combat Marines about this, and all I
got was unbelieving laughter. To quote the redoubtable Nathan
Bedford Forrest, "War means fighting and fighting means killing." I
thought everybody knew that. Of course I have always thought about
sniping in connection with war. When it comes to shooting
housewives in the face at 200 yards, we have something else to
think about. One wonders how Horiuchi sleeps at night.
The following from Paul Harvey:
1950. Salt causes hypertension.
1960. Salt does not cause hypertension.
1970. Salt causes hypertension.
1980. Salt relieves hypertension.
1998. The AMA Journal concludes that salt does not affect
hypertension in any way.
We are at the mercy of the age of
communication. Anybody can say anything and everybody is encouraged
to believe it. Ain't fads wonderful!
Since recreational shooting is as subject
as any other activity to fadism, the shooting industry goes right
in there producing fad guns. This taste for nostalgia in shooting
sports suggests various new ways of going backwards with our
playthings. As an example, it was recently suggested to me that we
ought to produce a series of good, sound double rifles with exposed
hammers - in suggested calibers 30-30, 30-40, and 45-70. As we
know, double rifles are expensive to produce, but I think that
modern manufacturing techniques are available to meet that
challenge. I think a double 30-30 would be just the ticket for the
Pennsylvania woods, and a double 45-70 for Alaska. (This idea was
suggested to me by a correspondent, Bob Thompson of
I have been pushing hard for border signs
on the Mexican line informing motorists that they are now entering
a land where they are no longer protected by the US
Constitution - most specifically the second amendment
thereto - and giving full credit to the National Rifle
Association. I would like to emphasize to the motoring public what
they owe the National Rifle Association.
When Sue Hildebrand, of Davis,
California, was exercising her brand new Steyr Scout on a public
range, she was approached by a bench-rester in an adjoining bay who
expressed strong interest in her unusual weapon. When Sue explained
about the rifle, this sportsman recoiled in horror, saying, "But
that's just designed to kill people." She responded, "Possibly,
under certain circumstances." And he bounced back with, "But that's
Jeff Cooper's idea, and he is a bad guy."
I find this pretty exciting. I did not know that anybody knew about
me in California, or knew further that the scout rifle was my idea.
I am flattered by all of this, but it is still depressing to find
that there are shooters who do not understand that all shooters are
on the same team.
It appears that the pigs are about to
inherit the earth. As we have mentioned, there are too many pigs in
France, and too many pigs in Australia. Here at Gunsite, we have
too many pigs for our neighbors up the road, and now we learn that
there are too many pigs in, of all places, San Francisco! I guess
they wander in from the parks and roll drunks, or something. But
you cannot shoot them, even though the meat would be most welcome.
The bambiists are very strong in the Bay region.
Note that Lyman is now producing tang
sights for most of the Winchester lever guns. The tang sight works
out as a nifty ghost-ring, and I have always been puzzled that it
is not more widely appreciated.
The forest service people tell us that
here in Arizona, due to the drought, we may expect a considerable
increase in bear contacts as the beasts take further advantage of
campers and garbage cans. Bears seem to be on the increase
everywhere, as do moose. To the best of my knowledge and belief,
all wild quadrupeds are increasing, with the exception of the
grizzly, the bighorn, and the mule deer in some of its ranges. This
must cause much wringing of hands amongst the bambiists, who hate
the thought of anyone enjoying the proliferation of wild
If any of the faithful are planning to
sign up for Zimbabwe this year, be advised that Comrade Mugabe is
in a snit. When he set about expropriating white farmers throughout
the land, several nations threatened to hold up on his blood money.
This fills him with rage, and while he needs your money, he does
not like you on that account.
"Clean up your filthy lucre. Launder your
Can it be that it is time for a revolver
revolution? When we pioneered the semi-auto revolution back in the
50s, we did so with the notion that the self-loader is easier to
hit with than the revolver, and in addition provides more stopping
power for equivalent weight and bulk. Back at Big Bear we
discovered that in order of efficiency the number one sidearm was
the major-caliber self-loader. The number two was a major-caliber
revolver. The number three was a minor-caliber self-loader, and
number four was a minor-caliber revolver. We did not realize that
with the course of time the law enforcement establishment would
latch onto number three as the best choice. Furthermore we did not
realize that while we at Big Bear were intensely interested in
improving our skills, the great mass of law enforcement personnel
was not. The recreational shooter seeks excellence, but few people
in uniform are recreational shooters. On the contrary, the
mechanical problems involved in using the self-loader seem to be
excessive for the public servant, who often regards his profession
as nothing more than a job. It would be nice if most cops were
truly dedicated, but while some are, a great many are not. (Do not
take my word for this, just ask around.) For a person who is not
interested in shooting, a revolver is probably a better weapon than
an automatic pistol. This is because it is essentially simpler and
does not call for any mechanical aptitude on the part of its user.
There is certainly no difficulty in mastering the intricacies of
the self-loader, provided one is interested in its operation.
However for the public official who simply does not care about
shooting, it is probable that the wheel-gun is a better
We are much annoyed to learn of customers
who are ordering Scout rifles without scoutscopes. The scoutscope,
with its long eye relief, is one of the many outstanding attributes
of the weapon combination. To hang a target scope on a Scout is a
sort of technological perversion, but while it is unpleasant to
contemplate, there is no law against it. In that connection,
however, we note that very few people seem to be using the
leopard-light as an after-market accessory on the SS. There are not
many leopards hereabouts, but on the other hand that light is
immensely useful for doing night sweeps of your backyard. Wherever
you put your illumination there is the reticle sharp and clear
right in the middle. I suppose there are not too many people who do
backyard sweeps as a general thing, but for those of us who do that
leopard light is ours to choose.
One of the most attractive pieces to
appear recently at a gun show was a beautifully reconstituted Model
95 Winchester in caliber 35 Whelen. We had forgotten how huge that
Model 95 is, since we have been playing with those same ballistics
in the 350 Short Magnum. We have better guns than the Model 95
today, but the nostalgia effect grows all the time, and this piece
really should show up in one of the "Let's Pretend" matches
When colleague Mark Terry was recently
reproached by a bunny hugger for his enthusiasm for hunting, he
announced that he would mend his ways. "All right, since you think
that hunting is cruel, I'll turn over a new leaf. I won't shoot to
kill anymore, I'll just shoot to wound."
The wilderness is still wild. It is not
kind and gentle. The challenge of the wilderness is its very
wildness, and people who do not understand the spice of danger
should learn about that before they leave the pavement. The recent
episode in Uganda was very bad indeed, and it is good to learn that
the culprits were evidently swiftly brought to justice. The fact
remains that these people took off into the bush without being
ready to do so. I have always liked boondocking, and I have run
into situations several times in which my readiness to face the
hazards of the wild were of great importance. I have never had to
defend myself against a wild beast which I had not provoked, but I
have six times found myself in confrontation with wild men, and I
know of a dozen other people who have had the same experience. Let
us preach: Do not place yourself in harm's way unless you are
prepared to face hazard. And do not do so unless you are armed. If
you cannot be armed, do not go.
We were informed by family member Curt
Rich of a friend who has faced up to this problem of "Y2K" by
adjusting Y 2 K. He has now re-labeled his calendars
Januark, Februark, March, April and Mak.
Evidently the establishment is now
rediscovering General Julian Hatcher.
As you know, the socialist Australian
government has recently collected 640 thousand personal firearms to
be destroyed (at a cost of about 500 million dollars). As a result
of that after 12 months in all Australia homicides are up 3.2
percent, assaults are up 8.6 percent, and armed robberies are up 44
In the State of Victoria, however, things are somewhat different,
because during this 12-month period homicides with firearms are up
This sort of thing is only to be expected, but do not try to be
reasonable with a hoplophobe. By definition hoplophobia is a mental
affliction and not subject to reasoned argument.
What do you hear about SPC New?
We received the cheerful news that a
cougar was recently sighted just down the road in Chino Valley.
Cougars are nice people. We will see if we cannot set up a supply
of joggers for them.
We expect to run a short "Safari-Prep"
tutorial up at Denver in April. We will let you know how it turns
Preconceptions are hard to alter. People
who insist that intrinsic rifle accuracy is impossible with a
short, light barrel are confused by the Steyr Scout. It is by now
apparent that if the SS were only half as accurate as it is, it
would still be twice as accurate as it need be.
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal
use only. Not for publication.