Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 7, No. 8 July, 1999
Hot, ain't it! I am so old that I can
remember the days before air conditioning, and those are days I
would not care to reoccupy. Summer was never my favorite season,
despite the fact that school was out, and it still isn't. Spring,
of course, is a joyful time of rebirth. Winter is exciting and
cold. Autumn is hunting season. But summer is just hot and sweaty.
At this season, the best we can do is to remember how uncomfortable
it is to be cold, if we can. If you can arrange it, that is
something of a comfort.
In considering this literary garbage about
the lethal nature of some types of weapons, we give you this
opinion from Family Member Celia Milius: "It's not the
arrow, it's the Indian."
From our reading it seems to us that too
little of the doctrine and technique of weaponcraft is being
broadcast. I see pictures of people doing it all wrong in the
magazines, and correspondents continue to ask me questions to which
any competent shooter should have the answer. An example is the
number of people who endeavor to shoot isosceles and then complain
because they do not have enough power in their wrists. So then they
ask if they should go to a minor caliber or a muzzle brake.
"Why didn't somebody tell me that?" they ask. Either they have
never been to school or they have been to the wrong school.
Excellence in any activity is something that is not usually sought
unless there is a direct financial reward for excellence. Except
for big-time athletics there is no financial reward for excellence
There is also the matter of ignorance. A great many shooters simply
do not know that there is a better way to do things, and many of
these people presume to teach. Well at least there are a lot of
Orange Gunsite people out there who do know the right way, and I
hope they live long enough to spread the word.
Note that the "Hunting and Fishing" Party
in France just picked up six seats in the French parliament. That
may not sound like much, but in any country using a multi-party
system a few votes can sometimes make a critical difference. So now
the voice of the French hunters and fishermen will be heard, and so
designated, in the halls of legislation. I guess the bambiists will
shriek at that, but then the bambiists are going to shriek
In a previous issue we asked for help in
the matter of the definition of iron as opposed to steel. We got a
large response, but, in general, it asked more questions than it
answered. A consensus was that iron is almost useless as it comes
out of the ground, but that it can be made into a serviceable
material by the addition of carbon. Now this is interesting in view
of the fact that when iron comes out of the ground it contains a
number of impurities, the most common of which is carbon. Others,
such as sulphur, zinc, potassium, etc., are present in lesser
quantities. So, in effect, we have "carbonated iron," which
apparently must be de-carbonated and then re-carbonated. Heat can
be used to blow out most of the impurities, but that leaves us with
relatively pure iron, to which carbon must be introduced. This
evidently is done by reheating the material in the presence of coal
or coke, which forms a useful combination, depending, of course,
How this came to pass is the next question. The Hittites knew about
iron, but did not use it for weaponry, preferring bronze, which,
while not up to carbon steel, is superior to cast iron. The Dorians
may have introduced something resembling steel into the Greek
peninsula, but how good this was is debatable, there being no
original source material from that period.
If you are making a cutting sword of either bronze or cast iron it
will break the first time it meets heavy resistance. You can stab
with it, but you cannot chop. The Roman gladius was always presumed
to be a stabbing weapon until some original versions were uncovered
which were not formed for that purpose, according to their hilt
design. The gladius was apparently made of some sort of wrought
iron, but it properly could not be called steel except by those
historians who use the two words interchangeably.
We first hear of good swords originating in Khorassan in Persia in
Alexandrian times. They probably were made of steel, because of the
reputation they achieved, and their craftsmanship was moved to
Damascus in Syria.
When the Moors exploded out of the Near East across North Africa
into Europe they brought with them Damascus blades and founded the
steel industry in Toledo, where it still exists. There was secrecy
involving the methods for producing high quality steel, and much
myth entered the scene.
During the 800 Year War of the Reconquista, Toledo swords diffused
up into Europe where, because of their extraordinary excellence,
they were often given magical titles. The Romans never venerated
their swords, but the Europeans did and gave them special names,
such as Excalibur, Durandal, and Tizona. Since only the clergy
could read and write at this period, we find practically nothing in
the way of technical manuals, but good swords did exist in Europe
during the Middle Ages.
Today I own two Toledo swords of surpassing quality. They were made
to my order in Toledo. Though I am sure that a modern metallurgist
could make swords as good, I do not see that he could make them any
better. At the smithy in Toledo, they take the blade that you
select and force it into a 45 degree bend, leaving it overnight. If
it takes any set by the next day, they discard that one and you
start over again. Then, after putting a very sharp point on that
blade, they swing it through a 90-degree arc to slam into a mild
steel plate point-first. If you can detect any deformation of that
point, that blade is discarded. Whether it is pure carbon steel or
alloyed with other metal such as chromium, I do not know, but it is
awfully good steel.
I assume that some similar development was taking place on the
other side of the world, most likely in Japan. I have heard good
reports about high-art Japanese swords, but I do not know about
their metallurgical composition.
So, put very simply, steel is raw iron which has been purified and
then refined by the re-addition of carbon to a matter of about 0.4
(But then there is still the matter of "malleable cast iron," which
nobody will tell me about.)
You have heard, perhaps, of the new
Remington 300 "Ultra Magnum." This uses the unbelted 404 Jeffrey
case necked down to 30 caliber, to start the good old 180-grain
Spitzer bullet at 3300f/s. (Wow!) Here we have an ideal example of
an answer in search of a question. It has long been obvious that if
you want more power than available in the 30-06 you do not want
more velocity, you want more bullet mass. This should be obvious to
anyone who really uses rifles on live targets, but apparently it is
not. When you ask, "What is it for?" the answer is "It's to sell,
stupid! Why else do we make anything?"
One correspondent suggested that the
integral bipod could be improved if it were spring-loaded.
Apparently he feels that deploying it manually is an imposition.
As you rather feared, people have been
buying Steyr Scouts without the scoutscope, and then fitting a
complex instrument of their own choice to the top rail of that
versatile receiver. A "moonscope," as it is often called, cancels
two of the advantages of the scout system and offers nothing in
return. And so it came to pass that a friend of Family
Member George Olmsted took a Steyr Scout, fitted with a
moonscope, to Africa, and proceeded to get "lost in the scope" as
his impala chuckled and trotted away. It is not absolutely
necessary to get lost in a high-powered telescope, but it takes a
bit of practice to learn how to avoid it.
Back when we were working frequently in
Central America, we found it necessary to point out to our
employers that a bodyguard is not much use if he is working for the
other side. No matter how much you pay your own bodyguard, other
people can offer him more. They do not have to pay him, because
they will make sure that when they get you, they get him too. Thus
it amuses me when I see ads in the magazines for bodyguard schools.
The principle use of a bodyguard is to start the car while the
principal is standing well away from it, and even this technique is
not significant anymore now that the bombers tend to use time-delay
fuses on their infernal machines.
My publisher feels that I should not call
a Zulu a Zulu. The reasoning, if any, is obscure. The Zulus are a
proud people, and they are proud to be called Zulus. This must be
some sort of a triple backlash beyond the grasp of us
Literary sorts keep on knocking on old
Ernest Hemingway. Papa may not have been a really nice guy, but in
the literary sense his best work was unmatched in modern times.
Papa was an outdoorsman. He loved and appreciated nature. He
venerated strength and courage. He studied and explained violence.
That he was something of a lush and that he never understood women
are points against him, to be sure, but his "For Whom the Bell
Tolls" is arguably the best adventure story ever written. No man of
consequence can do without it.
We see on the tube some agitation to make
car trunks releasable from the inside, so that if you are locked in
your car trunk you can get out without help. They have a point
there, but consider the other side. Recently a little old lady, who
was beset in a parking lot by a goblin, proceeded to lock the
goblin in the trunk and drive him to the police station. How did
she do that? Well, she pointed her pistol at him, how
"Hypersensitivity and political correctness are signs
of a society in which too many people have nothing serious to do.
It makes a bland and sour society, full of rancor, but devoid of
I see in the magazine that I am to
conduct a "tactical rifle" course at Whittington. I have no idea
what a "tactical" rifle may be, and I do not know how to teach it.
When I was young, "tactics" was considered the art of winning
battles. "Strategy" was the making use of battles in the pursuit of
victory in war. As our revered Colonel Allen told us at Stanford,
"Dating a girl, sending her flowers, buying a good dinner, going to
the theater, and then driving out and parking by the lake
constitutes strategy. From there on it's tactics." Thus "tactical
rifle" is either a meaningless expression or a redundancy. If you
know how to use a rifle well, you use it in exactly the same
fashion in a fight as in the hunting field. I have agreed to teach
a rifle class at Whittington. Tactical rifle I do not
Why is it that "civilians" are presumed
to be innocent? This is a misleading term. Very few civilians (or
soldiers, for that matter) are innocent beyond about the age of 12.
A better term for those not involved in the battle is
When the elite Japanese Sendai Division
was ruined in its night attack upon the Marine Corp perimeter at
Lunga Point, the instruments which brought about its demise were
two brain-children of John M. Browning, a true genius. Our
defensive positions were principally manned by the battalions of
Chesty Puller and Herman Hanneken, and they had laid them out with
double-apron wire covered by interlocking bands of 30-06 fire
delivered by the great 1917 water-cooled Browning machinegun. The
attack was delivered in the pitch-dark of a post midnight
rainstorm, the idea being that the bushido of the Japanese army
would simply overwhelm the Marine defenses. Bushido is all very
well in its way, but it is no match for a 30-06. Such rifles as the
Marines used were 1903 Springfields, but they were not very much
use in full dark. On the other hand, in the flashes of intermittent
light, the 1911 45-caliber pistol, also the design of John M.
Browning, backed up the defense. The final protective lines were
covered by the water-cooled machinegun, firing along the wire. And
any gaps that were formed were met by the 45 auto, fired at arms'
length. The Nip division, 27 battalions strong, was destroyed (not
"decimated"), and was never reconstituted throughout the war.
I have never heard that battle described as a victory for John
Moses Browning, but such it was, in its way.
Note that there is a 40-acre homesite
hilltop parcel now available for sale in Ravengard. I do not think
it will be there for long. Better get it while it is hot! (Contact
Col. Bob Young at (520) 636-1210.)
I am somewhat amused at Milosevic's
insistence that we "disarm the KLA." It appears that we have a good
many people in positions of influence who have no theoretical
background in war, revolution, geography, or history. People have
been trying to disarm the Irish for longer than I can remember,
with absolutely nothing in the way of results. The idea that the
KLA might be cozened into laying down its arms is pure fancy.
Taking a long view of history, we may say that anyone who lays down
his arms deserves whatever he gets.
Now it appears that the Nips want to
erase the Sack of Nanking from the history books. In the age of
illusion a good many people feel that to deny something is to cause
it to cease to exist. It seems to me that if the Nips want to erase
any history, they can start by erasing Pearl Harbor. That would put
them in a better position.
The US postal service has now decided
that the Grand Canyon is in Colorado, as printed on one of their
new stamps. We have been told that our school system is pretty bad,
so I suppose that we should not be surprised. Perhaps we will next
hear that the Alamo is in Mexico.
Turns out that assault has gone up 55
percent since the Brits disarmed their subjects. So who's
The litigation sharpies have discovered
that much money can be made by knocking a big business such as
tobacco. I have a suggestion for these people. Why do they not go
for the steel companies? Almost anything that can hurt you has some
steel in it somewhere along the line, and the steel companies are
very big and very rich.
We are pleased to report that Pachmayr
has resumed production of its excellent flush "hammerhead" sling
swivels. We have long wondered why this system is not
We were recently asked what might be
considered the most powerful element of a human personality. We
thought about that for quite a while and decided the answer was "an
adventurous mind." That will have to do until one of the
Family shows us something better.
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal
use only. Not for publication.