Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 8, No. 1 January, 2000
Never thought I would see the day!
Literally. In my school days we occasionally discussed the matter
of the turn of the 21st century, but no one of us expected to see
it. To make the date we would have to be 80 years old, and whoever
heard of anybody 80 years old? In Porgy and Bess, the song goes,
"Methuselah lived 900 years, but who calls that liv'n when no gal
will give in to no man with 900 hundred years?"
Be that as it may, here we are. Politically, socially, and morally
the scene may be gross, but the weather is nice, the hunting is
good, and the prospects for a turnaround in the next election are
not bad. Therefore, let us be of stout heart and good
The bison hunt in Texas was a huge
success. It could not have been more gratifying if I had written
the script in advance. One shot from offhand at 72 yards put the
bull down within 20 paces of point of impact. While the range was
short, the shooting at an unsteady target, intermittently visible,
was challenging. That is first blood for the "Dragoon" (Oops! For
the "376 Scout.") Its tactical niche may be somewhat obscure, but
it is certainly an ingenious and admirable artifact. Note that it
neither replaces nor augments the Steyr Scout, which remains in
place as the "Rifle of the Century." (Here we go again!) In all
seriousness, the three really interesting rifles of the turn of the
century remain the "Co-pilot" of Jim West, the Blaser 93, and the
Have you seen the brand new "Siamese Sig"?
It seems that they took two Sig 210s, split them down the middle
and somehow bolted the two halves together into a true double
pistol. Then, of course, they painted it gold. Now let's not
complicate the issue by asking what such a device might possibly be
for. It seems obvious that the engineers did it just to see if they
could do it. Why they should do it, was obviously to catch your
eye. Well, they certainly caught mine. I do not think that I need
any further Waffenpösselhaft candidates for the year
It appears that piracy is on the rise
again in South East Asia, and the issue, as you might expect, is
confronted by the "authorities" with the maxim, "Don't fight back.
Somebody might get hurt." Where have we heard that before? The way
to combat piracy, as all of us learned back in the early part of
the 17th century, is to kill all the pirates. Simple isn't
It is amusing to hear some of the
culturally deprived types maintain that "no one needs an assault
gun." According to the founding fathers, all adult males are
members of the militia, except for a few public officials. As
members of the militia, we need to be checked out on the M16. This
piece is not my idea of a good gun, but it is the official personal
arm of the US Armed Forces, and it is our business to understand
it. Thus we have need of it, whether we like it or not.
We can wholeheartedly recommend ranch
hunting in Texas. It may not be pure, in the historic sense, but it
is there and it is very satisfactory. It is as challenging as you
wish to make it, and it puts good meat in the freezer. The
blackbuck and axis deer and mouflon are all charming trophies. We
have sampled the bison meat, and find it to be particularly
There are several well-run hunting ranches in Texas, and having
taken our bison on one, we can recommend it highly. This one is the
Indianhead Ranch, Del Rio, Texas. The proprietor is Laurent
Delagrange, and his telephone is (210) 775-6481.
We are informed by a family member
in Anchorage that the situation there is getting so bad that pretty
soon there may be more neckties than handguns in the average
residence. We hope that is an exaggeration.
Note that Blaser has now come up with what
may be called a "Super Drilling," which is a three-barrel job with
an ingenious locking system that circumvents the geometric problem
of radial breech opposition. There are places in the world, though
not many, wherein a drilling is the perfect answer. Hermann Göring
thought that such a piece would be ideal as survival equipment for
a downed aviator. This would seem to be a limited market at
Gun crime is up 10.9 percent since the ban
in Britain. Well, what else would you expect?
Having just finished wishing "peace on
earth" to all and sundry, we may note that there are now no less
than 65 wars in progress throughout the world. This depends upon
what you call a war, but however you define it, that is a lot of
During the Christmas holidays in Britain
a sales girl was fired for wishing a customer "Merry Christmas."
Thus we welcome the millennium.
Few people pay much attention to the
meaning of the words they use, and this does lead to a certain
amount of confusion. For example, what is a "blood sport"? I have
always held that a blood sport is a voluntary competitive activity
in which the penalty for ineptitude may well be death or serious
injury. By that definition, blood sports must include
mountaineering, motor racing, the hunting of dangerous game, and
certain kinds of skiing. In Britain, however, the little old ladies
of all ages and both sexes regard fox hunting as a blood sport. By
my definition, the blood sports are a fair test of manliness or
machismo. In the British sense, the blood sports are simply the
ostentatious affectations of snobs and toffs. In Britain it is
currently fashionable to hate toffs - for obscure
This Internet business tends to bring out
the worst in some people. I suppose that obscene and anonymous
objurgation has always been popular with the dregs of society, but
the Internet makes it possible for the masses to engage in this
sort of thing. I have no objection to argument, even high-spirited
argument, but I cannot respond to accusations hurled by faceless
adversaries who are ready to use epithets, but unready to pose
arguments. It is clear that I hold strong opinions on various
controversial issues relating to firearms and their use. I enjoy
supporting those positions when I get the chance, but much as I
enjoy a fight, I find it impossible to fight against an opponent
who will not reveal himself. Only recently one Internet activist
called me all sorts of evil things, apparently because of my
advocacy of the Scout rifle. Hardly seems worth getting all that
excited about - or does it?
There are people who do not mind the fact
that O.J. Simpson walks free. There are people who do not mind the
fact that Lon Horiuchi is not only not punished for his atrocity at
Ruby Ridge, but he continues on the public payroll. There are those
who know who killed Vince Foster, but are not bothered by the fact
that the subject has been dropped officially. I mind those things.
I note that some of my commentary that
appears in Guns & Ammo magazine is censored for
political correcttude. This group sensitivity is both ridiculous
The town of El Cenizo down there on the
Mexican border goes on its merry way in defiance of the laws of
these United States. This is the business of Mr. Bush as governor
of Texas, but he is most unlikely to do anything about it, since
all candidates are terrified of block voting, and if he were to
take any action that might offend the Mexican vote in this country,
that might hurt him in the forthcoming elections.
It has been suggested that we have now
established our public schools as safe zones for felons who can be
relatively sure that no one on campus is going to shoot
Shooting sticks are apparently enjoying a
comeback among riflemen in open country - especially in
Africa. I have never cared for the idea, though as an adolescent I
once fabricated an elaborate set in high school woodshop. I tried
carrying them afield on several occasions, and found that they got
in my way. In Africa, where you always have one or more henchmen
available to carry stuff, this unhandiness is not too serious. But
I do not think counting on the presence of an artificial aid which
may not be there when you need it is good procedure. Besides which,
while shooting sticks do limit vertical variation, they do nothing
to diminish side sway, which may be more serious. A solid sitting
position, using a shooting sling, offers more precision than
shooting sticks for less bother, but only a few people today
understand about the shooting sling.
Note that the 376 Steyr cartridge is
derived from the 9.3x64, rather than by 9.3x62.
The scientific name for the American
bison, as you probably know, is Bison bison. Perhaps you did
not know that the name for his European cousin is Bison
bonatus. I just found that out myself.
Michel Röthlisberger, who will be
coaching in the Masters Series at Gunsite, has a nephew who
recently climbed the north wall of the Eiger, in Switzerland -
fully covered by camcorder. This is one of the meanest mountains on
earth, with a score of 54 deaths to its credit ten years ago -
probably more since.
It will be interesting to see the
preponderance of the Steyr Scout in the Masters Series Rifle
Classes scheduled for this year. We all know that it is the
shooter and not his rifle that places the hits on target. Still,
the almost unanimous appearance of the Scouts up front in both
instruction and competition indicates that the little gun is easier
to hit with. Only insiders seem to know that, and it is possible
they are not spreading the word around for fear of giving away
If you are having difficulty in getting
hold of a Scout, note that Rich Wyatt, of "Gunsmoke" in Denver, can
put one in your hands faster than most. Rich, who is not only a
family member but a member of the Gunsite African
Rifles, can tell you all about it.
We were much amused in Texas to run
across what may be called computerized deer hunters. You can tell a
computerized deer hunter because he carries a digital deer gun. A
digital deer gun is one mounting a Harris bipod. Those two prongs
hanging down below are the digits.
We note the appearance of the Ruger Super
Red Hawk in 454 Casull. This is a mighty instrument, if hardly one
I would select for house defense. The late, revered Uncle Elmer
once built a peacemaker for the 45-70 cartridge, and I am told it
worked very well, though what you would want one for is somewhat
I guess it had to happen, but we hardly
expected it. It turns out that a pedestrian has now been killed "by
his cell phone." He was talking and walking rapidly and ran right
into a tree and broke his neck.
Shooting Master John Gannaway has
now broken down and ordered his Italian gun. Apparently there comes
a time in the life of every shotgunner when he simply must have
that Italian gun. John's piece should be in his hands by next
summer, and we look forward avidly to seeing it. John wants it with
exposed hammers, which I think is a good idea, since hammerless
actions are necessarily less robust than those with exposed
We had a neat story down in Phoenix
involving a creep with a long record who attempted to hold up a cab
driver. The cab driver neatly killed him. The nice thing about this
story was that no charges were filed and the cab driver was not
inconvenienced. Would that we could hear more of that sort of thing
from Great Britain!
We issued the dressed bison meat to the
worthy on 7 January, so I have now tentatively designated 7 January
as St. Hubert's day. (Of course I will have to clear this with the
Pope.) This is the day on which the product of the hunt is
distributed to the needy.
We dutifully thank Joe Sledge, Gunsite
graduate and member of the Gunsite African Rifles, for
providing us with our Christmas dinner of leg of pronghorn
antelope. The bison meat did not come in till later.
We expect to feature the Leopard light on
the Scout at SHOT Show. A lot of people do not even know it is
there, probably because it is non-regulation in the States. For
leopards, or for house-to-house inner city work, it should be a
Note that the extension magazine version
of the Steyr Scout is useful primarily in IPSC competition, and
possibly in guerilla action. For normal work, a rifle does not need
a lot of ammunition aboard.
One J. Noble of IDPA has announced on the
Internet that Jeff Cooper is unfit to hold a firearm. That is an
interesting idea, and I am not going to say it is absolutely wrong,
but it is certainly worthy of debate.
We were somewhat startled recently in
reading a British publication which supported the anti-toff
position by pointing out that Diana disliked hunting. Diana?
Disliked hunting? We always thought that Diana was the goddess
of - ... Oh, that Diana. Sorry about that, but somehow or
other I keep falling into the wrong century.
We were forced to expand the rolls for
the first Masters Series Rifle Class to 24, rather than 16
students. I dislike doing this because I like to maintain very
close personal contact with the students, and three relays of eight
each will use up too much time. Thus we will try two relays of
twelve, put on another Masters coach and hope for the best.
I can but hope that the supply is equal to the demand.
As of now, I can report no progress on
the production of an idealized scoutscope. You may be sure that I
will let you know the minute I have something to say.
Those students coming onboard in the year
2000 will note that the range facilities are all dolled up due to
diligent enthusiasm of the new owner. Electric power at the targets
and running water in the johns! Fancy that! If we get snowed under
in February, we will at least be snowed under in comfort.
Having been devoted to the concept of
excellence all my life, I react with dismay to the understanding
that a lot of people do not care at all about excellence. Among
other things, unless a person has put his mind to it, he may have
no real idea of just what constitutes excellence in his own
surroundings and equipment. You have to know something about rifles
to know why rifle A is better than rifle B. This is true of
automobiles, airplanes, boats, and houses. There has always been a
tendency to equate price with excellence, resulting in that
proverbial man who knew the price of everything but the worth of
nothing. These people are generally found in the marketing
business, which may be regarded as a necessary evil, something like
We have little use for "solids" in the
US, so little ingenuity is devoted to their design. A recent report
from Africa, however, suggests that the conventional round-nosed,
full-jacketed configuration is somewhat less than ideal, as it
tends to slide through rather than smack and chop. The suggestion
is that a proper solid should have a flat point or "meplate" and
then a cutting shoulder at bore diameter somewhere forward. The man
who came up with this idea has extensive experience on culling
buffalo in Africa - much more than might be encountered in a
normal hunting career. I think the idea is worth exploring, but
since there is obviously scant market for this, I do not expect
much industry interest.
I hope people will remember that the
Scout is basic, whereas the "Dragoon" (Oops! The 376 Scout) is
In a long hunting career, I have never
before had an occasion to use the "nudge" in controlling the
trigger, but that is what I had to use in Texas on that bison.
Amazing! Learn something every day.
As we hold discussion about errors in
millennia and such, I propose the following titles for recent
centuries. The 18th century was the Century of the Superior
Man, producing as it did the minds of the Founding Fathers of
the United States. The 19th century was the Age of the
Industrious Man, during which machinery and machinists took
over the world. The 20th century was (God Help Us!) the Age of
the Common Man, so designated by Teddy Kennedy. And now the
21st century may be regarded as the Century of the Superfluous
Man, since now we have machines to do our thinking for us.
Surely you have noticed the extent to which thinking is going out
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal
use only. Not for publication.