Jeff Cooper's Commentaries

Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 8, No. 6           June, 2000


As the man said, "These are the times that try men's souls." He spoke when the American nation was in grave peril, and the liberties for which that nation was founded are today in grave peril. We have the summer to prepare for an election in which American political liberty will be up for grabs. If the American people choose to install another set of Beltway weirdos for the next four years the damage may be irreparable. Increasingly the Supreme Court makes the laws (in violation of the principle of separation of powers), and if the White House gang gets in it will pack the court, sounding the death knell of the constitutional principles for which we have fought down the ages.

So do not let it happen! Certainly your personal weapons are at stake, but above that, your political liberty is at stake. This has always been true, since the two must exist together. The first thing you can do is to join the National Rifle Association, or upgrade the membership you now hold. The second thing is to sign somebody else up, even if you have to pay his tariff. The third thing is to make yourself heard in person to your legislators and to those voices in the media who represent the enemy. We do not march in the streets, except in uniform, but that does not mean that we cannot make our power felt. That power is growing rapidly, quickly up to 3.6 million members and anticipating 4 million by election time. We have got to throw the rascals out in November, and by all that is holy we can do it!

Move out!

We have said it before, but we think it deserves repeating. Do not bring a pistol that cannot be cocked to school. We do not put the Glock in this category, since the Glock can be learned pretty well at short range where most actions take place, but "DA only" is a pointless handicap.

To those of you who like playing with words we have offered "ineptizoid" from Curt Rich. Family member Ed Head now suggests "nefarian."

So now we have the 450 Marlin cartridge, which is in effect a "Plus P" 45-70, purposely non-interchangeable to avoid its use in trap-door Springfields. This is probably a good idea, evidently stolen by Marlin from Jim West of Anchorage. The light, handy, powerful, quick-firing, take-down "Co-pilot" is a step forward, affording decisive stopping power in a convenient package at the short to medium ranges most useful in the hunting field. The 450 Marlin and the hand-loaded 45-70 will both stay neatly in the kill zone up to about 175 meters. Over the last decade our hunting averages have gone to 120 meters. Of course there is always a chance for that unusual long shot, so I am not personally graduating to the 450 just yet. If I need more power than the 308, I can happily fall back on the 376. Both of those rounds will hit as far as I can hold.

Fat, shrill and stupid. I need not mention any name, but I do wonder why people will pay to see an entertainer of that caliber.

One of the things we learned from the war in Chechnya is the utility of the cell phone. The Chechens have no formally organized units, but their small, irregular groups communicate freely by just the sort of handheld phones you see on the mall.

The Countess and our daughters recently spent a delightful week in Bermuda. While there they were treated to an opinion by the Chief of Police that while violent crime is rapidly increasing, there is nothing for the citizen to worry about because there are no guns on the island. Fancy that! We might point out that there were no guns in ancient Rome either, but when I was there (I was much younger then), I always went abroad at night with an armed guard. It is all a matter of what you consider to be important.

"A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power."

Abraham Lincoln

The following comes from Curt Rich's Newsletter, May 2000.
"During ABC's unbelievably slanted 'Town Hall Meeting,' (that translates to '2 hour Clinton Propaganda Display') in the White House Friday, May 12, 2000 on Good Morning America, a display of courage rarely seen on TV occurred. Diane Sawyer and President Clinton hosted a propaganda display in the Roosevelt Room. The audience was mostly members of the 'Million' (Misinformed) Mothers' March, a propaganda demonstration organized by the Clinton White House. The token opposition was the lady from Kileen who, because of Texas' prohibition of concealed carry at the time, was unarmed when the lunatic started shooting in Luby's a few years ago. She stood up to the President, called him to task, and would not be silenced by the partisan mob. I've seen acts of courage under fire. I've studied the subject much of my life. I think she deserves a medal. If no one gives her any, I propose to give her one of mine. Because of her, in the two hours of emotion-filled gun confiscation frenzy, a few minutes of truth stood out like a shining beacon. As they say on The X Files, the truth is out there."

The trouble with history is that it is not politically correct, thus we see the modern counter-culture historians adjusting it to fit their ideology. This is particularly noticeable in the movie industry, but in the Age of Illusion there are very few people who are concerned about the truth.

Occasionally the only shot offered a hunter is one from dead astern - target angle 180. This is referred to in Africa as the "Portugese head shot," and it is a bad deal. Gut-shooting an animal from behind is a disgusting practice, but if you are good enough you may have the option of shooting over the top of the back and breaking the neck just at the base of the skull. That is a bit tricky, but I have seen it successfully brought off on four different occasions. The option is to wait, in the hope that the animal will turn at least his head. I have seen that shot executed perfectly twice in Africa. In all these cases, the shooters were excellent marksmen, and I am happy to say that they were all trained by me personally.

"The only thing that saves us from bureaucracy is inefficiency. An efficient bureaucracy is the greatest threat to liberty."

Eugene McCarthy, via Joyce Anderson

It strikes me that the Internet, useful as it is, constitutes a great source of what the military used to call "bum dope," there being no screening or editing involved in the release of material. It also is in large measure redundant. Many kind folks have written in to respond to questions I have put in these Commentaries with information that they got off the Internet. That information they derived from encyclopedias which I already have. Not to complain, but information, per se, is of no use without the wisdom to use it well. We have plenty of information - what we need is wisdom.

It is interesting to speculate on the place that "career" seems to have taken in the mind of the professional soldier. Back when I was such a one, we certainly gave no thought to careers. The object was to do the best possible job in our own eyes - a matter of pure self-respect. What somebody else thought about us was of only passing interest. I, for example, did not even glance at my "jacket" until after the Korean War. That, of course, was characteristic of another age.

The range facilities here at Gunsite have been radically expanded and improved by the new boss, and we are operating now from a shiny new plant capable of handling more people, and - if the teaching staff does its business properly - handling them better. Onward and upward!

The new Czech 95 pistol is a very handsome item, and it is probably very well made in the tradition of its engineers. It is available in 40 S&W, but not in 45 ACP, which limits it to the second rank of serious defensive pistols.

Herewith a candidate for the "silliest headline of the year" award, which appeared on the front page of the Citizen Tribune of Morristown, Tennessee:
Well, doggone! Are we to assume that heretofore black bears had considered their victims great good friends? There have been a series of black bear incidents so far in 2000, and in every case it would appear that the bruins had the idea that people are good to eat. Surprise, surprise!

Having spent the best part of my life in the pursuit of excellence, it comes as a shock to me to realize that many people are not interested in excellence. An amazing number of people neither want to do things better nor make things better. As far as I can see, their only aim in life is to make others notice them, one way or another. One can make himself noticeable in all sorts of ways, but certainly not all of them are good ways. This brings me around, of course, to the Steyr Scout rifle. This piece is really better - about 88 percent of what it should be, as compared to perhaps 50 percent or lower in other artifacts. We need a new and radically improved sight system, and the piece should be available in a left-hand version. With those two improvements it would be up there in the high 90s. As it is, it is a true joy to use in the field.

Various people now are planning to take the Dragoon to Alaska to show off its virtues on moose and the big bears. With currently available ammunition by Steve Hornady it should do very well, but we look forward to the appearance of somewhat more imaginative bullet design. If it has a defect, it is in recoil, and if we remember that recoil effect on the shooter is about 85 percent psychological, we should address this problem psychologically rather than mechanically.

The following from Cousin Bongo (Tom Graziano, family member from Arizona):
"If people are going to imitate your Scout concept, the least they could do is put a bit of effort into getting it at least partially correct. The various imitations I have seen are so poorly done that they are going to prevent people from realizing the superiority of the concept."

Orange family member and police ace Gabe Suarez opines that a major obstacle in the promulgation of political freedom is that political freedom is simply too scary for most people. Certainly it is too scary for the Brits, who at this point feel that violent transgressions against society, while unfortunate, are acceptable, but that fighting back is an unforgivable sin. The man who breaks your jaw and steals your wallet may get 6 months in the slammer, but if you resist him with lethal force you are in deep trouble. A farmer in Britain recently acquired a life sentence in prison for shooting an armed bandit. It certainly appears the prospect of human dignity has been lost somewhere in the depths of the 20th century. Perhaps our sociological goal now is "freedom from freedom."

The South Africans have now produced a brand new "poodle shooter" which fills exactly the same tactical niche as the M16 - not a particularly distinguished niche. This piece is made by Vector and it looks very trim. We have not put in for a test model though, because I am basically not interested in poodle shooters.

In a previous issue we noted that my work "Another Country" is now back in print and available at the Trading Post at Gunsite. The thing is, this version is paperback. If you have a hardcover, hang onto it.

It is sad to note that the political unrest in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) has practically ruined tourism/hunting in that country. I find this odd. On several occasions I have gone hunting in a war zone, and found the experience exhilarating. It suggests what deer hunting must have been like back in the American West in the mid-19th century. Obviously a hunter should always be on the alert, but when the woods are full of bad guys this is brought personally home. I had the impression that only people with a full supply of viscera enjoyed hunting in Africa anyway, but obviously outlooks differ.

Orange family member and distinguished naval historian Barrett Tillman notes that while there were several important German soldiers and flyers who stood up to and faced down both Göring and Hitler, we do not seem to have anybody in our own military establishment today who will stand up to Pat Schroeder.

Barrett Tillman further reports that the percentage of pretty girls at the Johannesburg airport is the highest he has seen in any place in the world - yet another reason for you unattached young males to make the trip.

While we are forced to regard the media as hostile to our liberties, there are some people in the news business who are still on our side. Note this from the Wall Street Journal:
"Indeed, the tendency among sophisticates to blame inanimate objects such as knives or guns is a kind of defense mechanism against the principle of personal responsibility."

After all these years of waiting we finally acquired a very authentic Saufeder, or pig-spear, from Walter Luger of Salzburg. It is a handsome thing, and any self-respecting pig should be proud to be stuck with it.

The proliferation of small calibers and large magazines in the public sector is clearly connected to the growth of the "spray-and-pray" concept. The official word seems to be "If you can't shoot well, shoot a lot." Thus we see these news reports of double and even triple digit ammunition expenditure in civil gunfights, wherein one round well-placed would do.

In the private sector, on the other hand, the shooting seems to be better. Orange family member and rangemaster Ed Head reports of a case in Imperial Beach, California in which the scum element ran into a proper response. This affair seems to have been gang related, but however that was these two goblins showed up at a party muttering threats - an attitude not uncommon in those parts with those people. According to the host, he asked these characters to leave the premises, which they did, still muttering threats. They came back and were told again to leave. This time they announced they were going to arm themselves, come back and flatten the place, together with all involved. (I have never understood why anyone will telegraph his punch by announcing to his proposed victim what he is going to do.) Meantime the two characters did come back, fully armed. The householder fired two shots, achieved two head shots and two one-stop shots.

In due course the householder host was charged with something or other, tried and acquitted. He may thank providence that this did not happen in England.

"The unarmed man is not just defenseless - he is also contemptible."


Having now arrived at great age, I have my answer prepared for those who would ask me to what I attribute my durability. My answer is that never throughout my long life have I been willingly unarmed. The American Medical Association should take note.

You hunter/riflemen must remember that you do not cease practicing just because it is summer.

In response to all those helpful letters that were sent to me explaining the difference between iron and steel, I must report that the difference is semantic rather than chemical. I do thank those who participated in this exercise, and I now have the equivalent of a 3-unit upper division course in Ferous Metallurgy.

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