Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 8, No. 9 24 August, 2000
Here at Gunsite the weather is fine. We
have had plenty of rain, the fields are green, the tomatoes are
ripe, and the cat is busy catching mice.
On the other hand, the social scene is
more than a bit sour. It is okay to shoot an unarmed woman in the
face at 200 yards as long as you are told to do it by somebody in
authority. It is okay to cut your wife's throat as long as you are
rich, famous - and black. It is okay for a special counsel of
the federal government to decide that the feds did not fire into
the Mount Carmel compound - even though we all saw the
pictures of them doing so. It is okay to lie under oath if you are
the chief executive officer of the United States. Patrick Henry
said that "These are the times that try men's souls," but he never
suspected how trying the times might become.
We hoped it would not happen, but it has.
Steyr Mannlicher is manufacturing and Gun South is distributing the
Poodle Scout. This is a scout-type rifle taking the 223
cartridge. One would ask what possible use there might be for that
piece. An answer, of course, is "to sell!" I suppose people will
buy it, but if anyone shows up here at the Ranch with one, he will
be viewed with scorn. "If you can bear to hear the truth you've
spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, or watch the
things you gave your life to, broken, and stoop and build 'em up
again with worn-out tools..." There is a certain parallel
The Gunsite "birthday pistol" is now in
use and it shoots very well. Its primary feature, as you may know,
is that it is slim-lined. The line forms on the right.
"An Iranian moderate is one who has run out of
Our great good friend Tony Weeks of
Salisbury reports to us now that Rhodesia is totally lost and that
he is considering leaving the country of his birth permanently. It
was a beautiful land, and I have many delightful memories of it.
Comrade Mugabe has run totally amok and is doing his best to wreck
the place. The farmers have been robbed of their farms and there is
no one now left to grow the food. For our part we can revere the
past, but we must mourn the future.
Defensive pistolcraft does not always
result in shooting. Our new grandson-in-law is only 26, but he has
already had two confrontations which were neatly solved by the
possession, not the discharge, of his pistol.
The good people at Swift Bullets tell us
that they expect to have a 270-grain 375 caliber partition bullet
available for sale by hunting season. This is just what we need for
the 376 Steyr cartridge. I have used the Swift 250-grain 36 caliber
bullet extensively, with unvarying success. The Swift bullet for
the 376 looks to be just what we need.
On the same subject, I have been in touch with a manufacturer in
South Africa who is interested in producing a semi-flat-point,
monolithic solid for the 376. This is especially designed for those
who intend to take the Dragoon after buffalo. I do not recommend
this practice, but the 375 Holland has harvested a lot of buffalo
in Africa over the decades and the Dragoon is a great deal more
user-friendly than any 375 I have seen.
We were up in the Colorado Rockies a short
while back and discovered that the white goat (Oreamnos
americanus) is proliferating successfully. A problem arises in
that the goat seems to have a strong taste for peanut butter
sandwiches, and hikers may have to tussle with him if he discovers
their backpacks untended. This can be quite a tussle, for the Rocky
Mountain goat is a strong, active and well-armed
This character Schultz who is causing the
trouble as CEO of Smith & Wesson gets worse all the time.
He has already termed us shooters "a vulgar and radical minority."
Now he has decided that the badge of those really bad guys who
venerate the Bill of Rights are identifiable by gun racks in the
back window of their pickups. We knew things were pretty bad up
there in New England, but we did not realize that hoplophobia had
become quite so rampant in those benighted parts.
We now note the appearance of what may be
called the "giant trail gun." This is a great, huge eight-shot
revolver taking the 22 Hornet cartridge. Evidently this piece is
designed for hikers who have servants along to carry the
We are informed by our friends at
Vizier magazine in Germany that the word Mauser has pretty
much lost its original connotation. Today it has no traditional
implication. It is simply used as an advertising technique. We
noticed the unfortunate quality control visible on the last
"Mauser" we handled at the SHOT Show. This is a great shame, but we
guess it does not come as a surprise.
Recently the governor of Texas treated us
to a campaign presentation here in Prescott. It was a delight to us
rednecks to note that a good many of the spectators were openly and
legally armed - and that the Secret Service realized that here
in Arizona this sort of thing is the way to go. We were charmed
when the candidate announced loudly and clearly in regard to the
forthcoming election that "Help is on the way."
On a further political note, we were
startled to see the term "Jewish-American" in the popular press. To
this level we have sunk! Hyphenated Americans are just as
disgusting today as they were when Theodore Roosevelt pointed them
out a hundred years ago. One is either an American or he is not,
and hyphenated prefixes simply indicate that the bearer of the
title is not really an American. To be a Jewish-American would
involve bearing dual citizenship in both the United States and
Israel. Many of our best friends and role models are definitely
Jewish, but they are not hyphenated. If this keeps up, I will have
to describe myself as English-Dutch-French-German-Swiss-American.
We need hyphenated Americans the way we need typhoid
One of the family reports from the
Arctic that the cartridge of choice amongst Eskimos is the 243.
This is a nice little cartridge, but we have never thought of it as
a bear gun. Apparently the Inuit are congenitally recoil shy, but
that may not be a problem if the shooter is always extremely
careful to place his bullet in exactly the right spot.
Buy ammunition! Remember that a man
cannot have too many books, too many wines, or too much ammunition.
Our adversaries on the other side are reaching for the excuse of
lead poisoning. If they can push that idea through, you may wind up
still owning your guns but without anything to shoot in them.
In several countries in Europe the possession of more than a
limited amount of ammunition is considered to be subversive. When
laws are passed about it, it becomes necessary for "the
authorities" to institute house searches. Things are not that bad
yet in the United States, but much will depend upon the outcome of
the next election. The beltway buzzards are out to disarm you, and
if they win in November they will proceed accordingly. Buy
As the lights continue to go out in South
Africa, talk is now given to the changing of the names of the major
cities. Some weird suggestions have been offered for Pretoria and
Durban, and I hate to think what sort of a designation these
racists will come up with for "The Fairest Cape."
We mentioned Mel Gibson's The
Patriot in a previous issue, but not to the extent that it
deserves. The issue is the obligation of a movie producer to
history. Historical fiction is a legitimate artistic enterprise,
but only if the fiction is confined within the boundaries of
historical fact. In this movie the producers sought to avoid
criticism by renaming the two protagonists. They changed Tarleton
to Tavington, and they changed the Swamp Fox to the Ghost, even
though anyone who has even a cursory knowledge of the American
Revolution could not fail to recognize the characters immediately.
The sticking point was the attribution of Tarleton/Tavington to the
burning of a church with the congregation inside.
Tarleton/Tavington was a brutal counter-insurrectionist and did
many bad things, but neither he nor any other Britisher ever burned
a church with the congregation inside. That sort of thing had to
wait for the feds at Waco.
"Democracy has many definitions, but
'what's in it for me' is not an element of any of them."
As the taxonomists insist upon redefining
various forms of wildlife, they confuse the issue of bears even
further. When I was a lad the park ranger said that in order to
tell whether a particular bear was a black or a grizzly you were to
kick him in the behind. If he ran up a tree, that was a black bear.
If you ran up a tree, that was a grizzly. We all know, of course,
that while black bears are usually black, this is not always the
case, as they come in various shades of brown and amber. We were
informed by our daughter Parry, who lives up in the Rockies, that
the proper name for what used to be called a black bear
(Euarctos americanus) may now be accurately designated as a
"trash bear." These are the bears who keep getting into trash and
demanding relocation. Ordinarily the grizzly bear (Ursus
arctos and close relations) has always been regarded as
ferocious, while the trash bear is considered to be mainly
inoffensive. The human population explosion, however, has put so
many more people into contact with trash bears that various
unpleasant incidents have resulted. Trash bears frequently eat
people. Grizzlies seldom do.
Bears of all kinds are a great ornament to the wilderness, but you
do not want them in your lap. We frequently print up the five
Gunsite bear rules. If you observe them, bears will be no
We learn that on one occasion on
Guadalcanal when things were pretty rough, a subordinate commander
reported to Chesty Puller that all of his officers were either dead
or incapacitated, and as a result all command positions were held
by sergeants. Chesty called back for the officer not to worry.
"There is nothing better than a Marine sergeant." Here was the
legendary "Marine's Marine."
Florence King, who is an amusing and
outrageous commentator for National Review, recently came up
with another jewel. When one candidate was asking that his opponent
"look deep into the heart," Florence suggested that he whistle up
an Aztec priest.
Is the so-called killer instinct a
necessary and essential attribute of military command? I have been
addressing this question for some time now, not professionally but
rather for amusement. The first thing, as Socrates put it, is to
define our terms. What is a "killer instinct," if it exists at all?
I think the principal manifestation of the killer instinct is
simply the enjoyment of killing. This is not an attractive idea for
most people, and a great majority, if asked directly, will maintain
that they do not enjoy killing either animals or people. And this
may, of course, be true. Not always, however. In picking through
history we run across all sorts of evidence suggesting that the
enjoyment of killing is not as rare a phenomenon as most people
would like to believe. If we go back to the earliest records we
find there is very little to help us here, because prior to the
popularization of printed matter any sort of psychological or
emotional analysis was very difficult, and suffered decidedly from
the attitude and prejudices of the historian. If we say that
Attila, for example, enjoyed killing, we are taking our truths from
the statements of people he pounded. Losers customarily abhor
winners. But if we come up to reasonably modern times we can get
much better depictions of the personalities of prominent military
leaders who are professionally engaged in homicide.
I do not trust the historian too far in this matter because I doubt
his objectivity, but I have some experiences of my own upon which I
feel I can rely. I have on one occasion become reasonably close to
a prominent Marine general who told me in confidence that the thing
he enjoyed most in life was killing Japs. This may come as a shock
to some people, but it did not shock me. We were fighting the same
war at the same time, and our objective was the destruction of
Japan, materially and biologically. This exchange was not confined
to the general and me. I remember various bull sessions in the
Pacific wherein the central topic was the mechanical problem of
disposing of 80 million Japanese. This was what we were going to
have to do, since we had discovered first hand that the Japanese
would not surrender.
For purposes of this discussion, killing is not necessarily
confined to homicide. A lot of us are hunters, and while we feel no
enmity towards those beasts we kill, we cannot deny the visceral
thrill that comes from a well-placed shot and an instant stop.
This is a very deep and very ancient attribute of the predatory
carnivore which is man. While I always try to eat whatever I shoot,
I do not hunt for food. Nor do I hunt primarily for trophies. I
prefer the taste of wild venison to that of domestic stock, and I
prize a prime trophy well taken, but that is not the whole
Western Europeans tend to be shy about this subject, but the Bantu
are not so. In Africa today when the hunter places a clean hit and
hears the Kugelschlag, the locals in his company customarily grunt
out the shout, "Shakazulu!"
The bambiists and the bunny huggers naturally view all this with
horror, and they are entitled to that attitude as their choice.
They are wrong, however, in assuming that most people are horrified
at the notion of taking life. Some are and some are not, but the
notion that because A does not share the emotions of B he is
automatically "illegal, immoral, and fattening" is unsound. Both
hunters and soldiers kill normally and frequently. I think it may
be suggested that they do it better if they enjoy doing it.
The killer instinct undoubtedly helps the fighting soldier. Whether
it is an attribute of a senior commander is another matter. We know
a lot more about our own recent wars than we do about others, and
so we Americans have much insight into the personalities of our
national heroes. I certainly do not wish to damage anyone's
reputation when I say that I am convinced that Stonewall Jackson
was a killer. Douglas Freeman insisted that Robert E. Lee was even
more so. William T. Sherman almost certainly was, whereas Grant
almost equally was not. Probably Patton was a killer, but I do not
think MacArthur was. Most think of George Custer and Bedford
Forrest as enthusiastic killers, and at sea we have John Paul
"Jones" who was a notably fierce little man. Stepping across the
line we note that one of Rommel's best known works is called
"Krieg ohne Hasse" (war without hatred), and the majority of
senior German commanders were conspicuously restrained in their
commentaries, if not always in their actions.
The Japanese are more difficult to analyze, since their records
were largely destroyed and such letters as exist are equivocal.
Certainly they did their share of personal killing, and they took
pictures to send home as souvenirs.
About all that I can gather from all this is that the killer
instinct is not essential to senior command, though it may be
desirable in lower ranks. It is neither shameful nor
prideful - it is just there.
As we continue on into the year it
appears that thought control has become the tune of the time.
"Thoughts are free" was the great battle cry of the left during the
upheavals of the 19th century, but apparently not any longer. Here
in the US it is now considered that crime X
punishment, but becomes crime Y
when the perpetrator was
thinking the wrong thoughts at the time.
"Die Gedanken sind frei, aber heute nicht in die
The following missive, by Lawrence A.
Bullis of Phoenix to the "Arizona Republic,"
"Everyday some new do-gooder is trying to save us from
ourselves. We have so many laws and safety commissions to ensure
our safety that it seems nearly impossible to have an accident. The
problem is that we need accidents, and lots of them.
"Danger is nature's way of eliminating stupid people. Without
safety, stupid people die in accidents...
"With safety, however well-intentioned it may be, we are devolving
into half-witted mutants, because idiots, who by all rights should
be dead, are spared from their rightful early graves and are free
to breed even more imbeciles.
"Let's do away with safety and improve our species. Take up
smoking. Jaywalk. Play with blasting caps. Swim right after a big
meal. Stick something small in your ear. Take your choice of
dangerous activity and do it with gusto. Future generations will
Notice recently observed on a private
"Please do not walk on the water. It is politically
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal
use only. Not for publication.