Jeff Cooper's Commentaries

Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 9, No. 14          December 2001

Cocked and Locked

As we enter upon the first winter of the Holy War, we must ask ourselves if we are up to the challenge that it represents. Already we see evidence of half-heartedness, and this is something we, as a nation, must overcome if we are to survive. This massive conflict which has been forced upon us must be won by strength of will, rather than by technological sophistication. The bad guys are not the Afghans, but rather those who are committed to the destruction of the infidel. Afghanistan is in the large picture a trivial antagonist. Islam, on the other hand, is not. We have by now read reams explaining why Moslems hate Christians, but this rhetoric does not change the fact of Jihad. Those people evidently condemn us because we are better off than they are. Envy is the root of all evil.

The wrong course of action is not doing things, as the President has pointed out. Western culture, if we can define it, has plenty of faults, most of which can be readily corrected, as long as we understand them. We have enemies in Afghanistan and Pakistan and Iran and Iraq, plus a dozen other geographical political expressions, but in essence Islam is a culture without political boundaries, and thus our conflict is unlike any other in modern times. This is not news, but it must describe our conduct from this historical point forward.

A particularly sinister aspect of this conflict is the nature of our enemy within. Our ex-president, for example, has just recently decided that this Holy War is primarily our fault. He has followers in our media, but worse on our campuses. In reading some of this propaganda I have discovered things about American history which I never would have suspected. It would appear from this garbage that America invented slavery, and that our pioneers burned people at the stake. Those of us who have a fair grounding in history are pretty well armored against this sort of intellectual poison, but there are plenty who are not so fortunate. To fight this Holy War we must know what side we are on, and the material is all there for those who read. With our universities as curiously misled as they are, it is up to us to spread the word at home. The powerful aphorism is that education is what we get at home - what we get at school is training.

"If I were King" I would require that anyone putting in for a hunting license be tested on "The Art of the Rifle." There are too many people out in the woods who simply do not know what to do with that item they are carrying in their hands. (Incidentally, I understand that this recent deer season has produced an unusual number of hunter fatalities in the bush. It seems the batteries in their GPI's went dead.)

Some people have suggested that I should stick to firearms and stay clear of matters political and philosophical. I am grateful for the advice, but I am not going to take it. My literary contribution, for good or ill, will remain diversified, though naturally the shooting business will always remain prominent. With the world in its present state of turmoil, it is difficult for us to theorize about matters which may not bear directly upon the crisis, and of course smallarms are not a vital part of the discussion. As to that, they seem to be decreasingly so in the Age of Technology. There are those who hold, with some reason, to the idea that hand-held firearms simply do not matter much anymore. It may be admitted that they do not matter as much as they used to, but we should not over-control and drop the subject. "The barefoot boy with cheeks of tan" has been the essential power base of our nation over the past 200 years. Battles are still fought by men, and the warrior mind is what makes some men better in combat than others. Progressive urbanization makes the warrior mind difficult to achieve. The kid who has never been off the pavement has difficulty in moving from Condition White to Condition Yellow. Regardless of the nature of his target, the youngster who has put a squirrel or a rabbit or a duck on his mother's table is not distracted by the need to shoot for blood. Thus the more shottists we have on our side, the better we will be able to fight the Holy War. The more ammunition going across the counters of our hardware stores and the more range fees our people will be expending, the better off our nation and our culture will be. Already at this date, we discover that the notion of firearms in the hands of private citizens is viewed askance in most of Europe. Maybe America is indeed "the Great Satan," not because we are unbelievers, but because we are shooters. Let us encourage that view.

People keep referring to the initiation of this war by the date, usually phrased as "911." I prefer to call it "The Attack." The digits 911 signify too many other things, such as emergency phone calls and service pistols.

Just now we encounter a character on the tube who identifies himself as a "Jihadi." As such he is dedicated to the killing of unbelievers, young or old, male or female, in or out of uniform, and in any quantity. He is a self-declared mass murderer, and I cannot see that we should waste any sort of judicial procedure upon him. It would, however, be interesting to hear from his own mouth why he should not be shot out-of-hand. It should be noted that this one is a born US citizen. He is entitled to his own views on this matter - just as we are to ours. Nothing further need be said.

I find it curious to observe the sudden outbreak of patriotism which seems to have been brought about by The Attack. I do not see what the Taliban has to do with my reverence for the Stars and Strips. Times change, of course. When I was in high school, every morning at eight the colors were raised on the front approach to the main office. They were hoisted by a color guard provided by the ROTC battalion, to the tune of "To the Colors" rendered by a bugler from the band and supervised by the cadet battalion staff. When the first notes rang out, everyone within hearing or eyesight of the flag pole ceased walking, stood at something resembling attention, and held that pose until the ceremony was completed. I guess that was patriotism, but it did not seem odd at the time, and we students did not feel any more or less patriotic than any of us felt after the attack on the World Trade Center.

The national flag is good. Bugle calls are good. Patriotism is good. Must we explain that?

The most essential element of the "shootability" of rifle or pistol is its trigger action. The ideal trigger breaks clean without telling the shooter that it is about to do so. This quality is generally referred to as "crispness" and does not refer to trigger weight. A two-stage trigger, which is what I prefer, moves slightly and smoothly before it reaches ignition pressure. With a single-stage action, the trigger does not move perceptibly without ignition pressure. In either case, there appears to be a consensus that 3½ to 4 pounds pressure is the correct weight. Actually weight is a good deal less important than crispness. A trigger may be quite light, but still "mushy" in the sense that it moves perceptibly when activated. Such movement is called creep, but it is not "take-up," which occurs before the trigger has reached the point of ignition pressure.

Excellent trigger action may be achieved with either single-or two-stage action, but since the trigger must move in order to cause anything to happen, rendering its movement imperceptible to the shooter is a major problem for the gunsmith.

I have been told "rumorwise" that a 26-ounce trigger is "unsafe," but I am not sure whether such criticism is directed at trigger weight or trigger crispness. I have immediate access to two Steyr Scouts, the triggers of which break imperceptibly at 26 and 28 ounces, respectively. I also have a Blaser R93 on which the trigger breaks precisely at 26 ounces without any perceptible motion. (The Blaser trigger works on a radical principle in which there is no sear as such and no perceptible motion. With the Blaser you do not cause the piece to fire, rather you "tell it to fire." This is the best feature of the weapon, but its advertisers do not seem to understand this.)

Personally I favor a light trigger, but I do not really need it. I got along pretty well in competition with the M1 Garand - two-stage at 4½ pounds - but the trigger action of the Garand is not its best feature.

Superior trigger action is more of a help to the shooter in snapshooting than in slow-fire, but a really good trigger is the first thing to look for in the selection of any rifle. When people ask what rifle they should bring to class here at school, my answer has always been, "bring the one with the best trigger."

Family members have been having a good season. Ted Ajax took his moose cleanly with one shot from the Scout, using the 180-grain Nosler bullet. Bob Crovatto took his whitetail from dead astern (TA 180E) without trouble. Cousin Bongo took his Coue's whitetail, quartering at 65 yards with one clean shot. Everybody should eat venison whenever possible. Try it as "Fondue Bourguignonne."

I note in passing that a certain faction among US shottists seems to think that there is something uncouth about calling a man an "ex-Marine." They hold that the term "former Marine" is a more correct term. I have never understood this, as service in the United States Marine Corps tends to stamp a man's personality permanently, whether or not he is on active duty. This is not true in every case, and I have known some pretty good men upon whom a hitch in the Marine Corps has had no apparent effect, but I do not see this as either good or bad, just as I do not see anything wrong with being considered an ex-Marine. Once you have been branded with the Globe-Eagle-and-Anchor, the mark remains plain for everyone to see. A certain controlled ferocity enhances a man's personality - in my opinion. I do not see anything to argue about.

Since its inception, we have always regarded the 223 cartridge (5.56 NATO) as a varmint load. Well now we have our hands full of varmints, so perhaps we have the perfect tool for the task.

Many people seem to have forgotten that a philosophical heart of the Nazi philosophy was hatred of the Jews. Now it turns out that an emotional essence of Islam seems to be hatred of Jews. This ugly historical phenomenon cannot accurately be called "anti-Semitism," for the ragheads are every bit as Semitic as the Jews. It is group thinking, of course, that seems to be the curse of mankind. If we could just bring ourselves to regard human beings as individuals, rather than members of groups, the age old tragedy of human savagery could be avoided.

Karl Marx had it wrong. It is not class warfare, but race hatred, that holds us in the dark

Family member Bob Crovatto is in the process of building his own personal Apitir in Virginia, so we sent him a sketch of our suggestions. This gadget should be a feature of any well-organized pistol range. Ours was torn down during the Grey Regime, but its reconstruction would be a nice addition to the present establishment.

When Whit Collins dreamed up the Bren Ten cartridge back in the dark ages, the idea was to obtain equal or superior stopping power to that of the 45 ACP in a weapon of less bulk. The 9mm P cartridge has never been quite up to serious combat potential since its inception back in 1908, but fitting a truly big-bore cartridge into pistols designed for the Parabellum round did not at once become accepted. The Browning P35 service pistol had much to recommend it over much of the 20th century, but it is not possible to stuff a 45 ACP round into that action. Whit Collins went back through the stacks and discovered that one might get fairly good impact effect out of a 10mm (40 caliber) cartridge, and this proved to be a practical idea. Experimentally in California we were able to get a 40 caliber pistol bullet of 200 grains up to about 1000f/s without blowing anything up, and this gave birth to the idea of the "Bren Ten." This was a very promising concept, offering slightly greater power in slightly less bulk. There were, however, problems. The Bren Ten cartridge, loaded up to its full capacity, tended to be very hard on machinery, and it wore out available locking systems pretty quickly. It also kicked pretty hard. One answer to this situation was to load the Bren Ten cartridge down enough to avoid excessive violence. This resulted in the succeeding rounds known as the "40 caliber Smith & Wesson" and its cousins. A downloaded Ten is probably a better fight-stopper than any version of the 9mm, but it should not be mistaken for a full-house Bren Ten. Many people do not understand this and extol the 10mm Smith & Wesson as a satisfactory successor to the 45 ACP. Things do not exactly work out here, and while the Bren Ten as fully loaded is a pretty decisive service round, the "Attenuated Ten" comes on somewhere halfway between the Parabellum and the 45. This is not a disaster, though it does confuse things somewhat. It is unnecessary to bear in mind that the "Attenuated Ten," while a pretty good round, is not a way to achieve something for nothing.

"Young man," said Abdul,
"Is existence so dull
That you're anxious to end your career?
For, Infidel, know
That you've trod on the toe
Of Abdul Abulbul Amir."

It is somewhat surprising that our champions in this Holy War do not make proper use of the pig in our propaganda. You cannot daunt a devoted Muslim by fear of death, but you can get to him through fear of pollution. There are all sorts of ways of putting this psychological weapon to use. Just use your imagination.

We did not realize how far the Clinton crusade against civilization had been allowed to proceed on our campuses, but our ex-president's recent public output in this matter is quite unbelievable. According to Bill, the Jihad is our fault. Many thousands of Americans have already died in this war. That should serve to relieve our conscience at such time as we are forced to get really tough about the matter.

"Now - standing as the United States does between the opening salvo and the final volley in a war that is both necessary to win and entirely a matter of conjecture as to its course, duration, dimensions, and lethality - most everything we thought before September 10 has been superannuated."

Tod Lindberg
Policy Review, October & November 2001

It has been a fine year for varmints, and not only in the Near East. Cougars are flourishing all over the Mountain West, together with our bonny little javelina, and the bears are becoming positively urban. Just last month the New Mexico Fish & Game people were considering making Ratón (the Whittington Ratón) a sort of "bear-cozy" to keep the bears and the joggers comfortably separate. My sympathies lie with the critters (at least in this country). Let the city slickers mind their manners.

As Islam has declared war on Christendom, our sacred annual festival assumes an unfamiliar place in our hearts. We must not let those other people reduce our joy in the occasion of the Holy Birth. If we become disheartened we will have granted them the first victory of the War. God forbid that this may come to pass! The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of Joy - especially so at this critical time. Our foes seek to deny us this, but they will not succeed. We will fight them by all means God has granted us - with the fist, with the sword, and with the Spirit.

Joy to the World!

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