Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 9, No. 2 Februrary, 2001
By a startling piece of miscalculation,
the SHOT Show and the Safari Club Show were held this year on the
same weekend. It would seem that a great many people would be
interested in both activities. We went to SHOT because it is our
business to do so, but this forced us to miss seeing various good
friends who were at Safari. We did discover, however, that the
mutual interest here is not as strong as we might have supposed.
The SHOT Show is a trade show and it is put on primarily by and for
tradesmen. The Safari Club Show is for trophy hunters who often
have little or no interest in firearms. For my part I go to the
SHOT Show to look at guns, and the gun-looking was not particularly
good this year. Those of us who shoot a good deal are well aware
that the most important single attribute of either rifle or pistol
is trigger-action. A good trigger release is what makes
either rifle or pistol easy to hit with, and hitting is the purpose
of the exercise. I examined four new handguns this year, and each
had a worse trigger-action than the one before. Perhaps the idea is
that since nobody can hit anything with a pistol anyway, what
difference does "hitability" make? With rifles it is not much
better. Steyr Mannlicher will not put a "Jeff Cooper trigger" on a
Scout unless it is personally ordered. So that leaves us with the
Blaser 93, whose marvelous and radical trigger-action is its
strongest point, but a point which both advertisers and salesmen
seem to miss.
All together the floor at SHOT was covered with thousands of
salesmen, but hardly a shooter from one end of the hall to the
Some unpleasant commentator in the travel
business is now pushing Botswana as the in place to go.
Certainly the Okavango Delta is one of the wonders of the world,
but what it does not need is a flock of non-hunting photographers
in Hawaiian shirts. There are plenty of wonderful places to go in
Africa to watch the game animals without shooting. Non-hunters
should go there and stay out of the game country. Besides which it
is a pretty good general rule that what is in is
out, and what is out is in. Travelers
We hear from a friend of John Gannaway's
who just returned from the roof of the world that while the Marco
Polo sheep is indeed the world's grandest trophy, his pursuit is
not a good idea at this time. The operators, naturally, want your
money, and they want you to get in and get out as quickly as
possible. This is not a good idea when your base camp is located at
13,000 feet. As is common knowledge, high altitude takes a little
time to which to adjust, and a two-week hunt simply does not offer
enough time. This hunt was in Tadjikistan where the Tadjiks cannot
speak Russian and the Russians cannot speak Tadjik. The object of
the exercise, from the local standpoint, is money - your
money. You must operate with a sheaf of one hundred dollar bills in
each shirt pocket. The countryside is grand, but not beautiful,
mainly high, gentle rock slopes with no visible vegetation in any
direction. Our friend anticipated a great deal of long-range
shooting, but, as one might suppose, when he got his shot he took
it at 200 paces. Well, he got his ram, and it will look very grand
on his wall, but he has no desire to try that episode
I have just now discovered the purpose of
that full-length stock on the 1903 Mannlicher - often referred
to as the "Mannlicher" stock. It is to facilitate use of the
carbine as a walking stick. The emperor and his sons were great
hunters of the high country, and they liked to hold the rifle by
the barrel and use the butt as a support. Certainly that
full-length stock does nothing for the accuracy factor of the
weapon. If anything, it decreases it. But it does make a nice
handle for a walking stick. Funny nobody ever mentioned that
We just now learn about the "Eye of
Sakai." As you know, the great Japanese flyer, Saburo Sakai, was
hit in the face by 30-caliber fire from an SBD. His right eye was
given up for lost, and though he was permitted to fly again toward
the end of the war, he was reconciled to being blind in one eye for
more than 50 years. As it happened it was discovered quite recently
that he had been living with a metal fragment in his eyeball all
this time. They went in and took the piece out and completely
restored the sight of his wounded eye - just before he died of
natural causes. I find this astonishing. He apparently suffered no
continuing pain, nor any infection. He just could not see out of
that eye for a whole lifetime.
Everybody's productivity seems to have
been severely retarded by EE2, but that is behind us now, and let
us hope we will not be bothered with it again, ever. That election
was such a squeaker that we can by no means be smug, but there is
hope that those of us on our side will now realize how forcibly we
must pursue the truth at all levels during the next four years and
win the next one by a landslide.
On this last excursion to New Orleans, we
were privileged to chat again with Joe Foss, who is one of the
Mighty Warriors. It is an interesting experience to talk with a
Mighty Warrior, and I have been able to do so before. I have talked
with Joe Foss a good many times since we have both been involved
with the National Rifle Association. I spent half a day with Rudel,
who just may be the Mightiest Warrior of all. I spent a week in a
hospital bed adjoining that of Lou Walt, and I have shared drinks
at the bar with Herman Hanneken. Politicians are not impressive as
a group, nor are entertainers, nor CEOs, but Mighty Warriors are
something else again. They are the hot sparks from the grinding
wheel of history, and their immediate presence is inspiring. I
never met Lancelot, nor El Cid, nor Richard of the Lion Heart, but
I did once communicate in spirit with David the King in his
Basilica in Jerusalem. The rabbi wrote my name on a paper and
wrapped it around a candle which he then placed center on the
Such goings on!
Our Danish friend, Jean Wenckens-Madsen,
opines that our electoral system here in this country is
"outdated." Perhaps so, but we would not have it any other way.
Chastity, and courage, and truthfulness, and dignity are also
outdated. Being "up to date," on the other hand, may be nothing to
boast about. The men who drafted our constitution over two hundred
years ago were much better educated and more politically
sophisticated than any politicians we see hanging about today. We
thank God that they left us the benefit of their wisdom!
We picked up a good sea story at SHOT. One
of our old time students in San Salvador just last year was beset
by no less than eight punks with SMG's bent upon assassination.
Edwardo killed four and claims he only let the other four get away
out of kindness. "They were so young," he said. Well, kids can kill
you pretty well, too, though they usually do not do it
Amongst the new offerings in major
caliber service pistols we notice a fascination with grip safeties.
The grip safety was a poor idea when Browning first dreamed it up,
and as you know he dropped it in 1935. It is not only useless, but
somewhat dangerous, but it does satisfy a sort of nervous craving
for mechanical safeties which seems to be the mood of the times.
Consider the "safety" on the trigger, as in the Glock and the
Vektor. This is called a safety, but if you press the trigger the
gun fires. This suggests stamping the combination on the safe door.
It is obvious to anyone who thinks about it that in handling a
firearm, safety rides between the ears, rather than between the
hands. You cannot make a gun safe. You can, however, make
a shooter safe, but in the Age of Technological
Irresponsibility, we seek to make up for human shortcomings by
means of gadgetry, which, of course, is fallible.
The gun industry, like other industries, is distressingly enslaved
to faddism. The lemming principle prevails.
Official Gunsite historian Barrett
Tillman comments upon a Medal of Honor citation from Germany in
World War II in which the hero fired 171 rounds of a
30-caliber carbine ammunition to achieve eight (8) disabling hits.
This lad's activities were truly heroic, but one must assume that
German tactical efficiency in this action was simply abysmal. He
was under short-range direct fire from smallarms and machineguns
throughout the episode and he sustained only one bullet wound.
I saw something vaguely like that up in the Aleutians in which our
man just walked into the Japanese position, shooting as he came and
being shot at and missed. It may be that when you get up and charge
like that, the people on the other side get all flustered and
forget about their trigger control.
We hope you all had a good New Year's
eve. I have long held that the only two proper places in which to
enjoy a New Year's eve celebration are a grand ball (with live
orchestra) and a snug mountain cabin under three feet of snow. We
were not able to arrange either of these this year, but let us know
if you did.
Danie van Graan reports an episode of
following up a wounded lion in dim light. His client had shot the
lion with one of these ultra-high-tech, big-bottle 30s without
immediate affect. Danie went in on hands and knees with his trusty
"Co-pilot" in hand, the ideal tool for the task. No further action,
however, since the lion was dead when they found him.
Velocity hysteria - the child of Roy Weatherby - is still
with us despite all evidence to the contrary. If you need more
killing power, you do not need more feet per second, you need more
bullet weight and more impact area. I thought everybody knew that,
but a great many people are not paying attention.
On the way home from New Orleans,
daughter Lindy stopped in at Indianhead Ranch in Texas and slew a
bison. She used the Dragoon, from prone with bipod, at a range of
250 yards - much longer than expected. The 270-grain Swift
bullets slid clear through, with no evidence of expansion, and the
bull ran some little distance before succumbing.
Family member Bethany Robinson came along and did herself
another bull with Clint Smith's 45-70 Sharps. This fad for bison
shooting is automatically limited by the expense involved,
otherwise we might be charged with reducing the herds again. The
meat is of the best, but at eight dollars a bite one is unlikely to
We understand that school children are
frequently punished today by being "suspended." I never ran into
anything like that as a child, but it certainly seems to me that a
day off from school would have been a reward, rather than a
punishment. As I recall it, school was simply something that got in
my way and interfered with a lot of more important things I felt I
had to do. But no such luck. I went to school because I had to, not
because I wanted to, and most of what I learned I learned at home.
Of course, that was back in the 20th century.
We are informed by family member
Keith Neal that M1 rifles, in reasonably good condition, are now
available from DCM for $500. If you are interested, you may
We picked up a news headline to the
effect that "Bear Attacks Continue To Mystify Biologists." Not
being a biologist, I do not feel mystified about bears, which are
large, strong, dangerous creatures. Generally they are inoffensive,
but certainly not always. Apparently biologists do not understand
that. We remember a while back that a biologist in the Northwest
Territories took the trouble of sending a bear's head all the way
down to Winnipeg for examination because this bear had chewed up an
Indian. It had not occurred to this biologist that bears frequently
chew up Indians. Remember Gunsite Bear Rule no. 2, which
reads, "Bears are not cuddly."
Did you catch that exchange recently in
which some dim-witted critic attacked a retired general who had
occasion to run a summer camp, expressing astonishment that the
young people were introduced to marksmanship training. She asked
him if he did not think that teaching young people to shoot was
somewhat "irresponsible." He parried by saying that he did not
think so, but he did not counterattack with the view that
not teaching young people firearms technique is what is
I guess it was pretty obvious that the
appropriate assignment for Al Gore is Ambassador to Chad. Several
people have hit the press with that before we did.
A correspondent writes in to ask why I do
not make a point of strip-loading a bolt-action rifle. As I see it,
the stripper clip was a military device enabling the shooter to
recharge a conventional box magazine with one stroke of the hand.
This was usually coupled with a bolt stop which prevented closing
the bolt on an empty chamber. Thus in a hot emergency, the soldier
fired until he could not close the bolt, which told him that it was
time for him to strip in another five rounds. This was doubtless a
good idea in a Rorke's Drift situation in which a rifleman might be
called upon to repel boarders armed with edged weapons. It is
something of a nuisance under more normal situations in which it is
desirable to top off a magazine which has one or more rounds left
in it. The detachable box magazine is a more useful device under
I continue to object to the expansion of
the color code to place "Black" beyond "Red." In Red you have made
the decision to take the irrevocable step. You have no place
further to go than that and there is no need to clutter up the
The following from family member
David Kahn from Morrison, Colorado.
"Never underestimate the power of stupid people in
Family member and master
instructor Tom Russell points out to us that we have been teaching
the wrong things here in the rifle program. It turns out that
Kenney Jarrett, of Jarrett Rifles Incorporated, claims that his
rifles are so good that they breed such confidence that the shooter
does not have to know how to shoot - the rifle takes care of
that for him. To quote: "They don't hesitate pulling the trigger
because they know they're going to hit what they shoot at." Well,
doggone! Forget about sights, forget about trigger control, forget
about solid position, just buy a Jarrett rifle and you will hit
whatever you shoot at, under any conditions. Contrary to what I
have always felt and taught, it is the rifle, not the shooter that
hits the target. (Now sure-as-shootin', somebody is going to
believe that I said that seriously.)
"The only people I know who are trusted by their
government are the Swiss."
I have never been much interested in air
guns, but I have run across an air pistol from Germany recently
that really caught my fancy. On this piece the primary tube is the
gas chamber, and around it, like a snake, is wrapped the barrel,
starting top dead center aft and winding up top dead center
forward, describing a 360 degree circle. Now why is this? It
appears that if you start the projectile at the breech and rotate
it one full turn by the time it reaches the muzzle you can employ a
smooth-bore and spin the projectile without rifling. This is a
truly exotic idea, and the pistol itself is a truly bizarre
artifact. I am not sure what is gained by this system, since I
cannot read the German that well, but I must certainly grant these
people first prize for ingenuity.
Since we now have computers to do our
thinking for us, here are few questions for your machine:
- Was American Negro chattel slavery an institution extensible
into the American West?
- What should be the qualifications for the franchise?
- What was the effect of the institution of chivalry upon the Age
- Is there such a thing as natural law?
- Can a moral government exist without religion?
Go ahead and punch the keys!
The Horiuchi case is still open - to
the public, if not to the courts. Horiuchi was defended by
Solicitor General Seth Waxman who told the court that it did not
matter whether Vicki Weaver's death was the result of excessive
force. "These federal law enforcement officials are privileged to
do what would otherwise be unlawful if done by a private citizen.
It is a fundamental function of our government." It is not clear to
me that the deliberate murder of an unarmed woman by a federal
agent who was himself in no danger "is a fundamental function of
our government." The proper adjective for this act is
atrocious. One wonders why that is not clear to
In cruising the great hall at the SHOT
Show, we noticed that fully two out of three people on the floor
had cellular phones permanently screwed into their ears. Modern
medicine being what it is, it is possible that there will be a next
step. Before long we should be able to have a cellular phone
implanted into the mastoid bone and never have to think for
The relationship between the client and
the guide remains as mystifying as ever. By choice, the guide
should show the client the animal at a reasonable range and then
drop the subject. This assumes that the hunter knows what he is
doing, which is sometimes a dangerous assumption. The hunter,
however, should by all means control the shot and not be told when
or when not to shoot. The guide not infrequently finds that his
hunter has become procedurally paralyzed and incapable of making
the vital decision. If this is the case, urging him to shoot may
not help matters since he may press trigger without proper
concentration on his shooting. Cases are different, of course, but
it is certainly a splendid experience for the guide to discover
that his hunter knows exactly what he is doing, and is doing it
right. This is usually the case when the hunter has been exposed to
a proper course of instruction with the rifle, but there are not
many of those available. Sometimes a sportsman will do well on this
first trial without any trace of buck fever. This is to be hoped
for, but not necessarily expected.
I have been taken to task by one
correspondent for pushing the Steyr Scout too much - at the
expense of other rifles now on the market. The Steyr Scout was
conceived and designed to do everything, and it does. The other two
interesting rifles on the market, as I have pointed out, are the
Blaser 93 and Jim West's "Co-pilot." If you are going for elephants
or buffalo, you should use a heavy. But elephant and buffalo are
specialties. The general-purpose rifle is the Steyr Scout, though
the factory is apparently trying to keep that a secret.
So here we go again in extolling the
Steyr Scout. What follows is an extract from a letter from John
Papanicolaou. I simply could not resist reprinting it.
"Thank you for helping me fall in love again. I am
speaking, of course, of the Steyr Scout rifle. I took your pistol
class in August and, although I had considered buying the rifle but
dismissed the idea as too costly, I was swayed by your high praise
for it. Then, when I got the opportunity to handle it at the
reception at your house, I was sold. I was not prepared, however,
for the joy that overcame me when I actually unpacked, handled and
fired my own Scout. It was love at first sight, and I believe I
walked around with a stupid grin on my face that day."
HOLLYWOOD GORE SUPPORTERS NEED YOUR HELP
George W. Bush is established as our next President. This will have
catastrophic results in our vital - no, indispensable -
entertainment industry. Barbra Streisand, Martin Sheen, Susan
Sarandon, Whoopie Goldberg, Alec Baldwin - among many
others - have sworn to leave the country if George W. Bush was
elected President. And this is where YOU can help. We need
volunteers to help pack and to load moving vans. We also need
airfare for these irreplaceable national treasures so they can
relocate before they change their minds. For the cost of a small
SUV, you can sponsor one of these celebrities and their unfortunate
relocation. You will know that your efforts are helping when you
receive postcards, letters and pictures from your chosen "refugees"
as they learn to become useful citizens in the Third World country
of their choosing. You will help, won't you? It costs so little but
it means so much. Call 1-800-DEPART-A-CELEB now. Operators are
standing by. Major credit cards are accepted.
Hawaii Rifle Association Newsletter, Dec. 2000
Many of the best things in life are
unappreciated until you begin to lose them. Consider good health,
good brakes - and political liberty.
This from Bruce Snyder, Amsterdam, The
"As further testimony to this [Bausch & Lomb]
scope system, I need to share one final comment. I was in Victoria,
Australia about to hunt for hogs. Because a group of us had flown
down from Sydney we wanted to insure the airlines hadn't mistreated
our rifles and were checking zero on a 44-gallon oil drum about 100
yards down range. A city slicker from Sydney asked if he could take
a shot. We gave him the basic hold and squeeze instructions. On his
first shot, he allowed the recoil and the scope to bite him above
the right eye. This guy stood up, looked at the rifle a second and
then threw it flat down in the dirt.* My heart sank and I just knew
the scope was a gonner. While others attended this guy's eyebrow
cut, I attended to the rifle. There was absolutely no harm done. An
hour and a half later, this scope and rifle dropped a running boar
at about 125 yards with one shot. The scope and its cross hairs had
not moved!!!! Maybe this scope and rifle are some exception to some
experience others have had. But, forty years of shooting to the
same spot with no adjustment says something for a fixed-reticle
* And this was an Aussie!
"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist
in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience
"Avoidance of danger is no safer in the long run than outright
exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing."
Helen Keller, The Open Door, 1957
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal
use only. Not for publication.