Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 9, No. 6 June, 2001
And Into Summer...
The annual regular meeting of the National
Rifle Association at Kansas City was guardedly cheerful. The
association is stronger than ever, its membership and its treasury
are up, it is considered by some to be the most formidable lobby in
Washington, and it won the last election. Some may challenge that
by saying that in a contest as close as this any noticeable effort
such as that of Ralph Nader might be responsible for our victory.
However that may be, the NRA influence on the election was
demonstrated positively in at least three states and was
influential in others. Perhaps we shooters did not exactly win the
election, but we certainly made a difference.
Now that the Jeffords defection has cost us control of the Senate,
and now that McCain is flitting about out there among the
asteroids, the situation is not now as good as it was at Kansas
City. We do not, however, despair on that account. Things can be
done. For example, with luck we just may be able to bring a couple
of marginal Democrats across the line. However it goes, we must not
stop fighting. This is not now and never has been a struggle in
which we could rest upon our laurels. Everyone of us who is
interested in the Bill of Rights is duty bound to take some sort of
positive action regularly in support thereof. I have been told by
people in political office that a well written and clearly stated
postcard is more apt to produce a result than a six-inch stack of
form letters. Be calm, be cool, do not call names, and do not use
coarse language. Simply state your opinion clearly and forcefully
by any means possible.
But keep fighting! We have won a skirmish and lost a skirmish, but
the war is not over. Perhaps it never will be. It is a war that we
may not win, but if we keep on fighting it is a war that we cannot
We have been criticized now and again by
our readers for not "sticking to our guns." That is to say, we do
not confine ourselves to firearms issues entirely, but also to the
matter of political liberty in general. To that we must respond by
saying that there can be no gun issues without political liberty.
There are plenty of non-shooters who are very much concerned with
political liberty and, oddly enough, there are plenty of shooters
who do not seem to realize that without political liberty there
will be no shooters. So we will continue to balance our
Commentaries about half and half between firearms issues and
philosophical commentary in general. We will try to maintain
equilibrium between liberty and liberty's teeth.
It appears that Timothy McVeigh will
presently be put to death, as he doubtless deserves. On the other
hand, Lon Horiuchi is still wandering around loose.
We are just now in receipt of an action
report from Danie van Graan in Africa in which he tells of a recent
hunt conducted with the "Dragoon" (376 Steyr Scout) with total
success. Clean, one-shot stops were achieved on such conspicuously
tough beasts as zebra, blue wildebeeste and kudu, over and above a
clean slate on smaller animals. Danie terms the 376 Steyr Scout
"the perfect rifle for any client." I do not expect the merits of
this argument to be acted upon by either the rifle maker or the
ammunition maker. Industrialists are usually not much interested in
excellence but rather in sales, and the relationship between
excellence and sales is only occasionally clear. However if you
have your own personal Dragoon, rejoice therein! You are the owner
of a "great leap forward" in smallarms design.
We just finished studying an account of
the Anson expedition to the far Pacific, in which, after quite
astonishing hardships and difficulties, Captain Anson succeeded in
his purpose of capturing the Manila galleon. This is history book
stuff, but to us shooters it has interesting ballistic
ramifications. The British, though in smaller vessels, were using
24-pounder cannon, while the Spanish attempted to defend themselves
with 9-pounders. The impact effect of the heavier ball was
decisive, and we note here certain parallels that exist today in
the field of defensive sidearms. The late Roy Weatherby insisted
that velocity was the key to killing power, but I do not think his
theory holds up. The most effective element of killing power is
placement. After that there are matters such as impact
area, residual penetration and cutting configuration to be
considered. Impact velocity is a good thing to have, but it is just
one of several important considerations.
It is indeed a troublesome thing to
observe the historical tomfoolery of many of our modern activists.
I recently saw a statement to the effect that six million
Negros died in the slave trade between Africa and the New World.
Considering that a slave trader only made money out of a live
slave, this would seem very poor economics, but beyond that it is
doubtful if there were six million Negros available in Africa at
any one time to be enslaved.
We recently took notice of what is said to
be the world's record buffalo head, as measured by total spread.
Not to our amazement it was taken from a cow. For a long time the
record buffalo head on display at the Natural History Museum in New
York was also taken from a cow. In both of these cases much of the
spread derived from space between the horns, which was up over a
foot in extent. A buffalo head without a "joined horn"
(Syncerus) is an inferior head, in my opinion. A really good
buffalo head must feature several characteristics, of which spread
is just one. The solidity of the boss, the depth of the curl and
the sweep-back of the points are all contributions. But essentially
it is not the size of the buffalo's horns that matters, it is his
capacity to do the job with them. The skull of a buffalo which
turned over a jeep is a more interesting trophy than one with a
45-inch spread - or so it seems to me.
We were panned recently by a reader who
claimed that of our four rules, Rule 1 is not a rule but
rather a statement. "All guns are always loaded" is, as our man
said, not a guide to conduct, but rather a statement of condition.
The criticism is correct, but we are not going to change our rules
on that account. We think that "treat all guns as if they were
loaded" implies with the "as if" qualification a dangerous choice
of assumptions. The four basic rules of safety may not be
structurally perfect, but we intend to leave them the way they
We have frequently expressed our
admiration for the excellent Blaser R93 rifle, which is one of the
three really interesting rifles of our time. It is, of course, not
perfect, since perfection exists only in the mind of God. The
trigger-action on the R93 is what places it above all competition,
but its manual safety is a step backward. It is safe enough, as it
actually releases the mainspring when put in action, but this
requires so much effort on the part of the shooter as to render the
mechanism impractical in the field. This does not trouble me as I
rarely use the thumb safety, preferring simply to observe Rule
3. ("Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on
the target.") Thumb safeties, however, are almost an obsession with
You may remember that before the election
a number of Hollywood celebrities threatened to emigrate from the
United States if Mr. Gore lost the election. I never understood
just where they intended to go, but Costa Rica has been suggested
as a rather pleasant place to resettle, if it comes to that.
Colonel Bob Young is just back from Costa Rica and tells us that
the whole idea collapsed when the Costariquenses refused to take
these people aboard. I suppose we will just have to keep them
around, despite their best intentions.
We note from the British press that
first, firearms crime is skyrocketing in England, and second,
breaking and entering has grown by leaps and bounds since the
British people saw fit to disarm themselves. Cause and effect are
quite apparent here, but I do not expect the loonies on the other
side to take notice of it.
Cowboy shooting certainly seems to be a
howling success, and this is all to the good, whether it makes any
sense or not. Fads do not have to make sense, and in all of us
there seems to be a strong urge to get up in fancy dress and go
play acting. If fads contribute to the shooting sports, more power
to them. Personally I think bowling pin shoots are somewhat more to
the point, but they do not seem to be as emotionally satisfying as
the cowboy shoot. But there is no reason why we cannot have both.
The more shots fired, and the more people shooting, the better it
is for our liberty.
"To be born free is an accident.
To live free is a responsibility.
To die free is an obligation."
Brigadier General Bill Halley
There has been some discussion about the
optimal width of the cross wires in Leupold's excellent scoutscope.
I have considered this matter for some time, both on the range and
in the field, and I conclude that the fine cross wire is slightly
superior for paper, whereas the coarser cross wire is superior for
blood. Now, after three years and many scores of hunters, Danie van
Graan has reached the same conclusion.
The question, of course, is whether you consider your rifles to be
tools or toys. Most people shoot far more at paper targets than at
live game. If your purpose is simply to play around on the shooting
range, it may be that the fine cross wires are indeed superior. The
difference is very slight in either direction, in any
Shooting Master Louis Awerbuck
reports that in his wanderings he has discovered that public sector
"snipers" seem much concerned about extremely fine increments in
rifle sights to reach optimum efficiency for very long shots. If
you study the matter you will find that most sniping, and
practically all police sniping, is a short-range proposition. In
the law enforcement arena, it takes place at night and across the
street. You do not need a moonscope for that. I think the recent
sniper movie "Enemy at the Gates" painted a pretty good
picture of the sniping effort in a city. The primary requirement
was patience, rather than "minute of moose."
I am sometimes asked why I do not write
more about new products on the weapons market. I do spend a certain
amount of time examining new products at the gun shows, but I only
write about those new products which I think are worthy of
attention. I try to confine myself to weapons that are good, rather
than weapons which are just new. This does reduce my span to a
certain extent. I have checked out the titanium Taurus. I have
taken the Blaser R93 to Africa. I have put the Steyr Scout to the
test very widely over a period of several years and I have just
taken delivery of the "New Improved" version of Jim West's
"Co-pilot" in caliber 457WW. Beyond those items, I have discovered
little of which to excite the shooting public.
Our family member
from England contributes the following hypothetical comment from
Taiwan respecting the recent incident off the Chinese coast.
"The Americans, utilizing the infrequently seen combat
tactic of straight and level flying, often accomplished by relying
solely on autopilot, engaged the unfortunate single-seat combat jet
and knocked it out of the air using only one of its four formidable
rotating air mass propellers."
During my shooting lifetime, Americans
seemed to have lost complete sight of the utility of the shooting
sling. This was taught to me in high school ROTC and I put it to
use in the field with great satisfaction during all my early
hunting adventures. Today the shooting sling is not featured in the
accessory catalogs and never seen in the illustrations in gun
magazines. In my opinion a properly utilized shooting sling
increases your hit probability by about a third in mountain and
plains hunting. It does not help in thick brush and it does you no
good if you are using a bipod or a rest. From the prone position it
practically eliminates human error. It stabilizes the sitting
position almost up to prone. But it will not help you if you do not
have it or do not understand it. It is hard to believe but we
recently had a student show up for the Safari Prep class packing a
long, heavy, expensive, and powerful rifle, which had no provision
whatsoever for a shooting sling. We had to start him from ground
zero (that is not where you should start Safari Prep
But then we have noticed here at school and elsewhere that the
"life awareness" quality of our students has slipped downward
appreciably over the past couple of decades. We have reports from
the military to corroborate this. We are told of young men signing
up for the military service who have never:
- slept on the ground
- cleaned a fish
- climbed a mountain
- thrown a punch
- ridden a horse
- shot a rifle
- sailed a boat
- changed a wheel
- built a fire
- read the Bible.
I suppose many of these young men know all about sexual perversion,
the use of the hypodermic needle, auditory abuse, political
correctness, gender equality, and "global warming." It is hard to
say what is to be done. As friend Danie has put it, "You can make a
wild one tame, but you cannot make a tame one wild."
I am going ahead with the idea of an
essay contest on the nature of the enemy. I believe I can get the
matter publicized if I can jar loose the prize money, which must be
great enough to attract attention. There will be a meeting of the
Public Affairs Committee of the NRA prior to the September meeting
of the Board of Directors. If I can get the committee chairman to
proposition the board, we can get started on this.
"When men differ in taste as to the kind of the world
they want, the only thing to do is to go to work killing."
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Chief Justice of the United
"But to that USA Today election map again: Blue
America (nihilistic, abstracted, socialistic, urban, decadent and
dependent, feminized and effeminized, helpless, clueless, soft, and
defenseless) deeply fears Red America (religious, realistic,
capitalist, rural and small town, decadent to some extent but
conscious to some degree of that fact, independent, manly and
womanly still, self-reliant, relatively aware, with some muscle
left, and ARMED.)"
The Hundredth Meridian by Chilton Williamson, Jr in
Chronicles, May 2001
Temujin (Ghengis Khan) at one point
decided that he needed all of China north of the Yellow River as
pasture for his horses. He therefore proposed the extermination of
the Chinese. One of his two literate councillors, Ye Liu Chu Tsai,
was Chinese and he persuaded the Khan that the people would be
fully as useful as a tax base as the land would be as a pasture. He
made his point and Temujin did not become the first historical
example of true genocide. I guess history would have been very
different if he had carried out his original intention, but perhaps
not. That was long ago.
Our fellow board member of the NRA, Wayne
Anthony Ross, informs us that there are no snakes in Alaska because
the mosquitoes ate them. Interesting thought.
I find it annoying that the media in
general seem to think that if you are young you are automatically
an idiot. Some youngsters indeed are idiots, just like some adults.
But just because a youth happens to be twelve does not mean he
cannot think straight. If you treat children like fools, they will
become fools. If you respect their intelligence and competence,
they will develop it. This business of "protecting the children" is
a bore. When I was a child there were a lot of other children
around, and neither I nor they were fools. We could handle matches
and knives and ropes and horses and firearms
"You wound a buffalo and he turns into 1500lb of hate.
He can run faster than you, smell what you had for supper two
nights ago, turn on a tickey, hide behind a bunch of leaves -
and when this big black brute boils out of the bush his little eyes
are focused only on you. Nothing will turn him... As he charges, he
chews up bullets and spits them out... Only death will stop
him - his, or yours, or both."
ManMagnum Supplement, December 1998
Note that the reticles on "Lynx" scope
sights are etched on the glass, which clearly obviates broken
reticles. This is an idea whose time we wish would hurry up and
In Africa the situation continues to
deteriorate. Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) seems about to explode, and in the
RSA things are only somewhat better. "The new winds of bureaucracy,
taxes, greed, and distrust between people are much more dangerous
than crime and assault. Crime we can defend ourselves against, but
the other we can't do much about." (Danie van Graan)
It has recently been suggested that to
avoid further conflict and disharmony we give California back to
Mexico. An interesting idea!
Many Americans do not realize that under
Article VI of the Constitution, a treaty made with a sovereign
power may supersede the Constitution in relevant particulars. As
you know, the current head of the UN is vigorously advancing the
notion that the personal ownership of firearms should be prohibited
worldwide. The UN is, of course, a supranational organization and
has no interest in national sovereignty. In fact, if the UN were
effective, it would do away with national sovereignty. In this
matter the United States stands alone in its support of personal
firearms. We are surrounded by many score two-bit nations who have
no interest in either our sovereignty or theirs. Those nations have
no interest in the personal ownership of firearms and would swamp
us if the matter were put to a vote. Thus the United Nations
should be considered a force hostile to the best interests of the
United States and treaties with it should be regarded with
suspicion. We were quite right to reject the Kyoto Protocol, but
that simply infuriates the great majority of the socialist nations
which make up the UN. This is a point to bear in mind. The UN is
not our friend. The United States has few friends in the world.
Your taxes support these people in large measure and it is very
hard to forgive someone who has done you a favor. The fact that we
were thrown off the UN Commission on Civil Rights is a perfect
example of this. The UN Commission on Civil Rights is composed of
nations whose idea of civil rights approximates that of the weasel
in the hen house. Our present administration is unlikely to be
hoodwinked by these people, but until we regain control of the
Senate we are by no means safe. God save the Republic!
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal
use only. Not for publication.