Jeff Cooper's Commentaries

Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 3, No. 10          August 1995

Dog Days, 1995

We did not announce the ten-day delay in the production of this commentary, which was due partly to eye surgery on my part and partly to the summer vacation of Joyce Anderson, who is our production wallah. We did not think people would notice, but we are getting a sock full of complaints asking about the whereabouts of this paper. Well, here it is.

A number of people have pointed out that there is some distinct merit in the red dot rifle sight. It seems to be very quick, and if it is a touch imprecise at distance, this may not be a serious handicap. A sportsman should not attempt shots beyond his 90 percent capacity limit, and very few riflemen can hold into half the diameter of the vital zone from a field position under pressure at long range. Remember you should never brag about how long your shot was, but rather how close it was.

In any case the red dot, as well as the laser, have yet to prove themselves in the Keneyathlon, which is the most serious rifle competition being conducted at this time.

Guru say:

"Featherheads should be seen and not heard."

First off, I wish to remind all the faithful of the forthcoming Gunsite Reunion and Theodore Roosevelt Memorial scheduled for 20, 21, 22 October at the Whittington Shooting Center. If you have not made your reservations yet, note that it is not too early. Address,
Brad Schuppan, c/o Whittington Center, PO Box 700, Raton, NM 87740, (505) 445-3615,
and remember that accommodations at Whittington are not unlimited.

I should also announce the scheduling of my next rifle class on 9 - 14 October, also at Whittington. To make this reservation call,
Rich Wyatt, 3430 Wright St., Wheat Ridge, CO 80033, 303-232-0542.

The new issue Smith & Wesson 357 (#640) seems very well conceived for the current age of concealed carry legislation and equipment. I would rather be able to cock it, as in teaching ladies defensive pistolcraft I find that quicker progress is made in the thumb-cocking mode. However, since the piece is apparently designed for use across the tabletop, this may not be a serious matter.

It may be that we will never learn how Jimmy Hoffa died, and the way things are going, the same may be said of Vince Foster. Foster may indeed have killed himself, though that seems most unlikely from available information, but we can be quite sure that if he did he did not carry himself into the park and lay himself out for inspection.

As to that, no one knows what sort of gunfire killed the four BATmen at Waco. The nature of the wounds would seem to me distinctly relevant to the inquiry.

The Waco inquiry was botched. The question about that atrocity was not how it was conducted, but why. Janet Reno has insisted that she bears total responsibility. That being the case, one wonders why she is not in jail.

The new Walther 200KK 22 rifle appears to be a gamesman's triumph. It looks less like a rifle than the Eiffel Tower, and it costs somewhere between $3,000 and $4,000, depending upon circumstances. My own venerable 22 cost $34, and it has always shot every bit as well as I can shoot it. Here at the Sconce we have recently been treated to a surfeit of ground squirrels. They are not large and they offer fleeting targets, but that little Remington, which I obtained at age 14, puts them away in fine style, though I do find that a 22 long-rifle high-speed solid will rarely exit the target.

As I have pointed out several times, mechanical potential which the operator cannot appreciate is useless. (Of course, it may be fun to know it is there.)

Among the other ways in which our culture seems to be deteriorating is in monument design. I thought the Vietnamese monument was about as bad as they could come until I saw the Korean War monument. Both are dreary - extolling dreariness rather than achievement. They certainly do not inspire the viewer to emulate the achievements of the deceased. Well, we can always go and admire the Iwo Jima monument. Now, that's more like it!

"The NRA is the reason the Republicans control the Congress."

Bill Clinton. Quoted in the Cleveland Plain Dealer for 13 January.
This is the finest compliment that could be paid to our association. We hear that membership is down somewhat, and this is attributed to the rather striking dues increase leveled last year. Money talks, of course, but to opt out of the only organized defender of liberty in this country at this time because membership costs more is rather like deserting from Valley Forge because of the shortage of whiskey. The NRA may not be perfect - nothing is - but still it constitutes our most powerful bastion against tyranny. If it is not doing everything right, according to your likes, get in there and work with it - do not back off from it! In the reported words of Dr. Franklin,
"We must all hang together or assuredly we will all hang separately."

The most disastrous piece of news of the year was the decision of the Connecticut Supreme Court to the effect that a robbery victim is not legally entitled to defend himself.
"The underlying policy is that the protection of human life has a higher place in the scheme of social values than that value that adheres to standing up to aggression."
That is a cowardly, specious, dishonorable, un-American, disgusting position! It is not acceptable, and it must be overturned. It is impossible to render honor to the flag of the United States while such a ruling stands.

Is it not curious how the classics repeat themselves in current life according to the dictum that life imitates art? Here in the States all summer we have been treated to real life versions of both Othello and Medea. Somehow I think the classical versions are better.

As a long-time admirer of the magazine cutoff on bolt-action rifles, I was somewhat amused at the efforts of a journeyman gun writer to deride the idea on the grounds that the cutoff takes too long to operate. If it takes too long for you, do not operate it! Simple, what?

This suggests saying that a trigger-cocking pistol is always going to be faster than a thumb-cocker, because you have to do something to the latter while you are lining up. Competition has proved positively that you can either cock the hammer or disengage the safety while you are in the process of lining up. Likewise you can work the bolt while you are recovering your sight picture with a rifle.

Since detachable box magazines seem to be the coming thing in bolt guns, there is a very simple solution to this magazine cutoff question. This is what may be called the "Double Detent." This allows the magazine to be inserted until it catches, but since the magazine is not fully inserted the action will not feed, thus the magazine is in effect cut off. To actuate the magazine the shooter simply has to squeeze it further, catching on the second detent. When you hear and feel two clicks, she is ready. When you hear only one click, the magazine is in reserve. I do not know of any action which features this now, but only a couple of years ago we did not know about ABS braking systems either.

To Albert Einstein is attributed the dictum, "Everything should be kept as simple as possible - but no simpler." See how that applies to other activities! In driving, always drive as fast as possible, but no faster. In shooting, always shoot as quickly as possible, but no quicker. The true expert is one who understands where the dividing lines occur.

We hear from South Africa that while organized insurrection is down, street crime is up - almost to the level of the major cities of the US The proper response to this, of course, is "Get out into the country as best you can." That goes for both Africa and the US

A nasty trend we have detected in new cars is the elimination or radical reduction of the glove compartment, attributed to the presence of the passenger-side air bag. In our opinion the glove box is essential, and its absence might well be a good reason for looking up some other make of car (or a secondhand vehicle without the air bags).

I do not think I mentioned the name of the BATgirl who stomped the kitten to death in the course of the Lamplugh raid. Her name is Donna Slusser. That is one to remember along with Lon Horiuchi. We are treated to inquiries and investigations, but it seems very difficult to ask a straight question of a perpetrator. "Mr. Horiuchi, why did you shoot Vicki Weaver in the face? Ms. Slusser, why did you stomp on that kitten?" "Self defense" will not do.

Family member Cameron Hopkins reports yet another failure of the 375 Magnum cartridge on buffalo up in Tanganyika. The 375 is simply not a proper buffalo gun. To use it on buffalo is the equivalent of using a 9mm on a human being. It may work, but it may also fail.

"Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide."

John Adams

We may note that Browning now advertises that they put an excellent trigger in the venerable P35. The implication, of course, is that previously it did not have a good trigger, which bears out my own experience with this piece. A P35 with a good trigger action is about as commonplace as a Luger with the same. If you find one, hang on to it!

Our colleague, Paul Kirchner, recently enjoyed a potentially lethal confrontation in darkest New Haven (which is in Connecticut). He was alone against three goblins, but he was aware and he was ready and it was his attitude rather than his marksmanship that won the day. There must be such a thing as "psychic competence transference." Paul was ready and even anxious for the scene to escalate, and this threw doubt into the minds (?) of the three goblins. No physical contact, no blood, no gendarmes, no handcuffs, no trouble (except that those three specimens are still running around loose). In all a joyous good show!

Babamkulu veteran Jack Buchmiller notes that in 1597 a royal edict banned the Scots from playing golf because it was felt by authority that people should be practising archery rather than smacking balls. Much to be learned here.

There are those who claim that the Keneyathlon, as practiced in 1995, is more of an athletic than a marksmanship contest, and that its ranges as now set up tend to be unreasonably long. These points can be remedied, since the rules are not engraved in stone. If you have suggestions as to how to make this contest more truly practical, please address them to,
Dr. David Kahn, 6211 South Crest Brook Dr., Morrison, CO 80465.

Family member Cas Gadomski reports a total failure to expand on the part of a 230-grain Black Talon bullet from a 338 Magnum, impacting a bison at 240 yards. This is certainly not enough to disparage the entire line of Black Talon rifle ammunition, but it does point up the fact that expansion in animal tissue is always problematical, and tends to diminish with impact velocity. I intend to check out the Black Talon bullet on elk this fall and in Africa next year. There is always more to learn.

A stuffed and deep-fried jalapeno chili is a new and tasty snack. We were much annoyed, however, at noticing that in at least one market in Arizona it is referred to as a "pepper popper." For shame! The Pepper Popper is a humanoid steel target invented by John Pepper of Maryland, and now in wide use throughout the world. I made no effort to copyright the name, and anyone may call anything whatever he wishes, but I am still very much annoyed.

In tribute to Steyr-Mannlicher, this kudo is from family member Barrett Tillman:
"And then there is the SSG, which never loses zero and shoots into 2 inches from here to the horizon. I am sure it will be banned before long."

For those of you who are troubled by trespassers, we learn that if you can obtain a calf of the black wildebeest, or gnu, and raise him as a pet, he will make a superb fence-watcher. The adult bull is both territorial and pugnacious. He is also fast and alert. See your local dealer.

We had an interesting minor confrontation in Encanto Park in Phoenix a couple of weeks ago. It appears that the Parks and Recreation Department had posted signs throughout the park advising that firearms were prohibited in city parks and attributing the prohibition to a city ordinance which did not exist. Accordingly some fifty people brought their weapons with them openly to the park on Saturday morning. (As you know, carrying a firearm openly is not forbidden in Arizona.) As it turned out no scuffling occurred, no voices were raised, and no one was arrested.

Here is a case where the city government took an illicit act - knowingly - but did not attempt to enforce it. This is sinister behavior on the part of the administration and points up the fact that while the United States may still be a free country, it is up to us to ensure that it is kept so.

Now Rigby announces the reintroduction of the 10-bore elephant rifle, which fires a 900-grain bullet at something over 1500f/s. The weapon itself is a handmade, very expensive double and the ammunition supply is something of a problem; however, it should be a very nice buffalo stopper and the manufacturers claim that it kicks somewhat less than a modern 460 or 470 high-pressure rifle. Well bully for Rigby, but if I am to tackle anything really big I will rest content with Baby, which features 6500 foot pounds, excellent ghost-ring sights, a nifty trigger, and six rounds at the ready. (Besides, when I built Baby back in the beginning of my African period, it set me back a mere $900.)

I am sure you know about Schumer by now, but just in case you have not, here he is portrayed by Linda Bowles, who is one of our favorite columnists:
"Rep. Charles Schumer (D-NY) exposed himself as a radical, left-wing extremist who is phobic about guns and sees a camouflaged member of the National Rifle Association lurking behind every bush. He is a conspiracy theorist, outspokenly paranoid, who firmly believes that the Waco hearings were some kind of insidious NRA plot to prevent him from confiscating all the guns in America, except, of course, those in the hands of the government."
Schumer constitutes a blot on the democratic process.

I confess I do not understand the proper place of the "light-heavy," in both rifle and pistol cartridges. The 41 Magnum was introduced by Smith & Wesson some years ago, but it never caught on - I suppose because it would not do anything that a 44 Magnum would not do better. Today I feel somewhat the same about these 400-grain 40 caliber rifle cartridges. If you need something more than a medium - and you do for buffaloi - you certainly should go to a heavy (500-grains, 45 caliber, 2400f/s - at least). Half measures are not, in my opinion, a good idea. A heavy costs no more than a light-heavy. It weighs about the same. If it kicks a little more you will never notice it in action, and it affords noticeably increased cross-sectional impact area. However the 416s are all the rage. This may not make a lot of sense, but skillful marketing does not have to make a lot of sense. Examples proliferate.

We had a real hot spell here in Arizona - now thankfully past. It never logged less than 110 high in Phoenix for 17 days, and once it reached 121. This is hotter than Riyadh, Mecca, Timbuktu or even Poona. It was indeed sultry, but it did not detract from the delight of tomatoes fresh off the vine and corn right off the stalk, two native American delicacies which invite us to count our blessings.

All out for Africa in March of '96! Make your reservations now.

Colleague Glenn Jacobs, publisher of a local newspaper in the White Mountains, puts forth as a worthy candidate for the 1995 Waffenpƶsselhaft Award the Army's new Objective Individual Combat Weapon, which is designed to make an infantryman deadly whether or not he knows how to shoot. Its projected cost to the Army is said to be about $1,500 per unit. One wonders if that would be a suitable weapon for the Swiss, where each man takes his own piece home with him every night. Of course the Swiss have not given up entirely on marksmanship, so perhaps the OICW is not the proper answer for them.

A spokesman said that not all soldiers will get the new weapon - "only infantry troops most likely to find themselves in firefights." I always thought that that is what infantry troops are most likely to find themselves in!

I am sorry to report the death of Israel Galili, designer of the Galil series of rifles. We were privileged to meet and talk with him some years back and we truly admired his work. He was a great little guy. May he rest in peace.

It is said that Voltaire, an announced atheist, still had one favorite prayer, to wit:
"O Lord, make mine enemies ridiculous!"

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