Jeff Cooper's Commentaries

Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 3, No. 13          November, 1995

Indian Summer, 1995

The annual Gunsite Reunion and Theodore Roosevelt Memorial held at Whittington Center in honor of the great man's birthday was even more of a success than in the past. The shooting, conducted by Rich Wyatt, John Gannaway and David Kahn, was great fun. The declamations were inspiring, as always, but perhaps the greatest exhilaration of the meeting was the sense of unity and comradeship experienced by Orange Gunsite comrades, who in many instances are forced by circumstance to dwell amongst the unenlightened.

While most of our people were from various parts of the United States, we had members from England, Switzerland, and even way up in Darkest New England. It is a long, long way to Whittington, but it is worth it when you get there. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, at the very peak of the western autumn colors, and we were troubled by neither heat nor cold nor wind until Sunday afternoon when we were breaking up.

With all the family hard at work shooting, it was impossible for me to single out every distinguished performance, but a couple that stick in my mind were Finn Aagaard's erasing of two helium balloons with one shot as they lined up, and Marc Heim's impressive performance on clay birds with his "Kansas City Special." (That's a 16-inch iron-sighted lever gun in caliber 44 Magnum.) Dr. Manning Picket also showed off with his open-sighted 350 Magnum, and daughter Lindy managed to break four in a row on sporting clays.

We had occasion to break out the "Gunsite zeroing target" for the first time on public display, and, not to my surprise, it worked very well. I commend this target to all the faithful as the most efficient thing of its kind I know.

Dan Dennehy treated us to his usual knife throwing demonstration, as well as to his rendition of "The Lure of the Tropics."

Both Don Davis and Marc Heim showed us how to use a lever-gun from a Condition 3 Ready, which is a technique not fully appreciated in the Age of High Tech.

Lindy's poetry is developing to astonishing levels, and we are approaching the point where a bound volume of her collected works may be in order. Prior to that, however, her prose work, "Wisdom on Cooper," must be put to bed, published and out on the market.

As always, the wildlife display at Whittington was delightful, with lots of deer and elk, including one big bull, plus pronghorns and turkeys. Nobody saw a cougar, but as these cats are becoming less and less secretive year-by-year we may expect to sight one or more at the next event of October '96.

The Whittington Center cannot accommodate as many of you as we might wish, so fix the date for '96 and plan to join us then.

On a T-shirt we saw at the reunion was displayed the pungent phrase,
"Visualize no Liberals!"

I have had the opportunity now for a couple of years to evaluate the Glock pistol with sufficient care to give me justification in an opinion. I have not used one much myself, but just enough to know that it is not for me. However, I have some good friends in law enforcement who have pretty much set matters straight. My conclusion is that the Glock pistol is a very good choice for hired hands, but not for serious pistoleros. Its proper place lies in the public sector, and the dedicated shottist is rarely found therein. (Note: That is shottist rather than shootist. Look it up.)

It is with profound sorrow that we must report the death of our old friend and comrade Milt Sparks, on 8 September 1995. Milt was a man of great talent and he contributed measurably to American pistolcraft.

He was a good artisan, a good shot, and a good man. He is sadly missed.

We learn that the Chicoms placed an order for 10 million copies of the AUG with Steyr-Mannlicher. How interesting that the commies could dream up a demand for 10 million 22-caliber squirt guns! Apparently we will not discover what they wanted with those pieces since the Austrian government queered the deal, but if we are now hunting around for the next war, we may have some hints here. Incidentally, while the American law enforcement establishment refers to the piece in question as the AUG (pronounced OG), not too many of our people know what the letters stand for. AUG signifies Armee Universal Gewehr, which may be an exaggeration, but no more so than "high power" tacked onto the 9-millimeter Belgian Browning.

The columnist Tony Snow offers us a good campaign slogan for the Billary Gang in '96:
"We can't fool all the people all the time, but twice would be nice."

I have almost passed the point at which I can be shocked anymore, but I was perhaps amazed at a report from England about a lawsuit brought by a woman against an importer of toys because when her little boy flung a boomerang it came back and hit him on the head. Apparently she holds that the package in which the toy was packed should have contained a statement to the effect that the instrument actually worked as designed. I suppose the next step is for someone to sue a gunmaker because when the gun fired it made a loud noise which startled him.

Perhaps all is not lost. In Washington, DC, of all places, family member Bill O'Connor recently overheard the following comment from the driver of a child-filled station wagon:
"There are more armed men in the woods on opening day of deer season in Pennsylvania than there are federal agents, and that gives me a feeling of great comfort."

Note that the new issue Burris Scoutscope is distinguished by a slightly enlarged bell at the front end. There are other structural differences as well, and up til now, the new glass has demonstrated increased honesty over previous products. An "honest" telescope is one that does what you tell it, in both planes, every time. When you dial in "left 4, up 6" that is what you should get, but all too often you do not. The new Burris, however, in samples inspected, has been quite satisfactory so far. We wish it a bright future.

Sometimes I am convinced that the world is actually getting worse, and it is not just my advanced age which makes it seem so. Consider the case reported in the shooting industry magazine of a customer who bought a rifle only to return it in a matter of days. He claimed that when he fired it and opened the bolt a piece fell out, and he displayed an empty case to prove it.

From a recent issue of Tailhook magazine, we discover that Naval pilots going into the Gulf War received no training nor familiarization whatever with sidearms. Furthermore, they were forbidden to bring their own. As one post-modern bureaucrat sounded off, "This is war! You can't bring your own guns!"

Of course it maybe adduced that if a flier loses a 30-million-dollar airplane, the taxpayer really should not be concerned about whether or not he can shoot his way to safety on the ground. It may, of course, be of some concern to him.

Many years ago I was invited to a conference at the academy in Colorado Springs on just this point. The colonels sat there and shot the breeze all day without coming up with an answer to the question of what a combat pilot needs a pistol for. One school holds that he should be able to sneak around on the ground and put chickens in the pot. Another says he should stay on top of his hill and threaten the bad guys at the bottom until the chopper can come and pick him up. As many of you know, Goering's answer in World War II was to supply his combat pilots with beautifully made "drillings," featuring two shotgun barrels and one rifle. I have no authoritative accounts about how good an idea this was, but it is a lot different from those manifest by the Navy in Desert Storm.

As to the Vince Foster murder, Hillary does not want to hear any more about it. So there!

In re-reading McBride for perhaps the tenth time, we discover again that a heart shot is by no means necessarily a quick stop. A beast shot through the heart will always die, and a man nearly always, unless he is wheeled into thoracic surgery within a couple of minutes, but he will not necessarily drop when hit. An armed antagonist can frequently shoot back, and a charging lion may easily bite you dead between the time the shot is delivered and the victim is no longer able to fight.

From the collected writings I conclude that the larger the caliber the more quickly a heart shot will stop the action, and this is a matter of some interest in this day when the governments of the world seem determined to reduce calibers as much as possible.

At Whittington we had a long and thoughtful session about the matter of Spc New, the soldier who maintains that he is not required to fight for the United Nations. The issue here is the most important one that I can recall during my lifetime. Can the Commander-in-Chief of American armed forces order an American fighting man to obey orders issued by a foreign sovereignty? In all the long history of mercenary soldiering it has been accepted that a soldier may indeed fight for a foreign power, but only if he volunteers for that duty. If we follow the example of the Swiss mercenaries of the Renaissance we discover that the contract specifically exempted the soldier from the obligation to fight against his own country. I do not believe any of this has been taken up properly by the lawmen as of yet. A soldier absolutely must do what he is told, but what happens if his foreign commander orders him to fight against his own country?

It appears that our masters in Washington are doing their best to sweep this matter under the rug, just as they have done with other recent federal transgressions, but this is a matter of enormous importance, and we the people must demand an answer.

On the occasion of the recent demonstration in Washington, engineered by Louis Farrakhan and others, one of his lieutenants (sporting the unimaginative name of Khalid Mohammed) is quoted in Human Events as shouting, "This is the time of blackman's rise and the whiteman's demise." Being genetically placed on one side of that confrontation, I apparently have no choice but to join the fray. This being the case I am reminded of the statement attributed to John Parker at Lexington on 19 April 1775, to wit: "If they mean to have a war, let it begin here!"

Daughter Lindy's pseudo-Scout, constructed by Robbie Barrkman on a Springfield base, worked very well for her at Whittington, except that the shortened stock permitted the cocking piece to bang her on the cheek bone. When I was a lad we were all intimately introduced to the 03 Springfield, which naturally featured a stock short enough for even very close-coupled soldiers. We got banged, though I did learn to keep my thumb over on the right side of the stock out of the way, and to open my firing hand a tad so that my fingernails would not gouge my chin. When the rifle is private property, however, and not government issue, another solution maybe somewhat better. Simply saw the cocking piece off.

It has long been claimed that the flared cocking piece on the 03, and the Krag, and some other actions, is a safety feature in that it deflects hot gas which may result from a punctured primer. I know from personal experience on the 1917 action that if hot gas travels back along the striker it ejects from the bolt an inch or so below the line of sight - even an open sight. I sported a neat black tattoo on my right cheek for a couple of months to illustrate this. When asked about it I found it very macho to say casually, "Blown primer on my 30-06."

I have never worn a really good facial scar, but those who have are one up on the rest of us, if their narrative is sufficiently dramatic. The actor, George McCready, was able to say when asked about a clean white scar on his jaw bone that he got it when he flipped his Bugatti at LeMans, which is exactly what happened. (At this point I think the feminists in the group will drop out of the conversation.)

Arizona T-shirt sign:
"I will rope for beer."

On the subject of Africa, it is not too soon to start setting up schedules. We are committed to be on station in Pretoria by 19 March, and to be back here in the states by 18 April. Just what happens in the interim is yet to be worked out, but our African adventures have been so totally successful in the past that we do not foresee any problems.

We are informed that the street scene in Johannesburg is bad and degenerating, but that is true of any big city you can name. We expect to get out into the country at once and thus be well clear of social strife, if any.

As to that, one thing that we have always liked about Africa is that if you are attacked you may legally defend yourself, which is not true of London or Toronto or Tokyo.

"The rifleman, being a hunter, naturally always has an eye, and an ear, for game. The great game movement along the front took place at night. That in the back areas, of course, could only be deduced, from daytime observation, and at night became the business of the artillery and machine guns. But no-man's-land, in quiet times, was the scene of an almost purely nocturnal life. The sniper was lucky if, during the day, he spotted a couple of Germans; but if he really cared for hunting he might have a dozen pass within as many feet of him at night. He can well afford to abandon his rifle for this - if he can still find time to get the necessary sleep. There is nothing just like it for making one feel at home in the trench areas. To spend the night in a funky dugout or musty cellar, whether in the front line, supports or reserves, is like closing the tent-fly at nightfall as soon as you have made camp on the mountainside overlooking a pleasant - and unknown - valley. Much better to get outside and see what's happening."

from A Rifleman Went to War by Captain Herbert W. McBride

Danie van Graan, our good friend from the Low Veldt, has just shown us an interesting photograph of a Burris Scoutscope mounted on an Enfield Combat Rifle. The assembly looks good. It is not a Scout, being overweight and overlong, but it is handy, powerful and easy to feed. Since it has a full-weight barrel the base may be fastened thereto with screws with no need for a custom forward extrusion. We hope to play with this piece next year in Africa, and we expect that it will prove out well.

Family member Tom Berger sends us an extract from a piece of fiction called "Flying Finish," by Dick Francis, which points up a peculiar aspect of post-modern sociology that I had not thought about before. The idea is that in an emasculated society there is no accepted outlet for the natural combativeness of the young male, except in crime. Apparently it is considered uncouth for a young man to say that he wants to fight, no matter how much he does. This poses no problem for the counterculture, whose members grow to adolescence with no ethical or moral base, but it becomes an increasing affliction for young men brought up by decent parents. If Louis Farrakhan gets his way, this difficulty may straighten itself out in fairly short order.

"This situation has turned congressional hearings into somewhat of a joke and has made it obvious that federal law enforcement cannot be expected to investigate itself."

Robert K. Brown in Soldier of Fortune, December 1995

"The government against which our ancestors took up arms was a mild and distant irritant compared to the federal scourge that rules us today. Constitutional restraints on tyranny are to our masters only a hazy memory as they exercise powers beyond the dreams of history's most famous dictators. Louis the XIV never required an annual accounting of every centime every Frenchman earned. He would never have dared then to demand a third of it in yearly tribute. Ivan the Terrible never told Russian merchants whom they could or could not hire, nor, heaven help us, where they could have a smoke."

Jared Taylor, Louisville, Kentucky

"If the wound is large, the weapon with which the patient has been wounded should be anointed daily: otherwise every two or three days. The weapon should be kept in pure linen and a warm place, but not too hot to scald lest the patient suffer harm."
That was written in 1662, and after three hundred years some of our legislators still insist on treating the weapon rather than the wound. (We get this from David Kopel at a presentation at the University of Oklahoma.)

Cross-eyed shooting - that is shooting right-handed and left-eyed, or vice versa, is not difficult with a pistol, and it is not much of a problem in slow-fire rifle shooting. It does become difficult with the rifle snapshot. The shooter can dim his weaker eye by taping over his shooting glasses, or by wearing a bandanna or eye patch, but while these expedients suffice for the target range they are unlikely to be useful in the field. We can take some comfort from observing that the snapshot with a rifle is a rare occurrence, but the problem is still there and I do not have an answer for it.

All of this "whingeing" (British word) about our termination of the war in the Pacific is interesting in view of McBride's observation about his sniping in World War I. "We killed them when we could and we damned them all to Hell. They started it and by God we finished it!" This calls to mind the advice of Gunsite's Grand Patron Theodore Roosevelt to the effect that you should never start a fight, but once you are in it you should finish it. This is a principle which a series of recent American presidents seem to have missed.

Family member and military historian Barrett Tillman tells us that Jim Coxen, who did a tour with the 5th Marines, has now been shooting with new devices and new techniques for sport. He maintains that he wished he had a Scout rifle up in I CORPS. He feels that he would definitely have bagged more bad guys. Well sure! Wouldn't you prefer a properly set up Scout to an M16?

Despite the best efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, we now have access to a photograph of Lon Horiuchi, who shot Vickie Weaver in the face but who still has not been brought to justice. Col. Bob Brown ran it down in a West Point yearbook and it appears on page 38 of the December issue of Soldier of Fortune magazine. It is not very clear, and it is twenty years old, but it is better than nothing.

An Indian Summer here in the Arizona highlands maybe assessed as evidence of God's goodwill to men. We count our blessings.

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