Jeff Cooper's Commentaries

Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 3, No. 6           25 April 1995

Maytime, 1995

Our session up at Whittington with the rifle was completely satisfactory, thanks to the skillful administration of family member Rich Wyatt and the marvelous assistance of Riflemasters John Gannaway and Larry Larsen. The ranges at Whittington do not include everything I am used to, but they are quite adequate and we have a couple of additional features planned for the next session, which is tentatively scheduled for the third week in August of this year.

A mild problem was caused by the radical divergence in background of the students, many of whom had been certified by me at Orange Gunsite. By contrast, daughter Lindy had never held a rifle in her hands before and had to play a fierce game of catch-up.

Mike Ballew and Brad Schuppan arranged the weather perfectly, providing us with one perfect week in between two spring storm sessions. Actually this caught me somewhat aslant because I had planned a good bit of class work between squalls, and when there were no squalls I felt we should spend our time on the range.

I awarded four classic Hawkeye badges to Kurt Miller (who won the shoot-off with an M1a,) Tom Graziano, Steve Hendricks, and Scott Larsen. These people are very superior marksmen, of a sort you would rather not compete against.

We were astonished again at the profusion of game at the Whittington Shooting Center. We were continually observed by the numerous local mule deer, and spotted as many as 60 elk in a bunch. Our tactical rifle exercise was run up a canyon preempted by a flock of turkeys who were conspicuously unintimidated by rifle fire. Evidently they liked that canyon and did not see why they should move simply because of occasional sudden loud noises.

The clay bird shooting was again impressive, with over half the class scoring on the first session. There are not many places where you can indulge in this advanced activity, but when you have convinced yourself that you really can powder a clay in the air, you know a feeling of comfort that is hard to surpass.

Whittington is a long way from anywhere, but the trip is worth it.

Barry Miller informs us that the situation has changed very little so far in South Africa. Crime is still an issue. The economy is okay, and hunting is getting better.

The Scout project has "charged off madly in all directions." I guess I should not be surprised. Nobody owns the word "Scout," and anyone is free to call anything whatever he wants except on American university campuses, of course. Nonetheless, I should point out a couple of rather important criteria:
  1. The Scout really should make weight, and weight is 3kg (6.7lbs) including sights.
  2. The Scout caliber is 308. This is because the 308 ammunition is universally available worldwide (so is 223, but let us not go into that.) One cannot make a classic Scout out of a 30-06, simply because the cartridge, and thus the action, is too long.
  3. A classic Scout must be short. Start with one meter (39 inches) and work down from that.
There are other considerations, but the foregoing are vital. The basic problem is that one must actually shoot a Scout rifle over a period and under field conditions to understand it. There just are not enough Scouts around for a large number of people to appreciate them.

"A golf course is the willful and deliberate misuse of a perfectly good rifle range."

Bill O'Connor

We have now had the opportunity to savor the nilgai bull taken earlier this year on the King Ranch in Texas. Very savory indeed! It is wild meat, however, and as might be expected, somewhat tough. The Countess prepared it initially without any attempt at tenderizing or seasoning so that we could understand its properties without disguise. It does not need seasoning, but henceforth we will use one of several forms of tenderizing on the cutlets, but take on the tenderloin as fondue.

From my experience up Colorado way I would advise all and sundry to avoid the new Denver airport. A better choice is to fly into Colorado Springs and hire a car. The new facility is certainly elaborate and luxurious, but as a means of getting from your car into an airplane, or vice versa, it simply does not work well.

This from Paul Kirchner, our resident philosopher in New England:
"I rate my mail according to the following scale:
+5 unexpected checks
+4 personal correspondence from interesting people
+3 expected checks
+2 magazines
+1 interesting catalogs or junk mail
-1 entreats for money from causes of which I disapprove
-2 entreats for money from causes of which I approve (because I either have to kick in or feel guilty)
-3 anticipated bills
-4 unanticipated bills
-5 any correspondence from the IRS."
Here is a man who has his priorities sorted out.

Remember the Guru's Gold ring to be awarded at the Keneyathlon at Whittington on 10 June! This prize is to be awarded to that member of the five highest scoring shooters who uses the lightest rifle.

Grandchild Amy Heath, a member of the Gunsite family both literally and figuratively, has decided that her 1911 is excessively bulky. So we set her up with a Firestar. I regard the Firestar as a carrying weapon rather than a shooter, but in due course I will get a report back about how she likes it.

(Incidentally, when I refer to a "family member," the implication is an Orange family member. The question as to whether a Grey Gunsite graduate can be a Gunsite family member remains open for discussion.)

In view of this queasy multi-culturalism with which we are continually affronted, it occurs to us that Western Europeans gave the world to the human race and there is nothing harder to forgive than a favor.

Note the new bumper sticker:
"D.A.R.E. to keep cops off donuts."

At the Whittington rifle class the students were treated to the chance to fire several of John Gannaway's big guns, including the 416 and the 460. The consensus was that the 460 was the more satisfying weapon to shoot. In my opinion the 416 is something on the order of the vanishing 41 Magnum revolver. If you want power you really should go all the way and not be content with half measures.

In that regard, we note this new profusion of heavy caliber rifles for bolt guns now available for sale as semi-production items. Both Dakota and A-Square now offer bolt guns starting a 45 caliber 500-grain bullet at around 2,400 foot seconds exactly the ballistics of the 460 G&A Special that I have been using with great satisfaction for many years. In addition, A-Square offers the 470 Capstick, with slightly greater bore area and a tad more weight. This may be the best of the bunch when you consider that you can get five rounds into its magazine without an extension. The 450 Rigby is now also available if you wish, but none of these bolt-action heavies features a proper ghost-ring sight system. That point alone keeps Baby and her kin still out in front.

I have been approached to speak on the subject of the phrasing of a proper law regarding the carrying of sidearms. Family member Bill O'Connor of Maryland suggests,
"Carry what you want, how you want, where you want, and we won't bother you unless you screw up."
This is approximately the way the rules read in Vermont.

We note with some interest the introduction of the "Vektor" pistol from South Africa. This is a 9mm self-loader of particularly slick exterior design. It is smooth-looking and compact, and features a version of the Glock trigger, which means that the safety is incorporated in the trigger (which is something like stamping the combination on the safe door.) Of course, as Glock points out, if you keep your finger outside the trigger-guard where it belongs until you can see your sights, this will not give you any trouble. The same can be said of a 1911 with the safety off. At present the Vektor is still only a 9, but if it succeeds it may well be reissued in a major caliber. We await a personal account from the RSA.

In reading the brochures for these luxury cruises that seem to be all the rage now, we note with some astonishment that they don't do your laundry. Presumably you are supposed to wash your skivvies in the sink. One of the attractive things about your African hunt is that both your daily laundry and your booze (within reasonable limits) are on the house.

Sometime ago we reported that a copchick trainee up in Colorado had shot a classmate neatly through the head during classroom practice for malfunction clearance.

Now hear the sequel. It seems that this girl felt that her safety training was inadequate and the proximate cause of the fatality. She fell into the hands of some shyster and proceeded to sue the city for huge amounts of money, claiming that she was now so upset that she could not pursue her chosen career as a cop. The case settled out of court for $70,000. Moral: If you kill somebody through your own stupidity, and find someone upon whom you can blame that stupidity, the taxpayers will buy you a nice new Mercedes Benz, of the inexpensive variety of course.

We get the following news commentary a bit dated from Orange family member and Babamkulu veteran, Jack Buchmiller:
"Reuter News Highlights Bucharest, Reuter - Romania's top Olympic marksmen blasted away at human targets in a gunbattle at a Bucharest cemetery this week to defend the country's pro-democracy revolution, according to the official news agency Agerpres.

Olympic rapid-fire and free-pistol champions 'annihilated' pro-Ceausescu forces in the fire-fight at the Ghencea Military Cemetery, Agerpres said, without saying when it took place.

The shooting by 1984 rapid-fire silver medalist Ion Corneliu and 1988 free-pistol champion Sorin Babli was among 'genuine acts of heroism by the athletes of the military club Steaua,' it said."

Mike Ballew, the Whittington honcho, tells us that while his cougar population regularly kills mule deer, the victims are almost invariably bucks. Now according to the textbook a cougar will always choose a cow elk over anything else if he can, since a cow elk is relatively easy to catch and provides a great deal of meat, but these cougars seem to be programmed to kill buck deer, which are hard to catch, skimpy, and somewhat dangerous. What have we here?

Anyone who says he knows all about the behavior of wildlife is giving himself away.

As you have doubtless heard, there is a bill now banging around in the House authorizing Butch Reno to recruit, train, arm and equip a federal force of 2,500 ninja, presumably to make war upon American citizens.

It is up to your representatives in Congress to find out why this country needs a special force of civilian storm troopers in order to make war upon its own people. Now that we have a bunch of new boys in Washington, it is up to us to call upon them to answer this question.

Reports from both Desert Storm and Somalia indicate that whatever else they may be doing, our current crop of Marines is indeed observing Rule 3. Those of us who had a hand in that may be highly gratified at that news. When confronting Saint Peter before the Throne of Judgement and asked, "What did you do in life that was worthwhile?", we can answer, "I kept the finger off the trigger 'til the sights were on the target!"

Pass on in, brother!

It may be prejudicial to assume that O.J. killed Nicole, even though everything points that way, but we do not know who killed Vince Foster. The millionaire lawyers team will not leave a stone unturned or a fly unswatted to confuse the issue in the Simpson case, but nobody that is nobody seems to be asking even the most obvious questions about the demise of Vince Foster. Now is that not curious?

Herewith an interesting tactical ploy for our times. Late night shopper comes out of supermarket to be confronted by a hostile crowd of pickaninnies asking for money. The shopper greets hostiles in friendly fashion and raises a question,
"Any of you brothers seen my speedloader?"


"Yah, something like this,"
and he brings out his Detective Special, fishes around in his pockets and says,
"A speedloader is something you use to load this piece. It's round and made of black rubber. I swear I dropped it around here someplace. Anybody see it?"
We have often noticed that one can frequently disconcert a goblin by asking him a question he is not prepared for. This would seem to be a good one.

From what little we have seen of the "militia" out here in the West, they might do well to clean up their act. Some of them seem to think that scruffiness is an asset to their position, but in this I think they are wrong. I do not maintain that camouflage clothing is necessarily scruffy, but it does tend to look that way. I do think that these milicianos would look a good deal more authoritative, legal, and proper if they wore pressed khaki or hunting greens and got rid of all that hair.

For those who wring their hands over the status of the poor, long-suffering Japanese, two questions should be posed about World War II in the Pacific. Whenever the Nips get uppity I reflect that those two questions should be engraved in bronze in prominent places throughout the now defunct Empire of the Rising Sun.

We now have $720 in the Waco Memorial Fund. If you have contributed, remember that your money is safe and that we are holding it until we have enough to institute significant action.

If you have noticed the big split between IPSC pistol competition and the real world, it is easy to explain by the proposition that pistol competitors must hit what they shoot at, whereas the law enforcement establishment, in general, does not. In general, the cops do not feel that they need to hit the target, nor to hit it very hard if only they get off a lot of rounds. The spray-and-pray doctrine has triumphed.

Hence the enormous success of the Glock pistol. It is new, it works and it is cheap, thus it is the end product of one of the most successful marketing ventures the world has ever seen.

"There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things."

Machiavelli, 1513

Here we have the F. Lee Bailey syllogism, as paraphrased from Bill Buckley:
A detective investigating a murder case has been known within the past decade to call a spade a spade. Therefore: O.J. Simpson could not have murdered his ex-wife.
This is called courtroom reasoning.

"The Waco Whitewash" by Jack DeVault, Major US Air Force, Retired.
This is a careful examination of the court action taken in Texas against the survivors of the Waco atrocity. You may remember that the most interesting thing about this trial was that the victims were convicted, while the perpetrators were not only set free but rewarded. Bringing this about in a court of law is a good trick, and it can only be achieved by the most outrageously illegal conduct on the part of the court itself.

I am not qualified to pass on this work, but it convinces me. I invite you to study it for yourself.

You may order the book from,
Rescue Press,
8048 Midcrown 11,
San Antonio, TX 78218
telephone 210-653-3087
Price for the book is $20.00, including postage and handling (but not Texas sales tax.)

Shortly now we are off to Guatemala ("we" includes Bob and Allie Young and the Countess.) The purpose is pistolcraft, and we will have a full report on return. Thereafter we are off to Austria to confer with Steyr-Mannlicher, and to Bavaria at the invitation of Blaser. We expect these ventures to be both enjoyable and entertaining, but they do interfere with our literary production. I have cleaned up a couple more chunks of "The Art of the Rifle," about which I have received many kind inquiries. The work does not go as easily as I had hoped, simply because of the principle of "The more you know, the more you know you don't know." I can say that I know a good deal about rifle work, but the more deeply I study it, the more I discover that there is more to study. I am getting there, though. In truth, if I waited until I knew all I should know, I would be dead. (Note how this does not seem to affect other "gun writers.")

"Life is a comedy for those who think. A tragedy for those who feel."


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