Jeff Cooper's Commentaries

Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 7, No. 14          December, 1999


The duck pond is now frozen over at breakfast time, so I guess we are properly into winter. Winter is not as much fun as Autumn (except, of course, for skiers), but it has its own charm for most of us until it begins to get tiresome along about the end of February. We have had an excessively dry Fall season here in the Southwest, but we hope that rain is on its way, as the weather casters say.

We ran some tests on the 45 titanium Taurus, and found the little piece very enjoyable, though its exact role in life is not entirely clear. If the hoplophobes succeed in placing further restrictions on self-loading handguns, the revolver, of course, is there ready for a comeback. As anyone who has ever seen Jack Weaver or Elden Carl shoot can testify, a revolver in competent hands is a very serious item. It is certainly harder to use well than the self-loader, but that is a drawback to be overcome with practice. The titanium snubby sports a 6-port muzzle brake, and the blast from the full-house 45 ("long") Colt is noticeable. We fired it inside a series of cardboard boxes to see just how disturbing that upward flash might be in a tactical situation. It blew away the cardboard boxes in impressive fashion. I would suggest if you get one of these, do not fire it inside your overcoat pocket in the style demonstrated in pre-war gangster movies.

I am told by Rich Wyatt, who obtained the piece for me, that it is the only one in existence, since the gold finish was discontinued after being used on that one example. So, I guess we have a veritable collector's item.

Rich Wyatt's people up in Denver mounted one of those reflector sights on my G91. I am sure I could get used to it, but as of now it seems curiously "unfriendly," besides being difficult to use against a light background. It mounts too high, and calls for considerable neck craning, but it does shoot pretty well once you get used to it. One of its main advantages is that it uses no batteries, and it is claimed to have a shelf life of about 15 years. How it stands up to intensive use remains to be seen.

There remain certain problems with the 376 Steyr "Dragoon," but they are by no means insurmountable. We will have further information in the next issue.

Remember that Jefferson told us that the Second Amendment would not be needed until they tried to abolish it. There are people who have that in mind right now. The personal ownership and usage of firearms is not a common aspect of today's culture worldwide. It is up to Americans - those who know what it means to be an American - to uphold the light of liberty in the face of those both here and elsewhere who would extinguish it. We see the hysterics who feel that the abolition of firearms would bring about major changes in the human psyche, and that crime would disappear. We cannot reason with these people because they are impervious to reason, but we can expose them to ridicule and frustrate their political clout. That is a job not just for the National Rifle Association, but for everyone. If you want to make a resolution for the coming century, resolve to do something in defense of liberty every day, and by liberty, of course, we mean true liberty - the right to keep and bear arms. Without that liberty all other liberties are meaningless.

We now have about twelve prospective members of the International Fossa Foundation. We should get together and foment a fossa frolic located in Madagascar along about June.

Paulden, AZ, Dec. 10, 1999 - Owen Mills, the new owner of Gunsite, has announced the Masters Series of classes for the year 2000.

This series will consist of two pistol and three rifle classes, personally instructed by Jeff cooper, founder and fountainhead of modern smallarms technique. Colonel Bob Young (USMC, Ret.) will act as lead rangemaster for all classes. The faculty for this series will include such distinguished names as Louis Awerbuck, John Gannaway, Gabe Suarez, Mike Waidelich, Ed Head, and Dave Harris - as available - plus a full dozen more of the Old Gunsite Breed.

Curriculum will be general, with both rifle and pistol, emphasizing the developed and perfected arts of practical marksmanship, as evolved and accumulated in the field over the past thirty years. Novices are entirely welcome, but the general skill level will probably be high. Private citizens and public employees are equally acceptable, but good character and reasonably good physical condition are requisite.

Classes will employ the five-and-a-half day format, and certification will be stratified.

Old time get-togethers at the Sconce will be highlights of the series. Janelle Cooper has agreed to bring back her famous brownies for the occasion.

Cost for the course will be $1,165. Class size will be limited to 24 students for the pistol and 16 for the rifle courses, so it is advisable to get your deposit in promptly.

Gunsite Academy in the year 2000 will feature newly revamped ranges as well as a general spruce-up of the entire facility.

"I took over Gunsite Ranch with the hope and resources to take it to a new level of excellence in the industry," said Buz. "The Masters Series is one of the ways to do this."

For more information call Gunsite Office 928-636-4565 or e-mail

It is quite obvious by now that the United Nations organization is in principle hostile to national sovereignty, as well as individual liberty. It is not on our side. We may treat it with courtesy, but we must under no circumstances take orders from it, nor join in its various international machinations.

As a result of a question I inserted into this paper some weeks ago, I am now completely informed on the subject of iron and steel, in the chemical sense. What I lack, however, is a proper historical perspective. It seems that people knew about the difference between iron and steel before they knew what the chemical reasons were. The change over from bronze to steel took a while and had basic historical results. You could make good arrowheads, spear points, axes, and daggers out of bronze, but you cannot make a good sword until you have steel, and good steel at that. I am told that the Hittites knew about iron, but could not manufacture serviceable steel. It would seem that the Trojan War was fought without steel. Note that Homer has Hector and Achilles having it out with spears. (If any of the family think they understand the manual of the spear, we welcome the information.)

Probably the "800-Year War" in Iberia saw the evolution of the sword, as we think of it today. The Roman Gladius was, I now believe, the secondary arm of the legions, who seem to have fought by choice with that "darning needle" pilum.

In any case, we thank the faithful profoundly for all the information we have about the Bessemer process and carbon content. We know what we know today, but what I find fascinating is how we learned that.

Since it is fashionable now to nominate various things for "millennial" consideration, we suggest a listing of the top butchers of the 20th century. These would be Pol Pot, Mao Tse Dung, Hitler and Stalin. Right off hand, I cannot think of any other candidates.

Back in the good old days, I dreamed up the notion of a course in "Safari Prep" to be held here at Gunsite. I would still like to undertake that, if there is a demand for it. It is astonishing to hear of the number of novices who go to Africa and make complete fools of themselves for lack of proper preparation. The notion that your professional hunter will take care of all things is not entirely correct. He may know his business, but sometimes he does not, and the client can be saved a lot of bother if he acquires a good idea of what to expect.

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote."

Benjamin Franklin, 1759

We hear that the Pentagon is considering doing away with soldiers. In this modern age we have computers. We can hire thousands of girls to operate the computers, and the computers can program the weapons, and the weapons can do the fighting. This is an interesting idea, but somehow I would rather not see how it works.

We learn that Comrade Mandela has announced in a speech that he hopes for a bright future in South Africa for "liberty" and "equality." Anyone who has thought about it realizes that liberty and equality are antithetical concepts. You can have one, or you can have the other, but you certainly cannot have both. As to that, either concept is a rather futile goal. Equality is biologically impossible, and liberty is only obtainable in homogeneous populations very thinly spread.

We recently had a telephone contact with family member Hans Westermayer from Munich. He gave us a full rundown on the nature of IPSC competition in Germany. It seems what used to be a practical endeavor has turned into a gamesman's paradise. The idea is to buy the most ornate equipment possible so that the shooter does not matter, only the pistol. They have decided that the 9mm x 21 cartridge is "major caliber" now, on some inexplicable basis, and the idea is strictly "spray-and-pray" - if you cannot shoot well, shoot a lot. There is no place in Europe where doctrine may be put forth authentically. There are few such places in the world, so what has happened is that a whole generation of competitors has grown up whose members do not really know what they are trying to do. It is a lot of fun though, and the equipment is strange and wonderful, coming as it does in a variety of designer colors - blues and yellows, reds and greens, and so on. Our friend Hans decided to enter the Bavarian championships using his old-fashioned Gunsite equipment and technique. Not to my surprise, he placed fourth overall out of about 400 shooters - to the confusion of the new generation. I am very fond of Bavaria as a place to visit, but it does not appear to be a world-class shooting locus at this time.

As the brave new world takes over in South Africa, it is now an offense to call a Boer a Boer. Oddly enough, if it applied to me, I would consider it a compliment.

We have been in contact with Andy Tillman, who has been doing a lot of research in terminal bullet performance in the major calibers. He concludes that for targets of a thousand pounds weight or more, the Swift bullet is currently the best available - and he has certainly tried them all. I have been personally very happy with the Swift bullet over the years, having used it on medium to large animals from hell to breakfast. Just last year it put a zebra down very neatly using the 350 Short Magnum cartridge. As you know, a zebra is a conspicuously tough animal, very seldom stopped with one round. I look forward to being able to fit out the 376 Steyr cartridge with the Swift bullet in due course.

I suppose everybody noticed that our glorious leader has stated in a speech that he "saw the light" and resigned his life membership in the National Rifle Association. The statement, of course, was ridiculous, but more important is how easy it was to disprove. The record is there, and Bill Clinton is certainly not the kind of man to become involved in the venerable American tradition of marksmanship.

The fascinating thing about this is that he apparently believes what he says, even though he knows what he said was untrue and knows what he said can easily be proven to be untrue. This is certainly a mental aberration of some sort, so I called my local, friendly shrink (who happens to be my granddaughter) and asked her what sort of term there is for a wet wire of this kind in the control circuits. There should be a proper medical term for believing one's own lie, because this happens once in a while, witness O.J. Simpson. However, the best term we could come up with was narcissism, which is a way of defining self-love. The narcissist believes that whatever he says is true because he is perfect and cannot be wrong, not just in matters of opinion, but in matters of fact. If he says 2+3=17, that makes it true. An interesting thing about this affliction is that the victim is not even slightly embarrassed when caught in his prevarication. It simply does not bother him.

I have long known about constitutional liars, but narcissism is somewhat different. This man is, shall we say it, nuts, and apparently the electorate does not mind. Such a way we have come in 200 years!

And now the Feds are beginning to be upset about the 50 caliber BMG cartridge, with good cause, I suppose. Let us hope the bureaucrats never discover the 30-06.

In an NBC debate of 2 October 1999, Larry Pratt confronted Representative Lawler of Connecticut concerning, of course, bureaucratic restrictions on firearms ownership. Larry confronted the Congressman with the statement that he, the Congressman, was flying in the face of English common law which upholds that a party accused must be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Lawler responded with a statement that we are not concerned with a person who is guilty, but rather who is dangerous. In his view, it does not matter what you have done or have not done, but only that you scare him. This is the bare face of tyranny, and has been around since the Bronze Age. This is what our enemy believes, and this is what we must fight by all means available as long as we draw breath.

I do not know if you find Dr. Laura Schlessinger to be one of your favorite commentators, but we do. We were very pleased the other day to hear her point out how safe she felt in Israel, where everybody is armed. This exactly reflects my position on the occasion of my visit to Israel during the Lebanese War. In truth, an armed society is a polite society, and if you have been in one, you know positively how secure you feel. I have been in several places besides Israel where everybody was armed, and I could not help but feel instantly that here was a place where nobody was going to pull anything stupid. Citizens have been troubled recently by an armed robber in Phoenix who has been conspicuously successful in his depredations up till now, since nobody has shot him. A lot of people now are indeed armed in Phoenix, but obviously nobody has taken advantage of that as yet. We look forward to the news tonight.

The Prime Minister of England at this time is one Tony Blair. We saw him on the air the other night, to our considerable disaffection. He twitters like a sparrow, with perhaps the least forceful presentation I can recall, and there he is presiding over the "Mother of Parliaments." (I gather that any sparrow would have more interesting things to say.)

"The fact is that the average man's love of liberty is nine-tenths imaginary, exactly like his love of sense, justice and truth. He is not actually happy when free; he is uncomfortable, a bit alarmed, and intolerably lonely. Liberty is not a thing for the great masses of men. It is the exclusive possession of a small and disreputable minority, like knowledge, courage and honor. It takes a special sort of man to understand and enjoy liberty - and he is usually an outlaw in democratic societies."

H.L. Mencken, February 12, 1923, Baltimore Evening Sun
Contributed by T.J. Johnson

While I cannot look forward to the world scene with any eagerness or anticipation, I do think that the situation here at Gunsite will be radically superior to what has been the case for the last seven years. There should be one place in the world where doctrine is examined, developed, and promulgated. This could be that place, and we will do our very best to restore it to the position it once held.

Expert weaponcraft is not for everyone, but there should be a source where it is made available to those who need it. There are too many "Schools " in proliferation throughout the world. There should be one "University." The Gunsite Academy has the resources and we hope to make it come to pass.


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