Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 6, No. 7 July, 1998
Suddenly it is mid-year. My how the time
do fly! The summer solstice is the official beginning of summer,
which has never been our favorite season - since leaving
school. In school, of course, things were different. Mr. Nourse,
our esteemed boys' vice principal at John Boroughs Junior High
School, once wrote as follows:
"Parents look forward to vacations with misgivings.
Girls with eagerness. Boys with joy.
Parents look forward to the end of vacations with relief. Girls
with regret. Boys with despair."
Yes, Virginia, there is a gender gap.
We continue to be amused by the odd term
"double-action only" as applied to trigger-cocking self-loading
pistols. It would seem obvious that nothing can be double and
single at the same time, and you can only fire a double-cruncher
one way. However, a good many people do not seem to care what they
say. Our Uncle Argus, of affectionate memory, once stated upon the
appearance of a dreadful looking mutt in the yard, "Fine looking
dog - if you don't care what you say." It is pretty hard to
maintain communication if people do not care what they
The new Taurus field pistol in caliber 454
Casull seemed attractive to those who like to hunt big game with a
handgun. On first examination it seems very interesting. We shall
see how it stands the test of time.
Perhaps you heard of the recent cougar
incident up in Colorado only a couple miles from the winter
residence of daughter Parry and her family. It seems this foot
slogger was set upon, without apparent provocation, by the cat
while walking on a forest trail. He threw it off with his Swiss
army knife and his thumb, which he drove into the beast's eye. A
cougar is not a very big animal, and though very strong, rarely
seems to kill when it attacks humans; but, as with the leopard, it
usually sets up a painful and expensive stay in the
Welcome to the vast right wing conspiracy!
That is us, in case you have not noticed a conspiring
The International Palma Match, as you
know, is fired at 1,000 yards. It must be fired with ammunition
suitable for the military arm of the nation entering the match,
though now the "second-line" 30 caliber military cartridges are
accepted. The contestants have discovered that when using
150-grain, 30 caliber bullets there is a tendency for accuracy to
fall off as the projectile drops back through the speed of sound.
Consequently the trend now is to build great, long barrels for
Palma Match rifles in the attempt to boost velocity up to where
bullets will still reach the target at supersonic speed. We wait to
see whether this really has any affect on international
We continue to be annoyed by commentators
who insist that a certain type of firearm - a 1911 auto, for
example - is designed only "to kill people." If we overlook
the capacity of the defensive handgun to intimidate an attacker,
that idea may be true, but we could respond by saying that a
scalpel is only designed "to cut people." But we can hardly expect
the logical approach from our entrenched hoplophobes. I cannot
believe that all these people are essentially stupid. What they
are, I propose, is simply envious. The man who cannot cope
automatically envies the man who can.
As previously reported, the 308/165
performed with complete satisfaction in Africa last May. The
preferred combination, however, remains the 30-06/220, in the
We notice that the BATmen have
officially announced that they would prefer to be called
ATmen. That is to say, they call themselves the "Alcohol,
Tobacco and Firearms" rather than the "Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco
and Firearms." (Apparently the Feds are going to keep the B in
FBI.) It is immodest to give one's self too much importance, but if
I have caused the BATmen to change their name because of my
writings, I will be highly satisfied. I guess I am on the ninja hit
list, but perhaps that is just boasting.
To no one's surprise the proliferation of
concealed carry laws in this country has resulted in a noticeable
reduction in crime. The new laws do create a problem for the street
punk, since he can no longer tell who is armed and who is
Note that family member Curt Rich
has just released a new
and very important work called "Drive to Survive."
addition to being a fully experienced combat infantry officer, is
also a firearms enthusiast, but above that, he has driving
credentials as long as your arm. He knows whereof he speaks. I have
read the draft from beginning to end, and I counsel all the
faithful to purchase not one, but two, copies of this book -
one to read and to loan. Here is a "how-to" book which may really
make a difference, if we can get enough people to read
In a previous issue we opened a
discussion as to the purpose of education. This has developed quite
a response, but has not produced a philosophically authoritative
consensus. The main hurdle seems to be the confusion of education
with trade schooling.
Most people seem to think that trade schools are a good thing,
especially those who feel that the purpose of education is to get a
job of some sort. But many large organizations, for example the
Marine Corps, feel that they are better off running their own trade
schools than depending upon diplomas from institutes over which
they have little control.
In any case, I do not believe that one can successfully argue that
the purpose of education is access to gainful employment. To the
extent that this may be true, it is a secondary goal.
To my mind, the purpose of education is to produce a cultivated
individual. That, of course, is dodging the issue, since we must
define what we mean by "cultivated." This definition, however,
gives us a place to start, and that is something we can not ignore
if we wish to arrive at a meaningful conclusion.
The German Mateba automatic revolver in
caliber 357 seems to be going great guns. I am going to make an
effort to get a chance to shoot one of those, if only to find out
what its appeal is.
It appears that the cardinal sin in the
view of the wimp culture is that of being "judgmental." The only
way to avoid being judgmental is to have no principles. We were
given our brains in order to make judgments, and that includes
value judgments. Values, by definition, are valuable, so by all
means let us be judgmental! Jump into the argument and
In a recent issue of Safari Times
Terry Blauwkamp analyzed a questionnaire put to hunters in both
North America and Africa to develop a body of doctrine which might
be useful to aspirants, whether hunters or outfitters. The results
were most interesting.
More than 40 African PH's responded to the questionnaire, and they
pretty well corroborated what we have come to accept as proper
African doctrine. By 28 to five the opinion was that hunters bring
telescope sights that are too big. By 14 to one they voted against
quick detachable mounts. Variable scopes were scorned - they
were always set wrong at the wrong time. Reloaded ammunition was
found reliable by a score of 34 to four. Factory ammunition was
successful by a score of 31 to five. However, the majority
questioned said that reloaders tend to be better shots than those
who do not reload. Premium bullets were highly regarded - by a
score of 29 to nine. The general opinion was that American hunters
are "velocity crazy," always opting for the higher velocity and the
lighter bullet in any given load, which is the reverse of what most
of the African hunters recommend. And here is the item which
indicates what the professional hunters base their observation on.
The average number of shots taken to down an animal was 6.6.
The major point upon which I disagree with the majority of those
questioned was the suitability of the 375 for buffalo. They liked
it, I don't. Properly placed, a 375 will do for buffalo, but a
bigger gun provides a certain edge, and if you are going to carry a
bigger gun, I think you should make it a big one. (The matter of
recoil control enters here, but I am not going to make much of
that. Recoil effect upon the shooter is about 85 percent mental.
Proper training, understanding and practice will handle it. There
are those who say that some people are physiologically
over-sensitive to recoil. If this is true, I suggest that the
individuals involved should not hunt buffalo.)
"If you don't mind being where you are, you are not
Those interested in criminology should
reflect that back in the early 18th century there was a
considerable piracy problem throughout the world, but concentrated
heavily in the Caribbean and the Southeastern United States coast.
It was solved in a rather obvious way. All governments concerned
agreed that piracy on the high seas was a capital offense and
should be punished by death. All pirates captured were hanged on
the spot, regardless of extenuating circumstances. Piracy
I only fired once on our recent hunt in
Africa, but I had the chance to observe more field shooting on the
part of other people than ever before. I learned many things.
Ranges in the delta were longer on this occasion than previously,
running up to just short of 300 paces. This did not reduce our
score because everybody involved had been proven to be a good shot
before coming along.
We found it a good practice to call one's shot on game, even more
than on paper targets. Every time that striker goes forward the
shooter should tell himself exactly where that shot went,
immediately after working the bolt. We took much pleasure in "catch
and release" hunting. This amounts to "snapping in" on game targets
with an empty chamber. I particularly prize one such that I took on
a particularly fine lion. I do not have his skin, but I have nearly
One of the high points of this last hunt
was a fire raid on an adjoining camp by an adventurous leopard. The
cat broke into the kitchen when all hands were asleep, and located
a rack of biltong hanging to cure above the butchering table. When
he leaped up on the table it went over, breaking loose the pipeline
on the gas-powered refrigerator. The pipe was brushed against
something hot and caught fire. Much annoyed, the leopard rushed off
into the dark, leaving the kitchen tent to burn almost to the
ground. That is a new one in our experience.
Our host up in the delta does business
with all sorts of clients, and told us a tale of an interesting
Chicago-type confrontation. Some of these hunters are disreputable
types, and this one client proved no exception. He paid his
obligations by check, and then when he was safely back in Chicago
he stopped payment, his excuse being that the hunt did not turn out
to be exactly what he wanted. Now this is definitely a version of
defrauding an innkeeper, but it is pretty hard for a hardworking PH
from Southern Africa to bring suit against some rich kid in
The matter turned out rather well, however. The following year Ian
took out a group of "self-made Chicago businessmen" who had
connections at home. When he told them the tale they looked serious
and told him not to worry, the matter would be taken care of. As
soon as they got back to base, they took steps. Immediately a new
check was forthcoming, and this one was honored. There is much to
be said for the way the brotherhood does business.
I suggest you get your order in for your
Steyr Scout before the crazies on the other side discover how
efficient it is. The people who are terrified at the ownership of
"automatic weapons" will have great cause for alarm if they ever
find out about the Scout.
And when you get it, I recommend that you strip off the extensions
on the butt. You want a Scout to be as compact as possible, and a
short stock is a definite asset on the snap shot.
(Contrary to what you might suppose, I do
not receive one penny from either Steyr Mannlicher or Gun South
Incorporated. I know that may be hard to believe on the part of the
money-minded, but it is nonetheless the fact.)
How many of you know what a
fossa is? Neither did we. It turns out that the ferocious
fossa (ferox is his specific name) is a sort of outsized
mustelid that serves to keep down the population of lemurs on
Madagascar. He is not a true weasel, however, since he has claws
that retract like those of a cat, but he weighs about 50lbs and is
conspicuously agile in the trees. As with his distant cousins the
wolverine and the ratel, he shows no fear of man, but as of yet he
has not killed anybody except lemurs. It amazes me never before to
have heard of this fascinating beast.
At the recent general meeting of the NRA
in Philadelphia, we had occasion to talk briefly with family
member John Milius, of cinematic fame. His situation in
Hollywood, while eminently successful, is pretty dreary. He
represents the tradition of American heroism, which the show people
in general are trying to eradicate. For example, he told us that
his "Roughriders" (the best movie we had seen in a long
time) was not mentioned for any sort of recognition by the
Hollywood establishment. The New York Times reviewer,
moreover, complained that the Roughriders movie made us
proud of our historic heritage, rather than ashamed, as we ought to
have been. That's the word, "ashamed"! John is definitely swimming
against the tide, and more power to him!
"The desire to order other people around and make them
conform to one own's vision takes many forms."
Which emphasizes the great difference between those of us who are
activist gun owners and other "extremists" who devote themselves to
causes. Unlike the zealots who agitate for other causes, from
tobacco bans to bunny hugging, we shooters have no wish to push
other people around. Our major desire is that they leave us alone.
It is odd that nobody has mentioned that difference
Many of you are aware of the classic
adventure tale "Jock of the Bushveldt" (if not, you should
be). This work, written by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, has enjoyed
intermittent periods of popularity ever since I was a school boy.
Now it is being printed again, but note that it has become a victim
of what may be called "fictional revisionism." Fitzpatrick, who
knew very well of what he spoke, portrays the racial situation
during the Low Veldt gold rush at the end of the last century just
as it was, and, of course, it was not "politically correct." So a
couple of editors, with disgusting and immodest arrogance, have
sought to "purify" this classic tale so as not to injure anyone's
tender feelings. Thus it is that if you undertake to acquire a copy
of "Jock," be sure you get it in unexpurgated form. In its new
edited version, it suggests telling the story of Tarzan without the
"When the fog of battle closes in,
victory is won by sergeants rather than generals."
Anyone for "three weapon golf"? In this
game you do your driving with a 60mm mortar, utilizing a smoke
bomb. You make your approach with a hunting bow, using a 6 inch
balloon as your target. You do your putting with a 1-second draw
from the leather using the major-caliber pistol of your choice.
Impossible, you say? I bet Bill Gates could arrange it if he cared
It is widely assumed that feral domestic
animals are more dangerous to their human associates than their
wild brethren. (Okay, I am sorry about the passive voice, which my
esteemed superior, General Cushman, told me never to use; so I will
say, "I have always assumed this to be the case.") Just last year
up in Zimbabwe the game rancher Allan Fisher was very nearly killed
by a "pet" kudu that he had raised from infancy into a fully mature
50-inch bull. He was in the process of distributing food for his
animals one morning when he was struck violently from behind and
smashed to the ground. Kudu, unlike sable and roan, do not use
their horns efficiently, and this one savaged Marsh with head and
hooves, as well as with the points of his horns. Marsh got hold of
the horns and the kudu dragged him here and there until losing him
in a clump of trees. His shoulder had been crushed down into his
thorax, collapsing a lung and driving his heart out of place. His
condition was life-threatening for two days, and he may never
regain the full use of his right arm.
This was a pet kudu, heretofore gentle and unaggressive. What went
wrong? Your guess is as good as anyone's.
"Statistically, fighting back is safer than giving
This trigger-lock business is just about
as ridiculous as any political issue can get. As we have pointed
out before, if you want to render your handgun inoperative all you
need to do is take it apart. With a solid frame revolver you need
only snap a cheap padlock through its top strap. Why should you buy
a trigger-lock? Well, obviously the answer is so that people who
make, distribute and sell trigger-locks can prosper. This
transparent marketing ploy is so obtuse that I would think even a
politician could see through it.
If you have a mean little kid in your household, you are simply
going to have to explain life to him. Trying to frustrate him by
gadgetry is a futile pastime. A mischievous little kid can
out-fathom any sort of restrictive device - while you
Despite what you may have read or heard,
Charlton Heston's presidency is not going to change the NRA. Our
principles are sound. Our philosophy is unassailable, and we are
not out of any so-called "mainstream." It is the media which stand
outside the mainstream in their ivory towers in the megalopolis. We
in the NRA hope that Charlton Heston's extraordinary oratory and
personal charisma may move these louts in the media into the
As with most vital issues, the irreconcilables stand at either end
and are not going to be moved by political pressure. It is the
undecided in the middle who need to be convinced, and I think Mr.
Heston is an ideal choice to do just that.
I note with distaste that there are some
people who have been graduated from Grey Gunsite who call
themselves Gunsite graduates. Technically they are, but no one
should ever confuse them with the family of Orange Gunsite
There may be more to Philadelphia than
meets the eye, but W.C. Fields could not find it, and neither could
I when I was stationed there as a fresh-caught second lieutenant
back in the dim, dead days before World War II. What
Philadelphia does offer is Independence Hall, which every patriot
should visit, and the Old Original Bookbinders restaurant, which is
one of America's outstanding landmarks of gastronomy. As an officer
in basic school, I was entitled to liberty (conditions permitting)
from close of inspection on Saturday til Monday morning. It was my
custom to make a beeline for the Bookbinders, where I would enjoy a
bowl of snapper soup and one medium lobster, after which I would
take the train for New York.
We were careful to drop in on the occasion of the NRA general
meeting just past, and we can say with satisfaction that the
restaurant is just the same as it was - except for the prices.
I could afford to dine at the Bookbinders on a second lieutenant's
pay in 1941, but no second lieutenant can eat there now unless
someone else is buying him dinner - so much has inflation
diminished our lifestyle in half a century.
The more I see in the field and on the
range, and the more I read in the magazines and see on the tube,
the more I realize that nobody has been to school. Violations of
correct technique are the rule, rather than the exception. It is a
good thing that we have a couple of good texts on the market to
show people the way, but considering how few people read, the
future does not look bright.
We all mourn the passing of Barry
Goldwater, who enjoyed the title of "Mr. Conservative" for many
years. He was an honest-to-God man, and he will be remembered for
many years for a number of things, but his most powerful
pronouncement, of course, was as follows:
"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.
Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."
The faint of heart will do well to study that
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal
use only. Not for publication.