Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 2, No. 14 10 November 1994
From Ken Pantling, our man in Norwich:
"Republicans are cummin' in,
Ludly sing whoopee!
Slick Willy's looking very glum
And so is Hillary.
The Senate's gone, they've lost the House,
Cuomo's on the rocks.
Little Teddy's hangin' in
But only by his socks.
Poor Ollie didn't make it
But he would have done I fancy
If he hadn't fallen at the post,
Tripped up by darling Nancy.
The White House, it was shot up,
It was only tit for tat.
Shame on the fellow with the SKS
He shot like a Democrat.
But the White House now stands empty,
Nobody there, one hears,
But getting rid of jerks like that
Will take two more whole years."
It has been sagely observed that while
every hunting trip is a qualified success, every election is a
qualified disaster. We may render pious thanks for the reversal of
forty years of leftist domination of Congress, but we note that the
people returned egregious miscreants to office in Massachusetts,
California and Florida, and thus have got the government they
On the whole, the election turned out well, so let us enjoy our
traditional Festival of Gratitude with due appreciation.
This from Bill Buckley's National
"Binkymania is taking over in Alaska. Binky, a 30-year
old polar bear in Anchorage Zoo, recently munched on an intrusive
tourist and two drunken teenagers who went for a midnight swim in
her pool. Citizens are touting her for office ("Binky for
Governor - Take a Bite Out of Crime") and urging zookeepers to
set aside a day for people to play with Binky as a means of
reducing her food bill and upping average test scores in Alaskan
Let us consider the "L-shaped Pepper
Popper." The standard Pepper Popper goes down when it is
well hit, and stays down. This makes it necessary for somebody,
usually the shooter, to step forward and set it up again. This is
fine for pistol activity where the ranges are short, but when one
uses the Popper as a rifle target the problem of getting it to come
back up again becomes "labor intensive." At the recent Gunsite
Reunion at Whittington Center, John Gannaway showed us some
heavy-duty Poppers which were designed to bounce but not fall when
struck solidly by a rifle of adequate power. They worked quite
well, but they were somewhat difficult to judge at 300
meters - or even 200. Now then, let us consider the provision
of a forward-extended counter-weight affixed to the base of the
popper. This could be a smooth metal rod on which a sliding weight
could be adjusted for calibration. When properly set up this popper
would flinch to a hit by starting over rearward and then it would
come back to vertical due to the adjusted weight on the rod. Such a
device would be more complicated to manufacture and hence more
expensive than a standard popper, but it would be more useful for
training and practice purposes, and if made of proper armored steel
it could be made reactive for almost any caliber, even including
the 223. Why didn't we think of this before?
Justice Robert Bork, who in spite of his
reputation as a distinguished legal mind has never quite understood
about the Second Amendment, has now opined that if we were to
observe the Tenth Amendment, as it was written, we would
practically wreck our federal system, as it now functions. Exactly!
Let us get on with it!
On the subject of power, I have been
recently amused by an exchange between riflemaster Ross Seyfried
and a correspondent who decries Ross's scorn for the 350 Fireplug
cartridge. So do I, for that matter. I and John Gannaway and Mervyn
Ullman have enjoyed vast success with the Fireplug in Africa, as
have Bob Crovatto and I on moose, and a whole sock-full of
sportsmen on elk. Les Bowman, the Godfather of all elk guides,
hailed the 350 Fireplug when it came out as the ideal piece for the
American elk, combining as it did decisive power with truly
extraordinary handiness. The Fireplug did in my lion exactly in the
act of charging with a paralyzing end-for-end blow. For Ross to
scorn this rifle and cartridge combination as a "dinky little woods
carbine" is not to my mind giving us his most considered opinion.
Ross, like his mentor Elmer Keith, is very fond of great big guns,
and these gentlemen should not be castigated for that. Differences
of opinion, of course, are what make for horse racing, and we all
enjoy discussions, but to say that I like "A," therefore "B" is
bad, is foolishness, unless backed up by irrefutable
Speaking of differences of opinion, we
have seen the Waco atrocity characterized in the press as a "mass
suicide." We thought it was properly referred to as a "ninja
massacre." Clearly there is a broad difference of opinion here. As
I understand it, we still have the survivors of the Waco atrocity
in jail, though it has never been made very clear just what they
are in jail for. I certainly do not maintain that the Branch
Davidians were not pretty kooky, but I have read most of the
accounts and I still do not know what they did that was evil. I
guess I should bear in mind the legal axiom that "being right does
not assure victory."
We note that old buddy Cameron Hopkins,
Editor of Guns magazine, has finally been able to convince a
manufacturer to produce his "425 Express" rifle. The cartridge is
"lightheavy" short enough to work through standard length actions,
and should do very well for buffalo, being very similar to the 416
but with slightly greater impact area. (Personally, I will continue
to hold out for 500-grain bullets in a full-sized heavy for this
sort of thing.)
And here we have yet another "Big
Seven." As I understand it, the seven millimeter Remington
Magnum was designed by Warren Page as a means of beefing up the
proven 270 Winchester. It did this, but why this needed to be done
was an open question. Now we have a series of new 7 RM
cartridges with even bigger powder bottles than the 7 RM, but
nobody has bothered to tell us why we need anything like that. To
most of us, the 270 is pretty much the ideal deer cartridge, and in
good hands it will do up African antelope in fine style, as proved
by Jack O'Connor, Ian McFarlane, Steve Lunceford, and many others.
In inept hands, a jazzed up 270 is not only no advantage over the
original, but may indeed be a disadvantage in that the
unenlightened shooter may feel that power may make up for
placement - which, of course, it won't.
If you need more power than you can get from proven light bores
such as the 270, 7x57, and the 30-06, you need more bullet -
not more velocity. All of the good lights will shoot flat enough to
do a proper job out to ranges beyond which the shooter cannot be
trusted to hit his target, and all retain enough power at
reasonable ranges to penetrate the vitals and bring down even a
tough target. So what is the purpose of the brand new "7mm Star
Wars Magnum" to be introduced at the SHOT show? Well, the purpose,
of course, is to sell. The sucker will always fall for anything
that is new, and he is the proper prey of the marketeer.
The consensus seems to be that we really
should have music at the next Gunsite Reunion and Theodore
Roosevelt Memorial. I do not think we can arrange a piano, but
we should be able to come up with a guitar or two. Let us put our
minds to that.
How often do you remember hearing various
pernicious politicians opine that only the police and military
should have access to firearms. As has been clearly stated,
"When only the police are armed, what you have is a
I am sure that you have heard more about
the Simpson case than you need, but I simply cannot resist relaying
to you the following comment from Bill O'Connor, of Kensington,
"The authorities had nine shots at O.J. for wife
beating. They either held fire or missed every time. Second, the
911 call took 13 minutes. When Nicole hung up, the police had still
not arrived. Conclusion: Ordinary citizens don't need guns for
protection. We have the police. They should be here any
I am continually amused at the standard
journalistic practice of claiming that "studies have shown"
something or other to be the case, when the journalist has no
rational reason for making his point. Personally, I prefer reason
to statistics every time. With this in mind, I present the
following list of things that my own "studies have shown" to be
- 78.2% of deer always know about opening day the day before it
- If you obey the speed limit in Southern California on the
freeways you will be rear ended 57.3% of the time.
- Large-bore pistols are 59% more reliable fight stoppers than
- 83% of Democrats fear liberty.
- 83% of Republicans fear Democrats.
- 68% of street punks do not fear 92% of respectable
- 71% of feminist agitators tend to be ugly.
- You can get drunk on beer, but you have to work at it.
- Politicians can get drunk on power, and it takes no effort at
- 96% of violent criminals just hate being shot.
- Statistics can be used to establish any preconceived
The date for the rifle class at
Whittington has been penciled in for the fourth week in April. I
would like to get at it sooner, since I like the job, but Rich
Wyatt is concerned about weather in the spring - and with good
cause. If there appears to be a demand we may run two rifle
sessions back-to-back. Rich has promoted some excellent
disappearing rifle targets for the field course, and barring
accidents I will have two of the nation's most distinguished
riflemasters to support me.
I was recently scolded by a correspondent
who said that I was violating my own principles when I said that it
is a good practice before the hunt to sit before the televisor and
snap in on all zeros or ohs which appear in the commercials. He
said that this violated Rule 2, which states that you are never to
allow the muzzle to cover anything that you are not willing to
destroy. I take his point, but after my recent stint in the meat
locker, during which I was exposed continuously to daytime
television, I have lost any affection I might have ever have had
for televisors. I have not blown any away as yet, but there may
come a day!
As we proceed with our work on "The
Art of the Rifle" we ponder upon such definitions and standards
as may be established. We think much more about successful field
marksmanship than about target marksmanship. Not that we decry the
skills of the target range, which are of a very high order, but
which are often different from those skills necessary in the
field - either in hunting or in combat. Our African expedition
last May gave us much food for thought, both in the hunting
examples we witnessed at Engonyameni and in the military examples
we were able to recreate at Sandlwana, Rorke's Drift, Majuba Hill,
Self control is obviously the essence of good marksmanship of any
sort, but self control under conditions of extreme hazard may more
properly be referred to as "stress control." We learn of people who
fail to shoot well in the field because they were excited. We hear
of people forgetting their basic principles in conflict because
they were frozen with fear. These are not acceptable reasons. When
you are holding a firearm, you have the power to surmount stress.
The killing expression, as those who have seen it know, is one of
complete calm. Regardless of what you may see on the screen, one
does not grimace when he is shooting for blood - with pistol,
rifle, tank gun or fighter plane. Thus it is that a great field
shot may or may not be a great target shot. He must be a good
target shot, but not necessarily a master. What makes him a master
field shot is his ability to control stress so that he can put his
targeting abilities to proper use, regardless of his personal
hazard or excitement. A good hunter is nearly always a good
soldier. Let the bunny-huggers bear that in mind whenever they feel
It is a pleasure to learn that Lt.
General Victor Krulak's son has now received his third star. We all
share the Brute's pride in this distinguished family
Reading in a copy of the Journal of the
National Rifle Association of the United Kingdom, sent to us by a
British correspondent, we discover that for quite a long time aimed
fire on the part of soldiers was held to be "illegal, immoral, and
probably fattening." In the day of the Brown Bess the infantryman's
weapon was employed in mass with an effect rather like that of a
giant shotgun. The weapons themselves were so inaccurate that it
was almost pointless to fit them with sights at all, but they were
not supposed to be fired individually, but rather on command by the
entire infantry unit. Blasts of musketry of this sort were quite
effective as long as there was a suitable target available,
preferably a similar unit of massed infantry standing within range
at close order. Victory, of course, would go to that side which got
the blast off first.
When rifles appeared the capacity of the rifleman to pick out an
individual enemy and deck him became apparent. This was considered
to be a VBT (Very Bad Thing) in many military circles. Among other
things, it placed the lives of officers in particular danger, which
was considered to be an antisocial development. During the
Peninsular War, for example, the matter came to a head:
"During the Peninsular War the British employed
sharpshooters where they were used to great effect. During one
seven-day period these marksman killed 500 officers and eight
generals. This resulted in the order that rifleman were to be given
no quarter if captured on the grounds that their fire was aimed, a
practice that was considered unfair."
Thus it was that for a particular set of circumstances if you set
about killing your enemy on purpose you were held to be a war
criminal, at least by the French Revolutionary Army.
We learn from the armed forces
publications that the future of military marksmanship is placed
increasingly at hazard by the official assumption that troops
cannot be taught to shoot well, and that, therefore, the infantry
weapon of the future will probably be some sort of short range,
high-explosive grenade-launcher. No one worries about the problem
of ammunition supply anymore since the assumption is that we will
always have complete command of the air. This has been happily true
in our recent military adventures, but as we look to post cold-war
speculation, in which the enemy is no longer the Evil Empire but
more probably the liberty loving citizen, two aspects of this
debate become apparent. It may come to pass that the weapon of the
oppressor will not need the same characteristics as the weapon of
the resistor, and vice versa. This may be the reason why rifle
marksmanship training, as well as the military rifles themselves,
continue on their downward path. As the day of the master marksman
follows the day of the master sailor, we are forced to the alarming
conclusion that the good shot may eventually become politically
unacceptable. Fancy that!
On one of the "fish wrappers" at the
check-out stand, we note that our people in Haiti are being
increasingly menaced by zombies. Now zombies pose a special problem
for the troops because since they are already dead you cannot kill
them. It is possible, of course, that they may be inactivated by
means of silver bullets, though whether or not there is enough
silver in the projectile of a "poodle-shooter" to do the job is a
question yet to be answered. We would prefer to try our luck with
any one of the new 45-caliber hollow-point bullets, with the cavity
filled with silver.
The more sinister of the new rulers of
South Africa are suggesting that no white man has any need for more
than one gun. This does open the interesting discussion about how
many guns a citizen of any color actually needs. Well, of course,
if a man is not a shooter he does not need any guns, and that takes
care of that. But it is interesting to speculate about how many
guns a shooter needs.
I would like to open the seminar with the proposition that a
shooter needs a rifle, a pistol, a shotgun and a 22. Now then, will
one center-fire rifle do or must every man have a spare in each
category? Does the shooter need a 22 rifle and a 22 pistol? Does
the shooter need a fowling piece, an upland bird gun, and a combat
shotgun? The subject broadens. Contributions are welcome.
(Of course, the citizen's need is none of the government's
business. This is a purely theoretical discussion.)
"I do believe that where there is a choice only between
cowardice and violence I would advise violence."
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal
use only. Not for publication.