Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 3, No. 7 16 May 1995
We have been taking advantage of the good
weather to verify rifle zeros on our friendly range at Ravengard.
Predictably, the SSG and the Blaser have remained dead-on through
the winter, but the Springfield pseudo-Scout decided to throw high.
Just why this is I cannot tell, but it supports the basic rule that
one should never fail to check his zero at the scene of his
endeavors before he takes the field. A good rifle, a good sight,
and good ammunition should stay put, but sometimes they do
Please note that "apprehension" and
"paranoia" are not synonyms. Paranoia is a mental affliction.
Apprehension is reasonable awareness of hazard. Please!
So much has been written about the
Oklahoma bomb that there is little point in adding to it. I can,
however, extract the following from a recent letter to a friend
which covers my feelings on the matter:
"A planted bomb is a despicable instrument, as any
decent human being will attest. One may reflect, however, that more
children were killed at Waco than at Oklahoma City. No sympathy
must be shown to the perpetrators of either atrocity."
More than two thousand years ago Aristotle
opined that most of the human race has essentially the soul of a
slave. A recent Associated Press poll recorded that
fifty-four percent of those questioned seemed willing to trade
liberty for security. The sad fact is that one cannot trade the one
for the other. You can surrender your liberty, but what you get in
turn is never a significant increase in your security. There are
those in Israel who feel that they would like to trade "land for
peace." That will not work either.
A report from South Africa suggests that
the new Vektor pistol, with its exotic, attractive lines, comes
over the counter with an atrocious trigger release. Apparently the
facilitation of precise placement is of scant interest to current
producers of defensive sidearms.
A gruesome hunting tale we just extracted
from the Safari Club magazine points up yet again the need
to "use enough gun," in Ruark's expression. It appears that this
sportsman undertook to harass a water buffalo on India's east coast
with what he refers to as a "carbine." Various compact rifles have
been called carbines over the years, but given the time and place
of this episode I conclude that the narrator was referring to the
unsatisfactory 30 caliber US carbine of World War II. You
would think almost anyone would know better than that!
The buff, after having been shot several times, crashed through the
group and pinned one of the party to the ground. It was a smallish
bull, with a spread between points of some twenty inches, but it
succeeded in driving its horns through the body of the victim in
two places high in the shoulder and low in the pelvis. This fixed
the victim on the horns and the buff ran off into the jungle with
the man on his head.
The attempted pursuit was not very successful. After four days,
when the hunters finally made it, the mortally wounded buffalo was
unable to rise, but he still bore on his horns the rotting wreckage
of what had once been a man. Ugly!
Moral: Don't hunt dangerous game with little guns. How odd that one
should have to make that point!
We have been approached by Don Mitchell of
California with the notion of producing a perfected clone of the
1911 allowing me a free hand in design control. This is most
gratifying and bids to produce a really serviceable gadget-free
sidearm at a very reasonable price.
This could be a really important development.
We have now seen the second issue of the
Guru's Gold ready for the Keneyathlon at Whittington
Shooting Center on 9-10 June. Remember that this award goes to that
shooter who has the lightest rifle placing in the top five. We have
made it up for an average size finger whatever that is. If it does
not fit the winner, we invite him to send it in and we will re-size
it for him.
The massive gold ring, complete with our insignia and its diamonds,
is quite beautiful!
Those of you who are still watching the
Simpson case on the tube may note what John Stuart Mill said about
the adversary system more than one hundred years ago:
"The people speak and act as if they regarded a
criminal trial as a sort of game, partly of chance, partly of
skill, in which the proper end to be aimed at is not that the truth
may be discovered, but that both parties may have fair play: in a
word, that whether a guilty person should be acquitted or punished
may be as near as possible an even chance."
The disturbing thing about this situation is that whatever verdict
is reached in the matter of O. J. Simpson, the result will be
towering rage on partisans of one side or another. We should
perhaps remember that when the peasantry become enraged they burn
down cities, whereas no matter how exasperated the bourgeoisie may
feel, they do not take to the streets.
So much for justice!
"If God had wanted us to vote, he would have given us
We see that Winchester is recalling one
lot of 30-06/180 ammunition (#137HF22). If you happen to have any
of this lot do not shoot it, but return it to your dealer for
Remember Kenesaw, Georgia? That is the
place where the city fathers decided to reduce crime by requiring
householders to be armed. It is also the place that the national
media will not discuss. Since the ordinance was enacted, there have
been only two murders, both with knives. Since passage of the bill
crime against persons decreased 74 percent and has stayed low.
There have been just the two murders, and armed robbery,
residential burglary, commercial burglary, and rape have almost
"Hey, hey, ho, ho!
BATF has got to go!"
It would be nice if journalists in
general would drop the term "open fire," which applies to area fire
rather than individually aimed shots. To say that (a)
"opened fire" on (b) is to suggest that he simply
commenced shooting with little notion of hitting. This
unfortunately is all too true in the present Age of Spray and
Pray. It should not, however, be encouraged.
A question for discussion in next week's
class is "How much ammunition does one need?" One would not take
that matter up with the BATmen
, but among friends it has
interesting aspects. The competitive pistolero thinks of his
increments in terms of thousands, as does the dedicated
trapshooter. The big-game hunter is usually much less voracious,
even if he is a conscientious marksman. I have always felt that one
hundred rounds a year of 30-06 and another of 308 would suffice,
bearing in mind that on most hunting trips one may expend less than
a dozen rounds including sighters. When we built Baby, more than a
decade ago, John Gannaway constructed 200 rounds for me. I still
have about 65 left waiting for me in Durban.
At Orange Gunsite we used to run to about 500 rounds of pistol and
400 rounds of rifle per class, but that is rather intensive
As a boy I was permitted to take just 50 rounds of hunting
ammunition into Canada per hunt. Today I believe the allowance in
Botswana and Zimbabwe is 100.
With the 22, matters are very different, and on a picnic one may
easily go through 50 rounds of 22 per customer.
The subject is obviously very flexible, but the "one box a year"
man should remember that two different lots of ammunition may well
not shoot to the same point, and that he really should expend about
200 rounds with his hunting rifle before embarking for his annual
Certainly circumstances alter cases, but I clearly remember the old
"One cannot have too many books, too many wines, nor
too much ammunition."
We now are led to believe that it is
politically incorrect to take the Constitution literally. We knew
that the liberals held that view, but it is interesting to see them
admit it at last.
It would seem that when backlash faces
backlash, we have polarization. When we have polarization there is
little room for discussion. Much as we might like to reason
together, this serves no purpose when our adversary has already
made up his mind, with or without reason. Thus the nation faces a
crisis unprecedented since 1861. Since there is little point in
argument we must fall back on prayer.
Now that the bunny-huggers have prevailed
in Kenya, there exists a serious elephant problem. When elephants
learn that they need not fear people they tend to become very
casual about confrontation, and they have been killing people
without restraint down in the Hemingway country that borders on
what is now Tanzania. Balancing man against nature is a tricky
business, and must be conducted by people who will not allow
themselves to be ruled by the emotion of the moment.
As we have long known, a man's weapon is
less important than the man. Up in Littleton, Colorado, recently
some creep went on a rampage and started shooting people. Since no
firearm was ready to hand, a local construction worker terminated
the action cleanly with a rock. The article did not say what
caliber the rock was.
Perhaps the Sarah Brady gang should shift
their emphasis to "dung control" and enlist the help of the
Agriculture Department. After all, ammonium nitrate is a
fertilizer, and fertilizer is agriculture business. Soon we may see
a new type of federal enforcer, but now dressed in brown uniform
and wearing a gas mask.
In going back over some of the hunting
adventures from the English Colonial Period I discover the custom
of sleeping with a pistol under one's pillow. This was presumably
because field accommodations were pretty fragile and one had no
security apart from himself ("So what else is new?"). This raises
the interesting question of what sort of pistol is best kept under
the pillow. Much, of course, will depend upon the character of the
individual in such matters as to how deeply he sleeps and how
quickly he awakes. I think a good choice might well be a
heavy-caliber Peacemaker. It may not be the most efficient fighting
tool around for one who is wide awake, but very little can go wrong
with it, and a ready round of snake shot might prove to be just
what is needed.
In response to an increasing body of
misapprehension, I must point out that my forthcoming work "The
Art of the Rifle" is about shooting, not about guns. There are
a dozen or more good books available on the rifle itself, but as
far as I can see no satisfactory work on rifle marksmanship at this
"Most of us could get along better with much less
government than we have; there are others though who seem to
require lifelong shepherding from pre-natal care to the electric
chair. It makes no sense to talk of self-government to a man who
cannot even govern his own behavior."
If you are ever fortunate to be in a
position where it seems necessary to pack two guns, take care
always to pack the heavy. Let your companion or your assistant pack
the light. If an emergency occurs, you do not want to be standing
there with the rapier in your hand while the man carrying your
battle-axe has suddenly departed.
Placard carried in the Philippines:
"If you cannot protect us, arm us.
If you cannot arm us, pray for us."
All of us who participated in the
Babamkulu expedition last year have been having a great time
celebrating its first anniversary this month. We have broken out
the journals and run the tapes. Lindy has fed us bobotie. We can by
no means expect to repeat our frolic of last year, but we can
relish the memories and look forward to new and different
adventures. It has been truly said that you can never step into the
same river twice, but the world is full of rivers to cross and each
one is a fresh delight. Planning is half the fun, so break out the
maps and get at it!
seems to have run down, so now it is up to the
judgement of the incorruptible judges to pass upon the entries.
Right now I fancy the reported response of the English Lord who,
after having won the Victoria Cross at the retreat from Dunkirk,
refused to discuss the matter at dinner. "The noise, my dear and
the people!" was his only comment.
"Experience is what you get when you don't get what you
"By the way, I have had the experience of surprising a
burglar. He fled. I notified the police, ID'd him and pressed
charges. He had a very long record. Playing the
continuance game, he and his lawyer caused me to spend 5 days in
court. He spent 3. The judge sent him for alcohol counseling at
taxpayer expense. I needed a drink; I paid for it myself. The judge
was an ass, the court system was pathetic."
I have often denigrated variable-power
scopes. People ask why.
First, variable power serves no purpose. You can hit
what you can see, and it need not appear larger.
Second, variables frequently shift point of aim when power is
changed. Not always, but enough to be troublesome.
Third, variable power reduces eye-relief, which should be greater
rather than less.
Fourth, complexity increases fragility.
Fifth, variables cost more.
So now it seems that Zeiss has discontinued fixed-power sights.
Because of the "lemming principle," they don't sell.
We will be going out of contact, so to
speak, for the next few weeks, as our travels take us hither,
thither and even yon. I do not feel too guilty about this, since
this issue is number seven of the year, putting me a little ahead
of a monthly output. Besides, I expect to learn much of interest in
these journeyings and to be able to report back to you on my return
[Editor's note: Photo of several men wearing raid
suits, with "FBI" featured prominently on the suits, with their
faces covered by nomex hoods.]
Why are these men ashamed to show their faces?
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal
use only. Not for publication.