Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 3, No. 9 August 1995
High Summer, 1995
Well, wow! Even now that we have done it,
I find it hard to believe that the Countess and I could have
accomplished so many things in such a short time on our European
venture. Of course sprinting at this rate, there were at least half
a dozen more things we should have taken care of and did not.
However, it is wonderful to combine business with pleasure in this
fashion, and while we regret not staying longer, it is always nice
to have something left out to take care of on the next
As promised, we sat down and examined the
prototype of the Mannlicher production Scout at length. I have
promised not to talk about the instrument in any detail, and
keeping that promise will have me bursting with frustration until
the factory sees fit to reveal its revolutionary wunderkind. It has
taken a long time to bring this about, and it will be another long
time until you can put your money down and take it out of the box,
but barring fire, flood, and other acts of God, the project is set
up and underway.
Praise the Lord!
The other part of our cup-of-joy is the
Mitchell pistol, for which Don Mitchell and I have signed the
papers. Here again it will take some time to put the piece in the
box for shipment, but I would like to think that you will be able
to examine it in person at the next SHOT Show.
Summer is upon us here at Gunsite,
complete with thunderstorms and pigs in the garden (javelina, that
is.) Personally I am rather fond of the little pigs, but they are
destructive. If we could just train them to eat only the squash and
leave the other plants alone I would be willing to share our fresh
We have enjoyed continuous satisfaction
with the Swift bullets. It should be noted, however, that the Swift
soft-point in 458 caliber has a semi-spitzer configuration which
makes it just a touch long for the already crowded 458 Winchester
case. The answer, of course, is to skip the 458 and go to a larger
capacity case such as the 460 G&A Special or others of that
We have long suggested that anyone who has
a 458 now is well advised to re-barrel it for the 40-caliber
400-grain bullet. This combination is usually referred to as the
416 Taylor, and it offers better balanced ballistics all
In view of the recent bear fatalities in
Alaska it may be time to re-issue the five Gunsite Bear
- Be alert.
- Take bears seriously. They are not cuddly.
- Never enter bear country on foot without a powerful firearm and
the skill to use it well. (If this is not permitted, do not
- Do not pitch your camp on a bear thoroughfare, most
particularly along the banks of a stream full of fish.
- Be alert.
War cry from darkest Connecticut: "Watch
it, kid, or I will twist your head around 'til your cap's on
From Paul Kirchner, our colleague in
darkest New England, we hear the following:
"When Clinton had O'Grady in to lunch at the White
House they spent their time swapping war stories. O'Grady told
about how he avoided the Serbian military, and Clinton about how he
avoided the US military."
We note with considerable satisfaction
that the murder rate in Florida continues to decline since that
state's right-to-carry law was further refined and strengthened
this year. And then there is the famous town of Kennesaw, Georgia,
but the media do not want to talk about that either.
The current rapid increase in state
concealed-carry laws has made it apparent that the defensive pistol
may be more conveniently carried in a belt pouch than in a holster.
Thus in training and practice specific exercises in getting the
pistol into action from the fanny pack must be encouraged. As to
that, practical pistol competition should now include at least one
stage of fire in which the pistol must be produced from a belt
pouch. Only this way can we discover what sort of belt pouch is
best and how it is best used.
We have long felt that by rights the
reticle in a telescope sight should be etched on the glass rather
than mounted separately in the focal plane. Such a reticle could
not come apart or become otherwise disarranged. Discussion with
Swarovski, however, brings up a point that I had overlooked. It
seems such reticles tend to pick up minute flecks of trash inside
the tube. One would think there would not be anything of that sort
inside a carefully made optical instrument, but I am told dirty
reticles are what caused the Steyr-Mannlicher people to shift from
the ring sight in the AUG to a more conventional crosswire in later
production. I would like to know more about this, but I am not in a
position to conduct the necessary experiments.
We note with some excitement that Stoeger
of New York is now advertising an authentic Luger replica. The
Luger, of course, is one of the most glamorous and exotic personal
instruments of the 20th century. It is long obsolete, but that does
not detract from its chic - probably to the contrary. So if
your piggy bank is full and you simply must have a new toy,
consider the new Luger.
We were handsomely hosted at the Blaser
factory at Isny, which is in the éllgau. This is a charming
province long famed for its cheese, and perhaps may become equally
famous in the future for its rifles.
Here we saw the wonders of robot technology, which left us
goggle-eyed. After seeing these intelligent machines at work one
wonders if the human race has finally become irrelevant. Shades of
2001! We have talked about the Blaser M93 straight-pull rifle at
some length in the past, but a novelty we ran across on this visit
was the Alpine single-shot rifle, which I had never seen before. In
the Alps you hunt the gams - the chamois. He bounces around
above timberline, and when you engage you only get one shot.
Therefore, the gams rifle need not have any repeating feature. The
ones we saw were beautifully made, top break, single-loaders
weighing almost nothing. In fact on the one we examined the most
massive ingredient was the sight. This sort of piece enables the
hunter to scramble around in the rocks almost unencumbered and
still capable of delivering his decisive single round with the
greatest accuracy of which he, the shooter, is capable. This
specialty is almost diametrically in opposition of the Scout, which
is above all a general-purpose weapon, but for
the-man-who-has-everything and wishes to hunt way up there in the
clouds, it is curiously attractive.
In a strange incident up in Maine last
month some wacko decided to break into his ex-concubine's house in
violation of a court order restraining him from further sexual
abuse. So he approached the house in the middle of the night armed
with his trusty 22 rifle, and for some reason attempted to break in
a glass window using the rifle butt-first. In so doing he shot
himself neatly and fatally in the head. He must have been from
out-of-state - no Downeaster would ever do a thing like that,
now would he?
Here we have a classic example of the Good Riddance Factor
We have never been partial to shooting
slings made of nylon webbing, though they may suffice as carrying
straps. They lack sufficient body for proper placement and they
tend to slip. Colleague Finn Aagaard tells us now that these
characteristics can be remedied by the application of various sorts
of goop to the webbing. I must consider this a temporary expedient,
however, and I will continue to use leather as long as we have any
Those who are statistically inclined may
consider that 98 percent of all human beings ever born are now
dead. Statistically you only have a 2 percent chance of being alive
as you read this. You better check your pulse, quick.
"In Månchen steht ein Hofbraåhaus!" Yes
indeed, there it stands as it has always stood, and it gives one a
profound sense of serenity in an uncertain world. The Hofbraåhaus
in Munich is exactly the same today as it was when I was a boy, and
as it was when my father was a boy, and as it was when Theodore
Roosevelt was a boy. The building is the same, the furnishings and
decorations are the same, the music is the same, the singing is the
same, and, of course, the beer is the same. And customs stay the
same. Seating is "ranch style" and you cannot be served a puny
beer. A beer in the Hofbraåhaus is a liter, which is something over
a quart, and that is the only size stein available. The sausages,
the sauerkraut, the salzbrot remain just as always, and in today's
world such cultural continuity is almost unique. The yodelling, the
Schuhplatler and the Alphorns remain the same, and the squadrons of
little camera-clicking Japanese tourists do not detract therefrom.
The Bavarians invented Gemåtlich-keit, and they still own it serene
and unchanging in an ever darkening civilization.
We hear that the Russian ninja engaged in
the suppression of the Chechens have now taken to wearing face
masks. I guess this is a trick they learned from the American
cossacks - a sort of cultural exchange.
Mind-set is everything, as we have always
taught and will continue to teach. You cannot solve a problem if
you do not know you have one, and you cannot win a fight if you do
not realize that it has started. Recently down in Yuma we had a
couple of dreary murders in the law enforcement community evidently
attributable to the fact that the two victims simply could not
realize that a brother officer could be capable of
intradepartmental homicide. The murderer in this case could not
even get his little old Mac10 into operation until the victims gave
him time to do so. It is fine to be a good shot, and it is fine to
master precise gunhandling, but these things do not matter at all
without the proper mind-set. If you are in Condition White, you
Imagine our amazement when at the airport
on the morning of our departure from Munich we saw an item in the
paper to the effect that "studies have shown" that Bavarians do not
drink enough. Bavarians may indeed have their shortcomings, but I
would not have dreamed that insufficient beer was one of them.
Obviously this is a subject worth considerable research, so book
your tickets as soon as possible.
How depressing it is to see the number of
people who do not understand at all about the operation of the
bolt-action rifle! In a recent feature article I ran across the
point that the advantage of the lever gun over the bolt is that the
butt need not be taken out of the shoulder to continue the action.
This is a dreadful thing to think about for one who spent many
nights after taps "snapping-in" in preparation for the following
day's record run. We sat on the floor of the barracks in the dim
squad light dropping the striker and instantly snapping the bolt
until the interval between controlled shots was reduced to that
necessary to bounce back from recoil. Watching a man take the butt
from his shoulder when he works a bolt strikes a rifleman as an
equivalent of watching a pedestrian put the wrong foot in the
stirrup and swing himself into the saddle facing aft. Sometimes I
cannot avoid the feeling that we are no longer producing serious
men. (Maybe that is the reason we put girl pilots in fighter
The rifle class we promised at
Whittington Center has been delayed, partly because of conflict in
dates and partly because the organizers, Rich and Rebecca, decided
to run off and get married. We wish them every happiness and we
look forward to rescheduling the rifle session in mid-October.
Those who want in on that class should contact Rich Wyatt at (303)
And now we have a gent who has gone forth
and taken his moose with a 50 caliber single-shot BMG rifle. He is
quoted as saying that "The only reason I used this gun was to
demonstrate that this cartridge has a legitimate purpose." The
man's heart is in the right place, but the point he sought to prove
was the wrong one. "Legitimate sporting purpose," which has been
inserted into law several places, is absolutely irrelevant. The
Founding Fathers did not seek to protect our right to hunt moose. I
should have thought that everybody would know this by now, but
obviously a good many do not.
Those fortunates who are familiar with
the old Mannlicher plant in the Steyr industrial complex will be
pleased to know that when Mannlicher relocated their main smallarms
factory they carefully preserved all that marvelous Russian
handcarved woodwork in the conference room and replaced it in the
new building. These people properly revere traditional
Jean-Pierre Denis, the distinguished
President of the International Practical Shooting Confederation, is
definitely stepping down from his office next month at the general
meeting in Sweden. He is going to be difficult to replace, but
three good men have been proposed from various parts of the world.
Up for election at this time are: Andrç Tasset of Belgium, Nick
Alexakos from Canada, and General Denis Earp from South Africa. We
respect all three, but if we had a vote it would go to General
Earp, who is, in our opinion, distinctly the best qualified man for
We have a good anecdote from our neighbor
and colleague, Colonel Bob Young, who did a stint not long ago in
Saudi Arabia. It seems that on this occasion an American aircraft
was parked on a runway, and being rather a sensitive item it was
given an individual sentry to keep unauthorized personnel at a
proper distance. In a demonstration of bad judgement, somebody in
charge gave this job to a girl soldier, the idea of which is
extremely offensive to a devout Muslim. In Saudi Arabia at this
time the purity of the faith is enforced by priestly types who
prowl the country on the lookout for violations of doctrine. These
characters are armed with long, heavy whips. One of them wandered
onto the base and became totally scandalized at the sight of this
girl patrolling the aircraft with her M16. Shouting holy
imprecations, he endeavored to use his whip on the lass, who quite
reasonably shot him six times in the chest with her 223.
Bob tells us that the Air Force
moved with uncharacteristic alacrity and got the girl out of the
country in a matter of minutes, and the whole incident was
immediately swept under the rug. It is hard to say who won that
round, but it recalls the principles of Hastings' Third Law,
"Do not throw rocks at people with guns."
5 August is our own personal holiday.
This is the anniversary of the day on which Danie van Graan
organized that lion for us. The experience was tremendous.
Confronting an angry lion head-on in the thorn at rock-throwing
range is not an adventure granted to most people. I am glad it
happened to me late in life, since if I had brought it off in my
youth I would have been going downhill for the rest of my hunting
So now on the 5th of August we wish everybody a Felicitous Lion
Day. Here's to the lion, here's to Danie, and here's to the
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal
use only. Not for publication.