A Jeff Cooper Retrospective

People of good will frequently send one off with the…

People of good will frequently send one off with the injunction to, “Have a safe trip!” There is no such thing as a safe trip. Safety is an illusion. It will always fail in the end. That does not mean that we should not consider safety, but never to cry “Safety first!” Safety, while something we should seek, must always be placed second to getting the job done. One who places safety first is, quite specifically, a coward. We do not go to war to be safe, neither do we climb mountains, or race cars, or hunt buffalo, to be safe. We hear commentators explain that we should not resist violent crime because we may get hurt. This is the advice of the rabbit people who live all their lives in fear and never know the joy of danger. There are people like that, and while we may feel sorry for them, we must never take their advice seriously.

● Here in Arizona, a motorist stopped to help a stranded female who was flagging him down. In return he was beaten to death by the woman’s accomplices who were lying in wait. Rule: When you do not understand the scene, go to condition Orange. If you are flagged down on the highway, regardless of how innocent the flagger may appear, get your pistol at the ready.

● “A man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick himself up and continue on.”—Winston Churchill

● I was recently asked by a magazine editor what sort of sidearm I would suggest for “the elderly.” This caught me somewhat aslant, since I am pretty elderly myself and I do not feel a need for a firearm especially attuned to my aged condition. For one who has handled firearms since early adolescence, as most of us have, it is hard to discern any age differentiation when it comes to shooting. Certainly eyesight tends to degenerate with the advancing years, but as long as one can see at all he ought to be able to use gun A as well as gun B.

● The core of the “hitability factor” in any hand-held weapon is its trigger action. At one time factory rifles were furnished with quite good triggers. I have a Model 70 Winchester dating from 1937 on which the trigger has never been touched by a gunsmith and yet will stand up to any of the aftermarket inserts I have tried. Today, however, in the Age of Litigation we find that this situation has changed, and when one acquires any domestic rifle the first thing he must do is to take his piece to a gunsmith and have something done about that trigger. (And this goes for about 50 percent of European competition, too.) This is not only a nuisance but it is unreliable, since not every gunsmith knows how to improve a trigger properly.

As colleague Ross Seyfried recently pointed out in an article, the factories will not put good triggers in their weapons because, a) the handwork required is expensive, and b) a really good trigger might be regarded as a liability in a lawsuit.

This problem is not found in the higher-grade European actions. The Mauser, Mannlicher and Voere rifles normally come over the counter with excellent triggers. And then, of course, there is the Blaser, of which I have spoken before. Conventional triggers may be said to operate as a pair of interconnected hooks, one the striker and the other the sear, which have to be scraped off in order to release the firing pin. This means that metal must be dragged across metal, and this calls for a very high polish of extremely hard, wear-proof surfaces in order to function well. The Blaser trigger, however, operates on a different principle. When the piece is cocked the sear proper is placed under powerful spring tension, which will pop it loose when permitted. It is not permitted, however, as long as the trigger pedestal resists this spring tension. When the trigger is pressed this pedestal is lowered out of contact, without friction. Nothing need be polished or tuned and every trigger comes off the line the same as every other. This is a beautiful arrangement. I wish I could say, “Don’t leave home without it!” but as of now it comes only on one gun.

● “Equality may perhaps be a right, but no power on earth can ever turn it into a fact.”—Balzac

● Amongst the continuous irritations foisted upon us by government is the impertinent assumption that one must prove to the state his need to be armed. In a recent feature in Time magazine the author found it surprising that in various jurisdictions the applicant for a firearms license was not even asked to establish a need. A free man should not have to show any need for being armed, and a public official is almost never in a position to pass judgment upon any such need. “I want it because I want it.” That should be enough.

● Reports from both Desert Storm and Somalia indicate that whatever else they may be doing, our current crop of Marines is indeed observing Rule 3. Those of us who had a hand in that may be highly gratified at that news. When confronting Saint Peter before the Throne of Judgement and asked, “What did you do in life that was worthwhile,” we can answer, “I kept the finger off the trigger till the sights were on the target!” Pass on in, brother!

● Please note that “apprehension” and “paranoia” are not synonyms. Paranoia is a mental affliction. Apprehension is reasonable awareness of hazard. Please!

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