Not-So-Common Sense

not-so-common-sense-commander-model-colt-super-38-automatic-sherrif-jim-wilsonRecently I wrote a blog post for the American Rifleman website about the foolish practice of carrying an auto pistol with an empty chamber. I almost didn’t post it because I really thought that most people were smarter than to try this. Boy, was I mistaken!

I am beginning to realize that we’ve got a lot of people who are playing at personal defense. They buy any old kind of pistol and then they make up a justification for what they carry and how they carry it. I’m sure that they also search the internet chat rooms until they find someone who supports their cockamamie ideas. It’s pretty scary when you realize that these fools are running around out there with loaded guns and a head full of screwy ideas about guns, the law, and tactics of personal defense.

I mean that is really a lot like running out there, buying yourself a car and deciding that you are going to teach yourself how to drive. No need to bother with learning traffic laws or the common driving courtesies. And you can just forget about safety techniques because those are just for sissies.

Let me be real clear about this… I am not in favor of mandatory testing before a person can own or carry a firearm. Governments will just screw this up like they have screwed up everything else. But people ought to have enough sense to see the value of seeking training before they elect to defend their lives or those of their family. And reading the words of some nameless fruitcake on an internet chat room is not training.

What makes the whole situation even sadder is that we live in a time when defensive training is available from quite a large number of sources. I have personally attended Gunsite, Thunder Ranch, and the Sig Academy… I recommend them highly. In addition, I hear very good reports about the classes put on by Tiger McKee, Dave Spaulding, Grant Cunningham, and Marty Hayes.

If you are serious about carrying a gun for personal defense you will make quality training a part of your shooting budget. If you aren’t, then you might fall into that fruitcake category whether you will admit it or not. I know a number of lawmen and ex-lawmen (myself included) who have been in harm’s way and continue to get quality training at every opportunity. I wonder what we might know that the fruitcake gunfighters don’t know… never have experienced… and won’t admit.

We worry about the nut cases who are out there committing heinous crimes with firearms. Well, I am beginning to wonder about the nut cases who are carrying guns with no training and their heads full of seriously ridiculous ideas about what to do when confronted with a violent criminal attack. Which category do you fall into?

Thanks for listening to my rant. I feel better now (but only just a little).

Posted in Personal Defense, Philosophy, Politics, Second Amendment, Training | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Getting Ready

Sheriff Jim Wilson's Ruger Model 77This year, for the first time in quite a while, I signed up for a Texas deer lease. I’ll be hunting on a ranch in good country, just west of the Pecos River, here in West Texas. This place is well managed for whitetail, mule deer, turkey, and javalina. And, in the process, I’ve been tuning up another rifle for those cross-canyon shots here in Texas as well as plains-game hunting in Africa.

The basic rifle is a Ruger Model 77 Hawkeye, in .30/06, with Leupold 3×9 optics. And it wears a Peabody sling from Barranti Leather Company. A while back I had Timney Triggers install one of their dandy triggers in the rifle and that really is an aid to accurate shooting. But there were still a couple of things to be done to get the rifle ready for the coming hunting season.

Accordingly, I took it to Clayton Smith at West Texas Ordnance, Inc., near Ackerly, Texas. Clayton began by running a bore scope to make sure that the rifle chamber was straight and free from obstruction. That test being positive, he made a few other alterations for me.

I had him install a Decelerator recoil pad and reduce the overall length of the buttstock by one inch. The length of pull on most rifles is just too long, especially when we are wearing a hunting coat and I long ago found that shortening the rifle butt sure makes a hunting rifle fit me better.

Then he bedded the action and floated the barrel. Now, I don’t think that this will make a rifle shoot any more accurately. But it makes a hunting rifle more consistent. Once you get the rifle sighted in, you sure don’t want a climate change situation to cause the wood stock to swell and put undue pressure on the barrel. Consistent is nice.

I also like to sight-in a hunting rifle for one load that it really likes and then leave it alone. I’m not one to be switching ammo around. Consequently, this Ruger will be shooting the Federal .30/06 factory load that uses the 165 gr Trophy Bonded Tip bullet. Sighted 3 inches high at 100 yds, this rifle will regularly stick three bullets into a group that goes just a hair over an inch. And it would probably beat that group size if someone who can really shoot were to get hold of the rifle. Trouble is, now if I miss that big buck I simply won’t have much of anyone to blame except myself.

Many of you could probably do these relatively minor improvements all by yourself. But I learned a long time ago that a man ought to know his limitations. And, for some odd, reason I found that things just work a whole lot better when I let a custom gunsmith take care of such things for me.

So I’ve got my hunting rifle tuned up, got my ammo in hand, and my old hunting boots and coat will last another year.  So, a couple of cans of beanie weenies and I’m good to go. How about you?

Posted in Adventures, Gear, Outdoor Living, Projects, Rifles | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments


Photo shoot yesterday with Shane Jahn. We were trying to do a modern rendition of the famous photo of African hunter/adventurer Frederick Courteney Selous.
“Photo shoot yesterday with Shane Jahn. We were trying to do a modern rendition of the famous photo of African hunter/adventurer Frederick Courteney Selous.

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Thoughts on the Scout Rifle

scout-rifles-jeff-cooper-styer-sheriff-jim-wilsonCol. Jeff Cooper began to experiment with the concept that would come to be called the Scout Rifle in the 1960’s. Essentially, he wanted a light, powerful rifle that would be equally qualified to handle most hunting chores and also serve as a personal defense weapon. He did not conceive it as a weapon with which to engage in pitched battles but rather as a defensive tool for the individual who needed to keep his attackers at a distance and have time to get away from the confrontation.

Throughout his own research and development, Cooper designed, and had built, several custom rifles that illustrated the evolutionary process of his design. Ultimately, he set the loose parameters as being a .308 bolt-action carbine one meter (just less than 40 inches) in length and weighing about 6.6 pounds when tricked out with sling and optics. It should also have ghost-ring iron sights.

The most notable characteristic of his concept was the fact that the rifle would be fitted with a forward-mounted scope. This allowed for ease of carrying the rifle, easier access to the action for loading and other functions, and improvement of the shooter’s peripheral vision.

Prior to his death, in 2006, Cooper could only get one gun company interested in the Scout Rifle concept and that was Steyr. The rest just weren’t having any of it. The colonel used his Steyr Scout on several successful trips to Africa and on a number of head of North American game animals.

What is interesting is that, all these years after Cooper’s death, gun companies are now realizing that their customers are quite interested in the Scout concept. Currently, in addition to the Steyr, we have Scout Rifles available from Mossberg, Ruger, and Savage. And who knows who else we’ll hear from between now and the 2016 SHOT Show.

I believe that the reason for this interest is the fact that, to begin with, Cooper’s Scout concept is a sound one. Today’s shooters see a value in having a general utility rifle that takes care of both hunting and defensive needs. And, while the AR is currently the American Sweetheart not everyone needs or wants a semi-auto carbine.

To date, I have had the opportunity to spend time afield with the Mossberg, Ruger, and Steyr, Scouts. I suspect that I will soon be able to add the Savage to that list as well. I like the concept of a short, light bolt-action carbine. And the .308 Winchester (7.62 NATO) cartridge is one of the most useful rounds that has ever been conceived.

Personally, however, I have tried the forward-mounted scope and don’t really care for the concept. It inhibits the scopes natural light-gathering qualities and is difficult to use in certain lighting situations. I also will freely admit that I am more used to having the scope mounted in the conventional position as it is on my other rifles. I prefer to use 1-4X scopes that, on the lowest settings, allow me to shoot with both eyes open, thus improving my peripheral vision.

But all of that is okay because the Scout Rifle concept is not written in stone. Col. Cooper’s guidelines are a good place to start in working up your own light utility rifle but you should trick it out to suit your own personal needs. Heck, if you even choose to acquire an AR in .308 and you shoot it well, more power to you. At the end of the day, it is not what you have, but it is all about what you can do with it.

Like the 1911 fighting pistol, the Scout Rifle is part of the legacy that Jeff Cooper bequeathed us.

Posted in Gear, Men At Arms, Personal Defense, Rifles | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments