The Essence of Life

The Essence of Life

Friday, January 3, 2014

Jeff Cooper's Commentaries

Jeff Cooper, 1920 - 2006

During the Christmas holidays I engaged on the mission to read Jeff Cooper's Commentaires which were publish at least monthly from 1993 until his death in September of 2006.

A Stanford University graduate in political science, Cooper received a commission in the United States Marine Corps in 1941 and served both in WWII in the Pacific and in Korean War when he was involved in irregular warfare, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. In the 1960's he received a master's degree in history from the University of California, Riverside.

Jeff Cooper wrote nine books, was an editor for Guns & Ammo magazine where he wrote a monthly column, "Cooper's Corner", and served both as a director and a member of the Executive Council of the National Rifle Association, but he is probably best remembered by establishing the "Modern Technique" for the pragmatical use of the pistol for personal protection, which eventually led to the foundation of IPSC, an the creation and development of "Scout Rifle" concept. Other key contributions by Mr. Cooper were th codification of the "Combat Mindset", the "Cooper Color Code" and the "Rules of Firearm Safety".

But upon reading the "Commentaries" we can perceive that Jeff Cooper interests were much broader than firearms, their uses for sport, defense or warfare and hunting. He had very conservative political views with which I concur in most, but not all cases, had a deep concern with the emasculation taking place in society (which unhappily continues today), was a strong promoter of a "classical education", an admirer of Theodore Roosevelt, a great preocupation with semantics, and a true lover of good literature and "touching poetry", and we both share the taste for Kipling's If and Henley's Invictus. Although not mentioned in Commentaires, I believe that Lord Tennyson's The Charge of the Light Brigade would complement the list of greatest poems.

My observations regarding Mr. Cooper's views in firearms and ammunition are:

  • The Colt model 1911 pistol and the 45 ACP cartridge form the quintessential defensive sidearm.
  • The Glock was recognized as an acceptable alternative, certainly much better than the double action pistol.
  • The 30-06 loaded with 180 grain bullet is the best and most usefell cartridge in world. Who could argue with this?
  • The 223 (5,56x45 mm) cartridge is inadequate for anything bigger than varmints, therefore the designation of the Ar-15/M-16 as "poodle-shooter" (and I believe that he was refering to a "toy" poodle).
  • During the late part of the XX century and until his death there were only three interesing rifles: the Steyr Scout (308), the Blaser R93 (30-06) and Jim West's CoPilot (45-70).
  • The Savage Model 99 in 300 Savage was considered an excellent general purpose rifle that could rival any middle bore centerfire rifle.
In some parts of the Commentaries Jeff Cooper proposed what today would be called a Bucket List of achievements that every man should try to accomplish and towards the last years he recommended good measures for any young man full education, which were much broader than a college degree and could be summarized by "to ride, shoot straight and speak the truth".

Two aspects of Jeff Cooper that are apparent throughout his works and heritage, and that are really admirable and must be used as examples by us are that he lived his life in full, writing, traveling, shooting and defending his believes to very end of his life, and his view that man should have dash, and that was represented by the way he wore his hat!

I recommend that you read Jeff Cooper's complete works, and would like to close this small commentarie with a quote from Comentaries, Vol. 3, No. 14 (November 1995):

"Whether we admit it or not, man is a carnivorous predator, as his teeth will attest. This animal is programmed to hunt and kill his prey for food, and the instict to kill things is rooted way down in his genetic program. One has only to watch little boys and see them grow up to discover this. Hand a 6-year-old a slingshot and he will immediately want to sock a bord with it. You may tell him he should not, but that does not eliminate the instict."


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