Monday, October 25, 2010


Actually, anyone who knows anything about handguns in the last half century knows about the late Jeff Cooper. Black and White kind of guy. Saw things his way and said what he thought. He was a 1911 man as far as handguns went, as I recall, and ran quite a training school for gunfighting and did some fighting as a military man, as well as getting himself educated. As well as being an international authority on all things small arms and small arms fighting and self-defense and likely a plethora of other subjects as well. Wish I couldn've known him in his fiestiest prime.

One thing that Cooper was fanatical about was the same sage advice that one of my favorite bloggers, police officer Texas Ghostrider espouses: Use the pistol to get to the long gun to defend yourself.

Here's how wiki puts it, in part:

The Rifle: Queen of personal weapons
Cooper is best known for his revolutionary work in pistol training, but he favored the rifle for tactical shooting. He often described the handgun as a convenient-to-carry stopgap weapon, allowing someone the opportunity to get to a rifle.
"Personal weapons are what raised mankind out of the mud, and the rifle is the queen of personal weapons."

Read a bit more about Cooper here and why he is sometimes called the Father of the Modern Technique.

Last summer, in the July issue of Guns and Ammo, there was a small quote window box with an interesting revolver Cooperism:

"We notice an increasing number of revolvers with our students. This is no bad thing, for while a self-loader is easier to hit with, the wheelgun can do all that is necessary in the right hands. We honor the great Jack Weaver for his invention of the modern technique and he was a revolver man first and last. Jeff Cooper, October 2oo2.

Basically, cutting and pasting some brief bits from wiki, here below is what I used to read Cooper talk about in a myriad of articles by him that I read in much younger days. I especially believe in the color code. One important point not covered in the wiki stuff, is that to be proficient with a 1911, you must know that pistol and must shoot it a lot. Under a variety of circumstances and settings.

Cooper's modern technique defines pragmatic use of the pistol for personal protection. The modern technique emphasizes two-handed shooting using the Weaver stance, replacing the once-prevalent one-handed shooting. The five elements of the modern technique are:
A large caliber pistol, preferably a semi-auto
Weaver stance
The presentation
The flash sight picture
The compressed surprise trigger break
Cooper favored the Colt M1911 and its variants

Combat Mindset - The Cooper Color Code
The most important means of surviving a lethal confrontation, according to Cooper, is neither the weapon nor the martial skills. The primary tool is the combat mindset, set forth in his book, Principles of Personal Defense.[5] In the chapter on awareness, Cooper presents an adaptation of the Marine Corps system to differentiate states of readiness:
The color code, as originally introduced by Jeff Cooper, had nothing to do with tactical situations or alertness levels, but rather with one's state of mind. As taught by Cooper, it relates to the degree of peril you are willing to do something about and which allows you to move from one level of mindset to another to enable you to properly handle a given situation. Cooper did not claim to have invented anything in particular with the color code, but he was apparently the first to use it as an indication of mental state.

White - Unaware and unprepared. If attacked in Condition White, the only thing that may save you is the inadequacy or ineptitude of your attacker. When confronted by something nasty, your reaction will probably be "Oh my God! This can't be happening to me."

Yellow - Relaxed alert. No specific threat situation. Your mindset is that "today could be the day I may have to defend myself." You are simply aware that the world is a potentially unfriendly place and that you are prepared to defend yourself, if necessary. You use your eyes and ears, and realize that "I may have to SHOOT today." You don't have to be armed in this state, but if you are armed you should be in Condition Yellow. You should always be in Yellow whenever you are in unfamiliar surroundings or among people you don't know. You can remain in Yellow for long periods, as long as you are able to "Watch your six." (In aviation 12 o'clock refers to the direction in front of the aircraft's nose. Six o'clock is the blind spot behind the pilot.) In Yellow, you are "taking in" surrounding information in a relaxed but alert manner, like a continuous 360 degree radar sweep. As Cooper put it, "I might have to shoot."

Orange - Specific alert. Something is not quite right and has gotten your attention. Your radar has picked up a specific alert. You shift your primary focus to determine if there is a threat (but you do not drop your six). Your mindset shifts to "I may have to shoot HIM today," focusing on the specific target which has caused the escalation in alert status. In Condition Orange, you set a mental trigger: "If that goblin does 'x', I will need to stop him." Your pistol usually remains holstered in this state. Staying in Orange can be a bit of a mental strain, but you can stay in it for as long as you need to. If the threat proves to be nothing, you shift back to Condition Yellow.

Red - Condition Red is fight. Your mental trigger (established back in Condition Orange) has been tripped. If "X" happens I will shoot that person.

There are several conditions of readiness in which such a weapon can be carried. Cooper promulgated most of the following terms:
Condition Four: Chamber empty, no magazine, hammer down.
Condition Three: Chamber empty, full magazine in place, hammer down.
Condition Two: A round chambered, full magazine in place, hammer down.
Condition One: A round chambered, full magazine in place, hammer cocked, safety on.
Condition Zero: A round chambered, full magazine in place, hammer cocked, safety off.
Some of these configurations are safer than others (for instance, a single action pistol without a firing pin safety such as a
transfer bar system should never be carried in Condition 2), while others are quicker to fire the gun (Condition 1). In the interest of consistent training, most agencies that issue the 1911 specify the condition in which it is to be carried as a matter of local doctrine.
This firearm condition system can also be used to refer to other firearm actions, particularly when illustrating the differences between carry modes considered to be safe for various actions. For example, DA/SA is designed to be carried in Condition 2, which is not safe for 1911s without firing pin safeties.

Cooper had firm rules on safety, and they are more concise and direct than the standard rules. Same rules, different more succinct presentation.

Firearms safety
Cooper advocated four basic rules of gun safety:[8]
All guns are always loaded. Even if they are not, treat them as if they are.
Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy. (For those who insist that this particular gun is unloaded, see Rule 1.)
Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target. This is the Golden Rule. Its violation is directly responsible for about 60 percent of inadvertent discharges.
Identify your target, and what is behind it. Never shoot at anything that you have not positively identified.

You could easily devote an entire blog to nothing but Cooperisms and reality, which often collide in this world we live in. Read more about what he said in many other places, and read the other sage gunfighters, guys who actually did law enforcement pistol fighting like Bill Jordan and many others I'll blog about later. Many, like Jordan, favored a revolver as well and most revolver fans are familiar with the "Jordan Holster" for medium and large frame revolvers as a police duty holster for decades.

One rifle I've always wanted but have absolutely little need for is the Scout Gun (as pictured above made by Steyr-Mannlicher) that Cooper developed and talked about for years in his professional writing. Here's a link about his highly excellent rifle from and more from wiki about the development:

In the early 1980s, Cooper published an article describing his ideal of a general-purpose rifle, which he dubbed a Scout Rifle. In late 1997, Steyr-Mannlicher produced a rifle to his "Scout" specifications, with Cooper's oversight during the engineering and manufacturing process. While not a spectacular sales success, these rifles nevertheless sold quite well and are still being produced. Cooper considered the Steyr Scout "perfect" and often made the point that "I've got mine!" Riflemen regard Cooper's development of the Scout Rifle concept, and his subsequent work on the evolution of the Steyr-Mannlicher Scout rifle, as his most significant and enduring contributions to riflecraft.

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