Jeff Cooper: The Hammer of the Century
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    Jeff Cooper: The Hammer of the Century

    I swiped this from another site.
    Still very valid even in the age of plastic miracle guns.

    THE HAMMER OF THE CENTURY - JEFF COOPER, 2001 “THE COMPLETE BOOK OF THE 1911”

    Man fights with his mind. His weapons are only the instruments of his will, yet some are better for the task than others. Perfection is never technically possible, but in some circumstances we may encounter very close approximation.

    The efficient fighting pistol is historically new, appearing in the second half of the 19th century and reaching full flower in the 20th just past. Where we go from here is unclear, but this is unimportant in view of where we are now.
    We have the 1911, and we have had it when we needed it! What more do we want?

    “The Automatic Colt Pistol, Caliber .45, Model of 1911” is the “hoplon” of the 20th century. It was born for war and it was born in the United States. We got it into our arsenal just in time, for the 20th century was the Century of War. Pistols, of course, do not win wars, but they fill a curiously personal, even romantic, place in battle. And there is something peculiarly American about the handgun, due to the special nature of 19th century American history. The Colt revolver broke barriers to our westward movement. The solitary farmer, armed only with his muzzle-loading musket, was nearly helpless against a squad-sized raid by disaffected aborigines, but the six-gun changed that, in particular the Colt revolvers (mainly Dragoons) opened Texas by totally frustrating the Comanche’s.

    So we Americans became used to the fighting handgun in a way that no other people did. When the bloody 20th century dawned we had not only the tools but the attitude to meets its challenges. We had good rifles – both the 03 Springfield and the mighty M-1 Garand – and in 1911 we got the greatest personal defense weapon of that or any other age. We went to war with the 1911, and nobody else had it. We did not win because of that, but we had a great time with it. It was a tool for the task. What was the task? Trench warfare. Trench warfare is poor doin’s by anybody’s definition, but we were stuck with it, and we were better armed for it than anyone else. The British had a very good major-caliber revolver, and the Germans had the elegant, if minor-caliber, Luger. (The French seemed to have preferred their long, edgekess bayonet for close work.) But we had the 1911. “Move up one square.”

    The “Colt .45” got off to a dramatic start in 1918 when Herman Hannekan used it to kill Charlemagne Peralte on Haiti in one of the most perfect spook shows on record.

    McBride extols the 1911 in his classic A Rifleman Went to War, in particular reference to trench raiding, where he crawled face down in the mud with his pistol slung between his shoulder blades.

    When the Mexicans got hold of it in the ‘20’s they were entranced. “Traigo mi cuarenta y cinco, con su cuatro cargadores” places the piece permanently in folk music.

    In major battle, in raids and skirmishes and in lethal personal encounters, the 1911 pistol swaggered through the 20th century from arctic to the tropics, from big-city streets to rank jungles, from desert to Alp. It is the milestone weapon of its age.

    Why is the 1911 so good? The purpose of the pistol is to stop fights at close range. The 1911 offers excellent stopping power in a relatively compact package, together with excellent reliability and ease of operation. It is neater in aspect than revolvers of equivalent power, and is easier to shoot.

    It is not a target pistol, and shooting targets with it is like playing golf with a mace. As a youth I was perplexed by the general opinion of gun writers that the 1911 was the best possible military sidearm but that as a handgun it was a klunker. I did not realize the critics were testing the wrong things (just as the benchrest rifle shooters are now). The fingernail sights and jackhammer triggers on military-issue pistols were dreadful to use one-handed on bullseyes in slow fire, but they were no handicap in the “vulgar brawls” where a serious sidearm is needed.

    An auto-pistol, “semi-auto” to the press, is easier to shoot and easier to load than a revolver. I was told at FBI Academy long ago that my pistol was “Unfair”. Point well taken.

    The .45 ACP cartridge is a proven manstopper. Over the century it has shown itself about 90 percent efficient in torso hits. This with conventional round-nosed jacket billets. Better shaped bullets raise this somewhat, but not to 100 percent. No small arm cartridge will go 100 percent.

    The 1911 is flat and compact, and its flat-sided butt makes reflexive pointing easy, It may be fitted with good sights and a good trigger, if those things are important to you. At conventional ranges where most lethal encounters take place, this hardly matters.

    It works almost all the time, and always on the first shot, which is the one that counts. The myth that the .45 “jams” is just one of those legends that gets about in bars. The .45 will malfunction (“jam”) under some conditions. And you may be totaled at a traffic light. In my own case, I have been shooting the 1911 pistol regularly for over 60 years and I have never lost appoint to a malfunction.

    The .45 auto has two basic drawbacks, one serious and one trivial. First, it is too big. Though smaller than an equivalent revolver, it is still too much gun for people with small hands. At school we find that 25 percent of the men and 50 percent of the women cannot achieve a fully comfortable firing grip on the stock 1911. The frame may be “slim-lined” to correct this, but the project is expensive. At 39 ounces the pistol is heavy, but we must recall that this is a military arm, conceived before unisex armies.

    Second, it is old. Many modern people cannot believe that anything designed yesterday can have any possible merit. (A noted gun writer, who is a personal friend, recently said as much about the 30-06 cartridge, which is as close to ideal as we are going to get.) Very well, the 1911 is old. So are many good things, like violins, and fireplaces, and Parker shotguns, and good manners, and truth. The 1911 is not new. It can hardly be so when it constitutes the technical symbol of its age.

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    Jeff Cooper was one of the last of the old time gun writers. I miss him!

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    I guess I was about 15 years old when we were somewhere, and I walked to a nearby drug store and bought my first "Guns and Ammo" magazine. Jeff Cooper was the handgun editor at the time, and for many years after & again later on. So my indoctrination to the M1911 had begun.

    In high school I started reading Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer, and Mike Hammer carried a M1911, which is described in "I the Jury." All of the current paperback editions at the time had a M1911 or a M1911A1 on the cover.

    For graduation I asked my dad if he would buy me a Colt .45 pistol. And he did, a Colt's MK IV/Series 70. That was in 1972. I still have that pistol, it ain't pretty no more, but it still shoots quite good for a gun that might have 100,000 rounds through it.
    Ken
    "I like Colts and will die that way"

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    As a rookie policeman (we were called that back then) in 1971, I flirted with high-speed mid-bores (caused by Lee Jurras of Super-Vel fame). With experience and maturity, I found my way back to the true faith and began carrying a Smith M24 (Skeeter Skelton) and finally after reading Col. Jeff, a .45 Govt. Model, Combat Commander, LW Commander (plainclothes) then LW Officer's Model (undercover). While the Pytons and Model 24 were elegant, I always felt more, shall we cay "comfortable" with the 1911s in .45 when danger approached. I'm retired now and my kids have the Commanders and Python as momentos. But that 1966 GM I call Ol' Reliable is by my side as I write this. Thanks Colonel...R.I.P.

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    The Steyr Scout rifle is also a great achievement of Jeff Cooper.

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    dfaris you do a lot of good stuff. In your quote about the 1911, another quote worth a repeat & remembering, slipping away today.

    ------ the 1911 is old. So are many good things, like violins, and fireplaces, and Parker shotguns, and good manners, and truth.
    Colt-SL and Coltsformysons like this.

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    Good read; I always admired Jeff Cooper's work and articles. He was behind the Bren Ten as well. THANKS dfariswheel!
    Tony

    “It's sad that governments are chiefed by the double tongues. There is iron in your words of death for all Comanche to see, and so there is iron in your words of life. No signed paper can hold the iron. It must come from men. The words of Ten Bears carry the same iron of life and death. It is good that warriors such as we meet in the struggle of life, or death ---- it shall be life.” - Ten Bears - “The Outlaw Josey Wales”

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    Quote Originally Posted by rhmc24 View Post
    dfaris you do a lot of good stuff. In your quote about the 1911, another quote worth a repeat & remembering, slipping away today.

    ------ the 1911 is old. "So are many good things, like violins, and fireplaces, and Parker shotguns, and good manners, and truth."
    Bob, with an outstanding outlook like this, you'd never make it in Washington as a politician. Thank God!
    Tony

    “It's sad that governments are chiefed by the double tongues. There is iron in your words of death for all Comanche to see, and so there is iron in your words of life. No signed paper can hold the iron. It must come from men. The words of Ten Bears carry the same iron of life and death. It is good that warriors such as we meet in the struggle of life, or death ---- it shall be life.” - Ten Bears - “The Outlaw Josey Wales”

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    Cooper always had good sense. Nice piece by him. Thanks for the reminder farris!

    tipoc

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    Good article.

    I cannot resist mentioning that when I commented in the recent thread "Are revolvers obsolete or are they going to make a big comeback?",
    I commented that for most people, shooting a semi auto after you are basic-trained with handguns are easier for most people to shoot than revolvers. Keeping in mind that revolvers are the better design for teaching novices basic handgun handling and shooting.
    I took some flack for than, even from a LEO who claimed that there was never one documented case of a LEO having to ask another LEO for extra ammo, so in his mind this factor (pro- semi auto) was negated. He obviously didn't agree with me that semi autos are easier for most experienced and trained individuals to shoot than DA revolvers.
    (Don't get me wrong, I have a few more revolvers than semis, I carry them often and I am proficient with both designs and like both types of handguns.)
    I almost felt like asking him to qualify his remarks. After all a local LEO is not necessarily an expert on comments like this. I used to have access to the Law Enforcent Assistance Admin's figures when I was in law enforcement in NJ, but that's a long time ago and frankly, I doubt they kept those type of stats in the 1970s. I really don't think he was any more qualified to make this comment than I was, but I let it pass. No, it was not Lawman67 or Matchlock, etal.

    I wonder if those who didn't agree with me about this single point of discussion would instead have agreed with Mr. Cooper?
    Last edited by Malysh; 10-11-2013 at 11:42 AM.


 
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