A Jeff Cooper Retrospective

There are those who hold, with some reason, to the…

There are those who hold, with some reason, to the idea that hand-held firearms simply do not matter much anymore. It may be admitted that they do not matter as much as they used to, but we should not over-control and drop the subject. “The barefoot boy with cheeks of tan” has been the essential power base of our nation over the past 200 years. Battles are still fought by men, and the warrior mind is what makes some men better in combat than others. Progressive urbanization makes the warrior mind difficult to achieve. The kid who has never been off the pavement has difficulty in moving from Condition White to Condition Yellow. Regardless of the nature of his target, the youngster who has put a squirrel or a rabbit or a duck on his mother’s table is not distracted by the need to shoot for blood. Thus the more shootists we have on our side, the better we will be able to fight…. The more ammunition going across the counters of our hardware stores and the more range fees our people will be expending, the better off our nation and our culture will be.

● The most essential element of the “shootability” of a rifle or pistol is its trigger action. The ideal trigger breaks clean without telling the shooter that it is about to do so. This quality is generally referred to as “crispness” and does not refer to trigger weight. A two-stage trigger, which is what I prefer, moves slightly and smoothly before it reaches ignition pressure. With a single-stage action, the trigger does not move perceptibly without ignition pressure. In either case, there appears to be a consensus that 3.5 to 4 pounds of pressure is the correct weight. Actually, weight is a good deal less important than crispness. A trigger may be quite light, but still “mushy” in the sense that it moves perceptibly when activated. Such movement is called creep, but it is not “take-up,” which occurs before the trigger has reached the point of ignition pressure.

Excellent trigger action may be achieved with either single- or two-stage action, but since the trigger must move in order to cause anything to happen, rendering its movement imperceptible to the shooter is a major problem for the gunsmith.

NOTE: The intellectual property of Jeff Cooper is owned by Gunsite Academy and reprinted from Gargantuan Gossip 3 with their permission.
Jeff Cooper’s books are available from the ProShop at Gunsite (gunsite.com; 928-636-4565) and jeffcooperbooks.com.

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