Concealed Carry & Home Defense

CCW Weekend: Three Things Jeff Cooper Got Wrong

By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters

Oh, I know. How DARE he? But let’s be honest: while Jeff Cooper certainly set the standard for others to follow and advanced the art of the combative use of the handgun more than anyone else, there are some things that he was flat wrong about or are out of date.

That isn’t to say his teachings and so on have no value; almost all of them do. To this day, Gunsite still provides some of the best training that can be had. Many of Cooper’s teachings are and will remain relevant until the end of time. The modern technique’s effectiveness is unassailable and of course the 4 Laws of Gun Safety speak for themselves.

It’s just that there are a few things that we can disregard and for obvious reasons.

Firstly, we’ve all heard the “carry conditions,” or “Condition Four” through “Condition Zero.” If you read them, they clearly only apply to a single-action semi-auto pistol. While that’s fantastic for people who carry either a 1911 or a Browning Hi-Power, the “carry conditions” leave a lot to be desired to everyone else. While plenty do, not everyone has one of those guns in their concealed carry holster.

How does a double/single action pistol fit in? Say you carry a Beretta 92 or one of the double-action Sigs, decocked and with the safety off – is it in Condition Two? The hammer is down, and the safety is off…but it can fire with a DA trigger pull. Where do striker-fired pistols fit in?

It doesn’t apply to revolvers at all, which is strange given that revolvers were far more popular handguns for personal protection or as duty guns when those rules were codified.

In short, the carry conditions are great if you’re carrying a 1911 or a BHP, but since not everyone does (and not everyone did in those days either, outside of the military) they’re hardly relevant to a lot of handgun owners and concealed carriers.

Second, and it kills me to write this, but let’s face it: the 1911 has flaws. Granted, I love the 1911. I want more of them! But they do have shortcomings, like any handgun platform does.

A Government frame is a pain to carry. They’re heavy. They’re big. It also doesn’t hold many rounds, 7+1 of .45 ACP. It also requires a bit more in terms of maintenance to keep it running reliably than modern pistols. They’re also expensive; a decent non-import economy model will set you back as much as the very popular striker guns; a good example double that or more.

Granted, you probably won’t need 15+1 rounds in a defensive encounter. A snubbie revolver or 1911 pistol is more than adequate, in all likelihood. But if more are needed – a double-stack of 9×19 or .40 S&W is better than a single-stack of bigger bullets.

Also, today’s ammunition quality negates any former advantage of the larger round. Though .45 ACP hollowpoints are certainly effective, the truth is that so are 9mm, .40 S&W and so on.

In fairness, Cooper did appreciate other guns (he was known to admire the Colt Python revolver and his affection for the CZ-75 informed the design of the Bren Ten) but the association between him and the 1911 pistol are well-known.

So, while a great pistol in so many respects, the truth is that it isn’t the be-all, end-all. If it’s what you’re best with, carry one, but don’t drink too much of the 1911 Kool-Aid.

Lastly, the scout rifle.

On paper, the scout rifle concept makes sense – a compact, lightweight, do-it-all rifle capable of bagging game and disposing of hostile personnel with equal aplomb.

In the real world, however, there are better tools for the respective jobs. For personal protection, a semi-auto rifle is far better and in point of fact, so is a shotgun in many scenarios.

As to hunting, the standard bolt-action rifle design is better than the short-barreled scout for longer shots. As a brush gun, scout rifles sure aren’t bad but the truth is it’d be hard to improve on a .45-70 or .30-30 lever gun.

About the only people for whom it really makes sense are hunters in areas with mixed dense timber and open country like in the Western states. In this setting, a rifle with iron sights AND a scout scope function nicely. Then again, with practice and good rounds, a .30-30 will do the same job.

So while Jeff Cooper and of course Gunsite remains one of the best authorities to listen to when it comes to defensive use of the handgun, there are a few things worth taking with some grains of salt.

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Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.