25 Sep 2006

Lieutenant Colonel John Dean “Jeff” Cooper, USMC (retired), May 10, 1920 – September 25, 2006

, , ,

Jeff Cooper

Ed Head, Operations Manager of the American Pistol Institute (better known as Gunsite Academy), Paulden, Arizona, writes today via Free Republic:

At the request of the family it is my sad duty to report the passing of our founder, Jeff Cooper. Jeff died peacefully at home this afternoon while being cared for by his wife Janelle and daughter Lindy.

John Dean “Jeff” Cooper was born in Los Angeles in 1920. He earned a B.A. in Political Science from Stanford., and an M.A. in History from the University of California. He served in the United States Marine Corps during WWII and the Korean War, retiring at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. After retiring from the service, Cooper worked as an author, lecturer, small arms trainer, security consultant, and arms designer.

He began writing while still in the service, ultimately producing 20 books, around 500 magazine articles and columns, and a dozen videos. Cooper produced books on rifles, big game hunting, and personal memoirs, but he was perhaps best-known for his writings on practical pistol shooting, and for his fondness for the Colt Model 1911 and its variations.

For many years now, Cooper’s Corner -Thoughts from the Gunner’s Guru has been the closing page column of Guns & Ammo Magazine, America’s leading firearms journal. Cooper’s Corner columns were an informal and colorful mixture of decidedly unmelted opinions, anecdotes, and firearms lore. The editors were regularly deluged with indignant letters from outraged readers to the political left of Colonel Cooper, but evidently concluded that the constant controversy was good for circulation. As the years went by, protests grew fewer. Jeff Cooper seems to have successfully functioned as a filter, screening out the element that should not have been reading Guns & Ammo in the first place. For the last few years, more of the letters arriving in response to some highly politically incorrect expression by the Colonel seemed to be viewing Jeff Cooper and his writings with rueful affection.

Despite his salty Marine Corps style of self-expression, Jeff Cooper was a deep and original thinker on his preferred subjects, and he had a gift for finding the better way of putting things. Over the years, he invented a number of very useful neologisms which became widely accepted.

To describe the alternative ways of carrying the Model 1911 pistol, Cooper invented the Condition system of describing the level of readiness of the handgun:

Condition One: a round in the chamber, hammer cocked, safety on.

Condition Two: a round in the chamber, hammer down.

Condition Three: the chamber empty, hammer down, a loaded magazine in the gun.

Condition Four: the chamber empty, no magazine.

He was also the coiner of the invaluable term hoplophobia (from the Greek noun ÃŽu201eoÏu20acλoν “arms” and the Greek verb Ïu2020oβεÏu2030 “to strike with fear”) to refer to the not-uncommon contemporary irrational aversion to weapons.

In 1976, he founded the American Pistol Institute (“Gunsite”), as a training facility for police and military personel, in order to promulgate his personal philosophy of shooting. Its programs soon proved popular with civilians seeking formal self defense training and with competition shooters.

Also in 1976, he founded the International Practical Shooting Confederation, an organization intended to promote and sponsor self-defense-style shooting as a competition sport

He became a member of the National Rifle Association Board of Directors in 1985, and was elected to the NRA’s Executive Council in 2002.

Guns & Ammo is never going to be the same without Jeff Cooper. He will be missed.


NRA Board of Directors profile (at an anti-NRA site, no less)

Cooper’s Corner at Guns & Ammo

Wikipedia entry

Jeff Cooper bibliography project


LATER POSTINGS (as of 9/27)

Lt. Col. P, at OPFOR, 9/26, quotes a classic Jeff Cooper line:

In 1492 we threw the Moors out of Spain. Apparently, we didn’t throw them far enough.

Who knew that Glenn Reynolds read Guns & Ammo and Jeff Cooper’s books? I thought he was just a law professor, but he’s probably packing a customized Model 1911 somewhere under his tweed jacket with the leather elbow patches. 9/27

Memeorandum 9/27

Armed Liberal 9/27

Samizdata 9/27

QandO 9/27


Front Sight, Press 9/25

Jeff Cooper Quotations – Front Sight, Press 9/26

Owning a handgun doesn’t make you armed any more than owning a guitar makes you a musician.”

Front Sight, Press 9/30

Col. Jeff Cooper finally shot to slide lock on September 25, 2006…

Airborne Combat Engineer 9/30

21 Feedbacks on "Lieutenant Colonel John Dean “Jeff” Cooper, USMC (retired), May 10, 1920 – September 25, 2006"

SayUncle » Godspeed, Colonel Cooper

[…] Coloner Cooper, the father of modern combat handgun shooting, has passed away. […]

Justin Buist»Blog Archive » Sad Day

[…] Colonel Jeff Coooper has passed. […]

Gulf Coast Pundit


Lt. Col. John Dean “Jeff” Cooper, USMC (ret.), May 10, 1920 – September 25, 2006
Cooper has passed away, God rest his soul.



Thanks Colonel, for all your good instruction.

Bill Strickland

What will we now do for straightforward common sense comments? Ill have to say I disagreed with him only about 3% of the time and looked forward to his intelligent evaluations and critical comments for over 40 years. This is one guy who cannot be replaced and one who we will wish were with us all our lives, especially when we have difficulties. What a hero!!! God speed Col.!! And my sympathy most of all to his family but also to all of those who will never know him. He was like a great uncle who came by from time to time to give us insight, and a measure of intelligence that we all needed. Bill Strickland, US Army Space and Missile Command, Huntsville, Alabama


R.I.P. Lt. Col. Cooper
FYI – your NRA board of directors profile link for Jeff Cooper is actually a link to an anti-gun “Stop the NRA” profile.


Quite true. I should have indicated that. But it had a good profile, and the NRA doesn’t seem to publish this sort of thing on the Internet. Thanks for mentioning it.

Bryan Galante

R.I.P. Col.Cooper! Seldom do we get to enjoy the wisdom of a Great American BEFORE their passing. You were an exception and your thoughts on the “passing scene” will be missed. In an age of political correctness and “no guts” elected officals…I looked forward to the last page of my “Guns and AMMO” to see what the Colonel said. Say hello to John Browning for us!

Chris Stoneking

Words can never express the sorrow of the loss of an icon-we will never again see the like of Jeff Cooper, and we miss his insight, his wisdom and humor.
Our prayers and thoughts to the Cooper family

Dale Foster

Well done Colonel, well done.

Dale Foster

Mike Paps

The few of us true americans left, who still understand that having freedom today is only possible due to men like Jeff Copper, feel a loss of one of our own. Whether you met him or not, we all “knew him” and what kind of man he was. The many today who consider shooting and guns evil have never relied on such devices to get them home.

Walt Radencic

What a shock to learn of Colonel Cooper’s passing! Decades since I first met and benefited from his “hands-on” instruction outside a small town in Germany, I remember him and everything he taught as if it happened only yesterday. He was among the most outstanding instructors I ever had the good fortune to have, in philosophy and history as well as handgunning. I offer my most profound condolences to his wife and family, as well as to all who loved him. Doubtless Death approached him very cautiously, and as we enter the twilight of our own years, knowing that we’ll once again follow the Colonel is an especially comforting and invigorating thought.

Dale Petersen

Wow I really believe I missed out on someone who was very important to the shooting/gun/self defense community, but fortunately LtCol. Copper left a legacy for those of us who missed out. How many of us are doing the same for the next generation?

T.C. Fuller

Farewell to a man who spent a lifetime proving Virgil’s dictum Mens agitat molem. The world is now a smaller place for him having left, but better for him having been.

Dereck Renberg

Farewell Colonel, and godspeed. Though we never met, I feel I am a better man for having read your work and knowing of you…RIP.

Ride, Shoot Straight, And Speak the Truth.

Joseph Castro

I have been reading the Coronel’s writings since I could remember. He influenced me not only in the art of shooting and defense but also in character. My only regret was not being able to meet him personally and thank him for his guidance.

Farewell Coronel from this side of the earth.


I finally got a chance to check out your web page, and I must say that I’m impressed. Hope everything is going well. Take care!

A-Nam-Tay-Say.cherokee.locked and loaded..

what a great marine and man.god bless..

Chris S.

God bless you Col. Cooper. I wish men like you and Ronald Reagan were with us now. Rest in peace.

Jeff copper | TheButlerGroup

[…] Never Yet Melted » Lieutenant Colonel John Dean “Jeff” Cooper,Please state here what your Blog is all about … The few of us true americans left, who still understand that having freedom today is only possible due to men like Jeff Copper, feel a loss of one of our own. Whether you met him or not, we all “knew him” and what kind of man he was. […]

Maximo Sauro

Thanks for the post I actually learned something from it. Very good content on this site Always looking forward to new post.


Please Leave a Comment!

Please note: Comments may be moderated. It may take a while for them to show on the page.

Entries (RSS)
Comments (RSS)
Feed Shark