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  1. #1
    Super Moderator
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    Default Knife vs. gun at short ranges

    Anyone wonder why the 21 foot rule exists? Take a look at the video below put together years ago by the South African police. Barry (Dragonmind) has been making this point on here for years (among others) but I thought this video did a nice job of bringing the point home.

    Now, before people start jumping in (you know who you are ), it is obvious that the officers in this training video made no attempt to get off line or create space in order to have more time to deploy their handgun. So, there are obvious problems with the vid itself from that regard. However, the point remains valid that at close distance, you could run into serious trouble with against a knife wielding assailant even if you are packing a gun.

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  2. #2
    Super Moderator Cliff Hargrave's Avatar
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    Lots of variables here to consider. Surprise attacks are hard to defend against, no matter if they have a knife, gun, or empty handed. You can make the same video showing the bad guy punching the officer or drawing his own gun and the result will be the same.

    Our goal in training is to get them to do something. Ideally they will perceive the threat and take action before it reaches that level, however when caught flat footed, the off line, create space, access weapon mode is what we shoot for. Trying to undo the "deer in headlights" stance is difficult with some folks.
    Jiu-Jitsu - like chess, except you get to choke people.

  3. #3
    Moderator Sochin's Avatar
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    I think the point of the original was to encourage getting off line and the use of the off hand which is now so standard seeing folks not do it looks just wrong.

    Ted
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    Moderator Don Roley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sochin View Post
    I think the point of the original was to encourage getting off line and the use of the off hand which is now so standard seeing folks not do it looks just wrong.

    Ted
    Or, on an even more basic level- don't just rely on the gun all the time to save you.

    I once heard of a case where a federal agent got on an elevator and as the doors were closing he and a guy he brought in, who later escaped, recognized each other. According to the story, both guys emptied their pistols inside the elevator without any of the shots hitting the other guy. The officer had an automatic and the bad guy a revolver, so after dropping the old magazine the officer was able to get the drop on the bad guy and bring him in.

    When I heard it, I could not help but think of the fact that I know a lot of guys who if I tried to go for a pistol that close to them would be all over me like ugly on ape. I would never get a chance to pull the firearm. They could even slow down my drawing a pistol with their weak hand while they pulled their pistol with their strong hand. Yet these guys first instinct when faced with someone going for their gun within arms reach was to ignore the option of trying to stop the other guys draw and only go for thier own pistol.

    I think that this mindset is the danger out there. The people that post here already think in terms of bringing everything they have to the fight and not just their firearm. Most folks who carry a firearm don't think they need anything else it seems.
    Guns don't kill people. Ninjas kill people.

  5. #5
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    I want to take this course: http://www.suarezinternationalstore....ROD&ProdID=663

    Suarez has also teamed up with the Dog Brothers and offered blade courses. Your comments Don, on CCW holders thinking that the answer to all their problems lives in their holster. More options are more better.

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Roley View Post
    Or, on an even more basic level- don't just rely on the gun all the time to save you.

    I once heard of a case where a federal agent got on an elevator and as the doors were closing he and a guy he brought in, who later escaped, recognized each other. According to the story, both guys emptied their pistols inside the elevator without any of the shots hitting the other guy. The officer had an automatic and the bad guy a revolver, so after dropping the old magazine the officer was able to get the drop on the bad guy and bring him in.

    When I heard it, I could not help but think of the fact that I know a lot of guys who if I tried to go for a pistol that close to them would be all over me like ugly on ape. I would never get a chance to pull the firearm. They could even slow down my drawing a pistol with their weak hand while they pulled their pistol with their strong hand. Yet these guys first instinct when faced with someone going for their gun within arms reach was to ignore the option of trying to stop the other guys draw and only go for thier own pistol.

    I think that this mindset is the danger out there. The people that post here already think in terms of bringing everything they have to the fight and not just their firearm. Most folks who carry a firearm don't think they need anything else it seems.

  6. #6
    Moderator DragonMind's Avatar
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    A common misconception is that the "21-foot rule" exists. Actually the Tuellers study observed that a knife attacker could cover on average 21 feet before an unprepared officer could draw his service weapon and put rounds on target. Force Science News had a good piece on this a couple years back link
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  7. #7
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    What kind of short range are we talking about?

    Outside Contact range (assuming drawn weapon and prepared/threat-oriented) the firearm is king. However, if the weapon is not target oriented and "hot" the edged/impact weapon is top dog any day.

    Inside Contact range, the firearm is more a liability than a useful tool.

    And the Die Less Often (Suarez/Dog Bros.) DVD's are a good set of knowledge. Make sure you train in Gabe's Close Range Gunfighting to understand some of it though.

  8. #8
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    Let us not forget that a knife will never jam, and never run out of ammo. I agree with Kenny that a gun at times can be more of a liability.

    I also like what Don said:

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Roley View Post
    Or, on an even more basic level- don't just rely on the gun all the time to save you.

    I think that this mindset is the danger out there. The people that post here already think in terms of bringing everything they have to the fight and not just their firearm. Most folks who carry a firearm don't think they need anything else it seems.
    But let us neither discount or disrespect the power of a firearm in the hands of a compitant user. Even the incompitant are capable of destroying lives very easily, employing very little skill.
    "A loss is not a failure if you walk away with something to show for it besides the bruises. Without loss there can be no learning, no skill, no advancement"

  9. #9
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    In tight quarters, carrying a firearm can be your own undoing. My theory on that (to elaborate, since someone agreed, I just want to clarify my theory behind it) used to be the gun grab. Earlier tonight in Combat Hapkido class, I had an epiphany. And I must yet again give the close quarters edge to the edged OR impact weapon and inside 3 yards, I would give an empty handed attacker an edge over the firearm as well....

    I was actually drilling w/ another Combat Hapkido Student (we SUPPOSED TO BE, and actually started, going over my 1st Dan requirements... which gravitated into weapon retention as we are both CCW holders) tonight and came to prove something that I say all the time in classes that up until recently was theory to me. How many people carry a gun, but not a knife? Now... How many carry only one knife and a gun? If you fit into the 1 each category, where do you carry it?

    If I only were to carry my GLOCK and 1 (never... I carry at all 4 corners) knife, I would carry my knife on the support side... Why?

    In the event a subject closes the distance before I can draw or before I would be justified in drawing (Just because you carry a hammer, doesn't mean every attacker is a nail) and gets his hands on my weapon... All the locks in the world are great... But I don't like the idea of cranking on a guy who is hands-on with MY gun... Support side knife carry enables me to trap the hand and the old "Pound his grip 'til he lets go" takes on a WHOLE new meaning when I'm pounding with my Blackhawk Be-Wharned in hand...


    Food for thought guys/gals.

  10. #10
    Super Moderator Cliff Hargrave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uncon214 View Post
    In tight quarters, carrying a firearm can be your own undoing.

    ...and not carrying one can be your undoing to. Lets face it, fighting/combat/self defense or whatever is dangerous. There are so many ways to you can be attacked that you cannot possibly cover them all, all of the time.

    The whole Tuellers rule actually boils down to awareness and taking the appropriate initial steps. I don't care who you are, you can be caught flat footed and just hope that you survive the initial attack and respond correctly. The sad part about life is some people do everything right and still lose.
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  11. #11
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    You're exactly right... Just because the dangers of the danger or gun grabs and/or the knife's awesome capabilities at contact distance.... I still put the firearm on my hip every time I have my pants on.

    It's amazing how much, if you can spot the threat from a distance which to a situationally aware individual is NOT hard at all, compliance you can get with a verbal challenge, illuminating the subject with white light (if you carry a gun and not a high intensity flashlight, you are asking for trouble (Target Positive ID) these days and with lights such as the Streamlight Scorpion and various SureFires there is no excuse for it), and letting them stare down the barrel of your carry piece, the verbal challenge of "STOP!!! BACK AWAY!!!! DROP THE ____(insert here)____!!!" might actually work, and if it doesn't... well then it's up to your carry load of choice and shot placement to cause the threat to reconsider their negative attitude.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Jonathan Randall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cliff Hargrave View Post
    The whole Tuellers rule actually boils down to awareness and taking the appropriate initial steps. I don't care who you are, you can be caught flat footed and just hope that you survive the initial attack and respond correctly. The sad part about life is some people do everything right and still lose.
    Well said and point taken; particularly since you've been carrying in the line of duty for longer than some posters here have been alive.

  13. #13
    Moderator DragonMind's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uncon214 View Post
    You're exactly right... Just because the dangers of the danger or gun grabs and/or the knife's awesome capabilities at contact distance.... I still put the firearm on my hip every time I have my pants on.

    It's amazing how much, if you can spot the threat from a distance which to a situationally aware individual is NOT hard at all, compliance you can get with a verbal challenge, illuminating the subject with white light (if you carry a gun and not a high intensity flashlight, you are asking for trouble (Target Positive ID) these days and with lights such as the Streamlight Scorpion and various SureFires there is no excuse for it), and letting them stare down the barrel of your carry piece, the verbal challenge of "STOP!!! BACK AWAY!!!! DROP THE ____(insert here)____!!!" might actually work, and if it doesn't... well then it's up to your carry load of choice and shot placement to cause the threat to reconsider their negative attitude.
    And what is your plan for those places where you can't carry your firearms or blades? Hint, the correct answer is NOT unarmed combat...
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  14. #14
    Senior Member Jonathan Randall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DragonMind View Post
    And what is your plan for those places where you can't carry your firearms or blades? Hint, the correct answer is NOT unarmed combat...
    Perhaps he can hand them his impressive resume for their perusal...

    I'm reminded of the mass shooting at Lubby's Dinner in Texas where one of the potential victims threw a table through the window in order to escape - thus saving his own life and the lives of those who followed him to safety. My guess is that a judicious and quick use of your environment - avenues of escape, potential weapons, cover and concealment, etc. is probably your best and only option. As Cliff wrote, and I'm sure you probably agree, sometimes you can do everything right and still lose.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by DragonMind View Post
    And what is your plan for those places where you can't carry your firearms or blades? Hint, the correct answer is NOT unarmed combat...
    A prepared person is always armed even if he doesn't have a knife or a gun on them. I'm not talking about some pseudo make believe hideaway weapon, either.
    Last edited by TonyU; 01-21-2010 at 19:40.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan Randall View Post
    Perhaps he can hand them his impressive resume for their perusal....
    LOL!

    Oh my Gawd, that's easily the funniest thing I have read all day. Thanks for the before bed chuckle.
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    I find some of the definitive comments heard regarding knife-over-gun superiority inside a certain range a bit unrealistic/incomplete and uneducated.

    Obviously if someone is holding a knife to your throat and your firearm is holstered, you have a problem. However, that is not a realistic comparison of the merits of one weapon over the other.

    With any weapon, one must practice carry, draw, and attack repeatedly - while moving offline and parrying with the weak hand. To assume that someone with a holstered firearm is automatically at a disadvantage to a knife attack inside a certain range is erroneous. Given two people, one carrying a sheathed or pocketed knife (even open), and one carrying a holstered firearm in battery, there probably is not going to be a difference in drawing time for either weapon. I would argue that a firearm in battery can most likely attack quicker, as the gun arm does not need to be extended into the target like a knife in order to have effect-on-target - if the proper holster and clothing is worn. Chosing the right equipment and method of carry can have an enormous impact on firearm deployability.

    Kenny, regarding your comment "Earlier tonight in Combat Hapkido class, I had an epiphany. And I must yet again give the close quarters edge to the edged OR impact weapon and inside 3 yards, I would give an empty handed attacker an edge over the firearm as well...."

    To this I say you would benefit by training with a qualified combat handgun instructor before coming to any conclusions about your epiphany. As Cliff said, there are way too many variables and possible attack scenarios to come to any broad conclusions.

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