Don’t bring a Gun to a Knife Fight

Morning folks. It is time for a quick update and then on the actual article.

It has been a while. Much has happened since my last piece, including an extremely positive National Firearms Summit and its related spin-offs, worthy of its own report in the near future. Apart from playing a minor role in that event, my personal academic and professional schedule has prevented me from writing anything worthwhile. After today that is hopefully over!

I was also recently involved in a DGU. Suffice to say, it too deserves its own article, but until all the red tape around the event has settled you will have to just bear with me. The bare-bones facts of the situation is that a tikhead (someone high on meth) broke into friends’ property and attempted to kill one of them with a knife. I was visiting at the time, hoping to get a decent cup of coffee. Instead I had to shoot somebody to prevent them from killing a friend. The assailant died on the scene.

It has been the single most stressful experience of my life so far. The SAPS responding to the scene were nothing short of fantastic. They were professional, knowledgeable, and empathetic. In short, I could not have asked for better men and women in blue to arrive, and kudos to them.

But I do not want to talk about that event today. I am okay, and more importantly so are my friends. The incident did get me thinking about the saying “don’t bring a knife to a gunfight”, especially just how inaccurate it actually is. Let me explain.

The Tueller Drill

A little bit of research and Googling led me to numerous articles touching on the topic of confrontations involving handguns versus knives. The Truth About Guns has a particularly illuminating discussion about the Tueller Drill, the so-called 21-foot Rule which states that you will need at least 21 feet (7 meters) of separation between yourself and a knife-armed assailant if you are to have any chance of effectively reacting. Drawing from concealment makes it even more difficult to suitably react in time, giving the knife-wielder an even greater advantage over you. I highly recommend watching the video below, as it does an excellent job at explaining just how significant this separation distance is, and the reactionary gap that the distance gives you.

In conversing with people about this topic, I have also noticed that very few realise just what a knife attack actually looks like, and what massive capacity for doing damage sharp objects have.

The vast majority of homicides in South Africa are perpetrated by use of sharp objects. This is a fact. It was quantified by Statistics South Africa in their release pertaining to leading causes of death in South Africa last year. Your chances of encountering an assailant armed with a knife or similar sharp object is far greater than encountering one wielding a firearm. It also appears that your chances of walking away unscathed from a knife attack is also quite small.

Knife attacks are fast, brutal, and very deadly. They are not carefully rehearsed ballets that are easy to fend off. What makes it even worse, is that the human body is filled with blood vessels and arteries: by just being stabbed in the wrong place you can very quickly bleed to death. This includes being stabbed in your arm or leg.

What further complicates defending against knives are that they are easily concealed and easily drawn. The attacker could confront you on the street under the pretence of asking for directions or begging for money, and so doing get far closer to you than seven meters. By the time he initiates the attack you have no room to manoeuvre or react, putting you in an extremely perilous situation. In fact, what you may be going through may resemble something like this:

Understand what you are dealing with

 I am not an expert on knives or knife fighting. There are plenty of actual experts out there, like the guys from MultiDimensional Warriors (MDW) who can answer complex questions regarding the topic much better than I can. What I do know is that facing a knife attack is a very scary place to be. Avoiding it is first prize, but that is not always realistically possible.

Don’t make the mistake of bringing a gun to a knife fight: it could cost you your life. Know what you are dealing with, understand how to counter the threat, and don’t assume that a firearm is automatically superior to a knife.

Stay safe out there.

4 thoughts on “Don’t bring a Gun to a Knife Fight

  1. SA Stats gives knifes (sharp force instruments) deaths between on average 90 to 95% deaths each year. Glad that you all survived and able to tell te event after the attack. Yes knifes are dangerous

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I trained with the True Krav Maga guys in Cape Town and have seen that a firearm at close range is easier to defend against than a knife at close range. They do a lot of knife defense scenarios and teach respect for sharp objects. A gun is much more effective if you can create space and time with your hands first.


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