Friday, April 9, 2010

“Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight…”

…will say the tactical guy, hero of many Call of Duty and Medal of Honor battles.
Even worse, you sometimes hear that coming out of the mouth of people that actually get paid to train others.
The truth is that within contact distance up to a 3 yard radius, it doesn’t matter if you have a gun, bazooka or bear trap, if the other guy has a knife, like it or not you’re in a knife fight and odds are not in your favor. And if the blade is already drawn, you are in a world of trouble. The Tueller Drill extends that range to 7 yards, so within 3 yards you have almost no chance. Most likely, you’ll get cut, and if you have poor training or none at all, you’ll get killed.

So the “Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight” gets flushed down the toilet pretty quickly.
Today in Buenos Aires, two senior citizens got stabbed to death during a home invasion. Yesterday a women got killed with a knife too by an assistant of hers that was robbing her belongings.
It may be a surprise to some, but knife attacks are usually more lethal than gun shot wounds. I’ve read on several places that they are 20% more lethal than handguns.
Mind you, just like with guns, not all knives are created equal.
Stab me with a small table steak knife instead of a big butcher knife any day of the week.
In my book I wrote extensively about knives and the best way to use them but in a nutshell you want a long and thick blade, with a good piercing tip. This is very much the description of most big kitchen knives or butcher knives.

I’m not saying that knives are better weapons than handguns, remember we want to stop our attackers, mortality rates alone won’t help us much on self defense. The gun also gives you range, and you want to be as far away as you can from your attacker.
But we can’t ignore the fact that in most cases, fights and attacks occur well within the typical 7 yard range. Today you have to talk about “sidewalk” ranges. Guy walking down right the middle? Even if you get used to walking as far away as possible form others you’re talking about a couple yards alone at best on the widest sidewalks.

Ranges are close, too close, both on the street and indoors. Carry your gun, carry your knife, learn to use both and understand the potential lethality of such an simple, widely available tool.
You may think you are unarmed at home. If you have a big Chef’s knife you may want to rethink that.

PS: This is a knife I bought yesterday. At first I thought it was a Bowie but its more of a Facon. The blade is 14” long, 5mm thick, it was made using an old Sheffield (England) blade, dated 1867 . Maybe from a larger knife of some sort.
Unlike other more ornamented models, this one is purely functional with a bone handle and brass cross piece.

Here's another Facon, this one was made a few years ago, made using an old Collins made in USA machete blade, silver cross, piece, handle and other detials.



Stephen said...

What are your thoughts on impact weapons? While a always carry my concealed sidearm, when I am walking in a more urban area, I also carry a Cold Steel City Stick (pistol grip model). While an edged weapon certainly has its own advantages, the fact that my walking stick is already in my hand ready to go in an instant, gives me much comfort. Split seconds count for everything at such close ranges, and short of walking around with a large knife in your hand (not a good idea), I see a sturdy walking stick as the best alternative for my situation. Potential predators, unless they have no other targets to choose from, may also decide to find easier prey when seeing a walking stick. A concealed knife has no such advantage. Another factor is that carrying a concealed knife has legal implications that a walking stick does not have. I can also carry my walking stick with me right through any security checkpoint and not worry about it at all.

I am not trying to "sell" anyone on my choice, but rather am looking for honest comments either pro or con. Thanks!

i38warhawk said...

Fernando, you need to spend more time playing games, knifes are generally one hit kills. Kind of like real life, one good hit with a well placed knife and your done.

Plus I know your a gamer, I remember seeing what I'm almost certain is a Fallout Boy in the background of one of your GTA videos.

CapnRick said...

Saludos: Your new knife looks like a conversion of a trade knife turned out by the millions by the Sheffield factories from the 1600s - late 1800s, used as trade goods when dealing with the indigenous folks in the British Empire. While a lot of them were fabricated, very few survive into present day. The hilt and handle bear no resemblance to a trade knife, and may indicate that your example may NOT be a trade knife... or, that an enterprising Argentine gaucho modified it to his needs. The sheath appears to be designed for a facon (no apparent belt attachment device).

As a result of a misspent youth on the MX/TX border, I can attest to the deadliness of of a knife in the hands of a fast, determined person. I have seen training films pitting a fast, aggressive knife fighter advancing UP TO TWENTY FEET to simulate a debilitating thrust before a defender could bring his holstered pistol into firing position. We were trained how to deal with said situation, with tactics that included popping off a round as the pistol cleared the holster, again - as the pistol came into battery position, then again as an aimed shot. Even so, we were successful about 80% of the time... at BEST just about any distance up to twenty feet (6.5 meters). We were trained to use my favorite weapons... the Mark II feet, rapidly moving us out of the way at an angle to the attack, and the Mark I eyeball to make sure you spotted the threat at the earliest possible time. Situational awareness makes the difference more times than I can say.

Excellent luck on finding two such fine knives.

Suerte -CapnRick

russell1200 said...

Ok, so the crazy person runs at someone with a gun for 20' to stab him (in lieu of running away).

But let us say you have little opportunity for training. So long as you learn the very basics of the gun, you have a reasonable chance of success, but how effective is a unskilled person with a knife?

From a historical perspective guns initially began to supersede bow and crossbows not because they were particularly more effective, but because they took a lot less training. And those were match-locks and wheel locks that were a bit more complicated to use than todays firearms.

FerFAL said...

Thanks Rick! I'm already looking into those trade knives to see if I find of similar shape.

Russell, even during WWII tranch knives got a good amount of use. Besides, you're mixing up warfare and self defense.
At contact range even a train shooter will be in a complicated situation against a knife. At tohse ranges the best h2h fighter wins, or to one with the knife.


Blackeagle said...

"But let us say you have little opportunity for training. So long as you learn the very basics of the gun, you have a reasonable chance of success, but how effective is a unskilled person with a knife?"

Killing someone with a knife is actually quite easy. "The pointy end goes in the other man." It doesn't require a lot of technique, anyone with the right mindset can do it. If an unskilled person is willing to bore in aggressively they will probably be able to successfully stab their opponent unless the opponent is very skilled in knife defense.

The hard part isn't stabbing someone with a knife, it's being able to do so without getting hurt or killed yourself. Stabbing someone and emerging unscathed requires training, particularly when your opponent also has a knife. Breaking down an opponent's defenses so you can get by his knife and safely reach the vitals takes a lot of skill and practice.

So, how well will an untrained person do with a knife? It really depends on whether their opponent is armed and with what.

russell1200 said...

Those are very good points - so to speak:)

When I was thinking of skill, I was thinking of armed versus armed fighting. Grab and thrust is not too hard.

theotherryan said...

The Tueller drill has valuable lessons for folks (mostly open carrying LEO's) to not be too confident that just because they have a gun they can handle any situation. Pointy and blunt things have been killing people for a long time and it is foolish to forget that. It also shows the value of awareness. Being in a good shooting/ athletic position with your hand on the grip (say because there is a sketchy guy walking by) is very different than walking down the street window shopping and suddenly trying to drop your shopping bags and get your darn coat out of the way.

I don't however think it is entirely a fair comparison because it is more about the benefit of awareness and action vs reaction than lethality. For example if I did the same study but with a brick would it mean bricks are more effective weapons than guns? If you look at weapons out I think pretty much anybody sane would take a defensive handgun. A Falcon is scary (and cool, I want one) but I would take a Glock 19 or a 1911 any day.

There is a reason that people (there are some exceptions due mostly to gun control and cultural factors) stopped predominantly carrying bladed weapons for defense shortly after reliable defensive pistols in the form of cartridge revolvers were widely produced in the late 1860's to early 1870's.

Maybe it is better to say not to get into a knife fight without your darn gun out.

Anonymous said...

oops, I think I just left a comment on the wrong post, was meant for the post about the Knives For Defense.

I got too many windows open, arrgg.

See what happens when you multi-task, get distracted and miss the details.

Situatiuonal awareness failure.

No second chance.