CapArms Question of the Day: Would You Rather Face a Knife or a Gun?

The mainstream media is still banging on about how lucky the Brits are. You know: ’cause Her Majesty’s government disarmed her subjects. Otherwise, the knife-wielding terrorists in London would have had guns and killed hundreds! Or been shot dead within seconds. Anyway . . .

If you were facing someone intent on inflicting grievous bodily harm or death on you, your loved ones and/or innocent life, would you, armed American, rather face a pistol-packing perp or a knife-wielding bad guy?

comments

  1. avatar Kendahl says:

    If he has a gun, I’ll have one, too. That makes my chances at least as good as his and probably better. If we both have knives, I’m done for because I can’t outrun him and I have neither the strength nor skill to outfight him. The same is true if we are both unarmed. His size and strength will prevail.

    I would add that weaponry is only half of the equation. It’s an absolute necessity to be willing to do your assailant whatever it takes for you to survive. In my opinion, objection to that attitude underlies all weapon prohibition.

    1. avatar balisong says:

      depends. is the deck slippery? is stuff in my way? is their stuff I can throw at him. Does anyone around me have any balls? do I have a gun or knife? is the attacker in any way skilled? How big, strong, fast is he?

      1. avatar Trae says:

        Momma always told me not to run with knifes

  2. avatar Darkman says:

    A knife of course. You can’t out run a bullet. DUH

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      Thanks to a motorcycle accident a couple decades ago I can’t outrun a kn ife either.

    2. avatar Hannibal says:

      What if you can’t outrun the guy with the knife? In that case I’d rather take my chances on his bad aim with a gun while I’m running away since it’s really hard to chase someone while shooting at them with a pistol.

      1. avatar Cory C says:

        Ding, ding, ding. Most Scott Scofflaws are not Navy Seals. Put a few yards between you and them and they’re unlikely to shoot you. Stabbing someone is something anyone can do.

    3. avatar RMS1911 says:

      what if the perp is good at knife throwing​? you won’t outrun that at close range with your back turned.

  3. avatar Geoff PR says:

    “… would you, armed American, rather face a pistol-packing perp or a knife-wielding bad guy?”

    Ideally, neither. I’d like to think I wouldn’t consciously let myself get into such a position.

    Either way, I sure hope I was carrying if it happened…

  4. avatar Mark says:

    Depends on the proximity of the attacker. If he’s more than 7 yards away, I prefer him to have a knife as I can draw and eliminate him. If he’s under 7 yards, I’d prefer he has a gun as a stab wound is more medically serious than getting shot (assuming the assault is in the same area).

    1. avatar Cliff H says:

      I saw a YouTube a while back, sorry, didn’t save the link, about the proper response int he Tueller Drill:

      When the guy with the knife starts his attack run, don’t be there when he arrives! Get the eff off the exx.

      In that video every time the knife guy committed to the attack he focused on the target and aimed for that point in space. When the “victim” moved from that point, even when he just fell onto his back while drawing his pistol, the knife guy was unable to modify his angle of attack in time to follow the motion and make a successful strike.

      The one I liked best was when the victim dropped, rolled away, came to a knee with his pistol out and shot the guy in the back as he ran on past. Priceless.

      1. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

        Have you seen the video where Cold Steel’s Lynn Thompson uses one of his 5.5″ inch folding knives to spar against a guy with a smallsword. He handily defeats the swordsman over and over without getting hit once. It was extremely preposterous. The swordsman clearly was working for Mr. Thomson and was in no way trying to beat him. To add to the absurdity, the knife is/was called “Espada”.

      2. avatar Hannibal says:

        Try experimenting with a friend. Instead of falling back, run forward at around 45 degrees when he’s approaching (think: gators).

        Really screws up his game and gives you more time to draw.

      3. +1

        If you watch the video of the Police armed response to the recent terrorist vehicle/knife attack in London, you see 3x knife-wielding attackers charge the Police and get dropped quickly.

        BUT the instructive element is not the fact that bullets will stop people, so much as the movement of the officers, who do a pretty good job (IMHO) of closing the distance to minimise likelihood of misses / collateral, while simultaneously keeping sufficient distance from the bad guys to dominate and win the fight.

        A wise man once said “don’t bring a knife to a gunfight”; this is true, but if you bring a gun to a knife fight, maintain your distance and positioning to maximise your advantage.

        Final point: the image heading this article is misleading. Britain banned hand guns in 1997; it didn’t ban guns…

  5. avatar Cliff H says:

    Gun against gun, for me, especially if he is distracted by a target-rich environment and I only need to focus on HIM.

    Knife against knife? No f way! Where have I heard this, and how many times – If you get in a knife fight, even if you win, expect to get cut. To counter a knife you have two options: run like hell or get up close and take your chances. Don’t like them options.

    1. avatar Cliff H says:

      BTW, I have been in exactly one knife fight (in Austin, TX). The BG was after someone else, not me, and I foolishly tried to come between them. The rule about “you will get cut” – you betcha! Lucky for me he just slashed, not stabbed, and ruined the upper left sleeve of my favorite jacket, which was thick enough to protect my all too tender flesh. I managed to get behind him and put him in a bear hug before any more damage could be done.

      I was much younger then.

      1. avatar Boba Fett says:

        More power to you. I think the only way I would intervene is if someone I knew or loved was in that situation. Barring that scenario, I’m not sure how I’d react. Maybe I’d run, or maybe I’d eye him up real quick to see if he was p@$$y, then scuff him up if I determined that he was.
        Having never been attaked by anyone with a weapon, I think I’d much rather go up against someone with a knife. Knives take more skill and physical prowess to achieve the same result.

        1. avatar J says:

          Skill isn’t a requirement depending on the blade wielded. A passed off screaming 5ft nothing 110lb woman with a sabatier could make mincemeat of a 6ft 200lb guy pretty damn quick just by frantically slashing and stabbing, provided both were in close quarters.

    2. avatar Joe in San Antonio says:

      I have been shot at (from a very far distance) and stabbed. I would take a gun fight any day over a knife fight.

  6. avatar Cjstl says:

    Ha! I remember my post from a few weeks ago where I said I felt more confident being unarmed and facing a knife-weilder than being in a gunfight.

    That was predicated on my not having practiced sufficiently at defensive gun use to feel confident in my chances to draw and fire before being shot myself. On the other hand, I feel more comfortable with my speed and dexterity to be able to evade the initial knife strike and grab the attacker’s wrist, as well as more confident in my strength to disarm.

    This is, of course, all subjective to my particular situation. I have a solid frame, 225 lbs of weight, a good grip, and excellent hand-eye coordination. As mileage varies drastically, this is certainly not true for everyone. Because of this (but certainly not limited to it), no government has the right to dictate how its citizens can defend themselves in any situation.

    Not to mention, while I may fare better defending myself from a knife, my chances of success would be vastly increased if I had a gun against that knife.

    1. avatar Cory C says:

      This is one of those things where one’s mileage may vary. I weigh 150 lbs, I’m 5’8″, and I’m pretty on my feet. I don’t like my chances that I can beat someone in a knife fight but I have trained long and hard with my pistol such that I’m confident I can outdraw anyone dumb enough to make me outdraw them. That said, I also carry a knife.

      In any event, it’s interesting to see how opinions vary on this topic. Thanks for sharing.

  7. avatar Jack says:

    At knife distances, I’d want to face a gun. At gun distances, a knife. Given only one option…. I’ll stay home, thank you.

    1. avatar Bob says:

      You got it. A knife is a close-in weapon. A gun is better as a stand-off weapon. So … Would I rather face a knife or a gun? Depends on my distance from it.

      If I were facing a knife, I would try to gain some distance, because a knife is useless beyond arms length.

      If I were facing a gun: I would move in closer if the distance already were pretty close, and depend on my grappling skills to keep his gun from pointing at me. I would move farther away if the distance was not so close, then depend on my aim being better than the attacker’s.

    2. avatar Cory C says:

      All due respect, but I think you may have it backwards (not that I don’t get the point you’re making). The FBI has concluded that untrained gun novices are very dangerous within a couple of yards. The reason is that, at that distance, hitting you with a bullet is like hitting the broad side of a barn from 10 yards. It’s hard to miss when they’re so close you don’t have to aim. Not that a knife wouldn’t be awful at that range too.

  8. avatar Badgerman says:

    If I had to make a choice which armed bad guy I would face it would the knife perp. I’d take that fight every day and twice on Sunday.

    1. avatar Joe in San Antonio says:

      Knife fights suck they are launched close in and take a lot of training/ luck to avoid even accidental cuts. Most knife attacks are not like the London terror plot, they are fast urban street attacks.

  9. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

    I am a historical fencing enthusiast. I’d much rather have a sword fight than a gun fight any day. I have had way more training there. Smallsword, longsword, and rapier, especially. But, knife fights seem pretty ugly. A knife in close is very difficult to defend against, IMO. I have only had a 30 – 40 hours of knife fighting training though. My strategy in a knife fight would be to have a much larger knife. I am too slow to run away from likely assailants.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      A sword can be used defensively, to block and parry, followed by a counter attack. A knife, not so much. A sword versus knife gives you reach to attack without overly exposing your trunk. and a short sword or edged sword versus a knife is a definite overmatch.

      1. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

        Yes. If somebody was approaching me, threateningly with a knife and I had a sword and a hand gun both with me I would be more comfortable drawing the sword (down to the size of about a gladius). A sword gives you more options as well a large advantage.

  10. avatar Hank says:

    I hate to say this, but Brits have never been ‘gun people’ least of all handguns. If they were allowed to carry at this point most would accidentally shoot themselves playing the unfamiliar gadget. And if there was a terror incident, they’d likely hit everyone but the bad guy (kinda like the NYPD).

    1. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

      Like Monty Pythons Upper Class Twit of the Year contest?

      1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

        And now onto the ‘removing the brassier from the mannequin’ obstacle.

    2. avatar jwm says:

      Doesn’t matter if they’re gun people or not. Every human being on this planet has the human and civil right to protect themselves. No .gov has the right to restrict their right to do so.

      If handguns were readily available, as they should be worldwide, the non gun brit would decide for themselves whether to be armed at the next terrorist attack.

      And the more terrorist attacks that happen, the more people that will decide they choose to protect themselves.

      1. avatar Cory C says:

        Well said. I don’t think that most Americans have the training, discipline, focus, etc. to safely handle a gun. But having the right and having the skills aren’t the same thing.

    3. avatar strych9 says:

      That’s a pretty silly argument. You’re basically saying “They don’t have the necessary experience so we shouldn’t let them get the necessary experience”.

      The vast majority of people are smart enough not to shoot themselves (or another person) with a gun without reason. There’s no reason to suggest that just because they talk all proper and shit that they can’t figure out how to use a gun. It’s not like any of us were born knowing how to shoot, use a knife or defend ourselves in other ways.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        “all proper and shit”. A true wordsmith.

        1. avatar strych9 says:

          My skills pale in comparison to the students at Evergreen College.

          Skip to 11:21 for some real wordsmithery… (this is what a modern high school produces btw)

    4. avatar Ropingdown says:

      Britain was almost universally armed as of 1901, which is what lead George Orwell (Eric Blair) to state that the freedom of Britain can be found in the rifle that hangs over the mantle in nearly every cottage.

      The damage has all been done in the last 112 years, and mainly the 99 years since the end of WWI. I’m not the least surprised that the German royal family felt compelled to change their dynastic name to Windsor, and to push quickly for gun restrictions. 10’s of thousands of blind and crippled workingmen’s sons in London alone was enough to make a reasonable monarch fear rebellion.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        The single biggest event that spurred gun control in England was what happened to the Romanovs. But just controlling guns would not have put off the rebellion that was brewing in England. Somebody in a position of power saw the writing on the wall and they started reforms in England.

        Which eventually lead to the modern socialist England. IMHO they went too far.

  11. avatar The Duke says:

    A gun, even if I was unarmed for some unlikely reason.

    If I charge a guy with a gun I have a decently favorable chance of neutralizing his firepower advantage in hand to hand, not so much the case with a knife.

  12. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    If giving up my gu ns meant that my attacker would be armed with a kni fe instead, I’d consider that a fools bargain.

  13. avatar former water walker says:

    Ummm…neither?!??

  14. avatar TrappedInCommiefornia says:

    For myself I’d pick a knife wielding opponent. I’m generally quick enough that I think I could evade long enough to unholster my gun. But that wouldn’t work for everyone. There’s not much chance for my wife putting distance between herself and someone with a knife, so her odds would probably be better against someone with a gun.

  15. avatar TyrannyOfEvilMen says:

    Well, based on the way that I see most people shooting at the range, I would prefer to face a man with a gun. /;-)

  16. avatar Jon in CO says:

    Do I have firearm? If so, knife for sure. Distance is my friend. If it’s even ground, I still think knife.

  17. avatar Dave M says:

    Totally depends on distance: close up, gun; distance, knife. Never, ever be unarmed yourself, absolutely ignore those signs that state unarmed victims have been provided for the criminal’s convenience and enjoyment. I always have at least one gun, two knives; usually have two guns though. It is REALLY important to remember to MOVE to throw your attacker off and ready which ever weapon is needed for the encounter.

  18. avatar jwm says:

    You come at me with a gun and I will do what I have to to defend myself. If you break off and retreat I will let you go. If you’re wounded and down I will summon help for you.

    A knife is the weapon of an animal. A cruel, inhuman animal. Come at me with a knife and I will kill you. If you break and run I’m coming after you and I will kill you. Try to give up. I will kill you. If you’re wounded, laying on the ground, I will watch you suffer and bleed out.

    Have I spoken plain enough on the matter?

    1. avatar Mark says:

      And if you chase your attacker after the threat is over and kill him, you will be in prison. This is the world we live in.

    2. avatar strych9 says:

      Knives usually elicit a pretty visceral response but… damn jwm… that’s a hell of a response!

      1. avatar jwm says:

        It’s not like I said I would burn your families house down and kill anything coming out of the fire.

        I thought it was a reasonable response to the situation. Don’t come at me with a knife. I will get emotional.

        You won’t like me when I’m emotional.

        1. avatar strych9 says:

          “You won’t like me when I’m emotional.”

          Fair enough. You wouldn’t happen to be named “Big Chris” would you?

        2. avatar jwm says:

          No, I’m not. And he’s proof that not all englishmen have vaginas.

        3. avatar Joe in San Antonio says:

          Jwm, I am the same way, a knife is vicious, you come at me and mine with a knife and it will be the end.

  19. avatar strych9 says:

    I am forced to answer this question with the stereotypical cop out: It depends.

    What kind of knife? What’s the attackers skill level with it? How big is he, what are his physical capabilities and characteristics? Is he a physically capable person with greater reach than me and a good idea of how to employ the blade he’s chosen? That’s scary as fuck right there. It’s a bit different if he’s a untrained, drunken hobbit who clearly doesn’t know how to use the knife he has. Still scary, knives always are, but the pucker factor is lower.

    Also, how am I armed? Am I at a gas station so I have my own knife and a gun or did I just walk out of a courthouse and the best armament I might have is a pen or whatever comes to hand?

    Further, how is the attack launched and what does the perp want? Do they just want my wallet or are they there to kill me? How close are they when it becomes possible to know they’re armed and coming at me with intent? Do they scream something about a snackbar to alert me to their presence or are they trying to get close using stealth?

    Both weapons are, quite literally, deadly serious but they both have advantages and limitations. Without having a sort of scenario to consider the question is too open ended to really answer.

  20. avatar Joe_thousandaire says:

    I’ve always thought I’d rather be shot than stabbed. Just seems worse for some reason.

  21. avatar Alan Esworthy says:

    Knife, even though knife wounds are more likely to be fatal than bullet wounds.

    Why? The attacker would have brought his knife to a gun fight.

  22. avatar Troubled Soul says:

    Would the attacker be a New York cop with a 12lb trigger?

  23. avatar Ralph says:

    I’ve been cut, so knives scare me. I have been shot at to no avail, so guns do not scare me. But whether I’m threatened by a knifeman or a gunman doesn’t matter — he’s gonna get popped, or I’ll die trying.

  24. avatar adverse4 says:

    errrrrrrrrrrr, what is behind door number three? Hopefully the Dallas Cowgirls.

  25. avatar ai338 says:

    If you choose to fight a knife over a gun, you’re an amateur.

  26. avatar Hannibal says:

    At close range, I’d rather he have a gun. A gun grab or disarming is a LOT easier than a knife grab.

    Anything more than that… depends if I’m armed. If I’m unarmed, and he’s fast (and really wants me dead), I’d actually still rather he have a pistol. Hitting a running, dodging target isn’t that easy and most pistol wounds are non-fatal. As long as he’s shooting, I’m increasing distance as long as I don’t get taken out with a really bad shot. On the other hand, if he’s got a knife, he’s gotta chase me… and if he catches me and starts doing damage, there’s probably no recovery. I’ve seen some nasty videos of people getting stabbed to death. Do not want.

    If I’ve got a gun, sure, I’d rather him have a knife at anything over close distance. Yes, he MIGHT be able to get me by charging… but hopefully I’ll be getting him as well, and most people aren’t great knife fighters.

  27. avatar Wayne says:

    Someone said if you choose to fight someone with a knife over someone with a gun, you’re an amateur. Pretty harsh thing to say, but largely accurate. If you talk to most street cops, equipped with body armor, sidearms, pepper spray, etc. etc. and ask them what they fear most; a gun or a knife, I’d hazard that somewhere north of 90% would say they fear a knife considerably more than a gun.
    Knife wounds, even superficial slashes, are messy as hell & painful in a whole different way than a gunshot. Not saying being shot doesn’t hurt, far from it, but a full length slash down an arm can be very debilitating, physically sometimes, almost always emotionally. The sight of a gaping, 6 or 8 in long knife wound, especially on your own body, carries significant “shock value; regularly much more than a couple of well placed .45 rounds will. I think anyone who says they aren’t afraid of getting cut, is either lying or has never actually thought about it. Someone with a bit of skill and a sharp knife can be devastating; someone with zero training & a sharp knife, flailing madly with that blade, will shock as many people into freezing as it will encourage them to run. Once stationary, that sharp knife can do horrific damage in a very short time. I don’t ever want to be shot, but if I had a choice I’d rather be shot than cut

  28. avatar Ropingdown says:

    Were he but an honest gentleman, neither the sight of a gun or knife would alarm me. For good or ill t is the nature of the man, not his weapons, that is the threat.

  29. avatar Mike Betts says:

    In my experience I’ve only seen one instance where a blade prevailed over a firearm. It was at the Grand Inaugural Cuttin’ and Shootin’ at a newly-opened bar When I got to the scene both combatants were down. One had a small caliber bullet wound in his thigh (the firearm somehow having disappeared prior to police arrival) with but a trickle of blood loss. His opponent had been virtually scalped with a straight razor and he was bleeding like the proverbial stuck pig, clearly the more badly injured of the combatants involved in the contretemps. How this transpired we were literally clueless, as despite there being a throng present, to a man they all said, “I ain’t seen nuffin.” This included the fellows involved, one of those not infrequent incidents wherein a pair of blind men were involved in mortal combat.

    Following a few more similar incidents the bar lost its liquor license, burned down, and has now been replaced with – a church. Hallelujah!
    .

  30. avatar gargoil says:

    what is its the dreaded knife-gun???

    exactly, all your planning just went up in smoke cut by a blade.

  31. avatar jwtaylor says:

    Knife wounds are more deadly than gunshots? WTF? As a civilian trauma tach, EMT/ and military medic, I’ve seen hundreds of penetrating traumas. Knife wounds are very rarely as serious as GSWs.
    If stabs and slashes were more destructive than GSWs we’d be doing surgery with Glocks.
    Can a 7″ blade make a 14″ hole through someone? Not very likely. Can a .3″ .357mangnum revolver? Any day of the week. And with 5 pulls of the trigger, it can make 5 more.
    Can a 4″ knife break a femur? Again, only in a dream world. Can a 9mm bullet fired from a pocket automatic? Count on it.
    Knives work at contact range. So do guns. And beyond that range, guns are still in the fight, knives aren’t.
    Haven’t you all seen Raiders of the Lost Ark?

    Now, intentional stabbings often result in death, and in some locations more often than GSWs. But that’s because people don’t immediately call 911 from the stabbing assault, since they can’t tell how badly they are hurt. It’s the delay in treatment that kills, not the severity of the wound compared to a GSW.

  32. avatar PsyGuy0 says:

    Geez. Maybe they need MORE laws for knives since the ones present are not working.
    Maybe background checks and waiting periods Maybe higher taxes per knife. Maybe mandatory training classes to use a knife.

    Surely those will work…

    https://www.gov.uk/buying-carrying-knives
    It’s illegal to:

    sell a knife to anyone under 18, unless it has a folding blade 3 inches long (7.62 cm) or less
    carry a knife in public without good reason, unless it has a folding blade with a cutting edge 3 inches long or less
    carry, buy or sell any type of banned knife
    use any knife in a threatening way (even a legal knife)

    * for those who are sarcastically challenged

  33. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    When I carry my knife I always carry my gun as a back up. :)-

  34. avatar Martin B says:

    Whole lot of hypothetical in this exercise. I live in New Zealand, where pistol ownership is tightly proscribed, and the right to carry does not exist AT ALL! If you even mention self-defense as a reason for firearms possession, you will not get a license, you can never even BUY a firearm of any sort. So being armed does not mean with a gun. But a lot of people carry pocket knives, and they can be sharp. We do not generally have a street culture of murder by stabbing, but it happens from time to time, usually domestics or where alcohol is involved.

    I recently saw a video where some “expert” proposed the “defang the snake” theory, where with a stick or edged weapon, just strike the opponent’s hand to make him release said weapon. This makes sense, but developing a speedy getaway makes even more sense. Better still, don’t get in the way of family fights, avoid drunk people, and don’t stay out late, and such a circumstance need never trouble your mental processes. I don’t lose any sleep over it.

    The only fight I ever got into was a recently released prisoner with a grudge, who waylaid people emerging from a subway after dark. He grabbed hold of me while swinging a punch, which only connected with my eyeglasses as I ducked my head out of the way. After several moments of grappling, I persuaded him that I wasn’t in the mood for a fight, and he let me go, and gave me a beer in apology. He then insulted an approaching police officer, who arrested him, and he happily went back to jail. I had just finished high school at the time, but had an older brother so being manhandled was something I was used to. No problem.

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