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By Warren Lind

Approximately 30 percent of all U.S. homes have at least one firearm. But there is another weapon that is in 100 percent of all homes: bladed weapons.

Knives are the most common, but this also includes hatchets, axes, swords, kukris, machetes, tomahawks, spears and the list goes on and on. It is unlikely that the average citizen is aware of the vast diversity of bladed weapons, which are probably mankind’s second weapon development (following the caveman’s impact weapon, the club).  (For an overview of the variety of bladed weapons, see and

If you talk to many police officers, most will tell you they would rather be shot than stabbed.  If this seems strange, consider the differences between gunshot wounds and those from bladed weapons.  When some people are shot, they don’t even realize it and keep on fighting; it is not unusual that police must shoot suspects multiple times to end the fight, especially when the suspect is mentally ill or under the influence of illegal drugs. On the other hand, cuts—even minor ones—are very painful.

When gunshots hit the extremities they may not be fatal. They can also create the classic “through and through” wound when they enter the body on one side and exit from the other, without hitting an artery or vital organ. Some bladed weapons are capable of chopping off an extremity (or even a head) with one blow; thus bulletproof vests offer little protection.

Second, bladed weapons can easily sever an artery in a leg, arm or neck: unless medical intervention is immediate, the person will bleed to death very quickly. Third, bladed weapons can pierce a vital organ.  Last but not least, a puncture wound to the chest can cause an acute pneumothorax (collapsed lung), which can be fatal.


From“Obama LIED again – more people mass murdered by Knife attacks in China than with Guns in America” which was written on January 7, 2016.


From John Lott, PhD: For the average multiple victim Chinese knife attack since 2010: 4.4 people were killed, and 14.5 injured.  Excluding the Kunming Railway Station attack the average is: 3.1 people killed and 8.6 injured. If you look at all the cases where at least 4 people were harmed the average attack had: 4.7 people killed and 15.8 injured.”

Bladed attacks occur all around the world but are rarely reported in our mainstream news media.  Britain also, which has very strict gun controls, has seen a frightening increase in knife attacks over the last several years.

Terrorists have discovered the lethal combination of vehicles plus hand weapons, running as many people down as possible then getting out and shooting or stabbing survivors.  Such attacks have occurred in Europe and the U.S., and I expect these to increase due to easy access to both vehicles and knives.  And the largest terrorist acts are still being accomplished with airplanes, explosives, and fire.

Serial killers frequently prefer knives, as there is no forensic evidence such as bullets or shell casings and no unnecessary sound.  Bladed weapons are cheaper and easier to obtain than firearms, and do not require the rigorous licensing process for purchase or permitting to carry. You are very likely face an attacker armed with a blade during a robbery, rape or home invasion.

Massad Ayoob’s core advice about knife fighting can be paraphrased as: “You may well kill your attacker with your knife, but he won’t die until 3 hours after he has killed you!”  Yes, I carry a “Missouri legal” folding knife, but see this as a last ditch self-defense tool should my gun, pepper spray and impact weapon all fail—highly unlikely.  Many years ago, I took a one-day knife fighting course in which we used rubber knifes.  Every student would have died the “death of a thousand cuts” had they been real!

Mass shooters can be stopped by determined unarmed persons, either when their guns jam (as they often do with inexperienced shooters), they run out of ammo, or they have to reload. If the defender knows how to properly grab a pistol (revolver or semi-auto), it cannot fire the next round.  There is also a physical limit to how many guns and how much ammo one person can carry. By contrast, bladed weapons don’t usually break, they don’t run out of ammo, and they need not be reloaded.

Imagine trying to stop a determined attacker who has a bladed weapon in each hand and 8 more on his body. I don’t see how, unless you have a gun and he is farther away than 21 feet.  Pepper spray may slow him down and allow you to escape. However, criminals who are highly motivated, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or mentally ill can attack right through both pepper spray and TASER defense.

Consider the Sandy Hook school shooter. Imagine he had been armed only with serious bladed weapons as described in the first paragraph. He might have had a harder time entering the school; perhaps he’d have had to smash his way in.

But a mad man could hide and wield 10 or more kukris, swords, hatchets, and other bladed weapons without a problem. While gunshots alerted others that an attack was underway, a bladed attack would have been less noisy, with only the screams of the victims.

The sight of limbs being severed and blood splattering would have caused pandemonium just as shooting did. True, it takes more time to kill with bladed weapons. But he would have not run out of ammo nor could anyone without a firearm have hoped to disarm him.

Despite the delineation of the “21-foot rule” by police officer Dennis Tueller in 1983, the media and public are still under the delusion that an attacker with bladed weapons should be reasoned with, shot with pepper spray or shot with a TASER, as if responding with a firearm is disproportional. If “ignorance is bliss”, then these ignorant advocates of “non-lethal means” are hoping that God really does protect fools.

Some bladed weapons— notably Tanto knives and tactical tomahawks, can break through auto glass and cut through the steel doors of cars like a table knife cuts through hot butter. Also, there are knives make out of hard nylon that can be sharpened and are not picked up by metal detectors. If you think you are safe in a “NO WEAPONS ALLOWED” building where every visitor has gone through a metal detector, think again.

Crime is caused by defects in morality and mindset, not by weapons—any more than pens cause libel. Murder has been with us since Cain killed Abel. Those who want to protect themselves and family members should be on guard against criminals and terrorists who utilize bladed weapons, not just firearms or clubs.


Warren Lind is a retired licensed clinical social worker and former security officer who writes extensively about crime, survival, and self-defense.  He is a member of too many pro-2A organizations to list.

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  1. Quite apart from their ‘combat’ usefulness knives are a genuinely handy tool to have. I’m never without one when I’m out and about and I have a whole variety of folders, locking blades, fixed blades, multi tools and so on available to me.

    And I also have a machete, ax and hatchet in my garage.

    • I literally have every single item you just mentioned in my vehicle. All of them. And a small multi-tool plus separate knife on my at all times.

    • jwm, I’m with you. I would walk out the door with no pants before I walked out without a knife. I also agree with the author. A knife is a formidable weapon. I have seen two men disembowled and many others killed, or seriously wounded by edged weapons. Believe me, when a man’s guts fall on top of his shoes it takes the fight out of him.

  2. “Imagine trying to stop a determined attacker who has a bladed weapon in each hand and 8 more on his body. I don’t see how, unless you have a gun and he is farther away than 21 feet.”
    This is why we have swords and spears and .45-70 five shot revolvers. At least, at my house we do.

  3. I used to do some fake fighting stuff and although I’m not an expert by any means one thing was perfectly clear; You can have a distinct winner and loser when fighting with long bladed weapons (say machete length or better) but if they are short weapons both people will ALMOST CERTAINLY BE STABBED.

    The key thing in my mind if I were facing a bladed adversary is anything I can put in my hand that gives me more reach than he does is good. That means a lowly mop handle could be a life saving instrument if it was what’s on hand and preferably something sturdier. The only other thing a person w/o a gun would be able to really do is have the element of surprise or depend on numbers to get ahead and be willing to get stabbed.

    I would be very squeamish about the idea of fighting someone who was good, stupid or crazy enough to think that fighting with say a 6″ knife is a good idea.

    • Very true. This is why guns have become the universal self-defense weapon: reach.

      Speaking of reach, my son’s home defense tool of choice is a 4 foot long spear. (Backup is a tactical tomahawk.) He’s 6 foot 5, and in our ’70s split entry house, there isn’t a single room or hallway he can’t reach across. Bladed weapons can be truly horrifying. Any home invader had better pray he faces my puny 9mm handgun instead.

      • Think about this for a moment; That guy with the broadhead spear killed a bear no problem. Many people recommend carrying .44 mag or better for bear. If you land a hit with a spear you’re going to tear something the hell up. They may have some fight in them, but I would think bleeding out and shock to be extraordinarily likely with any sort of a solid hit. Now then landing that hit may be the challenging part.

        • “Think about this for a moment; That guy with the broadhead spear killed a bear no problem.”

          We don’t know that for a fact it was easily done. Ancient human remains have been found with ghastly injuries.

          I bet the accident rate back then for hunting we would consider unacceptable today. But it was literally ‘do or die’ back then…

      • Ever heard of Sasha Siemel? He was famous for hunting the largest Jaguars in the densest jungle with a spear. He kept a rifle on his horse, but when the cats would head for heavy cover, the way all leopards do, he would go in after them with only a spear.
        He always said a spear was much better in the dense stuff than a firearm. His technique was to catch the charging cat on the point and let their own power thrust the spear clear through. Then just hang on and keep them off until they bleed out. Killed hundreds that way. Most famous jaguar hunter in the world.

        • @ ing; the Zulu call the short spear “Ikwala” supposedly for the sound it made going in.
          @Kunute; the spear used had to of had a cross bar. Medieval paintings and tapestries show dangerous game spears as having a cross bar. This was to keep the animal at bay until it died.
          Thanks TTAG for a great article re. the danger and utility of the blade.

  4. Over the years, I have developed a highly effective defense against knives. I run the other direction really, really fast.

      • You’re right Geoff. I’ll amend that to avoiding people in Burkhas, Hijabs, yutes who like to congregate and speak Arabic, and the blocks where their houses of worship exist. Or maybe you’d prefer to have acid thrown on you?

        • “You’re right Geoff. I’ll amend that to avoiding people in Burkhas, Hijabs, yutes who like to congregate and speak Arabic, and the blocks where their houses of worship exist. Or maybe you’d prefer to have acid thrown on you?”

          Get out of your comfort zone and talk to them. The vast majority of them are normal people that want the same shit we all do.

          The irony of it all is that most muslims share much more of their core values with conservative ideology than they do with the liberal one. Unfortunately the right’s xenophobia made it that muslims have no choice but to go to the left for any sort of political recognition (but the left doesnt really give a shit about them, they just use them as a stepping-stone towards power and political conquest). The MSM has been painting muslims the way they have in part to have them pushed away from the right and towards the left. If the right actually saw just how much they have in common with the vast majority of muslims, then they would gain an appreciable ally while denying the left the very same.

        • Unfortunately the right’s xenophobia made it that muslims have no choice but to go to the left for any sort of political recognition

          No, I think it is the mass slaughter of Innocents perpetrated by Muslims almost every day all over the world that has done that

        • “No, I think it is the mass slaughter of Innocents perpetrated by Muslims almost every day all over the world that has done that”

          Muslims slaughter each other far more often and in far greater numbers than the ‘infidels’…

        • Ignorant advice. I’ve done plenty of work for the local mosque, as well as the members there. The ones I’ve worked for are very friendly and always pay on time. They make excellent clients.

          Your idea that every Muslim is an extremist is like a CNN panel thinking every white guy is a racist white supremacist (and a future mass shooter).

        • It is Muslim holy books that say non believers must be converted or killed.

          The polls show the vast majority of Muslims, both in America and globally support sharia law.

          They have a longer, more brutal, and larger history of slaving than western Europeans and their’s is still ongoing, whereas stopped ~150 years ago.

          They conquered by force all of north Africa, the Middle East, and well into Europe before they were stopped and slightly pushed back.

          History and current events clearly indicate that Muslims are no one’s friend or ally.

        • ^ this was in response to:
          ““avoid muslims.”

          And there’s *your* ‘fear porn’ in full bloom…”

    • Conrad:
      I have a couple of good friends. Who are not only Muslim but,Immigrated from a Muslim country in the eastern Med. They Love this country and are more patriot than many natural born U.S. citizens. They believe in and understand the Constitution and Bill of Rights. They stand for the national anthem and not only hold their hands over their hearts. They bow their heads and say a prayer each time it’s played. They came hear to escape religious persecution by Radical Islam. They work hard,respect the law and vote the conservative side of politics. They find liberal policies to be against everything they value and especially have a disdain for people who kneel during the national anthem or desecrate the flag in any way. So lumping all Muslims as bad people or terrorists only shows your fear,lack of education and social skills. Open your eyes and shut your mouth. You might accidentally learn something about yourself and other people. As my friends are fond of saying: Peace be with you.

      • I too know some Muslims who are amazing human beings and fine American citizens. I’d trust them with my life, and even more importantly, I’ve trusted them with my children’s welfare and they haven’t let me down.

        However, I don’t make the mistake of thinking these fine individuals represent Islamic culture in general. Islam is fundamentally opposed to Western culture. It’s toxic, and nations like Germany, Sweden, and Belgium are currently experimenting with just how much poison the body politic can ingest before it dies.

        Treat each individual with human decency until his actions merit otherwise, and treat groups according to their collective behavior.

        • The ones who want to immigrate here are very rarely the problem. The kind of folks you want for neighbors.

          Where the trouble seems to start is when their children become radicalized when they start to research their cultural ‘roots’.

          The Muslims keyed to ‘jihad’ have picked up on this resource and are exploiting it in the mosques…

      • Yea remembering Flight 93, sit down, be quiet, we’ll arrive shortly. There are two kinds of Muslims, those who terrorize, and those who agree with them.
        You can love them, I won’t.

        • If a muslim is a true believer in the koran than he is the antithesis of American.
          Americas first international war was against “musselmen, the barbary pirates in the Mediterranean.
          Now we have a prime example of what these people really are in the person of illian omarh. The creature form minnimogadshu Mn.
          As for killing each other, that has been going on for centuries, non stop.

  5. The democrats will demand smart knives only the owner can open and use. Biden probably thinks they sell them already.

  6. If you have a fire-arm and are faced with a bad guy with a blade who may run at you before you can draw. Draw as you fall backwards. Fire from the ground. It makes the attacker change from a run forward attack to changing directions to get at you. Shoot, rinse, repeat as needed.

    • It’s a nice theory but I wouldn’t use that technique. Your best defense against a knife is mobility because the blade’s range is quite limited, mobility which you lose if you fall like that.

      Plus this hinges on knowing the person has a knife well in advance which I doubt you usually will. I certainly didnt know until the person was 1.5 arms lengths away. A medium sized pop-star and the blade is on/in you.

      In terms of range I’d tend to describe it as a rando throws a sucker punch at you for no apparent reason. You’re just not going to have this kind of reaction time in most cases. Which is what the knife guy says at the beginning and, IME, what the person with the knife is banking on.

  7. Greater Rochester ,NY URMC hospital system has a “no weapons policy”even for blades..but unsafe parking garages.That includes Strong,Noyes,FFThompson,Highland etc hospitals and their specialty offices[e.g.cardiology,etc]
    Now what??
    I carry a D cell Maglite and a sturdy walking staff.I’d be more secure with a Glock 30 and a Kabar.
    Welcome to Marxist New York State!

  8. The “21-foot rule” is outdated. As Ayoob himself has pointed out, it is now 30 feet. Britain does not have knife “attacks.” They have “knife crime”–as in knives commit the crimes, rather than criminals. Situational awareness is situational awareness, not “gun” or “knife” awareness.

      • Amnesty bins should make prime targets for finding free knives and guns… 😉

        • Touching on your earlier comment about the children of Muslim immigrants. Being a resource for jihad. That is exactly what We are facing with the children of natural born citizens. Their form of jihad against OUR Freedoms and Beliefs. Socialism and the destruction of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. To these people it is Their religion. The leaders of this movement have been grooming their acolytes since childbirth. So keep in mind a difference that makes no difference…Is no difference. Evil comes in many forms and from many cultures. Some foreign…Some from next door. The important thing to keep in mind is Evil regardless of origin. Can not be negotiated with or even defeated. True Evil Must be Destroyed. Completely and Without Mercy. Anything less allows for it’s spawn continue on. Sooner or later allowing it’s rebirth. If history has taught us anything it is that this is true. Keep Your Powder Dry.

  9. It’s interesting to read someone else’s view that agrees with the notion that a determined assailant with a long bladed weapon could inflict horrific casualties very quickly. The author is very correct and the scenario he posed is very possible almost anywhere.
    Hopefully, the anti gun fools will begin to understand how essential firearms training is to those charged with maintaining the safety of unarmed and unprepared students.
    Actually, no sane person in the free world would be mentally prepared for the unbelievably horrific scene of an event like was described.

  10. I did some cursory reading into the matter of knife fighting techniques a few months ago and came across a very interesting excercise. Take one other person, remove your shirts, and spar with two sharpies as stand ins for knives. I tried this with my brother (neither of us having any special combat skills) and was absolutely horrified by the results. I knew knife fighting was bad before but that little trick gave me an entirely new appreciation for the fact that there are no winners in such an event, just degrees of losers. If I’m armed with a gun and facing an similarly armed attacker I’ll stand and fight, but with knives? I’m running away if there’s even a 1% chance I can successfully do so

  11. Engage a gun, flee from a knife, but never ever be the next George Z. using a knife. Stabbing and cutting until the threat is stopped with lots of gruesome photos to prove you’re evil…

  12. Being cut has always been my biggest fear. You don’t feel it till its too late.
    Having never been shot. Taken between the 2. Ill take getting shot over being stabbed every time.

  13. Evan Marshall once said that his biggest nightmare was being caught in an elevator with a trained knife fighter. He figured that he would win the the fight but would probably lose an arm in the process. I think he’s a bit over-confident because the knife fighter could disarm his pistol with one slash (if he knew that Evan was armed before the fight started), then go to town on him.

    I’ve also read that only 20-25% of people die from a gunshot wound, but it’s around 30% or more for knife wounds because the victim bleeds out before the EMTs can get to him (unless someone else stems the bleeding.)

    If you’ve ever seen an expert in Kali or Silat do a dozen knife strikes at vital points of the body within a couple of seconds, you don’t know how dangerous a knife can be. Fortunately, most criminals – at least in the U.S. – don’t have the smarts or patience to go through that level of training. They do, however, probably learn how to stab people in prison – and that entails getting up close to the victim, preferably from behind, then stabbing rapidly into the chest or kidneys multiple times. This is almost impossible to defend against if you aren’t situationally aware enough to prevent someone getting within arms reach of you.

    Most so-called “defenses against knife attacks” in martial arts or self-defense courses are only effective against attacks by untrained persons. Against a trained knife user most of them will fail – badly. Basically an unarmed person who isn’t a very highly trained martial artist is virtually helpless against the knife. A person who carries a knife but doesn’t have decent training with it is also at a disadvantage if his attacker has better training – and as the article states, it’s likely both parties will end up in the hospital. The only effective weapons against the knife are some sort of stick – a baton, cane, jo or bo staff – along with decent training in how to use it – and a firearm.

    Of course, if you’re the “Highlander” – of movie and TV fame – and you carry a Japanese katana under your raincoat 24×7, your odds improve. 🙂

    • Knife attacks tend to inflict more wounds than gunshots. Even a moderately trained thug will know to stab repeatedly and keep stabbing until they’re done. 20-50 stab wounds aren’t rare, but you’re not going to see those numbers of gunshots outside of someone be shot be several cops.

  14. Serial killers don’t use knives to avoid forensic evidence. Assassins might, but serial killers use knives more often because shooting is a much less ‘intimate’ kill, for lack of a better word.

    Also, among the people I’ve spoken to who have been stabbed, I never got the impression that knife wounds are more painful than gunshots by their nature. It seems to depend much more on where the wound is located. Plenty of victims of knife wounds do not realize that they or injured or how badly they are injured until they see the wound or bleeding.

    Mass shooters will always be more devastating than someone trying to use knives. Not only is the physical component of using guns much easier (that is part of their utility) but you don’t have to catch anyone. A bomb is worse than both but of course not everyone can build a bomb.

    • pretty much anyone who wants to can build a bomb. The how-tos are readily available and the raw materials are in any local hardware store. U can’t just walk into academy and buy one though.

      • “U can’t just walk into academy and buy one though.”

        They have the key ingredient in cans by the pound, black powder…

  15. The man that did the Japan stabbing attack in that video was motivated by American mass/serial killers. He had a bunch of stuff in his home about those people. He was influenced by modern American culture. He eventually decided to try to do the same thing those Americans did: kill a bunch of people and commit suicide after.

  16. ( I ran). I’ve been stabbed in the guts and shot in the ankle The gut stab hurt big time, ankle hurt , but I still tried to walk. I also know someone who killed a guy with a machete, took him a bunch of whacks because the machete was dull. I think he’d have done better with a ball bat. Time is time and he’s doing time, ball bat or dull corn knife.

  17. Consider the Sandy Hook school shooter. If the government wanted to ban bladed weapons instead of black rifles the “shooter” would carry 150 pounds of knives, swords, tomahawks, axes, dirks, sabres, spears and khukries.

  18. Hey yo, I was out in the yard playing kung fu ninja with a bayonet. And honestly within three steps you gunm toting pistoleers better be pretty fast on the draw. I scared myself,

  19. Oh Kay now Im Winded. Just got done playing kung fu ninja with s cutlass and a rapier. The rapier vis do much faster but the cutlass does so much more chopping. If I was real badass I’d take the rapier. But you’ve gotta be pretty good with the tricks because the cutlass has definitely got some power, like whack, arm gone. But if I was fast badass I could take em out with the rapier. A zmeat cleaver wielding maniac wouldn’t have a chance against neither one. Well maybe, depends on how kung fu maniac meat cleaver that dead guy was

  20. Where, on the list, does my Mossberg 12 gauge w/ a bayonet, place?
    Other than hard to conceal and heavy.
    I would like to think it covers both gun and knife.

  21. “If the defender knows how to properly grab a pistol (revolver or semi-auto), it cannot fire the next round.”

    I question this. A Double action only revolver I understand. It’s finger strength against the mechanical advantage of holding the cylinder. Any external hammer fired weapon one might get in-between the hammer and striker but this seems extremely unlikely in a real world scenario as this is often a very small space. Then we look at striker fired weapons. If it is cocked ( the only sensible way to carry) there is nothing to “grab.” Holding the slide is not going to prevent it from firing. And the bugs bunny meathod of sticking your finger over/in the barrel assumes you have the strength to hold the bullet and gas propellent in place until the steel mechanism fails.

  22. My kitchen meat cleaver is rarely used. After 10 years of ownership it’s incredibly still razor sharp.
    Why not carry a meat cleaver? I have seen people carry a tomahawk.

    I wonder what the psychological effect would be on a criminal if I pull a meat cleaver out on him????

    My meat cleaver blade in 7 inches long. Most carry knives are much shorter.


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