Personal Defense Tip: Gun Bluffs Don’t Always Work

Bluffing with a gun often works. Most criminals don’t wish to be shot, and will run off. But sometimes the criminal is drugged, crazy, or determined, and they call the bluff, often with direct, aggressive action. It’s then that you need a few skills to keep from being hurt or killed. First, don’t allow the criminal to get close (within five feet) of you. Inside that distance, it’s very hard to stop a determined person who has the advantage of action over reaction . . .


The caller also stated that his 87- year old grandfather confronted the suspect with a shotgun after he made entry into the home. The suspect then pulled the gun away from his grandfather who then fell to the floor and suffered injuries to both arms; they then fled the home…

If they refuse to stop, and continue to close, you would likely be justified in using deadly force. A person who knows that you have a gun and is trying to get at it is a deadly threat. I say mostly because if the defender with the gun is a 230 lb. martial arts expert and the person approaching is a 90 lb., 80-year-old woman, the jury may well consider that a lesser degree of force would have worked.

While shotguns work very well in stopping a threat, long guns in general are considered easier to take away, because of the leverage that they allow. And the problem with bluffing with an unloaded gun, is that you can’t shoot if you need to.

Officers arrived on scene to find four people one of which was the injured grandfather out of the residence. They informed the officers that they believed the suspect was still inside the residence and was in possession of their grandfather’s unloaded shotgun.

There are other options. For long guns, defenders can practice the old bayonet drill, without the bayonet. Thrust with the muzzle, hard and fast to the solar plexus, throat or face. Then a slashing upward butt stroke (barrel goes over your right or left shoulder), followed by a forward thrusting butt smash. With a solid stock and a steel buttplate, these actions can kill. Lightweight stocks and recoil pads diminish the effects of the butt strokes considerably.

An unloaded handgun of reasonable size still makes a fairly effective short club. Hold it by the grip and strike with the muzzle. Front sights often retain skin and blood which can be valuable DNA evidence. This sort of abuse can cause damage to the gun, though.

Personally, I would prefer to have ammunition available, but life is far from perfect. In the case mentioned, no one was killed. The 87-year-old grandfather had serious bruises to his arms.

The suspect was identified as Perry Tyler (44) of 828 St Cyr St. Opelousas. He told the officers thank you after he was taken into custody. Tyler’s behavior was consistent with someone being under the influence of PCP, he was wet and told officers that they, unsure who they was, were after him.

People on drugs such as alcohol, PCP, meth, or just a lot of adrenaline can be very hard to stop; sometimes only physical disablement will do. If you want to understand what physical punishment the human body can take, and still function, I recommend reading what Medal of Honor Awardees did. Some of them even survived.

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Gun Watch


  1. avatar MotoJB says:

    My goodness that girl is hawt…that’s all I have to add. MotoJB out.

    1. avatar Full Cleveland says:

      hmmmmmmmmmmm. Doesn’t look Israeli yet there is something I like about her.

      1. avatar Gunr says:

        Yeah, there’s a LOT I like about her, and I don’t even know if she voted for Bama baby.
        I’ve seen better, but I can’t remember where!

      2. avatar v v ind says:

        Geez guys, that might be Dean’s daughter.

    2. avatar Desert Ranger says:

      Smokin hawt.

    3. avatar KingThing says:

      Dean Weingarten March 24, 2014:
      “She was almost 18 when the pictures were taken. She is a sweetheart, I met her at church. I have a lot of pictures with her and guns that we did at an afternoon shoot. I cannot use them here mostly, because of policy.”

  2. avatar Scrubula says:

    I would say don’t bluff unless the person has less than equal force. Someone with a knife might run away if they are a safe enough distance away and you draw a pistol, but trying to bluff someone who is pulling a gun from their waistband is a bad idea.

    1. avatar Michael in GA says:

      I believe the point of the article is when you have an empty gun or a fake one. In that case you should bluff, but be prepared to fight when the bluff fails. If you have a loaded gun it isn’t a bluff.

  3. avatar jwm says:

    Simple rule. Don’t bluff. If you doubt your ability to shoot another person, don’t use a gun for defense. There are other options available. Tasers, pepper spray, ball bats, sjamboks, the list is endless.

    1. avatar sacorey says:

      This, every time. Whenever someone wants a gun to scare an attacker, the only thing the attacker should be afraid of is that you will shoot them again.

  4. avatar Allen says:

    I wonder if the old man thought the sound of the shotgun being “racked”, was all he needed.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      He may have thought that. Then again it could have been a double barrel or single shot. Who knows. I know that I cleared an intruder out of my house many years ago by racking the action on a 12 ga. pump. I had small kids then and nobody owned a gun safe. I kept the gun unchambered for safties sake.

      It worked for me. I wasn’t bluffing. I just am gratefull he unassed the place. Saved me a lot of hassles.

  5. avatar HeySpanky says:

    Somewhat unrelated to the story above, but has anyone come across the story about the feminist critic Miss Anita Sarkeesian cancelling her talk today amidst a possible mass shooting threat? Logan, Ut UVU. Apparently she cancelled, not because of the threat, but because good lo’ Utah allows concealed carry in public universities.

    1. avatar Scrubula says:

      It’s a scapegoat. She didn’t want to say she was afraid for her life (which would have been an acceptable explanation for most people) so she blames something else instead.
      The guy threatened to kill her with a rifle, which is obviously not concealed, but apparently she didn’t think about that.

      1. avatar HeySpanky says:

        I agree that a threat against your life is valid reason for cancelling plans. However this is not the first threat she has received prior to one of her lectures. And she has proven herself capable of flying in the face of potential danger in the past.
        Pure speculation on my part, but it just seems like a fantastic coincidence that a mass shooting threat was made at a public campus where CCWs are alowed under state law, given her obvious bias in her reasoning to call off the party… Jus’ sayin.

    2. avatar Lucas D. says:

      TTAG is weird about this sort of thing. Sometimes they’ll break a story 2 days before it hits the mainstream news, and sometimes it’ll take them a long time to mention a piece that’s already been widely disseminated. The Bergeron’s story leaps to mind: I heard about it on a Monday from Kevin Cox himself, who said that it was already mentioned on HuffPo and Fox News over the weekend, and it wasn’t until the following Wednesday that it showed up here.

      For my two cents, I have to question Ms. Sarkeesian’s logic: she’s afraid of lawful carry on campus, but she thinks someone determined to shoot her would just give up and go home if carrying a gun was illegal?

      1. avatar Jus Bill says:

        Ms. Sarkeesian is an avowed, militant feminist. I’m sure that her life choices are governed by fear and hatred. Rational thought has little chance.

        1. avatar Lucas D. says:

          I figured that out as soon as I saw “feminist critic” in front of her name. It just staggers the mind that people like her sincerely believe they’re smarter than you and I, despite using logic that would make your average pre-schooler call shenanigans.

    3. avatar TheBear says:

      Yeah I saw that.

      I actually spent some time explaining to a friend why there was more involved than just the face value headlines and how unlikely it would be for an actual mass shooter to have a concealed weapon permit.

      1. avatar HeySpanky says:

        No offence to your friend, but best of luck to you on explaining it. At least with the people I know, I sometimes feel my time and energy could be better spent braining my self on a cinder block wall for a few hours. I bet it’d be less painfully and I could see some actual results when I’ve finished.

  6. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Medal oh Honor “awardees”
    Not winners.

  7. avatar Ralph says:

    “Berettas don’t bluff.”

  8. avatar Bob72 says:

    An addict on PCP can be the worst kind of dangerous. There are numerous cases where addicts on PCP have broken handcuffs, were shot multiple times, and still managed to attack and kill police officers. This is why Failure to Stop drills are important.

    1. avatar Jus Bill says:

      Absolutely correct. Facing down someone on PCP, you can’t bluff and live. Your only chance is to destroy so many internal organs and support structures (e.g., bones) that they lie on the ground in a heap. Judicious mag dump is the order of the day.

      1. avatar LongBeach says:

        I never thought I’d see the words “judicious” and “mag dump” in the same sentence!

        Well, officer, it was apparent to me that the man was high on PCP, so I carefully shot every bullet I had at him!

        (Not saying you’re wrong, just pointing out a funny juxtaposition)

  9. avatar GunGal says:

    “An unloaded handgun of reasonable size still makes a fairly effective short club. Hold it by the grip and strike with the muzzle. Front sights often retain skin and blood which can be valuable DNA evidence. This sort of abuse can cause damage to the gun, though.”

    Have a GP 100 36.00 oz. 3″, 357 and SP 101 26.00 oz 2.25″ .357 doubt either would sustain much damage if used as a club. GP is home defense & SP is EDC, both loaded, out of sight but not out of reach. I’m old & grumpy, I don’t bluff

    1. avatar tdiinva says:

      That is another reason a 1911 is better than a Glock. It can serve as a 40oz bludgeon.

      1. avatar Michael in GA says:

        Good because when your 1911 jams or runs dry you can put it to good use.
        On the other hand, it is so heavy that you can’t swing it fast enough that it can’t be ducked. The Glock can be swung as fast as a fist and it can still fire flawlessly after impact. One more advantage to pistol whipping with a 1911, you don’t have to worry that you left the safety on and it might leave a nasty cut on the recipient.

  10. avatar cknarf says:

    “What are you going to do, shoot me?”

  11. avatar aaronw says:

    Here’s a hair raising story in which displaying a full-auto AR platform rifle didn’t deter a road-rage bad guy:

    —– Aaron

  12. avatar Garrison Hall says:

    A guy just tried to kick in the door of my neighbor across the street. He was a black guy, 5″ 10′, skinny. She’s in her 80’s and managed to scare the guy off. I found out about it when the cops arrived. The cop said crime is up in my neighborhood. Where I live is not the kind of place you’d expect this to happen. When things like this happens, it sorta makes topics like this a lot less abstract. The first line of defense is a kick-reinforced door. It won’t withstand a determined attacker but it will give you enough time to arm yourself, call the cops, and prepare to meet them when they finally get in. Apparently that’s what she did. Brave woman. If somebody’s coming into your house to rob or harm you and your family, do you give them a chance to leave?

    “. . ..For long guns, defenders can practice the old bayonet drill, without the bayonet. Thrust with the muzzle, hard and fast to the solar plexus, throat or face. Then a slashing upward butt stroke (barrel goes over your right or left shoulder), followed by a forward thrusting butt smash. . .”

    I think I’ve just discovered a good use for the old SKS I’ve been keeping in the closet. That attached bayonet is a wicked piece.

  13. avatar former water walker says:

    Keep your gun loaded. +1 for the cutie pie we saw earlier in the year.:-)

  14. avatar Grind says:

    Source for the headline pic? For, uh, science…

    1. Yours truly.

      I met Tia at church.

      1. avatar Grind says:

        And here I thought it was a still from a Tarantino or Romero flick.

        1. Take enough pictures, and you are bound to get a few good ones.

          Recycled electrons are cheap, so I take lots of pictures.

        2. avatar 2hotel9 says:

          Digital cameras have definitely changed my photo taking habits!

      2. avatar Jon says:

        “Yours truly.”

        I didn’t know you were female.

        I also thought she was from a movie. “Grindhouse,” “From Dusk Till Dawn,” or something like that…… cute chica!

        ….Interesting gun too, but I doubt she’ll hit much double-wielding like that.

  15. avatar SurfGW says:

    This is why the FBI says more burglars fear dogs than armed homeowners. And if you have a dog, there is no worry about bluffing or having the dog taken away and used against you

  16. avatar SteveO says:

    “There are other options. For long guns, defenders can practice the old bayonet drill, without the bayonet. Thrust with the muzzle, hard and fast to the solar plexus, throat or face. Then a slashing upward butt stroke (barrel goes over your right or left shoulder), followed by a forward thrusting butt smash.”

    No. No. No. Unless you happen to have an actual bayonet fixed, if you attempt to use your long gun as an impact weapon, you are asking to have it taken away from you.

    1. Context here people. The gun is not loaded.

      1. avatar Tommyr says:

        Yeah, anyone that does that isn’t very smart IMHO. If their bluff is called it could get them killed.

        1. Actually it is smart. You are not bluffing because you want to. You are doing it in the unlikely case you are caught with an empty gun. That is what I meant by “context”.

  17. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    A little less talk, and a lot more action.

  18. avatar Tommyr says:

    If you come through my door or window and are facing my direction I pull the trigger. I’m not going to wait for forward motion. You don’t belong in here. PERIOD.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      Holy crap!

      That guy could be O.J. Simpson’s twin brother!

  19. avatar TiC says:

    Long guns may be easier to lose if you aren’t using a good sling for some stupid reason. All that bayonet nonsense is a good way to lose your long gun.

    Also, trying to defend yourself with an unloaded weapon is just imbecilic.

  20. avatar Chris Mason says:

    “Front sights often retain skin and blood which can be valuable DNA evidence. This sort of abuse can cause damage to the gun, though.”

    Can someone explain that to me? I don’t understand.

  21. avatar Steve says:

    I have to say, that girl is gorgeous.

  22. avatar bandolero says:

    Never bluff, it only hurts more when it’s called.

    1. avatar lolinski says:

      What about bluffing with a loaded gun? When they call it you just shoot them.

      1. By definition, that is not a bluff.

    2. Yeah, never bluff. Just explain to the attacker that your gun is empty.

  23. avatar lolinski says:

    Can you use collapsing stocks to buttstroke? I don’t mean on an AR that is dependent on the buffer tube but on other guns.

    Is there any combination buttplate that is part steel part rubber?

    1. Hit em anyway. The weight of the gun (6-10lbs) is enough to give a concussion regardless of butt plate material. Yes wood or steel is better but that only causes more lacerations and fractures. The force of the butt even on an AR can deliver a knockout blow.

  24. avatar 7.62x54r says:

    My Mosin and yours (check your closet, I’m sure you have one) actually does have a bayonet.

  25. avatar 2hotel9 says:

    Bluffing falls into the category of hope, and as the old crusty dudes hammered into us, “Hope is not a viable tactical option!”.

    Confronting an intruder with an unloaded gun is a bad idea. Being entirely unarmed is worse. Here 3 weeks ago there was a hot break in, people were just moving in and the new home owner did not have a firearm to hand and his dogs were still at the old residence.. While he was beating the excelsior out of one would be burglar the other one stabbed him 6 times, then they took off. State Cops followed the blood from idiot#1 to a house a 1/4 mile away and arrests ensued. Unarmed self defense does work, sometimes. Adam does not plan to have a repeat of this episode. And he was OK, all 6 punctures missed organs and arteries.

    1. Hope is all you have with an empty gun. Then you have to pummel them. That is what the article is saying.

      1. avatar 2hotel9 says:

        The only empty guns I have are the ones I am servicing right now. Waiting on a extractor spring for one and a magazine catch for another. The rest are ready to rock.

        1. An empty rifle is but a stick.

          I believe this article was written for those (hopefully few) gun owners that keep them unloaded around the house. You know, like the old shotgun hanging above the mantle?

        2. avatar 2hotel9 says:

          Hehehe, that sword above my computer station is not a decoration.

          I always try to discourage folks from that course of action, or inaction, as it were.

  26. avatar Garrison Hall says:

    Never confront bad with an empty gun. You might as well just use a bat or golf club, both of which are just short of being ridiculous if you’re facing a real threat. My take on this is that running a bluff is highly situational; there are times when it might work and others where it won’t. The two critical elements are space and time. If there’s distance between you and the bad guy, giving him a chance to run makes good sense. Similarly if he’s trying to get in, as opposed to being Right There, you have time to warn him you’re armed and will defend yourself. As people have so often pointed out, it’s always better to not have to shoot someone. The cops I’ve talked to tell me that, once a criminal is caught out by a homeowner, it’s unlikely that they’ll return to that house. I’ll take that as a good enough reason to try to scare the guy off.

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