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In the video above, Dom Raso does some game theory on who Rambo should have shot first and whether or not the cinematic victory was even possible. Raso rags on Rambo’s draw, grip and flinch. What he doesn’t mention: Rambo shoots TWO rounds at the first bad guy before serving one dose of lead into the remaining threats. Not necessarily the best plan. Generally, if an armed self-defender faces multiple threats it’s boarding house rules: everyone gets firsts before anyone gets seconds. “You want to slow everyone down as fast as possible,” Armed Response Training gun guru David Kenik tells TTAG.  “That way it’s less likely that someone will shoot/stab/attack you while you’re shooting someone else.” Then again . . .

there’s always exceptions to the rule. “Unless it’s perfectly placed, a single shot from a handgun isn’t likely to take out a bad guy. You might want to make sure the most dangerous threat is fully neutralized before moving on to lesser threats, depending on how dangerous each of the threats are . . . John Farnham’s boarding house rules are pretty for multiple equal level threats.”

So I guess the main point: follow Rudyard Kipling’s advice and keep your head when all about you are losing theirs. In this case, literally. [Note: we covered this topic before here.]

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  1. I understand what you’re driving at and I’m not getting all geek Nazi on this but what this police-state sympathizer gorilla is doing here is not game theory. I’m just not seeing any John von Neumann, Alan Turing or John Nash in this analysis…I’m seeing me and my friends watching High Plains Drifter or Lone Wolf and Cub after several bong hits.

  2. My strategy, if facing multiple attackers, depends on the situation. Here are a few scenarios that I can think of and my likely reaction.

    Scenario: multiple attackers at the same distance with no visible weapons
    Response: everyone gets firsts before getting seconds.

    Scenario: one attacker is relatively far away and has a weapon while the rest of the attackers are close and have no visible weapons
    Response: The closest attackers get firsts and possibly seconds before engaging the visibly armed attacker who is far away.

    Scenario: one attacker is close and visibly armed. Additional attackers are far away and have no visible weapons.
    Response: I put as many rounds as necessary to stop the close attacker who is visibly armed and prepare to put rounds on the other attackers starting with the closest.

    • That’s kind of my thought. Also it seems to be fairly common for the other attackers to turn tail once the potential victim starts shooting. But there’s no reason to take your sights off of a guy you know has a gun and put them on a guy who has not produced a weapon yet.

    • That makes sense to me, having a few basic scenarios in mind and a general response to each. It just can’t be too detailed, or else you’ll never be able to keep track of everything, and real life situations are too varied to develop specific plans for, anyway. So a few general scenarios line you have here seems reasonable.

      For us, a major multiple attacker scenario, based on the frequency of actual crimes in Houston, is the restaurant robbery scenario. People do get killed in these things, even without resisting, so having a plan is a good idea. From surveillance videos, these usually play out with one guy going for the register and safe, one as lookout at the door, and one working the floor for customer wallets and cell phones.

      That last guy is the one I’d hit first, when he comes to our table. Then we’d drop to the ground for cover and try for the exit. Hopefully the other two would bail immediately, but if not, we’d return fire on them if we had a reasonable shot. We just try to keep it simple by stopping the immediate threat and trying to get away.

  3. One of my favorite movie shootouts is the one from Open Range. Aside from the man getting blown off his feet from a shotgun blast, I think this is one of the most realistic shootout scenes I’ve seen. The bad guys are bullies. And most likely the river pirates in Rambo were too. When Kevin Costner shoots the one who’s a cold blooded killer in the head the others don’t even pull their pistols until he’s fired another shot. Not that you should count on that, but very few of us have ever seen someone shot in the head before and would likely spend a second or two questioning whether or not we were hallucinating. In most cases the winner is the one who acts decisively.

    • Oh yeah, and why are they panning a Vietnam vet for using a grip that went out of fashion in the 90s?

    • At about 53 seconds into this, I heard 10 or 11 shots come out of the shooters revolver. The last 4 or 5 could have come from another gun, but the way it was played, it doesn’t look like that’s the way we were suppose to interpret it.

  4. If we’re gonna talk movies, I’ll raise you guys an old Ian Fleming Bond novel (not a movie). Faced with multiple (4?) armed bad guys, Fleming has Bond think, ‘who’s most dangerous?’ Start with him for sure. Bond thinks, decides two shots on the others, sweeping left to right, as far as he may get. Given Fleming’s history, is this possibly old-school Brit MI6 doctrine, or is it just bad, or is it ok? btw, Bond’s thinking he’s not coming out of this without getting shot.

      • A German advanced on him in essential a file and he targeted the last man so the ones in front wouldn’t realize he was shooting at them. The story goes that it is an old turkey hunting trick. He used a 1911 to do it.

  5. Assuming a more realistic scenario, in an alley with 3 gangbangers (2 front, 1 behind).
    Well first of all don’t let yourself get in a bad spot, but always target visible weapons first. That includes a hand under a shirt probably holding a handgun.
    It’s much easier with one or two people because they might not expect you to draw a weapon. If they aren’t holding weapons that can reach you (outside of knife distance, no handgun) you can either scare them off or hold under arrest until police arrive.

    • “hold under arrest until police arrive”, Can you actually hold a gun aimed at someone that long? And, how has it been since you have taken a leak or eaten, or slept, and what are you going to tell the little woman when your get home a day late?

  6. I always thought it was eliminate the greatest threat first. In a self defense scenario I would think that more often than not if a group of punks sees one of their own go down what looks like for good they tend to run.

    On a side note, I have no idea why the NRA keeps this clown around and lets him make videos. He’s not particularly interesting and his opinions are suspect at best.

  7. Lone Watie: How did you know which one was goin’ to shoot first?
    Josie Wales: Well, that one in the center: he had a flap holster and he was in no itchin’ hurry. And the one second from the left: he had scared eyes, he wasn’t gonna do nothin’. But that one on the far left: he had crazy eyes. Figured him to make the first move.
    Lone Watie: How ’bout the one on the right?
    Josie Wales: Never paid him no mind; you were there.

    Self defense takeaways: have a friend and shoot the crazy guy first.

  8. Actually he DID mention it, haha. He mentioned that the gun ran dry because of the two rounds on the first guy and how he wasn’t sure he agreed with it. Right? (I could be misremembering).

  9. It speaks volumes about Dom Raso’s mindset when uses the term ‘civilians’ as a synonym for ‘unarmed weaklings that are easily dominated.’ I’m surprised his meathead SWAT buddy, Jerry, didn’t show up to point out how he handles multiple crackheads by setting his LawGiver to “double-whammy.”

  10. In truth there is a lot of advice, a lot of opinions and a lot of myths surrounding what to do in such cases.
    The reality is that EVERY scenario is different….Every situation involves a different group of people on both sides of the equation and NOBODY is an expert at it because very few people end up in such situations at all let alone often enough to become an “expert”. Simple odds say that if you end up in such
    multiple opponent situations often enough to become such an expert you won’t… will become DEAD.

  11. The point of mentioning the draw Rambo did was it was a straight up pull, which, according to Raso, is only possible with a competition holster, i am not familiar with this film so i wouldnt know. He mentioned Rambos flinch beause as we all know flinching could throw the round off target slightly. Asfor the 2 rounds into the first guy, while it wasnt tactically sound hypothetically, it is what it is. Remember ita HollyWeird, so they do what they want, apparently. If this was a actual situation, some food for thought might be that some drill you practices on the range might not be the best move. Sometimes your best move is to throw down as much lead as possible.

    • With multiple attackers on one person, the attackers’ larger numbers is the weapon…

      It’s called disparity of force, and it’s perfectly legal to shoot when disparity of force is present.

  12. This reminds me of the game StarCraft, the real time strategy game me and my friends had LAN parties to play. When I had a Protoss Carrier, a giant airborne carrier of smaller aircraft (or spacecraft or whatever) against a squad of Zerg Hydralisks, my strategy was always to focus the carriers attack on one Zerg unit, then another, the theory being that by completley destroying one unit, you decrease the amount of damage they can do to your units.

    In the end, this usually put me ahead of the curve, however this was with damage bars and there were no criticals, both of which do not reflect real life.

    Is there a data based study on this topic anywhere?

  13. Simply put, it doesn’t take much additional time. If you have a shot timer it’s easy to check. Set up two targets, draw (or start from low ready, whatever), engage the first then the second with one shot each. Then engage the first target with two shots and the second with one. One sight picture, two shots, move to the next target and shoot. Then compare your times.

  14. Mr. Raso is welcome to his opinion, but it assumes something that is never, ever the case. That in a group of opponents, all are equally aggressive, armed and skilled. Game theory that ignores human psychology is just mechanical nonsense. And a double tap is hardly slower than a single shot, for someone marginally practiced.

    My personal rule? Anyone worth shooting is worth shooting twice.

  15. [Yawn] This kind of clinical critique of Stallone clip leaves me cold. Rather than nitpick Rambo for his grip or for being 1/2 a second too fast to be “believable” why not just be satisfied that the scene, in all of its gritty political incorrectness, was put on the screen in the first place. It’s a very intense scene and the flaws are only apparent when you (literally) go frame by frame.

  16. Yeah, I think everyone needs to be tacticool emulating Rambo movies. Like Dad said, combat is just not like it is in the movies.

    • Weird Al Yankovic’s sendup on the Rambo flicks is still hilarious.

      The howler for me was Rambo firing an RPG from inside a helicopter without the backblast whooshing the POWs in back.

  17. OH DEAR GOD!!! Please NRA stop this stuff NOW!!! It is a movie not real life. In real life the pirates would have killed Rambo the instant he didn’t comply. Don’t back this stuff, stick with real world problems and leave this “proving movies wrong” to mythbusters. PLEASE!!!

  18. About flinching – one should notice that he is shooting at night and the guns blast seems not to be a FX.

  19. I can’t really see how this winds up being a winnable situation anywhere except up on a movie screen, so sitting around discussing winning strategies is in itself laughable, BUT, it’s made even more laughable when a group of people for whom this is strictly an academic pursuit (that would be US, the ones who have never and never will make a living shooting people) second guess the opinions of someone who has made his living in such a manner, and who has no doubt been somewhere and done something.


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