You know, I never understood the expression, “Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.”
When taken at face value, it doesn’t make much sense. Why wouldn’t one bring a knife AND a gun to a gunfight? Why not bring both, right? Why limit yourself to just one self-defense tool?
Shouldn’t the expression be clearer? Like, “Don’t JUST bring a knife to a gunfight”?
Okay, I know I’m splitting hairs here as it’s really just an idiomatic way of saying make sure that you’re adequately ready for the task at hand so that you never find yourself outgunned (pun intended). In a nutshell, be prepared.
But, to circle back to the original premise, suppose you had to challenge the notion of “Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.” Could you come up with five reasons to bring a knife along with your gun to a gunfight?
Well, I did. Here they are:
1. Knives Are Deadly Weapons, Too
To state the obvious, just like guns, knives are deadly weapons. When used as defensive tools, they can kill people! You can argue that they’re not as efficient nor as effective as a loaded, functioning firearm, but they can get the job done.
To give you an idea, one report I read suggested that knives or “other cutting instruments” were used in about 12 percent of documented justifiable homicides from 2008-2012, coming in a distant second to firearms which averaged approximately 83 percent over that span.
It’s always good to have a contingency plan. Remember, one is none and two is one.
2. Knives Don’t Run Out of Ammo
A gun is only as good as the number of rounds you have. Once you run outta ammo, you’re outta luck.
Well, that’s not entirely true because you can use your firearm as a blunt instrument. However, that’s not going to be as effective as an edged weapon — which brings up another point, that is, there is a reason why battle rifles typically come with bayonet mounts.
That reason? Because when it comes to the precarious conditions of battle having a gun is great and having a knife is good but having both is ideal. This way, you have all your bases covered, from trench warfare to CQB to (depending on the gun) long distance sniping.
Also, for those of you who say that knives go dull to counter the point about guns running out of ammo; well, yeah, they do. But you can sharpen a knife on almost anything in your immediate area, from the leather belt on your waist to a piece of sandpaper to a random stone on the ground. Plus, who carries a dull knife? Not to mention the fact that it takes awhile for a knife to dull. Unless you’re killing hundreds of zombies at a time, the knife should stay perfectly sharp through a single confrontation.
3. Gun-Free Zones
Quite honestly, I see a lot more gun-free zones than I see weapons-free zones or knife-free zones. So, assuming that you always follow the letter of the law and never carry your gun into one of those murder magnets (Larry Pratt’s nickname for gun-free zones), then it might just be the case that the only weapon you have on you is a knife — not a gun.
If SHTF in a gun-free zone and all you have is a knife, well, you’re still pretty screwed unless you can find an exit in a hurry. If not, having a weapon is better than having no weapon at all. When the spree killer goes to reload, you may have to pounce and try to take him out with your blade.
On the whole, though, one can argue that knives are more portable because they are generally more accepted by the non-gun owning public and the anti-gun crowd.
4. Threat Proximity
You should always be mindful of how close are you to a potential threat. It’s a question that you need to assess pretty quickly. Why? Because things can go south extremely fast.
Along these lines, the one thing that often gets mentioned is the 21-foot rule. Are you familiar with this? If not, it’s pretty straightforward. A knife-wielding attacker can close a gap of 21 feet in under a few seconds (check out these Youtube videos). That’s fast — a lot faster than one might think.
Many times, the good guy with the gun cannot draw, sight the moving target and pull the trigger in time to stop the knife-wielding attacker. This becomes especially true if the gun owner is carrying his gun off body (in a bag or purse) or around the ankle.
Given this reality, one can argue that it would be wise to carry an edged weapon — preferably a small fixed blade (some call this a “get-off-me knife”) around the neck or waist — that can be grabbed and deployed in a flash.
Also remember that sometimes you don’t realize you’re in a fight until it’s already gotten physical, e.g. you get jumped from behind. It might be more difficult in that situation to get to the gun on your hip and ankle than the knife around your neck. Or, perhaps, while you’re both struggling to get to your gun, you can deploy the knife and use it to win the battle for the gun.
5. Element of Surprise
Here’s an underrated truth about knives versus guns. When you draw a gun, it’s rather obvious. Even single-stack 9mm pistols or J-frame revolvers are detectable from a distance. So, once you draw your gun and point it, the gig is up. The element of surprise is over. You have now escalated the situation (I guess derringers would be the exception to the rule).
Yet, with a small knife, there are ways to draw it and conceal it within one’s hand so that no one knows that you’re armed with a deadly weapon. If you need to go on offense in a flash, a highly concealable knife allows you to suddenly use deadly force without alarming those in the surrounding area or tipping off the target.
As I’ve heard Funker Tactical’s Doug Marcaida say, knives are meant to be felt, not seen.
Quite obviously, the goal is never to get into a gunfight. Like the Karate teachers of old used to say, “We learn to fight, so we don’t have to fight” (I’m paraphrasing). You carry a gun and a knife and you train with a gun and a knife because it increases your odds of survival if SHTF, but even more so, by learning how to use them you become more vigilant and aware of your surroundings; and, consequently, more discerning on ways to avoid situations where the stuff may hit the fan. As your competency with weapons increases, so too does your situational awareness.
In the end, my advice is, carry both. And the next time someone tells you, “Never bring a knife to a gunfight,” just smile and say, “Why not bring both?”