There’s an old saying – made famous by Sean Connery in the movie “The Untouchables” – about guns versus knives:

“Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight.”

That’s all well and good, but the old saying doesn’t apply to close quarters, the one place where knives can often be the better choice. In those situations, having an edge tool can make the difference between protecting yourself or not.

What do we mean? Check out these eight reasons knives are a better choice than guns when it comes to close quarters. This may close the knife vs. gun question for good!

The 21-Foot Rule

The 21-foot rule has long been used by police officers. Essentially, it says that when an assailant wielding a knife is closing in, they will cover 21 feet in the time it takes you to draw and fire your gun. That’s a lot of ground and it also puts intense pressure on the person drawing the gun.

And you might not even have that much time. Recently, a study at Minnesota State University- Mankato found that the amount of distance covered can be greater than 21 feet. Some in law enforcement suggest that training officers on using edge tools is necessary to provide them with choices for dealing with an attack.

No Line of Fire

For a gun to be effective, the target has to be in front of the bullet. In close quarters, knives will hardly ever miss the target – and can be deployed tactically in many different ways.

If You Miss…

In the movies, someone is attacked and somehow has time to pull out a gun, fire it and immediately stop the bad guy in his or her shoes. In real life, that’s not a likely scenario. What you are more likely to face is someone moving quickly and closing fast, not giving you time to fend them off with one hand while trying to take out a gun with another. And even if you do fire, there’s no guarantee you will hit your opponent, leaving you defenseless as they close in.

Ammunition Not Needed

Obvious, but worth mentioning. A knife is always “loaded,” no matter how many times it is used.

Fast Learner

Nearly everyone can be deadly by simply picking up a knife – we all understand how to slash and cut with a blade. And while you can become much more adept at using a knife through practice, it’s nothing like the learning curve with a gun.

No Warning, Just Action

No one sees a knife coming. There’s no need to load it, unlike a safety and squeeze a trigger. A knife is simply unsheathed and deployed. This is especially important in a crisis situation where you likely are going to be given little time to think and not much room to maneuver.

Knife vs. Gun: The Lethal Force Question

If you respond to an attacker using a gun, it gives you only one option: using maximum, sometimes, lethal, force. While a knife is also lethal, it’s a more elegant weapon that can be used in a variety of ways to defeat an attacker.

Better Defense

It starts with awareness of your surroundings. If someone comes after you wielding a knife, the most important thing to think about is protecting your life, not trying to draw a weapon. Taking into consideration distance between you and attacker.  If you are attempting to draw a weapon rather than creating space between you and the attacker and getting out of the line of attack, you are almost certain to get cut. As you do your best to avoid the initial attack, you are also preparing to draw you knife or defensive tool for tactical defense.

These are just some of the reasons a knife can be more effective in close quarters. While no one will argue that a gun is not a good weapon for security, having a knife – and learning how to use it – gives you options in situations where protecting yourself is the most important goal. To create a best chance of survival, as explained above, is through Practice, Practice, Practice until it becomes second nature and part of muscle memory. Find a good teacher, get some practice knives and train.

Now you have the facts to decide for yourself – which one wins a knife vs. gun fight in close quarters.