Cutting Edge Training

America’s Combatives and Liability Trainer Training With Real-World Impact

Rules For Surviving a Gunfight

by George on June 11, 2012 11:32

These Rules in partial lists have floated around the gun world for years.  They have been derived from many sources, and this list has Cutting Edge Training's perspective on surviving and winning a gunfight.  They are shared with deepest thanks to all who bled and died while passing on these valuable lessons!  Be safe.

  1. To survive a gunfight, bring at least one loaded, functional firearm.  If you can choose what to bring to a gunfight, bring a shoulder weapon, a handgun, extra magazines, ammo for each, and several similarly armed friends who are willing to shoot someone.
  2. Have a backup plan because your first, preferred one won’t work.  Ever.
  3. Be polite.  Be professional.  Be courteous to everyone, but not overly friendly…and have a plan to shoot every person you see.
  4. Wear your body armor every shift, every day, regardless of the weather—there is nothing else to say about this.
  5. Watch his hands.  Hands kill.  Smiles and frowns don’t.  In God we trust…everyone else, keep your hands where I can see them.
  6. Always cheat, never give up, always win.  The only unfair fight is the one you lose.
  7. Remember the “Reciprocity Rule”:  If you can shoot the Threat, the Threat can shoot you.”
  8. It is better to be in a shooting because you don’t want to be in a gunfight…Decide to be aggressive enough, early enough.  The moment you reasonably perceive an imminent threat to your life (or to someone else’s), hit that Threat early and often.
  9. The muzzle of a firearm pointed at a person's chest is the universal language translator:  It means, "Go away!" in any language.
  10. Speed is fine;  accuracy is final.  Hits are the only factor you have absolute control over.  Tight, small groups are great on a range, but a dispersed group of hits will put him/her down faster.  In reality, accuracy is about disrupting his/her ability to remain an imminent threat.  "Minute of human" is really all that most can hope to strive for when the metal meets the meat and rounds are flying.  This is because bullets in the air make people dumb, and what's easy on the range is tough facing someone who's trying to kill you.
  11. Anybody worth shooting is worth hitting—shoot only as fast as you can hit.  Be smooth, not fast.  Hit the Threat until he/she stops being a threat.  Then stay sharp until someone with a badge tells you to either put your hands up or to relax.
  12. Anyone deserving to be hit by your bullet is worth being hit with lots of your bullets for as long as they continue deserving to be shot.  Ammo is not cheap, but hospitalization and funeral services for you are much more expensive.
  13. Only hits count…anything else is simply “noise” and is therefore of no survival value.  Interrupt your “eye-target line” with your weapon every time, and look at, over, or through the sights to get the hits you want.
  14. Keep the muzzle between you and the Threat—preferably pointing directly at the Threat when that is justified.  Pointing it at your feet or the sky doesn’t advance your goal of surviving the gunfight and may get you hurt and embarrassed.  Or dead.
  15. If your shooting stance is good, you’re not displacing fast enough or correctly using concealment.
  16. Target seek and hit the biggest part of the Threat available as many times as possible, until a bigger or better part becomes available. 
  17. If you are not shooting, you should be reloading, running, or getting very small.  Stay as far from the Threat as practicable, and use concealment—Threats generally shoot at what they see—being small and shooting from the side of concealment is a good thing in a gunfight, although sheet rock and wooden fences stop nothing but your pulse when bullets tear through.  Shooting over cover gets you hit in the head, face, and neck.  Getting hit in your head, face, and neck—well, actually anywhere—is not a good thing.
  18. If you’re comfortable, you ain’t tactical.   It’s more comfortable to be small and cramped than relaxed and shot.
  19. Accuracy is relative:  most combat shooting results will be more dependent on how well you are able to overcome the “pucker factor” than the inherent accuracy of your firearm.  Training helps, but only if your training is in context to what you need when you need it.
  20. In a gunfight, you will do what you do in training, only you will do it worse.  Make sure your training standards are rigorous and high enough so that when you are “worse,” you are still much better than the other guy.
  21. Weapon retention is a real-world survival skill.  Someday, someone may kill you with your own weapon, but they should have to beat you to death with it because it is empty.
  22. If he’s within touching distance when he goes for his gun, charge him.  Foul his draw or divert his muzzle.  If it is reasonable, use his gun against him.  If not, use yours.
  23. An assailant with a knife is not a “DT” problem, or an “OC” problem.  It is a deadly force problem that will generally require a deadly force solution.  Even if you have a Taser, you best have a deadly force option available.  Keep your distance, put something between you and the knife, and make your decisions from there.
  24. An assailant with a gun is not a “Taser” problem.  It is a deadly force problem.  Put something between you and the Taser.  If you see imminent threat behavior, shoot the Threat to the ground.
  25. Flank the Threat whenever possible.  Protect your own .
  26. Even though justified, you will likely feel sad about killing another person.  It is better to be sad than to be room temperature and have your family feel sad.