first published on December 8, 2015 by Will
It’s true that you should never bring a knife to a gunfight, as demonstrated by this now-deceased, Palestinian who decided to charge at an Israeli Defense Force soldier before being shot down.
However, to underestimate the effectiveness of a knife in a close quarters situation could easily end up being a fatal mistake. A 1983 S.W.A.T. Magazine article written by Salt Lake City Police Sergeant Dennis Tueller described a “danger zone” of 21 feet in which one should use your firearm to engage a knife-welding attacker. The basis of the article went on to become standard police doctrine and resulted in a common training exercise known as the Tueller Drill. A Myth-Busters episode recently reinforced the theory as well.
The issue is still debated by some, mostly those with no first-hand experience with knives, guns, or psychopaths, and they see the use of a firearm against a knife-wielding attacker as murder. They are the same people that say “shoot them in the leg” or “use a taser.” However, if you take a few minutes to practice the Tueller Drill with a buddy you will be surprised to learn how quickly a person can cover 21 feet… on average 1.5 seconds. To perform the drill, one person charges at another with a dummy or imaginary knife. The other person draws their cleared or dummy firearm from their holster, takes aim, and fires an imaginary shot. It’s incredible how close, and sometimes successful, the attacker will get.
The attacker in the following video starts off much closer than 21 feet. He goes from being seemingly unarmed with his arms raised, to having a knife in his hand and within inches of the soldier in an instant. The soldier already has his weapon in hand, but the time it took to raise it and fire was still uncomfortably close. In addition, one can see that the attacker was hit by multiple rounds and still attempted to murder the continuously back-peddling soldier.