What is Your Safe Distance to Engage the Threat: The 21-Foot Rule

What is Your Safe Distance to Engage the Threat: The 21-Foot Rule
What is Your Safe Distance to Engage the Threat: The 21-Foot Rule
What is Your Safe Distance to Engage the Threat: The 21-Foot Rule
What is Your Safe Distance to Engage the Threat: The 21-Foot Rule

Several of the fastest wide receivers and running backs in the National Football League can run 120 feet (40-yard dash) between 4.24 and 4.27 seconds. It is well-documented that many football players can run 120 feet in about 4.5 seconds. Football players at most positions and average-fit people can run about 20 feet in about 1.5 seconds or slightly less. This seems almost unbelievable, but it is true. So can some “bad guys.” So, is the 21-Foot Rule a sufficient guideline for deciding at what point and when to draw, present, and use your defensive gun before being overcome by the “bad guy?” Is it a safe distance for adequate reaction time to stop the threat? Some think so and some think not. Some think it should be a 30-Foot Rule and some jurisdictions have changed to it, e.g. certain jurisdictions in Texas, Georgia, Florida, and others.

Time, Distance, and Accuracy

This month I attended two NRA advanced and intermediate-level concealed carry courses near Atlanta, GA, Personal Protection Outside the Home. One of the instructors, a middle-aged female (average build & physical fitness), guided me in a 7-yard special drill. At the range, we were positioned back-to-back and she had her hand on my shoulder. I was the “good guy” and she was the “bad gal.” When she removed her hand from my shoulder, I was to unholster my gun from beneath my concealment shirt and fire 2 non-sighted shots at the target in front of me down range at 21 feet, while she (as the attacker) ran in the opposite direction up range. She stopped as my first shot was fired. As the good-guy shooter, I was successful only if one of my shots hit someplace in center-mass target and if she as the bad-gal runner did not cover 21 feet. Time is a very important personal-protection variable. We don’t want a “tie” with the attacker and defender in terms of time. The defender needs to win the time race. No excuses for this keyboard commando, but I tried to be quick and she covered about 24 feet before I accessed my concealed gun, drew it, and fired my two rapid shots. Both my shots hit center mass, but it took me too long to do it. In reality, I would be severly injured or dead, especially if the attacker was a lean and fit 25-year-old. This really hit home for me and I had been practicing my presentation, accuracy, and was not under undue stress. I was even aware in advance that my decision would be to draw and then that I would need to fire quickly. Luxuries usually not available when involved with your dynamic personal-protection situation. Being assaulted by a quick, on-rushing maniac or a crazy with a knife, gun, or other weapon is certainly different than practicing range shooting skills on a paper plate from the seven-yard line.

The Tueller Rule and Drill

For many years since 1983 when Sergeant Dennis Tueller, of the Salt Lake City, Utah Police Department, developed his 21-Foot Rule and the Tueller Drill, this distance was, and is, still accepted as a safety guideline for assaults. Tueller setup a training drill where he placed an average volunteer attacker armed with an edged weapon/knife 21 feet away from an officer with a holstered handgun. On the signal, the attacker ran toward the officer to stab him and Tueller timed the attacker over the 21 feet. He determined the attacker could easily cover the 21 feet and reach the officer in 1.5 seconds. His results were widely published and subsequent validation by others have supported his results. His  police training video is entitled “How Close is Too Close?” The training objective was to determine whether the officer could draw and acurately fire upon the assailant to stop the threat before the attacker stabbed him. Was the 21 feet an adequate response parameter for deciding when to shoot or not and, if so, to draw and shoot? As you can imagine, this is highly controversial and states and jurisdictions vary a lot, as do the court decisions. There are a lot of variables to consider and many influencing factors. So, use caution when drawing your conclusions and, especially, about using the 21-Foot Rule, the 30-Foot Rule, or ANY rule for your actions. They are merely generalized guidelines and NOT absolute rules nor based on forensic research and all possible facts. Each individual SITUATION must dictate your defensive reaction, safe distance to engage the threat, and your response! Be very careful!

The question then is… Is 21 Feet enough of a cushion (reactionary gap) for you to prepare and do what you have to do to quickly defend yourself from the assailant? Many shooters believe that they can draw and deliver an effective hit on a charging assailant when the assailant starts his assault from a distance of seven yards. Experienced shooters at the range have told me “no problem,” but I have my serious doubts. Some range drills for some of my students have proven to me and them that this is not so under most situations. Also, consider whether or not the attack is in your home or on the street. Recognize that the rooms in a typical home are mostly about 21 feet or less from wall to wall, so you will probably be even closer inside your home, considering the space taken by furniture.

Tueller addressed the “reactionary gap” and concluded that sudden action is usually faster than a defensive response or reaction for humans. The closer an assailant is to you, the less time you have to defensively react to any aggressive action the assailant makes. Remember, one shot rarely stops the threat, so accurate hits are also important while you are under the time pressure.

Some Research and Court Guidance About the Rule

In 2014, Dr. Ron Martinelli, forensic criminologist, revisited the 21-Foot Rule related to police officers and concluded several key things. He said that it takes on average .58 seconds to experience the threat and determine if it is real. Then it takes an average of .56 to 1.0 seconds to make a response decision to act. Then comes access to the gun, draw, presentation, and firing, which consume more time. Some say it takes about .50 to 1.00 seconds to access and draw the gun. Of course, the location of the gun, the type of holster and concealment, and practice affect this. Others say it takes anywhere from .25 to .31 seconds then to actually press the trigger to fire it. So these factors alone add up to a minimum average requirement of about 1.89 seconds (up to 2.39 seconds or more) for me … which is more than the 1.5 seconds for the bad guy to reach you. And you have to have good hits to stop the bad guy. Further, he recognized that if the sidearm is secured in a Level III holster, it will have a slower draw-to-target acquisition time than drawing from a Level I holster or another type, e.g. pocket, ankle, or small of the back. So someone’s experience and competency with his or her holster system and particular handgun are also critical factors.

Dr. Bill Lewinski with the Force Science Research Center at Minnesota State University has also re-examined the 21 Foot Rule and made some conclusions for the police which are noteworthy for all:

  1. Because of prevalent misinterpretation, the Rule has been dangerously corrupted;
  2. When properly understood, the Rule is still valid in certain limited circumstances;
  3. For many officers and situations, the Rule is not sufficient;
  4. The weapon that officers often think they can depend on to defeat knife attacks can’t be relied upon to protect them in many cases; and
  5. Training in edged-weapon defense should by no means be abandoned.

Without a doubt, each deadly-force, high-risk encounter in a rapidly-changing situation is unique. This has been recognized and restated in the 1989 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Graham v. Connor for the police. In essence, the Graham standard guides that force should be applied in the same basic way that an objectively reasonable officer would in the same circumstances. Further, that the most important factor to consider in applying force is the threat faced by the officer or others at the scene. Seems this is important to judicious use of deadly force whether you are a police officer or not. Situationally dependent and reasonable.


It seems obvious to me that many factors and situations are involved in determiing if the 21-Foot Rule is applicable. The distance, time, and accuracy factors can be influenced by other things like the fitness level of the attacker, the mental state of both attacker and defender, the level of training and weapon or handgun proficiency of both participants, drugs, the terrain and location of the encounter, the weather, ambient light, full-duty gear, dress, gloves, and so many other variables. Be careful out there.

What are your thoughts about the 21-Foot Rule, your safe distance for engagement, and why do you believe what you believe?

Continued success!

Photo by author.

* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever. 

© 2015 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at ColBFF@gmail.com.

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"Col Ben" is retired with 30 years service in the U.S. Air Force, with joint services Special Ops duty and training, and is Air Force qualified as "Expert" in small arms. He is a Vietnam-era Veteran. Ben is an experienced NRA-Certified Pistol Instructor, NRA Range Safety Officer, and FL Concealed Carry License Instructor. Ben recently wrote the book "Concealed Carry and Handgun Essentials for Personal Protection" (second printing) with 57 comprehensive Chapters about concealed carry and handgun principles, techniques, and tips for both experienced and new shooters. His reference book is endorsed by several organizations and is available on his website at FloridaHandgunsTraining.com. Contact him at ColBFF@gmail.com.
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So first question, why is someone running toward you? This is where avoidance and awareness come in. How do you know the person is running at you and not from something? Maybe they are going to run right past you? Are we now going to start shooting at anyone we see running toward us if there is no one else around? It’s not against the law to run in public or private last time I checked. Personally, there is not a one size fits all set of rules, when it comes to justifiable usage of self defense tools. Vaporizers are the only answer, leave no trace.


I wish you the best, 2ThinkN_Do2. Standing there when someone who is high, angry or just decides he wants to trash someone tonight is charging you while you decide if he is running for the sheer joy of it will get you an IC stay at best and a coroner at worst. Plan for the worst, hope for the best.


Gee, why are you there where people are high and angry wanting to trash someone? Guess that’s where awareness comes in to play.


Fuck you_Do2


Having a bad day are we, hope it got better : )


When we trained we had an instructor, off to the side at 21 feet, with an “electric” training knife. On command he would run toward us while we would draw & fire at a target in front of us and see if we could beat the instructor. Only one of us did. Pretty interesting results when you got swiped with that knife! The new Federal standards, not generally publicized, are 30-40 feet from what I’ve been told by some of my compadres.


That instructor downrange would have been instantly disqualified and ejected anywhere I have taught.


I believe you misunderstand/I didn’t phrase it well. The instructor was not down range but off to the side and in back of us. When I said run toward us I meant from that position not from the front.


Roger. Thanks.


So in “real life” the perp is not running a timer and seeing if he can beat you to the draw; they may not even know you are armed (unless you are an on-duty LEO). Chances are they’re not a running back, receiver or track star. Odds are also that more everyday people are not practicing (than do) to be Quick Draw McGraw. As is often mentioned in articles regarding SD, the most important thing is awareness and ability to evaluate each scenario quickly. Truthfully, it’s a roll of the dice and LEO’s have been under appreciated for decades. It’s unfortunate that there are some who tarnish the metal of honor and bravery. One could argue that as much as 45 feet (or less) be considered an acceptable distance when all factors such as age, reaction time, avoidance options, etc.. are taken into consideration.

Per the article here, what would seem more questionable in a non LEO shooting would be how many rounds were fired to stop the threat. However, if an LEO is cleared after shooting 6, 12, 18 rounds; why would a citizen be more heavily scrutinized for shooting that many or more? It would seem a citizen would be less capable of knowing if the threat was stopped than an LEO. What is the best defense of a self defense shooting? For starters: the perp having a weapon and witnesses (on your side). Hopefully most of us, will not ever need to know the intricacies of this legal web of debate.


If they have a weapon and are running toward you, yes, shoot them if they are within 21 feet. Never turn your back on someone who is running toward you with a weapon.


what about if state laws say you have duty to retreat?…how far do you retreat?…


What state would that be, kalifornia, ny?


In duty to retreat states like NY, you only have a duty to retreat if you can do so with complete safety


A quick search shows like 23 Stand Your Ground states and 18 Duty To Retreat, that leaves 9 Up In The Air or Somewhere In-Between states. Not sure how up to date this list is however (possibly 2013).


Typical yankee state


Yeah, retreat so the perp runs after you. Only a liberal would be so stupid to think this stuff up.

geezer pleaser

Wisc. is duty to retreat, UNLESS your in your vehicle, or in your home…unless something has changed in last 6 months.


I’ll have to tell my daughter that, sure glad Oklahoma is not like that!


The law usually reads a form of “retreat to the wall” or until you can retreat no further safely. At 21 feet you have retreated as far as you can. If you want to turn your back on someone at that distance be my guest. I’d venture that you’ve never taken a tactical course or you wouldn’t be asking these questions. Take one. Take two. You’ll learn a lot.


Practice the “step-drag” maneuver as you train your firearm on the VCA.


Retreat to another state! Seriously though use your best judgement. Bad guys can lure you outside if you retreat from your home. Just remember to use reasonable force to stop threat. An intruder with a knife would be IMHO a danger to my life, therefore I would feel compelled to use deadly force.


surprise them and run directly towards them


The 21 foot rule should be a key factor in anyone’s defense training. I believe it is imperative that those serious about self defense find some level of hand to hand training in order to enable the defender to create time and distance to allow access to bring their weapon to bear. Carrying a weapon alone may not be enough to effectively defend against attack.


I have personally had a knife in me and the hand to hand is a boat load of crap. 30-35 feet don’t let them get any closer if they are armed!


Not saying duke it out, but learn how to increase time and distance effectively in order to get to your weapon. Most malefactors will not reveal a weapon until they are well within the 21 feet, let alone 30-35.


ALL ‘rules’ are meant to be GUIDELINES…..and are not concrete……when it comes to you and yours self defense of life and limb………better a ‘broken rule’ then a broken body or worse……..imho


I would rather be Judged by 1 than CARRIED by 6.


I would go for the 30-40 ft to DRAW AND PRESENT your firearm and 21 ft if the bad guy keep coming is SHOOT RANGE. I will mention at this time I am disabled and can’t run so “duty to retreat” for me is not an option


do to your situation 21 foot rule would hardly apply in most states I would think. also see if your state has a Castle Doctrine. in Arizona the last I checked, our castle doctrine is not only good in our home but anywhere we are legal to be with no duty to retreat


same here disabled vet id shoot knee caps off then go from there


Ben Findley, are you aware of any studies or research into court outcomes involving both police and civilians? Specifically, it would be good to know if police are judicially allowed more discretion in the use of lethal force than civilians. That is, at a given distance, is punishment less for police, or conversely, at an average punishment, is the distance to police target further?
My reason for asking is that most “Rules” seem to be centered around law enforcement, and if I get into a defensive situation, I don’t to find out that I’m subject to a tighter standard.

Col Ben

You might want to read 4 or 5 of my general quasi-legal articles on this website. I appreciate your
question, don’t know your state of jurisdiction, and there is not a simple, microwave quick-fix answer. Based upon your question, it appears you have not had any or sufficient training in the use of deadly force and respectfully sir you need some. I don’t have all the answers and a few short internet articles are not the solution nor the proper guidance for you. Remember, I am a
non-lawyer and I am NOT giving legal advice nor legal opinions, but offering some general education points here to help you formulate for yourself guidelines for the use of deadly force. Really, as a non-attorney, non-legal trained individual there does not seem to be that much of a difference between police and civilian GENERAL guidelines. In essence, even for bad guys and bad gals, deadly force must be recognized as a LAST RESORT for use only when you need to save your LIFE. If you are going to carry and/or use a gun for self-defense, in addition to being well trained in the safety rules, the basics of shooting, resolving malfunctions, accuracy
fundamentals, and tactics, you should be trained and understand the circumstances under which the use of deadly force is warranted, both legally and morally. So, you can and will, with a high degree of certainty, have to justify your use of deadly force according to the law of your
state. You should know the law of your state for your justification… and preferably BEFORE an incident occurs.

Realistically there probably is not such a thing as a universally-accepted justified or “Good
Shoot” or even an in-concrete “reasonable” justification of your use of deadly force in ALL situations, because that is determined by the judge and/or jury… and influenced by your defense attorney, the prosecutor, and interpretation of the many involved and complex factors. It is my lay, non-legal opinion that this subjective interpretation variable does exist, even in the face of written, in black-and-white, specific laws and “facts.” What is “reasonable” for one, may NOT be
“reasonable” for another.

In Florida for citizens and in general even for police officers Deadly Force should ONLY be used if you reasonably believe that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to yourself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony. You
reasonably think and believe that you are in an immediate danger of being killed or seriously injured (e.g. probably not just a broken arm)… and reasonably believe that immediate force is necessary to prevent the danger… and you use no more force than is necessary to defend against the danger (e.g. non-deadly vs. deadly force)… and you are “in a place where
you have a right to be” (e.g. no permission is needed)… and are not engaged in unlawful activity (e.g. smoking marijuana or robbing someone.) Many complex considerations. Please seek proper training in your state.

In general, the judge and/or jury will ask some variation of this question: “Would a reasonable and prudent person in the same situation, knowing what you knew and nothing more at that time, have made the same decision you made?” The judge and/or jury will ask themselves whether the danger you perceived was real and imminent, whether you were reasonable in your belief that you would be harmed, and whether you reasonably responded to that danger without excessive use of force. The general guideline under self-defense law is that you are only allowed to use enough force to combat the force being used against you.

After trying to first AVOID the situation, here are some general things that guide ME in a dangerous encounter.

(1) Shoot ONLY to neutralize or STOP the threat and no more… NOT to KILL or ELIMINATE it.

(2) Only use as much commensurate force as necessary to neutralize or stop the threat, e.g. non-deadly force for non-deadly attack or deadly force against deadly force.

(3) Only continue to use appropriate force during the time the threat is imminent. If the aggressor turns and leaves, he is no longer the aggressor and the threat is not imminent. On the
other hand, if you pursue the bad guy then as he is running away, there is a high probability that you will be viewed as the aggressor and be in legal trouble with a lot of uncertainty.

(4) Shoot no more than is “reasonably” necessary to STOP the threat or you probably will go to jail.

(5) Even though the law is specific, there is much subjective interpretation of what is “reasonable.” Do you want to gamble on the subjective outcome? Risk-Reward analysis and
tradeoff. Rationality and not emotionality.

(6) Remember that shooting to wound or to kill have BOTH been interpreted as the use of deadly force.

(7) Shooting to wound may be evidence that you were NOT in fear of imminent death or great bodily harm to justify your use of deadly force, so you weren’t trying to “neutralize” the threat. Big trouble!

(8) I keep asking myself “Is there any other option instead of shooting?” and “Do I really have
to shoot in this situation?” It’s not that I am afraid, weak, have no power or confidence in my shooting abilities. I am not trying to prove anything, right all wrongs, or demonstrate my power, abilities, or manliness.

(9) Is there really the possibility of excessive force in a self-defense situation? Some folks and
lawyers think NOT. What about that one more shot fired that is not “necessary” and not “reasonable?” Is that not self defense then, but murder?

Because there are so many complex variables and options, we have to think about this in advance and try to narrow down our alternatives and responses in general before the encounter
under stress. Success to you and please investigate this in-depth and seek proper legal counsel applicable to your state.


Col. Ben, thanks for your reply. I’m sorry I was vague in my question. Actually, I am trained and permitted, and have been carrying for several years. I make every effort to be in Condition Yellow, aware of my surroundings and the people in my view, the tactical assets and liabilities present, and the general atmosphere around me. I daily mentally run through what-if scenarios in order to think through various response options and priorities. I know the legal standard for the use of deadly force in the State of Nevada.
My question arose because a simple paragraph defining the use of force is insufficient to cover the vast number of potential scenarios I might encounter, and thus makes any criminal charges and/or legal proceedings subject to the vagaries of law enforcement, a prosecuting office, judges, juries, and the families of any possible victims, the owners of the location, and bystanders.
I also suspect that a certain degree of bias is possible in favor of law enforcement in the aftermath of a shooting. Throughout an investigation, I believe I will be less likely to be given the benefit of the doubt than a policeman in the same situation. For example, Nevada has no duty to retreat law, but if a retreat option was available, no one would expect a cop to take, but I could be sued by the dead bad guys family for not hiding, thus causing their bereavement.
I don’t to get caught in the trap of assuming that what’s good for a cop will necessarily be good for me. A cop may be perfectly justified in shooting a threat at 50 feet whereas me standing in the same spot will get me vilified as a guy out looking to kill someone.
That’s all I was looking for, just a little more context and a different perspective. And I don’t want to overthink this too much, just a little bit.
Thanks again.


I am 76.5 years of age and my retreat speed is MUCH SLOWER than a running gait! Are you saying if a much younger and fitter man is attempting to beat me with his fists I should allow him to do so AND NOT SHOOT HIM???!!!

Col Ben

Hi BJI. I understand your concern & not suggesting what you said. Please read my above response to Silver State. Also, here is a brief summary in general to help you.Determining when you can legally defend yourself with a gun involves many factors and is very situation specific. So IT DEPENDS on specifics. Even specific laws vary significantly and by state and jurisdiction, and must be interpreted. It is generally accepted in most states in the U.S. that you have a “right” to defend yourself with lethal force. However, different Stand Your Ground and Castle Doctrine laws exist among the jurisdictions and states and are interpreted differently and subjectively in specific situations. There is not a carte blanche authorization to shoot in all situations, even if you are afraid or sacred of
someone. You must justify why you used your gun or weapon and you are held responsible for your use of deadly force. Whether you exercise this right legally is based on the “reasonable man” doctrine. In other words, would a reasonable person in the same situation be likely to use deadly force in self defense? Some states, like Florida, have a law (FS 784.08- Assault or Battery on Persons Aged 65 & Older) that provide for a minimum term of imprisonment, mandatory fines, restitution, & mandatory community service, and classify it as a Felony or reclassify the assault to a higher level.

What is considered reasonable by one may not be considered reasonable by another… or a judge or jury. Usually lethal or deadly force is justified ONLY when undertaken to prevent imminent and otherwise unavoidable danger of death or great bodily harm to the innocent.

Most self-defense experts and the courts often look for three elements to determine whether the use of deadly force, such as a firearm, is justified.
Ability– Did your attacker have the ability to cause death or great bodily harm? This usually means, did the attacker have a lethal weapon, such as a gun or knife. Use of lethal force against an unarmed attacker may also be justified, such as when you are faced with multiple attackers or a single attacker who is causing you serious harm. However, this can lead to a claim of “disparity of force” and make your defense more difficult.
Opportunity– Was your attacker close enough to carry out the attack? If the attacker was unarmed, he would usually have to be within arms length. If he had a weapon, he would have to be close enough to use the weapon against you. How close is close enough? It depends on the weapon, the circumstances, and what the jury or judge thinks about it. Opportunity also means the attack must be here and now… imminent. Thinking that someone may harm you at a future
date or at another place is not a legally acceptable justification for using
lethal force.
Intent or Jeopardy– Did the attacker intend to cause you harm? This is a critical, subjective call by the defender at the instant time of occurrence and one you must be able to justify and support in court. A VERY difficult task. Was your life in jeopardy? Someone can have a gun and be standing right in front of you, such as a concealed weapons license holder, but have no intention of causing harm. On the other hand, someone can run at you with a baseball bat screaming that they’re going to kill you. In the first, there is probably no jeopardy. In the second, there probably is.

Bottom Line: Do you genuinely believe you are in mortal danger and is using a gun the only means of ending the threat? Assuming you don’t initiate the conflict, you don’t have a duty to retreat, and you honestly believe you are in grave danger, your use of a firearm MAY be justified.
There is no universal, absolute, concrete rule or law or correct way to always
proceed. The situation variables, reasonableness, and the ability of the
attacker, his or her close proximity, and intent all weigh very much in your
challenging decision for use of lethal force. I wish it were more simple my friend, but hope this helps you some. Continued Success!


Fifty feet for an armed and aggressive VCA, keep your mouth shut, and let the investigators speak on our behlf.


Unfortunatly most attacks start at 10 feet or less.

Gregory Lesniewski

I agree with Tugboat & Dan (below)! And, after reading a book by two experts in the field of self-defense, my first shot would be to either hip or the legs! Reason, as the experts explain, is to cause the collapse of skeletal support drop the assailant in their steps! Even if you do get a lethal body/head shot, the inertia created by the assailants attack and their body’s muscular reactions would keep them moving forward! A skeletal collapse would cause their forward motion to stop where shot, or MAYBE a foot closer!


Although an extremity shot would be tougher to accomplish. Good luck.


Excellent points and reasoning also you have to take into account the attackers reaction to seeing a gun drawn on them when they have a distance limited weapon. no one wants to kill some one but some times it’s you or them and the innocent shouldn’t be hurt. i believe one should unholster their fire arm as soon as a threat is present, but not take aim, from there you can aim and fire quickly and if seeing the gun deterred the attack you don’t have to shoot you could just have been cleaning some dirt off your gun if questioned and you never threatened someone with a deadly weapon

Larry Vrooman

The 21 foot rule is primarily a problem if you just keep standing there on the X. If you do that, you’re not using your strengths and your opponent’s weaknesses to your tactical advantage. To reach you in the stated 1.5 seconds the assailant has to come at you full bore, and that results in a great deal of momentum. That’s his or her greatest disadvantage as it significantly decreases his or her ability to turn and greatly increases the turn radius, even if he or she does have the legs of an NFL running back. The best way to give yourself more time in this situation is to rapidly sidestep to the assailant’s off hand side (increasing the distance between you and the knife) and then continue side stepping 90 degrees away from the assailant’s line of advance. He or she will blow past you trying to turn into you but with a much larger turn radius due to speed and momentum. As the assailant keeps turning into you, you keep sidestepping away 90 degrees from their current line of advance toward you, which forces them to keep turning. The end result is that you’ll move in a spiral forward and to your right (assuming a right handed assailant) turning somewhere between 180 and 270 degrees in the process. This also means the assailant has to completely change direction through the same 180 to 270 arc, all the time being on the outside of the turn covering much more distance than you’ve had to cover. It’s this change in direction and the greater distance covered making turn which increases the time it takes the attacker to reach you to around 4 seconds. That’s ample time to draw and hit the assailant with several rounds. Keep the weapon in a close in retention position and sidestep so that your feet do not cross (step out with the right foot, bring the left foot over next to the right foot, rinse and repeat). Tripping over your own feet in this situation is the last thing you want to do. You can simulate shooting and moving with dummy rounds and a DA revolver or pistol pretty much anywhere (with suitable precautions to ensure that the weapon is unloaded, with no live ammo in the area). You can to do some related live fire practice on an outdoor range (provided the range allows movement) by starting 5-6 feet to the left of a 3 to 5 yard target, and then side stepping to a point 5-6 ft to the right of the target – just watch the angles and limit the distance you move, or increase the distance to the target so that you keep all the rounds in the berm. Even if you can’t practice moving and shooting at the same time, practice shooting from a close in position at a target 1-3 yards away to develop the ability to be able to place rounds center of mass without using the sights.

Larry Vrooman

With all that said below, this is a far more likely scenario for a police officer who may come upon a situation where the assailant is already displaying a weapon. In most cases, in a civilian self defense situation, the criminal is going to try to approach you through either stealth or deception, getting close to you before displaying any weapon. Good situational awareness, avoiding potential situations well in advance of the encounter, and establishing eye contact with a potential assailant if avoidance is not an option, are your best tools to avoid an attack. Most criminals will be less likely to attempt to assault or mug you if you are aware of them and are maintaining eye contact – it sends the message that your are aware of them and ready to respond to anything they initiate. If a knife is drawn at close range, you need to deal with the knife first, then shoot from a close in retention position. Some basic self defense training is a real asset here.


their are gun free states so your safe there Obama, Hillary, Feinstein say so bad people are not allowed to have firearms their either


if you have doubts just shoot his knee caps off assault is better than murder


Knee caps would be tough if he is running toward you. Center mass is key.