Rules of Gunfighting


This list of rules is classic, and appears on numerous forums and websites.  The actual author is unknown, and there are many variations.

Here is my favorite version:

1.  Have a gun.

a. Preferably, have at least two guns.
b. Bring all of your friends who have guns.

2. Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Ammo is cheap. Life is expensive.

a. Bring ammo.

i. The right ammo.
ii. Lots of it.

3. Only hits count. The only thing worse than a miss is a slow miss.

4. If your shooting stance is good, you’re probably not moving fast enough or using cover correctly.

5. Proximity negates skill. Distance is your friend. (Lateral and diagonal movement are preferred.)

6. If you can choose what to bring to a gunfight, bring a long gun… and a friend with a long gun.

7. In ten years nobody will remember the details of caliber, stance or tactics. They will only remember who lived.

8. If you are not shooting, you should be communicating, reloading and running.

9. Accuracy is relative: most combat shooting standards will be more dependent on “pucker factor” than the inherent accuracy of the gun. Use a gun that works every time. “All skill is in vain when an Angel pisses in the flintlock of your musket.”

10. Someday someone may kill you with your own gun, but they should have to beat you to death with it because it is empty.

11. Always cheat, always win. The only unfair fight is the one you lose.

a. “If you find yourself in a fair fight, you didn’t plan your mission properly.”

12. Have a plan.

a. Have a back-up plan, because the first one won’t work.

13. Use cover or concealment as much as possible.

14. Flank your adversary when possible. Protect your own flank.

15. Don’t drop your guard.

16. Always perform a tactical reload and then threat scan 360 degrees.

17. Watch their hands. Hands kill. (In God we trust. Everyone else, keep your hands where I can see them.)

18. Decide to be aggressive enough, quickly enough.

19. The faster you finish the fight, the less shot you will get.

20. Be polite. Be professional. But… have a plan to kill everyone you meet.

21. Be courteous to everyone. Friendly to no one.

22. Your number one option for Personal Security is a lifelong commitment to avoidance, deterrence, and de-escalation.

23. Do not attend a gun fight with a handgun whose caliber does not start with a “4.”

a. Nothing handheld is a reliable stopper.

24. Carry the same gun in the same place all the time.


13 responses to “Rules of Gunfighting”

  1. A sensible addition:

    25. First rule of unarmed combat: NEVER BE UNARMED. EVER.

    Enough said.

    1. Agreed. As they say “I’d rather have a gun and not need one, then need a gun and not have one”

  2. Pastor Ryczer Avatar
    Pastor Ryczer

    In total agreement w/ all but #23 (though .”4″5ACP, .”4″1Mag’, .”4″4Mag’, .”4″54Casull, .”4″5-70Gov’, .”4″44Mar’, .”4″50Mar’, .”4″10Bore in a Judge or Thunder-5–if you can find that–or .460Mag’ are some of the handgun calis’ in referrence to this rule that clearly befit the point of this rule). What about calis’ that start w/ “3” (i.e., .”3″57Sig which in more up-2-date loads hits harder then .45ACP & w/ superior velos’; AMT’s .”3″0-Carbine pistol–though its far from ‘CC’, it IS far from “silly-9-milli’ ” AND .45ACP as well; and of course, “3”57Mag’, which still can be in a Coonan–if you can find one, or a D’Eagle, again, far from ‘CC’, but…); or “10”, ala, “Kill-E-10-milli’ “(my personal preference in a ‘slider’ handgun cali’)–if you can tame it, and I mean that w/ all due respect to those who can’t! And not all “4”s seem adequate, and .40S&W being arguably the least prefered “4” here, b/c it barely tips past 9mm in terms of S-P, and many feel it is less accurate then 9 or even .45 (though that’s not my opinion regarding accuracy).

    In the balance between CC and Security–of effectiveness in ‘stopping-the-threat’–in a gunfight (which in many places, would put “CC” in the lesser-thoughts of this duality), one should carry as much (in terms of strength) as they can to remain mobile enough but still maintain “Overkill-Status” in the calis’ of–in the least, here–their HANDguns as best as they can carry.
    Although, in a 3rd balancing consideration, CAPACITY is also a thought in bringing a handgun to a gunfight (which I agree is a secondary thought). So be PERFECTLY fast at relaoding your heavier-hitting Revo’ / wheelgun, or short-stacked slider w/ the many speedloaders or mags you should’ve also brought in great supply; or consider something AT LEAST 12-rounds-or-more in capacity in .45ACP like Glock-G21, FNP-45, XD, double-stack & REFINED-and/or-GUNSMITHED double-stack 1911, or even Taurus 24/7-OSS; which, capacity wise, guns in .357Sig or 10mm automatically tip 12 or more in cap’ ).

    “OVERkill is the best way to avoid UNDERestimating your opposition.”

    1. Insightful post, thanks Pastor. I concur that #23 does over look the points you mentioned!

      “OVERkill is the best way to avoid UNDERestimating your opposition.” is similar to point #2, but your wording is better


      1. Pastor Ryczer Avatar
        Pastor Ryczer

        Thanks Mike. I now very-much-so agree that I was redundant on rule #2! May Christ Jesus Bless you (and me) w/ His Mind (of Christ) for “i.” of “rule #2”, and His ‘Provision’ for “ii.” of 2! May the Holy Spirit lead-us should a gunfight arise in any of our lives, so I’m also in great concurrence w/ ‘Grayson’ and ‘admin’ too! His angels protect you all in a gunfight, for they cover all the gaps we all miss in our imperfect preparations (but God Bless you all for appearing to optimize all your human-efforted prpeparations!!!)

  3. I realize that this is pretty late for a comment or response, but bear with me….

    Just got off the phone with a buddy who recently returned from Afghanistan (and who requests a little anonymity, by the way), and I gave him a heads up on your website, and this entry in particular. Told me he saw a short version of these rules posted at Kandahar base; then said there’s a couple points that should be added… with a wee smile, of course.
    So here goes:

    26. Never expect an enemy to do something stupid. It’s nice when it happens, but don’t count on it.

    Sound advice, and buddy says he learned that the hard way. I’m hoping for details later.
    And finally:

    27. Remember that the situation tends to get fucked up as soon as the enemy arrives. That, of course, is why we call him the fucking enemy. (buddy’s words!).

    Righteous words, good advice. Replies most welcome.

    1. 26 should be, Always assume your adversary is at least as smart as you, and act accordingly. The corollary being, Never expect an enemy to do something stupid. It’s nice when it happens, but don’t count on it.

  4. I’ve always hated Rule #21. What pray tell is the point of this rule? Sounds like it was written by a headcase.

    1. I take it to mean ‘Be wary of everyone’, or perhaps ‘Trust no-one’.

    2. Chris Hluzek Avatar
      Chris Hluzek

      to me rule #21 is essentially be nice to all when dealing with others but dont be suckered into being overly nice/”friendly” as it could be a trap. Take police work, I can be polite/courteous but not buddy buddy with them because I have rule #20 on deck…waiting…

  5. […] Read the rest of the Rules of Gunfighting – HERE […]

  6. 032125:

    Rule #21 is about maintaining physical distance. Remember the context of these rules – they’re for out in public. Think about bodyguards. They don’t have people clustered around them. They want plenty of open space for maneuvering.

  7. […] can check out the Rules Of Gunfighting I posted about a couple years ago.  I’ve never seen it attributed to him, but if he actually […]