Is a knife more dangerous than a gun?

There’s a lot of debate on the internet over which is more dangerous a knife or a gun. Of course, each weapon has its own advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, with the benefit of surprise and a range of fewer than 21 feet, a knife wins. With the benefit of preparation and greater separation, a gun wins.


Why a gun is more dangerous than a knife

1. Works at range

The greatest advantage of a gun is that it works at range. The effective range of a handgun for most people is about 50 yards, maybe less, and the highly skilled shooter could double that. There’s no way a knife could ever come close to that range. So if you’re in a situation where you know you’re going to kill someone, using a gun at 25 yards will have a great advantage over someone with the knife.

2. More stopping power

Another advantage a gun has it is greater stopping power. By stopping power, I mean when a bullet hits your body, it hurts more than most people can imagine. So when you are hit by a bullet you are likely usually stop whatever you’re doing and fall down. This doesn’t mean you’re going to die. In fact, most people survive gunshot wounds. So just getting hit by one bullet probably won’t kill you, unless they hit you in the head. However, if someone with a gun is trying to kill you, he can just keep firing until you die.

A knife doesn’t have that same kind of painful stopping power. Sometimes people are stabbed but they don’t recognize the how deep the wound is. This is why in many situations one shot will win a confrontation. Even though it won’t kill you, one bullet will inflict so much pain, that you won’t want to be aggressive anymore.

3. Can fire warning shots

By brandishing a gun, you instantly threaten people. Often that’s not the case with a knife. With a gun, not only you can brandish it, but you can fire a warning shot to tell people, “Yeah, I’m serious!”

Most of us are trained by the media to know that if somebody gives you a warning shot, their next shot is going to be lethal. So with a gun, you don’t always have to kill people to get what you want from them.

4. Can quickly engage multiple targets

Not only does a gun work at range, a gun can more quickly engage multiple targets at a distance. You can shoot at a lot of different people without having to chase them down. So if your goal is to kill a lot of people efficiently, a gun is often your best weapon to choose. With a knife, you have to actively pursue people and they begin to run away. It will take a long time to kill people with a knife if they see you coming and seek to escape.

Why a knife is more dangerous than a gun

1. Most human interactions happen at close range

Ken and Randy at Compton?

The first point is that most of the time we interact with people at close range and if somebody surprises you with a knife, they can kill you before you can deploy your gun. If you’re interacting with somebody at a distance of 21 feet or more, then, of course, a gun is much more dangerous. This is why we see so many stories in the news of police officers shooting people at close range. The police officer recognizes a threat and due to the proximity, they have a very short window of action. Sometimes they make the right response and sometimes they don’t.

2. Doesn’t need to reload, never jams

One of the best advantages of knives is that they usually don’t break when you’re using them. Also, you can’t run out of bullets, nor do you need to reload your knife. Moreover, a gun could jam but a knife won’t. With a knife, you can literally stab everybody near you. That could be dozens of people. But with a gun, once you start firing at many people, you’re going to have to reload your gun multiple times while they can attack you or escape.

3. More lethal

One of the surprising facts of police injuries is that a knife attack is generally more lethal than a gunshot. And that’s because with a knife you are using a larger weapon to inflict the damage, so you’re creating larger wounds and you can stab somebody multiple times very quickly. In a knife attack, you can quite easily stab somebody 10 times within 10 seconds. With a gun that’s practically impossible. And if you’re shooting somebody at range, you will likely miss a few times.

4. More accurate

A knife is far more accurate than a gun because it always attacks at Point Blank Range. With a knife, you’re physically walking up to someone and putting your knife directly into their body. While you could swing wildly and miss, most knife attacks happen very fast and they strike their targets. However, we all know that many gunshots miss their targets because they’re working at a range and accurate shooting is difficult under high-stress situations.

5. Stealth

A knife is smaller than a gun and it’s much easier to conceal and so a knife makes a perfect stealth weapon. You can walk up to somebody with a knife concealed in your clothing or even in your hand and you can stab them before they recognize they are under lethal attack. Also, a knife attack is much quieter which will allow you to escape detection.

But if you want to shoot someone, you have to pull out your gun, then aim and fire. That’s not very stealthy. Even carrying a concealed gun is more difficult to hide than a knife. Additionally, gunshots are very loud, so people are going to recognize if they are under attack. So its much easier to catch people who fire guns in public. Not only that but the police can track down your gun through ballistics.

6. Need less training

While it’s true that anybody can fire a gun, to be accurate with a gun takes a lot of training, and to fire a gun under a stressful situation accurately and lethally requires High skill. But almost everybody can pick up a knife and just started jabbing it in somebody else’s body. It doesn’t take much skill. That means that everyone can be lethal with a knife, they only need the will and the opportunity.

7. Cheaper

Since basic knives are so cheap, almost everywhere in the world people have access to a knife. Even tribesmen in the jungles of Borneo can fashion very lethal knives out of bone if necessary. So anybody you meet on the street could be carrying a knife. They could be ready to use it on you at any moment. (Try not to be paranoid.) But a gun is not so easy to get and a lot more expensive. Additionally, they require waiting periods to purchase and in general, there’s a lot of rules regarding the acquisition of guns.

The 21-foot rule

Now it’s time to examine when is a gun the preferred weapon as opposed to a knife. Through a lot of police training, they have discovered that it’s very difficult for a police officer to pull out his gun and fire on somebody who’s trying to attack him with a knife. Since police officers don’t approach everybody with their guns out on, if a person is within 21 feet of them attacks with a knife, there’s not a lot the police officer can do to stop it.

If a police officer is lucky, he’ll be able to fire one or two shots Center Mass and stop the attacker. But if the knife-wielding attacker starts his attack within 20 ft of the police officer, he’s probably going to defeat the police officer and kill him if that’s what he wants to do.

From this, we can understand that a person with concealed attacks someone carrying a holstered/concealed gun has a lethal advantage if they are within 21 feet. Now if the gun is already drawn and aimed at the knife-wielder, obviously the gun-wielder has an advantage, as long as he can shoot at a moving target accurately under pressure.

Lessons from War

The ultimate test of which is more dangerous a knife or a gun is from the example of War. Everybody knows that soldiers carry weapons. Most soldiers will carry a knife some and a rifle. A handgun is not really a great weapon of War because it doesn’t carry a lot of bullets and it’s hard to shoot accurately at a distance. A rifle, on the other hand, is the best weapon of War for the common soldier. It can shoot more bullets accurately and has more stopping power when it does hit somebody.

So by this analysis, a gun, or more specifically a rifle, is far more dangerous than a knife. If two squads of soldiers fight each other, one carrying only knives, and one carrying only guns, the gun squad would certainly win unless they were surprised by the knife squad at close quarters.

Note that this is merely a discussion on the advantages of certain weapons, not a how method for bad people.

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4 Responses

  1. Michael says:

    I think your article pretty much summed it up and basically said both Can be more dangerous depending on the circumstances.

    For example a knife could easily be more dangerous at night when can’t see well .. while a gun could be more dangerous in a room full of people you can easily target all at once very quickly.

    Either way I think it’s people that kill people , not guns or knifes. Lol.

    • Peter Barban says:

      You are absolutely right. Danger always depends on the situation. A small knife that you conceal in your hand can be much more dangerous than a machete held openly. At people can run away when they see a machete wielder.

  2. top shot says:

    “if you’re shooting somebody at range, you will likely miss a few times”

    [explitive]if i will [explitative]. speak for yourself.

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