Originally printed back in 2009 on USACarry and attributed to one Drill Sergeant Sergeant First Class Joe Frick, the “Rules for the Gunfight” have been distilled up and down and converted into a variety of memes across the internet (which have been previously borrowed for this post).
In short, the rules are 28 entries long (not including the rules for unarmed combat) and cover a variety of items, almost all focusing on the preparedness and mindset of the combatant. For preparedness, one should have a gun (obviously) and have trained for combat under a variety of circumstances. For mindset, one should be prepared for the violence with plans (see Rule 12 & 13) and the ability to make quick decisions including aggressiveness through victory.
Of note, none of the rules focus on tactics other than my favorite rule, Rule #7: “In ten years nobody will remember the details of caliber, stance, or tactics. They will only remember who lived.”
All the rules hold value today, though conventional wisdom may be moving away from a few (namely Rule 24), but most trainers are focusing on refining the rules and adding context for their implementation.
What is your favorite rule and why?
1. Forget about knives, bats and fists. Bring a gun. Preferably, bring at least two guns. Bring all of your friends who have guns. Bring four times the ammunition you think you could ever need.
2. Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Ammunition is cheap – life is expensive. If you shoot inside, buckshot is your friend. A new wall is cheap – funerals are expensive
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. Move away from your attacker and go to cover. Distance is your friend. (Bulletproof cover and diagonal or lateral movement are preferred.)
6. If you can choose what to bring to a gunfight, bring a semi or full-automatic 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. Yell “Fire!” Why “Fire”? Cops will come with the Fire Department, sirens often scare off the bad guys, or at least cause then to lose concentration and will…. and who is going to summon help if you yell “Intruder,” “Glock” or “Winchester?”
9. Accuracy is relative: most combat shooting standards will be more dependent on “pucker factor” than the inherent accuracy of the gun.
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.
12. Have a plan.
13. Have a back-up plan, because the first one won’t work. “No battle plan ever survives 10 seconds past first contact with an enemy.”
14. Use cover or concealment as much as possible, but remember, sheetrock walls and the like stop nothing but your pulse when bullets tear through them.
15. Flank your adversary when possible. Protect yours.
16. Don’t drop your guard.
17. Always tactical load and threat scan 360 degrees. Practice reloading one-handed and off-hand shooting. That’s how you live if hit in your “good” side.
18. Watch their hands. Hands kill. Smiles, frowns and other facial expressions don’t (In God we trust. Everyone else keep your hands where I can see them.)
19. Decide NOW to always be aggressive ENOUGH, quickly ENOUGH.
20. The faster you finish the fight, the less shot you will get.
21. Be polite. Be professional. But, have a plan to kill everyone you meet if necessary, because they may want to kill you.
22. Be courteous to everyone, overly friendly to no one.
23. Your number one option for personal security is a lifelong commitment to avoidance, deterrence, and de-escalation.
24. Do not attend a gunfight with a handgun, the caliber of which does not start with anything smaller than “4”.
25. Use a gun that works EVERY TIME. “All skill is in vain when an Angel blows the powder from the flintlock of your musket.” At a practice session, throw you gun into the mud, then make sure it still works. You can clean it later.
26. Practice shooting in the dark, with someone shouting at you, when out of breath, etc.
27. Redardless of whether justified of not, you will feel sad about killing another human being. It is better to be sad than to be room temperature.
28. The only thing you EVER say afterwards is, “He said he was going to kill me. I believed him. I’m sorry, Officer, but I’m very upset now. I can’t say anything more. Please speak with my attorney.”
Finally, Drill Sergeant Frick’s Rules For Un-armed Combat.
1: Never be unarmed.
2: If you have your hands, your feet, your mind and your Spirit as an American Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine or Coastie, you are never unarmed.