The 21 Foot Rule

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The 21 foot rule essentially states that in the amount time it takes an average officer or person openly carrying to recognize a threat, draw his weapon and fire 2 rounds at center mass, an average assailant charging at you with a knife or blunt weapon can cover a distance of 21 feet.

I have a lot of good friends who are police officers, state troopers and several US marshals who all were trained on the 21 foot rule. 

In today’s culture more and more people are carrying a knife and I feel as though we need to take a closer look at the 21 foot rule. 

IMO 21 feet is not sufficient for most cases.  If I know I am coming after you and you don’t, 7 yards is not much space for your assailant to cover before they can attack you. 

In my tests with my Glock 17 with a Blackhawk Serpa holster, I can grip, draw, aim and fire 2 rounds in about 1.4-1.7 seconds.

When I tested my charge at 21 feet, I can cover this distance in roughly the EXACT same time 1.4-1.7 seconds.  So, you as the target of the violence are already at an extreme disadvantage.  The main reason being is, the aggressor starts the event and you are forced to react. 

When you KNOW someone is charging you with a knife, you will lose some fine motor skills and the 21 foot rule just got smaller.  You will rush your draw and be staring at your aggressor and more than likely lose that engagement.

Don’t think I am saying anyone within 21 feet is a threat and deserves to die.  We are just covering the ins and outs of the school of thought behind the 21 foot rule.

If you have read my previous blogs on “The Castle Doctrine” and “Stand your ground law”, then you will remember a tactical term called – REASONABLE.  This is what you will be judged upon.  Someone who is trained in edged weapons can close a distance much faster with more skill and aggression than someone who is impaired by drugs or alcohol. 

What is someone has wielded knife but isn’t coming at me? What then?  Well, I would certainly have my weapon out and in the low ready while giving some verbal commands/warnings while I create space between us. 

If you have ever watched a Steven Segal film, you will see him grab knives, swords and other weapons mid air and thump the bad guys single handedly.  Unfortunately, that is fairytale land where unicorns,      dragons and Shrek live. 

If you haven’t been trained in any type of edged weapon CQC, then please don’t attempt to disarm someone.  In a case with an edged weapon, rely on your ability to create distance and use your firearm to stop the aggressor.

Most people that carry a knife are not trained on how to use it correctly or tactically. BUT, when someone is charging you with a knife, you won’t know their skill set will you? 

There is not a certain distance or footage at which you say, ok I will shoot now.  Remember, REASONABLE distance at which you can articulate to a jury of your peers why your ONLY option was to use lethal force. 
The best tip I can give you concerning this is that your first move should be a step back, and at the same time be drawing your weapon.  Space and distance are your friends.  Don’t simply rely on 21 or more feet will save you, or don’t think just because someone is inside of 21 feet they are a lethal threat. 

Fortuna Paratus Remunerat- Fortune Favors the Prepared

Story by Shane Smith

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