The 13 rules of gunfighting everyone should know

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About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. The rest of the rules are quite right and good, but the quote at the end is probably wrong.

    There’s no evidence that Jefferson ever wrote the “reload” quote, and it’s not consistent with his writing habits ( ). Even if Jefferson would have liked it, and I suspect that he would have, we shouldn’t use it unless we know he said it.

  2. Mystery Guest says:

    Sounds like a plan!

  3. Tactical G-Ma says:

    Rules to live by.

  4. Petticoat Prepper says:

    The company I took my training from said many of the ‘rules’ above. They also did something interesting. There is a unique thing that happens in a gun fight. They wanted all the students to feel it so in the event we were in one we wouldn’t freeze up. They had all of us move an arms lenght from our targets which placed us inside the mountain of tires and dirt that made up the shooting range. We then all at the same time fired all our rounds fast as possible into the targets. The sound waves resonated around us and felt like being in a swimming pool with lots of kids jumping in.

    It was a good thing they did this; if I didn’t know about it and was in a gun fight, I probably would have froze thinking something was wrong. God forbid I’m ever faced with it but that last bit of training was worth the cost of the entire class.

  5. These rules should be practiced until they are a part of our nature. As soon as a threat is recognized it must be delt with, if you want to live.

    • Judy, another one says:

      Except when it is your kid coming through the garage door because you locked the front door for the first time in the whole time you lived in the house. I believe a “Halt! Who goes there?” as you chamber a 12 gauge shotgun shell goes a long way in saving innocent lives.

      • I think that is why she said “as soon as a threat is recognized”

        I would never fire on a target that I could not clearly discern – unless I had no other choice.

        But Judy brings up a good point. All the family needs to be on the same page so no one is surprised in the middle of the night.

        In our family, a dog goes a long way toward helping in that regard. My old bitch will greet you as a friend all hours of the day or night – if she knows you. She will bark her fool head off if she doesn’t. If you know a dog well, you can pretty much tell from the bark what’s going on – if it’s a threat, another dog etc. I can pretty much tell if I need to get up and check just from her bark. A dog is a great threat analyst.

        A little story to illustrate the power of a dog. I had a family friend (rest in peace) who was a K9 handler at our local police department. One night he was called to an intruder alarm call in the warehouse of one of the large furniture stores. They police sent him and the dog in the do a quick check.

        The dog alerted the handler that there was a person hiding inside a large shipping container. My friend gave loud instruction for the person to come out of the box or he would send the dog. When no one came out, he gave the command for the dog to go in and bite the person.

        The dog promptly ignored the command. My friend gave the command again. The dog ignored again. So my friend was forced to go into the box himself – only to find a young kid – too scared to speak or move.

        My friend was the father of a big family. The dog lived in the home with all the kids. He refused to bite a child, even on the orders of his master. (which – by the way – is a big big no no for a K9 dog according to my friend. They are supposed to bite whoever they are told to) Had he listened to his master, there is no telling how badly the child may have been hurt.

        My friend was so upset by this incident, that he retired a few weeks later. And, they washed out the dog – he was considered unreliable in the field because he refused to bite!

        Sorry if this story is a little off topic, but I really believe that a good dog can be the best intruder alarm, best bad guy deterrent and often the best friend a guy can have. I know my dog is often a better judge of people than I am!

  6. Encourager says:

    Sent this on to dh and both sons. Thanks!

  7. I agree with the posting.

    Judy: I have 2l grandsons (ages 10 & 12). Both knock at the door, even when they are expected, and wait for an answer before coming in. They know the reason and what could happen if they don’t. My children were trained the same way. THAT is what prevents unintended shootings of family members. IMHO.

    • well I use the old fashion way to detect who comes through the door it’s called a lock and every family member has a key. ALSO if they forget their key and knock I’ll ask for the password we have two one is for your OK and want in and the other is your being used as a shield so the door will be opened and the bad guys get in. Never leave your house unlocked and as for a dog Dogs never bothered me and should be used as your last defense they are not as reliable as you might think

  8. The first rule I learned about a gunfight was,
    “The only way to win a gunfight is to not get into one.”

    Once the shooting starts, it’s only about minimizing your losses.

  9. The #1 rule of gunfighting is to bring a gun.

  10. I agree with KC in BC… Rule #1 in a gun fight is to have a gun!

  11. Hurah!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. BK in KC, I’d like to modify your post – “The #1 rule of gunfighting is to bring a gun” to “The #1 rule of gunfighting is to bring a loaded gun”. An unloaded gun is a club.

    • BUT the biggest problem for most of you is you don’t carry a gun 24/7 it’s when you don’t have it on you you will need it. Most of you don’t realize how long it takes for your body to adapt to carrying. I never have a gun less then 1 foot away and that’s when i’m sleeping all other times it’s either in my pocket back for large cal. front pocket for the smaller ones or on my hip.

  13. I disagree with the “arms length” rule. A bad guy can cover 20 feet in the length of time it takes to make the decision and pull the trigger. If a stranger is closer than 21 feet, he’s too close and you should already be doing something.

  14. Credit should be given to the author of most of those quotes, Mr. Clint Smith of Thunder Ranch.

  15. SurvivorDan says:

    I’m late but I have another rule. After TEOTWAWKI the continuum of force rules do not apply with the attendant criminal and civil charges.
    Use greater force than your attackers and apply greater and greater levels of force before they do. May not seem fair but the object is to prevail.
    I saw a Western years ago that was a great example of this. A fellow called our protagonist out for a ‘fair’ gunfight in the middle of the street. The challenger waited with holstered gun in the street. The protagonist walked as far as his horse drew his lever action rifle and leaning on the saddle, killed the startled challenger.
    Greater force, applied sooner and with cover/concealment.

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