The One-Two Combo: Employing a Gun and Knife Combination - ITS Tactical

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The One-Two Combo: Employing a Gun and Knife Combination

By Jeff Gonzales


Personal protection is a constantly evolving environment, one where old school methodology merges with modern techniques to create what we call the “well-rounded combative.” This is a person who has mastered several different skill-sets.

Playing the Odds

It’s difficult to predict what type of “fight for your life” you may experience, if you experience it at all. For that reason alone, it’s wise to take on a more balanced approach to your training inventory. Instead of spending so much time playing in your uber-expensive multi-camouflage gear, you might want to consider the most likely scenario you’ll find yourself in and go from there.

Yes, it’s possible the zombies will come over the hillside and you should have a good plan for that contingency, but in the meantime focus on your everyday life. Consider the most likely scenario is one that might happen at what we call close quarters, or close enough you can touch the bad guy if he is not already on top of you. At this range, things happen very quickly. So quickly in fact, that you may not have the time to deploy your super blaster. You might just have to fight without it initially.

Exploiting the Windows

In our Close Quarters Combative classes we talk about always seeking “superior weaponry/superior position.” You’re always trying to improve your position, whether through seeking cover, or just getting off the proverbial “X.” If you start with a beer bottle, you work towards your pistol and then hopefully your rifle. This thought process of progressive measures best allows you to react and to let the situation dictate.

As we continue to work through the problem, you also seek “windows” that allow you to exploit either timing, or opportunity to improve your position or weapon. At those moments, you might see a significant shift in the fight as you move from your empty hands to a knife, or from your knife to a pistol.

Why Choose? Use Them Both

One thing we integrate is the combination of knife and gun. The fighting with one first, but working to deploy both. On more than one occasion I’ve felt better with a knife in my hand, in addition to the pistol, because it gives you so many options. This does assume you have good skills at the deployment of both with a single extremity, as well as fighting with a single extremity.

A critical and core skill for the pistol is fighting strong hand only. You have to be able to effectively engage targets at various ranges with various degrees of difficulty without hesitation. In addition, once you’ve deployed an edged weapon, it’s oftentimes just better to keep it out. Trying to secure a folder is reasonable, but trying to secure a fixed blade can pose new problems.

Maximum Damage in a Short Period

As you mix it up at close quarters with both a pistol and knife, it completely changes the game. Understand that we’re not talking about grappling, we’re talking about inflicting maximum damage with both tools in a compressed time frame in order to break contact or prepare for additional threats.

Your understanding of human targeting for both is critical and while there is overlap, it requires additional understanding. The effectiveness for those who have a solid understanding of both, is truly impressive. I’ve had the pleasure of working with folks who truly are amazing within one tool, but both is just plain awesome.

In the end, you cannot predict the type of fight you may find yourself in, but you can control your skill development. Employing a knife and gun combination is not just practical, it’s incredibly effective.

Editor-in-Chief’s Note: Jeff Gonzales was a decorated and respected US Navy SEAL, serving as an operator and trainer who participated in numerous combat operations throughout the world. He now uses his modern warfare expertise as President of Trident Concepts, LLC., a battle proven company specializing in weapons, tactics and techniques to meet the evolving threat. Bringing the same high-intensity mindset, operational success and lessons learned from NSW to their training programs, TRICON has been recognized as an industry leader by various federal, state and local units. Organizations interested in training with TRICON can call 928-925-7038 or visit for more information.

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  • ORRonin

    Good article but I would add the advice of the famous Kurt Saxon, author of the Poor Man’s James Bond series: Always keep in mind there is no winners in a knife fight, only losers to varying degrees.

  • Taylor TX

    Love your articles Jeff, I would in no way complain if they were at least 2x in length. I have been struggling with my

  • linkscoach

    What is the grip material on the Glock in the first picture?  I can’t figure out what it is.

  • tpdoldie

    Very good article. One of the early things I learned during my 35+ years in Law Enforcement was that you have to be prepared. I learned to not only carry my service weapon but to also have a dependable backup (2 if possible). I also was taught to carry a dependable knife. Prior to retirement I never had to deploy my knife to save my butt but did use it on several occasions for what it was meant to be used for, that is cutting seatbelts, etc.
    After retirement I read where an officer in the agency I retired from used his knife during a struggle with a perp who was going after the officer’s weapon. First I had heard of this method being used in Oklahoma.
    Keep up the good article.

  • Chet Walnuts

    I believe it’s the rubberized variant of the Talon Grip

  • Linkscoach

    Doesn’t look like Talons to me. Looks like it’s painted on.

  • jeff1111

    Does anyone know where you can get the knife shown in the picture?  I am not having very good luck with google.



    • jeff1111 I believe that’s a collaboration knife between Trident Concepts (post author) and Strider. It doesn’t look to be out yet so keep an eye on his site or Facebook page for news of the launch.

  • Tim Whitby

    I carry a weak side KRUDO SNAG.  Look at these they open upon deployment and are sharp as razors out of the box.  I have no connection to KRUDO but have met Mr. Krudo at a survival show.  He is awesome with his hands and knives.  I would say this is the most wonderful ‘pain compliance’ weapon and wonderful for protecting your firearm or other primary form of self defence (cane, knife, tazer or whatever you use) .   Here is his site if you are interested.

  • KeithMo

    I’m not sure my current carry folding knife would be much help in a conflict that would require me utilizing it. 
    Quite frankly by the time I reached in my pocket bypassing car keys, mini flashlight, change from the day, my tactical pen etc.and got the knife deployed and turned the right direction; if someone was reaching for my carry weapon I would already be dead. 
    So I am kind of curious what everyone does for a carry knife e.g. fixed or folded, in a pocket or carried on a belt (not very covert) etc?

    • Walt Dockery

      If you carry a folder use the pocket clip so you don’t have to dig through all the other crap in your pocket.
      A fixed blade will always be faster. I’ve found a small fixed blade can be carried appendix awb with a decent sheath. Can also try something like the clinch pick (phlster has some nice looking sheaths for the clinch pick and spyderco reverse). Obviously know your states carry laws and get training with any weapon you choose to carry.

    • Strych9

      Walt Dockery What Walt said here is absolutely true. There are a zillion knives out there and at least 5x that many ways to carry them. 
      Pocket clip, neck knife, boot knife, on the forearm, 20 different ways to attach to your belt etc. You can also attach them to pack straps or anything else you might be wearing like a vest. 
      Personally for me it depends on the blade. Larger knives I like to carry horizontally on the back of my belt available to my left (off) hand. One of the things that makes a knife so dangerous is that it’s incredibly easy to switch hands with a knife and press on your attack. This effect can be compounded by using your off hand. If people know/think you’re a righty and suddenly there’s a 6″ double edged bade in your left hand their world just got turned upside down. That is, of course is if they notice it, which they may not if they fixated on your right hand possibly drawing a gun, grabbing them or punching them. 
      Really it’s all personal preference but the key to deploying a knife, as Walt said, is to use a system where you don’t have to dig through crap to get to your knife. You wouldn’t put your EDC pistol at the bottom of a backpack full of stuff, why do it with a knife? Use a pocket clip or a sheath. If your knife can’t use either, like say, an Opinel, it’s not a defensive knife any more than a regular old Swiss Army knife is. Can it be used as a weapon? Sure. Is it a good idea? No, not really unless you have no other choices.


    All well& good , but what would Y’All do when you have pulled your “Snag”& standing opposite you out of YOUR reach is 6′ 225# pissed off & prepared , with either : a COLD STEEL 1-NATCHEZ 12″BOWIE………and a custom 1917 S&W snubby .45 &[email protected]??????????????????????????

  • Ryan Woets

    ¨On more than one occasion I’ve felt better with a knife in my hand, in addition to the pistol, because it gives you so many options¨

    Can you give a concrete example of when you chose to reach for your knife rather than pistol? Not a critic, just getting my head round this concept.

    • kris toslux

      I read the article and pondered the same question. I realize there are very few situations where a knife may come into play. The only thing I could think of is having a background full of innocent civilians, (i.e. a crowded playground in your line of fire and a very close adversary). God bless you.

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