Marine Corps Rules for Gunfighting

In honor of the Marine Corps’ 237th Birthday, here’s an old Corps favorite on how to act in a gunfight:

1. Bring a gun. Preferably, bring at least two guns. Bring all of your friends who have guns.

2. Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Ammo is cheap. Life is 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 nor using cover correctly.

5. Move away from your attacker. Distance is your friend. (Lateral and diagonal movement are preferred.)

6. If you can choose what to bring to a gunfight, bring a 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.

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.

14. Use cover or concealment as much as possible.

15. Flank your adversary when possible. Protect yours.

16. Don’t drop your guard.

17. Always tactical load and threat scan 360 degrees.

18. Watch their hands. Hands kill. In God we trust. Everyone else, keep your hands where I can see them.

19. Decide to be aggressive enough, quickly enough.

20. The faster you finish the fight, the less shot you will get.

21. Do not attend a gunfight with a handgun, the caliber of which does not start with a “4.”

22. Be courteous to everyone, friendly to no one.

23. Your number one option for personal security is a lifelong commitment to avoidance, deterrence, and de-escalation.

24. Be polite. Be professional. But have a plan to kill everyone you meet.


  • Rusty Lopez

    Excellent! Thank you.

  • Craig

    This kind of stuff reminds me of a question over at Jesus Creed: “Are American Evangelicals Seduced by Militarism?”

    • Joe Carter

      There’s a middle way for evangelical between “militarism” and neo-Anabaptist style pacifism.

      • Craig

        Does this middle way involve allegiance to an evangelical Commander-in-Chief leading us into protracted, preventive wars against Muslims?

        • Joe Carter

          Have we had such wars? I recall us going to war against a terrorist state (the Taliban in Afghanistan) and a ruthless dictator that was funding terrorism and working acquire weapons to use against us (Saddam in Iraq). But I don’t know of any “wars against Muslims.” Could you be thinking of Obama’s attack on Libya?

          • Craig

            Ah right, the protracted, preventive war against Libya. This is how the fundamentalist mind works.

  • Eric

    Ask yourself, “What Would Jack Bauer Do?”

  • Barry Arrington

    Do not attend a gunfight with a handgun, the caliber of which does not start with a “4.”
    Yep. I Vietnam vet once asked me “You know we called a 9mm in Vietnam?” “No, what?” I said. “A .45 on stun.”
    Several months ago number 1 daughter asked me to join her on her trip to the gun store to pick up a weapon for home defense. When we got there I recommend a shotgun instead of a handgun. I told her the mere sound of a shotgun being racked would cause many intruders to wet their pants. “What should I do then?” she asked. I replied: “Send him to his maker with wet pants.”

  • Dave Eden

    Excellent post, and thank you Barry Arrington for a superb elaboration on the point about starting with a “4″.

  • Michael Snow

    Then there is the story about the Marine on top of a hill, egging on a company of Army guys marching by. The company halts, while the insults continue, and decides on a plan of action. Fifty guye will surround the hill so he does not escape and 50 will go up and get him. When the guys surrounding the hill hear wailing and moaning, followed by deathly silence, they ascend the hill to find out what happened. As they come upon one of there fellows lying on the ground, he moans, “Go back! go back! It’s a trap! There are two of them!”
    Semper Fi
    For the Kingdom