A real gun standoff should be easy to break, right?

In action movies, often you have characters who pull a gun on each other at the same time. They freeze, guns pointed at each other, somehow believing that this stalemate can’t be broken unless some distraction happens to one of them

In the real world, wouldn’t the best way to end such a stalemate be simply for one person to pull the trigger? The other person’s not going to be fast enough to dodge the bullet, and you basically get a well-aimed shot off before he has time to react. If I were ever in that position, I would simply shoot while saying something like “Looks like we have a stalemate here” to distract them

Is such a standoff only the product of movies and not at all realistic in real life?

Is this question inspired by this thread? If not, you might want to read that thread because the situations seem pretty much the same, for all intents and purposes.

You’d better be a good shot and have a gun with a lot of stopping power.

Shooting and movement. Movement and shooting. When you are against an armed opponent you want to create distance as well as take advantage of cover and concealment. For the hypothetical situation to arise, you’d have to be ignoring that very basic principle of surviving a gunfight. So, yes, shoot and move from his line of fire.

“Hang on a sec dude, your shoe’s untied.”



As you might expect, there’s a TV tropes entry for this, and they make the same point as the OP.

From here: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MexicanStandoff

Note that the only real life example in the TV tropes article is the hostage situation variant referenced in the other thread Covered_In_Bees! linked to.

Yes pulling the trigger is the most prudent course of action. Of course in the action movies the standoff gives them time to verbally spar, and often the good guy doesn’t want to kill the bad guy. Of course other than wanting to talk or brag I can’t see any reason the bad guy wouldn’t pull the trigger in a one-on-one situation.

Silly TVTropes, your primary motor cortex is not in the back of your head, it’s on the top-front. There are other motor areas in the back but I wouldn’t attempt to aim for them either, you’d want to shoot something that makes them immediately dead. Aiming for a tiny strip on the top of their head is difficult.

As Cooking with Gas alluded to, except in the movies, people just don’t die from one shot from a handgun all that reliably. And that’s if you can hit them, which if you’re farther than about 20 feet away, you probably won’t.

If both shooters are thinking clearly, then yes, I’d say a gun standoff actually is pretty realistic.

Particularly if the bad guy has a human shield. Very few persons are skilled enough to be utterly certain of both missing the hostage and disabling the antagonist.

Gunfights don’t have rules. You are allowed to shoot more than once and you don’t have to stand still. Two people who end up in such a stand off are two people who learned everything they think they know about the use of guns from dumbass action movies. If we are facing each other at close range with handguns, even if you have the drop on me, I am moving and shooting. If you aren’t doing the same, you are going to be shot multiple times. This isn’t just my personal preference. This is the proven best strategy for surviving armed encounters. Google Clint Smith and Gunsite to learn more. Also check out the works of Jeff Cooper.

The primary motor cortex is responsible for voluntary (conscious) motion. Damaging or even destroying the primary motor cortex will not inhibit reflexive motion such as grasping. On the other hand, significant damage to the cerebellum or basal ganglia will essentially cut the cord between the brain and spine, resulting in complete and immediate loss of motor function. It also provides a common aiming point; from the front, just below the nose; the side, just below the aural opening; from the back, at the base of the skull.

Of course, under real world conditons, in stress and anger or fear, with motion and poor lighting, most people who are not far more highly trained than the typical patrol officer, you will be doing well to make a solid center of mass hit at 7 meters, much less put a bullet in a target with the aspect of a silver dollar.

In a real gunfight, unless you are a 1SOFD-D operator who trains in performing tubular assault on a weekly basis, you should draw and fire for the center of mass while moving toward cover, ensuring that you both deny your opponent the advantage of undistracted aiming while gaining a suitable defensive position, and then proceed to fire from cover while calling for backup. On the other hand, if you are such an operator, you say something cool like, “Do you want to gossip or do you want to shoot somebody?” and then charge forward, taking out six terrorists with a M1911 with an eight round magazine, rescuing a plane full of hostages. I’d like to think I’ma pretty good shot and cool under (simulated) fire, but I’m not that good, even in my best nightmares.


Yes, but what I mean is: shooting someone’s cerebellum from head on means that you’ll likely hit the medulla or pons, which would have more immediate effects than affecting their movement.