Handgun-owning Dopers, how well would you fare in a duel?

Suppose you had to duel another handgun owner in America, 1700s/1800s style. Back to back, each take 3 steps forward, then suddenly turn around and fire at each other (that’s how it was done…?)

How would the average handgun owner in America fare? I’ve read that even trained police officers can find it difficult to hit a target with a pistol accurately from even a range of 5 yards when under sudden surprise/duress.

Three fucking steps? Better have your will made out. But then I have shot tens of thousands of rounds in practical pistol shooting. One of the standard drills is the “El Presidente”. Turn, draw, double tap to the chest of 3 bad guys, reload from slide lock, repeat. 6-7 seconds depending on range. This guy does it in 4.34 seconds but they don’t show how he did. We used to

I thought it was like 10 steps?

Three steps is plenty to turn and shoot him in the back.

Isn’t it 20 paces?
That’s like 100 feet.

Well, the situation described by the OP would be an “affair of honor,” and you could expect to hit the ground, bullet-ridden, about 1-point-fuck seconds after your opponent, as the judge and your opponent’s second would be honor-bound (if not legally obligated, in some places) to kill you for your cowardice.

@OP: are we shooting muzzle-loading flintlock pistols here, or using modern firearms?

A modern semi-auto with even a 10-rd magazine, and a “shoot-until-you-drop-or-run-out-of-bullets” rule, could easily be lethal for both parties.

Ok for some reason I thought both sides were only separated by 6 paces; so it’s more like 20-40?

I’m envisioning both sides having a modern Glock or Beretta in their hands, but with each gun containing only one round.

There was to be at least 10 yards distance between the combatants.

With a single shot muzzle loading pistol, that range was dangerous but by no means sure death.

Especially as the cool way was to let your opponent fire his shot at you, while you stand there, cooly, then deliberately fire yours into the air, showing that he wasnt worthy and you have balls of steel. That was a violation of rule 13, so you had to make it look like you missed- just enuf so that yes, it was obvious you could have but not enough to violate the rules.

This was called “deloping” and was quite common: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deloping
And you were’t supposed to aim, just turn and fire.

and Rule 20. In all cases a miss-fire is equivalent to a shot, and a snap or non-cock is to be considered as a miss-fire.

Those pistols werent reliable.

I have been shot at before and am a good shot, but it does to some balls to just stand there .

I’d be dead. I have good aim and have shot lots. Adrenalin does things to you. It takes serious practice or a war to lose that. If you ever can.

Well, I’d do better than in a swordfight.

The idea is to whirl and shoot upon command.

I would delope into the ground, I think.

I’m imagining something like this. I know I always take a few minutes at the range to practice my draw-and-shoot-rearward-while-lowsiding-on-my-bike, so I expect to get at least half of all shots in the 9-ring at 50 meters.


Well, in that case, since I have actually been shot at before- unless i am facing a combat veteran - i would drop him if I wanted to.

Then I’m envisioning a lot of duels ending with nobody getting hurt. I’m a tolerably decent shot with a handgun. On a range. With time to aim.

Turn and fire? Knowing someone else is doing the same, and at any second I could be shot? I’m not hitting my intended target.


In theory, you dont draw, just turn and raise.

But with modern firearms at 10 yards, someone would be dead, if not two people.

I suspect the median handgun owner has not even put 50 rounds through their gun this year. They are very likely to miss a single shot under stress.

As for how I’d do, personally: I suspect I would outperform the average handgun owner by a good margin, but there are still a good number of people I would not like my chances against.

I agree most modern firearms are easily capable of such shot (most modern firearms are more accurate than 99.999999+% of human beings are capable of getting out of them); how many shooters are capable of such a shot is the real trick.

Who needs to take any steps?

If the other person has a gun, you respond Uncle Fester-style.

My best time is just under nine seconds

If my exploits on paper are any indication, I can deliver a lethal shot at 50 or so feet (if that’s what the OP is driving at) fairly consistently. Under pressure, however, I have no way of knowing how I’d do. I suppose I’m an outlier, but my S&W .357mag is really only intended (by me anyway) to facilitate hand-eye coordination and meditation. The thought of someone getting in the way horrifies me.

This has always been my argument against the “good guy with a gun” meme. Military guys, of whom I was one, seldom get the luxury of aiming. Spray and pray is usually the norm, as suppressing fire is what they’re after. And there is ALWAYS adrenaline surging unless the shooter is a psycho. Same for cops, who I worked with as an auxiliary officer. They rarely have to pull, which explains why you read that some cops have expended 20 rounds taking down a perp. It’s a miracle that more bystanders aren’t hit in those situations. Just last night there was a story where a hostage taker popped a round, and one of the cops on the scene immediately discharged her weapon. Unfortunately it wasn’t aimed at the perp, and the bullet struck another officer.

Armchair warriors who have convinced themselves that visiting the range a dozen times a year will make them cool when the target is shooting back are no more immune to adrenaline than anyone else.