Armed combat consists of fighting with a variety of weapons, ranging from a brick to a steak knife to a shotgun. A weapon can give you an enormous advantage in a fight. Of course, proper fighting mindset is essential. Someone who is even remotely squeamish about gutting an opponent with a knife will never be able to use it effectively in a fight. The same applies to unarmed fights and other weapons, as well.
The principles of fighting with a blunt weapon are fairly simple. Swing the weapon, whether it's a brick or a baseball bat. Keep moving forward, because the easiest way for your opponent to dodge is for him/her to move back. Unless your opponent is immobilized or unable to move (doesn't know that you are there, knocked out, tied up), don't go out of your way to hit your opponents head, as it is easy to dodge. Be very aggressive, because if you fight defensively, your opponent can very easily rush you and remove the advantage of your weapon. If your opponent manages to grab your weapon or weapon arm, do everything you can to free the weapon as quickly as possible. Against a male opponent, a swift kick to the testicles is very effective.
With a bladed weapon, particularly a knife, you can afford to be more defensive than you can with a blunt weapon. A blade of any kind is also a much more dangerous weapon. Never fight with a knife unless you are willing to accept the possibility of killing your opponent, even accidentally. Fighting with a small bladed weapon (like a knife) is different from fighting with a larger bladed weapon (such as a machete). The cutoff between the two lies in the length of the blade and the weight of the weapon. A blade longer than a foot or a weapon heavier than around three pounds will generally fall into the large blades category.
A small bladed weapon, such as a knife, should be used primarily to stab. Most knives should be held with your thumb in line with the blade and your dominant hand forward. You should never swipe or slash with a small weapon because it is slower and cannot penetrate the layers of skin and muscle as easily (there is an exception to this: if you are retreating, slashes can deter a very close opponent, but this is more of a stalling tactic than anything else). When you thrust with a knife, aim for the lower chest, below the ribcage. If you manage to stab your opponent in the gut, try to drag your knife upwards (never downwards) through their organs before withdrawing the knife. This maximizes the damage from the attack. William Fairbairn, a commando trainer in WWII, thought that the ideal blade was double edged, at least six inches long, and able to cut as well as stab. His techniques, as well as those of his colleague Lt. Col. Rex Applegate, can be found online. Lt. Col. Rex Applegate's book Kill or be Killed is freely available online in .pdf format as a Marine Corps. manual. It can be found in most places that have army manuals.
An alternative to stabbing is to shave skin. This is NOT the same as slashing, and assuming that you've committed to a fight, slashing should still not be used. Shaving skin is done by wielding the knife at 30 through 10 degree angles to the surface being cut. When done properly, the knife will slip under the skin and continue cutting, causing the wound to both deepen and lengthen.
A larger blade, such as a machete, should be swung. This is the most efficient use of such a weapon. If your opponent is similarly armed, forget anything you have seen about sword fighting. Do not block or parry, as most blades are not built to accommodate these actions. Yet again, the simplest way to avoid getting hit is to not be where the blow lands.
Guns of all varieties are singularly easy to use and dangerous. They can be divided into three basic categories (while there are more, these are the most common): handguns, rifles, and shotguns. Handguns are smaller, larger caliber weapons which can be used with one hand (though this may not be a good idea, depending on the weight and recoil of the weapon). They are the least restricted of the guns in most areas, and are the weapons most commonly used by police, security guards, and homeowners for self-defense. Rifles have longer barrels and fire smaller round faster, resulting in greater range and accuracy. Shotguns are longer barreled weapons which generally fire ammunition consisting of small pellets or balls which disperse upon firing, though they can fire other types of rounds. All guns are lethal weapons, but most wounds are survivable with immediate medical care (though one should not make this assumption).
In a civilian defense scenario involving a firearm, the length and position of the weapon should be taken into account, so that the assailant does not take the weapon away, as this is one of the worst possible outcomes. When purchasing a weapon for home defense, keep in mind that unless you live in a mansion there will not be much room to maneuver and you will be encountering an assailant at close range. A long shotgun or rifle barrel coming around the corner is liable to be grabbed by a now panicked and adrenaline-strengthened opponent. A handgun would be a smaller, and less grab-able firearm, although you should not relax your guard, and keep your distance in any case.
The process of improving the accuracy of a gun is known as Accurizing.
The following excerpt was posted on the page and has been retained as an example of a dangerous attitude to firearm use:
"A good rule of thumb is: If you are trying to kill someone, never assume the wound is lethal unless you have hit their brain. If you are trying NOT to kill someone, but instead to incapacitate, never assume that a wound is nonlethal until the person is in the care of a medical professional. Even a wound to a limb can prove fatal from blood loss or infection. You should definitely practice with your gun, and this can take the form of joining a local militia, hunting, or just practicing at a target range. Generally speaking, if you are not an experienced shooter, aim for the upper chest area, as it is a large target with vital organs in it. This goes double for shooting in self defense, as a shot to the chest is the easiest way to stop an attacker."
Anyone properly trained in firearm use will quickly identify that most of the "facts" are wrong and seem to be based more on computer games and action movies than real experience. The aim of defensive firearm use is to end the real and impending threat to life. You never, ever shoot to kill or even wound. You fire the weapon at the center of seen mass to end the threat to your life or the life of another. Shooting with any other objective can lead to serious trouble. Any person who may be required to conduct offensive shooting, meaning that they will fire with the intention of killing a person, is trained to do so and does not need to read a Wikipedia article to learn. Civilian readers should never shoot with the intention of killing someone.
When firing the weapon, military and law enforcement personnel are trained to aim for the "center of seen mass". This maximizes the likelihood of hitting the target. Center of seen mass is usually the center of the chest but, if a target is partially exposed, the point of aim will be the center of what is visible, hence the term.
Handguns can be further divided into two categories: automatics and revolvers. An automatic is a handgun which uses the recoil from each round to load the next round, meaning that each time you pull the trigger, a new round is fired. These guns are fairly reliable, though they do need some maintenance in the form of cleaning. This is easy to learn and do, and if done properly and regularly should prevent the gun from ever jamming. A revolver is a handgun which has a revolving magazine, which rotates when the trigger is pulled (this refers to double-action revolvers. Single-action revolvers, which need to be cocked before firing, are no longer common). When all of the rounds have been fired, the gun must be emptied and reloaded manually. This makes them slower than automatics, but they are also more reliable, and require less maintenance.
Shotguns combine high stopping power with low penetrating power. This makes them a reasonably good choice for home defense, as they are capable of killing or incapacitating with a single shot, but are unlikely to penetrate a wall and damage other parts of the home.
Shotguns fall into three general categories: single shot, pump-action, and semiautomatic. Single shot shotguns fire one round, after which you must empty the gun and load a new one. They are very slow, very low tech, and very reliable. Pump-action shotguns are the most common shotguns. They hold several rounds, generally under the barrel. After the weapon is fired, you pump the shotgun to eject the old round and load the new one. These fire fairly quickly, are very reliable, and can use almost all types of shotgun shell. For the final type of shotgun, semiautomatic means more or less the same thing that automatic meant for handguns. Each time you pull the trigger, a new round is chambered ready to fire. These tend to be more expensive, less legal, and more difficult to use than a regular shotgun. The increased fire rate can be very difficult to manage. Generally speaking, a pump action shotgun is the best option for home defense.
Rifles are more accurate and more powerful than handguns or shotguns. They are generally hunting weapons, and as such are fairly easy to get legally. They are large and difficult to conceal, and they can be difficult to use in close quarters. Therefore, a rifle is generally a bad choice unless the range and penetration outweigh the expense, difficulty of concealment and other problems. They are an especially poor choice for home defense.
There are several other varieties of guns which can be obtained, including high-caliber sniper rifles, fully automatic rifles, and submachine guns. These weapons are almost universally illegal for civilian use, except by special permit. While these weapons are rarely worth the expense and effort, if you feel the need to own one, consult your local laws. The likelihood that you will face off against an opponent in a non-combat situation is minimal.