My book Bowie Knife Fights, Fighters, and Fighting Techniques is available from Paladin Press. This blog contains additional information about the bowie knife, as well as the fighting knives of other nations.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Knife Throwing Scene in "The Magnificent Seven"

James Coburn's knife throw from The Magnificent Seven.

There's a famous scene in The Magnificent Seven in which the James Coburn character, Britt, proves his claim that in a showdown in which his opponent is armed with a pistol and he is armed with a knife, he can kill his opponent by throwing his knife into him faster than his opponent can draw and fire his gun. The scene can be watched here.

On the special features track of the DVD, Coburn says that he received knife throwing lessons from a stuntman, Richard Farnsworth, who went on to have a successful acting career of his own. Coburn regularly practiced his throw in his bedroom, making his wife nervous.

But how plausible is this scene? Plausible enough for a Hollywood movie, in which through the magic of editing the knife has barely left Coburn's hand when it is shown sticking out of the gunman's chest. However, if you watch the video below, in which a Japanese knife thrower, Houzan Suzuki, attempts to duplicate Coburn's throw, you will get some idea of the amount of time it takes the knife to reach its target after it leaves his hand. Granted, the underhand style is probably the slowest way to throw a knife, but that was the technique used in the movie.

In that time a skilled pistolero could get easily get off an accurate shot, and a slug from a .45-caliber revolver is going to shut a man down a lot faster than a knife wound to the chest. Bob Munden shows how fast it is possible to shoot a single-action revolver. (Granted he has evolved to the superhuman level.)


  1. It wasn't a Bowie knife.

    C W Hutchins

    1. I know 'tweren't a bowie knife. I don't only post about bowie knives. It's free, don't complain.

  2. Mythbusters actually found this scene plausible in an interesting episode!

    1. Only in the movies does a knife kill someone instantly, so I remain skeptical. I'll watch the episode if I come across it, though.