I'm working on a story about killer who uses knives and blades to take his victims' lives. The only problem about is that I can't really explain why he does this and not just use a silenced gun. The story takes place in our world in the year 2007.

Things to note are:

  1. He could use a gun; it's not like he doesn't have access to one.
  2. Gun laws aren't very strict and he could own a firearm. You just aren't allowed to carry it with you in public.
  3. The character doesn't do stuff in the story just because he likes to do it. Right now I'm going with that argument for the knives, but it doesn't really fit for him.

So why would he use a knife/blade rather than a gun?

  • $\begingroup$ Hi and welcome to Worldbuilding SE. I think you answer your own question: because he likes it. And as a result it is a matter of opinion. Thus, I am voting to close the question as opinion-based. $\endgroup$ – clem steredenn Oct 29 '15 at 10:20
  • $\begingroup$ What are the laws concerning guns where the story takes place ? Could be that guns are banned from possession, thus difficult to obtain and difficult to explain would his home be examined by the police. $\endgroup$ – Petit Lama Oct 29 '15 at 10:22
  • $\begingroup$ @bilbo_pingouin Hi! Thats the problem, right now im going with this "he likes it" thingie and im not happy with that because in the story theres never something he does because he likes it, he always has a reasoning behind all his actions and steps and this solution just doesn't fit into the whole thing. I will edit the question to point that out. $\endgroup$ – this one guy Oct 29 '15 at 10:33
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    $\begingroup$ Have you seen Dexter. Every move he makes is very thought out and logical to get away with the killing but the killing itself is just because he likes it. I think you can make him a stone cold logical killer and still keep the reasoning for the blade as "he likes it/it's his thing". $\endgroup$ – DasBeasto Oct 29 '15 at 13:48
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    $\begingroup$ You mention that he has a reason for everything, indicating there is a logical causal relationship for everything he does. I'd recommend weakening that slightly, to suggesting there are advantages to a knife, but none of them have to be overwhelming. Not even the sum total has to be overwhelming. The nature of logic is a philosophical topic, but its generally accepted that not a single human has ever been born that is completely logical. There are even arguments that suggest such an individual is a mathematical impossibility. The fact that his reasons for a knife are limited should be... $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Oct 29 '15 at 15:18

It could be related to his motive for killing people. Since you say "knives and blades" that seems more elaborate than just stabbing someone in the back and suggests that the method might have significance. Say a revenge for a murder committed with blades. Or a cinematic professional killer might have a specific modus operandi or trademark for advertising purposes.

Blades are also more silent than guns. Even if you use subsonic ammunition in a suppressed gun, the bullet is driven by an explosion. It won't be quite as silent as a knife. For someone who hates making noise it might be valuable.

Blades can also make less of a mess. If you stab someone so that he dies from it and leave the blade in the wound, there might be minimal blood splatter. Guns in contrast are difficult to use clean. Even if you succeed in avoiding the blood, you will probably have propellant residue all over yourself.

He might prefer killing close range to avoid mistakes. This would negate much of the edge guns have over blades.

You can build an improvised blade from any suitable size piece of metal, plastic, or wood. They are inferior to real fighting blades for combat, but kill just as well. Building improvised guns is a pretty good way to lose fingers and even then you'll need to carry ammunition. So if you have a killer who does not want to carry weapons around or buy weapons or ammunition from unreliable sources, blades do make some sense.

Another benefit of improvised blades is that you can easily dispose of them. As long as they are not covered in blood near the site of the murder, they might be discarded as trash. Wrap it in paper and put in a trash can and it is probably safe. Guns in comparison are much more expensive to discard and can be recognized as the murder weapon and traced.

They limit your tactical options, but if the killer is a methodical patient type who is willing to wait until he has a safe opening to kill without fighting, blades do still work. That is really the key in my opinion, since using blades instead of guns limits your options, the killer must control the risks some other way. Stealth, disguise, preparation, etc. The methodical, patient, and precise personality.

  • $\begingroup$ Here in the UK guns are strongly controlled by law. If someone without underworld connections set out to obtain a gun, it's probable that it would get him arrested rather than get him a gun. A silencer, the same to the Nth degree. Sharp knives, on the other hand, are easy to obtain. $\endgroup$ – nigel222 Oct 29 '15 at 17:48

There's a pretty wide range of possible answers here.

  1. Guns might be legal, but silencers might be illegal - and will certainly attract attention. Personal possession of silencers is restricted in several states. Which means that killing people with a gun is loud and thus dangerous.

  2. (Small) knives are easier to hide. If he's an assassin type person, then he needs to sneak through security checks quite often, which makes small bladed type weapons more convenient. It's easier to make a ceramic type knife that is invisible to xrays and metal detectors, while many components of a gun have to be metal. Sniffer dogs can detect guns better than they can detect knives.

  3. Knives are cheaper and more disposable. Guns are also often traceable, in terms of bullet patterns, or from the powder residue. If your killer is getting a new gun/silencer for each kill, then that's both expensive, and noticeable to law enforcement.

  4. Knives can also pierce bullet proof vests - you'd need to be specially prepared for a knife wielding enemy.

  5. If this character is in fact (somehow) heroic - or at least has a sense of professionalism, then there's other possible considerations. For example, knives are less likely to lead to injuries or death to bystanders, if this person is concerned about that.

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    $\begingroup$ Knives can also pierce bullet proof vests Knives aren't very good with stab-proof vests though. Here in the UK I know they're heavily deployed, but of course its probably highly likely that's due to the fact guns are illegal and the statistical likelihood of being shot is much lower than being stabbed, but it's still maybe something to take into consideration. $\endgroup$ – Trotski94 Oct 29 '15 at 13:05

A really simple explanation, if you'd care for real-world logic, is because "silencer" is a misnomer - they don't "silence" anything! The best currently available silencers still produce over 100 dB of noise, while you are warned that hearing loss may develop for noises over 85 dB. Indeed, it is still recommended you wear ear protection when using a "silencer".

The reasonable term, generally used by experts (such as in the military) is "noise suppressor" or just "suppressor", which is an accurate description. It softens the noise so it doesn't carry quite as far, is less likely to damage the hearing of people in the immediate vicinity, and in long-range applications it can make it harder to locate the source of a sniper who fires from a suppressing rifle.

Further, even if a perfect silencer existed, if a bullet hits something hard (whether on that person, if the bullet misses, or if the bullet passes through the person and hits something on the other side) the sound produced can be as loud as the gunshot itself! And if a real silencer did exist, it could very well be made so illegal that just being caught with it would be as bad as being caught doing a killing itself - but it doesn't exist and it's logically impossible for a full powered gun, so I wouldn't make this a plot point if you wanted hard science.

Absolutely none of this applies to knives. If you want to be stealthy, you cannot shoot someone with any normal gun - no matter what ridiculous contraption you stick on the end of it.

And if you'd rather make your readers squeamish, you might imitate life and make the killer have piquerism, "sexual interest in penetrating the skin of another person, sometimes seriously enough to cause death", as a number of real serial killers who preferred knives and needles have in the past. After all, if your killer isn't twisted in the head, I'd suggest you aren't really doing it right.

  • $\begingroup$ Another misnomer is that people even call them silencers, when they actually suppressors. $\endgroup$ – TylerH Oct 29 '15 at 14:04
  • $\begingroup$ @TylerH Sadly, both the mass media and the manufacturers themselves still call them "silencers", and even declare the result is "quiet". Some articles point out they are really just suppressors and they are still loud. It's amazing to me that people are so happy to buy products when the sellers so gleefully misrepresent their product and outright lie, but there you go. One example of this sort of silly description of quiet, and the company is even called "SilencerCo": money.cnn.com/2015/09/18/news/companies/silencer-gun-combo $\endgroup$ – BrianH Oct 29 '15 at 14:13
  • $\begingroup$ Yep. Weirdly, that article throws in a disclaimer about the silencer vs suppressor thing and then refers to them as suppressors for the rest of the text. $\endgroup$ – TylerH Oct 29 '15 at 14:19
  • $\begingroup$ @TylerH Weird indeed! I decided to make mention of the proper term with the goal of education. $\endgroup$ – BrianH Oct 29 '15 at 14:30

Knives might be considered a much more personal touch.

It would be easy to develop a character who needs a connection with the victim, whether the killer is a serial killer or a contract killer with a specific method. Knives require a physical connection with the victim that a gun completely avoids.

Also (as mentioned by others) knives are much more disposable, much easier to dispose of, and much harder to trace.


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