Yes, in your case, there seems to be a divergence between "armed" and "unarmed."
I would submit to you that it is because you conceptualize them differently.
You correctly assume that, in a gunfight, your primary goal is survival, which often necessitates escape. This, in turn, necessitates that you move from cover to cover and farther and farther in distance (from the hostile party).
However, in the "unarmed" situation, you seem to think of "defeating the enemy" as the primary goal. This, in my view, is incorrect. Whether or not you are armed, your goal should always be survival. This means E-S-C-A-P-E!
Your weapons and unarmed fighting training are tools to enable you to escape with as little harm as possible. In that light, in "unarmed" combat, you should try to create as much distance as possible just as you would in "armed" combat. Where there is an assymetry in force (say the attacker is armed and you are not), it is even more imperative that you get the heck out of there, double-time!
When we think of "martial arts" as tools for self-defense (more like self-preservation), we have to stop thinking in terms of "kicking ass" and "laying down the law" and more about escaping and surviving with little harm, just as we do in gunfights.
I think that Mark Tripp (on the Judo forum of the Mixedmartialarts.com) summarized it succintly and nicely and said something to the effect that:
"If you try to strike me, I'll run away. If you continue to try to engage me, you have to grab me from running away again. If you grab me, you are playing my game (Judo/grappling)."
Of course, the better outcome is if the attacker does not chase you when you run away. Problem solved. You live on...
For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme excellence. Sun Tzu