When firing an auto pistol the slide moves back to eject the current round and cycle a new one into the chamber. This is done with enough force to cause slide bite on the hand of someone holding the pistol wrong. However at the same time the slide of an auto-pistol can be held still without much force and prevented from moving.

In light of this, could the backwards motion of the slide of a pistol conceivably be used offensively in GURPS? If it could, how would this be modeled?

This is purely for style. A way to shoot one guy at a distance while knocking the one next to you up-side the head. Such a maneuver clearly offers no tactical advantage whatsoever and probably jams the gun, but it's cool as heck.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon what is the new "reality-check" tag you just created for? \$\endgroup\$
    – mdrichey
    Commented Aug 3, 2019 at 17:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mdrichey A "reality check" is (or at least used to be) one of the core principles of GURPS -- used to check whether a rule or ruling made sense. Perhaps they're irrelevant with the emphasis on "cinematic" play in recent editions, add-ons, and "powered by GURPS" publications. To me, the question appears to be as much about "would this even work" as it is about "how can I model this in-game." \$\endgroup\$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Aug 3, 2019 at 18:46

3 Answers 3


Well, you can try it, but it's unlikely to be a good move. Since it's too cinematic to be in GURPS Gun-Fu, stacking on all the plausible penalties seems like the way to work out the odds. You'll want a copy of Gun-Fu for general orientation in insane cool gun moves.

I reckon you need the Gunslinger advantage to try this with any hope of success. It's an attempt to make two attacks at once, one at range and the other in melee, with range "C". That's close enough to being a Rapid Strike that that Rapid Strike's basic -6 penalty to each attack seems reasonable. That halves to -3 because you're a Gunslinger.

You can't use your gun's sights, because the opponent you're trying to hit with the slide is in the way, but that doesn't matter, since you get the Accuracy bonus of your pistol anyway, because you have Gunslinger. You need to have the gun in contact with the close-combat opponent, or very nearly so, before you fire, because the slide travel on most pistols is only about 1.5" (or less). It comes back quite fast, which gives some possibility of doing damage, but if it's out of range, it won't do anything.

You get range and hit location penalties for the location you're trying to shoot on the ranged opponent, and for the location you're trying to hit with the slide on the close-combat opponent. All of these penalties apply to both attack rolls, as a representation of the awkwardness of this move. So if you're trying to shoot someone in the vitals (-3), at 3 yards (-1) and have the slide recoil hit a hand of someone you're in close combat with (-4), you're at -8 for both attacks, added to the -3 for two attacks at once, for a total of -11. You also get all the normal penalties for combat: -4 if you have been grappled, target posture, your posture, etc.

Should you succeed with either attack, you do normal damage with the bullet, but how much with the slide? It's clearly a crushing attack, unless you mounted a blade on the back of the slide (a great way to lose an eye on an aimed shot). I'd use thrust damage for ST equal to the average damage of a bullet from the gun. So a full-size 9mmP handgun doing 2d+2, average 9, would do Thrust damage for ST 9, which is 1d-2. A .32 ACP pistol, doing 2d-1, average 6, would do Thrust for ST 6, which is 1d-4. Since this is a crushing attack, a roll of zero or less is no damage.

If you manage to do damage with the slide, make another attack roll at the same odds, plus a penalty of the amount of damage you did. If you fail, the gun did not cycle properly, and will need to be cleared via Immediate Action (GURPS High-Tech, p. 81) before it will fire again. If you have a critical failure, the gun is comprehensively jammed and needs a full strip and clean before it will fire again. I'd like to say you have bits of your opponent stuck in the action, but that would just tempt people to try to crit-fail deliberately.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This seems like a pretty good house rule for what, to me, looks like a silly and pointless maneuver. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Aug 3, 2019 at 15:36

I've shot semi-auto pistols for many years, and currently own four -- a tiny .25 ACP, compact .380 and 9mm Makarov "pocket pistols", and a large frame EAA Witness capable of shooting .45 ACP, .38 Super and 10mm Auto.

Slide bite is real; it's the reason for the "beavertail" extension at the top of the back strap, along with "hammer bite" which is the pinch an external hammer can administer if the web of your thumb rides over the beavertail.

The problem with trying to get anything offensive out of the slide movement is that there isn't enough of it. The longest rounds used in common handguns are .45 ACP, .38 Super Auto, and 10mm Auto, all of which are approximately 38 mm overall length. The slide travel in most conventional pistols, not surprisingly, is no further than what it takes to eject the fired case and clear the base of the next round so as to enable stripping it from the magazine in order to load it into the chamber.

That means the slide travel, even on a pistol built for the longest common rounds, is less than the distance from the web of the hand (which contacts the pistol'bs back strap) to the hinging section of the wrist (on my own, merely average hands, this is close to 50 mm). In other words, at no point does the slide on any pistol built like a Colt 1911, Walther P-38, Browning P-35, or CZ-75 (to pick a few common conventional pistols, of which only the 1911 is chambered for the maximum round length) protrude far enough back to clear the shooter's own hand.

For the slide to apply impact on an adversary, then, the shooter would have to grip the pistol in a very unconventional manner -- at a minimum, this would reduce accuracy of the "main" shot and add a significant likelihood that recoil (especially from a round like .45 ACP or 10mm) would knock the gun's grip out of the shooter's hand. A shooter with small hands might not even be able to reach the trigger with the usual finger when altering grip enough for the slide to overreach their hand. I'm pretty certain I couldn't, on my Witness (which has very large grips for double stack magazines of maximum length rounds), if attempting this kind of maneuver.


could the backwards motion of the slide of a pistol conceivably be used offensively in GURPS?

You could get two prisoners, A and B, put the butt of the loaded pistol close the the nose of prisoner A, and fire the pistol at prisoner B. Then prisoner A gets his nose painfully pinched/poked by the recoiling slide. The mechanical effect might be to make prisoner A more vulnerable to interrogation.


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