Half-Life from Valve Software is widely regarded as the best FPS game ever. One of many reasons it captivated players was the innovative weapons.


I would definitely recommend that if you are planning to play Half-Life you do not read this node because you will probably want the satisfaction of finding the weapons and experimenting with them yourself.

Now that I have got that warning out of the way, here are the weapons. Half-Life organises the weapons into five categories which are selected using the corresponding number keys. These categories are:

  1. close combat weapons/weapons that require no ammo
  2. pistols
  3. small arms
  4. heavy/experimental weapons
  5. weapons that are thrown

Category 1

The only weapon in Category 1 (in original Half-Life at least) is the crowbar. It is the first weapon found in the game and also features in the Hazard Course training area. It has no secondary fire, it is simply swung with the left mouse button. It can be very useful for taking out headcrabs but apart from that it's only real use is smashing things in Gordon Freeman's way.

Category 2

The first weapon in category 2 is the basic automatic pistol, also known as a Glock 17. It is picked up very early on in the game. It has two methods of fire, primary (left clicking) which fires the bullets quite slowly and secondary (right clicking) which fires bullets twice as fast but has a reduced accuracy rate. The pistol holds 17 bullets in a clip and has a reserve of 250 bullets. It is useful for killing headcrabs, like the crowbar, but luckily at the time the game throws harder things at you, you will have some better guns.

The second weapon in Category 2 is the magnum. It is basically a revolver, but it has enough power to take out quite tough enemies. It holds 6 bullets and has a reserve of 36 rounds. It has no secondary function except in multi player games where right clicking activates a sight.

Category 3

The first weapon in Category 3 is the MP5. It is a sub machine gun which holds 50 rounds with a reserve of 250 (it uses the same bullets as the pistol). The primary function is rapid fire bullets, and the secondary fire is an underslung grenade launcher, firing grenades which explode on impact. Ten of these grenades can be carried at once. The MP5 is one of the most useful guns in the game.

The second weapon in Category 3 is the Shotgun. One of the best close range weapons in the game, but almost useless at a long range. It holds 8 shells at once, with primary fire firing one shell and secondary fire performing a "double blast" using two shells. The reload time is very low, and 125 shells can be held in reserve. This weapon is found reasonably early on in the game.

The last weapon in Category 3 is the Crossbow. This is no medieval warfare weapon, in fact it's bang up to date and is definitely the best long range killing device in the game. It holds five bolts at once, each of which is well capable of killing practically any basic enemy. The reload time is low, but since you should be using this from far away, hopefully it won't be too much of a problem. Primary fire shoots the bolt, and secondary fire activates the zoom.

Category 4

The first weapon in Category 4 is the Rocket Launcher, or RPG. It is incredibly powerful and can (and should) be used to take out tanks. The reload time is appaling, but unless your target is a helicopter, you shouldn't be in any trouble because of this. Ammo is generally scarce, but thankfully no enemies use it against you. Primary fire shoots the rocket, and secondary fire turns on or off the laser pointer which can be used to guide the rockets in flight, if for example you shoot a target which then moves, you can use the pointer the keep the rocket on track.

The second weapon in Category 4 is the Gauss Gun. When you pick this up you realise Half-Life is a very different game from what you are used to. It is an experimental weapon developed by the Black Mesa scientists, and to give an idea of it's power, it can take out helicopters. Primary fire shoots rapid shots using up one "unit" of energy ammo, but by holding down the right mouse button, the gun starts charging up, and when fully charge (using 13 shots) letting go of the button causes an extremely powerful shot to be fired. This shot will kill almost any monster, and take out heavy armour such as a helicopter. Beware, though, if you do not fire a fully charge shot but instead keep the button held down, it will overcharge and cause damage to you!

The next weapon in Category 4 has been referred to both as the Egon and the Gluon gun. I'm not sure myself what it's exact name is, but I'll call it the Egon because that's what the game source files call it. The only way to describe this gun is to think of the Ghostbusters gun - backpack and attached tube which fires out beams of intense energy which gib enemies in seconds. The Egon uses the same ammo as the Gauss Gun, and uses it very quickly. The primary fire fires the beam, and the secondary fire "locks" the beam to a target so that even if you turn around, there is still a beam coming from the front pointing at whatever your previous target was. I'm not convinced whether this is useful or not, but it looks nice.

The last Weapon in Category 4 is the Hornet gun. This is the hand of a common alien enemy, the Alien Grunt. It only stores 8 "bees" at once but it regenerates them slowly. Primary fire shoots the bees slowly at which point they home in on enemies. Secondary fire shoots them very quickly straight ahead. This weapon is amusing but since it runs out of ammo incredibly quickly and has low power it is somewhat a "last resort" weapon.

Or... is it? Triften says "The Hornet gun is not a last resort!?! It's a first resort for ammo whores like myself! Empty it, switch to the shotgun or something, then flip back when you get a moment to recharge it. :)" - He has a point, but it's still underpowered.

Category 5

The first weapon in Category five is the Grenade. This is the weapon you will learn to fear, as enemy marines use it against you with frightening accuracy. This is a true weapon of skill, affected by gravity. Very handy for taking out enemies behind obstacles. You can only hold 10 at once, which is not ideal.

The second weapon in Category five is the Satchel Charge. These can be thrown anywhere, and exploded remotely, with the force of a grenade. You can carry five at once, and throw more than one without blowing them up, with secondary fire.

The third weapon in Category five is the Trip mine. This can be stuck on a wall, and after a few seconds it fires out a laser beam. When the beam is broken, it explodes, as seen in Duke Nukem 3D. These can be used to climb walls, as well as to booby trap corridors, or even better, doors. Great for killing marines, who run straight into them. Just watch out that you don't.

The last weapon in Category 5 is the most amusing weapon in the game - the Snark. These tiny little aliens are effectively walking bombs, which scuttle after their target when thrown, and cause damage for a few seconds before blowing up. The problem being that if you throw ten snarks into a room which has no enemies in it, the snark will realise this and turn around to come after you, the player. Hilarious as this is, a bunch of explosive aliens running around after you is generally damaging to your health. Not the most useful thing ever, but certainly the funniest.

Note: Except for the satchel charge, category five weapons have no secondary functions.

Thanks a lot to karfung, who corrected me on a few technical points about the guns.

metalangel says:re: Half-Life weapons good w/u, did you know the weapons were cosmetically changed in the Blue Shift update pack to a Beretta (pistol), CAR-15 (machine gun) and Spas-12 (shotgun)? Not sure on the names, but might be worth including"

Thanks for pointing that out, I think the (never officially released) Dreamcast port of Half-Life, which contained Blue Shift also contained these updated weapon models (along with updated models for enemies and other charactesr) but unfortunately this made the framerate of the game go through the floor.