Double Tap

"The second rule for surviving Zombieland: The Double Tap. In those moments when you're not sure if the undead are really dead-dead, don't get all stingy with your bullets..."
Columbus, Zombieland

An amateur only shoots once. A professional always shoots twice. A subtrope of Boom, Headshot, this is usually the difference between a sniper and a more up close and personal silenced pistol assassin. Better safe than sorry, after all. The Double Tap seems like overkill, but in both real life and in fiction it is an example of pragmatism. It's rare that the target survives a shot to the heart or brain and survives, but it happens, and there's nothing like someone surviving their attempted killing to ruin your carefully laid plans. Similarly, there have been occasions where despite shots to the chest or head, people have continued to be coherent and capable of retaliation for some time there after. Some training methods insist on at least two shots to the torso and one to the head. Being shot in any vital organ is bad but being shot twice in one is worse. Two to the head tend to be just as effective... Usually.

Usually shown as a portrayal of a professional making sure the target is dead or will be in short order. Expect at least two shots to the head or chest from said professional. Thorough professionals may be depicted putting two in both the head or chest.

Sometimes used to show a tough enemy or monster really is dead by shooting them twice in the head or chest to make sure they stay dead. Anyone worth shooting once is worth shooting at least twice.

Compare Multiple Gunshot Death. Contrast Once Is Not Enough. Compare and contrast Kick Them While They Are Down, which is similar in confirming a kill but usually is seen as having more negative connotations.


Examples :

Anime and Manga

Comic Books
  • In Empowered, Thugboy guns down the ninjas who kidnapped and were about to dismember Ninjette. As Empowered tends to her, Thugboy is shown in the background walking up to each ninja and shooting them in the head.

Film
  • In '71, Captain Harris shoots one of the provos in the chest twice, even though he was probably already dead.
  • Zombieland has this as Rule #2 for surviving the Zombie Apocalypse. Despite the zombies in the movie being of the Technically Living variety, the characters frequently make sure to Remove The Head Or Destroy The Brain. This is seen performed with guns, giant mallets, and even a car at one point.
  • Near the beginning of Beverly Hills Cop, Mikey Tandino is executed by two shots in the back of the head. Axel Foley's captain notes that it was a professional hit.
  • Seems to be favored by Keyser Soze in The Usual Suspects; although he doesn't make the connection as he says it, Kujan reveals that this is also how Edie Fineran was killed.
  • The Godfather: When Michael goes to kill Solozzo and his bodyguard McCluskey at a meeting, Sonny instructs him "Two shots in the head apiece."
  • There's a Hong Kong action movie named Double Tap, about a series of murders where the victim always had two bullet holes in the head, close enough to form an '8'.
  • In The Boondock Saints, a Boston detective is able to distinguish the target of a hit from the assorted dead mooks because he was offed this way:
    Duffy: He was the only one done right. Double tap, back of the head.
  • Vincent from Collateral shoots the chest twice and the head once (the Mozambique Drill, mentioned below in the Real Life section).
  • The robbers in Heat shoot their victims twice in the chest and then once in the head, in a manner similar to Vincent from Collateral (Michael Mann directed both movies in general). Detective Vincent Hanna notes this as one of several things that marks them out as serious professionals.
  • Morgan Freeman's character Charlie in Nurse Betty lives by this:
    "Two in the head, you know they're dead."
  • Pacific Rim: Taken to There Is No Kill Like Overkill levels. With a plasma cannon. Into the chest of a Kaiju. Justified because his failing to do so earlier cost him his brother Yancy.
    Raleigh: Let's check for a pulse. [fires plasma cannon into its chest until most of the internal organs are ash] No pulse.
  • Anti-Hero Danny Archer from Blood Diamond, who is former South African special forces turned mercenary, does this regularly. This is probably the most notable example.
  • Pan's Labyrinth: Whenever a battle is won, the winning side always takes the time to shoot the fallen enemies in the head, be they rebels or fascists. Vidal even has a moment where he points his gun at a soldier who's been shot in the trachea and he can only weakly bat away his gun, Vidal resets the position and it happens back and forth until he executes him.
  • In the 1986 TV movie Sword of Gideon (based on the below-mentioned book Vengeance), a Mossad firearms instructor stresses the importance of this, as their Weapon of Choice is the .22 calibre Beretta, firing underpowered cartridges for a quieter gunshot.
    "Rule-Number-One. When you pull your trigger, you pull it twice. If you aim right in the first place, there will be two bullets in your enemy. If not it doesn't matter — if you miss with one bullet or two, you are dead. Make it always twice: fumph-fumph. Always twice. Fumph-fumph never goddamn fumph!"
    • This becomes a Brick Joke when they have to use a single-shot zip gun hidden in a bike pump.
    "There's one problem. It only goes fumph and not fumph-fumph!"
  • John Wick almost always shoots mooks multiple times, with at least one Boom, Headshot to boot.

Literature
  • Murphy mentions (and does) this several times over the course of The Dresden Files.
  • In the book 'Vengeance' (the basis for the film Munich), the author recounts his shooting lessons during Mossad training. The instructor told the class to always fire two shots at a time. "Always BANG BANG...Never just god-damned BANG!"
  • John Kelly of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan series uses this technique extensively in Without Remorse, largely because of his SOG/SEAL training, with his Colt .45. When he configures it as a .22 with a home-built suppressor, his especial reliance on the double-tap headshot is mentioned as particularly necessary given the .22's relative weakness—and as an indicator to the investigating policemen that they're dealing with an experienced professional. When he switches it over to .45 configuration, he changes to two in the chest, one in the head, a sign that he's discarding subtlety for the last push.
  • In Artemis Fowl, Butler's preferred technique is a quintuple tap: two to the chest, three between the eyes.
  • In Sergey Lukyanenko's Autumn Visits, one of the characters is a contract killer. When another character gets thrown from a roof to be Impaled with Extreme Prejudice, he follows up with a headshot, just to be sure. Especially, since the killed character is not entirely human.

LiveActionTV
  • The Mozambique Drill (see Real Life) has also been used in Dexter.
  • The Mozambique Drill is also excellently demonstrated by Jim Zubiena in the Miami Vice episode "Calderon's return."
  • In Revenge this is used by Takeda to execute a wounded Tyler on the beach. Also used by Daniel, who shoots Emily twice in the stomach and lets her fall overboard during her honeymoon cruise.
  • In The Wire, this tends to be the preferred method for the enforcers of the notorious Stanfield drug empire. Chris Partlow tends to execute with two shots to the head, and new soldiers are trained to either shoot for the head if they're at point blank range, or to disable by shooting under a potential Bullet Proof Vest and then finish with a head shot. That said, they're sometimes sloppy about actually following this.

Tabletop Games
  • In d20 Modern, there is a feat called Double Tap, allowing you to deal one extra die of damage to your opponent, but giving you a -2 penalty to your attack roll. It requires two bullets to use.

Video Games
  • In Borderlands fourth DLC, the Claptrap Ninja Assassin does this to the arms merchant just before the final boss battle. Also, the Jacob's brand of weapons (which have the highest damage) uses the lack of this as their selling point; "If it took more than one shot, you weren't using a Jacobs".
  • Mass Effect 1:
    • If Wrex dies on Virmire, his killer ( either Shepard or Ashley) will shoot him three times when he's already on the ground. This is a pretty good practice with krogan enemies in regular gameplay, too; if you don't see the XP payout, they're still coming.
    • At the end, Shepard tells his / her companions to check if Saren is really, absolutely dead after he has already either shot himself in his last lucid moment or been impaled through the chest. One of them will give the body another shot to the head. But anyone being slightly Genre Savvy knows right away that if the developers added that scene, the body will get up again.
  • In the opening level of Mass Effect 3, Liara suspends a few Cerberus troopers in the air with Singularity, shoots them, then puts a few more rounds in them when they're on the ground.
  • The protagonist of Fallout: New Vegas gets doubletapped at the beginning of the game - and survives.
    • Follows-Chalk shot a White Leg in the head twice after bludgeoning him with his club the first time you meet him. Apparently, Joshua Graham has trained the Dead Horses tribals to do this, as can be seen in the final battle.
    • The Ghost People in the Dead Money DLC require this treatment, due to their unique ability to continuously come back to life unless they've lost a body part.
  • In World at War and Black Ops zombie mode there is the Double Tap Root Beer item, which causes every pull of the trigger to fire two rounds, even when using pump action shotguns or bolt action rifles. While doubling your rate of fire sounds fun, scarcity of ammo can to push this into Awesome but Impractical.
    • ''2 changed it to Double Tap II Root Beer, which now doubles your bullet mid-flight.
  • A Sniper with the "Croc-O-Style" item set in Team Fortress 2 will not be killed by headshots and thus will require a double-tap to kill.
    • A Spy wielding the Ambassador can kill weaker classes in as few as 2 shots.
    • Most weapons in general take at least two shots to kill any class at (standard) full health: point blank the Rocket Launcher, Scattergun, and the Grenade Launcher all do just under 125 damage (health of the Scout, Sniper, Engineer, and Spy) in one hit.
  • In Spec Ops: The Line, one of your Finishing Moves is this.
  • In Thwaite, a balloon or MIRV that has split into three pieces may require more than one missile to destroy. The reliable way to blow them up is to put one missile between two of them and another in front of the third.
  • In Saints Row: The Third, this is one of the Finishing Moves on Brutes - backhand the Giant Mook onto the ground, then shoot it in the head repeatedly until it explodes.
  • This is a handy tactic to use when playing Dead Island. From time to time, you'll come across Walkers pretending to be dead. Kicking them will help expose them, and if you've acquired the head stomping ability, you can tromp on their heads when they're down.
  • No attention is drawn to it, but Tess does this to Robert when she executes him.

Webcomics

Western Animation
  • Jonny Quest episode "A Small Matter of Pygmies". After downing a black leopard, Race Bannon shoots it again to make sure it's dead.

Real Life
  • There's the Mozambique Drill, which is a quick double tap to the chest followed by an aimed shot at the head, designed for close-range encounters. Particularly helpful if your enemy happens to be wearing a Bullet Proof Vest and/or you are using a less powerful gun (rifle rounds can penetrate most soft body armor, but handgun ammo has quite a bit more trouble with this).
  • British Special forces are taught to double-tap the head, if possible in the "T" (a line from temple to temple, then down the nose), because body armor has become an awful lot easier to get hold of nowadays.
    • This training is said to have originated around halfway through the century; back then the standard issue pistol for British Special Forces was the Browning Hi-Power, a reliable and accurate gun, but with dreadfully low stopping power caused by its usage of smaller 9mm cartridges that had trouble taking a man down with a single shot, even at center mass. As a result, agents were trained to fire twice in rapid succession, thus the double-tap became standard in British intelligence.
  • Osama Bin Laden reportedly took one to the chest, one to the eye.
  • Many firearms instructors now teach students to shoot until the threat is neutralized, regardless of how many rounds that is, so some people now shoot triple taps or just punch out five or six rounds rapidly per target.
  • Standard police training in most American districts is that if you are in a situation where you're actually shooting at someone, you always pull the trigger twice. Sometimes cops will end up firing much more than that, if it's not clear that the suspect is dead (such as if he ends up falling against a wall or a vehicle), hence the meme of trigger-happy cops unloading dozens of rounds into some poor guy.
    • There are records of up to 17 shots being fired into people.
    • That poor guy may also be shooting at the officer, however. Unlike what is commonly portrayed in movies and TV, gunshots are not like getting zapped by a phaser. Just as one example, this gunfight, where the suspect was hit with .45 ACP in the heart, right lung, left lung, liver, diaphragm, and right kidney, as part of 14 hits up to that point. He was still attacking. The officer then took four carefully aimed headshots, which finally caused him to drop. The threat was over, but not because the guy was dead. Even after all those vital organ hits and headshots, he made it to emergency surgery. He couldn't be saved.
  • A tactic used by American pilots in the Vietnam War was "ripple fire", lobbing off one missile followed by another at a target. This was due to the less than spectacular performance of most of the guided missiles of the time.