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No Range Like Point-Blank Range

"I've never fired a gun before, but I can't miss at point-blank range."
Takashi Komuro, High School Of The Dead

Guns are inherently awesome in their ability to make things significantly less alive from a distance. But every once in a while, firing from a distance just doesn't cut it. Maybe your opponent is really good at dodging bullets, or keeps putting up some kind of barrier, or your knowledge of guns is a bit... challenged. Never fret, for there is always one range that you can be sure will be effective against any opponent: two inches from their face.

This can obviously apply to things other than guns. While "point blank" has specific meanings in ballistics note  and in forensics note  anything sufficiently close qualifies for this trope.

May not apply to graduates of the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy.

Compare Short-Range Long-Range Weapon for when you're not supposed to use guns at close range, but do anyway. Contrast Arbitrary Minimum Range. See Short Range Shotgun for a class of guns that people expect to be this trope.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Mikan from Rising X Rydeen can fire powerful lightning blasts from her hands. The blasts have a lot range but instead of firing them from afar she uses her Super Speed to teleports right behind her opponents and electrocute them at point bank range. Most of her enemies don't have time to react and go down in one hit.
  • In Speed Grapher, Saiga encounters an opponent whose sonic abilities block his explosive photographs. So he does what any good war photographer does to get a better picture; he moves closer.
  • In the first story arc of Full Metal Panic!, Kurz finds Gauron's unusual Arm Slave too agile and elusive to get a clear shot at, so he fakes being out of ammo in order to lure Gauron into close-range combat so that he can hit him in the face with a round from his giant mech's rifle. Damn Lambda Driver...
  • Heavy Metal L Gaim: In episode 12, a mecha is equiped with a deflector shield that stops L-Gaim's rifle beams, so Daba picks a bazooka and shoots its head at blank point range. It works.
  • In High School Of The Dead, Takashi is just an ordinary high school student who knows next to nothing about handling a firearm. So when he does get a gun, he uses this strategy more often than not.
  • Mazinger Z: In his battle against Debira X1, the flying Mechanical Beast was too quick for Kouji hitting, so Kouji waited as the Mechanical Beast lunged at him until the robot was at point-blank range to blast it with Mazinger's Breast Fire. Kouji used this tactic sometimes when an enemy was too fast or too sturdy.
  • In Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, Panty, who uses a gun, often finishes off foes this way or fights foes who use melee attacks this way.
  • In Pumpkin Scissors, it's part of the basic tactics of the 901st Anti-Tank Troopers - they've got a Hand Cannon that can penetrate the weakest parts of a tank's armor, but only a point-blank range.
    • Incidentally, said handcannon is called the "Door-Knocker"
  • This happens in YuYu Hakusho during the dark tournament saga when Yusuke is facing Jin. Jin is using wind to deflect Yusuke's spirit gun blasts, so Yusuke blasts him point blank into a tornado swirling around Jin's arm.
    • This almost ends up killing them both which Jin then quickly lampshades by yelling, "you don't make bombs go boom in your face!" Hilarity Ensues.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima!, Mana pulls this right out of the blue, complete with a Pre Ass Kicking One Liner.
  • The Gundam franchise has a few examples of this trope:
  • In Soul Eater, Kid delivers a double dose to Crona during their battle. In the face. In mid-air.
  • In Berserk, Gut's Arm Cannon is usually used point-blank, often as a fallback when he can't use his sword.
  • Naruto: Bee does this twice in the series. The first is when he fires his Bijuudama at Suigetsu who's protecting Team Taka. He's lucky there was plenty amount of water in the surrounding area and that his jutsu allows him to become intangible. Otherwise, there would've been nothing left of him afterwards. The second time he uses it is against the Juubi. He fires his own Bijuudama against its charged up Bijuudama right down its throat.
  • In Rebuild of Evangelion 2.0 / 2.22, Mari Makinami, using Eva Unit 02, launches a diving attack against Zeruel with a handheld Pile Bunker, which doesn't manage anything, except bringing Unit 02 to within spitting distance of the Angel. So, she uses a spike launcher hidden in the right shoulder fin! And in the English dub, she even accompanies this with the words: "Point blank, shit-head!!!", but alas, it still doesn't break the AT Field.
  • Similarly in the original series, Neon Genesis Evangelion, when Armisael attacks Rei's Unit 00, she grabs it and presses the muzzle of her sniper rifle against it and fires repeatedly. As with the Rebuild example above, it does nothing.
  • In Code Geass R2, Luciano Bradley tries to fire a slash haken at Kallen's new Guren SEITEN at extremely close range. Unfortunately for him, catching slash harkens with her fork knife is something she's done before.

    Comic Books 
  • In the first Gargoyles comic series note , Elisa uses this against a ninja, knocking him to the floor and sticking her gun in his face. While she doesn't fire, she tells him that she bets his 'fancy footwork' won't let him dodge a shot this close.

    Film 
  • The Matrix:
    • Trinity's famous "Dodge this." scene. Even an Agent can't dodge a bullet fired 2 inches from his ear. Well, technically he can, but only in a very roundabout way. Doesn't fare well to the poor person that the Agent had overridden. Though the bullet hole right between the eyes would say he certainly tried...
    • Subverted later when Neo and Agent Smith fight in the subway. They dive at each other, blasting away and missing until they are locked with their empty pistols at each other's heads. But they are both empty.
  • Pandorum features a non-lethal riot gun capable of blowing a person across a room. Now, the whole "non-lethal" aspect assumes that you're firing it from a safe distance away. If you're not, well...
  • Corporal Hicks in Aliens jams a shotgun right into a xenomorph's mouth. Of course, the creature's acidic blood spatters everywhere, burning him and several other marines.
    • Vasquez manages to pin a Xenomorph's head against the wall and kill it with point blank pistol rounds, but the acid burns her ankle and incapacitates her.
  • The climax of Double Indemnity, when Walter shoots Phyllis in the abdomen at point-blank range.
  • Pulp Fiction subverts this trope when Jules and Vincent are surprised by someone hiding in the bathroom when retrieving Wallace's briefcase - he bursts out of the bathroom, fires his .44 Magnum six times and then keeps dry-firing - and then the camera shows Jules and Vincent, unharmed, looking behind him at the bulletholes in the wall. Jules thinks that what happened was so unlikely that he takes it as a sign from God.
    • After, of course, both Jules and Vincent raise their guns and demonstrate to Mr. Hand Cannon what "hitting your target at point blank" looks like.
    • Vincent famously inadvertently demonstrates on Marvin not long after.
  • Inglourious Basterds has a scene where two men have guns pointed directly at each other's testicles.
    At this range, I'm a real Frederick Zoller.

    Literature 
  • In Inkheart, many of Capricorn's mooks carry shotguns or pistols, but in all the times someone has one pointed at them, it's never from more than about a foot away since hardly anyone knows how to handle them properly. Most memorably is Elinor shakily jabbing Basta in the ribs with his own shotgun, "I may have never held a gun before, but I'm sure I can manage to pull the trigger."
  • The Zombie Survival Guide advises keeping a pistol as a back-up weapon, to be used only in short-range encounters; it takes a professional pistol marksman to headshot a zombie at most ranges, but even a novice can put a pistol to a zombie's head at point-blank and pull the trigger.
  • When A Brother's Price Jerin finally uses that derringer he's been mentioned to have at intervals throughout the book, it's at such a range. Then he freezes in horror.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Burn Notice advises against this, noting that pressing a gun against your target's head negates the single greatest advantage that a gun gives you. Michael demonstrates by slapping his enemy's gun off target and then disarming him.
    • In another episode, he deliberately does this to a hostage in order to allow the hostage to disarm him and appear to be the hostage-taker when the SWAT team bursts in.
  • Season One of Heroes:
    Thompson: What am I thinking now, Parkman?
    HRG: (cocks pistol) Your last thought. (Pulls trigger)
  • A thug from Smallville attempted to use this on the Flash, but was stopped before he could.
  • In an episode of Human Target, Winston shoots an enemy at close range to save Chance.
  • The Final Battle of Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger is decided by the heroes quite literally shoving their BFG into the Big Bad's gut and pulling the trigger. This was because Akudos Gills had already taken enough damage to kill most villains several dozen times over and wouldn't stay down.
  • The final battle of Power Rangers Lost Galaxy ends with Leo using his Super Mode armor's claw to grab Trakeena and hold her in place for a point-blank blast. The other Rangers aren't sure he survived until he climbs out of the rubble with a Broken Faceplate.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Call of Cthulhu shooting from point blank range doubles your skill for that roll (with d100), making it somehow impossible to fail in system designed for it.
  • In Dark Heresy, firing point-blank is a +30 to your to-hit chance (in a system where most characters try to roll less than 35-40 on a dice ranging from 1-100). It is also the default way of using shotguns, who only get their signature 'scatter' damage point-blank.
  • D20-style games allow a ranged weapon to deliver a 'coup de grace' attack (instant critical, can kill instantly) when up close and personal. The 'Point Blank Shot' feat (or similar) usually gives a bonus to attacks within 10m or so.

    Videogames 
  • One of the new moves of Metroid: Other M involves Samus blowing the hell out of some enemies by standing on them and blasting them thusly.
  • In the Disgaea series, units with guns will eventually be able to learn the "Proximal Shot" ability, which allows them to fire at point blank range (i.e. in the next square, like most melee weapons) and blast themselves back to a safe distance with the recoil.
  • In Mass Effect 2, Thane Krios prefers to kill his targets up close (though he is pretty handy with a rifle too. Taken to extremes when he drops from the ceiling, kills some Mooks in hand to hand, then shoots a Corrupt Corporate Executive in the stomach from point-blank range. He puts off firing just long enough that she can realize what is about to happen.
    • In Mass Effect 3, Kai Leng proves so adept at dodging bullets that Thane is forced to try to use this technique. It doesn't end well for him, but he was already actively dying at the time and thinks Leng should be ashamed it worked as well as it did.
  • In Red Dead Redemption, approaching an enemy from the front with a gun out often shows Marson shoving his pistol straight into the chest or head of the enemy and killing them in one hit.
  • Guilder from Skies of Arcadia will occasionally use his guns on an enemy right next to him. He also fires it Gangsta Style.
  • Getting shot at point-blank range in Soldier of Fortune: Payback results in the player taking quadruple damage. This can be rather frustrating, as the enemy will sometimes banzai charge you just to melee you before remembering what their guns are for.
  • In Super Robot Wars, a mech that normally specializes in long-range Beam Spam and Wave Motion Gun attacks will have a short-range Super Attack that involves latching on to the enemy and unloading from point-blank range. It's usually called something like "Point Blank (name of weapon)".
  • Melee-switched Commissars in Dawn of War do this as their sync-kill. The enemy folds in a Pose of Supplication, at which point the commissar gives him a bullet between the eyes at point-blank range.
  • Guild Wars: Occasionlly comes up in discussions of Rangers (especially in PvP). Arrows, being projectiles, can often be dodged, so rangers will sometimes try to get close to a target to prevent this occuring.
  • Painfully, painfully subverted in Valkyria Chronicles II. Even if you are literally breathing on each other, there's still a chance that your target'll hit the deck and avoid all, or at least most, of the damage you just threw at their face. Particularly painful during certain missions that turn a normal Wakeup Call Boss into That One Boss.
  • "Nearsighted" Jeego from Ghost Trick is a hitman who can always hits his target... as long as they are at point blank range.
  • One of the many finisher moves in The Godfather video game.
  • Forced aversion and double aversion in Chrono Trigger. Marle (crossbow) and Lucca (gun) will use melee attacks (buttstroke, hammer) if too close, unless it's a critical hit; in those cases, they do the normal two-round shot.
  • Using "The Shot" as a finishing move in Red Steel 2 turns it into this, with point blank shots from either the revolver, shotgun, Johnnygun, or the rifle, depending on which is equipped.
  • Team Fortress 2: the taunt kill for the Scorch Shot has the Pyro adopting the same firing stance as Trinity's "Dodge this" scene (see above), then shooting a flare. At point blank the flare deals 500 damage (at longer ranges the flare deals the normal 15 damage, as if you were firing normally instead of using the taunt attack).
  • In Max Payne 3 Max caps off his Pistol-Whipping against enemies by pulling his gun on them. You can pull the trigger immediately or savour the look on the victim's face before firing. Only on standing enemies, though; if they're already on the ground, he just kicks them.
  • From Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood on, your Finishing Move animations include these.
  • In Alpha Protocol one of the lategame upgrades for the melee skill branch lets you pull this.
  • One of Dante's signature moves is the "Stinger," a charging stab with his broadsword. Devil May Cry 3 introduced the "Gunstinger," the same move performed with a charged shotgun blast.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep has Braig, Xigbar's Somebody, firing his crossbows repeatedly at Xehanort's head. All twenty shots are deflected at a range about half the length of his crossbow barrel; so he positions the bolt between Xehanort's eyes. In a subversion, he doesn't get the chance to fire before Xehanort levels his Keyblade at Braig's neck.

    Web Originals 
  • On Red vs. Blue Church manages to subvert this trope hilariously in one episode of Reconstruction. Church normally uses the Sniper Rifle with comical inefficiency but surely he couldn't miss using a pistol from a foot away, right? WRONG! Not only does he fail to kill the target, he manages to empty an entire clip of ammo without even grazing his target (who is standing still) once.

    Real Life 
  • Subversions of this when attempting a suicide have happened (and are known to be especially sucky with lots of exotic flavours of irreversible brain damage). Even with the barrel-in-mouth strategy. You can always miss.
  • The "bullet to the back of the neck" execution, popularized by various fascist regimes.
  • Truth in Television example: During the Normandy landings, the Navy ships found they were unable to give effective fire support because smoke from the heavy gunfire on the beaches was obscuring their view of the battlefield. A commander of a Destroyer decided to break through the smoke by sailing his ship dangerously close to the shore, delivering broadsides from his five inch guns at what most naval commanders of the day would consider distance more appropriate for a knife fight. In terms of naval combat, a destroyer's five inch gun wasn't all that big, but compared to many of the guns the German defenders had to fight back with, it was more than enough.
  • Also, many larger guns used by field artillery and tanks use a type of round called a "Canister". Effectively, it is a shotgun shell for large-bore cannons, designed to invoke the Chunky Salsa Rule against enemy Zerg Rushes, and for obvious reasons, is only used at short ranges. They're also very useful for "backscratching" another tank that has enemy soldiers onboard attempting an Insert Grenade Here.
  • The phrase originates as an artillery term for when the target is so close the gun isn't elevated to compensate for distance (it comes from the French "blanc", meaning white, refering to the white point in the centre of the target and was typically found experimentally, by test-firing a given weapon and adjusting the sights so the user has a reliable midpoint to aim with). With modern mortars, this is referred to as a "zero charge" shot. Mortars have their range increased by attaching additional propellant packs to the base of them. Thus a zero charge shot is one that, in artillery terms, is just barely making it out of the tube in the first place, and is only used as a desperation measure.
  • During the age of smoothbore musket warfare, where a musket was only remotely accurate up to ca. 100 yards, it was a rule of thumb to wait "until you could see the whites of their eyes" to open fire, i. e. until the attacking enemy had approached to within ca. 50 paces. In practice this was not as easy as it sounds to hold fire that long, which is why it did not work out that way often enough. The matter was not just that of range, but also that in the heat of battle the chance of a musket misfiring increased with each subsequent shot, while for the first salvo you still could take your time and even further increase your chances of hitting the enemy by loading two balls instead of one (as the Hanoverians did to beat off a French cavalry charge at the battle of Krefeld in 1758. If you could also achieve surprise, as the British Guards Brigade did at Waterloo (they hid in a wheat field and only stood up to fire when the French Old Guard was almost upon them) the effect on the morale could be even greater.
    • The British used the same tactic against the French at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham outside the walls of Quebec City in 1759. The French fired too early and from out of effective range. The British loaded two balls in their muskets waited until the French got too close. The battle took fifteen minutes.


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