"If you get a customer, or an employee, who thinks he's Charles Bronson, take the butt of your gun and smash their nose in. Everybody jumps. He falls down screaming, blood squirts out of his nose, nobody says fucking shit after that."
Knocking someone out by hitting them with the butt of a pistol. When done with a long gun (e.g. rifle or shotgun), it is referred to as a "Butt Stroke", or "Butt Stroking". (Rest assured, some people have had a gay old time with that bit of terminology.)
If you do this in Real Life — with enough force — you can actually kill the victim by cracking their skull. Also, even the butt of a gun has quite a few pointy parts, which, if whacked against your face, will cause a lot of bleeding and probably leave a large and permanent scar. Pistol whipping itself is a outdated way of striking somebody with your weapon, along with butt stroking somebody, the proper way is to thrust your barrel in a forward motion into the target. Smashing the barrel and slide of your handgun into somebody is a good way to throw off its aim and possibly damage it; it doesn't work as well with lightweight modern polymer guns. Muzzle strikes to the head are considered a lethal strike. Barrel strikes are typically used to put down a person who isn't considered a lethal threat, the point is to keep the ability to shoot at all times. Butt stroking or pistol whipping sweeps yourself or buddies in the line of fire. A proper non lethal weapon strike can be seen in Safehouse by Denzel's character to Ryan Reynolds' character in the soccer stadium, though a strike of that nature would typically break the sternum.
One purpose of Pistol Whipping is to humiliate your captured enemy (or moronic henchman). You've got a gun, and you could kill them right there, but they're so insignificant, so pathetic, so helpless, that you can just smash them across the face and be done with it. It also causes a lot of bleeding, making a character look a lot worse than they really are. It is also possible to damage or break the magazine or handle of the weapon, depending on the model and the force of the blow.
Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?, you ask? As Elliot Stabler of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit once answered, "Where'd the fun be in that?" Alternately, the weapon's wielder will be locked in close combat or will be out of ammunition, forcing them to literally use the only weapon they've got on hand. It also serves as a quick option to incapacitate a person without killing him, since pistol whipping is slightly less likely to be lethal than shooting the guy.
A rare case of the Evil Overlord List not reflecting common sense, as nearly all modern militaries train their troops in how to fight using their rifle as a melee weapon (although it might be that the Evil Overlord thought that it can damage the gun or not deadly to the hero). This was also fairly common during the time periods where firearms were not very advanced and required a lot of time and effort to reload which meant that sometimes it was more prudent to use your gun as a melee weapon rather than trying to reload it in the middle of battle.
May be a form of Quick Melee. For another kind of melee attack with a firearm see Bayonet Ya.
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Anime and Manga
Train Hartnett of Black Cat has basically turned this into a fine art. Since he's chosen not to kill people, he's always clubbing them with his VERY HARD INDESTRUCTIBLE GUN, although since he's a former elite assassin it might explain why he's able to avoid killing with it.
Acknowledged but advised against in the Black Lagoon manga. Revy is chastised by her gunsmith when he notices minor damage done to one of her weapon's grips caused when she smashed a guy's face in with it. Revy has no intention of stopping though.
Early in the second season of Strike Witches, Gertrude's two heavy machine guns run out of ammo, so she grabs them by the barrels and uses them as melee weapons.
Some pilots in Super Dimension Fortress Macross / Robotech (most notabily, Hikaru Ichijo / Rick Hunter) have used their Gunpods as an improvised meelee weapon when they had ran low of ammo or missiles.
Kaname hits a captured Tessa with the handle of a gun in the Full Metal Panic! manga. To be fair, by that time it wasn't exactly Kaname, since she was possessed by Sophia. And not to mention, it gets worse soon. Sort of.
In the first episode of Sherlock Hound Professor Moriarty does this to his henchman George after the gun he had given to him was out of bullets.
In Golgo 13 The Professional Duke does this to the assassins Gold and Silver, first he smashes Silver in the face with his pistol breaking his mask in the process, then he bashes Gold over the head with it until he caves his skull in, surprisingly this doesn't kill him.
In the original Sin City comic (though not in the film), Marv actually criticises Wendy's technique while she's pistol-whipping him in case she harms the gun! But then, he is crazy. And unkillable.
In 9Rota, Chugainov does this to a mujaheddin fighter when the PKM he is wielding malfunctions by grasping the barrel with both hands and swinging it like a club. It decks the fighter right away. Chugainov burns his hands black because the barrel is burning hot due to having just been used to put out heavy sustained fire. He fittingly drops the weapon immediately afterwards and looks at his hands while screaming in pain.
John Preston in Equilibrium does away with a number of Faceless Goons using the pistol-assisted melee techniques of the Gun Kata in one scene. His guns have small retractable metal studs that come out of the grips for better use against helmets, allowing it to be wielded like a hammer.
Ray Liotta's character in Goodfellas famously whipped the hell out of his future wife's neighbour early in the movie when the neighbour tried to rape and abuse her. Ouch.
Tommy also does this to Billy Batts after he's pushed his Berserk Button so hard that the gun ends up breaking.
In The Mask Stanley Ipkiss does it twice: he knocks out the cop guarding his jail cell in order to escape and takes out a mook offscreen while infiltrating the Coco Bongo club.
Captain Picard does this in Star Trek: Nemesis, which unfortunately leaves him with no objects intended for use as weapons with which to defend himself from Schinzon or destroy his doomsday device later.
In Snatch, Vinny attempts to pistol-whip Bullet-Tooth Tony, but Tony catches his wrist and notices that the gun has "Replica" written down the side of the barrel.
Played with in a particularly bad Lou Diamond Philips movie, where he is pistol whipped several times, causing him to ask, "Doesn't anybody shoot guns anymore?" Eventually he gets the gun away from one of the people, and winds up like he's going to hit her with it. "See how you like it!"
A Somali in Black Hawk Down uses his AK-47 as a makeshift club and smacks the pilot of one of the titular choppers across the face with it.
Happens twice in The Final Countdown; first when a captured Japanese pilot smacks a Marine in the gut with the butt of his own M16 rifle, then later on when Samuel Chapman clubs a helicopter crewman over the head with a flare pistol.
In a sickening scene in the movie Eight MM, Nicholas Cage's character beats James Gandolfini's character to death with a pistol butt. Gandolfini's character so dearly asked for it.
In Tuck Everlasting, Mae does this with a shotgun to the man in the yellow suit and it does kill him.
Robert Redford's character is incapacitated this way not once, but twice by one of the Big Bad's Mooks. Nicely tied in near the end when, rather than simply shooting said mook in the face, Redford's character sneers sarcastically and knocks the guy out with another bad guy's gun in a fit of vengeance.
Crease (Sidney Poitier) knocks out two Mooks with a shotgun.
In the Mel Gibson film Conspiracy Theory, both the protagonist and his female friend are pretty liberal with the Pistol-Whipping of the Inspector Javert that's chasing them. It happens so much that at one stage Mel Gibson asks if he's really knocked out, finds out he was faking, and so pistol whips him again.
A Crowning Moment Of Awesome (one of many) from Hard Times starring Charles Bronson has his character, a bare-knuckle boxer named Chaney, demonstrate "more than one way" to use a gun to a sleazy bar owner who bullied him and his manager out of their fight money before. Way one: shoot the place silly. Way two: whack said owner on the noggin'.
One of the security guards at the golf course knocks out the title character with a pistol. He's up and around a few seconds later.
Conspiracy Brother does it to Mr. Elias in the island fortress communications room.
The titular Traitor does this to an FBI agent in order to protect his identity and keep from killing innocent people.
In Pulp Fiction, the redneck gun store owner holds Butch at gunpoint, then quickly butt-strokes him, causing Butch to drop like a bag of hammers.
In Watchmen, during a fight with the police, Rorschach grabs one of the officer's rifles by the barrel, swings it around and smashes it into his head, sending him down a flight of stairs.
In Avatar, Trudi Chacon does this to a guard before breaking Jake, Grace and Norm out of jail.
Dreamscape. Alex does this to one of Bob Blair's agents.
When the pistols get wet in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End Ragetti says "We can still use them... as clubs!" Later in the movie, Jack actually puts it to use, swiping a pistol from an enemy's belt and promptly whacking him on the forehead with it.
Live and Let Die. One of Mr. Big's thugs knocks out Sheriff Pepper's brother-in-law Billy Bob with a pistol in order to steal his boat.
Flash Gordon. Dale Arden takes out several of Ming's guards by hitting them on the head with a stolen energy weapon.
In Public Enemies, John Dillinger does this to the president of the first bank they rob, because he's taking too long to open the vault.
Buckaroo Banzai. While John Parker is infiltrating Buckaroo's estate a Blue Blaze Irregular clocks him on the back of the head with a pistol butt and knocks him out.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. While Marcus Brody is waiting at the entrance to the catacombs, a member of the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword sneaks up behind him and knocks him out with the butt of a pistol to the back of his head. Of course he's fine when he wakes up later.
Mars Attacks!!. During the annihilation of Congress, Donald Kessler is knocked out by a blow on the back of the head from the butt of a skeleton beam rifle wielded by a Martian soldier.
In The Three Stooges short 'The Brideless Groom', Larry prepares to pistol-whip the would-be brides trying to disrupt Shemp's wedding; the pistol is likely unloaded, as it belongs to Emil Sitka's Justice of the Peace. Moe disagrees: 'You wouldn't hit a lady with that, would ya?' His solution: grab a longarm from the same wall display. 'Use that, it's bigger.'
Longarms, of course, could have their barrels swung from shoulder-arms to stooge-skull whenever precision marching turns imprecice ...
íThree Amigos!. After Dusty Bottoms can't bring himself to hit a sleeping guard over the head with his pistol, Carmen takes his pistol away from him and does it herself.
In the western film Appaloosa, Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch are sheriffs-for-hire of the titular town. They ride up a hill on the outskirts of town to investigate some cowboys hanging around, suspecting they work for a local bandit boss. When one of the cowboys refuses to say who they're spying for, Virgil unleashes a particularly nasty pistol whip on the unsuspecting fellow. It gets him talking pretty quickly, right after he spits the blood out.
Cowboy: "Ow! You knocked my tooth out!"
Cole: "Well, a Colt makes a heavy firearm and that's a fact!"
Batman. When the family is walking through the back alleys of Gotham a mugger knocks out the father with his pistol.
Die Hard. Towards the end of the film the hero, John McClane uses the butt of his machine gun to knock out one of the terrorists. It makes perfect sense because the gun was out of bullets, and the terrorist was running right at the (hiding) McClane, who used the thug's momentum and his own muscle power to deliver a pretty vicious blow.
Young Sherlock Holmes. While Chester Cragwitch is under the effect of a hallucinatory drug he tries to strangle Holmes. Luckily Lestrade shows up and renders Cragwitch unconscious by hitting on the head with the butt of his gun.
In Sam Fuller's Pickup On South Street, the villain does this to a cop blocking his escape route. The cop dies of the head wound, while the woman he actually shot with the pistol earlier survives the shooting.
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson each get to pistol whip a bad guy (in "The Three Garridebs" and "The Empty House," respectively). Neither of them appear to cause lasting damage, even though Holmes actually hits the guy hard enough to draw blood! (The guy shot Watson, he had it coming.)
In V.Suvorov's book Control, an elite soviet agent had to choose a handgun with the condition that it should not be made in the USSR. She got a Lahti L-35, not even for its lesser recoil, just because it's a sturdy 1.2 kg steel piece that would make a nice skullcrusher... And uses Parabellum 9 mm ammo after all. Justified Trope, as the need for silent action made pistol-whipping a sound tactic.
In the Polish stage drama Tango, a revolver that has been a literal Chekhov's Gun through the whole play, is used to club one of the characters to death in the last act.
One of the later books in Harry Turtledove's Southern Victory series has a passage mentioning that death camp guards are issued submachine guns with real wooden stocks for just this purpose, rather than the cheaper all-metal construction that apparently falls apart.
In John Dies at the End, Dave relays events relayed from him by John. John, at one point, claims he "dick-whipped" a guy with a gun, which Dave isn't sure whether to interpret as John whacking him in the 'nads with the gun, or pistol whipping him with the gun in the same way he would whack him with his dick.
Kipling's Three Musketeers have a discussion on the subject of the best use for a gun in close quarters combat. While the hero favors the traditional bullet, the lancer prefers the bayonet and the big guy just uses the gun-butt to bash peoples heads in. Subverted as gun-whipping is described as equally lethal to the other two.
World War Z featured a couple of purpose-built weapons in this vein. The SIR (Standard Infantry Rifle) has a steel-backed stock for butt strokes and an integrated flip-out eight-inch spike for use as an ersatz spear. As well, the new entrenching tool became a cross between a shovel and a double-headed axe, designed to crush a zombie skull in one shot. Troops nicknamed it The Lobo (short for The Lobotomizer.)
In the Gaunt's Ghosts novels, McVenner does this frequently. He's much more effective with this than is usual, since he's an expert in an obscure martial art form meant for use with a spear (Which his bayoneted rifle is a good substitute for).
Live Action TV
Murder In Coweta County: How John Wallace killed simple-minded sharecropper Wilson Turner after he accused him of stealing a cow.
In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Enemy Within," Spock was supposed to sneak up behind an enemy and use this attack. Leonard Nimoy balked at that cliche, feeling that it was out of character for Spock, and proposed a different idea — and created Spock's famous Vulcan Nerve Pinch on the spot.
Extremely subverted in Sledge Hammer! when in one episode Sledge sneaks behind a bad guy and pistol whips him on the head with his revolver and the bad guy just grabs his head and starts shouting in pain, Sledge follows it up with a bottle to the head and the bad guy still doesn't go down. Then Sledge jumps on the bad guy's back, piggy-backs him, gets him in a headlock, rams his head into a wall and yup, he's still conscious.
In the short-lived UPN show Special Unit 2, the Cowboy Cop wound up pistol whipping a parody of Barney on live television. Twice.
Used repeatedly in Firefly, often with very satisfying results.
Someone on LOST gets hit in the head/face with a gun roughly every other episode. For example:
In the episode "There's No Place Like Home, Part 1," Keamy, apparently precluded from killing Ben, hits him with his gun instead.
Kate also hits a guard with the butt of a rifle in "Not in Portland."
Awesomely done to reveal Sam is evil/possessed in Supernatural - "Born Under A Bad Sign". Sam has just killed a hunter and is acting even more woobified than usual, he asks Dean to kill him (getting all emotional for effect) who obviously can't. Five seconds later, all the emotion is gone and Dean winds up unconscious for hours while he goes to completely torment Jo in another state. Awesome.
A recent episode of Psych featured Shawn being held a gunpoint by the bad guy. When Shawn starts up with his characteristic goofiness in the face of danger, the bad guy responded by hitting him in the back of the head with the gun. Painfully. But it makes no sense when you realize he was planning to kill Shawn anyway, so why didn't he just shoot him?
Smallville's Lex Luthor is pistol whipped on a ridiculously regular basis.
In Weeds, Nancy delivers a particularly vicious one to Celia. Knocking out one of her teeth.
Prez does this to a kid in The Wire. The kid loses an eye; Prez loses his gun. For a season.
One episode of Monk had the Villain of the Week pistol whip a victim to death after the gun jammed. Later, he poses as Monk's friend and "finds" the gun, noting the crack caused by the pistol whipping. This ends up being his undoing as he hasn't seen the body yet and should have assumed the victim was shot.
In an episode of Will and Grace, Jack has difficulty practicing for a scene in a TV show, where he needs to pistol whip someone. Karen agrees that such a scene is difficult to play seriously. "Because after the first couple of times, you get the giggles."
In the season one finale of Human Target, Chance pistol whips Guerrero while trying to protect Katherine Walters in a flashback scene.
In the Jesse James vs. Al Capone episode of Deadliest Warrior, pistol whipping is tested as one of Jesse Jame's "weapons" against Al Capone's brass knuckles.
In the 1999 TV series of Oliver Twist, Bill Sikes used this technique to land two very bloody blows on Nancy, before he finished her off with a club.
Nikita pistol-whipped a division agent she captured in the pilot episode to cover up the fact that she placed a wireless transmitter in the cap of one of his molars.
In Kamen Rider Decade, Kaito does this to Yuusuke in the Agito's World episodes to get the G3 Chip from him, though Yuusuke isn't badly injured.
The Wild Wild West episode "The Night Of The Double-Edged Knife". A man working on the protagonist's railroad engine is knocked out by the barrel of a gun wielded by one of the bad guys.
The Outer Limits episode "Demon with a Glass Hand". Trent knocks out one of the Kyben by hitting him on the head with the butt of his pistol.
One such moment led to the evolution of a Catch Phrase on Get Smart. The Chief is being held hostage by KAOS, and is just telling Max over the phone not to cooperate when he's knocked out by a mook.
Max: What happened?
Siegfried: Your Chief vos just silenced by a pistol butt.
Max: Well that's a bit drastic. Couldn't you have just shushed him?
Siegfried: Ve don't shush here!
In the Series/NCIS episode "Cloak" Tony gets knocked out with the butt of a rifle courtesy of an army security guard. Ziva does not take kindly to the assault on her partner. She tears through soldiers like paper before he hits the ground and it takes four military personnel to force her into submission.
In Warhammer 40,000, this is also implied to be what gun-wielding units do when they get into close combat.
Pistols are actually better for close-combat in the game's systems as opposed to other ranged weapons - having one with another melee weapon allows models to shoot before charging in, and give an extra attack as if they had a second close-combat weapon. Other shooting weapons generally grant no bonuses nor additional attack for melee combat (because they're considered two-handed), though they may be allowed to shoot before charging.
Some races take this even further by sticking blades on their guns; And no, we're not talking about bayonets (Although a fair number of guns do have bayonets, sometimes enhanced with chainsaw blades. The Kroot have blades sticking out of the stocks of their rifles (kind of reasonable, as they were designed from more primitive staves) while the Dark Eldar regularly have knives adorning the bottom of the grips on their guns.
Also, Ogryns, which are spaceogres, are so prone to using whatever weapon they have for clubbing things that their guns are specifically designed to withstand lots of impact. Their shotguns are essentially made to be used as clubs, and the fact that they actually fire rounds just gives the ogryn something to do while running up to the target.
The Tabletop RPG Star Wars: Saga Edition gives a talent that lets one do that: Gun Club. A later talent builds upon that, allowing one to use weapons with bayonets as double weapons.
In GURPS pistol whipping is just slightly better than punching someone. A few weapons, like the Tower Sea Service Flintlock, do considerably more damage.
A common addition to the game stats for rifles (and weapons of similar size/arrangement) in later edition Hero System books is extra hand-to-hand damage dice described as a butt strike.
In tabletopGame/Deadlands, this is known as 'buffaloing' and is mentioned as being a favoured tactic of Wyatt Earp.
In Win Back, sneaking up on someone and pistol whipping them is entirely possible, but your trainer (after shoving out a guy for you to practice on, ) says this is not really always effective. So blasting 'em is better.
Ocelot very foolishly attempted to do this to Snake in Metal Gear Solid 3 rather than attempt to clear the jam in his gun, a very bad move since Snake is a hand to hand expert. A few moments later The Hero showed Ocelot how it's done when he easily parried another attack from Ocelot, hit him in the gut, then smacked the already stunned Ocelot on the back of the head/neck with the butt of his own pistol.
Snake himself utilizes this trope. If a weapon is equipped, and he attempts to punch, he will swing the weapon and do more damage to enemies than he would with his bare fists.
In Perfect Dark, it's entirely possible to steal a mook's Generic Pistol, then knock him out with it. Especially effective when done with the magnum.
Goldeneye for the same system. The 'punching' aspect for Bond, James Bond turns into 'Hit them with the sniper rifle' once said gun is obtained. Very delicate instrument for smacking in skulls...
America's Army 3 allows players to smack enemies with the butt of their rifle. Was implemented after instances in the previous versions where players found themselves out of ammo and unable to defeat their enemies.
In City of Heroes, most of the enemies have a firearm and some form of melee attack. This can look a bit ridiculous in cases where someone will pull out a gun, fire once, run in, pull out a small knife, and slice away. Most ridiculous, however, was the Malta Group. These are trained professionals, given advanced assault rifles and other high tech armaments, yet what do half of them do? Run up and punch you with one of their hands. Yeah. There is also an ally in a mission that earned the Fan Nickname of "General Pistol-Whip" because he would randomly run all the way across a packed room to pistol whip the bosses.
Similarly, every player character get access to the basic "Brawl" power, which under most circumstances is a punch. But for Thug Masterminds, who get dual pistols, using Brawl while your guns are out results in a pistol whip. Your thug "pets" will pistol whip enemies, too.
The Arachnos Soldier "Epic" Archetype has access to an attack called Pummel, which is a butt-stroke to your enemy's jaw. Low damage but has a decent chance to stun and a satisfyingly meaty sound effect.
Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction features this as the melee attack. One hit stuns the victim, and he or she can recover if left alone. You then have your choice of subduing that victim ... or throwing a second melee attack to kill. It does count as a kill, too.
More than fairly useful - the developers (and players) know it is an essential part of the gameplay, two melee hits in standard multiplayer will kill anyone, making it a prudent thing to use after shooting someone and closing in. Many fights with the standard-equipment end with a melee attack there. A hit from behind is instantly fatal.
It was actually taken to the extreme in Halo 3. Before it was removed, a melee kill would send the vanquished flying across the map. When asked why this is, Bungie replied "Because it's awesome". Unfortunately, it was later removed and player models behaved more realistically from melee kills.
Most Brute weapons have a blade of some sort on them to give pistol-whipping an extra ouch.
In Gears of War, the most common strategy in multiplayer was to run right up to your target, pop up at the last second and shotgun them in half. The Developers thought this was boring, so they added a delay between when you stop running and when you can fire. Now the most common strategy in Gears Of War 2 is to run right up to your target, pop up at the last second, club them with the butt-end of your shotgun, then shotgun them in half.
All the trilogy games also feature the lancer and the torque bow. The lancer has a chainsaw bayonet while is an an instakill against standard infantry. The torque bow has blades on it which make a slicing sound. Gears of War 3 gives us the retro lancer, which opts to replace the chainsaw bayonet with a monstrously oversized conventional knife type one. It's still an instant kill if combined with a sufficiently long charge.
Killzone 2 allows the player to choose between clubbing your enemy with your weapon or equipping a knife for a One-Hit Kill.
Awesomely subverted in The Punisher video game in which the Punisher prepares to pistol whip a mook but shoots him instead as said mook recoils in expectation of the gun strike.
You can hit guards with your weapons; typically when holding guards as a human shield, it's a nonlethal kill (the Punisher showing mercy? Egads!); however, some specific close range kill animations feature the Punisher clubbing the gangsters to death.
This is the melee attack of the rifle soldiers of Metal Slug.
Mr. X from Streets of Rage has a very annoying tendency to run right up to you and smack you in the face with his tommy gun. Which actually turns out to be much more powerful than actually firing it.
Draco from Samurai Shodown: Edge of Destiny takes this to its logical extreme, using a shotgun primarily as a melee weapon. Actually makes a certain amount of sense, considering all the playable characters use standard melee weapons...and while he does actually shoot with his gun, it doesn't kill or incapacitate instantly, and he has to reload after two shots.
Andrew from the same series's later games (5 and 6, if I remember) is much the same, primarily using a bayonet on the end of his rifle.
Splinter Cell. In the first two games, Sam can knock his enemies out by giving them a sharp rap over the head with his pistol. It comes back in Conviction where as part of Sam's melee kills.
Agent 47 can pistol whip any Human Shield in Hitman: Blood Money to save on knockout injections.
In the Team Fortress 2 Meet the Spy video, the Sniper senses the Spy sneaking sneaking up behind him while he's got his rifle ready and lashes out with the butt of it. It doesn't work too well, and he ends up giving that tactic up after the Spy's counterattack throws him against the wall and picks up his rather large knife. That doesn't work too well either.
Unlike in its predecessors, many infantry units that carry guns or crossbows in Age of Empires III switch to this whenever the enemy gets too close to fire at it. A few units like the Explorer do have secondary weapons for close combat like swords and knives, and as a result they are more deathly in close combat than the others.
Chrono Trigger features this. Marle and Lucca use, respectively, a crossbow and some sort of gun. Should their enemy be close enough, the 'firing' animation is replaced by either a buttstroke (Marle) or a swing of the barrel (Lucca).
Actually in Lucca's case, she uses the hammer she's holding in the official art.
Crossbowdwarves in Dwarf Fortress use their crossbows as melee weapons when they run out of ammo.
Borderlands has an interesting variation: you use your character's melee animation, unless the gun you use has a blade attached (and by extension, a increase to melee damage).
In Jak II, the opening cutscene has Jak get knocked unconscious by a rifle butt to the face.
In-game, in II and III, you can do this with your guns. Even better, it's part of a combo: you hit the enemy, then hit the fire button to shoot the hell out of them up-close, which works pretty well—-the melee attack puts the foe into a sort of stunned animation that nearly guarantees your subsequent shots will hit. And if you manage to kill them with the melee lunge, and hit fire, Jak will automatically turn toward the nearest enemy and shoot them.
There's a Pistol Whip ability for Smugglers in Star Wars: Galaxies, which does damage and stuns the target. Smuggler's offensive abilities are based around the use of pistols and melee weapons.
Also Smugglers gets the Blaster Whip ability in Star Wars: The Old Republic, Troopers also get the Stock Strike ability, which is e done by smacking the enemy in the face with the rifle butt. Commandos with BFG will just swing the assault cannon and smack the enemy with it.
The 2010 Alien vs. Predator game allows the Marine players to do this. While hardly practical to kill an enemy, it does generally give them enough space to use their firearms effectively. However, it does raise the question of how strong the Marines would have to be, considering when Arnold Schwarzenegger tried it the Predator just looked kind of annoyed and when Yaphet Kotto went hand-to-hand with an Alien he died almost immediately.
The original Mass Effect allows you to hit Wrex with the butt of a shotgun. This is pistol-whipping a ten-foot warlord who most people would take down with a rocket launcher. It works.
You also default to pistol whipping when an opponent gets too close to you. This allows you to knock them away and start shooting them again. ME2 switches Shepard's melee attack to him/her punching the enemy in most cases, though if using a sniper rifle s/he still appears to be hitting the enemy with the stock.
In the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer, batarians take this up a level by actually holding their rifles by the barrels and smacking enemies with their guns like a bat.
In Flashback Conrad will default to a pistol whip against close enemies, which varies from moderately useful to useless depending on the enemy.
Running out of ammunition for any weapons in the original Medal of Honor will cause Jimmy to instead smack enemy soldiers with whatever gun he's carrying. Since this produces the exact same death effects as shooting them with the gun would, hilarity quickly ensues— especially if you conk them on the noggin with the Panzerfaust.
The early Call of Duty games have this as your melee attack. Later games (4?) have switched to using a combat knife.
The Fallout: New Vegas DLC Honest Hearts introduces "Joshua Graham's Pistol Whippin' .45", a unique version of the unique .45 pistol designed so it appears that said character uses his signature weapon as a melee weapon. Not obtainable by the player without console commands.
Bayonetta can melee with her guns like this. She also likes to slap mooks around with her pistols in cutscenes.
In the Questern chapter of Buddy Rush, cowboy enemies do this with their guns. The ones with long range attacks... will use slingshots intead. If you get their gun from a random drop, its description implies they don't really know how to use guns.
It's possible to do this in the Grand Theft Auto series the easiest of which is IV.
In Tomb Raider Legend after the final battle, Lara confronts her former friend-turned-arch nemesis Amanda about her being responsible for the loss of Lara's mother. After punctuating her words with bullets Amanda gives in and tells her that her mother was sent to Avalon. Lara appears to have calmed down but delivers a wicked backhanded Pistol Whip, knocking Amanda out instantly.
Lara: WHERE [BLAM!] IS [BLAM!] MY [BLAM!] MOTHER?! [BLAM!]
Amanda: Avalon! It's not a myth. Don't you get it?!
[They both calm down a bit]
Amanda: You'll never understand. I'm wasting my breath.
Lara: [To an unconscious Amanda] From this moment, your every breath, is a gift from me.
Thieves in Guild Wars 2 actually have a skill called Pistol Whip when they equip a sword in one hand and a pistol in the other. The pistol whip stuns your target leaving them defenseless, followed by a flurry of sword strikes. It's arguably more effective than shooting your gun in some scenarios.
In Amagon, Amagon will resort to using his machine gun as a club when he runs out of bullet
P.O.W. Prisoners of War, an SNK arcade game later ported to the NES, occasionally gives an M16 as a powerup. While obviously players can quickly dispatch enemies with it, its ammo is limited and refills are not available. The P.O.W. can butt-strike enemies to save ammunition, but the attack is slower than a punch and lacks the range of a kick.
Narbonic plays with it a smidgen. Mell tries, but she can't quite manage it without advice from the person she's supposed to knock out. It's not her fault; she normally just shoots to kill.
Jonas does this to Edward Salinas in the lonelygirl15 episode "Prom: It's To Die For - Part 4".
A character in Survival of the Fittest attempts this once due to the close range between him and the opponent, but the opponent is able to dodge and get behind cover before the character starts shooting. However, Will Sigurbjornsson has recently used this to dispatch Clive Maxwell.
As a derivative of the Halo games, Red vs. Blue features this in many forms, all nonlethal. Often it works as a one-hit knockout ('Ow, the back of my head!'), but sometimes not, as when Tex tries to do this with a guard (and then resorts to more..and then starts just shooting him..).
This is how Shelton from Darwin's Soldiers generally uses a gun, since he's not trained in the use of firearms.
In an episode of The Simpsons, Snake threatens to pistol whip Homer; Homer naturally imagining that "pistol whip" means to eat a huge tub of whipped cream with a pistol. Later on, perhaps educationally, Snake serves Homer some real pistol whip.
"Hey, they're trying to learn for free!" "Get em!" "Use your phony guns as clubs!"
Done by the Ultra-Humanite to Flash in the Justice League episode "Comfort and Joy".
Dimitri in Anastasia is on the receiving end of a rifle butt to the temple after he helps Anastasia and her grandmother escape the implied Bolsheviks.
In probably one of the most horrifying animated versions of this in the Renand Stimpy Adult Party Cartoon episode "Ren Seeks Help" during Ren and Mr. Horse's fight, Mr. Horse reaches for his gun only to drop it Ren picks it up and bashes it over his head several times until he caves his skull in.
A move he learned from his mother when she, lightly, tapped her husband on the head with a similar revolver for handing it to their son. Then she gave little Ren a CHAINSAW to do the job.
Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp—and yes, that's his full name—was actually known for this. It is said that, around Dodge City when he was deputy, having a knot on one's head was actually known as having an "Earp."
Back then, it was known as "buffaloing" someone.
According to myth, Earp favored an extra-large revolver known as a Buntline Special specifically so he could flog people with its long and heavy barrel.
The reason for this is was Earp and many other law enforcement officers at the time believed a beating with a gun to show someone you were serious was a better deterrent than actually using the gun to kill someone. Of course, that changed when his brother was murdered.
Another real life example: Most infantrymen in modern armies are taught how to fight with rifles, without a bayonet, usually using the butt for striking and the barrel for parrying the other guy's rifle, but it's interchangeable, kinda. It's taught in boot camp and is a surprisingly effective way of killing someone in close quarters, in addition to the training's use by armies as an aggression enhancer for its men. Even when the gunman's weapon is loaded, in close quarters, a strike or two may be necessary before the gun can be brought to firing position.
The rifle combat technique includes several moves where you smack your opponent in the side of the head or face with the barrel or the side of the weapon.
This is why many military rifles were full-stock while their civilian/hunting versions can have a wide variety of stocks. The wooden part had to protect the barrel of the weapon from bending, nicking, pitting and so on, otherwise the gun would quickly lose any kind of accuracy. Nowadays, thanks to polymers both being lighter and stronger than the traditional wood, many guns have polymer folding or telescoping stocks.
Infantrymen are taught all manner of methods for mayhem, from bare-handed to edged weapons to the use of the rifle and fixed bayonet; US infantrymen, and probably many others, are even taught to use the entrenching tool—the infantryman's small folding spade—as a battle-axe in melee combat. The Japanese even have a martial art system called jukenjutsu for the rifle and bayonet, and JGSDF infantry units compete fiercely for prizes. JASDF and JMSDF units tend to compete at kendo instead.
Many armies (Soviet and Modern Russian armies included) teach the use of entrenching tools to their recruits, they are disturbing weapons in close quarters. A small spade wielded while holding nothing back can decapitate a man or crack his skull like a hatchet.
The rifle drills that all specialties train serve the practical (read: non-parade) purpose of conditioning soldiers and Marines in handling their rifles fluidly. Being able to spin it around your forearm, fling it in the air, then catch it balanced on your open palm isn't just for show.
Before the advent of bayonets in the late 1600s, formations of musket-wielding soldiers had no other option if they were forced into close combat. Which they were fairly often in war, because their guns had very short range and lousy accuracy, and they took half a minute to reload, so musketeers would get only one shot when the enemy was already nearly on top of them. Even after the invention of bayonets, this was still not unheard of as late as the Napoleonic Wars or even later, as a musket was easily heavy enough to kill, and bayonets, which were basically designed to turn the gun into a spear for use against cavalry, had to be yanked out of an enemy footsoldier's corpse.
The Finnish army assault rifle close combat drill consists of not only thrusts with bayonet, but also butt sweeps and strokes and blocks with stock and butt. The magazine can be used on trapping the opponent's weapon. Likewise, the conscripts are encouraged to hone the sides of the spade with whetstone - not only for better purchase on ground, but using the spade as a trench weapon.
People serving on ships in the days of single shot pistols usually got off their one shot and then used the pistol as a club, there was no possible way to reload in the middle of a fight.
Also a favoured tactic of Swedish cavalrymen during the Thirty Years War. High speed charges and low effective range of pistol volleys meant that there was little time to draw a sword before the melee began. Swedish cavalry pistols from this time are almost 4 inches longer than their continental counterparts, and have brass- or steel-plated butts specifically for this purpose.
The pistols favored by 18th century Scottish Highlanders seemed to be made with this in mind, being made entirely of steel.
Lewis Powell, the would-be assassin of US Secretary of State William Seward, tried pistol-whipping Seward's son Fred after Fred barred him from entering his father's room. Powell hit him so hard that he broke the pin on which the revolver's cylinder rotated, rendering it useless and probably saving William Seward's life.
He also cracked Fred Seward's skull so badly it was thought to be highly unlikely that he'd survive. He did.
Most interpretations of the Battle of the Alamo during the Texas Revolution have Davy Crockett and other doomed defenders resorting to using their rifles as clubs by the end of the siege.
Generally speaking, most flintlock pistols of the early ages of firearms were designed with this in mind. Considering that a flintlock takes precious time to reload, should anyone get close, the heavily weighted ends of the grips these older guns had packed one hell of a wallop. This particular use was referenced in Pirates of the Caribbean.
MCMAP (Marine Corps Martial Arts Program), teaches how to use the butt of a rifle as an extension of an elbow strike.
Krav Maga teaches pistol whipping as a technique, either once you've disarmed your opponent or countering an attempt by an opponent to disarm you. Though it does tend to be of the muzzle strike variant.
Eminem was accused of pistol whipping a man he claims he saw kissing his wife.