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Firing One-Handed

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Also known as Multi-tasking!

When a hero carries a handgun, he or she will tend to wield it and sometimes fire it in one hand. Perfect for still photo opportunities where the shooter's arm is bent above and behind their head and the gun is brought down to aim and fire. Even more cool is firing a gun sideways.

And sometimes the hero will have a gun in each hand. Or a sword in the other.

And then there are cases when someone is using a longarm one-handed. These weapons were never even meant for one-handed use, but it happens for some reason. Submachine guns are popularly shown this way, as they often look good in one hand, but they are still intended for two-handed use. This is the only way rifles and such can be used Guns Akimbo, but doesn't exactly look realistic.

The exception is if they are military or police officers, where they will use two hands. Unless they've gone rogue and/or are desperate.

Often justified in Westerns, for any of several reasons — for example, a character might shoot one-handed because they need their other hand for holding the reins of their horse. Or they might hold the gun with one hand while "fanning" the hammer with the other. Also justified for any media made prior to The '60s — in those days, firing a handgun with one hand while presenting a relatively small part of one's body to the enemy was the conventional wisdom among shooting instructors and taught in military manuals. It was thought that aiming one-handed whilst standing sideways-on to your opponent presents a narrower target and thus makes you harder to hit; whether this makes up for your own increased difficulty in hitting anything was (and still is) a matter for opinion. In any case, over time the one-handed stance has given way to more stable two-handed stances such as the Weaver stance and the isosceles stance.

For really big melee weapons being used in one hand, see One-Handed Zweihänder. Compare One-Handed Shotgun Pump, which is for reloading firearms one-handed rather than firing.

Examples of characters firing handguns one-handed:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Fate/Zero, Kiritsugu holds his Contender thus, despite the whole "firing rifle bullets" thing.
    • This could easily be justified by usage of Self-Reinforcement magecraft, albeit doing so is risky in its own right.
  • In Noir, Kirika does this frequently, and the directors even say that they specifically chose her weapon (a Beretta M1934) precisely so she could fire it with one hand.
  • Madlax, a character from the same creators, does the same thing with her two SIGs. She also goes for Guns Akimbo on regular basis - a vast improvement in coolness since Kirika's lone Hong Kong stairway scene.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz, Heero twirls a gun one-handed and later threatens to shoot someone, still going onehanded. He doesn't actually fire the gun, but it's still one-handed use.
  • In the booklet of StrikerS Sound Stage X, all art of Teana with the Cross Mirage's Blazer Mode show her wielding it one-handed. A little weird since she usually uses her gun with two hands when she's not going Guns Akimbo or using her other hand for something else.
  • Darcia from Wolf's Rain wields a pistol in one hand against Quent even when Toboe intervenes and latches onto his gun holding arm. He shakes him off and shoots Quent anyway.
  • General Cross Marian from D.Gray-Man uses a gun-like Innocence called Judgement. The cool thing about the bullets is that they won't stop moving until they reach their target, so if opponent deflects the bullets the first time, the bullet will come back and hit them again.
  • Subverted in Dogs: Bullets & Carnage. Mihai chastises Ian to "stop trying to look cool" and hold his gun in two hands when he sees him practicing with a one-handed grip.
  • In From Eroica with Love, NATO's Iron Klaus effortlessly fires a Magnum one-handed. Keep in mind that the recoil on one of those is dangerous even when you're firing it two-handed, and you can see where he gets the nickname.
  • In City Hunter many characters fire one-handed. Justified for Saeko and Reika, as the former tends to do it only when she has no time to actually grab it with two hands and the latter has a pocket pistol too small for a two-handed grab, with a number of other characters doing the same with low-recoil weapons (with one of them using a two-handed hold the one time he has actually time to take aim). Then you have people like Ryo and Umibozu, who fire Hand Cannons (Ryo uses his signature Colt Python and a Colt King Cobra, both chambered for the .357 Magnum, and has a .41 Magnum revolver for special occasions, while Umibuzu uses the Smith & Wesson Model 29 in .44 Magnum of Dirty Harry fame)... Then again, Umibozu is so huge he has to use Hand Cannons and a punch capable of shattering concrete, and Ryo himself is shown to be really strong (not to Umibozu levels, but can still pound Mooks with large gravestones)...
    • This was actually Lampshaded in one occasion, where a child wanted to learn how to fire a gun to defend his teacher only to floor himself by firing Ryo's Colt Python one-handed. Ryo promptly pointed out he was still too light and weak to fire any gun one-handed (and admitted that, when a child himself, he could only shoot two-handed), taught him the correct technique, and had him switch to a less powerful gun.

    Comic Books 
  • Invoked and subverted in Queen and Country: Russian gangsters hired to kill Tara Chace fire their guns one-handed; most of their bullets hit nothing, and one unlucky goon catches a stray bullet from his ally.
  • Depending on the Writer or Depending on the Artist, The Punisher will shoot either one-handed or with both hands. Writers or artists who want to have Shown Their Work, will likely have Frank shooting with both hands. Otherwise, he will fire guns one-handed, including automatics.
  • In Sin City, it is rare to see anyone firing with both hands unless they are using rifles. Considering the over-the-top nature of the series, this is expected.

  • In The Bourne Supremacy, Jason Bourne is unexpectedly hit with a gunshot. Cut and camera pan back to Krillik, standing on a bridge that turns out to overlook the walkway where Bourne was hit an unknown distance away, holding the gun one-handed.
  • A military example is seen near the end of Saving Private Ryan, when Captain Miller is mortally wounded during the German siege of the bridge held by Ryan and company. As a Panzer Tiger inches ominously across the bridge, Miller can do nothing but fire his pistol in pure spite. The tank explodes...thanks to the American planes blasting through the sky.
  • The Killer has Chow Yun Fat firing his Taurus handgun one-handed for most of the movie except when he picks up two guns.
  • None of the many Desert Eagles in Charlie's Angels (2000) or Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle is ever fired two-handed. And yes, this does require the Rule of Cool to keep those Hand Cannons from spraining people's wrists or knocking out their teeth like they would do in Real Life.
  • All the characters in The Matrix fire all manner of weapons one-handed, sometimes while performing various acrobatics, including one character who at one point dual-wields a pair of drum-fed automatic shotguns. This is all possible because it's happening in the Matrix, where the characters can bend the laws of physics.
  • Dirty Harry fires his famous .44 Magnum one handed. He must be pretty strong, considering that it's "the most powerful handgun in the world." Though, in the original film, he shoots two handed.
  • The hitman in Machete fires his assault rifle with one hand, and seems to have better accuracy than the goons who hold their rifles with both.
  • James Bond frequently fires one-handed, which is justified due to the fact that his preferred weapon for most of the films is a Walther PPK, the .32 ACP version in earlier works and the .380ACP or "9mm Short" model as of Skyfall.
    • The situation in the books is less clear; in addition to the iconic Walther and the .25 Beretta 418 he favoured before that, he would sometimes carry and use a .45-calibre revolver when he needed something more powerful but still concealable, and in For Your Eyes Only used a Colt 1911 during a stakeout.
  • The protagonist of Desperado and Once Upon a Time in Mexico is fond of using a Sawed-Off Shotgun one handed.
  • Mad Max is shown to be able to do this with a Sawed-Off Shotgun. He does it most frequently in the tanker chase sequence in Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. Even more impressive is the fact that he's able to score a perfect headshot on the driver of a moving vehicle while himself driving a huge truck.
  • The Professionals. When facing off with a machete-wielding bandito, Lee Marvin's character is standing side-on, as per the correct technique of the time. He's shown to have consistently accurate shooting using only his .38 revolver.
  • The Untouchables
    • Stone is introduced at the police shooting gallery where the recruits are using the one-handed side-on technique of the time. Unlike the other recruits, he practices his Quick Draw as well.
    • Less justified with the opening shot of the Union Station gunfight, where Elliot Ness kills the first mobster with a shotgun that he fires at one-handed at arm's length, not braced against the shoulder. That's a great way to break your shoulder or face with the recoil, or at the very least have your shot be wildly inaccurate. In this case it's because Ness is still holding onto the baby carriage with the other hand — he has to let the baby carriage go to pump the action and chamber another shell, sending it careening down the stairs.

  • The Dark Tower: Roland specifically lampshades this; real gunslingers are so awesome they don't need to use the other hand to steady themselves. It's a good thing, too, because he loses several fingers early into the series, allowing him to only use one hand to shoot. He never misses anyway.
  • Fontaine, from All Tomorrow's Parties does target shooting with a small calibre revolver, holding in it one hand.
  • Usually averted in the works of Tom Clancy, with two exceptions from the Jack Ryan series:
    • Rainbow Six has the main characters using a two handed stance, but at one point their pilot hits the pistol range to blow off steam and uses a one handed side-on stance. It's realistically portrayed as being a lot less accurate, but he's older than the other shooters and apparently that's how he was trained back in the day.
    • Discussed in Teeth Of The Tiger, in which one of the protagonists expresses a preference for firing one-handed whilst standing side-on to the target, on the grounds that this presents a narrower profile and makes him harder to hit. Whether this makes up for the reduced accuracy (his preferred sidearm is a .45ACP weapon) is a matter for opinion.
  • Averted by Incompetence. Harry gets his hands on Klingferm's gun and has to use both hands to steady his aim.
  • In The Last of The Untouchables, treasury agent Paul Robsky wins a shooting contest with his partner after noticing he only shoots two-handed, which Robsky attributes to being raised in the country with rifles. As Robsky was taught the one-handed military technique during World War I, his partner underestimates his prowess.

    Live Action TV 
  • Blake's 7, justified most of the time by the fact they're using directed-energy weapons.
  • In Torchwood, Captain Jack Harkness teaches WPC Gwen Cooper to shoot this way rather than the modern two-handed technique, though it may just have been an excuse to feel her behind.
  • In the Green Beret vs Spetsnaz episode of Deadliest Warrior, the Spetsnaz representative is shown using the Makarov pistol one-handed while navigating a nighttime target course with night vision goggles on.
  • This was tested on Mythbusters, and found to be reasonably accurate in comparison to the classic two-handed "Weaver" technique, and far more accurate than shooting from the hip or using Gangsta Style.
  • The Walking Dead, Rick tends to fire his revolver this way.
  • Star Trek's phasers are usually held one handed, apart from the rifles. It helps that they are energy weapons with no recoil. Given that the weapons in Star Trek are generally not shown to have any sort of sights, it's plausible that they also have some sort of smart aiming ability as well.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Most tabletop role-playing games featuring them consider pistols, revolvers, and possible futuristic equivalents thereof one-handed weapons as a matter of course. Two hands are for rifles, shotguns, and most automatic weapons.
  • GURPS assumes that characters fire all small arms one handed by default; using a second hand braces the gun, giving a small bonus to hit.
  • The World of Darkness games assume characters are firing pistols two-handed and has a higher Strength requirement for one-handed use.

    Video Games 
  • In Red Dead Redemption, John Marston fires all of his pistols and revolvers one handed, as well as the sawed-off shotgun. He also fans the hammer of his revolver in "Dead-Eye" mode. It should also be noted that he fans the hammer of his semi-auto pistols and sawed-off shotgun in "Dead-Eye", even though 3 out of the 4 pistols don't have external hammers and neither does the sawed-off. Most likely the developers failed to notice this, or they couldn't be bothered fixing it. Maybe both.
  • BioShock Infinite has Booker DeWitt, who will fire one handed while zipping about on skylines. This is acceptable for the pistol and Hand Cannon, but is a little more unbelievable on bigger weapons like the Sniper Rifle, the rocket launcher, and the two-handed Gatling gun which starts cranking itself.
  • Fallout and Fallout 2 both had a trait that allowed you to use one-handed weapons better with an accuracy penalty to two-handed ones.
    • Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas play with this trope. By default, handguns are held one-handed and fired from the hip but using careful aiming (right mouse button in the PC version) makes the wielder hold the gun with both hands at eye-level as well as zooming in slightly. Also, the Gunslinger perk increases one-handed weapon accuracy.
  • Team Fortress 2
    • The Spy's fires his Revolver and other primary weapons in one hand so he can hold up the other to look at his Invisibility watch or use the Dead Ringer.
    • The Engineer holds his pistol one-handed), but the Scout (who wields an identical pistol, albeit with less ammo in reserve) uses two.
  • Ashelin from Jak and Daxter usually wields her handgun single-handedly, as does Veger.
  • In Boktai, both Django and Aaron fire their smaller Solar Guns one-handed during normal gameplay. During the cutscene where Aaron fires his first shot, he uses both hands; the resulting shot is so powerful that it goes through the skeleton he was firing at... wait, change that. The shot was big enough to annihilate the skeleton and keep on going!
  • Ellis in Left 4 Dead 2 holds single pistols one-handed, including the Magnum. It doesn't affect gameplay in any way.
  • Glas, in the original Fear Effect, after he loses his left arm, is forced into firing his remaining weapons one handed, making this part the hardest in the game.
  • Shepard in Mass Effect uses two hands in combat, but only one when s/he wants to look cool (like at a photo op) or is threatening someone.
  • In Marathon, the main character holds the pistol, the fusion pistol, and the shotgun in one hand. To better pick up and use a second one, you see.
  • Soldier of Fortune's Desert Eagle-lookalike Hand Cannon is fired one-handed.
  • In Half-Life, Gordon Freeman holds his trusty low-powered, low-recoil Glock 17/Beretta M9 two-handed, but somehow fires the high-power, high recoil Colt Python revolver with one hand. In Half-Life 2 it's reversed, with the USP Match held one-handed (with resultant significant drop in accuracy) and the ever-accurate Python held two-handed. Black Mesa has him using both sidearms with two hands, and as in the original game both are quite accurate.
  • Devil May Cry
    • Nero in Devil May Cry 4 and Devil May Cry 5 fires a double-barrel revolver in which the caliber is almost that of a Smith & Wesson Model 500 revolver with one hand. Revolvers of that size are normally shot with both hands to brace for recoil. Can be justified by him being a quarter-demon with superhuman strength, much like Dante. Then again, a look at the modifications shows that both barrels are ported, which would greatly counteract the muzzle-flip and recoil of the gun.
    • Dante, likewise, always holds and fires his Sawed-Off Shotgun one-handed. In Devil May Cry 2, he doesn't even bother putting Ebony (the left-hand gun of his normal Guns Akimbo pistols) away while using said shotgun, apparently to facilitate the "Twosome Time" ability introduced in the game that lets the player shoot two targets at once.
  • Saika Magoichi from Sengoku Basara fires her flintlock pistols one-handed at all times and has impeccable aim. Thankfully all her other guns she holds with two.
  • The first-person models for some pistols and smaller submachine guns in some of the later Call of Duty games suggest that the player character holds and fires them in this manner, though this is not the case in third-person. The Wii versions tend to use this as an excuse to let the player fire them Gangsta Style as well.
  • All units with Sword and Gun fire this way in Dawn of War. The Commissar is notable for his Execute ability doing the "hand in air and brought down to fire" on whichever poor sod wasn't showing sufficient resolve in the face of the Emperor's enemies that day.
  • In Granado Espada, this is a possible shooting stance for pistols, which is between two-hand gripped firing and Guns Akimbo in accuracy and attack speed.
  • In The Matrix: Path of Neo like in The Matrix example above, can fire a pistol one-handed if he only has one at the time.
  • Rhi'a from Sands of Destruction wields her Guns Akimbo, but sometimes only fires one at a time, such as in the opening movie.
  • Juste Volerti of Aviary Attorney has to fire one-handed, he only has one hand. Leonie Beaumort doesn't have this restriction but also does this, though she only ever fires at point blank range, to execute someone.
  • Tomb Raider III averts this with the Desert Eagle, which is heavy enough that Lara has to wield it with both hands, unlike her Guns Akimbo normal pistols.
  • John Joe from the Richman series is a sharpshooter cowboy who does this in Richman 4's credits, along with his "selected" animation and starting pose in Richman 11.

    Web Original 
  • Arguably common in Survival of the Fittest; while it's rarely, if ever, outright said how a character with a handgun is actually holding it, handlers tend to assume the character is doing this instead of the proper two handed grip unless the post says otherwise or if it's a handgun such as a Wildey pistol or Desert Eagle that would be completely absurd to fire off one handed. This is, however, justified with guns like revolvers or the aforementioned Beretta M1934, which were designed to be able to be used one handed.

    Truth In Television 
  • Many handgun shooting events require the shooter to use only one hand.
  • A common misconception is that the only "proper" method of firing a handgun is using two hands. However, professional use of one-handed firing is not unheard of, moreso in the past than now. In fact, it used to be how many militaries trained their men to shoot since it developed from the shooting styles used for the earliest military pistols, which were designed to be fired one-handed.
    • There is quite a bit of history to this, but hopefully it can be summarized reasonably well thusly: The "Weaver" two-handed shooting style was popularized by Jeff Cooper, a man who trained almost every day of his adult life. It works extremely well in target competition, and is also effective in combat when used by someone who trains every day. Cooper-system trained people who do not practice every day tend to do badly in real shootouts because the Weaver posture requires fairly precise control, which tends to break down under combat stress. The one-handed style was popularized by Rex Applegate, who developed it so people who could not practice often could still be reasonably proficient fighters, though their maximum accuracy is not as good. Statistics of police shootouts show Applegate-system users shoot up to three times better than Cooper-system users in real fights. Modern gunfighting styles teach the strongest elements of both.
    • A professional is also trained to hold a handgun in one hand when his other hand is holding something else, such as a flashlight. One of the more famous holds on mainstream media is the Harries Hold.
    • The old one-handed handgun firing stance was developed from pistol dueling, with the stance using the rationale of presenting as little of a target to the opposition as possible. It's largely died out from findings that being shot through the side (as the stance makes likely to have happen if hit at all) is very lethal compared to being hit from the front (modern body armor providing much more protection to the front of the torso compared to the sides probably also contributes).
  • Almost all single-actions revolvers are made to be fired with one hand and become very awkward when using the modern two handed setup. It also doesn't help that if that second hand isn't placed properly, you can burn or even lose fingers from exhaust through the gap between the cylinder and the barrel.
  • A much more common trope back in the early days of firearms, with a saber in one hand and a pistol in the other being the favored strategy of most cavalrymen. This was largely due to early revolvers being slow and somewhat cumbersome (and until the advent of cartridge-firing top-break revolvers, it was unlikely that a cavalryman would have time to reload in the middle of a battle), as well as cavalry often taking down routed forces, a situation in which a saber is highly effective.
  • If someone was badly injured, silly or desperate, some muskets could be fired one handed, mainly because the accuracy of a musket was so poor anyway that there was effectively no benefit to firing it "properly".
  • Generally, almost any handgun (up to and including hand cannons like the Desert Eagle) can be accurately fired one handed with proper training and practice. The hard part is holding the gun steady with your arm extended, and not so much the recoil. That's why you see people in westerns using their off arm to support their shooting arm.
  • Most advanced pistol training requires the student to practice (both live and dry-fire) not only one-handed, but with their weak hand. The thinking is that you may at some point have an unusable (due to injury, awkward cover, etc) strong hand, so you'll need to instantly switch to your least-bad option.

Examples of characters firing other guns one-handed:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Psycho-Pass, Episode 11, Akane is given a shotgun by Makishima, he dares her to shoot him, she picks it up in one hand (she had the Dominator in the other) but she misses twice, and consequently, Makishima kills her friend, Yuki right in front of her.
  • In El Cazador de la Bruja, from essentially the same creative minds as Noir and Madlax, L.A. wields an M249 machine gun one-handed towards the end of the series. The lead girl-with-gun Nadie, on the other hand, usually prefers to hold her M1911 with two hands, as she doesn't possess the mad gunslinging skillz of her spiritual predecessors.
  • In Hayate the Combat Butler, the titular butler shows that he is perfectly capable of this by showing up to rescue Nagi early in the series from an enormous robot with a wrapped bundle on his back. He reveals this to be an HK-MG 3, which is normally a turret-mounted machine gun and simply tears through the robot's armor. Hayate is also apparently strong enough to easily wield it with one hand. Mysteriously, he also claims to have already been very familiar with the weapon somehow and seemed to have access to it before/without Sanzen'in resources.
  • In one of the later episodes of the first season of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Motoko fires Saito's anti-tank rifle single handed. Admittedly she's a fully body cyborg (effectively a human brain in a robot body) and she only does it single handed because her other arm had been torn off, but still. Keep in mind the first time we see this rifle is when it's being bolted down before firing to keep Saito from being blown away by the recoil.
  • In Psychic Squad, Black Phantom agent 'Beretta' wields a sniper-rifle one-handed during his first appearance. He justifies it by having Telekinesis, allowing him to absorb the recoil AND mentally control the bullets. And even then, he probably only did it since he was caught up in close combat - in a later appearance, when he's assassinating a target from a distance of several city blocks, he dutifully uses both hands and a tripod...
  • Mami from Puella Magi Madoka Magica has, amongst other things, wielded muskets one-handed and dual-wielded rifles! Justified because she's magical and created the guns with her magic, plus the firearms she usually conjures are single-bullet rifles, so firing one-handed while pulling out rifles after rifles is more efficient.
  • Hellsing: Rip Van Winkle occasionally wields her long-barreled flintlock musket with only one hand. This is justified since it shoots Homing Projectiles so it doesn't really matter if she aims or not.
  • Rain Spider from Desert Punk usually holds his M2 carbine one-handed.
  • Umibozu from City Hunter has fired a machine gun and even a bazooka one handed, in at least one occasion both at the same time. Then again, he's so huge the machine gun looks like a submachine gun in his hands.
  • A United Earth Kataphrakt in episode 4 of Aldnoah.Zero fires its 75mm assault rifle one-handed. Particularly notable since this is the only time in the series it happens; even Humongous Mecha normally need to use two arms for their rifles.

  • Averted and probably played straight at the same time in Aeon Entelechy Evangelion. Averted with Shinji, even when one of your Eva's arm is busted, firing a giant hypervelocity rifle one-handed is not a good idea. Implied to be played straight with Asuka, since she mentions that you need to reinforce your arm with the AT-field for one-handed firing.
  • With This Ring: Paul helps to develop the "Cobra", an improved version of the AK-47, which uses magnetic acceleration instead of an explosive. The local shooting instructor notes that the reduced recoil means it's possible to fire it accurately one-handed.

  • Terminator:
    • In The Terminator, the T-800 uses both a shotgun and an assault rifle one handed.
    • Near the end of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Sarah does this with a shotgun. Then again, her other arm didn't seem to be in any shape to help. The T-800 also uses several weapons one-handed, most famously the lever-action Winchester 1887 in the canal chase sequencenote  and a grenade launcher at Cyberdyne Systems to disable multiple police cars. The undisguised T-800s in the future also fire their weapons one-handed, which makes sense since, being robots, they don't need to manually aim or steady their weapons.
    • In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, the T-850 fires a Browning M1919 one handed with no additional support other than a strap. This is not camera trickery, Arnold actually fired the gun this way.
  • At one point in Tombstone, Wyatt Earp blows away a fleeing enemy with a double-barreled shotgun, one-handed, while riding on a horse at full gallop.
  • Infamously used multiple times by John Rambo, even in the comparably understated first installment. As badass as it looks, it's not entirely due to Rule of Cool; the M60 series he's fond of using are full-blown general-purpose machine guns and not assault rifles, so he needs one free hand to feed the loose ammunition belt into the gun or else it would jam.
    • Arnie does likewise again in Commando, also for the same reason. The guns he and Rambo use weigh between 23 and 27 pounds, to give you an idea of how strong someone needs to be to pull this off.
  • Taxi Driver
  • In The Rundown, the Rock uses what appears to be a very large sniper rifle one handed, as well as dual-wielded shotguns.
  • In The Crucible, one piece of evidence used to say Giles Corey is a witch was an ability to do this.
  • Ash from the Evil Dead trilogy famously uses a sawed-off shotgun one-handed, and in Army of Darkness uses a lever-action rifle one-handed as well. Course, he didn't have much choice in the matter.
  • The most recent film version of Last of the Mohicans features the most inexplicably skilled Hawkeye yet: two flintlock longarms, two shots, two kills (and with a friendly between his two targets to boot).
  • Men in Black: Kay fires his BFG one handed, without looking, at the alien. Because he's just that cool.
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon: Megatron fires his new fusion cannon/shotgun with one hand most of the time. This habit turns against him in the climax, after disabling Sentinel Prime with the gun it isn't cocked when Optimus decides he has had enough of Megatron. The gun backfires and Megatron is left defenseless.

  • In the Halo EU novel 'First Strike' the SPARTAN Linda achieves this with a sniper rifle, one hand, hanging upside down in the middle of a vertical descent, her other hand clutching the rope used for said descent. With perfect accuracy. Not even SPARTAN-ness can justify that level of crazy.
  • In the Ciaphas Cain novel The Traitors Hand a couple of soldiers are doing this while moving a wounded comrade from the frontline. Though this is actually subverted since Cain notes that it hindered their accuracy. Cain himself is an excellent shot with a laspistol, and almost always uses one hand since his chainsword is in the other.
  • One of the most hilarious examples in all literature is the hero of "Le Chevalier de Sainte-Hermine", who picks up and fires a gun with pinpoint accuracy at an assailant within seconds of the attack starting. During an ambush. At night. With a rifle.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Spycraft actually has a character option that lets you do this, albeit at a penalty to hit.
  • Warhammer 40,000's Bolters/Boltguns are fully automatic weapons that fire rocket-propelled, armor-penetrating, explosive rounds. They have a pistol grip, however, so sufficiently badass characters have been known to shoot them one-handed; this was a special rule from older editions called "True Grit." Only two examples come to mind: the Space Wolves, who are heroic Vikings in space, and Plague Marines of Nurgle, who are so bloated with disease that their bulk allows them to absorb the considerable recoil. These days, bolters aren't seen being used one-handed terribly often, though it's conceivable that they can: their construction and intended use isn't too different from an SMG (including a pistol grip), and recoil is mitigated by firing a two-stage propelled round, along by being most commonly used by a power-armoured super soldier.
    • The table-top RPG series starting with Dark Heresy gave us the Recoil Glove, an in-universe justification for people one-handing a normally two-handed gun. You could still fire it that way without such a tool, though with a "Difficult (-20)" modifier to your roll target. The vaunted Space marines have this integrated into their armor, meaning someone trained in Two Weapon Wielder could theoretically fire two Storm Bolters at once: that is, in a single turn, putting sixteen self-propelled self-stabilizing gyroscopic rocket-bullets (possibly that also explode into flechettes or spray virulent acid everywhere) down range, without penalty.
    • No one uses both hands to fire a pistol weapon (including bolt pistols, a favorite of commissars) as this would prevent them from holding a chainsword/energy blade/six-foot-axe/demonic weapon in the other. Averted with lasguns and other rifle weapons, which are fired two-handed.
    • Of course, being 40K, this trope has to go to 11 somewhere. Enter Terminator Armor, which is a rare form of power armor that is nothing less than a hulking mass of thick armor plates and artificial muscle fibers that weighs about as much as a large car, wrapped around an Astartes. The most commonly issued ranged weapon is a Marine-scaled Combi- and Storm Bolters, one handed, and both of which are essentially two strapped-together small-scale heavy weapons when in the hands of a normal human. And then, anybody in Terminator Armor can switch those out to wield a heavy weapon that usually gets put into a vehicular hardpoint or a firing team, like Plasma Cannons, Assault Cannons, Autocannons, Psycannons (noticing a pattern?). And they also have a melee weapon in the other hand, unless they've been equipped and a dedicated melee unit. It's also worth mentioning that they can also "no-hand" if given a Cyclone Missile Launcher, but that's another trope.
  • Possible in GURPS, with very high (but far from unattainable) strength. GURPS: Gun Fu adds a new character advantage that increases effective strength specifically for the purpose of one-handing a two-handed firearm in order to replicate this move in cinematic games.
  • In Star Wars: Saga Edition, one can wield a weapon with a stock with one hand, for a sizable penalty, regardless of how big the weapon really is in relation to you. Thus, a pistol with a stock (equivalent to say, a Beretta 93R) would be just as cumbersome as a full-sized rifle (equivalent to an M16A2) no matter what logic may say about size and weight.
  • Rifts has the Sharpshooter skill, which is only available to a select few classes (such as the Gunslinger). One of the trick shots available is the ability to fire a two-handed rifle in one hand.
  • Shadowrun has optional rules for wielding rifle sized guns like shotguns and assault rifles in one hand with a penalty to accuracy; trolls, due to their size, have significantly reduced penalties for doing so.

  • The first few years of the G.I. Joe action figures from the 80s had to be posed like this, since before the additional joint was added to the figures' arms to allow horizontal rotation they lacked the flexibility to be easily posed supporting their weapon with both hands. Of course, even after that change was made, it was common for their box art to depict them wielding an accessory in each hand and thus playing this trope straight.

    Video Games 
  • EXTRAPOWER: Attack of Darkforce: As Gekko Wolf fights from the back of a motorcycle, he typically attacks by firing his gun one-handed.
  • Dante from Devil May Cry fires a Sawed-Off Shotgun one-handed. Some of the more demonic firearms (Nightmare-Beta and Artemis) justify this by literally wrapping to his hand. The shotgun can also be justified by Dante having superhuman strength.
  • Carl "CJ" Johnson, protagonist of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas can dual-wield Sawed Off Shotguns.
  • In Halo, Flood combat forms have their non-dominant hand disfigured into a massive claw for mêlée combat, and thus wield whatever weapon they carry with just one hand—even sniper rifles and rocket launchers—with no apparent disadvantage.
  • In Jurassic Park: Trespasser, main character Anne uses all weapons one handed, due to her other arm being broken (read: not being programmed into the game). This includes rifles. And an extremely heavy metal mace.
  • In GoldenEye (1997) on the Nintendo 64, one bonus mission has Jaws coming at you with dual M-16s AR-33's, which you can use if you take him down. With the all weapons cheat, this extends to everything from submachineguns to rocket launchers.
    • Xenia Onatopp comes at you with a grenade launcher in her left hand and an RCP-90 in the other. You get to do this as well once she gets tied up.
    • There's also a glitch that can be done with the all weapons cheat that allows you to mix up weapons, resulting in such combinations as having an RCP-90 in one hand with a shotgun in the other, or somehow managing to use the Moonraker Laser in tandem with the Watch Laser (which altogether, would require three hands to operate).
  • In Team Fortress 2, the Heavy doesn't use his shotgun with one hand to fire, but he does twirl it around like a pistol in a taunt.
    • And thanks to a popular glitch, he's also able to spin his minigun in the same manner.
    • Also, the Demoman fires his Stickybomb Launcher one-handed in first-person view.
    • The Engineer and Spy both use their handguns one handed. This is considerably more impressive on the Spy's part when he uses the Ambassador, a Hand Cannon of a Sniper Pistol which looks like it should weigh at least two kilos.
    • The Pyro will fire his Scorch Shot Flare Gun one-handed when he taunts with it. It's also a One-Hit Kill at close range.
  • Subject Delta from Bioshock 2 fires his weapons with one hand, and his plasmids with the other.
  • Saika Magoichi of Samurai Warriors wields his musket one-handed sometimes (specifically during his musou attack, when it inexplicably fires like a shotgun). Occasionally, he'll also fire one-handed, but with the gun braced against his body (mostly during his SMG-like spraying shots). Yeah, it's one of those.
  • In Resident Evil 5, both Chris and Wesker fire the triple-barreled "Hydra" shotgun one-handed. With their arm fully extended. Enjoy that carpal tunnel.
  • The first boss in Time Crisis 4 uses a Barrett M82 one-handed. This is a gun so big that most people would probably be knocked over from firing it with both hands if they don't have the bipod deployed.
  • Shepard in Mass Effect fires his/her gun one handed when the target is standing very close by.
    • Many characters fire assault rifles one-handed, particularly in cutscenes, but are rarely shown hitting anything this way. Krogan, meanwhile, sometimes use shotguns singlehandedly (such as in "Eve"'s Establishing Character Moment, where she goes from an ill girl in a containment pod to One Hit Killing two Cerberus Mooks with Wrex's shotgun in a couple of seconds).
    • The Shadow Broker wields one of the heaviest and most deadly assault rifles in one hand and an energy shield in the other. And he is very accurate with it, too. Of course, given how huge he is, it still looks more like a pistol in his hand.
    • In general, characters use firearms of all sizes with two hands during actual gameplay, but some cutscenes have them switch to one-handed shooting.
  • From the Call of Duty series:
  • Fallout games:
    • Various pistols and SMGs are fired using only one hand, which affects game mechanics for characters who took the one-handed weapon trait.
    • Prior to Fallout 3, super mutants always carry and fire heavy weapons one-handed. Always. Not surprising given their immense size and strength.
      • While regular super mutant variations in Fallout 3 use long weapons like any human would, the Broken Steel addon introduced a new tier named Super Mutant Overlord that fires any ballistic weapon including heavy assault rifles one-handed. Strangely, their default weapons - Tri-Beam laser rifles - are significantly smaller, lighter, and don't have any recoil, but are fired two-handed for some reason.
  • In the cutscene that plays when launching Left 4 Dead, Francis does this with a shotgun while aiming out of the corner of his eye.
  • Oda Nobunaga of Sengoku Basara wields a Sawn-Off Shotgun one-handed, with a sword in the other.
  • In Red Dead Redemption, John Marston will fire any weapon one-handed if turned far enough to the side while on horseback. This includes a rifle intended to bring down full-grown buffalo.
  • Plenty of people use sawed-off shotguns in Umineko: When They Cry, but Kyrie is the only one to wield it one-handed, which makes quite a sharp contrast among them. You can really tell that under her Cool Big Sis personality, she's not to be trifled with.
  • In X-COM, weapons that do not automatically take up both hand slots can be fired one-handed, but you get an accuracy bonus if you leave your other hand empty. The character models, however, will always show your characters firing them one-handed because of graphical limitations.
  • In Jagged Alliance, characters with the "big" character model like Grizzly and a very high strength stat can fire longarms one handed, including shotguns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, and light machineguns, and suffer no accuracy penalty for it.
  • Metal Gear:
    • Pre-release images for Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots typically showed Snake wielding an M4 carbine one-handed, his other preoccupied with using a knife for CQC; it's the same manner as Big Boss held his M1911 in the previous game, just taken to ridiculous extremes. In the released game, this only happens in one or two cutscenes wherein Snake is clearly intending to use the knife rather than his rifle if he encounters trouble, and in regular gameplay, while he does hold the foregrip of the M4 or any other longarm with a knife in hand that he could quickly swap to if needed, he still holds the rifle with both hands and instead uses the stock of the rifle for CQC.
    • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater: The Boss's gun, the Patriot, is a modified XM16E1 with a shortened barrel and the stock removed, effectively making it a sawed-off version of an an automatic rifle. Sigint notes that due to its modification, the gun generates a massive amount of recoil, but the Boss being able to fire it accurately just one-handed shows just how strong she is.
  • Dawn of War 2: General Castor can fire a sniper rifle one-handed (justified with Artificial Limbs).
  • Fire the scatter gun enough times in Jak II: Renegade and Jak will eventually hold it with one hand and Gangsta Style.
  • Granado Espada's Lionel von Hanen has a unique Guns Akimbo stance that features not two pistols, but a pistol and a rifle. He shows no signs of straining from carrying and firing that rifle using only one arm (though he does use the other arm as support for certain skills), despite having no supernatural powers whatsoever.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, a post-release pistol-class weapon uses the same model as one of the smallest rifles, essentially carrying it one-handed.
  • Salvador of Borderlands 2 can Gunzerk with any two weapons, whether they're pistols, rifles, or rocket launchers.
  • In The Matrix: Path of Neo if Neo only has one shotgun, he can fire it one-handed. He also does this with a grenade launcher, though you only get one of those one at a time.
  • An unintentional example in Half-Life 2: judging by the gun's first person viewmodel, Gordon Freeman fires the OSIPR AR2 pulse rifle one-handed. This is strange for a number of reasons: one, he holds the much smaller and lighter SMG with both hands; two, the AR2, unlike most other guns, actually suffers from pretty severe recoil. It was stated to be a design oversight.
  • Balthier and Basch from Final Fantasy XII fire Ivalice's rifle- and shotgun-sized guns and crossbows one-handed with no ill effects. That's despite the fact that they otherwise hold them in a two-handed grip.
  • Reaper from Overwatch is able to dual-wield shotguns.
  • Far Cry 4 allows for this as a side-effect of dedicating one of the weapon slots to "sidearms" and allowing for weapons of that category to be fired with one hand from vehicles, on ziplines, or while carrying a body with the relevant skill. Most sidearms are indeed pistols and the like, including the two smallest SMGs, but the class also includes a Grenade Launcher, an automatic crossbow built out of a two-handed SMG, and two different varieties of Sawed-Off Shotgun.
  • Blood's "Guns Akimbo" powerup allows for this, granting you a second copy of several weapons, mostly ones that would otherwise be used with both hands such as the shotgun, Tommy gun, Napalm Launcher, and with one of the expansions, the Tesla gun. Blood II dialed things back a little - the only gun you can use two of that would raise some eyebrows is the returning sawed-off shotgun - in return for making akimbo an inherent ability rather than a limited powerup. Game Mods tend to expand on how many guns can be used akimbo, as well, and even without them it was originally intended that the assault rifle with underslung Grenade Launcher could be used akimbo (although, naturally, the grenade launcher wouldn't be usable with two guns at once).
  • Almost all VR games necessitates this as the controls are a pair of gun-like analog controllers, one on each hand. Half-Life: Alyx is a prominent example, where all of the weapons Alyx used are handguns or one-handed weapons.
    • And in almost every VR exception (where the in-game controllers map to hands which can attach to multiple points on a two-handed weapon, allowing it to be aimed and steadied with both hands at once), nothing is actually enforcing that a two-handed weapon be used two-handed and the lack of realistic kickback makes it perfectly possible to fire sniper rifles and the like one-handed (and scopeless)... although it really does impede accuracy.
  • Averted in most light-gun games and controllers, most notably anything that uses Namco's Guncon or the Nintendo Wii Zapper, where the guns are large and bulky enough (and the console version has controller on the front grip to be used by left hand) that the only effective way to held it is by both hands.
  • The protagonist of Severed Steel fires everything from pistols, SMGs, shotguns, assault rifles and grenade launchers, one-handed with not much pentalty in accuracy, which is proves to be handy as said character is missing an arm, only getting a replacement Arm Cannon she is able to use alongside the weapons. The single arm thing does prevent her from reloading weapons however, so she constantly scavenges firearms off the enemies.


    Web Original 
  • In Red vs. Blue, the Freelancers are occasionally shown firing such things as shotguns and sniper rifles one-handed. The show seems to justify this with Charles Atlas Superpower, as most of the Freelancers are simply highly-trained yet ordinary human beings.

    Truth In Television 
  • In Real Life, one of Eliot Ness' Untouchables, an American Indian ex football player, used a shotgun one handed. The Untouchables: the G.I. Joe of their time.
  • Audie Murphy once, when surprised by an enemy, whirled around and fired his M1 Carbine one handed to lethal effect. Mind you, the M1 Carbine (no relation to the M1 Garand) was initially designed as an intermediate weapon for issue to tank crewmembers, artillerymen and other troops who needed an Emergency Weapon; its ammunition produces comparable recoil to .44 Magnum, and in fact a number of handguns chambering it have been made.
  • Certain bullpup weapons (such as the P90) are easier to use one-handed than conventional firearms, due to the ammunition and chamber (and therefore much of the weight) being behind the point where one grips it. While that doesn't mean they can be accurately fired one-handed, it's still more reasonable compared to using normal firearms one-handed.
  • Many ordinary assault rifles, such as the venerable M16, can be fired one-handed given sufficient training. This requires a bit more arm strength than the average human being can muster, but not by much; most trained soldiers would be able to accomplish such a feat, especially given that the recoil levers the barrel up and thus counteracts the front-heavy balance of the weapon. The real problem, of course, is that the lack of accuracy for no readily apparent gain makes one-handed rifle shooting Cool, but Inefficient. Also, if you try that at the shooting range, you're likely to find yourself on guard duty for the rest of your military career.
  • Originally designed for persons with disabilities in mind, the firearms industry in the US has developed a stabilizer brace that allows an AR-pattern pistol to be fired with one hand, which is placed on the buffer tube in lieu of a stock. Since it is not legally a buttstock, and is on a gun with a barrel shorter than 16", the firearm is legally still a pistol and sidesteps the ATF's regulation on short-barreled rifles.
  • The inevitable culmination of this trope has to be shooting two 15-pound, belt fed squad automatic weapons, one in each hand.
  • The SPAS-12 convertible (capable of firing semi-auto or pump-action) shotgun often came with a folding stock with a hook attached to the buttpad that allowed for one-handed shooting while using a riot shield. In practice the gun was too damn heavy for it to really be practical.
  • And of course, any weapon designed for two-handed use can be used one-handed if you rest it on a stationary object, such as a built-in bipod or a sandbag. In fact, these weapons are most accurate when used this way, because unlike your arm, the sandbag will never get tired and never moves.
  • As shown by FPSRussia here,, the AA-12's design absorbs 90% of its recoil, making it surprisingly easy to fire single-handed. Or two at once. Accuracy is a moot point when you have two automatic shotguns dispensing buckshot everywhere infront of you.
  • In the 1986 FBI Miami shootout, Edmundo Mireles was forced to fire both his shotgun (a Remington 870 with 00 buckshot) and his service revolver (a Smith & Wesson Model 686 .357) one handed, after taking a .223 round to his left forearm, that Mireles himself on the FBI Files described as looking like road kill. Amazingly, he was the one who ended the shootout.
  • Firing live shells through a pump-action shotgun with only one hand is not only hard to do safely for smaller shooters, but it will also fling the action open from the recoil, which can cause the next shell to fall out of the receiver if you aren't careful; quite the opposite of looking cool. Movie shotguns don't have these problems because blanks don't produce nearly enough muzzle energy to push back the bolt.
  • Despite the ability to fire the AA-12 one-handed as mentioned above, most semi-auto shotguns don't have it much better. Without a tight grip on the forend to control the recoil, the kickback is severe enough that you'll frequently catch the ejected shell halfway and cause a stovepipe jam.
  • The lever-action 1887 shotgun featured in the page image from Terminator 2 doesn't have the same problem as pump or semi-auto guns do, but it comes with its own drawback to one-handed firing: It hurts like hell, because it's nearly impossible to get a tight enough grip on the weapon thanks to the angle and thickness of the combined pistol grip and handguard. With live shells and no hand on the forend to help brace it, the recoil drives said handguard straight back into the shooter's fingers.

Alternative Title(s): One Handed Is Cool