A headshot is a direct shot to the head dealing appoximately 400% of the weapon's base damage, usually resulting in an instant kill or massive damage to the target.
Most firearms (all firearms in Global Offensive) are capable of killing enemies without helmets instantly with a headshot. When a helmet is equipped however, the number of weapons capable of delivering a one-hit headshot kill is significantly reduced, but they are still capable of dealing high amounts of damage.
Due to the small size of the player's head hitbox, landing a headshot is highly difficult.
In addition, headshots produce a more distinct "dink" noise (with helmet) or splash sound (without helmet) compared to normal body shots.
In Global Offensive, headshot "dink" sound only hear for the player who scored the headshot.
Headshot kills have their own unique icon next to the weapon used in the kill feed. Before Counter-Strike 1.6, only the headshot icon appears if a player is killed by a headshot while the weapon does not appear next to it, after which the weapon icon appears alongside the headshot icon.
- When aiming, hold the crouch button to shoot more accurately.
- When using automatic weapons, shoot in short bursts of 1-3 bullet(s) depending on the weapon's rate-of-fire to prevent accuracy degradation from high recoil.
- The amount of damage dealt decreases with distance. While rifles remain powerful, pistols, shotguns and SMGs will suffer considerably at range. Knowing each weapons' effective range is therefore as important as learning how to use them.
- If using high-recoil weapons and player is not experienced at recoil control, aim low that the kick may bring the point of impact to the head.
- Sniper rifles and other scoped weapons provide a narrower depth of field to aid in aiming.
- Find good sniping spots capable of overseeing many areas, while also providing protection from enemy fire.
- For the AWP, any shot to a target's body (excluding the legs) will score a kill instantly, unless the target is behind a prop, wall, or other obstruction.
- If a target is behind cover or will be entering the area soon, aim at a point in the target's path and fire when the target's head pops out.
- Since all player models are exactly the same height, memorize the head height of commonly trafficked areas throughout the map by using wall textures or common object placement (for example, the corridors of Nuke where the stripes on the walls are roughly the height of a player's shoulders).
- In addition, make it a habit of placing your crosshairs at head height at all times to increase the likelihood of scoring headshots.
- Since the helmet cannot protect users from certain types of weapons, use a sniper rifle, an AK-47, close range shotguns, or a Desert Eagle to increase the chance of a headshot kill.
- In Counter-Strike: Source however, it is suggested to aim for the stomach/torso of a target when wielding the M3 shotgun, since the damage is powerful enough to kill the target instantly if all pellets score a hit. Usually, the pellet spread is low enough to kill an enemy assailant up to 7 meters instantly.
- In Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, the damage for most weapons has been increased. As a result, certain weapons can be used to instantly kill fully armored enemy targets, unlike in previous games.
- In older games, knives can deal massive head damage if slashed at the correct place. Aiming for the face can increase the chance to deal headshot damage, although two knife slashes at the face are required to kill a target. It is also possible to stab at the head but it is very hard to perform due to the small stabbing range but if performed correctly, it can instantly kill the intended target.
- Although relatively expensive, the easiest protection from headshots is to purchase a Kevlar vest and a helmet, since it will provide considerable damage reduction to the player from headshots from most weapons.
- If possible, avoid enemies wielding weapons with such capability.
- If running away is not an option when confronting enemies, especially snipers, try to move around randomly to avoid headshots.
- Use grenades to increase the chance of an escape or retaliation.
- Smoke grenades can conceal a player's presence.
- Flashbangs can temporarily blind the enemy and help reduce accuracy.
- Molotov cocktails/Incendiary grenades can make an enemy more vulnerable by forcing the enemy to move out from concealment and reduce the enemy's accuracy.
- A well-timed decoy grenade can distract the enemy or convince the enemy to move.
- Never crouch at short range, as normal shots to the torso will likely become a headshot. Crouching also makes scoring a headshot on enemies less likely while increasing a player's own chances of dying from a shot to the head.
- However, it is possible to engage assailants and then crouch, especially when confronting a sniper who was attempting to aim for the head.
- Avoid open warfare locations where the player can be targeted from many directions, since focusing on a single enemy (or a single direction) will leave the player vulnerable from other directions.
- Jumping can disorient enemies but decreases the player's chance to quickly run away by slowing the player down. Jumping also greatly reduces a weapon's accuracy.
- The Tactical Shield is an excellent item to use to prevent lethal shots to the head.
- Never approach an enemy head-on who is standing on higher platform, as the chance of the enemy scoring a headshot is greater.
- Never spray more than 3 bullets from any gun from long range, as it will give away the player's position to the enemy allowing for quick return fire, especially if the enemy is using a sniper rifle.
| Battle Sight Zero|
Kill 250 enemy players with headshots.
| Safety First|
Survive a shot to the head because you had the good sense to wear a helmet.
| Head Shred Redemption|
Kill 5 enemy players with headshots in a single round.
- Servers running custom sounds may signify a headshot kill with the "HEADSHOT" Unreal Tournament sound, or the famous "BOOM! HEADSHOT!" quote from "FPSDoug."
- In GoldSrc Counter-Strike games, even if a player isn't killed by weapons, there is a small chance that the console says it's a headshot. Example methods: committing suicide by jumping from higher ground or with HE grenade or environmental obstacles like an elevator, drowning in water, ..., inputting bot_kill command in the console (if playing with bots),...
- In GoldSrc Counter-Strike games, if a player is killed with a headshot without a helmet at higher places (such as the security room in Assault), heavy blood sprites will appear.
- In Counter-Strike the headshot icon displayed appears to be a ski-masked head (or the head of a Phoenix Connexion member) with a bullet piercing through the head.
- The icon in Counter-Strike: Source appears to be a Phoenix Connexion head with a bullet penetrating into the side of the head.
- Even if the "Friendly Fire" option is disabled in GoldSrc games, the sparks will still appear when a player fires a bullet at a teammate who is wearing a helmet. In Source games, if a player shoots at a teammate who is not wearing a helmet, the impact will still disorientate the victim.
- Despite being unable to deal headshots, a grenade will still create the "plink" headshot sound if blast damage is done to the head.
- In GoldSrc games, if the player is shot in the head but survives, a blood spitting sound can be occasionally heard.
- In GoldSrc games, when players are killed by a headshot, dying sounds can be heard. This is not present in Source.
- Prior to Global Offensive, the Glock-18, Five-SeveN were the only weapons incapable of killing an unarmored player with a headshot at any range.