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This article is about the gameplay mechanic. For the Deleted Scenes mission, see Recoil (mission).

Recoil is a gameplay mechanic in the Counter-Strike series.


Recoil is the backward momentum of a gun when it is discharging bullets and causes players' screens to "shake". This often causes the shooter to sway away from their intended target after the first shot due to the momentum "kicking" the shooter's aim. The higher the recoil, the more the screen will vibrate.

All guns in the Counter-Strike series have a specific pre-generated table of values, containing the amount of recoil (horizontal and vertical movement) applied to each shot. Crouching does NOT reduce the amount of recoil and running does not increase it (They increase the weapon's bullet spread however). The first shot fired while spraying is always unaffected by recoil and is completely accurate (however, bullet spread is still in effect).

Recoil movement does not move the crosshair. However, the position the shot strikes is moved according to the recoil, causing shots to miss the crosshair while spraying bullets. If the crosshair has moved, the position the shot strikes will move with the crosshair, remaining in the same relative position.

For fully automatic weapons, as long as the mouse button is held down, the index into this table increases by one for each shot, making its spray pattern (the pattern of bullets while spraying a constant pattern that stays the same) regardless of the player's status. However, for semi-automatic weapons like pistols, this index is chosen at random for every shot, making its the spray pattern a variable pattern.

Spray patterns are useful for visualizing the movement of shots according to the recoil and are very useful when practicing recoil compensation (see below). Generally, the first few shots will exhibit lots of upward vertical movement and little horizontal movement. The shots after that will exhibit more horizontal movement and little vertical movement, causing the shots to sway from left to right. More powerful weapons like the AK-47 and the Negev will often have a more active and unpredictable recoil pattern.

When the player stops shooting, the recoil index will drop down and return to zero (completely accurate like the first shot) after a short moment. Shots fired when the recoil is dropping will go back up the list from the index the player is at when the gun is fired.

Pump-action shotguns and bolt-action sniper rifles are unaffected by recoil due to the long intervals between each shot. However, they are affected greatly by bullet spread.


The compensation of recoil is a tactic and a skill often utilized by more experienced players to increase their accuracy while spraying.

The basic version of compensation involves moving the crosshair down during spraying. Due to the fact that the shots affected by the recoil remain in the same relative position, they will strike a lower position. Thus, the vertical movement of the shots can be compensated, allowing better accuracy. However, due to the fact that the horizontal recoil is still in effect, many shots will still sway away from the intended target.

The more advanced version of compensation involves moving the crosshair in a "reverse spray pattern", the spray pattern flipped vertically and horizontally. This way, all horizontal and vertical movement is compensated, and all shots will land near the player's initial crosshair position, greatly increasing accuracy.

A commonly utilized tactic is to burst fire for recoil to reduce and maintain accuracy.

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