Hand-To-Hand Combat Guide

In both Red Dead Redemption 2 and Red Dead Online you can deal with enemies in a variety of ways, and there is a huge selection of weapon that lets you fight from short, mid and long range. If you want to get up close and personal with enemies, however, you will have to rely on the most trustworthy of weapons available: your fists.

Hand To Hand Combat

Both the story and online modes features the same robust hand-to-hand combat system which has a little more depth than what we have seen in previous games developed by Rockstar. As some story missions require players to deal with enemies by using their fists, becoming a master in hand-to-hand combat will make some missions way less frustrating than what they would be otherwise.

In this guide, we will cover everything there is to know about this system and provide some tips that will help you emerge victorious from any bar or street brawl.


Before being able to engage any NPC in both story mode and online, you must unequip any weapon you have on hand. Doing so is very easy, just access the Weapon Wheel and highlight the hand symbol on the right.

Fist Fighting

Now that your hands are free, it's time to check out the controls. During fist fights, you can punch, which is done with the B button on Xbox One and the Circle button on PlayStation 4, block, which is done with the X button on Xbox One and the Square button on PlayStation 4, grapple, which is done with the Y button on Xbox One and the Triangle button on PlayStation 4 and break free, which is done by tapping the B button on Xbox One and the Circle button on PlayStation 4. Of all the possible actions, however, two of them are the ones used the most to win: punch and block.

On PC, the controls are LMB/H for Punching, RMB for Aiming, F for Grappling, and Space for Blocking.

Time to Fight!

To begin fistfighting any NPCs, you just need to get close to them and press the punch button without any weapon equipped. If the NPCs rises up to your challenge, you will see both the AI controlled character and Arthur get in a guard stance.

Hand-to-hand combat in Red Dead Redemption 2 and Red Dead Online is better approached in a reactive, rather than pro-active way: if you just mash the punch button, you will have a hard time winning without getting damaged heavily.

Instead of trying to oppress opponent with your offensive pressure, it's better to keep the block button pressed to block the opponent's attacks. Once you have blocked a few, you can get a few hits of your own in without them having the time to block or interrupt your string. Don't go beyond three punches, however, as the opponent will likely block and counterattack.

Fist Fighting

If you are having trouble with an opponent that fights on the defensive, you have the option of using the grapple command to break their guard and get some punches in. Don't abuse it, however, as this action can be blocked if used at the wrong time. Opponents can also try to grapple you, and you must tap the punch button as quickly as possible to get free.

Success is Built on Failure

Like many of the mechanics in Red Dead Redemption 2 and Red Dead Online, it takes some time to understand them. Unlike shooting, however, you don't get much practice in hand-to-hand combat during the course of story missions, so you must engage in fistfights yourself while roaming the map to get some good practice.

As doing this will make you wanted, however, we suggest you avoid doing it as much as possible to prevent your bounty from raising and making your life more difficult in certain regions.

If you want to get some good practice for hand-to-hand combat without having to escape from the law all the time, we suggest you replay the Chapter 2 mission Americans at Rest, which also serves as an introduction to the system as well. You can replay any story mission by accessing the progress menu while pausing the game.

Logan Smith

Logan is probably the most knowledgable Red Dead Redemption 2 and Red Dead Online writer we have onboard, having authored the vast majority of all the guides you'll find here at RDR2.org. Having written those hundreds of thousands of words Logan still drops in and makes the odd tweak or update, but is otherwise eagerly awaiting the next massive gameplay updates from Rockstar. Connect with Logan on Twitter.