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Heavy Handed

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Heavy Handed
Vault Boy image, as first appeared in Fallout
Fallout, Fallout 2, TORN
Benefits+4 Melee Damage
PenaltiesCritical hits have a -30% modifier to the critical hit tables
Fallout: New Vegas
Benefits+20% damage (Melee and Unarmed only)
Penalties-60% Critical damage. (Melee and Unarmed only)
base id00135ec5
Fallout Tactics
Benefits+4 Melee Damage
PenaltiesCritical hits have a -20% modifier to the critical hit tables
Benefits+4 Melee damage
Penalties-30% critical chance

You swing harder, not better. Your attacks are very brutal, but lack finesse. You rarely cause a good critical hit, but you always do more melee damage.

— In-game description

Heavy Handed (called Brutal in TORN) is a trait in Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout Tactics, Fallout: New Vegas, Lionheart, and TORN.

Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout Tactics and TORN

You get +4 points of melee damage, but your critical hits have a -30% modifier to the critical hit tables.

Fallout: New Vegas

Your melee and unarmed attacks do more damage, but less critical hit damage.

More specifically, your Melee and Unarmed damage is increased by 20%, but your Critical Hit damage is reduced by 60%, but only for those two weapon types. Since you inflict more damage consistently with Heavy Handed though, Critical Hits are less of an issue, unless the player relies on Sneak attack criticals as a major source of damage or if the character criticals often due to perks, Luck, and high weapon modifier (certain perk/weapon combinations give you a guaranteed chance to critically hit).

Mathematically, Heavy Handed will provide a net benefit if

\text{Base damage} > 3 \times \text{Crit chance} \times \text{Crit damage}

where each component is considered after all modifiers except Heavy Handed.

For example, a character with 5 luck armed with a machete has a 7.5% critical chance and does 11 critical damage, equal to the base damage. This satisfies the above condition, and expecting a critical hit approximately every 13 swings, a machete's damage with and without Heavy Handed should work out to this:

  • Without Heavy Handed: 13 swings * 11 damage + 1 crit (+11 damage) = 154 damage
  • With Heavy Handed: 13 swings * 13.2 damage + 1 crit (+4.5 damage) = 176.1 damage

By contrast, a character with 10 luck armed with Figaro has a 40% chance to critical and significantly higher critical damage than base damage, not meeting the criterion. Over 10 swings, the average damage works out to:

  • Without Heavy Handed: 10 swings * 8 damage + 4 crits * 16 damage = 144 damage
  • With Heavy Handed: 10 swings * 9.6 damage + 4 crits * 6.4 damage = 121.6 damage
Weapons most useful with Heavy Handed

Heavy Handed with Better Criticals

\text{Base crit} \times (1 - \text{Heavy handed} ) \times (1 + \text{Better crits} ) = \text{Crit damage}

Example: Using a cattle prod.

5 \times 40\% \times 150\%=3
See Also


  • Synergizes well with the Loose Cannon trait and/or Heave Ho! perk due to the usefulness of throwing spears with this trait. It can be somewhat useful with Better Criticals due to weapons such as the throwing spear and cattle prod, which inflict greater damage on a critical hit or sneak attack critical with both Heavy Handed and Better Criticals.
  • Having Better Criticals as well as the Dead Money perk Elijah's Ramblings reduces the Melee Crit DMG penalty received by this trait from -60% to -10% ( 150% * 150% * 40% = 90%)
  • Example: a Crit DMG of 10 would be reduced to 10 * (1.0 - 0.6) = 4. With Better Criticals it becomes 4 * 1.5 = 6. Elijah's Ramblings then increases the damage to 6 * 1.5 = 9.


You swing harder, not better. Your attacks are brutal, but lack finesse. You rarely cause a good critical hit, but you always do more melee damage. You do +2 points of damage in melee combat (hand-to-hand or non-ranged weapons). Your critical hits have a -30 modifier to critical chance. This trait cannot be selected with Finesse.[1]


  1. Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader manual