In virtually every first-person shooter game, the ability to control weapon recoil is fundamental. After all, that’s what “shooting well” means — taking good aim while controlling the recoil of a weapon… and that will be the topic of this article. We’ll talk about what spray patterns are in CS:GO, why you should learn them, and how to do it effectively. This is an extensive topic, so unless your name is “s1mple” and you exploit every spray pattern perfectly, there’s a good chance you’ll find some tips that will take your shooting skills to the next level.
What are spray patterns in CS:GO?
The spray pattern is the way bullets go when firing continuous fire (full-auto). In CS:GO, each weapon has a unique recoil pattern; some more similar to each other and some less so. To see how a particular weapon’s spray moves in, all you have to do is keep firing while standing still and without moving your mouse.
To control a spray pattern, all you have to do is “mirror” it, i.e., move the mouse in the opposite direction than the pattern suggests.
Why should you learn spray patterns?
By skillfully controlling the recoil, you shoot at the exact location of your target. To give you a better idea of this, take a look at the difference between a well-controlled AK-47 spray and an uncontrolled one:
In short, without any recoil control, bullets fly chaotically past the crosshair location. You might be thinking, “sure, but I never learned any recoil patterns, and I still have a pretty high rank.” Wrong! You did learn, just subconsciously. By playing the game for numerous hours, your muscle memory has picked up how to control weapon recoil without knowing any theory. However, it’s entirely possible that if you haven’t heard of the phrase “spray control” before and rely only on your muscle memory, you have deficiencies that are holding you back from achieving higher ranks and success in the game. But that’s why you’re reading this article, right?
All CS:GO spray patterns
As we mentioned earlier, each weapon in CS:GO has a unique recoil pattern, and we’ve compiled them all, along with tips to help you learn them. Perhaps by learning some patterns, you will realize why you can never score a frag with a specific weapon and what you should focus on in your subsequent practice sessions.
To control the spray pattern on the Glock-18, you’ll have to move the mouse down slightly and sometimes even crouch when you feel you’re losing control of the recoil. A practical option to outplay your opponent during pistol rounds is using A and D keys, i.e., moving gently sideways. Since the pattern itself goes sideways, this not only improves your accuracy but also makes it harder for your opponent to hit you.
With the P2000, the recoil issue looks a little different. As you can see, the bullets follow a single line, although they fly slightly upward. Here, using the “AD method” can also be effective, but on the condition that you also move the crosshair sideways.
The spray pattern in the USP-S is almost identical to that of the P2000. The bullets also fly in a single line, making this gun reasonably easy to use. You shouldn’t use the same movement when shooting the USP-S as you do with the Glock-18; because the bullets are going in a single line, moving sideways will not be as effective.
The Desert Eagle is probably the most challenging pistol to master in CS:GO. The first bullet goes right where you aimed, but each following shot is further and further away from your crosshair. When learning Deagle, focus on standing still and firing single shots aimed at your opponent’s head.
As you can see, Tec-9’s recoil is not the most stable, but that is not what this weapon is about. You will feel the real power of this weapon at close range because the speed of the shots is its main advantage. The longer the distance, the more critical the recoil control aspect will be, making it harder for you to control it.
It’s time for perhaps the least used pistol in CS:GO — Dual Berettas. This weapon offers many bullets but at the cost of super chaotic recoil. Looking at how fast its spray pattern goes, you will have to lower your crosshair in virtually every situation, even in close ranges.
Five-SeveN is considered one of the most stable pistols in CS:GO… and looking at its recoil pattern, no wonder why! Even when shooting full spray, it’s not that turbulent, so it can easily be your pick for these eco-rounds.
In the case of the P250, we have to deal with the vertical recoil of the weapon, which forces us to gently lower the crosshair while shooting. This pistol (just like the Tec-9) works much better at close range than in long-range situations.
When shooting the R8 Revolver with the left mouse button, there is virtually no weapon recoil — you always hit the aimed target. The situation is different when we press the right mouse button; here the recoil leads us to the right and down.
Those who played CS in early 2014 still remember it as a “mini rifle” that had virtually no recoil and caused a lot of damage. Today, that situation has changed, and it’s a slightly less stable Tec-9 (though with faster firing bullets). The comparison to the Tec-9 is not without reason either, as the spray pattern is also quite similar, except that the shots go significantly higher and to the right.
Let’s move on to the most important weapon in CS:GO, the AK-47. At first, the pattern goes up, and after firing 10 bullets, it starts going sideways. Many players think shooting single shots is better than full auto in an AK-47, but that won’t always work. Here, a great example would be the well-known pro player Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom, who is always trying to hit with an AK-47 with a single shot to score a headshot. Although Scream’s headshot efficiency is close to 100%, his KD ratio is almost always lower than the rest of his team. That said, don’t overestimate single-shots, and make sure you learn this specific pattern as well as you can!
Here the situation is quite similar to that of the AK-47. For effective spray pattern control in the M4A1-S, you will have to drag the mouse slightly down and then to the right. If your spray gets really long, you will have to make a left turn later on. It doesn’t seem so easy, but if you practice it enough, you will get the hang of it.
As for the M4A4, the recoil gets pretty chaotic after the first 10 bullets, so here we suggest shooting short bursts instead (5-7 shots each), especially in long-range situations. However, if you want to bring out a long spray, then you’ll have to point your crosshair down a bit, gently to the right, and then hard to the left, and hard to the right again.
Famas is a fair choice at short ranges and has one seriously underrated feature — burst mode. If we only considered the burst mode, we would have the most accurate assault rifle in the game. Unfortunately, the time gap between each shot is vast, and despite such good accuracy, this tends to cancel so much potential of this weapon.
As with the M4A4, short bursts are probably a more stable option due to the chaotic spray pattern. Compared to other assault rifles, you will have to move your crosshair much more downward after firing the first bullets.
SG 553 is not the most accurate if you use it without scope. However, with the scope, the situation changes by 180 degrees! As you can see in the GIFs, just pressing the right mouse button will significantly improve the accuracy. Keep in mind that the scope of the SG 553 limits your field of view considerably, which is why we rarely see this weapon in action at the biggest tournaments.
As with SG 553, the spray pattern is almost non-existent if you use AUG with scope. The spray pattern AUG is quite similar to the one in AK-47, a pattern most of you are already used to, which might make it more comfortable to use by default.
AWP has virtually no recoil if you use it with a scope or at short ranges. Otherwise, the bullets fly super randomly, and only the first shot is relatively accurate (you basically start playing Desert Eagle for $4750). We probably also don’t need to mention that whether you use a scope or not, moving while using AWP will significantly reduce its accuracy.
Another sniper rifle in which recoil is practically non-existent — SSG 08. This sniper rifle is so accurate that it shoots precisely in the target spot, even when jumping or moving. The trick is that we don’t have the crosshair for it, so we can see where we aim only when using the scope.
Undoubtedly, one of the most annoying weapons in the game. No wonder, since the spray pattern is so accurate, all you have to do is aim minimally (!) downwards to control it. Of course, we recommend that you shoot only when using the scope unless your opponent is very nearby.
Here again, one of the most hated weapons in CS:GO. This weapon is as accurate as no other, although sometimes (but very rarely) you will have to move the crosshair down a little to control its recoil.
Mac-10 / MP9
MP9 and Mac-10’s spray patterns are virtually identical. Both go slightly upward, turning left and then quickly moves to the right. Its recoil is a bit disorganized, but it’s a pretty effective short-range weapon because of how fast they fire. At short distances, you can shoot full-auto, but at longer distances, we recommend bursts of ~5 bullets.
MP7’s spray pattern follows similar principles as Mac-10 and MP9, except that instead of turning left initially, it turns right. So if you control full-auto the same way you do with the aforementioned weapons, you’ll get the opposite effect, and it won’t do you any good. Here we’d also suggest focusing on shooting short bursts on long ranges.
The way we can sometimes kill with the P90 suggests that it has no recoil in it. In practice, it does, and its spray pattern is quite similar to the one in AK-47. Maybe that’s why these weapons seem so easy to use for many players, especially low-ranked ones?
For PP-Bizon, we’re dealing with another chaotic spray pattern, but if you can get it under control at the right time, you will benefit greatly from it. Towards the end, the spray pattern moves only slightly sideways, so you can easily control it with gentle mouse movements.
The UMP-45 is one of the most purchased weapons after a won pistol round in the current metagame. Recoil here isn’t as dynamic as with other SMGs, and on top of that, it isn’t very fast firing, so it’s pretty easy to control. For longer distances, we recommend single shots, and for close-range spray like there is no tomorrow.
The MP5-SD has a very similar recoil to the AK-47, while it is more “organized.” The bullets fly more or less at the same point and are not spilled around. It is probably the most stable SMG in the game.
The first three shots when spraying with the XM1014 are pretty accurate, but each one flies slightly higher than the last. Although the gun itself suggests spraying with it, we recommend shooting just those 3 shots. Of course, sometimes the situation will require you to fire the entire magazine, but if you are already buying XM1014, try to hold a position on the map that will favor you. Like any shotgun in CS:GO, this weapon will perform best at short ranges.
If you watched CS:GO tournaments in 2016 and 2017, you surely remember how often players purchased this weapon after winning the first round of the half. Back then, the common strategy of the team that lost the pistol round was to rush, which you could easily counter by hiding in a tight area (such as ninja on Mirage) with MAG-7 and quickly score 3-4 frags. The Mag-7 fires slowly, but you’ll always hit the spot you’re aiming at, even in a jump! Again, this weapon will be useless at long range, but it can work wonders with the proper positioning and movement.
Nova also has no spray pattern; you always hit exactly where you aimed. When jumping, however, the shot is never as accurate as with the Mag-7, and it performs worse at longer ranges. Nevertheless, it is a pretty good option to purchase after winning a pistol round if you are playing a “support” role and take positions where you can encounter the enemy at close range, as it only costs $1200.
Another cheap shotgun with which you will always hit where you aimed. It’s slightly faster than the Nova, but it’s only available to Terrorists, where we rarely play a defensive role, making it impossible to guarantee short range. Sawed-off can be effective if you expect your opponent in a specific position, want to do a pre-fire, and take a better weapon.
With how fast the bullets fly in the M249, the recoil control is not the easiest — first flying the mouse down rapidly, then turning left, then gently right. If there’s only one opponent around, this won’t be that difficult, but the more opponents around, the harder it gets.
In the case of Negev, everything happens very fast, and to control that wild recoil, you will have to pull the crosshair down rapidly or even crouch at some point. If you want to hit with this weapon effectively, you will also have to gently move your mouse from side to side during the later stages of the spray.
Best ways to learn spray patterns in CS:GO
Seeing the number of spray patterns, you may be wondering, “how am I supposed to learn all this”…. And that’s where we come to help. Here are 4 valuable ways to learn spray control in CS:GO:
- Set your DPI. By playing on lower DPI settings, you will control all of your in-game movements better. Sometimes to handle a weapon recoil, you will have to make a minimal movement in either direction; on a high DPI setting, you just won’t be able to do it so accurately. It’s popular to play at DPI 400 with Sensitivity 2.0, but you should find the setting that works best for you.
- Use Workshop Maps. Steam Workshop offers a collection of maps that can help you polish your CS:GO skills. In terms of recoil control, we can primarily recommend the well-known “Recoil Master” map, where you can practice your sprays with all the weapons available in CS:GO.
- Make it regular. With learning new skills, the most important thing is regularity, and it’s no different for learning recoil in CS:GO. The more “practice units” you have per week, the easier the skill of controlling sprays will get into your muscle memory. It doesn’t matter how long your in-game sessions last; the important thing is that they happen as frequently as possible. Even if you have a busy calendar, try to find at least 10 minutes every day to remind your muscles how to hit these clean headshots.
- Give HS-only DM servers a try. By playing Headshot-only Deathmatch sessions, you virtually learn to aim at a small moving target. When we reduce the opponent’s body to just his head, the importance of spray control becomes much more significant. However, we don’t recommend that you do this every day, as it can somehow “warp” your aim, making you always aim at the head, which doesn’t always work with fast-moving enemies. Find a server where you have a low ping, and train 2-3 times a week for 30 minutes. And what weapon should you go for on such a server? That’s easy — the one you have the biggest problem with.
You’ve just learned all the spray patterns in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and effective ways to understand them better. However, remember that this knowledge doesn’t make you The Global Elite yet! The most important thing is to play and practice regularly, focusing on your weaknesses. Perhaps you are not strong in eco or pistol rounds? Then, instead of spending hours on Deathmatch with AK-47s, try playing with SMGs or pistols alone and teach your muscle memory to control the recoil of these less common weapons. We hope this article makes your practice sessions much more productive than before, and we invite you to check out our other guides, where we focus on becoming a better CS:GO player.