- "When all else fails, knuckle down and work with what you've got."
- ―GTA V description on Rockstar Games Social Club.
The fist represents the unarmed state for the protagonist; he will not draw attention in weapons-free zones, and merely locking onto pedestrians or police will not cause a panic or attract a Wanted level. However, in some GTA games, if you throw punches near someone, there is a chance he/she might attack you or run away. In GTA San Andreas, Locking into an ammu-nation clerk even without any weapons on will instantly cause the clerk to open fire at the player. In some GTA games, fists can be augmented with Brass Knuckles to increase damage.
Naturally, punching is a last-resort in the GTA games, lacking the range of firearms and power of melee weapons. Bare-handed attacks have unique properties - for example, they can be chained, causing the protagonist to unleash a series of various punches and kicks, including a stomp or ground-level kick if an enemy is lying prone, the fists can also prove to be almost stealthy in their abilities. In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the player is able to learn more powerful moves by fighting and defeating gym trainers. The skills obtained in the Below the Belt Gym, which are probably the best, can make the fist attacks very powerful. This is because the combo attack of that gym ends with a "super" punch that can kill any person, no matter the amount of health the person has. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories introduced new abilities while fighting, including breaking opponents' necks. In the Grand Theft Auto IV era, fighting was made more advanced, and timing elements were introduced into physical combat to allow dodging and melee counters.
In GTA IV, the player is able to disarm another person who has a knife or a baseball bat and keep it as their own. To do this, the player must first be unarmed and dodge the attack then quickly press the attack ( for PlayStation and for Xbox) or counter-attack ( for PlayStation and for Xbox) button.
In Grand Theft Auto V, the player is able to perform not only punches and kicks, but also slaps to the face and sucker punches to knock the opponent out on the first hit if caught by surprise. While sneaking, the player is also able to deliver a karate chop like movement to the neck to immediately knock the opponent unconscious. If the fist is equipped whilst driving, the player can flip off and insult pedestrians. Unlike in Vice City Stories, the player still cannot break opponents' necks from behind.
- In some games, killing people using only the fists will make them bleed just like they are hit by a melee weapon or firearm.
- Since the Fist is, technically, a weapon, targeting a cop increases your Wanted Level. Also, targeting a store owner causes them to panic, while targeting drug dealers will force them to attack you, though this is not implemented in GTA IV and its episodes.
- Interestingly, fist combos can damage and destroy a car. If you have a maxed-out Muscle in GTA SA, including the Martial Arts combo, a normal car like the Greenwood can be destroyed in less than twenty-five hits. This also works for some lamp posts that can be broken down with a couple of punches. This can also be done in GTA CW.
- Destroying cars with fists does not attract wanted level, no matter how many cars the player destroys or kills an officer with a car explosion that is caused by damaging the car with the fist.
- The Fist can be chained as a combo with other melee weapons (except the chainsaw) by using Gym Styles and using the melee weapons upon the third strike and vice versa, this technique usually kills a pedestrian after the combo is completed.
- In Grand Theft Auto 1 fists are not fatal, the same applies to the Grand Theft Auto London games also. In these games fists are designed to only knock NPC characters over or used to interrogate them. NPC fists are also non fatal to the player. But using them may still scare away pedestrians or attract police. You can kill with them if they are used as a pushing mechanic to push people into danger however but the actual fists do no damage and a fistfight can last forever if you let it.
- In TBOGT and GTA V, there is a cheat that allows the player have explosive punch, these explosions are powerful as Explosive Shotgun, able to kill someone and destroy vehicles in one to two hits. However, should the player wasted, this cheat will be deactivated.
- In GTA IV, there is a mod to implement super-human strength of the protagonists. When this mod is installed, Niko/Johnny/Luis are able to throw people and vehicles in the air with a single hit, usually inflicts a great damage to them. This mod is even more destructive when the "Super Punch" cheat is enabled.
- From all the GTA protagonists, Trevor, Niko, Victor, Huang and Luis are the ones who have a solid hand-to-hand combat background, Niko, Trevor and Vic as part of their army training, Huang by his martial arts background and Luis by his underground cage fighting experience. CJ can adquire skills through the progress of the game by training in gyms and dojos.