Weapons in GTA San Andreas are a principal aspect of the game. Some weapons have returned from previous games, while others are additions available only in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (and later Grand Theft Auto IV). A particularly useful addition is the silenced pistol, which is perfect for stealth maneuvering (another new feature), as it attracts less attention. There are also two key improvements in weapon handling, as compared to Grand Theft Auto: Vice City: smart aiming and dual-weapon wielding.
Smart aim(?) involves computer-assisted auto-aiming, which occurs when pedestrian targets are within the weapon's range. The range is determined by the type of weapon and the player's proficiency with that weapon (Weapon Skill stat). Smart aiming is an improvement upon the auto-aim available in previous games where the computer will cycle between auto-aim and manual aim, depending upon the proximity of possible targets. Furthermore, when multiple targets are within range, smart aim selects the closest target first.
Another key feature of smart aim is the targeting lock that changes color as the target's health decreases. Green progresses to orange, which progresses to red, and finally black upon the target's death. The smart aim feature is available on every weapon except the Rifle, the Sniper Rifle, projectiles, or any of the heavy weapons. The Smart Aim also seems to bear a strong resemblance to the execution system in Rockstar's Manhunt where the darker the color or the target, the more gruesome the execution while in San Andreas the darker the color of the target, the less health of the target.
Your Weapon Skill increases when you shoot accurately. Getting a high Weapon Skill increases your ability with weapons. There are three levels of skill: "Poor", "Gangster", and "Hitman".
You can view your weapon skills two ways:
- Wield the weapon, then press L1, LT, or TAB. The skill level appears in the stat box in the bottom corner of the screen.
- In the menu, select Stats, then Weapons. Each weapon type displays one of three labels: "Poor", "Gangster", or "Hitman". If you are wielding a weapon, you'll also see your current skill level for that weapon.
Gangster level is reached when the meter is 20% to 50% filled.
When Gangster is reached with certain weapons, you're able to move while aiming, and your lock-on range, accuracy, rate of fire, and strafe speed increase:
- All type of Shotguns
- Desert Eagle
- Pistol (note: you can already move while aiming/firing this weapon)
- Silenced Pistol
Hitman level is reached when the meter is 100% filled.
When Hitman is reached with certain weapons, your lock-on range, accuracy, rate of fire, and strafe speed increase further, and you're able to fire these weapons while moving:
- Combat Shotgun
- Desert Eagle
- Silenced Pistol
- Pump-Action Shotgun
Double Weapon Hitman
One new feature is the ability to duel-wield certain weapons after reaching Hitman weapon skill level. These weapons are light enough and feature reloading that is compatible with holding one in each hand. This allows the player to inflict twice the amount of damage per reload cycle. For weapons that have Double Weapon Hitman, it takes longer to reach 100% weapon skill oppsed to other weapons that can only be wielded with both hands.
When you reach Double Weapon Hitman, you can wield two of the below weapons simultaneously, and your lock-on range increases:
- Sawn-Off Shotgun
Here is a list of the available weapon slots, and the weapons that can be used in those slots. Weapons in italics can be dual-wielded.
- Slot 1: Hand
- Slot 2: Melee Weapons
- Slot 3: Handguns
- Slot 4: Shotguns
- Slot 5: Sub-Machine Guns
- Slot 6: Assault Rifles
- Slot 7: Rifles
- Slot 8: Heavy Weapons
- Slot 9: Explosives
- Slot 10: Handheld Items
- Slot 11: Gifts
- Slot 12: Special Items
- Slot 13: Others
- The TEC 9 and the Minigun are the only weapons which, when fired, do not move CJ's body.
- Oddly enough, melee weapons such as the Chainsaw can be used to amass large sums of money in short periods of time, if the player correctly utilizes the weapon with no law enforcement in their vicinity. Much like the Baseball Bat in Grand Theft Auto III, where the player can kill literally thousands of citizens with no wanted level if planned correctly.
- There are three different ways to get infinite ammo for guns. First, you can buy a lot of any type of gun and eventually you will have infinite ammo on that gun. Secondly, you can use cheats. Thirdly, is to acquire 100% game completion.
- The TEC-9 and Micro Uzi are the only weapons that share the same weapon skill.
- Weapons that can be dual wielded at Hitman level take significantly longer to level up.
- CJ will be stripped of all his weapons twice during the main storyline. Once, after The Green Sabre, and again during The Da Nang Thang.