This is two overlapping questions:

  1. Are VATS shots considered hip fire?
  2. If so, for weapons that I use most often in VATS, does it benefit me to pick mods that improve hip fire accuracy?

3 Answers 3


It's a little complicated.

I ran over 50 tests (20 modded weapons of 6 different types from 2-3 firing distances) before running out of time and patience. If you test other weapons or find this is simpler than it seems, please let me know.


Based on testing so far, VATS considers weapon fire to be:

  • neither sighted nor hip fire for certain weapon types
  • sighted fire for certain weapon types
  • hip fire for no weapon types

The following have no effect on whether VATS treats something as hip fire or sighted fire:

  • whether you're looking down the sight just before hitting the VATS key
  • whether or not the VATS animation shows you looking down the sights

And finally:

  • sighted fire may be treated very differently from scoped fire

So two very general rules if you use VATS often:

  1. Prefer mods that improve sighted fire rather than hip fire.
  2. In some cases the sighted version of a weapon (with a sighted mod) will perform significantly better than the scoped version (with a scoped mod).

Details Behind the Summary


I de-modded weapons of 6 types down to their base configurations.

Then I remodded them as follows for hip fire, sighted fire, and/or scoped fire, adding only mods that directly mention affecting hip/sighted/scoped fire. Note: If a weapon used Scoped mods, I attached a scope; if it used Sighted mods, I attached a reflex sight.

Weapon configurations tested:

  • 10mm Pistol: plain, hip, sighted, scoped
  • Combat Rifle: plain, hip, sighted, scoped
  • Hunting Rifle: plain, hip, sighted, scoped
  • Assault Rifle: plain, sighted, scoped (no mods improve hip fire)
  • Institute Pistol: plain, sighted, scoped (no mods improve hip fire)
  • Double-Barreled Shotgun: plain, sighted (no mods improve hip fire; no scope)

I VATS-targeted a stationary settler from two predetermined distances and checked the to-hit percentage for the target's core/body. Disclaimer: no settlers were harmed in the making of this answer.

Key to Results

  • "VATS Sighted" means the sighted variant had a higher to-hit chance than plain
  • "VATS Scoped" means the scoped variant had a higher to-hit chance than plain
  • "VATS Neutral" means plain, hip fire, sighted, and/or scoped all had the same to-hit within 2%


  • VATS Neutral: 10mm Pistol, Double-Barrel Shotgun
  • VATS Sighted and very slightly VATS Scoped: Combat Rifle, Hunting Rifle, Institute Pistol
  • VATS Sighted and very significantly VATS Scoped: Assault Rifle

Finding: Sighted ≠ Scoped

Initially I assumed that sights and scopes were treated the same. But it appears that sighted and scoped mods don't benefit sights and scopes uniformly. For example:

  • A scoped hunting rifle with scoped-fire-enhancing mods performs only slightly better than an unmodded hunting rifle (e.g., 55% vs. 61%).
  • A sighted hunting rifle with sighted-fire-enhancing mods performs much better (e.g., 55% vs. 85%).
  • You mentioned three different distances, but not if/how that affected the results any. Ideally, VATS would calculate both hip and sighted fire, and then use the better one. That would be assisting my targeting. That's probably asking too much.
    – DCShannon
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 21:59
  • Also, I have the Sniper perk leveled up on one of my characters. So far, it seems that it only knocks down targets when I'm sighted in or in VATS, but not when hip-firing. That would seem to support the idea that VATS is never hip-fire.
    – DCShannon
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 22:00
  • @DCShannon The distance differences didn't really affect anything about the findings. In other words, when I was further away the effects were the same; the to-hit numbers were just lower due to distance. For certain weapons, certain distances were meaningless for comparison--for example, if you're just a few yards away and try a sniper rifle, you'll be 95% to hit regardless of mods and perks. Similarly, if you're far enough away, the shotgun will always show a tiny chance to hit. Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 20:30

Based on one person's anecdotal experience, VATS seems to be hip fire.

Its hip fire

I know because I had a thing that reduced hip fire and my vats accuracy went down, swapped the mod to one that improved hip fire and it went up

  • 3
    Often in VATS it shows me looking down my sight at the enemy. I'm often looking down the sight when I press the VATS button. I wonder if that affects things.
    – DCShannon
    Commented Nov 16, 2015 at 12:42
  • 2
    A video game doesn't really use logical effects unless a human programmer made it that way. VATS will be hip fire if someone at Bethesda made it hip fire, regardless of what graphical display it has.
    – Nelson
    Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 5:04
  • I don't know.. If that were the case, shouldn't all rifles have abysmal to-hit percentages in VATS? Rifles, by nature, must have mods that reduce hip-fire accuracy. Perhaps there's more to this; maybe pistols are hip-fired and rifles are aimed? Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 20:46
  • I don't own the game, so I can't test it :) Someone will have to play around with all sorts of weapons and mods to see whether hip fire bonuses are consistently affecting all weapons in VATS or only some type, and whether they are related to how you aim during VATS mode.
    – Nelson
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 0:21
  • Good to know as a start. I'd love to accept this one, but at this point I'm holding out for an answer with more data behind it. For example, it's unclear to me whether "vats accuracy went down" just means "it sort of seemed like I hit things less often". Hard to judge not knowing which mod, or how big an effect on accuracy the mod was supposed to have. Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 20:27

If VATS is correctly reporting the probability to hit, it uses sighted accuracy. I tested it both with handguns and rifles against a stationary target at a fixed distance. Swapping barrels onto the weapon that improved sighted accuracy greatly improved the reported probability to hit.

  • I've been meaning to test this more thoroughly myself, as I find the other answer hard to believe. Can we get some more details on your test? It sounds like you had two guns that were identical except for a barrel mod, and the one with a barrel mod that improves sighted accuracy was better? Is that correct?
    – DCShannon
    Commented Dec 5, 2015 at 0:21
  • Interesting. I'm curious for more details too. Since VATS only works on MOBs/NPCs, how did you use it on stationary targets? Were they stationary MOBs/NPCs? Commented Dec 5, 2015 at 4:23
  • @DCShannon FYI, I did a bunch of testing on this and posted an answer with full details. Unfortunately the rules aren't very tidy. Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 23:30

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