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In FPS games stealth takedowns are usually performed when approaching a target from behind (crouching) and pressing the melee key. Enemies have often killed me with a finisher move in Battlefield 1.
How instant stealth kills work? One possibility is to run and hold melee to do a bayonet charge, but that can't be the only way as it wouldn't work in close quarters.

UPDATE: This likely was an issue with the beta, melee finishers now function as expected.

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It seems the usual knife animation has been removed (you could move straight from a gun to knifing someone), it is not mentioned on this page for the take-downs on the battlefield wiki. Instead, a melee weapon must be equipped and used, as seen in this video.

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  • Do I have to run in order to perform a charge?
    – user598527
    Commented Sep 5, 2016 at 14:38
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    I believe i have been knifed from behind by a player, perhaps it only works if you have an actual knife equiped.
    – Vahx
    Commented Sep 5, 2016 at 21:26
  • @Vahx was right, answer was amended. Commented Sep 5, 2016 at 21:41
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    From my own experience, there are still assassination animations for other weapons, such as the shovel, and it doesnt need to be equipped manually either, it can be done with rifle in hand, by holding down the melee button (much easier from rear, as this answer's first link confirms). A quick tap of the melee will just do the regular quick strike, even from behind, i believe.
    – Dpeif
    Commented Sep 5, 2016 at 23:49

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