Black Mesa

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Black Mesa (2012)

Black Mesa (formerly Black Mesa: Source) is a fan project aiming to produce an enhanced version of classic FPS Half-Life in the latest version of the Source engine originally created by Valve for Half-Life 2. It began in 2004 when it became clear Valve's own game Half-Life: Source would be a port of the original rather than a full remake as some had speculated, and after many delays and some legal issues, Black Mesa was released on September 14, 2012.

An enhanced version by the same name, using the 2013 version of Source as opposed to the original 2007 version, and including Deathmatch mode which the original release omitted, was released on Steam Greenlight on May 5th 2015. Alongside other additions, this version had the chapter "Surface Tension" expanded in 2016, featuring some maps that were omitted from the original release. The older version ends immediately prior to the "Xen" segment: the developers have stated the 2012 version will never have this content released (though another fan group made an unofficial mod for the mod to add it). The newer version initially lacked that part as well, but the developers have released in-progress map shots of Xen in 2017, with a tentative release date of summer 2017: this was then delayed to December 2017, then again to an undisclosed date in 2018 with the December update instead adding new lighting effects, then again to Q2 2019. Eventually, the Xen portion was gradually released as part of four beta updates between late June and early December 2019, with outstanding improvements in comparison to its much-derided counterpart from the original Half-Life.

Alongside firearms, the game features fictional "experimental" weapons which won't be included in this page as they have no real-life counterparts.

The following weapons appear in the mod Black Mesa:



Glock 17

The standard pistol returns from Half-Life, this time with tritium illuminated sights. The model's texture identifies it as a Glock 19, even though the pistol is modeled after the full-size Glock 17. In the original version of the game, holding down the firing button involved Gordon shooting at a moderate fire rate, while tapping the button allowed the weapon to be fired incredibly fast, yet with still good accuracy.

Glock 17 (2nd Gen) - 9x19mm
The Glock in Black Mesa.
Reloading; note the "19" on the slide. Unlike the original Half-Life (and unlike the new version show below), there is only one reloading animation, which always shows the pistol empty.
Idle animation. This was not the brightest idea, given the absent surfaces normally hidden when firing or reloading.
A closeup of the third-person model, thanks to the HEV suit's zooming capability (the latter being rather out of place, since the zoom function was offered with the HEV Mark V used in Half-Life 2, and not with the Mark IV from the prequel).

New model

The new Glock model sits deeper in Freeman's hands, as well as the sights being changed to standard Glock-style sights. It now behaves like in the original Half-Life, having two modes: primary fire is semi-auto and firecapped at a fairly slow rate with very high accuracy, while secondary fire is fully-automatic. In this mode, the gun fires at a fixed rate and becomes incredibly inaccurate. There is no fire selector on the model to explain precisely how it can do this: converted auto Glock 17s can only fire in automatic mode. Converted Glock 17s and the Glock 18 are also notorious for appallingly fast fire rates of up to 1,200 RPM, far greater than the in-game gun. It would require a redesign of the gun's slide and internals to get such a low rate of fire.

The Glock in the newer version of Black Mesa.
Freeman gets a little too close to the action and dirties his new Glock.
Firing the Glock in the first Xen map.
Freeman performs a partial reload in another area of Xen; note the proper trigger discipline.
Empty reload.
The Glock logo has been removed from the new model, and sadly it is still identified as a 19.
A guard wonders who hired this doctor as Freeman inspects a guard's Glock. Almost all security guards carry Glocks in their holsters, though one of them early in the game has a Colt Python.

Colt Python

The Colt Python makes a comeback from the original game. On the side it says ".357 PYTHON". The secondary fire key toggles the iron sights with increased zoom. It is also worth noting that the screw placement above the trigger guard is completely wrong for a Python. When aiming down the sights, the firing mode seems to change from double-action to single-action (though the fire rate remains the same), as Freeman can be heard manually cocking the hammer back after each shot while the cylinder rotates to the next chamber, although the hammer always remains in uncocked position.

Stainless Colt Python with 6" Barrel - .357 Magnum
Freeman holding his Colt Python.
Iron sights.
Ejecting the rounds from the cylinder. Something terrible appears to have happened to their primers. Additionally, there is no ejector rod in first person.
Freeman's fight with the Black Ops was so intense that the blood even reached his reserve shells (their model lacks the actual bullets). There is no visible speedloader, so the rounds are just magically held together.
Third-person view of the revolver, which actually has a visible ejector rod.

New model

The new model retains most aspects of the previous models but some areas, like the frame and grips, have been updated, and the weapon now remains double-action with the alt-fire.

Freeman, mistaking his crystal testing day for "bring your gun to work" day, holds his new Colt Python.
Aiming down the sights. The revolver isn't brought extremely close to the player's view as before.
Removing the rounds from the new Python, now with an actual ejector rod. Not only are the primers fixed, Freeman appears to have changed ammo brands - the brass casings are now nickel-plated (done by companies such as Winchester, Hornady, etc.)
Freeman places six new shells (still lacking bullets) into the revolver. It is worth noting that Freeman has lost his magic touch: he properly uses a speedloader.
Freeman runs through work, showing off Black Mesa’s new lighting effects on the revolver.
A Python on a table in "Office Complex".

Primary Weapons

Heckler & Koch MP5A3 with M203PI grenade launcher

The MP5A3 in the game is modeled after the weapon seen in End of Days, including the barrel shroud and M203PI grenade launcher. It is found in the hands of Special Forces in Chapter 5 and onward, and while it is automatic, clicking the mouse once will fire a 3-round burst. It should be noted that the front sight of the weapon lacks the sight post, and the reload animation is incorrect, as it shows the cocking handle locking back automatically and coming forward by itself after the magazine is changed.

Like in the original Half-Life, the M203PI is never seen being reloaded; this time it comes with only three grenades instead of ten (like the MP7's grenade launcher in Half-Life 2).

Heckler & Koch MP5A3 9x19mm with mounted M203PI grenade launcher 40mm as used by Arnold Schwarzenegger's character Jericho Cane in the film End of Days.
The MP5 in Black Mesa.
Firing the M203 grenade launcher.
The MP5 in third person. In contrast to this model, the HUD icon at the top left still shows the cut MP5A5 with PDW-style folding stock mentioned at the end of the article.

New model

The 2015 release of Black Mesa features a different model fitted with a normal flash hider, a railed handguard, and a shorter M203 launcher. It has two reloading animations, one mid-magazine where the magazines are simply swapped (which can be difficult to do on an MP5 with a full magazine and the bolt closed, hence the usual HK slap), while the empty reload shows Gordon use his hand to lock the charging handle back before removing the magazine; he is shown riding it forward with his thumb rather than slapping it. The fire rate has been lowered, and the 3-round burst function at initial firing has been removed. There is still no reloading animation for the M203; Gordon simply swaps his grip from the trigger to the forend after each shot.

Heckler & Koch MP5A3 with Surefire 628 dedicated forend weaponlight and flash hider - 9x19mm
Freeman holds the new MP5. There actually is a front sight post and the rear aperture sight has been replaced with a notch sight.
Pulling the charging handle back.
Removing the empty magazine while in Xen.
Freeman sprints with the MP5.
Launching a grenade.
In-world model of the submachine gun.

Franchi SPAS-12

The SPAS-12 makes its return in Black Mesa. The one in Gordon's hands has no stock, but the world model of the shotgun still has the stock in folded position (granted, given how the weapon is never far enough from the screen to see so much as the pistol grip, one could argue that Gordon is simply the only person in the entire game smart enough to unfold the stock; still though, the HUD icon lacks the stock). Like in Half-Life and Half-Life 2, the weapon has the unrealistic ability to fire two shells at the same time when the secondary fire key is used.

SPAS-12 - 12 Gauge
SPAS-12 with no stock - 12 gauge
Freeman with his SPAS-12.
Idle animation.
A security guard holding a SPAS-12 with the stock folded.

New model

The new SPAS-12 actually looks less like an authentic SPAS-12, but more towards the original SPAS shotgun from the 1998 Half-Life.

First-person view of the new SPAS-12, which appears to have caught a case of Extraneous RIS Syndrome from Black.
Freeman reloads, somehow holding the SPAS-12 one-handed and in an awkward position.
He then proceeds to fire a warning shot into the wall.
One of the idle animations involves Freeman showing us the right side of the shotgun.
The third-person model now lacks the stock.

Repeating Crossbow

An unknown or composite magazine-fed crossbow appears in Black Mesa. Arguably one of the best weapons in the game due to its one-hit-kill capability on almost anything, it has a magazine capacity of 5 bolts and comes equipped with a scope.

The 2012 version had an odd quirk: while the bow normally had to be pulled after each shot, the weapon was able to be fired in a semi-automatic fashion while aiming down the scope (at 80 RPM, as fast as the original crossbow from Half Life), as long as the player didn't interrupt the firing process. In 2015, when the crossbow model was still the same, its behavior was temporarily changed to have the bow reset itself on its own while non-scoped as well, effectively giving it the higher rate of fire consistently.

The crossbow being held.
Aiming down the scope of the crossbow at a Special Forces marine who has rappelled onto a cliff. The scope is dual-rendered, though the area outside of it is still slightly zoomed in.
Reloading. Note the strange battle rifle-size magazine, which appears to contain dartgun projectiles rather than crossbow bolts.
Pulling the bow.
A couple of crossbows in the personal collection of a security guard. Note the disproportion of their third-person model compared to the additional magazine below.

New model

The new version of the weapon applied in 2016 appears to be a completely re-modeled crossbow, based on the original crossbow from Half-Life. The process of pulling the bow is noticeably slower than before.

Freeman pulls out the new crossbow, showing us the right side.
Freeman gets into position.
Aiming at a giant flower in Xen. The downgraded visual style of the scope and lack of dual render are a result of a December 2017 patch, implemented due to rendering issues. The magnification was also low at first, but this was later fixed.
Pulling the bow with the attached grabber.
Like the Glock and the MP5, the new version of the crossbow has different reloading animations for a partial magazine and an empty one.
A crossbow found in the chapter "Questionable Ethics", now proportioned better than before. Unlike the first-person model (but like the original Half Life model), the grabber is shown on the left side.


Futuristic Armbrust

The futuristic Armbrust rocket launcher seen in Half-Life returns in Black Mesa with similar functions. The alternate fire button switches between laser-guided mode and "blind-fire" mode. While it is fitted with what appears to be a telescopic rifle scope, this cannot be used.

Armbrust - 67mm
The Armbrust that can be acquired for the first time. The third-person model lacks the rocket that is depicted as loaded from the front during gameplay.
Freeman holding the launcher.
The marking at the rear is one of the warning labels from an M136 AT4: it also has the AT4's "fire like this" illustration at the front of the tube.

New model

Freeman holding the new launcher, which appears to be farther forward than before.
The Armbrust is fired. Note the launching rocket to the right of the closest light to the top.
Freeman can't ditch old habits! He reloads the Armbrust in the same manner as the original Half-Life (bringing the launcher to him and sliding the warhead in from the side) rather than the Half-Life 2-like animation used in the earlier version.
The Armbrust in third person. It still lacks the rocket, but this time it is justified by the fact that Gordon himself loads a rocket when picking up the launcher for the first time.
A cache of rockets provided by a security guard.

Mk 2 Hand Grenade

The Mk 2 hand grenade can be found in abundance throughout the game as early as Chapter 3. Special Forces marines occasionally will use these to flush the player out of their hiding spot. The weapon is thrown overarm with the primary fire button and underarm with the alt-fire, and can be held to "cook" it. Precisely how it explodes is a little questionable, since the thrown model is the same as the pick-up one and so still has the pin and safety lever.

Mk 2 hand grenade
3D rendering of the grenades.
Freeman holding a grenade.
Pulling the pin.

New version

A Mk 2 grenade in the newer version.
Some grenades on a rack.

Satchel Charge

A backpack presumably filled with some type of demolition charges and rigged to a remote detonator is available.

Gordon holding a satchel charge as he is assaulted by a Gargantua.
Later, he gets the bright idea of throwing one and readying the detonator in the safest area of Black Mesa.
Some satchel charges in third person.

New version

Aside from the fact that the gloves of Gordon's suit were updated, the model in the new version is pretty much unchanged.

"Laser Tripmine"

A fictional mine based on the "laser tripbomb" from Duke Nukem 3D, which appears to have in turn been based on some kind of door keypad with a retinal scanner. While laser-activated mines do exist (mostly not for military purposes as they would be easily located with IR sensors, explode when it rained, etc), they typically require the placement of either a laser emitter which is separate from the mine, or a mirror to reflect the laser back into the device's detector. By itself, there would be no way for the mine to "know" the beam of light had been cut without either using a pulsed rangefinding laser instead of a continuous beam, or a fairly sophisticated imaging system linked to a camera monitoring the laser, and the imaging system of the latter could simply be used as a detonator itself. Laser traps also typically do not use visible-wavelength lasers, as fairness is not a major factor in their design.

Our tripmine-equipped protagonist is greeted by a scientist.
Gordon walks into an area infested with laser tripmines, with the extreme caution of using his invisible hands to carry a dead headcrab around.
Third-person closeup of a non-activated laser tripmine. Presumably the two keypad-like sections are supposed to be the fragment generating portions since they are pre-scored like a grenade casing. A heroic attempt has been made to make the mine look like a functional device with little notes as to what each button on the surface does and printed instructions, though it is missing a few components such as a fuze well and lens protector that such a device would have if it existed.

New version

The tripmine is held at a different angle in the new version of the game.

Mounted Weapons


The strange cannons found in the original Half-Life are replaced with tripod-mounted BGM-71 TOW launchers. Their depiction is very unrealistic: they lack a trigger assembly, lack the 1.5 second firing delay, and the spent tube simply vanishes when the missile is fired. There is an unusual bit of realism in that the player then has to locate a new missile tube and place it in the launcher manually. Unusable TOW launchers are also seen mounted on Humvees.

BGM-71 TOW mounted on M220 tripod with daysight tracker - 152mm
The TOW in use, with the instructions popping up on the right when it is manned for the first time. Note the laser sight coming out of the night vision scope, which is not how TOW works at all. Note also that the launcher model has no bridging clamp, meaning there would be no interface between launcher and missile and the weapon could not be fired.
An empty TOW with a missile next to it. A blue band on a missile tube would normally indicate it was inert, though the tube being grey doesn't really mean anything. Note also that the launcher lacks the additional power supply and fire control modules it would need if it wasn't already missing key parts of itself.
Freeman about to load a fresh missile, worried by the fact that he's the only individual in the whole game not to cast a shadow, and by the question of what quasi-ethical alien research allows the TOW to fire when the trigger assembly is missing.

New version

Firing a missile in the newer version of the game, where there is (more appropriately) no laser sight. The crosshair is that of whatever weapon Gordon was holding prior to manning the TOW (in contrast to the earlier version, which used the MP5's crosshair).
A TOW mounted on a Humvee.

Browning M2HB

The Browning M2HB appears as a usable emplaced weapon in the mod. It is mostly seen in small fortified bunkers mounted on tripods. All the M2s have unlimited ammunition and can completely dismember aliens and humans with one shot. Special Forces marines may use the weapon against the player if it isn't already occupied. It is also mounted on the commander's hatch of Abrams tanks.

Browning M2HB on M3 tripod - .50 BMG
The Browning M2HB in Black Mesa.
Closeup of the belt and writing on the box. This is a World War 2-era M2 ammo can, it would be more likely to see a 100-round M2A1 ammo can on a modern M2.
Firing the M2 at an army of Vortigaunts. Note how the gun is able to absorb their electric attacks, which doesn't make it any less effective.
The M2HB on an M1 Abrams.

M230 Chain Gun

The M230 Chain Gun can be seen mounted on Apache helicopters.

Hughes/Alliant Techsystems M230 Chain Gun - 30mm
Closeup of the gun.
The Apache firing its M230 at Freeman.


LAV-25s and M1 Abrams main battle tanks mount a coaxial M240C machine gun.

M240C vehicle coaxial-mount version - 7.62x51mm NATO
The M240C on a LAV-25.
A close-to-death Gordon struggling around an Abrams and finally getting his eyes at its M240C. Note that the main gun incorrectly elevates independently of the gun mantlet: the two are actually a single assembly, and it is impossible for the M240 and the main gun to point in different directions as here.


An M240D machine gun is mounted alongside the M2HB on Abrams tanks.

M240D vehicle and aircraft-mount version with spade grips - 7.62x51mm NATO
The M240D on the top of an Abrams.
A worse-for-wear M240D after the tank has been destroyed.

M242 Bushmaster Chain Gun

The M242 Bushmaster Chain Gun is mounted on LAV-25s, which replace the M2 Bradley IFVs from the original game as the United States Marine Corps utilizes the LAV; the Bradley is used by the US Army.

M242 Bushmaster Chain Gun - 25mm
Freeman only managed to get up here by blinding the operators with science.

Cut Weapons

Heckler & Koch MP5A5 with GP-30 grenade launcher

The Heckler & Koch MP5A5 with a Russian GP-30 grenade launcher, RIS handguard, EOTech holographic sight and MP5K-PDW style side-folding stock was cut from the final version of the mod, with the MP5 included simply being a recreation of the model from the original game. (Note that the M203 or GP-30 launchers are not capable of being mounted on an unmodified MP5 variant in real life.)

Heckler & Koch MP5A5 with PDW stock, Bushnell Holosight, RIS foregrip, and KAC railed forend - 9x19mm - 9x19mm
3D rendering of the MP5A5 with GP-30 launcher and Holographic sight.
The "MP5" in action.

M4A1 with M203 Grenade Launcher

The M4A1 (substituting the Model 727 seen as the HD and PS2 replacement of the MP5 in the original game) was cut from the mod during development.

M4A1 carbine with M203 grenade launcher - 5.56x45mm / 40x46mm
3D rendering of the M4A1.

See Also

The Half-Life Series
GoldSource Series Half-Life (1998)   •  Half-Life: Opposing Force (1999)  •  Half-Life: Blue Shift (2001)  •  Half-Life: Decay (2001)
Source Series Half-Life 2 (2004)  •  Half-Life: Source (2004)  •  Half-Life 2: Episode 1 (2006)  •  Half-Life 2: Episode 2 (2007)
VR Half-Life: Alyx (2020)
Fan-Made Projects Black Mesa (2012)

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