Full Disclosure: I was a playtester on this product, and write for the GURPS
GURPS Tactical Shooting (hereafter, TS) is an 87-page gaming supplement that adds significantly more depth and technical detail to shooting in GURPS. It is a useful book on its own, and can be used in any modern setting.
However, the book does reference GURPS, Fourth Edition and GURPS High-Tech a lot – so you may want to have those books handy while reading it.
Although it adds a lot of detail and versilimitude, it does not introduce many new rules. The new optional material applies to very specific situations (such as pelvic shots, adapting your eyes to darkness, detailed cover, mixing ammo types in rapid fire, etc.) and can be "plugged in" to any game (even those with a more cinematic bent). Most of the book is advice to the GM and players that expands and gives context to existing GURPS rules and modifiers; it is a showcase example of how rich and deep the Basic Set rules are. The huge numbers of quotes help put each section in context, which is useful if you are not already familiar with firearms in real life.
This strength (extensive cross-referencing) is a drawback if you intend to use it in another game. Most of any game mechanic conversion will be straightforward, but you will probably need Basic Set handy in order to clarify some cross-game mechanical aspects (e.g. the GURPS Fright Check rules vis a vis any horror mechanics in your favored system)
The book is divided into five gaming chapters and a reference appendix.
1. Lock and Load:
This short (4 page) intro explains the mission of TS, a abbreviated glossary of terms, some historical material, and then hits on most of the common firearm myths that people pick up from watching badly-researched movies and “conventional wisdom.” This includes the legality of shooting people with large-bore guns, getting knocked down from bullet energy transfer, the magical .45, using your Ipod as armor, and so on.
After that are some good hints and tips on surviving a realistic gunfight – which is going to be even more lethal than a normal GURPS combat!
2. The Art of Shooting:
Taking up a large chunk of the pages (25), this chapter is the meat and potatoes of the book; covering everything from what GURPS means by 1/2D and Max range, to additional rules tweaks for even harsher realism.
In addition to general advice and descriptions of stances, shooting in the dark (including drawbacks to NVGs), “dodging” gunfire, tactics (with illustrations), and sniping, the strength of this chapter is the coverage of combat psychology. Most notably, the text addresses the inhuman focus and situational awareness of most game characters, pain and discomfort from using certain equipment, and so on.
The book ends with discussing the after-effects of a shootout that are often ignored, such as how loud gunfire is, policing ammo casings, adrenaline rushes, and even chemical residues.
The absolute gem of the book, and probably one of the main reasons to pick it up for other RPGs, is the section on The Tactical Mind – which discusses levels of threat preparation, killing intent, and the stress of battle.
Note here that the text stresses that heroes are not "normal people", and a default GURPS character is a pretty cool cucumber in a fight. It does address Fright Checks and the sights and sounds of horror, but a GURPS GM may wish to consult the new GURPS Horror for additional guidance on handling post-traumatic stress and fright.
3. Style Components:
This opens with a very brief overview of useful GURPS Advantages and then dives into new Perks (minor Advantages). Most reflect natural aptitude in different areas, but some (notably, the Standard Operating Procedures) are there to help you play a combat-hardened character, even if the player is very forgetful about things like cleaning their weapons, maintaining a bug-out bag, etc.
The next section expands and explains some uses of various Skills, including new applications that are introduced in TS.
The final part discusses firearm-related Techniques (very specialized skill usage) – a few of which are reprinted from GURPS High-Tech.
Perhaps the least useful part of the book if you are not using GURPS, this chapter opens with a rundown of training gunfightersm and then gets right into style templates for shooters. These are not full templates, but use the style format that is discussed in great detail in GURPS Martial Arts – they are a collection of perks with suggested advantages, disadvantages, and skills.
5. Tactical Firearms:
Gun stats. Mostly a collection of new gun stats written with Hans’ (in)famous attention to detail, this section does touch on selecting appropriate weapons for the shooter's mission, and includes asides such as The Tactical Carbine which discusses the pros and cons of 5.56mm carbines (conveniently subheaded “My Carbine Sucks” and “My Carbine Rocks”). It does have the TDI Kriss and ARES Shrike listed, which is probably a selling point to some people :)
After the guns is a section on Gunsmithing, with subheads by task (“Fitting a Gun to Its Owner”, “Weight Reduction”, etc.).
Then we get into Tactical Equipment. This section fleshes out the non-gun gear for a character's kit, including detailed coverage of slings, holsters, suppressors, sights, sniper computer apps, and so on.
Last up are useful ammo types (including the recent “barrier blind”).
The chapter ends on a strongly game-agnostic note with Tactical Loadouts, which tells you the equipment carried by everyone from “U.S. Army Calvary Trooper (1876-1892)” to “LAPD Officer (2005-).”
Appendix. Research Material:
After discussing some of the books used for reference, there is an extensive filmography that includes the weapons used and notes about perks or styles. For example:
Tears of the Sun (Antoine Fuqua, 2003). The U.S. Navy SEALs are Assaulter and Sharpshooter stylists, displaying Combat Reflexes, Battle Drills, Fast-Draw, and Close-Quarters Battle with the H&K MK 23 MOD 0 (p. 58), SIG-Sauer P226, Colt M4A1, Springfield M14 (High-Tech, p. 115), FN M249E3 (MINIMI-Para Mk 2), and Saco MK 43 MOD 0 (treat as the M60E3 from p. 134 of High-Tech). They show Counterattack and Peeling drills in action.
The editing of this book is up to the usual GURPS
high standards. The layout is crisp and clean, with a useful index. Art is almost nonexistent (and except for the tactical diagrams, is recycled) but the text is broken up by well-placed boxes and sub-headings. It is a bit drab, but this is one of those books where you almost begrudge the art taking up room that could go to more cool text.
This book packs more into 58 pages than most supplements do in 128. Not only is the writing concise, the leveraging of existing GURPS
mechanics makes it very easy to integrate into an existing game or adapt to different situations. There is a lot to digest, but the organization and common-sense descriptions should help make a transition to a realistic TS-powered campaign fairly easy.
This is one of the finest examples of a GURPS sourcebook I’ve ever seen. If your game even pretends to be realistic, and has guns, you will find something in this book that will be useful.
Similar books include Armory/Armory Reloaded (NWoD) and Arsenal (Shadowrun).