"Red Dead Redemption 2": Weapon Expert Challenges

Updated on November 14, 2019
Eric Seidel profile image

I started writing about "RDR 2" when I noticed how little info was available online.

You'll utilize similar weapons during these Challenges.
You'll utilize similar weapons during these Challenges.

Apparently "playing the game" is considered a "Challenge" here.

What you could consider "hold my beer and watch this” Challenges, the Weapon Expert Challenges are a test of how good you are with the arsenal provided. I won’t lie some of these seemed frustrating when I first played Red Dead Redemption 2. They're not so bad to a point where you’ll drop the controller and say some words that would make an SJW not like you. You WILL do these, I promise. They just seem hard in theory.

The other thing that sets these Challenges apart from the others is they're easier to do during story missions than randomly throughout the game map. The vast majority of hostile NPCs will be during these missions. So those angry red dots will be the target of your woe for the following Challenges.

Ammo Types and How They Work:

There have been questions and debate over what the best ammo type in the game is (both for story mode and online). The answer is "all of them" they just have their uses for different scenarios.

  • Standard: The most common Revolver/Pistol/Repeater/Rifle/Shotgun rounds. Can be picked up from dead enemy weapons, and also looted from their corpses. These do average damage but when shot at the right parts of the body . . . stopping power doesn't matter.
  • Split Point: Available from the beginning of Chapter 2 these rounds can be crafted from Revolver/Pistol/Repeater/Rifle Standard rounds. They have similar stopping power to express rounds, but also don't drain your Dead Eye meter as much as other bullet types.
  • Express: Though they cost $0.50 more than standard rounds Express rounds are best used for close quarters gunfights. They're not as good at ranged combat.
  • High Velocity: The polar opposite of Express rounds. Best used for ranged shootouts. When used up close they can kill any enemies standing behind your target.
  • Explosive: In Online this is the bane of any rival player, but in story mode it's just anachronistic ire for historians. Gameplay wise you can use them for hunting Legendary Animals (it won't ruin the pelt, relax) and blast open Safes. You need an Express round/Shotgun Slug and Animal Fat to craft them.
  • Varmint: A .22 caliber round exclusive to the Varmint Rifle. Best used for small animals to avoid damaging pelts.
  • Shotgun Slug: Has the same power as a Standard Shotgun Shell but with a slightly longer range. When used up close it hits harder than a standard shell, but without the spread. Best used in Dead Eye.
  • Incendiary Shell: Crafted from Moonshine this "dragon’s breath" shotgun shell sets any target on fire. As well as the surrounding area . . .
  • Improved Arrow: A standard arrow with a Flight Feather attached . . . Helps it fly farther and hit harder.
  • Small-Game Arrow: Like Varmint Rifle rounds but meant for even smaller game such as Squirrels, Frogs, and any other animal that can fit in your Satchel.
  • Poison Arrow: Crafted from Oleander Sage these arrows will cause a "bleed-out" effect for an enemy's health. Good for hunting animals, with a thick skin, that you can't get a headshot on.
  • Fire Arrow: Crafted from Animal Fat these can light your target on fire, similar to Incendiary Shotgun rounds but without the cool sizzle sound of fire covered buckshot.
  • Dynamite Arrow: Crafted with a stick of Dynamite you can basically role play as Woodie Strode in The Professionals. The closest thing a western game can have to a grenade launcher.

Weapon Expert Challenge #1: Kill 3 Enemies With A Knife

When You Can Do It: You can start it during the Chapter 1 mission "Who The Hell Is Leviticus Cornwall?"

In the above mentioned mission there will be a guard on a flatbed train car that the game will ask you to stealth kill. Doing so with your Knife will launch this Challenge. Of course like most "stealth" moments in the game everything will erupt into a shootout after this.

The second time you can stealth kill an enemy is while going after Flaco Hernandez. To trigger this you need to start the "Noblest Men and Woman" Stranger Quest (in Valentine at the beginning of Chapter 2). After the cinematic hold Right on the D-pad to enter you Satchel, then select Flaco Hernadez's Photograph under the Documents tab. His location, up in Cairn Lake Ambarino; will be marked on your map. Instead of riding in, guns blazing, sneak up to one of his men and Knife him. After dealing with Flaco (in the obvious ensuing gun battle that follows your well planned stab) make sure to grab the Poisonous Trail Treasure Map in his cabin.

During the Chapter 2 mission "Paying A Social Call" will give you a couple of opportunists to complete this Challenge early in the game. You will have the option to either send in a character to stealth kill an enemy or you can "take the lead" and do it. Press X/Square to choose the latter option. Even if you choose not to go after Flaco Hernandez there are enough stealth kill opportunities to finish the Challenge and move on to . . .

Weapon Expert Challenge #2: Kill 3 enemies in 10 seconds using only throwing knives

When You Can Do It: During the Chapter 2 mission "Paying A Social Call"

There are going to be several chances throughout the game for you to take on a cluster of red dots using these well balanced sharp things. However the chapter 2 mission "Paying A Social Call" has a group of unaware O'Driscolls by a campfire (who depending on how silent you've been shouldn't be alerted and running about). Go up to this group, Throwing Knives equipped, and activate Dead Eye (pressing in the Right Stick Button/R3 while aiming). Aim for the head and let fly on three of the men. Aiming for the head with Throwing Knives will instantly kill your target. I’m just letting you down easy now so you don't expect to be Bill "The Butcher". Keep in mind that re-entering Dead Eye, with each throw, WILL NOT forfeit this Challenge.

Don't fret if you've advanced into the game before reading this article; there will be other chances to find enemies clustered together. In fact you can do this in free roam at the cost of some Honor. Take a train to Annesburg and head up to the mine entrances west of town (see second screenshot below). Antagonize the guards to make them cluster, then knife three of them in Dead Eye. Oh . . . and make sure to ride like hell out of town after you do.

When John mentions that your team is "at the perimeter" sneak to the right to face this group of enemies.
When John mentions that your team is "at the perimeter" sneak to the right to face this group of enemies.
If you're past "Paying A Social Call" you can do this Challenge here, at a mine entrance, in Anneburg.
If you're past "Paying A Social Call" you can do this Challenge here, at a mine entrance, in Anneburg.
There should be three guards at THIS entrance to the mines. Make sure to save your game before this.
There should be three guards at THIS entrance to the mines. Make sure to save your game before this.

Weapon Expert Challenge #3: Kill 3 birds of prey using only a tomahawk

When You Can Do It: After the Chapter 2 mission "The First Shall Be Last" (or after "The Spines of America")

After "The First Shall Be Last" you'll have a Tomahawk in your inventory, don't ask me how though. I guess it was a gift from Charles for saving Sean? Whatever . . . You have one. You can go after birds of prey in one of two ways. You can "bait" them with a dead body or ride around West Elizabeth looking for a Hawk/Eagle/Owl perched on a cliff. Similar to Survivalist Challenge #6 shoot a deer, skin it, and wait a little. A great place to do this is in the plains east of Horseshoe Overlook. Once a Western Raven lands to take a bite, kill it with your Tomahawk.

Now if you decided to try killing a flying bird, and have lost your only Tomahawk, don't feel bad I've been there too while researching this article. You can unlock more of them after the Chapter 2 mission "The Spines of America" when they will be unlocked at the Fence and Trapper.

You can find a Hawk perched on this bridge. You'll have to ride down to the river if you don't mind losing a Tomahawk.
You can find a Hawk perched on this bridge. You'll have to ride down to the river if you don't mind losing a Tomahawk.

Weapon Expert Challenge #4: Kill 10 enemies with a shotgun using crafted ammo

When You Can Do It: After the Chapter 2 mission "Pouring Fourth Oil - IV" (or immediately after Challenge #3)

After downing your third bird you should get back to the story, or other Challenges, to keep from these being a grind. After the above mentioned mission, go to the Fence in Emerald Ranch, and buy the Incendiary Buckshot Pamphlet. Also buy 14 Moonshines since you'll need these too to make a full 14 shots. You don't have to set up a Campfire to Craft them. Hold Left Bumper/L1 to open your Inventory, press Right Bumper/R1 to go to Items, and select the Mortar and Pastel to open Crafting from anywhere (specifically in front of the Fence).

Alternatively you can find the free Pamphlet at Copperhead Landing Leymone (see screenshot below). Within this burned out structure is a loose floorboard that can be inspected. You'll still need Moonshine either way.

You don't need to shoot 10 enemies CONSECUTIVELY. You can do it during missions like most of the other Weapon Expert Challenges. If you're in a rush, and don't mind losing Honor, you can complete this in Van Horn Trading Post. To get there early in the game take a train to Annesburg, and ride south along the train tracks. You'll go past here if you want to go for the free Pamphlet. This town is a powder keg with hostile NPCs. Just start a fist fight until someone pulls a Zimmerman and starts shooting. Escalate the situation with fiery buckshot from hell; cheap, easy, and anachronistic . . .

The location of Copperhead Landing in Chapter 2.
The location of Copperhead Landing in Chapter 2.
The burned out structure.
The burned out structure.
You can find the Incendiary Buckshot Pamphlet here.
You can find the Incendiary Buckshot Pamphlet here.

Weapon Expert Challenge #5: Kill 5 mounted enemies, using one throwing knife per kill

When You Can Do It: Chapter 3 mission "An Honest Mistake" or "Sodom? Back To Gomorrah"

A group of Pinkertons will chase after your gang on horseback. Like in Challenge #3, using Dead Eye, aim for the head, and down Right Trigger/R2 for maximum damage. At this point in the game you can press Right Bumper/R1 to put a lock on their head to make this easier. However you have to keep close to your gang, as you flee, or you'll fail the mission. Also Poison Throwing Knives will not register for this Challenge.

Since these kills don't need to be done consecutively you could do this while riding around free roaming. Though you'll lose Honor. Travelers, on horseback, can be antagonized into enemies. Or you could just ride around Ambarino . . . nobody up there seems very friendly . . . Still if they're on a horse it counts.

If you're feeling bad about the horse not having a home you could do this in conjunction with Bandit Challenge #6. Of course you'll have to wait until after the Chapter 3 mission "Horse Flesh For Dinner" to unlock the Horse Fence. Yeah, you could just take them to the Stables, but the Horse Fence doesn't ask you questions. Plus they pay more . . .

Weapon Expert Challenge #6: Kill 4 enemies at the same time with a single stick of dynamite

When You Can Do It: After the Chapter 3 mission "American Distillation"

Head to the Fence after the above mission and purchase the Volatile Dynamite Pamphlet (or you could grab the free one). You'll need Dynamite, Animal Fat, and any type of High Velocity Round to craft one. Animal Fat can be collected from Ducks and Geese near Emerald Ranch. I recommend a full inventory of Volatile Dynamite and regular sticks too. This will give you 16 chances to get this right, though saving your game before you attempt this is best.

Ride up to Fort Wallace, in Cumberland Forest New Hanover, and fire a few shots at the soldiers posted there. This will of course kick the hornet's nest giving you enough enemies clustered together. Run to the west end of the fort's wall (see first screenshot) and arch your Volatile Dynamite facing south-east. Judge your throws based on the mini-map but compensate for any soldiers that are indoors. Just because the blips are close together doesn't necessarily mean they're out in the open. If it doesn't work the first time, just reload the game and try again.

You could also wait to do this during a story mission but there are no guaranteed moments like the one Fort Wallace provides.

The location of Fort Wallace. The Waypoint represents where to throw your Dynamite. The icon represents where to stand when throwing them.
The location of Fort Wallace. The Waypoint represents where to throw your Dynamite. The icon represents where to stand when throwing them.

Weapon Expert Challenge #7: Kill 4 consecutive enemies by throwing and retrieving the same tomahawk

When You Can Do It: Any mission after Challenge #6

When I say "any mission" I really mean any instance with more than a couple of gunmen to kill. Preferably ones that are all close together. Close quarters combat always seems like the answer right? For this Challenge you'll need to at least one Tomahawk; actually make sure you have ONLY one so that you don't throw a second by accident. If you miss a throw or use another Tomahawk it will reset this Challenge. Throws or melee kills count, but if you hold down the throw button it might land so hard into your enemy you won't be able to retrieve it.

One good example of when you can do this Challenge is during the beginning of the Chapter 3 mission "A Short Walk In A Pretty Town". It's risky, but there are enough gunmen in the immediate area to do this easily. Just make sure you have Health Tonics handy.

Weapon Expert Challenge #8: Kill 15 enemies using a long-barreled sidearm

When You Can Do It: During any enemy encounter after Challenge #7

As goofy as you think it might look, and despite comparisons to penis envy, having a long barreled revolver and/or pistol is useful in most gunfights. A good substitute for moments when you don't have access to a repeater or rifle. Most importantly you can chalk this Challenge off as "I was going to do that anyway" if you have one in your holster. Actually I can't really call this one a "challenge" because of that fact . . . You'll most likely have this one done before the end of Chapter 3.

For this Challenge you'll need a long barrel. Go ahead, it only costs $10 . . .
For this Challenge you'll need a long barrel. Go ahead, it only costs $10 . . .

Weapon Expert Challenge #9: Kill 9 unaware enemies from behind using a Bow

When You Can Do It: Chapter 4 mission "American Fathers - II"

In the above mentioned mission there are at least ten Cornwall guards patrolling the grounds of Cornwall Kerosene and Tar. Stealth killing the enemies with arrows is enough to finish this Challenge, though you still need to be stealthy for this mission. You can kill all of the guards, but leave the one at the south entrance alone. His death could spook the workers on the first floor of the factory. The other eight guards walking around outside are fair game, but patiently take them out. The ninth target is up on the second floor. The workers are marked as red dots, but shooting them may not count toward this Challenge. I never did it because . . . you know, they're working for "the man" and because it's a well lit area.

If you're past this mission, in a rush, or you have something against shooting security guards with arrows you can do this Challenge up at Hanging Dog Ranch (see screenshot below). Sneak up to the west perimeter fence and you'll see a lone O'Driscoll patrolling the field. There's also another one up on the windmill to the left. While sneaking shoot both with your Bow. You could use Improved Arrows but the normal ones are sufficient. After you do this the hideout will go on alert and start shooting. Jump on your horse and ride away, you'll know you're clear when you see a yellow mission marker re-appear on the mini-map. Now ride back and repeat the above until you get this Challenge done. I know what you're thinking, and yeah, they seem to forget pretty quickly. As crazy as this strategy is, it works.

The location of Hanging Dog Ranch in Big Valley West Elizabeth. Screenshot was taken in Chapter 3. The map should look like this after the Chapter 2 mission "An American Pastoral Scene" this part of the map will be uncovered.
The location of Hanging Dog Ranch in Big Valley West Elizabeth. Screenshot was taken in Chapter 3. The map should look like this after the Chapter 2 mission "An American Pastoral Scene" this part of the map will be uncovered.

Weapon Expert Challenge #10: Kill a Grizzly Bear without taking damage, using only throwing knives

When You Can Do It: After Challenge #9

A lot more reasonable than that Red Dead Redemption hunting challenge. If I'm going to kill a bear with a knife I'd prefer it to be the thrown kind. Take a train to Watson Station (or just ride east depending on how you did Challenge #9). In this area you're very likely to find a Grizzly Bear ready to attack. Now I can't tell you if you're smarter than the average bear, or if I already used that Yogi Bear reference in another article, but I CAN tell you that Poison Throwing Knives will not count against you here. Like other Pamphlets you can either buy it from a Fence or find it somewhere in the world. This particular "somewhere" is in a shack, north of Saint Denis, under a loose floorboard.

No matter which way you get the Pamphlet you'll need Oleander Sage which grows in Bluewater Marsh Leymone. You can craft Poison Throwing Knives under the weapons section of the Crafting Menu. Don't even need a Campfire for them! Just select the Mortar and Pastel in the Inventory. When you come across a Grizzly, or if it finds you, no matter how it happens it will end the same way. Aim for the head with one Poison Throwing Knife and it will be enough to make the bear reconsider it's social cues. No really! It will stop charging, wonder off a bit, then collapse to the ground. From here use a normal Throwing Knife for the coup de grace.

You can find Grizzly Bears just north-west of Wallace Station. I mean . . . they even have a marker on the map . . .
You can find Grizzly Bears just north-west of Wallace Station. I mean . . . they even have a marker on the map . . .
You can find the Poison Throwing Knife Pamphlet, for free, here. In this house, just north of Saint Denis, there is a loose floorboard.
You can find the Poison Throwing Knife Pamphlet, for free, here. In this house, just north of Saint Denis, there is a loose floorboard.

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    © 2019 Eric Seidel

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