Contra Wiki
Contra Wiki

The Spread Gun (S), also known as Spread, Spread Shot, Spray Gun or Shotgun, is a recurring weapon featured in the Contra series. It is a gun that shoots several bullets in a spreading manner, covering a wide range that widens even more as the projectiles fly further.

General description[]

The Spread Gun is a power-up that enables to shoot in three to five different directions at the same time and in a spreading manner. The angle at which the bullets spread out varies from game to game, sometimes covering a wider area and other times covering a more concentrated one, making this weapon more or less effective in comparison. Its rounds also possess the ability to travel through most walls and surfaces.

The gun is semi-automatic but starting from Contra III: The Alien Wars it became capable of fully automatic fire (although still slower compared to the Machine Gun). Since many projectiles usually hit the target at once, it can be considered to relatively deal high damage. Up-close firing results in multiple hits in a single shot, a desired quality when handling bosses. When used this way, the Spread Gun may end up dealing as much damage as the Laser; however, hardware limitations in the first games often prevented the Spread Gun from continuously firing up to five rounds on each shot, and would start to fire three or less rounds if fired too fast; as such, it is often preferred to shoot in a measured manner in situations that require covering a wider area.

The Spread Gun is often regarded as the best weapon in most games it appears in due to its wider range of shots and ability to provide better cover and offense perimeter against enemies. It is available in almost every game in the series (the MSX2 port of Contra being a noticeable exception).

Throughout the series, the weapon has also been given some enhancements; for example, Contra: Legacy of War introduced a spread ground torpedo, while C: The Contra Adventure introduced a self-forging grenade which produces shrapnel that bounces along the surface until exploding when coming in contact with an enemy.

Certain enemies may sometimes fire off Spread Gun-like rounds (Zark for example).

Game specific information[]



The Spread Gun made its debut appearance since the very first game in the Contra series and became an instant classic in it ever since; regarded by many as the best weapon in the game due to its wide coverage - a trait that comes quite in handy in a run-and-gun game where the player is shot and charged at from every possible angle.

The gun shoots five flashing red-and-blue bullets at once in a spreading manner, and these then travel until they leave the screen. Only 9 bullets can be onscreen at one time and tis limitation may cause the gun to sometimes shoot only four bullets or even one or two between the longer spreads (possibly due to hardware limitations as well). The Spread of the bullets allows the player to hit many targets at once; or, if they get close to an enemy, allowing them to concentrate all the bullets on a target for massive damage. The gun can be fired if 9 bullets are onscreen, but no bullets will be released until older bullets disappear.

In the enemy base levels, shots fired from this gun spread out in a horizontal manner instead of vertically as in the side-view stages. This allows the player to hit many targets at once and quickly clear largely populated rooms, as well as providing them an overall safer area in front of them. Furthermore, if aimed properly, the player can make many bullets to land on the more resilient enemies (such as Gelguges and Nuclear Balls). However, the spreading effect of the bullets in these levels isn't as strong as in the side-view stages and they cover a notably narrower range in comparison.

The gun can be enhanced by picking up the Rapid Fire power-up, which will make it shoot at a faster rate.


The Spread Gun fires a five-set of bullets for each press of the FIRE button. 10 spheres can be onscreen at a time. If fired too quickly, the Spread Gun's five bullet spread may appear distorted; sometimes a spread shot will not always fire 5 bullets and instead fire one-four bullets per button press in order to maintain the gun's maximum on-screen bullet limit. A bullet will always be fired from the center (if possible), and because of this design, via rapid firing, it is possible for the Spread Gun to essentially take on the appearance of the Machine Gun.

Commodore 64

Called "Scatter Gun" in the Commodore 64 version. In this game, this weapon only shoots three spreading bullets per shot, likely due to hardware limitations.

Super Contra[]


Both the appearance and the behavior of the Spread Gun went through a redesign in the arcade version of Super Contra. In this game, the pickups dropped by Power-up Capsules appear as the weapons themselves, instead of being labeled with letter on a Red Falcon emblem (some people consider them to be harder to identify this way).

Apart from this, the weapon itself shoots differently; when first picked up, only three projectiles are fired, but if the player manages to find another Spread Gun pickup, the weapon will upgrade and shoot its usual five shots, covering a much larger area. The projectiles themselves are much larger this time around, resembling white glowing plasma balls instead of bullets. The shots are also notably powerful and the player will be able to deal a great amount of damage if they get close to an enemy and manage to make many projectiles to hit them.

In the top-view stages, the Spread Gun suffers a small handicap in that bullets fired only travel a moderate distance and then disappear, forcing the player to get closer to targets and risk their lives in order to land more hits.


This section is empty.
You can help out the Contra Wiki by inserting content here.

Operation C[]

Bullets shoot out in three directions. If power is boosted a second time, bullets spray in five directions.
~ - Description from instruction manual.

When the FIRE button is pressed, a set of three bullets in a spread-like fashion is fired. Up to six bullets can appear at one time on-screen. Like the weapon's NES counterpart, the Spread Gun may fire in a distorted fashion; displaying one or two bullets during firing. Holding the FIRE button allows for rapid fire.

When a second Spread Gun icon is consecutively collected, the Spread Gun can fire up to five bullets in one FIRE button press and the maximum bullet count on-screen is increased to ten.

The Spread Gun is the first weapon power-up that can be obtained when starting the game.

Contra III: The Alien Wars[]

Contra III fixes the earlier issue of rapid frame rate the older NES Contra games had by adding a restriction limit. Now, whenever up to two sets of five-spread is fired, further bullets won't be released from the gun until one or both sets completely vanish off the screen. Holding the FIRE button releases two sets and continuous shots, while quickly tapping the FIRE button releases only one set at a time. On larger scale targets or strong enemies, the Spread Gun is more powerful at point blank range, where many or all bullets can be unleashed rapidly, inflicting heavy damage.

The Spread Gun can also be combined with another Spread Gun in a dual wielding attack (by having two Spread Guns and holding L+R, then firing). Each set of bullets is counted separately for each Spread Gun used, meaning using the dual weapon attack can produce up to four sets of spread bullets onscreen at once. It is important to note this limitation isn't restricted to normal usage of both guns. If one has two Spread Guns, if one set of two is fired, the player can immediately switch to the other Spread Gun and fire its bullets, allowing for up to four sets of bullets onscreen at one time. Repeatedly cycling between both Spread Guns can greatly aid in eliminating an entire platoon of enemies. or allowing for near infinite continuous fire. The bullets may blink in a two-player game due to sprite limitations.

In top-down stages, the Spread Gun possesses a similar behavior as its NES counterpart: at times, a distorted set of Spread bullets may sometimes be fired, commonly being a set of one or three bullets. When the dual gun attack is performed using two Spread Guns, or if firing and cycling between two Spread Guns at once, the game may lag due to many sprites being onscreen at a time on a heavily populated area. This is present due to the amount of power the hardware uses on top-down stage view.

The Spread Gun's statistics appear identically in the Game Boy Advance port, Contra Advance: The Alien Wars EX. The effect of bullets growing larger the further they travel away is more noticeable than in the SNES version due to the larger sprites used in relation to the reduced screen size.

Contra: The Alien Wars[]

Each time the FIRE button is pressed, one set of three orbs is fired. The player can only fire two sets of three orbs at a time. A set will not be fired until there is less than two sets on screen, even if a set on-screen does not contain all of its bullets due to hitting targets.

Contra: Hard Corps[]

The Spread Gun is one of Ray Poward's exclusive weapons. It can be used once he obtains a Weapon C item pod from certain stages (the first C pod can be found after defeating Maximum Jumbo). The Spread Gun's behavior is seemingly identical to that of Contra III's, with possible slight speed or statistics adjustments. The Spread Gun is powerful the more closer Ray is to an enemy, especially a larger scale enemy, where almost all of the strong bullets will hit frequently. The Spread Gun's bullets may blink in a two-player game due to sprite capacity.

Contra: Legacy of War[]

C: The Contra Adventure[]

The Spread Gun fires four red round bullets simultaneously: three in front of the player in a spread-like fashion and one above the center bullet that rises further upward.

Neo Contra[]

A standard projectile weapon that sprays bullets in an arc.
~ Instruction booklet description

Renamed the Spread Shot, this gun is a standard projectile weapon used within the Type C set of weaponry. Each shot fires a massive amount of multiple yellow bullets in a slightly irregular spread formation in front of the player at up to long-distance. The gun's interval between bullets fired is at least one whole second, meaning the weapon is not capable of quick rapid-firing. Despite this downside, the weapon's spread is useful for taking out a number approaching of Zako units, or for delivering massive damage to large enemies up close. Based on the bullet appearance and firing sound, the weapon gives off the appearance of a Shotgun.

Contra 4[]

The Spread Gun returns to its iconic appearance. In Contra 4, the Spread Gun was downgraded to only fire three bullets per set (or weapon button press). However, the gun can be upgraded to fire five bullets per spread just as in previous Contra titles. In this game, rapid tapping the FIRE button releases bullets much faster than just holding it, allowing for more bullets onscreen at a time. The gun's behavior seems to behave similarly to its original NES Contra counterpart, but with higher speed, allowing for bullets to dissipate faster, which allows for more bullets to be fired. Up to ten bullets can be onscreen at a time (sixteen if upgraded), and only four sets of bullets can be fired onscreen at a time.

Unlike Contra III, both sets from two separate Spread Guns are counted as the same, possibly to reduce bloating onscreen. However, the bullets fly relatively fast, so these details are barely noticeable. Like the NES variant, if less than the maximum bullet limit is onscreen, the gun can still be fired even if the gun doesn't produce all the bullets in the next shot(s) as a result. This is noticeable when using the upgraded Spread Gun, where firing three sets fast enough will produce a single (sixteenth) bullet in the dead center of the spread.

In tunnel stages, the Spread Gun fires in a horizontal arc. Useful for taking out a wide range of enemies approaching from the left/right edges of the screen.

During rematch challenges, the player will always start with one basic Spread Gun.

Contra ReBirth[]

The Spread Gun behaves identically to how did in most previous titles, although this time there isn't a known limit on how many sets of bullets can be onscreen at once, meaning the previous issues with this gun firing less than the usual amount doesn't seem to be present in this game. The Spread Gun is the first weapon the player can obtain, appearing immediately at the beginning of the first stage, as soon as the player walks right a little.

Contra: Evolution[]

This section is empty.
You can help out the Contra Wiki by inserting content here.

Hard Corps: Uprising[]

Named the Spread Shot (or sometimes just Spread in the Shop & Upgrades menu). Behaves identical to its Contra 4 variant except there is no known bullet limit. Default-wise, a Spread Gun can fire a set of three rounds per fire. Acquiring a second S power-up will upgrade the gun to fire off five rounds per blast. Acquiring a third Spread power-up will upgrade each shot to fire 7 bullets per FIRE. Each individual bullet is generally weaker than a default Rifle round.

In Rising Mode, it is possible to transform all S capsules into level 2 or level 3 capsules by purchasing specific upgrades at the game's shop using CP.

Contra Returns[]

The Spread Gun (S) belongs to the Machine Gun class. As in other games, this weapon fires several bullets (3, 5 or 7 depending on active weapon). Initially, bullets do not have special properties, but as the weapon is upgraded, bullets gain the ability to pierce enemies and bounce off walls.

According to game lore, Spread Gun was invented by Red Falcon.

Contra: Rogue Corps[]

This section is empty.
You can help out the Contra Wiki by inserting content here.

Contra: Operation Galuga[]

Called Spread Shot in this game. Its assigned color is red.

Behaves identical to its Contra 4 counterpart; initially firing three spherical bullets per round in a fan-like pattern, and when upgraded to Level 2, fires five bullets per round instead. There does not appear to be an obvious bullet limit. Visually, the bullets appear as a small bright core surrounded by red-tinted energy and produce a small "tail". Its Overload is the "Salvo", which releases a barrage of eighteen spherical bullets around the player character, bouncing on terrain as well as the edges of the screen, and dissipating either upon contact with an enemy (dealing damage), or after around seven seconds.

Instead of the Spread Shot, Lucia and Fang utilizes the Charge Spread when an S power-up is collected. This variation rapidly fires blue V-shaped energy beams, similarly to classic Browny's Victory Laser from Contra: Hard Corps. Additionaly, this weapon can be charged up and shoot a large pink beam at half charge or a huge orange beam at full charge. When upgraded to Level 2, it shoot two beams at a time instead of only one. Its Overload is the "Counter", which deploys a beige energy barrier for around six seconds, rendering the player invulnerable to enemy projectiles as per usual. After time is up, it generates the powerful blast that destroys all enemies, similarly to M-80000 Helio Bomb from Contra 3: The Alien Wars.

When Sheena collects the S power-up, she equips the Charge Spread and uses the "Salvo" Overload, while Browny equips the Spread Shot and uses the "Counter" Overload.







Sound Location
Contra: Hard Corps
Neo Contra
Contra 4
Contra ReBirth


  • The instruction booklet for Contra III: The Alien Wars depicts the hero firing off three sets of Spread Gun rounds, which isn't normally possible in-game unless the player has two Spread Guns in their possession and cycles between both when firing.

See also[]