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Leadhead Splicers are Splicers wielding firearms. Pistol and Machine Gun-wielding varieties appear in BioShock, and Shotgun-wielding ones are introduced in BioShock 2. They reappear in BioShock Infinite's downloadable content, Burial at Sea, using similar firearms now with the addition of Carbines and Crossbows.


Main article: BioShock

A real pain in the backside at just about any point throughout the game, especially at harder levels, the first Leadhead Splicers the player will encounter in BioShock will just pack pistols, but will upgrade to machine guns at around the halfway point, making them a whole lot more deadly. Worse still, they boast a ridiculously high tolerance to damage, so Plasmids and other inventive means of killing are highly recommended. It is not clear what these Splicers are exactly spliced up with, as no Gene Tonic or Plasmid that Jack can obtain affects his prowess with firearms. However, the splicing might explain their tolerance to bullets. Despite the ravages of ADAM withdrawal, Leadhead Splicers have retained enough fine motor control to aim and fire pistols and machine guns. A Leadhead Splicer puts survival first and will run for cover during a firefight. Their deadly accuracy makes even a single Leadhead Splicer a formidable threat.


Cannon Fodder? - No, Leadhead Splicers are the most difficult to kill of the common Splicer types (especially on Hard), taking dozens of bullets before death. Coupled with a very thorough attack pattern, agile dodging, tendency to take cover while reloading, their use of Health Stations or their penchant to attack alongside Thuggish Splicers and they're a force to be reckoned with. This Splicer type upgrades at the game's midpoint, using a machine gun instead of a pistol.

Notable Behavior - In the earlier stages of the game, when this Splicer type still uses pistols, they will frequently spin the cylinder, allowing the player to discern their type by listening carefully. When in combat, Leadhead Splicers will shoot the player while attempting to find cover. When having found it, they will periodically get out of cover to shoot at the player, then retreat.

Tips and Tricks:

  • When badly injured, Splicers will attempt to use a nearby Health Station, if available. This can be used to the player's advantage if they had previously hacked the Health Station. After they have dealt a good amount of damage to the Splicer, it will run to get health and be poisoned to death by the hacked Health Station.
  • Leadheads have to reload their weapons, just like Jack. By exploiting this weakness, the player can catch the enemy while they're defenseless, attempt to find better cover or even flee.
  • Leadheads often wear a mask or other headwear. By using Telekinesis to grab it and punt it back at them, the player can achieve an instant kill on the lower difficulties and early stages of the game.
  • Always strafe when fighting a Leadhead, as it will be much harder for them to hit the player.
  • The closer the player gets to a Leadhead, the easier it becomes for the latter to hit them. As such, flanking and ambushing are recommended when attempting to take on Leadheads at melee range.
  • When the player gets the Research Camera in Neptune's Bounty, they will have enough Film to start off with and enough laying around to easily research Leadhead Splicers by the end of the level should they focus on trying to get action shots (even then, they'll have a few more Leadhead Splicers to spare). Considering Neptune's Bounty is when this Splicer type is at its weakest when compared to the time the player can research them, this will make researching them easier and make taking on the tougher ones later much easier.

Recommended Plasmids[]

Leadhead Hephaestus

A Leadhead Splicer wielding a machine gun in Hephaestus.

  • Telekinesis will help the player not only deal severe damage to Leadheads, but can also provide cover by picking up a large object. As such, approaching this Splicer type while holding out a projectile in front and then punting it at the Leadhead will kill it, or at least severely hurt it, without the player taking any damage.
  • Casting Incinerate! before a fight will make it significantly easier, as the Splicer will take continuous damage without the player having to leave cover.
  • Casting Enrage on this Splicer type when it's in the middle of a group will ensure at least several enemies die before the target gets subdued by its own allies.
  • Target Dummy will ensure the player a quick escape, or alternatively an easy kill.

Recommended Weapons and Ammunition[]

  • Antipersonnel ammo will usually kill any Splicer in a couple of shots.
  • A Shotgun loaded with 00 Buck will kill any Splicer at close range in the earlier levels of the game. However, as enemies get tougher, Exploding Buck will become more useful.
  • A Chemical Thrower loaded with Napalm will kill these Splicers in around a second, using only a few units of ammo.
  • When using the Crossbow, it is recommended to use Incendiary Bolts if the player isn't good at headshots. However, if the player is adept at performing headshots, they will only need Steel-Tip Bolts.

Recommended Gene Tonics[]

  • Natural Camouflage will help the player hide from or ambush this Splicer type.
  • The Armored Shell line of Tonics will significantly decrease damage received by a Leadhead's bullets, making fights easier to survive.
  • The Damage Research line of Tonics will increase damage dealt against enemies researched using the Research Camera. The effectiveness of this Tonic is entirely dependent on how much research the player has done.

Significant Leadhead Splicers[]

There are three Leadhead Splicers that play a significant role in the story: Brenda, the first Leadhead Splicer the player meets and the former owner of the Kashmir Restaurant, the unnamed Bouncer victim, showing the lengths a Splicer will go to for their fix and teaching a valuable lesson about Big Daddies and Little Sisters, and the mini-boss J.S. Steinman, the mad king of the Medical Pavilion. Dr. Steinman is notably also the first Leadhead to use a machine gun rather than a pistol (unless one considers the automated turret set up in the same level), as the regular Leadhead Splicers don't start picking up machine guns until Hephaestus.

BioShock 2[]


A Leadhead Splicer in Siren Alley.

Main article: BioShock 2

Leadhead Splicers return in BioShock 2, and they've changed a bit in the past years. Leadheads are now able to use shotguns, in addition to pistols and tommy guns, and they can toss grenades and Molotov cocktails, though nowhere near as frequently as the no-longer-present Nitro Splicers. They are also now capable of rudimentary tactical moves such as ducking behind low objects such as crates or windowsills for cover, as well as leaning against corners before popping out and opening fire.

Recommended Weapons and Ammunition[]

  • Leadheads don't jump around or move terribly much, so a single Leadhead makes an easy target for precision weapons like the Rivet Gun or Spear Gun.
  • The Machine Gun makes short work of entire groups of Leadheads, especially when used in conjunction with Anti-Personnel Ammo.
  • The Shotgun, when loaded with Phosphorus Buck, makes a great Anti-Leadhead weapon. Like Incinerate! and Rocket Spears, Phosphorus Buck causes Leadheads to panic, giving the player a short break from their gunfire.

Recommended Plasmids[]

  • Electro Bolt can be used to stun Leadheads while they're pulling out a grenade, causing them to drop it and, in most cases, blow themselves up.
  • Telekinesis works just as well as it did on Nitro Splicers in BioShock, catching the Leadhead's grenades and turning them against their owners or their allies.
  • Incinerate! will cause Splicers to momentarily panic, flailing and running into one another. Not only can this spread the damage around, but it gives the player a brief reprieve from their gunfire.
  • As in the previous game, Electro Bolt can be used to stun Splicers on dry land and kill them instantly in water.
  • Insect Swarm will distract Leadheads for a little bit, giving the player a chance to regroup while the bees deal some damage.

Recommended Gene Tonics[]

  • The Armored Shell line of Tonics will significantly decrease damage received by a Leadhead's bullets, making fights easier to survive.
  • Damage Research will increase damage dealt against enemies researched using the Research Camera. The effectiveness of this Gene Tonic is entirely dependent on how much research the player has done.
  • Headhunter greatly increases headshot damage.

Significant Leadhead Splicers[]

Only a single Leadhead Splicer plays a significant role in BioShock 2: Daniel Wales, one of the former architects of Rapture, whom Subject Delta is required to kill in order to obtain the code to the Plaza Hedone in Siren Alley.

Help Caption

Despite the ravages of ADAM withdrawal, Leadhead Splicers have retained enough fine motor control to aim and fire pistols, shotguns and machine guns. A Leadhead Splicer puts survival first, and will run for cover during a firefight. Their deadly accuracy makes even a single Leadhead Splicer a formidable threat.

"Splicer" is a term for the inhabitants of Rapture who lost their humanity from using too many Plasmids.

Minerva's Den[]

Main article: Minerva's Den

Leadhead Splicers are relatively the same in Minerva's Den as they are in BioShock 2, except for the fact that they don't carry pistols.

Significant Leadhead Splicers[]

Reed Wahl is the only significant Leadhead in Minerva's Den, armed with a Shotgun and possessing much more health than an average Leadhead. Subject Sigma is forced to kill him in order to obtain his administrator punchcard so that he can reactivate The Thinker.

Burial at Sea - Episode 1[]

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A Leadhead carrying a Hand Cannon.

Main article: Early Splicers

Rather than Pistols, the Leadhead Splicers featured in this DLC use Hand Cannons in addition to the Tommy Gun, Carbine, and Shotgun firearms.

Burial at Sea - Episode 2[]

Main article: Early Splicers

The Leadhead Splicers reappear in the second Burial at Sea DLC. Their appearance doesn't change a lot, but they also use a Crossbow which is the same kind as Elizabeth's. Instead, Splicers with Tommy Guns and Carbines are removed from this DLC.

Behind the Scenes[]

  • In the earlier levels of BioShock, the Leadhead Splicers often spun the cylinder of their pistol, pinpointing their location. This is possible to do with most actual revolvers by pulling slightly on the hammer while spinning the cylinder.
  • The pistol-wielding Leadheads in BioShock fire their weapon by "fanning" the hammer (pulling back the hammer with one hand and pulling the trigger with the other). Although in the final game the Pistol is double-action, thus nullifying the need to pull back the hammer after each shot (single-action). The Leadheads "fanning" the pistol is probably leftover from an earlier design of the game.
  • In the Footlight Theater in Welcome to Rapture, a Leadhead Splicer is brutally killed by a Bouncer. Although this Splicer is carrying a Revolver, and even fires it, he is still referred to as a Thuggish Splicer.