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Critical hits, also known as "crits" or "full crits", are attacks that do extra damage and have distinctive sound effects when fired and upon hitting a target. Players on the receiving end of the attack will have the words 'Critical Hit!!!' (Or 'Mini-Crit!' respectively) appear over their head in green letters, accompanied by a loud ding.
Critical hits can be easily distinguished from normal hits. Most melee weapons have a unique swinging animation. Explosives projectiles, such as rockets or stickybombs, have a team-colored glow and sparkle effects. Bullets have team-colored trails.
Self-inflicted critical hits will not deal critical self-damage but will still play the sound effect.
Critical hits deal 300% of the base damage of the weapon and ignore both the distance modification and the random damage modification normal shots are susceptible to, though explosive weapon crits still suffer from splash damage fall-off.
When a player is killed by a critical hit, the class will let out a loud scream that differs from ordinary deaths, unless the class was killed by a critical explosive. The kill feed icon for a critical hit can be easily recognized, as the weapon will be surrounded by a red glow.
Crits and mini-crits do not stack in any form - that is, meeting multiple conditions to earn a crit or a mini-crit will not deal any more than regular critical damage. For example, the Frontier Justice's revenge crits do not deal any additional damage when the Engineer is ÜberCharged by the Medic using the Kritzkrieg, while attacking an enemy under the influence of both Jarate and the Fan O'War will only result in a single mini-crit. This means that team co-ordination is required if multiple players have ways to increase their crit output, or extra damage will be wasted. If both a mini-crit and full critical hit occurs with the same attack, the critical hit overrides the mini-crit.
If the 'Display damage done as text over your target' advanced option or hud_combattext 1 console command has been enabled, the 'Critical Hit!!!' text will not be displayed. The damage dealt will be drawn in a larger font instead.
Critical hit chance
Standard weapons have a 2% base chance to crit, while melee weapons have a 15% chance. An additional bonus percentage is added based on the total damage done by the player in the last 20 seconds, which scales from 0% at 0 damage to 10% at 800 damage. For example: dealing 200 damage in the past 20 seconds, the additional bonus percentage is 2.5%.
The critical hit chance for melee weapons scales more sharply than that for ranged weapons. Melee critical hit chances can reach up to 65%, meaning the bonus they receive scales from 0% to 50%. 
Among those weapons that trigger randomly, critical hit probability is determined differently based on the type of weapon. Single-shot weapons, which, for example, include the Shotgun, Revolver, and Rocket Launcher, determine the chance to crit with every shot. Thus, every shot of the Shotgun will have a 2% chance to launch a flurry of critical pellets, assuming no previous damage done. Rapid-fire weapons, however, which include the Minigun, Syringe Gun, Flamethrower, and Pistol check for critical hits once a second. With weapons like these, a positive crit determination results in all shots for the next two seconds being critical.
- Some items do not work as conventional weapons and so do not crit under any circumstance (these are mostly items which do not cause any damage). These include: Bonk! Atomic Punch, Crit-a-Cola, Mad Milk, Buff Banner, Battalion's Backup, Concheror, Gunboats, Mantreads, Ali Baba's Wee Booties, Bootlegger, Chargin' Targe, Splendid Screen, Dalokohs Bar, Fishcake, Sandvich, Buffalo Steak Sandvich, Wrangler, Medi Gun, Kritzkrieg, Quick-Fix, Razorback, Darwin's Danger Shield, Jarate, Sapper, Disguise Kit, Invisibility Watch, Cloak and Dagger, Dead Ringer, Enthusiast's Timepiece, and PDAs.
- Jarate and Mad Milk may appear to crit when thrown, though this has only a cosmetic effect.
- The Rocket Jumper rolls for random crits normally and can be crit boosted. However, due to the weapon dealing 0 damage normally, the critical hits deal 3 times 0 damage.
- Taunt attacks do not crit, but using one while boosted by a Buff Banner or Crit-a-Cola, or when the opponent is under the effects of Jarate or Crit-a-Cola will result in a mini-crit Taunt kill.
- The Sun-on-a-Stick crits when striking a burning enemy, and also rolls for crits normally.
- The Cow Mangler 5000 cannot crit under any circumstances, though it can be mini-crit boosted by the Buff Banner. However, projectiles reflected by an enemy Pyro will deal full crit damage.
- The Market Gardener does not roll for random crits but deals crits while the Soldier wielding it is rocket jumping.
- The Backburner does not roll for random critical hits, but is guaranteed to crit from behind.
- The Flare Gun will score a critical if it hits a player who is already on fire, and also rolls for crits normally.
- The Axtinguisher and the Postal Pummeler will score a critical hit if the victim is on fire, and do half damage otherwise. It may still randomly perform a crit animation, but will not inflict crit damage unless the enemy is burning. When forced to crit, it plays the crit animation and does deal extra damage, though after going through the damage modifier that weakens it.
- The Eyelander, Claidheamh Mòr, Horseless Headless Horsemann's Headtaker, Persian Persuader, Nessie's Nine Iron, and Ullapool Caber do not roll for random critical hits, but will score critical hits when under the effects of a crit boost or when using a full charge of the Chargin' Targe or Splendid Screen. The Chargin' Targe or Splendid Screen can also be used to get a critical hit for the Bottle, Pain Train, Scotsman's Skullcutter or the Frying Pan.
- The K.G.B. will roll for critical hits like a standard melee weapon. However, upon killing a target, they grant 5 seconds of crit boost to all of the Heavy's weapons.
- The Frontier Justice does not roll for random crits. Instead, when the Engineer's Sentry Gun is destroyed, it accrues Revenge Crits, 2 for every kill and 1 for every assist the Sentry made.
- Similarily, the Diamondback does not roll for random crits, but every building destroyed with a Sapper placed by the respective Spy on it will guarantee an immediate critical hit.
- The Manmelter does not roll for random crits. Instead, it accrues a critical hit each time it is used to extinguish a teammate.
- The Phlogistinator cannot roll for random crits, but instead gradually fills a "Mmmph" meter as fire damage is done, allowing a Pyro to begin a guaranteed 10-second crit period when full. This boost only affects the Phlogistinator.
- The Gunslinger will not roll for random crits. Instead, if an Engineer hits an enemy three times, it will perform a critical punch, causing a different kill icon. The Engineer can hit multiple enemies before unleashing the combo.
- Sentry Guns will never inflict random critical hits. However, they will mini-crit enemies covered in Jarate, Scouts under the effect of Crit-a-Cola, Heavies under the effect of Buffalo Steak Sandvich, and will also mini-crit all enemies if the Engineer that built it is being buffed by a friendly Soldier's Buff Banner.
- The Sniper Rifle, Machina, Ambassador, Huntsman, and Bazaar Bargain do not roll for crits, but rather automatically score critical hits on successful headshots. The Sniper Rifle, Machina and Bazaar Bargain can only perform headshot crits while scoped and the Ambassador only when at full accuracy; however they will crit under the effect of crit boosts.
- The Soda Popper, Sticky Jumper, Southern Hospitality, and Sydney Sleeper do not roll for random crits.
- The Bushwacka will crit at any time it would normally mini-crit, such as against an enemy Scout under the effects of Crit-a-Cola, a Heavy under the effect of the Buffalo Steak Sandvich, an enemy soaked by Jarate or if the Sniper is under the effects of an allied Soldier's Buff Banner. It also rolls for crits normally.
- The bleeding and afterburn mechanics do not randomly crit, but will mini-crit if the attacking player is mini-crit boosted or if the target is under a mini-crit debuff.
- The Spy's melee weapons only deal critical hits on a Backstab and during a crit boost.
- Backstabs instantly kill the enemy by dealing damage equal to 6x their current health (unless the player being backstabbed is a Spy using the Dead Ringer, in which case it will deal 6/10 of their current health). When forced to crit, the Knife, like the Spy's other melee weapons, does the backstab animation, while dealing only 120 damage. A backstab inflicts damage equal to 2x the enemy's health and scores an automatic crit, with the crit increasing the damage to 6x and producing the backstab animation.
Crit boost is a state in which a player is guaranteed to deal critical hits with any weapon. A crit boost is demonstrated by the player's weapon glowing in their team color, with sparks of electricity surging and crackling from it. This affects most weapons that do not normally deal random critical hits, such as the Knife, Sniper Rifle, Gunslinger, and Eyelander, causing them to deal critical attacks for the duration of the boost. The Cow Mangler 5000, on the other hand, will not receive critical hits from a crit boost.
A crit boost can be attained under the following circumstances:
- During Humiliation, the winning team is granted a crit boost.
- Capturing the intelligence in a game of Capture the Flag gives the entire capturing team a 10 second crit boost. This value can be altered or disabled by the server host console via a command.
- In the event version of Harvest and Mann Manor during Halloween, killed players randomly drop candy-filled Halloween pumpkins. When picked up, the player is awarded around 3–4 seconds of crit boost.
- Upon killing an enemy with the Killing Gloves of Boxing, the Heavy will be crit boosted for 5 seconds. The crit boost applies not only to the Killing Gloves of Boxing, but to all the Heavy's currently equipped weapons.
- The Phlogistinator allows a Pyro to crit boost itself for about 10 seconds upon activating "Mmmph", but the crit boost only affects the Phlogistinator.
In Arena Mode, a 'First Blood' buff is granted to a player who achieves the first kill of a round. It consists of a five-second crit boost.
- If players switch weapons during the buff, the electricity around their weapon will disappear, but critical hits will still be delivered.
- Triggering feign death with the Dead Ringer gives the attacker the 'First Blood' buff.
- The 'First Blood' buff counts as an ÜberCharge towards the Heavy achievement Supreme Soviet.
Mini-crits add an extra 35% damage to a weapon's damage. Like normal critical hits, they ignore damage fall off, but unlike critical hits, they are still given ramp-up at close range and random spread. Full crits override mini-crits. Like full crits, mini-crits will have a glowing red outline in their kill icons and will be displayed with a larger font when combat text is enabled.
Currently there are fourteen ways to achieve a mini-crit:
- Hitting Jarate coated enemies.
- Melee hits midway through your Chargin' Targe or Splendid Screen charge.
- Attacking an enemy while under the effects of a friendly Soldier's Buff Banner.
- Hitting an airborne enemy who was propelled by an explosion with the Direct Hit.
- Attacking an enemy as a Scout while under the effects of Crit-a-Cola.
- Attacking an enemy Scout who is under the effects of Crit-a-Cola.
- Attacking an enemy as a Heavy while under the effects of the Buffalo Steak Sandvich.
- Attacking an enemy Heavy who is under the effects of the Buffalo Steak Sandvich.
- Hitting an enemy as a Pyro with a projectile, other than a stickybomb, reflected with the compression blast.
- Attacking an enemy marked by the Fan O'War.
- Attacking as a Scout while under the hype effect of the Soda Popper.
- Shooting an airborne enemy with the Reserve Shooter during the 3-second mini-crit period it has after switching to it.
- Hitting a burning enemy with the Detonator.
- Shooting enemies with the Cow Mangler 5000's charged shot.
Former ways to achieve a mini-crit:
- The Sun-on-a-Stick originally dealt mini-crits on burning enemies. It currently deals full crits.
- The Flare Gun originally dealt mini-crits on burning enemies at close range. It currently deals full crits regardless of range.
- Formerly Mini-Crits could be delivered by shooting enemies to the head with the Ambassador. It currently deals full crits.
- The Pyro's compression blast was formerly able to turn enemy Stickybombs into mini-crits by reflecting them. It now gives no mini-crit boost on reflecting Stickybombs.
- The Direct Hit formerly dealt mini-crits to any airborne target. The weapon now inflicts mini-crit damage to airborne targets who have been launched into the air by an explosion.
A mini-crit boost is the state of having all damage being dealt modified in to mini-crit damage. Currently, this is achievable while under the effects of Crit-a-Cola, an active Buff Banner, the Buffalo Steak Sandvich, or the deployed hype meter of the Soda Popper. While being mini-crit boosted, the player's active weapon glows a faint yellow on RED, or a faint blue-green on BLU, and has the same color effect of particles swirling around their feet.
All damage sources, including afterburn and Sentry Guns, only deal mini-crit damage when the player dealing the damage is being boosted. If the player leaves the boost after firing a projectile while the projectile is in mid-flight, it will lose its status as a mini-crit. Conversely, after the Pyro sets fire to several players, returning to a mini-crit boost will immediately transform any afterburn damage to mini-crit status. Sentry Guns will only mini-crit while the Engineer is being mini-crit boosted.
| Cap Trap|
Kill an enemy who is capturing a control point with a critical hit.
Kill a Soldier with a reflected critical rocket.
| Beat Me Up, Scotty|
Use a critical swing with the Eyelander to kill 5 enemy players.
Deploy an ÜberCharge on a teammate less than a second before they're hit by a critical explosive.
- The vast majority of effects and achievements cannot tell the difference between a critical hit and a mini-crit, and as a result treat all mini-crits as regular crits. This makes it possible to gain crit-based achievements using only mini-crits.
- The crit boost electricity effect will randomly appear on its own in large quantities in the map at the end of a round.
- The "Mini Crit!" text is still displayed when combat text is enabled if a teammate assists you with a mini-crit, instead of showing the damage they dealt.
- In the game's code, critical hits are programmed as chemical damage.