Red-Tape Recorder

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The silhouette shows that the Red-Tape Recorder can be applied to the building. Note that the tape reels spin.
A level 1 Sentry de-constructing itself while being sapped.
Did I throw a 'wrench' into your plans? Hahahaha!
The Spy on reverse-engineering

The Red-Tape Recorder is a community-created promotional building weapon for the Spy. It is a reel-to-reel tape recorder with three Chinese characters ("反炮塔", fǎnpàotǎ) on the front printed on a frayed, white label. Translated into English, these characters can be closely translated as "Anti-Turret (Device)" or "Anti-Sentry (Device)".

Instead of damaging enemy buildings, the Red-Tape Recorder reverses the building process; any applicable upgrade animations are played in reverse, followed by the building packing itself up into a toolbox. As a result, this destroys the building and leaves the toolbox behind as a large ammo pickup with no Metal, instead of dropping gibs. Destroying the Recorder allows the building to reconstruct, but not restore any lost levels, unless the building is in the middle of an upgrade animation, which allows it to continue upgrading to the next level. If a Dispenser starts deconstructing to below its level 1 state, it loses any Metal stored within it.

The Red-Tape Recorder has five different sounds for when it is sapping a building. The type of sound produced is randomized while sapping a building. It may play either a high-pitched rewind sound, a slightly lower-pitched rewind sound, high-pitched gibberish, a short recording in Cantonese, or a short recording in English.

Sapped Sentry Guns take 33% less damage from the Spy who applied the Sapper, for example when shooting it with a Revolver. Dispensers and Teleporters are unaffected by this.

This weapon functions the same way as the default Sapper against robots in Mann vs. Machine.

This item was awarded in Genuine quality to players who pre-purchased Sleeping Dogs on Steam before August 14, 2012, or August 17, 2012 in Europe.

The Red-Tape Recorder was later contributed to the Steam Workshop, at Valve's request.

Damage and function times

See also: Damage
Damage and function times
Base damage 100%
14 / s
7 / s
7 / s
9.5 / s
Function times
Recharge time
15 s
Building destroy time
3.4 s
10.7 s
21.4 s
21.4 s
10.5 s
Values are approximate and determined by community testing.


Strange variant

Strange ranks

Rank Buildings Sapped Name
0 0 Strange
1 3 Unremarkable
2 9 Scarcely Shocking
3 15 Mildly Magnetizing
4 21 Somewhat Inducting
5 30 Unfortunate
6 42 Notably Deleterious
7 54 Sufficiently Ruinous
8 69 Truly Conducting
9 84 Spectacularly Pseudoful
10 105 Ion-Spattered
11 150 Wickedly Dynamizing
12 225 Positively Plasmatic
13 299 Totally Ordinary
14 300 Circuit-Melting
15 450 Nullity-Inducing
16 750 Server-Clearing
17 1500 Epic
18 2250 Legendary
19 2345 Australian
20 2550 Mann Co. Select


See also: Crafting


Spy-cicle Reclaimed Metal Red-Tape Recorder
Item icon Spy-cicle.pngx3 + Item icon Reclaimed Metal.png = Item icon Red-Tape Recorder.png

Related achievements

Leaderboard class pyro.png Pyro

Ignite 5 Spies who have a sapper on a friendly building.

Leaderboard class demoman.png Demoman

Spynal Tap
Spynal Tap
Kill 20 Spies within 5 seconds of them sapping a friendly building.

Leaderboard class engineer.png Engineer

Get Along!
Get Along!
Manage to get to, and then remove, a sapper placed on your building while you were several meters away.

Fistful of Sappers
Fistful of Sappers
Destroy 25 sappers on buildings built by other team members.
Quick Draw
Quick Draw
Kill a Spy and two sappers within 10 seconds.

Leaderboard class spy.png Spy

Joint Operation
Joint Operation
Sap an enemy Sentry Gun within 3 seconds of a teammate sapping another.

Sap Auteur
Sap Auteur
Destroy 1000 Engineer buildings with sappers.
Sap an enemy building, then backstab the Engineer who built it within 5 seconds.

The Man with the Broken Guns
The Man with the Broken Guns
Backstab an Engineer, then sap 3 of his buildings within 10 seconds.

Mvm navicon.png Mann vs. Machievements

Sly Voltage
Sly Voltage
As a Spy, sap 10 robots at once.

Update history

August 2, 2012 Patch (Triad Pack)
  • The Red-Tape Recorder was added to the game.

August 3, 2012 Patch

  • Increased The Red-Tape Recorder’s downgrade speed from 1.6 seconds to 3.0 seconds.
  • Fixed building health compounding after being downgraded.
  • [Undocumented] Fixed the Homewrecker not destroying Red-Tape Recorder Sappers in one hit.

August 15, 2012 Patch

September 13, 2012 [Item schema update]

February 22, 2013 Patch

  • Fixed buildings not always being downgraded at the same rate by the Red-Tape Recorder.

March 19, 2013 Patch

  • Fixed the Spy not holding Sappers correctly in third person.

April 3, 2013 Patch

  • Fixed a bug where Dispensers sapped by a Red-Tape Recorder would continue to heal players.
  • Fixed buildings destroyed by the Red-Tape Recorder not always displaying a death notice.
  • [Undocumented] The Red-Tape Recorder no longer clears metal from Dispensers upon downgrade.

May 15, 2014 Patch

  • Fixed an exploit with the Red-Tape Recorder and Sentry where the Sentry could build up a large amount of health.

March 12, 2015 Patch

July 2, 2015 Patch #1 (Gun Mettle Update)

  • Decreased the damage penalty on Sentry Guns sapped by the Spy from -66% to -33% (i.e. shooting a Sentry the Spy sapped with a Revolver is now more effective).

October 20, 2017 Patch #1 (Jungle Inferno Update)

  • [Undocumented] Converted the Red-Tape Recorder models to use the c_models system.

June 16, 2020 Patch

  • Fixed the OnDestroyed output not getting fired when an object is destroyed by the Red-Tape Recorder.


  • If a sapped building does not start with full health or is damaged during the deconstruction process, it reaches 0 health before the deconstruction animation completes, which interrupts the animation and "snaps" it into the toolbox state.


  • If a Teleporter Entrance is sapped by the Red-Tape Recorder, and the Red-Tape Recorder is removed in-between upgrade animations, the arrow pointing to the Exit Teleporter is removed.
  • If the Red-Tape Recorder is placed on and removed from a building that is still under construction, it deals some damage to the building, making a contradiction of its description.
  • Removing the Red-Tape Recorder from built Dispensers or Teleporters immediately reactivates them, while they play their re-constructing animations.
  • The Red-Tape Recorder does not glow when crit boosted.
  • If a Robot is sapped using the Red-Tape Recorder, the Red-Tape Recorder appears invisible.


  • This weapon's name references the term "red tape", which refers to bureaucracy that hinders or prevents action or decision-making.
  • The Cantonese phrases directly translate to "That's him! Quick, get him!"
  • As the Red-Tape Recorder's sapping sounds are meant to replicate the effect of overspeeding a tape reel player, slowing the playback down reveals the source sound:
    • When slowed down, spy_tape_01.wav appears to be a short clip of music.[1]
    • When slowed down 70% to 80%, spy_tape_03.wav appears to say: "Let's make some noise..." with a laugh, followed by the tape's normal noise.[2]



See also