A melee grab is initiated when an enemy is close enough and an on-screen prompt to press the 'use' key (E by default). This move will always kill the intended target and sometimes leaves Sam holding a 'trophy' which is usually some part of the enemy's body. The trophy can be dropped or thrown, although using it as a thrown projectile is fairly weak.
A melee grab can only be performed on the following enemies. Other enemies are either invulnerable to the move or too large (no prompt will appear to execute a melee grab):
- Beheaded Rocketeer; depending on the weapon Sam has equipped, Sam will either kick the enemy away, stunning it temporarily, or rip its heart out of its chest, leaving Sam with a held trophy.
- Cloned Soldier; depending on the weapon Sam has equipped, Sam will either kick the enemy away, stunning it temporarily or snap its neck.
- Gnaar; this move will allow Sam to grab the Gnaar and rip out its eyeball, leaving Sam with a held trophy.
- Hatchling Antaresian Spider; Sam will perform a stomp move that kills it instantly. This move is very fast and can be repeated in quick succession.
- Juvenile Antaresian Spider; Sam will rip off the Spider's carapace, killing it instantly.
- Kleer Skeleton; Sam will sidestep and grab the Kleer in a headlock and promptly pull the Kleer's head off, leaving Sam with a held trophy.
- Hatchling Arachnoid; Sam will break the Hatchling's neck, which instantly kills it. This move cannot be performed on the adult Arachnoid.
- Scrapjack; This move can only be performed if the Scrapjack is stunned (he appears to be hunched over, but still standing). Sam will rip off Scrapjack's faceplate and kiss it, leaving Sam with a held trophy.
- A Beheaded Rocketeer's heart will continue to beat for a few seconds after Sam rips it out.