I’ve been playing PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds since launch. I’ve played during every patch, experienced test server nightmares, and spent actual, real-world dollars on keys to open loot boxes. After hundreds of hours with the game, I have finally cracked the code and come up with an objective ranking for all of the weapons in this game. What follows is a deep, empirical investigation into the bad, the great and the amazing weapons that you can use to get to that coveted number one position. If you follow this ranking, I am almost certain that you will start getting chicken dinners left and right.
I have a nightmare once a week, and it’s about dropping into Pecado. It’s not the normal nightmare, the one where I pick up an assault rifle and fight for my life. This is a special one where there’s nothing but crossbows everywhere. Dozens of people are firing at each other. No one can hit their enemy. It’s bad. This is the worst weapon in PUBG and, indeed, it could be the worst weapon in any game ever made. I once shot ten bolts at a window across a street to figure out the range and accuracy of this weapon, and I could not even hit that window. Picking this weapon up off the ground should immediately boot you from the game session you are in. You should be disqualified from playing this game if attempt to use it. That’s how bad it is.
The rest of the grenades are going to be in a single entry on this list, but I wanted to single out the trash that is the stun grenade as its own line item. Has anyone ever really been “gotten” by this weapon? You might as well throw an empty magazine into the room, Metal Gear Solid 4-style, to intimidate and intrigue your enemy. Friends don’t let friends use the stun grenade.
This machine gun is so interesting that I can’t even write a good joke about it. What a boring thing to put into the game. Every idea present in this gun is better executed in the flawed-but-fun Pancake Gun. Don’t bother.
There is no greater feeling than slaying your enemy with a sickle, crowbar or machete. There is also no worse feeling than knowing that someone can jump and punch you in the head and annihilate you instantly while you are swinging a machete around like you’re trying to hack your way through the heart of the Amazon. Is it worth it to live the dream? I don’t think it is. I think it’s a bad choice.
The pistols of PUBG are interesting and varied. They offer lots of opportunities for tactical gunplay, and they’re basically the only thing between you and the grave in the first few seconds of scrambling weapon accumulation that begins every game. However, they quickly lose usefulness once you find a weapon worth its salt. Most of the time pistols just end up being the thing you shoot windows out with. Maybe you’ll try to flush someone out with them. These are less weapons and more tools.
The Molotov Cocktail is one of the most fantastical weapons in videogames. Guns are awful things. They punch big, meaty holes in people. The abstraction of guns in videogames is incredibly disturbing. But even worse is the Molotov Cocktail: You’re throwing sticky liquid onto a person, and they are burning alive. It’s a nightmarish thing, impossible to comprehend, and its abstraction into a weapon meant to flush enemies out of hiding is even worse. And to top it all off, it doesn’t even work that well.
The frag grenade is a frag grenade. The smoke grenade is a smoke grenade. The former is mostly used to flush people out from behind the bulletproof trees that they’re hiding behind. Throwing three or four grenades is a good way to make an enemy panic. The latter is useful for fogging up a house and yelling “we’re hotboxing it, bro!” to your teammates. Both work just the way they are supposed to.
The VSS has a lot of good things going for it. It’s fully automatic. It uses the plentiful 9mm ammo type. It shares its name with a pretty okay band from like 20 years ago. Unlike all of the other weapons in the game, it has a scope built into it. Even better, it has a silencer. This seems like a true crowd pleaser, right? Wrong. You can hit people from far away, but for what? The 9mm ammo plonks into them as they hurry away, rushing their serpentine patterns, hauling ass away from your inability to hit them. This isn’t a bad gun. It’s just a disappointing one. And we all know that disappointment is so much worse.
For me, the Groza is everything wrong with PUBG. It is theoretically a submachine gun, but it takes the heart-pounding 7.62mm ammunition. It will only accept attachments for assault rifles, except when it takes other attachments. It only drops from supply crates, so you don’t ever get that much experience with it. It kicks like a horse. It makes fun of me. All of that makes for a perfect storm of fumbling around and getting shot, which is exactly the opposite of what I like doing in this videogame.
This is the pump-action shotgun. It’s the standby of comical action movies everywhere. The cop stands outside the hostage situation, and what does he have? He’s got this gun. The cowardly weasel sidekick always has this gun. The fascistic, small-town villain has this gun, and the noble common landowner is repelling the horrible invaders with it. Farmers have it. Hunters have it. It is the one gun that unites all of humanity, and in PUBG it is perfectly fine. No one is making it their first choice, but no one is mad to find it.
There was a time when this weapon was crate-only. That meant that I would have to look up in the sky with sadness in my eyes and hope that I could fight through a hoard of villains and vagabonds for a chance, a chance, at talking in a thick 1930s Chicagoan accent while shooting this gun at other players. Now it drops everywhere, and I have to admit that some of the charm has been lost. It’s a good, stable weapon, but iron sight is a little clunky, and all that time focusing on the accent work means that it’s a little harder to aim than other weapons.
This machine gun, colloquially known as the “Pancake Gun,” seems wholly designed to make you feel like you’re Jesse “The Body” Ventura in the 1987 film Predator. It’s big, it’s loud, and it pumps a lot of bullets out into the world. However, if you will think a moment about Predator, nothing good happened to Jesse Ventura. He fired lots of bullets into the jungle, and the only thing he received in return was a quick, laser-focused death at the hands of the eponymous Predator. He then went on to be the Governor of Minnesota. I, too, have unloaded this gun in the direction of my enemies shortly before being cut down by a much more capable creature. I have yet to be elected the Governor of Minnesota, and, indeed, I have not yet sought office in any election. These two pieces of information might or might not be correlated.
The most powerful videogame weapons capture the imagination. The rail gun on Metal Gear REX. The rail gun in Red Faction. The rail guns in the Armored Core games. Rail guns are cool, and the AUG isn’t anything like one. It’s an assault rifle with heavy recoil, and I don’t really understand its place in the game. It is a weapon that appears in crates only, much like the Groza, but at least the Groza feels special. This is just another powerful gun. It can’t even pierce the hard metal shell of an assaulting mech.
This gun is a long-range marksmanship rifle. You point it at things, and it bops them with pinpoint accuracy. If you’re prone, you get the extra action of a bipod, a weird mechanic that doesn’t really have any impact on any other guns in the game. It appears in the supply crates, and if you can get it, you should. But it won’t make your life any better.
Also known as Win94 aka Windows 94, this piece of hardware was the cursed preview of Windows 95. While the software suite was known for its rapid takeover of the corporate and personal computing space (and its friend-heavy instructional video, starring the friends from Friends), this gun is mostly known for being your last resort as a team of highly trained digital assassins execute advanced maneuvers in your face while stream sniping you. It has a perfect cowboy feel to it, and it’s at home in the desert map of Miramar. I’m still trying to get good with this gun, and it’s very hard, but I’m really trying to lean into the demands of my Young Guns RP guild.
This is the auto shotgun, the combat shotgun, the be-all, end-all weapon for knocking down doors and storming windows. You can recognize its cadence from across the box-strewn areas of the early game. You learn to fear its monstrous bark. It is a good shotgun, and it equalizes many fights that might not be so, but it is not the best shotgun.
If you’ve ever gone muddin’ in a pickup, this is the sidearm for you. Two shells, each on a separate trigger, both ready for some close-range action. This was added to PUBG with the Miramar map in the 1.0 update, and it’s still glorious and silly. While this might get you a kill or two, it’s real value is purely based on the intimidation factor. There is very little that is more frightening than someone trying to close the distance with this little, dangerous thing.
The Vector is a submachine gun, the type of weapon that throws uncountable bullets with infinite freedom. The key problem for the Vector, in particular, is that they’re very countable. This is one of the neatest, efficient guns in the game, and it is nearly unusable without an extended magazine attachment. Here in the top-tier of weapons, the divides between the weapons begin to be about personal preference and equipment availability. It’s basically impossible to rank the Vector in the highest echelons of objective truth; it runs out of bullets too easily.
This is a crate-only sniper rifle that strikes fear into the hearts of everyone who can hear it. It’s loud, so that’s a lot of people. It has such a distinct noise, and when you hear it, you verbalize your fear. “That’s an AWM.” You state it, matter of factly, like it’s a hurricane or an earthquake. It’s just the way things are, and a solid shot from this thing will more than likely take you out of the game. Luckily, it’s a crate drop, so it won’t appear in every game to terrorize you and those around you.
This is a giant pan. You could probably make a paella in it. It covers your ass, literally, and hearing the beautiful PWANG noise when bullets ricochet off of it is one of the best things you can experience in this game. You can also wield it like a righteous mace of justice. Smack your foes with it. Listen to it sing.
Commonly known as the “Over Under,” this is a shotgun with two barrels that you can fire in quick succession. This is the thing that clears rooms and cuts people down as you jump past a doorway. Two shots, boom clap, and there’s no one standing in front of you anymore. It’s the caviar of shotguns, a burst of flavor that leaves you needing more. A delicacy.
This gun is our warhorse gun, ready for any scenario across any distance and firing rate that you might need. It’s rare that the AKM is the gun you really want for a situation, but it’s also rare to be angry that you have the AKM. Its high bullet damage picks your enemies off at long range, and its automatic fire makes it vaguely useful for the window-jumping, door-shooting action that you might experience in a more urban environment.
I was critical of the Tommy Gun very early in this list, and that’s mostly because of how much worse than the UMP it is. This gun takes lots of attachments, can take down enemies at a much longer distance than you might imagine, and can go full auto for those moments when you’re shooting the driver of a vehicle that’s trying to run you off of the road. You scream, in rage and fear, when you use this gun. It makes you powerful.
There’s been a mystique to this weapon since the release of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare’s multiplayer. Back then, it was the default weapon of the Assault class, and a quick three-shot burst to the upper torso of an enemy charging your position was your best defense against the grenade launcher rounds that were inevitably coming your way. My nostalgia might be keeping me enthusiastic about this gun, but it’s still an efficient way to spend your clicks all these years later in a completely different game.
I don’t understand how to make this gun work with maximum efficiency, but much like competitive eaters or rally car drivers, I respect those who can do something special with it. I know what an SKS sounds like so that I can move in the opposite direction whenever I hear it, and getting caught in the sights of a fully kitted out version of this gun is one of the least fun experience you can have in this game.
The SCAR is a balanced, well-made gun that does everything that it says on the label. It is not special. Point at enemy and click, as they say, and it will either win a fight or lose one depending on your aiming ability. It’s good, but it’s not flashy, and so therefore it is not the best.
The Mini14 is special because it’s the only gun that makes me afraid of it while I’m using it. It’s a semi-automatic marksman rifle, which means that it’s designed to drive nails into targets at more than 100 meters, but if you’re fast enough on the trigger it can be a ruthless close range weapon. That means that you can have some truly riveting moments with it in buildings or around complex environments. Crouching, sweating, a wielder hopes that they can hammer the fire button faster than the automatic weapons of their enemies.
I have been playing PUBG since its early days at the beginning of 2017. My relationship with this weapon has been a rollercoaster. Initially, I loved it. Then I thought it wasn’t good enough. Now I want it every single game. With the right amount of experience, you can take down targets with burst fire from a truly unthinkable distance. Targets that are fully occluded by the nubby little iron sight will be demolished with the right lead time and aim control. Against all odds, I love it, and I believe it might love me back.
This monster can kill you in a single shot from impossibly far away. It’s the gun that everyone has to become proficient in to have a chance; it is the divide, the hard limit, between this world and the next. When fired with maximum efficiency, this sniper rifle is basically unrivaled in how much value it can generate for a single player. If you’re landing hits on your opponents with it, then you are probably winning the game.
This is the best gun in PUBG. It isn’t flashy. It is merely an assault rifle that can take a number of attachments. But, you know, pound-for-pound I will take it up against any other gun in this game, and the sheer stopping power of a player equipped with a kitted version of this gun, a solid helmet and a ballistic vest is incredible. Simple, clean and efficient, this is the gun you want to be finding as soon as possible in any given game.
Cameron Kunzelman tweets at @ckunzelman and writes about games at thiscageisworms.com. His latest game, Epanalepsis, was released last year. It’s available on Steam.