All weapon types in Borderlands 3

Borderlands 3
Borderlands 3 (Image credit: 2K Games)

Borderlands 3 is finally here, and it has brought a gargantuan-sized loot pool with it. There are close to an infinite amount of different unique possible weapons to unlock in the game. That may sound both intimidating and confusing, but don't worry: all weapons in Borderlands 3 fall under eight different types, and weapons within those types behave mostly the same way across the board (though weapon manufacturer traits do make a large difference!). Here's our guide to every weapon type in the game, as well as some advice on how to use them effectively.

Know your guns

As previously stated, all firearms that you can find in Borderlands 3 will be under one of eight different weapon types. Here's what makes each of them unique:

  • Pistols: Pistols typically have strong overall damage per shot, a fast reload speed, and an average fire rate and magazine capacity. They're decently accurate, but not as precise as some other weapon types, so they're best suited to short-medium range fighting. If you're using a pistol, it's a good idea to get fairly close to enemies and aim for the head so that you can score critical hit multipliers. Aiming for crit-spots is a good idea with all weapons, but it's especially helpful with pistols because of the weapon's higher damage per shot.
  • Revolvers: Revolvers are pistols that have a significantly higher damage per shot than most weapon types, and are also some of the most accurate weapons in the game, at any range. However, the trade-off to them is that they have significantly smaller magazine capacities, shoot slower, and take longer to reload than regular pistols. In general, the revolver can be viewed as an alternative to sniper rifles, as the two weapons are similar in various ways. A revolver will have better reload speed and fire rate than sniper rifles do, but loses out on some damage and magazine capacity. In addition, revolvers often come with scopes or other types of sights.
  • Submachine Guns: Submachine Guns (also known as SMGs) are a strong class of weapon that excels in short-medium range thanks to their high rate of fire, low recoil, and sizable magazine capacity. However, their effectiveness sharply cuts off at range, as rounds fired from this weapon will spread outwards the farther away you are from your target. You can try to tap-fire to compensate for this, but in general, SMGs also have lower individual bullet damage, so you'd be better off with an assault rifle instead. The strength of the SMG lies in its ability to overwhelm a target with a hail of bullets quickly, after all, so stay close to the baddies and hold down the trigger!

  • Shotguns: Shotguns are the undisputed king of close-quarters combat, offering massive damage per shot when all pellets hit the target. However, pellets will veer off severely even at medium range, and shotguns also tend to have lower magazine capacity and long reload speeds, too. Because of this, you need to make every shot count with them. The best way to do this is to simply sprint up to a foe, jam the barrel of your weapon in their face, and pull the trigger. If all your pellets land into the enemy's crit-spot, you're going to dish out a spectacular amount of pain. You can also opt to hit the enemy in their torso as well; this does less damage, but the concussive blast of your weapon will usually send the enemy flying and knock them down. This is a great way to stun a particularly resilient foe so that you can line up follow-up headshots easier.
  • Assault Rifles: Assault Rifles are the "jack of all trades" weapon type of Borderlands 3. They aren't particularly bad in any situation, but they're usually not the best gun you could be using, either. They're effective at all ranges thanks to their solid damage per shot, strong accuracy, good fire rate, and manageable recoil, but they lack traits such as the shotgun's knockback utility or the sniper rifle's huge critical hit damage potential. Those traits allow those weapons to excel in specialized roles, but the assault rifle is more of a general purpose weapon that will be solid in all scenarios. It's a great idea to have a good assault rifle at your side, as having a weapon you can fall back on no matter what situation you are in is handy.
  • Sniper Rifles: Sniper Rifles are the best long-range guns in the game, offering extremely high accuracy, low recoil, and high damage per shot at the cost of low firing speed, low fire rate and long reload speeds. They're best suited to players who excel at hitting critical hit spots, as the high individual bullet damage of the sniper rifle will allow you to score huge amounts of damage — that is, if you can reliably hit weak points. The sniper rifles are what I would call "boom or bust" weapons, as they have fantastic potential, but only if you're an accurate shooter. Sniper rifles also almost always come with scopes, though in very rare cases they won't.

  • Rocket Launchers: Rocket Launchers fill the "heavy weapon" role of Borderlands 3, and they're often the kinds of weapons that you'll be using when in boss fights or if you need to get a kill while in Fight For Your Life. They dish out insane damage per shot and their explosive nature means that they do area of effect damage, however they usually have a slow fire rate, low magazine capacity and lengthy reload speeds. It's also worth noting that their ammunition is quite expensive, so you'll want to save rockets for when you really need them.
  • Grenades: Grenades are the type of weapon you'll want to use if you need some utility. Aside from the obvious fact that they, y'know, explode, the different grenade mods that you can get in the game will radically alter how your grenades perform. Some of them, for example, will cause your grenades to spray around dozens of ricocheting bullets; others will pull enemies to it before exploding, which helps ensure maximum damage and also brings several enemies into your crosshairs at once. When using your grenades, try and think of creative ways to use their quirks to your advantage.

Your thoughts

What do you think of all the different weapon types in Borderlands 3? Do you have a favorite? Let me know in the comments, Vault Hunters.

Borderlands 3 is available now for $60 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.