Your choice of weapon in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is possibly the third most important aspect in playing well – after having an internet connection and actually having the game, that is.
Luckily, Call of Duty has always been a game open to different playstyles and this year, it shows. Whether you like to run and gun or camp and cower, we have you covered with the best guns you can get your mitts on. Let’s take it by class types and regroup at the end for some general advice, shall we?
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Best guns
Assault rifles are favoured in mid-range combat thanks to their high firepower. The choice to make the M16 a tactical rifle instead of assault this time around shows another step in that direction. This is an all-rounder gun type that is useful in most situations. As these all have their “rock paper scissors” style caveats, submachines and shotgun tend to favour in close range and snipers in long-range. That being said, there is some variation to be had here.
The XM4 is your starting assault rifle and will keep you going throughout your career, but this should probably be replaced with the AK47 as it feels more consistent with less recoil and better iron sights. The XM4’s iron sights take up a lot of precious room on your screen which can hide the luckiest of opponents. The AK hits for 38 damage at 600RPM where the XM4 hits for 30 damage at 722RPM. Both your TTK and ammo conservation will improve with the AK47.
The Krig6 is solid and fits in between these two guns with 36 damage and a fire rate of 652RPM. If you are looking to preserve ammo, this might be a good choice but most guns have 3 to 5 extra mags as well as their starting ammo. Moving from here, the QBZ-83 has one fatal flaw – it has poor handling in the first few shots. This is a shame as Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is very fast-paced. Usually, your first few rounds hitting is very important to stay alive. You can add attachments to break that recoil a bit and use it short to medium range but there are better replacements.
This moves us to the FFAR1. With its fast rate of fire and smaller mags, the FFAR1 almost feels like a submachine gun. It sports the weakest damage of all the assault rifles but also the highest rate of fire. Its stats are actually much closer to submachine guns too. Sporting a look similar to the old school Famas rifle, the FFAR1 should be used in a similar way. You will rinse through ammo so make sure to throw an extended mag on there and maybe a few attachments fitting a submachine gun. Throw a silencer, extended mag, and laser on here and it will mow through enemies at closer range.
Best Assault Rifle
As you can see, assault rifles offer much to mull over. This being said, there are a few clear winners in regards to mid-range combat. The AK47 offers high damage and a lot of ammo with limited recoil making it great in most encounters. It also gets unlocked at a very early level making it the best assault weapon available.
If you’re trying to level up these weapons quickly, we have a full page on that, here.
Submachine guns tend to suit very quick loadouts. If you run, jump, and dodge a lot, this will likely be where you end up. Luckily, this route starts very powerfully with the MP5. A returning classic – this adds a good fire rate to surprisingly high damage and tops that off with great accuracy. This is such a good starting weapon that I can’t imagine it will stay this good for long. Hop into any lobby and half of them will be using this weapon. There are two main ways this class tends to be run: with a silencer and a lot of gusto or holding out position and firing from close to mid-range. Both are equally viable and worth trying out.
At level 13 you will unlock the Milano 821, perhaps the most underrated submachine gun in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. This can be equally as good as the MP5 and isn’t used nearly as much. This has excellent damage – outpowering the assault rifles – but compensates for this with a relatively low fire rate. The Milano 821 mows down enemies and, with a mag size of 32, has great ammo conservation.
Moving from here, the AK-47u has very similar stats to the AK47, naturally enough, but its design makes it very different in practice. Where the AK47 favours mid to long-range attacks, the AK-74u works almost exclusively in short range. It packs a punch and has a decent fire rate but the previous two submachine guns seem to outclass it either way.
The KSP 45 seems like a strange choice for a submachine gun. Whilst it has high power, its burst fire rate slows down its TTK. This is before mentioning that it’s not hugely accurate throughout the burst and is not very usable at all at long-range – one of the key factors of most burst rifles. This is a good choice for ammo conservation and decent at mid-range but not much more.
The Bullfrog is our final SMG and with it comes a huge mag and decent power. This is one of the more consistent submachine guns and favours you in fights of attrition. You can essentially spray your way through most encounters. Unfortunately, its hip fire is one of the worst in its class – but add a laser sight and you have a pretty well-rounded submachine gun. It doesn’t offer things that the rest do but is very consistent and comes with a huge 200 bullets each spawn.
Best Sub Machine Gun
There is a lot to like in the SMGs but the best, by some distance, are the first two. The MP5 is as good as it ever has been in a Call of Duty game and well worth trying out but this will surely be nerfed going into the future. In preparation for this, it is worth getting good with the Milano 821 – an equally capable gun.
Tactical rifles sit somewhere between a sniper rifle and an assault rifle. They are often single-shot or burst-fire rifles and great at range. With the option of a red dot sight or scope, they can be very versatile from death-to-death but not in a single life. These can be incredibly effective when paired with the knowledge of maps, spawns and lines of sight.
Starting us off is the Type 63. With 25 bullets per mag and the highest single bullet damage in its class, it’s a decent semi-automatic rifle. Pair this with the rapid-fire barrel and a nice sight to get quicker and more accurate kills. If you are looking for something with a similar range to a sniper at points, this is your best bet.
The M16 is an incredibly overpowered weapon. Each burst fires three bullets and, most of the time, only two to three need to hit someone to kill them. This means one burst kills are a surprisingly common affair. Add a muzzle brake and a few more accuracy attachments to make this deadly from practically any range. Adding a laser sight will give just a little more protection at close range. If it weren’t for our next weapon, the M16 would dominate online play.
The M16 is only dethroned by the AUG, a returning fan favourite. This has better power in exchange for slower handling. I hate to say it but this is sort of a camper’s dream. Post up by a good spot with a view, grab some attachment to reduce horizontal recoil and blast away at all the poor souls who find themselves in your sights. Speaking of sights, the standard scope you get with this is great and doesn’t necessarily need replacing – although it’s better with a slightly stronger one.
Finally, finishing out the tactical rifles is the DMR 14. This doesn’t have the range of the Type 63 or the huge damage of the previous two. It’s an average mid-range weapon but possibly the weakest of the four. Upgrade the fire rate with the appropriate barrel, throw on a red dot sight and work on that recoil to make a solid but not mind blowing rifle.
Best Tactical Rifle
While there is a range of weapons here, the AUG is the clear winner and playing just a single match online should show that. One burst can mow down an enemy and that only gets better as you decrease that recoil and put on a better scope. If you need something deadly, accurate and sometimes annoying, the AUG has you covered.
Light Machine Guns
LMGs are a weapon for the slow mover. They reload slow, they aim slow, and they shoot slow. This being said, they are powerful, accurate and come with huge ammo supplies. If you have the time to master (and even more time to reload) these pack a powerful punch.
Starting off with the Stoner 63 has you in a good place immediately. With the quickest rate of fire and the second-highest damage, this is a great weapon for taking down enemies. It can be a little inaccurate and starts very slowly so getting into position fast is important. This weapon is great for holding off chokepoints and tight corridors. Fitting fast mags and speed tape to this make the wait much more bearable. Cutting that reload speed down 25% is important when reloads can take up to 6 seconds.
The RPD is better in the mid-range than the Stoner 63 but suffers from worse damage and a lesser RPM. This is a good weapon for similar purposes to the Stoner 63 but is better off on those long ranges rather than tight corridors. Against an SMG at short range, you will be obliterated – any other range you should win. It has a lesser TTK but is more consistent.
Moving from here, we have the M60, another returning fan favourite. While it does look very good, this appears to be the weakest of the three LMGs. Its fire rate is far too slow, reload time too long and shots too inaccurate to compare with the other two. Its damage is the highest in its class but that doesn’t really justify the choice. Throwing fast mag, speed tape and a steady aim laser does help, but not massively so.
Best Light Machine Gun
Ultimately, which one of the first two will serve you best is quite opinion-based, but I like the Stoner 63. With the highest fire rate and second-highest damage, it often just feels like an assault rifle with a huge magazine – what else could you need?
Sniper rifles tend to serve one of two purposes in a Call of Duty game: camp in a long-range spot and pick off people running by, or run around like a madman quick-scoping anyone unlucky enough to be caught in your sights. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War offers a nice mix of both.
The Pelington 703 is what you will start off with and it’s a pretty decent start, at that. It is a bolt-action sniper rifle powerful enough to kill in one shot from the chest upwards. It looks rather similar to the R700 from 2006’s Modern Warfare. Unfortunately, one of its biggest letdowns – in contrast to others – is its rather long reload time. You manually put in each bullet, which does mean you can reload cancel to just fire off a bullet or two, but getting a full mag takes almost twice as long as the LW3 Tundra.
Speaking of, the LW3 Tundra is a great sniper rifle. It boasts similar damage to the Pelington 703 but has a quicker reload and snappier ADS animation. It feels a little closer to traditional quick-scoping which is a plus for some. This is a great weapon for old-school sniping fans.
Moving from here is the M82. Traditionally semi-automatic snipers don’t tend to be as celebrated as their bolt action counterparts and in Cold War, that is no different. Where the Tundra can one-shot kill from chest, shoulders or head and the Pelington can kill from chest or head – The M82 has to hit the upper chest to one-shot kill, making it just a little less viable. It holds only five bullets in the mag and has huge recoil so many people will use it in a similar way to the bolt-action. Its slow rate of fire and weaker damage leave it to pale in comparison to the other two sniper rifles on offer.
Best Sniper Rifle
It seems people will likely flip back and forth on which of the two bolt-action snipers are the best but my money is on the LW3 Tundra. It has slightly higher damage, a snappier ADS and a much quicker reload time. Get out there and get sniping.
Shotguns have an incredibly fast TTK but limited clip size and a relatively slow reload. If you are one to jump into the action trying to take as many with you as you can, this is your best bet. They have a focus on a spread shot meaning you don’t have to be hugely accurate to be good with them, but to be great, you should get to know your ranges and where shotguns feel their best. A decent loadout will probably focus on speed, and pair a shotgun with a nice mid range weapon to give as much versatility as possible.
Unlocked at level 7 is the Hauer 77. This pump-action shotgun has the highest power of the two guns but suffers from a lower rate of fire. Despite this, it has surprisingly good range and you can throw a laser sight, an extended barrel and a duckbill choke to make it much deadlier.
Moving from here, the Gallo SA12 – unlocked at level 34 – is a punchy and quick semi-automatic shotgun. It has quite high recoil but consistent damage. It is a decent bit weaker than the Hauer and will often require more than one shot to kill. This isn’t an issue as it has a reasonably high fire rate but its limited mag size and slower reload make it less consistent that its opposition.
While both shotguns are good, the Hauer 77 is the best shotgun here. It can decimate entire groups of enemies in just a few shots with its high damage, reasonably fast reload and nice spread. If you can throw a few attachments on it, it becomes even more unstoppable.
The pistol is a criminally underutilised tool in a soldier’s arsenal. They are rather powerful and switching to one is much quicker than a reload, making it a great solution in a pinch. They also fit snipers very well as, oftentimes, you can’t afford the time it takes to pull back that bolt again. There are three to choose from here and they all fit different playstyles.
The 1911 is the first gun you have unlocked in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War and feels just as good as it did way back in the original Black Ops. This is a fairly bog standard pistol with 8 rounds in a mag and just a few bullets to kill. It probably offers the most versatility out of the three pistols favouring in close to mid range combat.
Moving from here is the Magnum. This is hugely powerful but with that power comes an equally huge recoil. This is a two-shot-kill weapon and both of those shots will require some level of patience. You are better off planning shots than firing wildly like you might with the 1911. Whilst the Magnum is fun and satisfying, it’s very slow reload time and huge recoil make it just a little worse than the others in its category.
The final weapon you’ll unlock – at the high level of 49 – is the Diamatti. This 3-round burst pistol packs a heavy punch and usually takes two sprays to kill someone. Very effective at short range and decent at mid-range, the Diamatti is a very good secondary choice. Its single biggest issue is longer range gunfights as its spray is just a little too inaccurate for consistent damage.
The best pistol here will be a rather contentious one but the Diamatti seems to have the best TTK and you are probably better off using a different weapon for long-range encounters anyway. An extended barrel and a muzzle brake will make this both stronger and more accurate. This is a very solid weapon to have in a pinch or as a backup.
And with that, you have every major weapon choice covered on launch. There are a multitude of great weapons in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War and this will only get greater with time. I urge you to experiment around but these are the best choices right now. Get strapped up and get out there.
For more on Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War guides, here’s how to level up your rank quickly.
We also have a page with everything you need to know about the new Prestige keys and Seasonal Levelling systems.