Weapons in Red Dead Redemption 2 are, unsurprisingly, pretty important. Finding the best weapons in Red Dead Redemption 2 however is little easier said than done, and although they usually tend to be guns in Red Dead, that isn't the only kind available.
In most cases, there is no objectively 'best' weapon for its class. It often comes down to personal preference - do you prefer high damage or high rate of fire in your revolvers, for instance? - but nonetheless there are still some ways to tell them apart.
Below, we'll detail our choices as well as explaining how to get the best weapons, as well as listing some other unique and rare weapons that make solid alternatives, plus explaining weapon modifications and degredation, and anything else worth knowing about the weapons system in Red Dead Redemption 2, too.
On this page:
- Red Dead Redemption 2 best revolvers and how to get them
- Red Dead Redemption 2 best pistols and how to get them
- Red Dead Redemption 2 best shotguns and how to get them
- Red Dead Redemption 2 best rifles and how to get them
- Red Dead Redemption 2 best sniper rifles and how to get them
- Red Dead Redemption 2 best throwable weapons and how to get them
- Red Dead Redemption 2 best melee weapons and how to get them
- Red Dead Redemption 2 weapon modifications, ammo and customisation explained
Red Dead Redemption 2 best revolvers and how to get them
There are quite a few different revolvers in Red Dead Redemption 2 - unsurprisingly, given it's a cowboy game and all that - and they're one of the hardest categories of weapon to rank. Some have high rates of fire, others high damage per bullet fired, and others a higher accuracy. Which one you consider the best is going to come down to personal preference, but here's our choice and a rundown of the best of the rest.
The best revolver weapon in Red Dead Redemption 2
Weapon Name: Schofield Revolver
- Customisable: Yes
- Details: Marginally better damage and accuracy compared to your standard Cattleman Revolver, at the cost of slightly lower fire rate and reload speed. Biggest strength is its customisability, allowing you to improve the barrel rifling or add sights (it already comes with an extended barrel).
- How to get it: Purchased at gunsmiths after Chapter 2 mission Blessed are the Meek, or via robbing the Valentine doctor's practise. Gamer Network's Arekkz details exactly how to do that in the video just below.
Other strong, unique or rare revolvers in Red Dead Redemption 2
Aside from that Schofield, there are a couple of other great options for revolvers, our favourite alternative being the Double-Action Revolver.
This boasts a very high rate of fire and reload speed, albeit at the cost of accuracy and a little damage compared to others. That can be made up for with modifications to the grip and barrel however, and believe it or not none of the game's other unique or rare revolvers - barring the above, standard Schofield and the Cattleman that you start with - will let you upgrade them.
You can pick up the Double-Action Revolver from any gunsmith after the mission called A Strange Kindness in Chapter 2, or for free via the treasure hunt that was added to Rockstar's GTA Online, if you managed to complete it. There are also several unique, and rather beautifully decorated revolvers you can pick up as part of the Gunslingers quest
Red Dead Redemption 2 best pistols and how to get them
There are fewer pistols in Red Dead Redemption 2 than there are revolvers, from our experience, but there are still a couple of very useful options.
The best pistol weapon in Red Dead Redemption 2
Weapon Name: Semi-Automatic Pistol
- Customisable: Yes
- Details: Boasting semi-automatic fire - meaning no need to manually pull back the pin - this has the highest rate of fire of any weapon we've found so far, and a fast reload time and high accuracy to go with it.
- How to get it: This can be bought from either the Valentine or Saint Denis gunsmiths after the mission The Joys of Civilization in Chapter 4.
Other strong, unique or rare pistols in Red Dead Redemption 2
The other powerful pistol you'll probably have heard of by now is the Volcanic Pistol, available in gunsmith stores early on in the game - after the opening chapter Eastwood Bound - or for free, if you bought the Special or Ultimate Edition (we explain how to claim your Red Dead Redemption 2 Special and Ultiamte Edition gear in a dedicated guide, if you need it).
It deals some hefty damage - hence the name - but is saddled by a low rate of fire and smaller cartridge, making it feel more like a powerful revovler or a more accurate, longer-ranged sawn-off shotgun than a pistol. You can also pick up a pistol that's similar to the Semi-Automatic but with a more distinctive visual design - albeit at the cost of the ability to upgrade it - in the Gunslingers quest.
Red Dead Redemption 2 best shotguns and how to get them
There are a decent number of shotguns in Red Dead Redemption 2, but just the one unique model, as far as we know. Here's our pick for the best.
The best shotgun weapon in Red Dead Redemption 2
Weapon Name: Semi-Automatic Shotgun
- Customisable: Yes
- Details: Just like the Semi-Auto Pistol above, there's a semi-automatic shotgun too, and it's a bit of a monster, dealing high damage at by far the highest fire rate of any shotgun we know, with a good reload speed too. A beast at close range!
- How to get it: Head due west of Valentine until you spot Wallace Station on your map - then head a short distance west and slightly north of Wallace Station and youll find Watson's Cabin, at the end of a dirt track. Head into the one with the grouchy woman, go down the ladder at the back of the cabin, and it's on a table by the ladder itsef. You can also buy it at gunsmiths later on in the story.
Other strong, unique or rare shotguns in Red Dead Redemption 2
Another interesting and pretty powerful shotgun is the aptly-named Rare Shotgun, which is a unique, customised version of the standard Double-Barreled Shotgun. It does the most damage of any shotgun, but because it's unique you can't upgrade it with any modifications, so this one's more for the show-off factor than anything else.
Arekkz explains how to get it - from a strange man called the Hermit - in his video on seven missable items embedded a few sections above.
Red Dead Redemption 2 best rifles and repeaters and how to get them
Rifles - slightly different from Sniper Rifles, which we cover just below - are one of the more abundant weapons in Red Dead Redemption 2, when bundled in with Repeaters as a weapon type too.
The best rifle or repeater weapon in Red Dead Redemption 2
Weapon Name: Bolt Action Rifle
- Customisable: Yes
- Details: By virtue of being a bolt-action gun this has a slow rate of fire, but the Bolt-Action Rifle kicks out a hefty amount of damage per shot, is super accurate, and can be fitted with a magnifying scope to turn it into a makeship sniper rifle, too.
- How to get it: You'll be given this during Preaching and Forgiveness in Chapter 3, .
Other strong, unique or rare rifles and repeaters in Red Dead Redemption 2
There aren't any unique rifles or repeaters - at least that we can find so far - in Red Dead Redemption 2, but there are a few noteworthy ones. You'll be given a few different Repeaters as you progress through the story, such as the Lancaster Repeater in Chapter 2, and these have a much higher rate of fire than the standard rifles like the Bolt Action one above.
There's also the classic Springfield Rifle, that can be bought from any gunsmith after you finish the opening Chapter 1, which works as a good early alternative to the Bolt Action Rifle itself, packing a real punch on it.
Red Dead Redemption 2 best sniper rifles and how to get them
There are just the three Sniper Rifles in Red Dead Redemption 2, and all of them are pretty handy.
The best sniper rifle weapon in Red Dead Redemption 2
Weapon Name: Rolling Block Rifle
- Customisable: Yes
- Details: Packing a big punch and available surprisingly early on, the Rolling Block Rifle is the standard sniper but has the added benefit of being customisable, too.
- How to get it: This can be bought from gunsmiths after you finish the mission The Sheep and the Goats in Chapter 2.
Other strong, unique or rare sniper rifles in Red Dead Redemption 2
Altneratively, the Carcano Rifle has a much higher rate of fire and reload speed compared to the Rolling Block, but it actually does a bit less damage on hit, and isn't available until much later on in the game, so we don't see it as being quite so valuable.
There's also the unique weapon called the Rare Rolling Block Rifle, which works a lot like the Rare Shotgun does in the section further up the page; it's not possible to be customised or upgraded, but it comes with a unique engraving and can only be acquired by killing the sniper in the barn in the mission Magicians for Sport in Chapter 3.
Red Dead Redemption 2 best throwable weapons and how to get them
Throwable weapons are all pretty similar in Red Dead Redemption 2, but there's still a standout that's pretty interesting aside from its general strength, too.
The best throwing weapon in Red Dead Redemption 2
Weapon Name: Ancient Tomahawk
- Customisable: No
- Details: You're generally going to do some hefty damage whatever you throw, if you hit someone with it, but the rarity of this unique tomahawk as well as its significant damage makes it our pick!
- How to get it: The Ancient Tomahawk is found in a broken target resting against a wooden post, to the east of Calumet Ravine right in the north of the map, as found by Gamer Network's Arekkz again - this time skip to around 3:39 in the video below.
Other strong, unique or rare throwing weapons in Red Dead Redemption 2
As we said, most throwing weapons do pretty identical damage, but another unique option is the Viking Hatchet, which is found in an old viking ruin just to the north of Annesburg, in the forest on the western side of the river. There's also a neat Viking Helmet to be found there (which you can wear!) which will make you feel nice and barbaric when lobbing or chopping away at your enemies. Credit again goes to who else, but Arekkz.
Red Dead Redemption 2 best melee weapons and how to get them
Finally, there are melee weapons in Red Dead Redemption 2, which shoul only really be used as a last resort, but can still come in handy from time to time - say when you run out of ammo, or enemies get in a little too close.
The best melee weapon in Red Dead Redemption 2
Weapon Name: Machete
- Customisable: No
- Details: Almost all melee weapons do the same damage in Red Dead Redemption 2, so most of the time your choice is going to come down to pure and simple style points - but the Machete does just a teeny bit more damage than just about any other, so it makes the cut as techincally the best!
- How to get it: You can purchase the Machete from a Fence - we explain Red Dead Redemption 2 Fences in a dedicated guide - but it won't be available from the start. Keep progressing through the story and check in down the line to pick it up once it unlocks.
For much more Red Dead Redemption 2 help like this, see our solutions for Dinosaur Bone locations, Dreamcatcher locations, Rock Carving locations and World Champion Cigarette Cards locations. On the map front, we have Killer Clue Piece locations, High Stakes Treasure Map locations, Jack Hall Gang Treasure Map locations, and the Poisonous Trail Treasure Map locations too. Our in-depth systems explainers includes hunting perfect pelts, hides and skins as well as all Legendary Animal locations and Legendary Fish locations, or all Gunslinger locations, too. Finally, here's a list of Red Dead Redemption 2 cheat codes, the various Red Dead Online release dates, and an explainer on how to make Red Dead Online money fast .
Red Dead Redemption 2 weapon modifications, ammo, and gun customisation explained
Aside from just finding the best guns or weapons themselves, if you really want to min-max yourself in Red Dead Redemption 2, it'll help to understand the modding system of customisation and weapon modifications.
Thankfully, as much as Rockstar likes to obfuscate things in Red Dead, it's pretty simple. Here's all the modifications you can buy that affect a weapon's performance (so, not including the purely cosmetic customisations you can add, of which there are many), as well as what weapons you can add them too.
|Weapon Modification||Upgrade||Available on Type of Weapon|
|Improved Rifling||Increases range||Revolvers
|Long Barrel||Increases accuracy||Revolvers
|Iron Sights||Increases accuracy||Revolvers
Excludes Rolling Block and Carcano
|Short Scope||Minor zoom magnification||Repeaters
|Medium Scope||Medium zoom magnification||Rifles
|Long Scope||Major zoom magnification||Sniper Rifles|
To look down a scope, if you have one attached, press Down on the D-Pad when aiming.
Otherwise, there are a few other upgrades to bear in mind. Improving your holster, or adding a Wrap to your weapon, will reduce the rate at which it 'degrades', basically meaning you have to clean it less often, which always helps and is probably worth the investment just to save your time.
Buying better quality bullets doesn't cost you too much, and can make a real difference too - if you're paying for better ones, you may as well go all the way and buy Express bullets when you have the option, for added damage on hit.
Gunsmiths will also have things like Gun Belts and Bandoliers, to increase your ammo capacity for revolvers and pistols and rifles, repeaters and shotguns respectively, and speaking of which, it's the Gunsmith that you'll need to visit in order to purchase those upgrades above.
There's one in the early-game location of Valentine, as well as others in major hubs like Saint Denis, too - look for the gun symbol (of course), on your minimap! Simply talk to the shopkeeper and rummage through their catalogue to see what they have in store.