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Warzone best weapons in Season 3's current meta

How a substantial weapon rebalance has changed the meta.

Keeping track of the best Warzone weapons is tricky since frequent updates change the current meta every few weeks. Some updates feature more changes than others, but at the very least, you can expect to use different weapons with the launch of each season.

As of May 2022, there are over 160 weapons available in Warzone, and though everyone has their favourites, there are definitely winners and losers among the list. Some are extremely powerful but hard to control, while others are easy to control but don't pack much of a punch.

Choosing the right weapon can give you a huge advantage over other players, and if you then learn to control their recoil and offset their idiosyncrasies, then you'll be unstoppable.

We've been out there in Caldera and Rebirth Island messing around with everything we could get our hands on, allowing us to present the best weapons in Warzone, category by category.

Note: With the arrival of Warzone Season 4 in June 2022 and balance changes since, this page is due an update. Until then, the vast majority of advice here will still apply - but know one or two things may differ once we've fully assessed the update.

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Where is the current meta and best weapons following May's Warzone Season 3 update?

It used to be that you could just visit our list of the best guns in Modern Warfare to also learn what's the best in Warzone, but times have changed.

Warzone has become its own beast at this point, and following the Vanguard integration in 2021, the game has received a hefty list of WWII weapons. You can still utilize weapons from Modern Warfare and Black Ops Cold War in your custom loadouts, but floor loot now features Vanguard firearms exclusively.

The update in December 2021, which reset the Season count in Warzone back to 1, marked a new foundation for Warzone with an array of additions and new weapon classes from the latest Call of Duty game, Vanguard.

This update not only introduced over 40 new WWII weapons - which has its own place in the Vanguard Royale meta outside of the main Battle Royale mode - but also added the new Caldera map, replacing Verdansk - seemingly forever. This map change and additional weapons has shifted the meta, so you'll want to stay on top with the best weapons the game has to offer.

With the 4th May Season 3 update, the weapon meta has shifted around once again across the board, particularly in the assault rifle category. Most notably, snipers have been altered, removing the ability to earn a one-shot headshot with many of the game’s most popular rifles as of Season 3.

In addition, the Season 3 update added a number of quality of life improvements, such as enhancements to the gas mask animations, an updated version of the Most Wanted contract, and spawn protection adjustments.

Many weapons simply received slight nerfs and buffs, so not much has changed in the grand scheme of things. The new weapons, the M1916 and the Nikita AVT are decent, but don't compete much amongst the best marksman rifles and assault rifles in the game.

Most recent changes in our list include:

  • Best assault rifle: XM4 (was the Cold War AK-47)
  • Best sniper rifle: ZRG 20mm (was Swiss K31)
  • Best LMG: MG 82 (was Bren)

Best AR in Warzone recommendation

Best weapon recommendation: XM4 (Cold War)
How to unlock the XM4 (Cold War): Reach Player Level 1

Replacing the Cold War AK-47 is the XM4, a weapon that excels at mid to long-range, with competitive times to kill (TTKs), and low recoil.

As of the 4th May update, the XM4 received a nerf and buff, but overall feels way better, especially since its competitors are slightly worse now.

Although the XM4 doesn’t have the best TTKs in the game, it’s easy to control and hits hard enough to bring it to the very top.

A handful of other weapons are a bit more powerful than the XM4, but given this weapon’s ease of use, we highly recommend giving it a try.

If you want to get the most out of the XM4, see our best XM4 loadout recommendation - or if you want to see what else the class has to offer, our best assault rifles in Warzone page can help.

Best Sniper Rifle in Warzone recommendation

Best weapon recommendation: ZRG 20mm
How to unlock the ZRG 20mm: Earn two Longshot medals in 15 different matches

Now that many of Warzone’s top-tier snipers have been nerfed alongside Season 3, the ZRG 20mm has become the new long-range king, with the ability to take down enemies with a single shot to the head at any distance.

It’s a bit slower and can feel clunky to use, but the ZRG is fantastic thanks to its high bullet velocity and power.

You will absolutely want to use an increased magazine size with this weapon because by default, it only comes with three rounds.

Beyond that, make sure you deck it out with bullet velocity in mind so you can easily secure long-range eliminations from afar.

Best Marksman Rifle in Warzone recommendation

Best weapon recommendation: Kar98k
How to unlock the Kar98k: Reach Player Level 33 (in Modern Warfare or Warzone)

Speaking of which, the Kar98k is still a top choice, even after the major sniper rifle nerf as part of Season 3. The Marksman Rifles can often end up feeling a bit like a diet Sniper Rifle, but thanks to constant tweaks throughout Warzone's existence the Kar98k can still compete.

Of course, the main reason to use the Kar98k is its mobility, along with its fast ADS speed. This means you can easily run around and scope in quickly, before pulling off a shot. The sniper optic is clean, and is easy to use, too.

However, you need to be aware that the Kar98k cannot secure a one-hit headshot kill past 55 meters, making it far less viable than before. Still, if you play on Rebirth Island, this rifle will still be effective.

Best Tactical Rifle in Warzone recommendation

Best weapon recommendation: M16
How to unlock the M16: Reach Player Level 10 (in Black Ops: Cold War or Warzone)

The Cold war AUG withheld its place shortly after the Cold War integration, but a spring 2021 update increased its time between bursts by 33 per cent, as well as lowering its neck damage multiplier. The M16, whilst also affected by similar changes, doesn't see a drastic change in the battlefield.

Currently, the M16 still fires slightly faster than the Cold War AUG, making it a much better choice in the burst rifle category. Despite having a slower TTK than something like the DMR 14, the M16 is more practical thanks to its ability to fire three bullets instead of only one. Just make sure to increase its magazine capacity and focus on attachments that decrease its overall ADS time and sprint speed to further enhance its qualities.

It’s worth noting that even though the M16 is the best option in this category, it’s still not recommended since its burst fire type causes its TTK to be so slow.

If you want to get the most out of the weapon, our best M16 loadout recommendation can help.

Best Shotgun in Warzone recommendation

Best weapon recommendation: JAK-12
How to unlock the JAK-12: Earn three shotgun fire kills in seven matches

Yes, we're mentioning shotguns in our best weapons roundup - the JAK-12 is arguably the best in the game, simply due to how easy it is to use.

It's an automatic shotgun, meaning you can hold down the trigger to unleash a flurry of pellets.

While you won't be as effective at range with this weapon, close-quarters engagements will be a non-issue for you with the JAK-12.

There are a few different ways to build it, but we actually highly recommend the large 20 round drum or Dragon's Breath rounds with this one. You can even swap over to slug rounds to gain much more range at the expense of ammo count.

Best SMG in Warzone recommendation

Best weapon recommendation: Owen Gun
How to unlock the Type 100: Reach Player Level 29

The Owen Gun has always been decent, and even after a recent nerf during Season 3, it still remains the best SMG in the game.

The recent update did nerf the fire rate for its rapid fire barrel, along with a decrease to two of the most used magazine types, but the Owen Gun still absolutely dominates during Season 3.

Its main asset is the Owen Gun's extremely fast time to kill, coming out ahead of weapons like the MP40, both MP5s, and even the Type 100.

It's also much more practical since it boasts up to 72 rounds - perfect for eliminating multiple players at once before having to reload. The Owen Gun is also relatively easy to control, which is more than can be said about some of the other SMGs with fast TTKs.

Just make sure you use the M38/Slate 2.5x Custom Optic to circumvent the large magazine that obstructs your view on the right side of the weapon.

Best LMG in Warzone recommendation

Best weapon recommendation: MG82
How to unlock the MG82: Using LMGs, kill 3 or more enemies without reloading in 15 different completed matches.

Since the Bren received a major nerf during Season 3, the new best LMG is the MG82, a Cold War weapon that has always packed a punch.

This LMG has incredibly fast TTKs at all ranges, and thanks to its high ammo count, is a great weapon for securing back to back eliminations.

The MG82 does have its quirks, such as moderate recoil, and being extremely slow, so it’s best to pair it with an SMG or other lightweight weapon to offset the mobility.

If you can mount the MG82 to pick off your foes at mid range, you’ll be surprised just how well this one performs, especially if you use the Combat Scout perk to shoot through walls.

Best Launcher in Warzone recommendation

Best weapon recommendation: RPG-7
How to unlock the RPG-7: Reach Player Level 44

While there are plenty of reasons to use other launchers that might have worthwhile capabilities (such as the ability to lock-onto vehicles), there's something to be said about the speed and power of the classic RPG-7.

This launcher has slow bullet velocity, so you likely won't be getting any long-range kills with the RPG-7. Instead, we always recommend using it to clear out a room, or to take out an oncoming vehicle.

Thanks to its fast ADS speeds (at least compared to other launchers), and high damage, the RPG-7 is easily the best choice.

Warzone Season 5 is almost here! If you want to learn more about firepower from previously, we explain the best Welgun loadout, best Cooper Carbine loadout, best Gorenko Anti-Tank Rifle loadout, best STG44 loadout, best MP40 loadout, best Automaton loadout, best BAR loadout, best Combat Shotgun loadout, best Type 100 loadout, and best Kar98k loadouts.

Best Melee weapon in Warzone recommendation

Best weapon recommendation: Kali Sticks (Modern Warfare)
How to unlock the Kali Sticks: Using the Knife, get 3 kills while sliding in 15 different matches (in Modern Warfare or Warzone)

Melee weapons wouldn't usually be our first choice when it comes to Warzone weaponry, but we aren't here to judge. If you want to see how far you can go with this category, we highly recommend carrying the Kali Sticks with you as a secondary option for your loadout.

You will most likely need two hits instead of one to take down an enemy, but the Kali Sticks provide a fast and reliable way to do so thanks to the range they have. Just don't blame us if your squadmates get mad at you for choosing this over a fire weapon. At the very least, you'll be bringing the best sticks available to a gunfight.

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