The Best Weapons in Modern Warfare 3

The Best Weapons in Modern Warfare 3
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Weapons, Attachments, and Proficiencies

Modern Warfare 3 changes up the way weapon unlocks work in Call of Duty. Gone is the fake currency of Black Ops charging you for your unlocks. Gone are the challenges to kill people through walls, earn specific headshots, or perform other feats to unlock other attachments. What replaces them is a little different, but just as effective.

There are several things you can unlock for each gun. Attachments, Proficiencies, and Camo all fall under this banner. They’re all governed by a gun’s level. Yes, you read that right – your guns level up now. Each and every gun has a maximum level of 31. You level them up by using them. That’s it! You don’t need to use certain attachments or perform certain feats to unlock anything. Just put the gun to use and it’ll get better for you. That 31st level? Unlocks gold camo for your gun.

Attachments are standard fare for Modern Warfare games. Keep in mind that some attachments only work on some guns – Akimbo for instance.

  • Red Dot Sights give you a better sight than the normal iron sights on a gun.
  • Silencers make your shots not show up on enemy radar.
  • Akimbo lets you have two of the guns, hip-fire only. Basically limited to SMGs and other small guns.
  • Grip reduces recoil, and works on shotguns and LMGs.
  • Tactical Knife works on pistols and gives you a faster melee.
  • Grenade Launchers only work on assault rifles and are what they claim to be.
  • ACOG Scopes are mid-range scopes that are longer range than red dot, holo, or iron sights, but shorter than sniper scopes.
  • Rapid Fire is exactly what it says on the tin.
  • Heartbeat Sensors are mini radars that let you hunt down your enemies.
  • Holographic Sights are slightly more zoomed, slightly better red dot sights.
  • Extended Mags are also self-descriptive.
  • Shotguns are underbarrel ultra-close-range secondary weapons for assault rifles.
  • Variable Scopes are a toggleable scope that switches between an ACOG-equivalent and a holo sight.
  • Thermal Scopes are infra-red eyepieces that point out enemies to the exclusion of terrain.

Proficiencies are where things start to get interesting. Here’s what they are and what they do. Keep in mind that you can only put one proficiency on a weapon and it only works on primary weapons, not secondaries.

  • Kick reduces recoil and is unlocked on all weapons.

    Some Proficiencies are Great

  • Range increases your range and is only available on shotguns and SMGs.

  • Attachments allows you to use two attachments on any weapon that’s earned it.

  • Focus is available for any weapon and reduces your flinch when you’re shot.

  • Melee only works for Shotguns, SMGs, and the Riot Shield, and increases your melee speed.

  • Stability works for any weapon and reduces your aim sway.

  • Impact works for everything except SMGs and Shotguns, and increases bullet penetration.

  • Speed is only for LMGs, Snipers, and the Riot Shield, and it increases move speed.

  • Damage is for shotguns only, and increases bullet damage.

  • Breath is for assault rifles only and allows you to hold your breath while aiming down sights.

Assault Rifles

Modern Warfare 3’s assault rifles are the most mid-range guns in the game. They’re almost universally average. They’re slower than SMGs, they’re faster than LMGs, they work at longer range than shotguns and shorter range than snipers. They’re the best weapons to start with and they work well if you use a slow and careful play style. You certainly can run and gun with them, but players using faster or closer-range weapons will get the drop on you. In general, be careful, don’t sprint around corners, and focus more on staying alive than on getting kills.

  • M4A1 - Unlocked at Class Creation - Fully automatic.

    Scar-H, Scar-L, it’s all the same to me.

  • M16A4 - Unlocked at Class Creation - Burst fire.

  • Scar-L - Unlocked at level 6 - Fully automatic. Very powerful and accurate.

  • CM901 - Unlocked at level 18 - Fully automatic, very powerful. New to Modern Warfare 3.

  • Type 95 - Unlocked at level 32 - Burst fire, very accurate, essentially a one-burst kill.

  • G36C - Unlocked at level 42 - Fully automatic, very versatile.

  • ACR - Unlocked at level 50 - Fully automatic, very accurate and fast firing.

  • MK-14 - Unlocked at level 60 - Single-shot, very high damage, powerful with a fast trigger finger.

  • AK-47 - Unlocked at level 68 - Fully automatic, the same as it always has been.

  • FAD - Unlocked at level 78 - Fully automatic, almost a SMG hybrid with very fast firing and aiming.

Given the weapon unlock levels, the ‘best’ weapons tend to be the Scar for early on, the CM901 for those that try it and like it, and the Type 95 for burst-fire lovers. The G36 is usually quickly replaced by the ACR, which many people use for the rest of the game.

Submachine Guns (SMGs)

SMGs are without question the fastest weapons in the game. They have an exceptionally fast rate of fire even without the rapid fire attachment. They give you a fast movement speed without the speed proficiency. Their downfall is a lack of ranged ability. Anyone with an assault rifle has no excuse to lose an encounter at long range. This is why many SMG users learn to drop-shot as a crutch rather than learn the maps and stick to areas where they can safely win encounters.

The UMP is a gun of choice

  • MP5 - Unlocked at class creation. Not very good compared to other SMGs, but it’s the first one available.
  • UMP45 - Unlocked on a default class. Generally the best early SMG, most SMG users will be using this.
  • PP90M1 - Unlocked at level 28. It’s a versatile gun and the closest a SMG can get to a longer-range weapon.
  • P90 - Unlocked at level 38. Another versatile gun, it’s just a better MP5.
  • PM-9 - Unlocked at level 56. The fastest firing gun in the game, it has ridiculous recoil and is hard to control.
  • MP7 - Unlocked at level 74. Like the MP5, only exceptional in every category rather than average. Not the best or worst at anything.

Most SMG players will end up using the UMP almost exclusively. They won’t try newer guns, even if they’re better, because by that time unlocked attachments and proficiencies will make the UMP more versatile. The MP7 is arguably the best one, but because of how late it’s unlocked, it rarely sees play.

Light Machine Guns (LMGs)

LMGs are the complete opposite of SMGs. They’re by far the slowest weapons you could use. So why would you want to use one when the game is all about running and gunning? LMGs tend to have very high power bullets, very good bullet penetration, and very little damage drop at range. Couple that with clips that hold 50 or even 100 bullets, and you have a machine capable of defending any point on the map. Someone takes cover? Shoot through it. Someone hiding and waiting you out? Pretend you’re out and reloading, and shoot them when they try to jump you. Your very slow move speed and exceptionally long reload times mean you won’t be moving much.

LMGs are huge bullet hoses

  • L86 LSW - Unlocked at class creation. Fast rate of fire and a relatively fast reload time make this a good starting LMG.
  • MG36 - Unlocked at class creation. Fastest reloading LMG of the game. Very manageable recoil.
  • PKP Pecheng - Unlocked at level 18. High recoil, high damage, and 200 bullets per clip, making it a good suppression gun.
  • MK46 - Unlocked at level 54, but on a default class to play with. Low recoil and high fire rate make it an ideal LMG.
  • M60E4 - Unlocked at level 72. This is the gun assault juggernauts use. Very high power, but a slow fire rate.

The MK46 is basically the ideal LMG to use. The M60 is fun, but without the high health of a juggernaut to back you up, yuo might not get enough bullets down range to kill the enemy before they kill you.

Sniper Rifles

Sniper rifles are just what they sound like. One shot, one kill, extremely long range weapons. Of course the quickscoping community will argue that they’re capable of any range combat, but those people also tend to have 4 kills a map, making their impact on the game trivial. Sniper rifles in Modern Warfare 3 are only one-hit kills in head and upper torso shots, unlike the more powerful variants from previous games.

Quickscopers beware!

  • Barrett .50 Cal - Unlocked at class creation. This gun is the default semi-auto sniper rifle and is decently well-rounded.
  • L118A - Unlocked at class creation. Bolt-action. If you used the Intervention before, you’ll use this now.
  • Dragunov - Unlocked at level 12. Semi-auto. Very high recoil and not really an upgrade from the Barrett.
  • AS50 - Unlocked at level 22. It’s scope has a lesser zoom than the Barrett, making it better for mid-close range.
  • RSASS - Unlocked at level 44. Semi-auto, lower damage, but very low recoil, making it almost like a long range assault rifle.
  • MSR - Unlocked at level 66. Bolt-action. It’s virtually identical to the L118A, but faster to reload.

Bolt-action users have a clear choice. For those who prefer semi-auto sniper rifles, the AS50 is the best choice, unless you’re not very accurate. In which case, use the RSASS, or an assault rifle.


Shotguns are the undisputed king of close range combat. At least, they would be, if any single Call of Duty game would ever get them right. Instead, we’re left with guns that are out-gunned by SMGs at close quarters and don’t have the range to take on anyone else. They’re more for room clearing, killing unsuspecting enemies, and taking out knifers.

![The Striker is the best shotgun](

USAS 12** - Unlocked at class creation. A fully auto miniature version of the AA-12. Slower rate of fire means you have to be accurate with your six-shell clip.
  • KSG 12 - Unlocked at class creation. A pump-action gun like a miniature version of the SPAS-12. It has a lot of shells, but will take more than one to kill at all but the closest ranges.
  • Spas-12 - Unlocked at level 8. It immediately makes the KSG less useful. The one down side is a much smaller clip.
  • AA-12 - Unlocked at level 26. It works much better than the USAS as a full-auto room clearing machine, but expect to use 3-4 shells to kill a player at any range but point blank.
  • Striker - Unlocked at level 48. Semi-auto without a pump, the Striker is a good balance between the two types of shotguns.
  • Model 1887 - Unlocked at level 62. Single-shot, level action, and ridiculous all around. It has good damage for a shotgun, and decent range, but can only really take on one enemy at a time.

All in all, the Striker is the best shotgun to use. The others have situational uses, but rarely will that come up. On the plus side, they all get the Damage proficiency, which makes them all a bit more useful.

Secondary Weapons

Secondary weapons come in a few flavors. Machine Pistols are much like SMGs, only smaller and lighter. Handguns are standard pistols. Finally, Launchers are a category all their own. Which you use is all up to your preference.

Strike from on high with a Javelin

Machine Pistols work by spraying bullets quickly in an area in front of you. They are the FMG9 at class creation, the MP9 at level 16, the Skorpion at level 36, and the G18 at level 70. The FMG requires folding out and is slow, rarely useful without Akimbo, and low power. The MP9 is more like a SMG, and can be used as such. The Skorpion IS essentially a SMG, with all the perks and drawbacks that entails. The G18 is more like an automatic pistol, with better damage and accuracy than the other machine pistols.

Handguns as they’re classified in MW3, are all the standard little pistols from other Call of Duty games. The USP .45 is the default at class creation, and is unchanged from every previous game. The P99 is unlocked at level 11 and is a direct upgrade. The MP412 is a revolver unlocked at level 30, and is more powerful than the semi-autos, with the slow reload drawback. The .44 Magnum is level 46, and is slightly better. The Five Seven is unlocked at level 58, and is identical to the USP and P99, only with more bullets. Finally at level 76, the Desert Eagle is the most powerful pistol but has enormous recoil.

Launchers are the typical explosive beasts used for taking down air support, clearing rooms, and harassing enemies. Each has it’s own perks and drawbacks.

  • SMAW is pre-unlocked. It locks on to aircraft but takes more than one rocket to kill anything stronger than a UAV. It can be free-fired as well and is useful for clearing small rooms and corners.
  • Javelin is level 24 and locks on to terrain or aircraft. It’s powerful and can take out multiple enemies on objective game types, but is very slow to load, shoot, and strike.
  • Stingers are level 40 and only lock on to air support, but they reload quickly and can take down any air support in the game in one or two missiles.
  • XM25 is a grenade launcher and is very unique. You can aim at something and click the left stick to set a distance. The launched grenade will explode at this distance, regardless of hitting anything. It has lots of ammo as well, so it’s useful to harass enemies.
  • M320 GLM is level 64 and is a more standard grenade launcher, like underbarrels or the Thumper.
  • RPG-7 is Call of Duty standard fare, like a SMAW without aircraft lock on. It’s unlocked at level 80.


  • Information from User’s Own Experience
  • Images Copyright Activision
  • References from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

This post is part of the series: Modern Warfare 3 Offensive Guides

Guide to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 weapons and strike packages.

  1. Put Modern Warfare 3’s Weapons To Good Use
  2. Modern Warfare 3 Strike Packages Guide