Sections: Every Gun's Meta Role, why every other gun is bad, modding and ak-74 recoil reduction/price graph, ammo meta.
Lowest Recoil for 545, 556, and 7.62×39 guns :
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Every Gun's Meta Role
Guns with a purpose:
AK-74 / AK-74N: Only has a place in 2 scenarios. Long range medium kit and any range high kit. In high kit the gun will cost 100k but will have the lowest recoil of the automatic ARs. BS and PP isn’t as expensive as 995 and M856A1. For high kit the 74 is 2nd best if money is no problem but if you do even remotely care about money then this is the most reasonable high kit gun. If lvl 6 armor for some reason becomes abundant in the future then this will be the best gun because igolnik. Yes m61 will go through lvl 6 but the FAL nerf means it has too much recoil for mid range and the m1a is semi auto which kinda nips the whole “2 stk > 3 stk” in the bud.
HK-416: Lowest recoil AR when fully modded. In game it has about the same recoil as the 74 because of the higher rate of fire but same recoil with more DPS is obviously better. If you have nothing but money then this is the best gun in the game. Sure 7N1 and m80 will 1 tap the chest through lvl 4 but being able to completely ignore lvl 5 armor with 800 RPM that 2 taps the chest is much better.
Bolt actions: All of the bolt actions are currently just very very bad vepr hunters. However quests are a thing and there’s very clearly one vastly superior bolt action and it issssss a sniper mosin with the non-blue tape obrez stock and the 514mm barrel. Its accurate and its very light. Recoil doesn’t matter, ergo kinda matters but not nearly as much as weight. If you don't like the PU scope then you can use the “arbalet patriot K+W mount” and just use any sight you want without the rendering issues of the tri-rail. Only in tarkov will the objectively cheapest gun in a class be the best. Cough ak-74 cough.
Vepr Hunter: M80 strong so gun strong. It one taps to the chest, is accurate, has no rof cap, can go through lvl 4, the 10 round mags are 1 slot, and you can get it for like 25-35k off the market. Its just stupid good. Is it better than a m1a, rsass or FAL? No. Is it way better than the mosin, saiga-12, mp-153, mr-133, m870, ash-12, sv-98, m-700, DVL, and SVD? Yeah.
MP-7: Best CQC gun for medium kit (anti-lvl 3) because FMJ is very cheap, the bitcoin trade lets you get 40k MP7s, and the recoil is lower than any gun of equivalent price. The only exceptions are the VSS and p-90 which you can use for about the same price (given you can get a 50k p-90 and a 40k VSS) However the VSS mags are either stupid expensive or too small and the p-90 has too much horizontal recoil. Yes the p-90 has less vertical recoil but only your mom is wider than she is tall and she’s not a scav boss yet.
PP-19: One of the three “competitive” budget guns. It's cheap, has maxed ak-74 levels of recoil(with a recoil pad), is automatic, and has no pen whatsoever. Face shots or go home.
Saiga-12: Best “shot” shotgun and one of three “competitive” budget guns. There’s a rof cap now but its vepr 136 levels so for a gun with a 20 round mag max, its not “too much” of a problem. If you’re running factory then maybe flechette could work but holy shit with the lack of limb pen and the 19 damage per dart (152 damage if all land) you’ll be shooting the fuck out of people before they die. I think the best example of how this feels was a raid where I killed one scav and it took 29 hits to kill that one unarmored scav. Honestly just use magnum and go for face shots. 1 pellet to the face can kill so it just a matter of spamming in the general upper torso direction and hoping RNG gives you a head/face shot. That sounds really stupid but throwing those dice is surprisingly dependable.
Vepr-136: One of the three “competitive” budget guns. If you need range and don’t mind giving up recoil and an automatic switch for armor pen then this is your jam. Grab one of these for 15k off the market, slap a butt-pad, m1b, and dynacomp on it, grab a handful of 30s with T45 for the cost of a slightly worn t-shirt, and you’re good to go. The only thing that really holds this gun back is the oversampling cap. I click at ~450 clicks per min and I slam right into that cap and get ~100-150 rpm out of it. Its really awful. That paired with the RoF link to FPS and you can imagine why taking this into cqc could be a bad idea.
AKMS / AKMSN: Only good for budget builds. Because the ammo is cheap you can spend more money on attachments. But the amount of money you would spend on attachments is so much, you might as well buy a better gun. I wouldn’t bother modding beyond a recoil pad, dynacomp, and M1B and pretending its a vepr-136 that can go full auto for CQC.
ADAR: Crazy good right now. 15k for a rec battery gets you a gun that reloads like lighting, who’s accurate, who’s ammo punches through lvl 4 for 191 rubles a pop with good recoil out of the box and has no rof cap (aside from the FPS limiting it of course).
FAL / M1A: Since the FAL was nerfed and the M80 wont go through full condition lvl 5, these don’t have a role in high kit. In medium kit however these are a nice alternative to the ak-74 or vepr hunter. They cost about 40-50k because of trades and they have access to large cheap mags. If you have a M1A then its fine as is, just put on a side mount. If you have an FAL put on a baskak and an extreme duty dust cover(if you did the NIXX trade then dont forget to rebuy the austrian muzzle break).
Makarov: One of two reasonably accurate pistols in game. If you’re going to carry a pistol as backup, carry this for face taps.
Saiga-9: Instead of doing pistol runs, do saiga-9 runs. No one will steal it, you can get it for the same price, you got 30s, and the recoil is only 47-195. For context a Makarov is 510-325 (and yes, that's five hundred and ten vertical recoil)
Kedr / Klin: probably my 2nd most used gun behind the 153 and…. Its pretty good for a 10-15k gun. Its cheap, it shoots cheap ammo, it has 1 slot 20 rounders, it has weird recoil / point of impact , and it sucks. If you wanna to pistol runs, do kedr runs instead.
Bad Guns (for the price / in comparison to other guns)
AKS-74U: Literally, the only reason to ever use this gun is because its funny or because you want a gun that’s very cheap, functionally accurate, automatic, and has cheap 30 round mags. If you consider using something other than FMJ in it then you would better spend your money buying an AKS-74 or AK-74M for 5k extra(or sometimes the same price). The only reasonable plays you can make are face shot barrel stuffs or tippy taps at range. Even automatic fire at like 15m has so much horizontal recoil that its basically useless. And if you spend the money to get the recoil down you might as well just buy a better gun and get low recoil that way. The only time the 74U can be remotely competitive is using it as a head tap DMR but even then you could use any other AK or adar for about the same price.
AKS-74 / AKS-74N / AK-74M/ AK-105 : These are basically just an AK-74 but slightly worse and occasionally cheaper. Just sell it or lightly mod it and use PP. If you dont have the money for PP then just use a PP-19.
AKM / AKMN: Its the best 7.62×39 gun in game and its just bad. It costs too much, the good ammo costs too much and doesn’t have enough pen for the price, and it has unacceptable recoil. There’s no reason to ever use this unless you can’t stand high recoil and must use a fully modded akm for that shoreline scav kill quest.
AK-103/AK-104: Imagine an AKM that’s worse and costs slightly less. Just dont.
AK-101 / AK-102: These are just meme / rp guns. They’re a better option than the AKM / AK-103 / AK-104 but that’s not saying much. They’re just expensive and have too much recoil. If you cannot stand the semi-auto of the adar these might be the only reasonable non-7.62×51 automatic for anti-lvl 4 because M855A1 is so dirt cheap.
SKS: A bad vepr-136 with the exception of having a higher RoF cap. Mags are stupid expensive, mags take forever to reload, and the recoil is stupid high. If you’re a sperg and can’t wrap your head around mags then do the GP coin trade, put a DTK-1 on an adapter, fill your pockets with T45 and you’re all ready to feed that sks to the next pmc you meet.
SVD: Its a bad M1A. Its too expensive, the mags cost too much, and it has a rof cap. No reason to use it other than the quest. Honestly, I’d take a vepr hunter over it because at least then I can spam in CQC.
M4A1: Low kit costs too much, high kit costs too much, 995 costs too much, everything costs too much. Just use an ak-74, it has better recoil and a lower rate of fire, thus even less recoil because tarkov increases recoil based off of the recoil state of the gun when a shot is fired.
MDR: So you can grab these for 40-50k on the market and after an RK-2 and Bulletec you’ll have the recoil of a maxed AKM with like 45 more horizontal recoil. So 80k for an extra shakey AKM in 556. So basically its useless, juse an ak-74.
TX-15: expensive adar with very slightly better recoil. If you care that much about recoil then just build an HK-416A5
MP-153: The only good slug shotgun and it sucks. People like it because you dont have to fiddle fuck with mags but the rof cap + the giga-longness + the slow reloads means CQC is is awful. Which means its only place in the meta is slugs and then its just a bad vepr hunter. But not like a “90% of the way there” bad, its a “30% of the way there” bad. I’ve probably used a 153 with slugs more than any other weapon in tarkov over these 7 or so wipes I’ve played and the whole time I’ve held the opinion that fucking christ the 153 with slugs sucks but lord is it fun. But with the CMS kits and the mosin and the vepr hunter. The allure of being a little shitling scuttling about has lost its charm. Breaking people’s arms and legs at range isn’t a raid ruiner, the mosin can do 1 shot chest taps now, and so can the vepr hunter. Its just not a vile bog of misery anymore. It’s just an underperforming gun that has been power creeped out of any relevance.
MP-133: bad mp-153. it literally don't even have iron sights
M870: mp-133 but expensive
Toz: is toz
Grach: imagine a saiga-9 but expensive and people can steal it easier
P226R: Imagine a grach but for people who wanna play dress up.
Glock 17: Imagine a P226R but for people who really really wanna play dress up.
Glock 18: Was pretty oppressive back when RIP could 3 shot your legs but now its just a DPS meme like it is in real life.
Shrimp: imagine a 5-7 but cheap and with no 1 tap chest hollow points. This is probably your best bet for the pistol kill quest.
5-7: imagine a shrimp but expensive and with hollow points that can 1 tap a chest. “But can’t all 9mm pistols do that?” ….yes but they’re half the price of RIP.
P-90: surprisingly similar in budget to the mp-7 but with less vertical recoil but more horizontal recoil and 50s instead of 30s…. So basically the p90 sucks.
MPX / MP5: mil-sim scum. In all seriousness they just cost so much for being such limp guns. I know people are SUPER FUCKING HYPED FOR AP 6.3 !?!??! but its just PMM with less damage. It wont ever got through a lvl 3 armor for christ sake.
TT: a makarov but it costs more and can go through lvl 2.
M9A3: sounds cool
APS: russian g18 that can’t use 9mm RIP. sucks
APB: Didn’t get nerfed with the APS so its a giga-cheap suppressed gun. But it handles like a shitty kedr and the kedr already handles like shit so keep that in mind.
RSASS: inflated price because of the quest, prob will never be viable until it gets a better mag or the M1A gets a recoil nerf.
VSS: imagine a AS VAL but you dont get that AR skill recoil reduction…. But its cheap. Its actually stupid cheap when you consider how much recoil it has and that SP-5 is basically 5.45 PP. You can get an AK-74 with a PBS-4 for 40k, and you can get an VSS for 40k, but you cannot get a suppressed AK-74 with VSS recoil for 40k, or 100k. The only thing holding the VSS back is the drop on it is stupid. I could go on a long hot ramble on how it could be fixed and how the way tarkov handles balistics calculations is dumb but that would take way too long. Basically only use it with sights that can zero to 25m and you’ll be fine unless you try to shoot at something beyond 50m.
AS-VAL: a slightly better VSS (because AR skill) but it costs 50-100% more
MP5K: bad kedr
Kedr-B: suppressed kedr that costs 25-30k
RPK: The recoil stats are basically the same as the AK-74 but maxed they both cost the same and the AK-74 gets recoil reduction from the AR skill so there’s just no reason to bother. The RPK is heavier, shoots at the same RPM, will have more ingame recoil, and sounds dumb.
Ash-12: unbelievably bad. Maybe if it was 20k from a trader and the ammo / mags were cheaper it might have a place in the meta. But that role would be a shitty vepr hunter that’s cheap.
PB: 25k silenced makarov…. Yeah naw
PM (t): fireball machine
I’m only going to cover the guns with a meta purpose that I didn’t mention how to mod in the above section.
HK 416A5 Max: (if I dont mention a part, its stock)
Pistol Grip: Ergo PSG-1 (only for ergo)
Stock: HK E1 (or BUS if you dont care about ergo)
Muzzle Break : Bulletek ST-6012 or AAC Blackout and SDN-6 (same recoil)
Rear iron sight: Magpul MBUS Gen 2 (only for ergo) (you cant use a front backup sight)
Handguard: Strike Industries CRUX 15”
If you really care about min maxing you can put a cobra red dot on for an extra -1% recoil
AK-74 Max (AKM is the same except for the lantac muzzle break)
Pistol Grip: US Palm (rk-3 weighs more)
Muzzle Break : CQB or PBS-4 to be suppressed (is 7% worse)
Dust Cover: Fab Defence PDC (highest ergo dust cover rail)
The sweet spot is about the Zhukov-S + CQB + RK-0 + poly 100 has 58-153 recoil (which is about a maxed ak-105 but for 57k)
I used to determine the data points by an increasing budget but now I do it by the price / recoil gain of each next part. So buying a polymer stock costs more / recoil than the zhukov so I just skipped it. Also why I skipped to just using the RK-0.
Damage thresholds: 35 (1 tap to the head), 40 (2 tap the chest), 60 (break arms in 1 shot), and 80 (1 tap chest).
What we can derive from this is Magnum buckshot can kill with one pellet to the head. Igolnik won’t 2 tap. T45 will break arms in 1 shot so you can flinch people. M80, LPS, and 7N1 will 1 tap to the chest.
You should really derive your own conclusions about the ammo, this is just what I use.
T45 for 7.62×39 for 70 rubles (PS isn’t a tracer but ps costs more and won't 1 shot arms)
PP for 5.45×39 for 152 rubles
M855A1 for 5.56 for 191 rubles(yes this is an anti-lvl 4 ammo, but m856a1 costs more than this)
SP-5 for 9×39 for 142 rubles
FMJ for 4.6 for 134 rubles
SS190 for 5.7 for 147 rubles
M80 for 7.62×39 for 237 rubles (also goes through lvl 4, there’s just no lower tier ammo)
LPS for 7.62x54R for 189 rubles (I just use 7n1 tbh)
M855A1 for 5.56 for 191 rubles
M80 for 7.62×51 for 237 rubles
7n1 for 7.62x54R for 322 rubles
Sp6, 7.62×39 BP, and AP SX cost too much to be considered for such an irrelevant threshold. Though its more relevant than previous patches due to the abundance of lvl 4. Though they’re usually pretty damaged.
5.45×39 BS for 554 rubles
The meta is just 5.45 BS or pay out the ass for sub-par return on investment.
5.56 995 for 800 rubles
9×39 BP is trade only, usually 1,000 rubles on the market
Not sure how much m61 costs yet, not worth it regardless and m62 is the same story.