Weapon modding made easy for newcomers

The weapon modding in EFT is hands down the most complex weapon modding system in any game on the market. But at the same time it can be extremely intimidating due to the sheer number of weapon mods in the game, that is in the hundreds if not north of a thousand.

This guide is more focused on a low level player experience overwhelmed by the sheer abundance of stuff. While it becomes substantially easier when you unlock the flea market and especially the workstation, but it's much more efficient when you know what to do and you're not figuring stuff out by trial and error.

Before we get to business, we need to establish a bit of theory. You don't need to memorize every single part in the game, but you do need to know how to recognize it's purpose.

To start off we will focus on rifles as they're the most complex in terms of modding and will provide you with skills that will be transferable to other weapons in the game.

To get a nice baseline for modding in the game let's focus on two gun patterns – AR's and AK's as they are the most complex in terms of modding.

AR pattern guns cover not only Assault Rifles like the M4A1 or HK-416, but also Designated Marksman Rifles (DMR's) like the RSASS or SR-25 or even submachine guns like the MPX.

AK pattern guns cover not only a variety of AK's in all varieties of calibers – 7.62, 5.45, 5.56 and even the civilian 366 TKM, but also the DMR's like the SVD-S and submachine guns like the PP-19 or Saiga-9.

  1. Lower Receiver – this is is where the main gun mechanism with the trigger, firemode selector. It's the main base of the gun. This is also where we attach the pistol grip.
  2. Charging Handle – used to manually cycle the bolt. Don't worry about them at all, they don't affect anything beside ergonomics.
  3. Upper Receiver – The second most important part of the gun. Here is where we can mount our scopes, attach our handguard and barrel and feed the magazine.
  4. Barrel – these can be interchange to adjust to our needs. For example longer barrels provide more recoil reduction, but at the cost of ergonomics or viability in CQC. Some handguards are only compatibile with certain barrels and vice versa.
  5. Muzzle device – here we have all of your flash hiders, compensators and suppressors.
  6. Gas block – a vital part that's used to carry the exhaust gasses back to the receiver to cycle the bolt. Modding wise we have only a few viable options, but a bit more on that later.
  7. Handguard – this is where we can attach our front grip, lasers or canted sights. Different harnguards also offer different perks like ergonomics, recoil reduction
  8. Buffer tube and stock – Only the buffer tube is a necessary element of the gun, but the stock provides a massive recoil recuction so you'll always want to have some sort of stock on your gun. Some stocks also offer an ergonomics boost.
  9. Pistol grip – vital part, only impacting ergonomics.
  10. Magazine – different magazines have different ergonomics impacts and other modifiers as reload speed.

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These were the AR pattern rifles, but how do AK's differ? In simple terms, while the base of the gun for AR's was the lower receiver, in AK's the receiver, charging handle and barrel are all one part. There is also no differentiation for lower and upper receivers. Everything else is roughly the same.

Let's go over that:

  1. Gun base (barrel, receiver and charging handle) – main gun mechanism
  2. Gas block – vital part similar to AR pattern guns, but with one caveat – there are gas block and handguard combos available!
  3. Pistol Grip – same as for AR
  4. Handguard – same as for AR.
  5. Dust cover – first big difference, this part is optional and the gun will work without it, but will lower your ergonomics
  6. Stock – same in principle as AR but with a small difference. Contrary to AR rifles, some AK's have side foldable stocks.
  7. Muzzle device – same as for AR

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Aside from that we also have an assortment of other weapons that have less complex modding capabilities like Pistols, Shotguns, SMGs, Sniper Rifles and Carbines, but those don't benefit as much from modding as rifles.

Pistol modding typically involves suppressing it, adding a flashlight and adding a compact red dot on top of it. Much the same for shotguns although the stock versions are good enough most of the time.

SMGs offer a little more with the addition of front grips. Sniper rifles and carbines in some cases have different chasis but that's more of a late game gimmick.

There are two essential parameters that change the most in the process of modding a gun – recoil and ergonomics. There are also other like sighting range, accuracy and muzzle velocity, but they are more inherent to the gun itself and changes are negligable.

Recoil is self explanatory but ergonomics might be a bit confusing. In short ergonomics influence:

  1. Speed of aiming down sights
  2. Amount of noise during aiming down sights
  3. Stamina drain during aiming down sights.

Pro Tip #1 – The inspect window is your friend.

Every single item in the game can be inspected which will give you a movable window with a 3D model of the part, context buttons, attachment options, stats & info and lastly a description. There's also a cool feature which shows you which guns a given item is compatible with, however it only shows the ones that you have in your possesion (both in raid and in stash!).

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Additionally we have to note that the caliber of a given gun is marked in the top right corner of the gun box:

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Modding a gun!

To mod a gun in Escape from Tarkov you have two options:

  • Directly through the inventory – works only for adding stuff onto your gun and if the gun has a spare slot, just drag an attachment and drop it onto the gun. This also works for other standalone pieces of gear, i

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  • Through the inspect window – if you want to take something off, you need to use the Inspect window which contains a bottom section with every attachment mounted on the gun.

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This is also available in raid, but limited to attachments that are actually moddable in-raid, everything else will be grayed out. Typically the only moddable parts are muzzle devices, stocks, scopes, sights and tactical devices.

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  • Through the modding screen – available only when you unlock the Workbench in your hideout.

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  • Through the preset screen – also available after you unlock your workbench.

The main difference between the modding screen and preset screen is that the modding screen shows only parts that are in your stash, while the preset screen allows you to see all compatible parts that are known to you (as in, you have examined).

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This is something that you'll want to unlock as soon as you can. However, until you get access to the flea market, it's usefulness will be severely limited.

—- Sights —-

First thing you'd want to do when you get a gun in EFT is probably to put on a reddot so you're not forced to use iron sights. For that you have two options:

  • Picatinny rails – found mostly in western weapons but also in russian ones

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  • Dovetail mounts – found only in selected russian weapons.

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If you want to mount a sight on a picatinny rail, it's simple. Just slap it on the weapon and you're good to go! But if we want to do the same thing for an AK, we need either an additional mount or a scope that's already designed to utilize the dovetail mount like the PSO 1, USP-1 4x, Cobra EKP-8-02 or OKP-7 (Dovetail))

There is a wide array of rails for dovetail mounts: Axion Cobra, Pilad , B-13 or the B-13V among other. None of them however are available to you in the beginning, but it's good to look of for them when looting.

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There's also the option to put sights on railed dust covers, the most popular one being the Bastion dust cover, commonly found in crates and scavs. There are 3 other ones, but they're uncommon and available late in the game. To put one on you have to remove the default dust cover and the rear sights.

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In terms of choice it's really up to personal preference. In the beginning every sight is an upgrade over irons, but as you progress through the game so experiment!

The most popular red dot, by far, is the PK06 due to it's slim frame and clear sight. One of the most often spawning reddots is the P1X42 which is also quite decent.

Somewhere sitting in the middle we have Assault scopes which combine long and close range capability like the ELCAN SpecterDR 1x/4x Scope or the Valday PS-320 1x/6x Scope. They're typically, directly mounted onto the rail, with the exception of the Trijicon ACOG scopes which require an additional mount, but also are compatible with the AR Carry Handle !

In terms of long range scopes, the PSO family of scopes and the USP-1 is your best bet at low levels as it's available at Prapor LL1. In terms of proper optics they come in 3 ring mount variants:

Then we have our special scopes like thermals and nightvision scopes but I wouldn't bother with them for now. The thermals don't spawn in raid, the NSPU-M is meme-level trash and the Vulcan requires an additional mount available at Jaeger LL1.

Lastly, we have the mosin PU 3.5x scope, but it requires two aditional mounts available at Prapor LL2 and fits only on the regular Mosin variant (not on the Infantry or Sawed off versions).

Pro tip #2 – Change that gas block!

Let's say you find an ADAR or an M4, put a sight on it and realize that there's this pesky front sight in the way.

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The problem is that the front sight is combined with the gas block, but luckly it's an easy fix – you just have to replace the frontsight/gas block with the MK12 Low Profile Gas Block.

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It will also be necessary when you replace any of the handguards, speaking of which…

—- Handguards —-

Now let's say you want to put a frontgrip, laser or flashlight on your gun – for that you'll need to have a railed handguard. These come in two forms: integrally railed and modular. Modular handguards require additional, sometimes exotic, additional mounts to allow you to put on attachments. There are also mixed ones that have a rail for sights, lasers or flashlights but require a mount for a grip.

How to identify them? Just open them up in the inspect menu and rotate around.

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The most commonly used ones are the M-LOK guides which fit on the biggest amount of handguards. However, to make matters worse, they come in different lengths which limits what they can be used for. A 4.1 in guide can be used for a foregrip only, while a 2.5 inch can be used only for lasers and flashlights. They're available at LL2 Mechanic, so quite advanced into the game.

The earliest available handguard mounts are the Vltor CASV keymod mounts, unlocked at LL2 Peacekeeper, but they have a limited comatibility.

With that in mind, you should be on the lookout for handguards with integrated rails. Even if you gain access to the flea market a lot of them come with an inflated price tag.

That said, handguards such as the aforementioned B-10M , CAA RS47 should be your prime interest when it comes to AK platform weapons. Sometimes you can also find the Aggressor, which is a top tier handguard.

It also has to be mentioned that these handugards (and handguard-gas block combos) allow you to mount Red dot sights! However this is only true for AK-pattern handguards as

For AR's like the M4A1, TX-15 DML or ADAR 2-15 you basically have only the option of the Daniel Defence RIS series – RIS II FSP 9.5 or RIS II 12.25. There's also the KAC RIS available at Peacekeeper LL2.

All other require additional mounts, but out of those the LVOA-S and LVOA-C are of interest as they use the Vltor CASV keymod mounts.

Similar systems like the HK-416, MPX, RSASS, SR-25 or even the SA-58 already come with their own proprietary handguards and (with a few minor exceptions) are not interchangable! The stock versions of the HK-416, MPX and the short SA-58 already come with railed handguards and only the higher tier ones require additional mounts. Also, if you happen to hit the jackpot and loot a TX-15, these already come with attached mounts.

To wrap it up, here's an example of a modded AR handguard with a canted backup sight, laser pointer and a front grip. (yes! individual parts also have their own individual sub inspection screens!)

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As we can see the front grip (Shift) can be mounted only on the 4.1in M-LOK mount, wwhile the TBL laser pointer goes onto the 2.5in M-LOK mount. In case of this handguard we can see 4 additional slots for 2.5in M-Lok mounts which allow us to place the laser pointer in multiple configurations – underneat, on the sides or the 45deg angle mounting point. Lastly we have the T-1 backup sight.

— Backup sights —

Almost a necessity when running a long range fixed zoom scope like the PSO. Backup canted sights require you to have a railed handguard and the NcStar MPR45 Backup mount available at Peacekeeper LL2, so pretty early. It does spawn occasionally but it's price gauged on the flea so beware.

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The backup mount only takes compact sights – the earliest one available to you is the Burris FastFire 3 Reflex Sight at Peacekeeper LL1.

— Front Grips —-

For front grips the formula is quite simple – it's better to have one, nevermind what it is. At minimum they add ergonomics, but some also provide a substantial recoil reduction.

I recommed checking out this followin cheat sheet made by u/platypus364:

Allmost all of them are interchangeable except the Hera CQR which only fits on selected rifles.

— Stocks —

Stocks serve the main function of providing a substantial recoil reduction boost, ranging roughly from 30 to 50%, so you'll always want to have a stock on your gun (some won't work without them!). Some also provide a boost to ergonomics.

Proprietary stocks are used only for one type of gun. Use the Inspect window extensively to find out.

Western fixed stocks are mostly found on the AR pattern rifles, the HK-416, RSASS, SR-25, SA-58, M1A SASS, but also on russian weapons like the RPK-16 and the TAPCO SKS chassis.

Most stocks need to be put on the buffer tube and they're interchangable for the most part with one exception – the Magpul PRS GEN2 stock that needs the COLT "A2" buffer tube. The GEN3 variants can go on other buffer tubes.

There are also stocks that combine the functionality of the buffer tube and stock into one Gen.4 , M7A1 PDW or the UBR GEN2.

I recommend you use the following cheat sheets for best AR stocks by u/platypus364: https://www.reddit.com/r/EscapefromTarkov/comments/g2misk/ar_stocks_cheat_sheet/.

Russian AK pattern fixed stocks go only on non-folding variants like AK-74 , AK-74N , AKM , AKMN , Vepr AKM/VPO-209 and Vepr KM/VPO-136.

The best ones are the Zhukov-S and the UAS stocks so be on the lookout for them.

All other AK variants, the PP-19, Saiga-9 and Saiga-12 all take folding stocks. By default, they have their own stocks but there are also two other superior options from Zenit, the PT-3 and PT-1 with the former being better by a hair and is also the top folding AK stock in the game. However, they need an additional buffer lock to be able to mount them, available at LL2 Skier: AK74/AK100 PT Lock.

Often times you're best off by putting on the Recoil pad, available at LL2 prapor, on the default gun stock which grants you a handsome -5% recoil reduction.

[ Side note start ]

To make matters slightly more complicated, we have two outliers in the form of our favorite AKS-74u and the AKS-74, that have a similar albeit different lock: AKS-74/AKS-74U PT Lock.

But that's not all. There's also the AKM/AK-74 PT Lock which allows us to mount the PT-1 stock on fixed stock AK variants!

But wait, there's even more! You can also put western style stocks on both fixed and folding AK pattern guns (except the Magpul PRS GEN2 ), but that's more of a 30+ Lvl gimmick offered at LL3 Mechanic. Still they ocasionally spawn on scavs so you might be on the lookout for those.

[ Side note end ]

Speaking of stocks it's worth to mention carbines and snipers. We've touched on them before and while for the most part modding is very limited and more prominent in late game progression.

However we can single out the SKS as it's an entry level weapon and does warrant some attention.

The SKS comes in two variants – the regular SKS and the hunting variant OP-SKS which has the ability to accomodate the Dovetail OP-SKS mount, which is essential if you want to use any long range scope.

The default stock chassis don't allow for any modding, but there are the Fab Defence UAS Stock which has a rail for a red dot and a tactical device or the Tapco stock which also has a red dot rail but also allows a front grip. You'll find the Tapco variant on scavs sometimes, and the UAS spawns in weapon crates.

Lastly, theres also the UTG SKS SOCOM Rail mount which allows you to mount a front sight or a flashlight. Just drag and drop (only off raid!) onto the SKS and you're done.

— Charging handles —

I wouldn't bother with them at all, they just provide a minor ergonomics boost.

— Pistol grips —

Aside from one exception, they only affect your ergonomics. As always, the Inspect window is your friend for compatibility. They're "nice to haves" but I wouldn't put prime focus on them in the beginning.

There are however pistol-stock combos for the AR's – one is the default ADAR 2-15 wooden stock and the other is the Hera Arms CQR pistol grip-stock.

There's also a pistol grip-buffet tube combo for the AS VAL.

— Magazines —

Magazines are very fragmented and in general there's little interchangeability between them. Most of them are proprietary, but there are some that are interchangeable, particularly the 5.45×39, 5.56×45 and 7.62×39 variants.

Magazines, aside from different capacities, have impact on ergonomics and magazine loading/reloading time. Typically bigger magazines are less ergonomic and take longer to load. As always, check the inspection window for stats.

Overall when it comes to charging handles, pistol grips and magazines, I wouldn't worry about them too much in the beginning stages of the game.

— Barrels —

Exchangeable barrels are mostly a feature of western rifles, DMRs and shotguns. Carbines and SMGs with the exception of the MPX come with only one barrel variant. Russian rifles (with the exception of the RPK-16) have the barrel fixed to the receiver.

Barrel length typically is proportional to recoil reduction at the cost of ergonomics. Shorter barrels are mostly utilized in CQC environments.

Some handguards for the AR platform will only work with specific barrels. Here it's best to use the Presets modding window as it can get somewhat confusing.

Barrels have decent per slot value and are always a worthy pickup.

— Muzzle devices —

Muzzle devices divide into 3 categories:

  • Muzzle adapters – In general they are neutral to your stats and are just ast their names suggest, adapters. In some cases they are necessary to even allow mounting of a proper muzzle break or silencer
  • Compensators/Muzzle breaks/Flashhiders – these are used to bring down your recoil, sometimes at a minor cost of accuracy and ergonomics. However some of them serve as adapters for suppressors on top of being compensators themselves.
  • Suppressors – they provide you with sound dampening and often recoil reduction, but at a – sometimes substantial! – cost of negative ergonomics.

All follow the same general theme of being bound to a particular caliber (or calibers), but there are some exceptions when it comes to threading. For example the AK-103 and AK-104 rifles have a different barrel threading than the AKM derivative rifles, but that can be bypassed by using the TT AKM adapter.

I wouldn't concern myself with adapters for now. A lot of them are virtually useless (i.e. thread protectors), some of them are just for variety (i.e. additional compatibility). The only few that are worth attention are the ONE Mount for Gemtech suppressors and the SVD-S Thr. adapter as it's the only way to mount a suppressor on the SVD-S.

Suppressors are always worth picking up and using. In the current Tarkov soundscape, suppressors are almost hollywood quiet and personally I never run without one. If you have none, a compensator will be fine. The inspection window descriptions should always give you an indication if it requires an adapter or matching muzzle break.

A good rule of thumb at the beginning is to keep suppressors matching to the gear you have available to you but sell the rest, particularly those that need an adapter.

— Tips for sub Level 10's —

Contrary to popular gospel, you're not limited only to SKS's and Pacas for the first 10 levels. Here are a few tips and tricks to get you started.

  • Use your scav whenever you can. Collect gear off fallen scavs, they'll often have decent armor and weapons you can use as a base for your next raid with mild investment. Reserve is the best map for scavving, but it has long queues and can be quite overwhelming. Interchange comes in at close second. Customs can be good if you avoid hot spots. I'd avoid Factory, it's a meatgrinder. Woods can be good if you're experienced but would avoid it in the beginning.
  • Weapon cases/crates are a great (albeit RNG bound) source of attachments, weapons and ammo, loot them whenever you encounter one.
  • Keep what you can use, sell the rest. Finding an RSASS might be cool, but you won't get much use of it when you don't have access to ammo and magazines.
  • Attachments are often worth more than guns. In terms of the moneymaking metagame, the value per slot is king. Picking up two 1-slot red dots will net you the same profit as an 8-10 slot AK.
  • Handguards and various railed mounts are great for stacking attachments – this is why people take mounts off shotguns, they can stack up to 3 flashlights/lasers in just one slot. Same can be done with handguards – on some of them you can put 3 lasers, a sight and a front grip.

— Tips for using the Linked Search function —

When you finally get access to the flea market, you're only bound by your wealth. There's a function called Linked Search to help you find compatible items.

While the feature is pretty self explanatory, searching can seem unreliable. The most important thing to note is that clicking Linked Search on an assembled gun, does not return the list of parts compatible with that particular gun. Instead it returns the list of parts compatible with that particular type's gun base!

So if you're looking for a matching muzzle device for that M4 you've just looted, you have to do a linked search on the barrel! If you want to change the handguard, you need to do a linked search on the upper receiver. And so on.

Here's a shortened cheat sheet to

  • Muzzle device – barrel (if exchangeable) or base gun
  • Front grip/tactical device – handguard (might need additonal mount)
  • Handguard – upper receiver or gas block (AK's)
  • Gas Block – barrel or base gun (AK's)
  • Charging handle – upper receiver or base gun (AK's)
  • Pistol grip, buffer tube, stock or stock adapter – lower receiver, base gun (AKs) or chassis (i.e Tapco SKS)
  • Recoil pad – stock

Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/EscapefromTarkov/comments/iwfj7d/weapon_modding_made_easy_for_newcomers/

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