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The best Modern Warfare 3 guns to use in Season 1

Our picks for the nine best guns in Modern Warfare 3

A soldier firing a laser sighted weapon during a firefight in Modern Warfare 3 Image: Activision

There are a lot of candidates for the best guns in Modern Warfare 3, because all of the weapons in Modern Warfare 2 have been carried forward, alongside plenty of new ones.

Now the game has been out for a while and Season 1 is here, we have a better understanding of the meta. We’re focusing on the new weapons in Modern Warfare 3 here because for the most part, anything that was a strong weapon in Modern Warfare 2 has retained its power here, but the new guns are what everyone is using right now.

So no matter your playstyle, if you’re wondering which guns to focus on leveling up first, we’ve tested all of the new introductions to determine the best guns in MW3.

Modern Warfare 3 best guns to use in Season 1

The best weapons in Modern Warfare 3 are as follows:

  1. MCW (assault rifle)
  2. AMR9 (SMG)
  3. SVA 545 (assault rifle)
  4. RAM-7 (assault rifle)
  5. BAS-B (battle rifle)
  6. XRK Stalker (sniper rifle)
  7. Riveter (shotgun)
  8. Holger 554 (assault rifle)
  9. WSP Swarm (SMG)

We called it at the start and one month of playing has proved us right: the MCW is still the best gun in Modern Warfare 3. It’s the most jack-of-all-trades gun you’ll find as you can kit it out for long-range engagements — which our suggested attachments below are apt for — or to deal with enemies up close if needed.

However, if you want to primarily focus on close-quarters combat with the occasional ranged battle, opt for the AMR9 in second instead. The SVA 545 is also a great assault rifle, with the added bonus of firing its first two rounds almost simultaneously, but doesn’t quite have the recoil control the MCW offers. The new addition of the RAM-9 with Season 1 also decemates, but has fairly significant recoil.

The BAS-B and the XRK Stalker - the new sniper rifle - are even better options are long range, while the Riveter is the best shotgun and can decimate enemies up close. Finally, the Holger 556 is another solid assault rifle with the right attachment, while the WSP Swarm has proven itself to be the second best SMG, excelling when you’re really up close and personal.

(As an aside, for those returning from the beta, the guns which have been removed from our list are the Striker, Longbow, MTZ Interceptor, and MTZ-556, which don’t quite hold up to the above at launch. We’ve also removed the Katt-AMR — the XRK Stalker is simply a better sniper rifle.)

Let’s go through our updated selections, one-by-one.

1. MCW (assault rifle)

The MCW in Modern Warfare 3 Image: Activision via Polygon

Kicking things off is the MCW, which is unlocked at rank 44. Modern Warfare 3 doesn’t have real weapon names, so the MCW is best known as the ACR from previous installments. Which is all to day, the MCW is a very reliable assault rifle that is fully automatic, with consistent range, recoil, and damage.

Essentially, with the right attachments, the MCW becomes a laser beam. Any of the heavy barrels do the job — we’d recommend the 16.5” MCW Cyclone Long Barrel — along with any vertical grip, though we found the Bruen Pivot to be the best (which requires leveling the SVA 545 to level 12 first). As for the rest of the attachments, an optic is always a good shout for enhanced visibility, alongside any combination of muzzle/stock/rear grip that assist with recoil control and bullet velocity.

For more on how to kit out this weapon, see our dedicated MCW loadout page.

2. AMR9 (SMG)

Unlocked as the very final gun through standard progression at rank 55, the AMR9 is a direct competitor to the MCW, along with being the best SMG in the game. How, I hear you ask? Essentially, you can kit it out to be an absolute monster at range - seriously, it’s essentially an assault rifle with our best AMR9 loadout - or you can utilize it up close. The two essential attachments for the former are the Nimbus-6 Integrated Suppressor barrel and 9mm High Grain ammunition, both of which are unlocked at the final two levels of the gun, so it does take a while to get to.

Until that point, you can play around with utilizing the AMR9 however best you see fit. The L4R Flash Hider and TA Venom Stock are two solid replacements while you’re leveling it up, or you can replace everything and go for an up-close-and-personal build with ease.

3. SVA 545 (assault rifle)

The SVA 545 in Modern Warfare 3. Image: Activision via Polygon

The SVA 545 is the first assault rifle you’ll unlock in the game, so while you’re grinding for the MCW and AMR9, it’s the one you want to be using. As soon as you unlock create-a-class you can equip it, and it comes with one very interesting perk: the first shot fires two bullets, almost simultaneously. This isn’t just the first shot of the magazine though; if you tap fire, you can ensure every shot is a twofer. It’s not overpowered or anything, but it is a nifty trick if you can get the hang of it.

As is always the case with assault rifles, you’ll want to manage the recoil on this, so we recommend an underbarrel grip such as the VX Pineapple, a barrel attachment that can improve the range and damage, and other attachments that support recoil management. It’s one of the only guns in the game with decent iron sights though, so you don’t need to stick an optic on it.

Check out our best SVA 545 loadout with our dedicated guide.

4. RAM-7 (assault rifle)

A menu shows the best attachments and loadout for the RAM 7 in MW3. Image: Sledgehammer Games/Activision via Polygon

As mentioned in the intro, the RAM-7 is a new assault rifle introduced in Season 1. It kicks like a mule but deals some serious damage. As such, you don’t want to kit it out for extremely long range, but it is one of the best choices at short to mid range for an assault rifle. A barrel or muzzle attachment that ideally silences the gun and helps with damage at range is key.

Alongside this, we recommend putting on an extended magazine thanks to how quickly the gun fires, then aiming to strike a balance between mobility, handling, and damage for the rest.

Tweak the attachments until you find the exact fit that works for you, or check out our guide to the best RAM-7 loadout in MW3.

5. BAS-B (battle rifle)

The BAS-B in Modern Warfare 3 Image: Activision via Polygon

All the weapons in this list are fairly similar: fully automatic guns that are best at varying ranges. The BAS-B is no different. The first battle rifle on the list, this is the gun you want to switch to if our MCW build above still doesn’t have enough range for you. It doesn’t fire quite as quickly as the MCW, but each bullet packs way more of a punch, and once you have some recoil-managing attachments on there, you can put a longer-range optic on it such as one of the 2.5x options.

When you’re in the opening levels of using the BAS-B though, we have just a few recommended attachments. The Bruen Venom Long Barrel is a no-brainer thanks to the range it adds, and the 30-round mag — or the 45-round once you unlock it — ensures you can mow down multiple enemies without needing to reload. We’d also recommend the Ravage-20 Heavy Stock, which you unlock once the BAS-B has reached level seven.

For more on how to kit out this weapon, see our dedicated BAS-B loadout page.

6. XRK Stalker (sniper rifle)

The XRK Stalker sits over a black background in MW3. Image: Sledgehammer Games/Activision via Polygon

With its introduction in Season 1, the XRK Stalker has taken the crown from the Katt-AMR to be the best sniper rifle in Modern Warfare 3, and that’s thanks to its impressive damage and mobility, making it the prime choice for those quick-scopers among you.

Your goal needs to be to improve the ADS speed, re-chambering speed, and sprint to fire speed so you can pull up your gun and one-shot enemies with ease. To this end, we’d recommend having the No Stock stock attachment, alongside the Light Bolt and FT Match Grip. You should also equip an optic that isn’t quite so zoomed in as the default, as you’re unlikely to be sniping at range.

For more on how to spec this gun, check out our guide to the best XRK Stalker loadout in MW3.

7. Riveter (shotgun)

The Riveter in Modern Warfare 3. Image: Activision via Polygon

If you want to rock a shotgun, look no further than the Riveter. This is fully automatic, so while it doesn’t output quite as much damage as some others, it’s the best at clearing multiple enemies at once. This is an armory unlock, so you must activate the challenge, then complete daily challenges to get access to it from level 25 onwards.

Since you’ll likely be sprinting round, clearing as many enemies as possible up close, you want attachments to match that. Focus on improving the sprint to fire speed, hipfire spread, aim down sight speed, and recoil where possible. The FTAC Grimline Laser, Demo D50 Buffer Tube, and Phantom Grip are all great for this. We’d also recommend the SA Draven-20 Long Barrel for extra range, as there’s nothing worse than engaging in a fight with a shotgun but not having the range necessary.

8. Holger 556 (assault rifle)

The Holger 556 in Modern Warfare 3 Image: Activision via Polygon

Finally, we have the Holger 556 which is unlocked at level 37. Now, to be frank, there’s not a whole lot special about the Holger; it’s a reliable, fully automatic assault rifle that isn’t quite as good as the MCW or SVA 545. However, if you remember the G36C from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, this is very reminiscent of that.

As always, you’ll want to focus on recoil management and damage output when kitting out the Holger. Find barrel, muzzle, and underbarrel attachments that assist with that, then stick your optic of choice on and you’ll be good to go. It has a higher base damage but slower fire rate than both the MCW and SVA, so bear that in mind when finding the best attachments.

9. WSP Swarm (SMG)

The WSP Swarm SMG hovers over a black background in a menu for the best guns in MW3. Image: Activision via Polygon

Finally, we have the WSP Swarm, the second SMG on our list of the best guns in Modern Warfare 3. This gun is seriously powerful, but as you’d expect given its machine pistol form, it has a boatload of recoil. This means it suits a very aggressive style of play, and while the Akimbo attachment may be tempting to dual-wield hip fire these bad boys, we’re going for something a little more reliable.

Your entire aim should be to reduce the recoil while also not hindering the mobility too much, so look for muzzle and/or barrel attachments that strive toward that goal. Much like the RAM-7 above, this has a very fast rate of fire, so you can’t go wrong with an extended magazine either. You definitely don’t need an optic though, as the iron sights are absolutely fine and to be honest, you’ll often find yourself hip firing — if you can reduce the hip fire spread with any attachments, even better.

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