Weapons in Anthem generally are at best a secondary damage source in most end game content. While it is possible to build around certain guns as a primary damage source, every javelin has a meta that will be significantly stronger than any build that can be made with weapons. That being said, there are some positives to most weapons, beyond being stat sticks. Although for the most part, you are going to be using them mainly for their stats.
All damage stats are based on a power level 80 legendary version. All impressions of the weapons are the opinions of the author, and may not exactly match your own, but this should serve as a good guide for which to try and which to avoid.
Upgraded Warden: Fires four-shot bursts. Every third weak point hit causes large fire explosions.
Divine Vengeance is an Assault Rifle that functions more like a Marksman Rifle, in that it shoots in 4 round bursts. If you are able to hit all 4 shots in an enemy weak point, it will trigger a fire explosion. However, both the damage from the bullet, as well as the fire explosion, are relatively weak.
Upgraded Defender: Standard-issue Freelancer rifle. Veteran's Furor: Hitting Elite enemies increases all elemental damage by 5% for 10 seconds. Stacks to 20.
Elemental Rage is the gun that every Storm main wants to have great rolls on. This is because the MW perk will allow you to increase your elemental damage by 100% if you maintain the buff. Ideal rolls would be jav damage in top left and bottom right, gear recharge in top right and elemental damage in bottom left. Elemental Rage also has a hidden bonus for harvesting materials, in that each Elemental Rage equipped will give you a 100% harvest bonus increase. So if you’re farming materials in freeplay, running double Elemental Rage gives you a 200% harvest bonus, on top of any other harvest inscriptions that you might have.
Upgraded Hammerhead: Hardest hitter in assault class. Ignites the target while on a hit-streak (5).
Ralner's Blaze is the probably the most used gun in the game. It is used most because the MW perk makes it a fire primer. It is the only gun that deals a fire prime, and one of the few that offer any kind of prime without running a specific component. The fire proc also applies a fire effect, which scales with weapon damage. So if you’re looking at inscriptions on your Ralner’s Blaze, a +250% weapon damage roll is a lot more valuable that a +250% physical damage roll, as the weapon damage will increase the Fire DoT, while the physical damage will not. For the other guns, physical damage and weapon damage are interchangeable.
Upgraded Guardian: Delivers a powerful three-shot burst. Raptor's Sense: While hovering, increases weak point damage by 235%.
Death From Above is hot, steaming garbage with a big weak point modifier bonus when hovering. Really only useful on a Storm, which is the class least equipped to do a weapon build.
Upgraded Anvil: Hits hard, with a slight kickback. Striker's Balance: Hits reduce recoil by 50%. Stacks to 2 for 20 seconds.
Hot, steaming garbage.
Upgraded Scout: Basic semi-automatic rifle. Has a 33% chance to deal large electric damage.
Thunderbolt of Yvenia was a part of the original Storm meta, which was a lightning build using Black Ice, Ponder Infinity and Mark of Wrath. Certain changes to the mechanics of the game made it so that Lightning was no longer optimal. Now it’s just a gun that will deal a little extra lightning damage every 3rd shot.
Upgraded Relentless: Most balanced gun in its class. When reloading, detonates a Combo explosion on primed targets in the immediate area.
Artinia's Gambit has a MW perk of detonating explosions when you reload that would be more useful if it had a decent radius. Magazine size of 100 makes it mainly useful in proc’ing Focused Freeze or Badge of Devastation.
Upgraded Sledgehammer: Slower rate of fire with best striking power. Marksman's Swiftness: Weak point hits increase weapon rate of fire by 10% for 10 seconds. Stacks to 10.
Cycle of Pain is the highest damage LMG. It’s MW perk that increases the rate of fire for weak point hits is also very useful because it’s normally a very slow firing gun. The small magazine capacity means that it tends to run out of ammo quickly when you have the MW perk fully proc’d.
Upgraded Havoc: Fastest rate of fire in class. Survivor's Balance: Last shot reduces recoil by 50% for the next 20 seconds. Stacks to 2.
Rate of fire on Renewed Courage is the only good thing about this weapon. Low damage, decent mag size. Again, good for proc’ing hit streak components, but otherwise to be avoided.
Pulse Accelerators use seal technology to generate destructive energy. Charges to fire a burst of energy projectiles.
Bad Omen is a Pulse Accelerator that shoots 5 pulses in succession. Charge time takes too long for how little damage it does. Listed RPM of 800 might be the biggest lie in the entire game. Seems to roll well as a stat stick, though. I’ve got one with double armor and another with double jav damage, but the gun itself is underwhelming.
Pulse Accelerators use seal technology to generate destructive energy. Fires an increasingly powerful stream of energy.
The lack of charge time and the increasing amounts of damage that the beam does makes Grave Digger my favorite pulse accelerator. 50 round magazine goes pretty quick, so finding a big damage roll with mag size is ideal. The damage does not keep ticking higher if you have a larger magazine- you only get 1 jump, but every shot you add to the magazine is another full damage hit.
Pulse Accelerators use seal technology to generate destructive energy. Fires an energy burst that explodes into smaller projectiles.
Rainmaker is basically a pulse accelerator version of a shotgun. If it could actually proc Acid Slugs I would try to find a lot more uses for it. It used to shoot 12 “pellets” which did very large amounts of damage, but apparently that was too OP, so they dropped it down to 6 pellets now. It still can do decent damage, but it’s not the boss killer that it once was. Listed damage is per pellet, so multiply by 6 for a good hit.
Volt Casters use seal technology to focus ambient electricity. Fires a lightning attack that jumps from enemy to enemy.
Flashfire has the best range of the Volt Casters, and the fact that it chains from enemy to enemy is nice. Main problem is that the damage dealt is low, and electric damage only does 50% to armor, which is where you need damage most often. No charge time is nice, and it’s good for stripping shields.
Volt Casters use seal technology to focus ambient electricity. Blasts a short-range lightning arc.
Jarra's Wrath is the best Volt Caster, as it does decent damage, covers a wide AoE, and can prime electric. The range is very minimal, so it requires that you get up close and personal, but with high damage can wipe out a mob of red bars if they’re clustered together. No charge time, which is nice. Will always have a special place in the hearts of anyone who played it when it originally came out and was the most OP item that the game has ever had. But it’s still useful even after they nerfed it with a patch.
Volt Casters use seal technology to focus ambient electricity. Calls down lightning on a specific location.
Lightning Rod is useful as a detonator if you really need one. Charge time is excessive for how little damage it does. Runs into the “Electric damage on armor” problem. I have one with 425% damage and I don’t use it on a single javelin, and haven’t since the first week that I got it.
Upgraded Scattershot: Standard-issue lancer shotgun. Reloading increases force and delivers bonus damage of 100% for 15 seconds. Stacks to 2.
MW perk on Papa Pump of increasing bonus damage is nice, although the base damage is quite low. Increased Force is tough to judge, and not particularly useful. Reloading can be a pain if you’re anxious and don’t let it get through a full reload when your “magazine” is empty. Really not likely to be used for damage, anyway. Damage is per pellet, with a total of 10 pellets.
Upgraded Constrictor: Holding the trigger focuses the sight. Hitting (8) shots in a single burst recharges shields by 35%.
Radiant Fortress has low damage and slow rate of fire, but the MW perk of regenerating shields is useful as a defensive tactic, especially if you are running Softened Blows. Given the right rolls, I would use this on certain builds, but I would never count on it for damage. Damage is per pellet, with a total of 10 pellets.
Upgraded Vengeance: Two-shell bursts hit hard. Scout's Advantage: Dashing increases this weapon's damage by 83.3% for 20 seconds. Stacks to 3.
I’ve never found Rolling Carnage particularly useful, but it’s one of the better ways to proc Badge of Devastation for Ranger, since you’re almost guaranteed to get 10 hits when you’re shooting 2 shells at a time. Reload time sucks, so you really want a lot of extra magazine size if you’re going to use it. From a base damage perspective, has been calculated to be the highest DPS gun in the game, but other guns are likely better once you have additional damage added onto base.
Blade Slingers charge a circular projectile with dynamic force. Launches a heavy blade that bounces between targets.
Razorwing has the lowest damage of all of the Blade slingers. The ability of the blade to bounce between targets would be nicer if it was a little smarter, or at least more predictable. I don’t believe there is a way to predict where the blade will bounce after it’s shot. Definitely the worst Blade Slinger.
Blade Slingers charge a circular projectile with dynamic force. Fires a barbed blade that inflicts ongoing shrapnel damage.
Riza’s Ripper is the blade slinger sniper rifle. The blade sinks into an enemy and then stays in them, doing additional damage as it rotates, before finally exploding. If you can get the blade to sink into a weak point, it can do some pretty serious damage. Charge time seems reasonable for how much damage can be done.
Blade Slingers charge a circular projectile with dynamic force. Launches experimental crystal projectiles across the immediate area.
Probably the best pure gun in the game. The blades that are shot by Shard Storm will travel through walls, enemies, and anything else in its way. It does good damage, and can wipe out entire mobs in a way that no other gun can touch. The charge time is pretty long, and it moves slowly, but it will do a lot of damage to anything in its path.
Upgraded Whirlwind: Combination of assault and sniper rifles. On a hit-streak (3), shots freeze the target.
Nice that Siege Breaker can freeze things, and good for taking down shields. But otherwise, nothing special. The MW perk makes it a better choice than most for a stat stick, but that’s about it.
Upgraded Devastator: Ammunition explodes on contact. Hitting weak points on enemies under a status effect will set off a chain combo.
Slow firing, with a big weak point modifier, and the ability to detonate combos. If you want to see how big a damage number you can do with a gun, Truth of Tarsis is the one to try. Best suited to an Interceptor running Elusive Talisman, to avoid the slow reload time. Damage per second in this case was calculated with both damage lines combined.
Upgraded Deadeye: Solid, balanced long-range rifle. Raptor's Sense: Hovering while firing increases weapon weak point damage by 185%.
Wyvern Blitz is a more practical sniper rifle than Truth of Tarsis, since there are multiple rounds in the magazine. The weak point bonus for hovering is nice, and can do decent damage with certain builds. Will probably do more practical DPS than any other sniper rifle, since you get multiple shots.
Upgraded Blastback: Handgun with solid striking force. Raptor's Deadeye: Hovering increases weapon damage by 200%.
The hover damage bonus on Avenging Herald can lead to some decent damage if you have a large damage version and are running a Storm. I’m not a fan of heavy pistols in general, as they are semi-automatic in nature, and don’t do a significant amount of additional damage compared to machine pistols to compensate for the significantly slower rate of fire.
Upgraded Barrage: Delivers an excellent rate of fire. Scout's Fury: Dashing increases weapon damage by 125% for 10 seconds.
Close Encounter itself is crap, but the MW perk makes it almost mandatory on a melee Interceptor, since it will increase melee damage as well, and you’re always dashing.
Upgraded Resolution: Fires a forceful, one-two punch. Demolisher's Fury: Hitting (2) enemy weak points quickly increases all weapon damage by 150% for 5 seconds.
The MW perk on Glorious Result only lasts for 5 seconds, and is not significant enough to try for when Close Encounter is an option. Gun itself is trash, like all Heavy Pistols.
Upgraded Trajectory: Longer range with lower rate of fire. Gambler's Wrath: When armor declines, weapon damage increases by 400% for 10 seconds.
MW perk on Retaliation of Garretus is not useful in any GM difficulty, as you’ll be dead before you can use it to kill anything, most likely. Could be useful if it was like Shock Treatment, in that it would proc anytime your armor takes damage, but seems to function more like Emergency Power, in that it only activates when suit health is critical, at which point a Machine Pistol is not going to save you, even with 400% extra damage.
Upgraded Fulcrum: High rate of fire and decent striking power. Striker's Savagery: Hitting an enemy at point-blank range increases weapon and melee damage by 135% for 5 seconds.
Unending Battle has the biggest damage increase available for a melee Interceptor, as the 135% weapon and melee damage from the MW perk double dip, giving you a total of 270% extra damage for 5 seconds. Perk says it activates when shooting an enemy from point blank range, but the actual range to trigger the perk seems to be medium (5-15 meters). Also a useful proc for Badge of Devastation if you have a better stat stick of this than Vassa’s Surprise.
Upgraded Hailstorm: The least accurate machine pistol, but also the fastest. On a melee hit, gain 100% ammo in the magazine.
Vassa's Surprise is in the running with Rolling Carnage as the optimal gun to proc Badge of Devastation. Highest RPM gun in the game, and the MW perk of refilling the mag with a melee hit is a nice combination with either Ranger melee weapon. Extra mag size and damage are preferred rolls.
Upgraded Torrent: Accuracy improves the longer you fire. Consumes two ammo per shot. Base magazine size is increased by 100% and base damage is increased by 100%.
In my personal opinion, Endless Siege is the most fun gun in the entire game. Takes a while to spool up and start firing, even compared to other autocannons, but once it does it feels like it might never stop. Base magazine size is 400 rounds, and with inscriptions and components that can be increased to over 1000 rounds. If you choose your targets wisely, you can go through an entire mission without having to reload, just by picking up ammo packs. Consuming 2 ammo per shot makes no sense.
Upgraded Cloudburst: Excellent rate of fire. Striker's Fury: Hitting enemies increases weapon damage by 16% for 5 seconds. Stacks to 10.
Rate of fire and MW perk of increasing damage on Fist of Stral are nice, but the magazine size is too small, and the reload time too long.
Upgraded Mauler: Heaviest hitter of the autocannons. Gambler's Wrath: When armor declines, all weapon damage increases by 225% for 10 seconds.
Upgraded Lurker: Manually detonates mines instead of tight-aiming. Hitting 2 enemies restores 25% armor.
Balm of Gavincus has a nice defensive perk, and manually detonating can help compensate for poor aim. Using this launcher requires a little more attention be paid than to any other gun after firing. Can do a decent amount of damage, but I’ve always found the manual detonation to be more annoying than useful.
Upgraded Bombardier: Grenades bounce before exploding. Victor's Bulwark: Defeating an enemy clears harmful status effects and boosts effect resistance by 75% for 10 seconds.
Any gun that has a MW perk requiring you to use it to kill something before it activates should be thrown in a dungeon and never let out.
Upgraded Aftershock: Grenade sticks to the enemy. Detonates an area acid effect on a small hit-streak.
Acid primes from a gun? Yes please. Sentinel's Vengeance damage itself is minimal, but this is probably the best gun option for any Colossus.