The Fatalis has been released, and all I can say is wow. There’s no question about it — the new weapons and armor wipe the floor with everything else. I can’t tell if I’m more impressed with the truly broken armor or disappointed by the fact that such a powerful all-purpose build makes more creative and varied builds a bit… obsolete.

I know I tend to recommend the meta in these guides, and for good reason — y’all want the best weapons and armor, and I’ll give them to you even as I recommend playing around with your builds. At this point, though, you might as well just use the Fatalis armor for everything! If you can beat him, that is. Yikes.

At least we have the Fun Fright Fest to keep our spirits up as we continue with our guides! This week, we’re looking at the Heavy Bowgun and some of the builds you can pursue. As always, we’ll start with a few baseline weapons and skills that will be beneficial all-around, then dive into some examples that build off this baseline in unique ways. Don’t worry — I won’t be recommending exclusively Fatalis builds. It’s a tough fight, and I don’t blame you if you’re not quite ready to tackle it.

Best Heavy Bowgun in MHW: Baseline Build

To begin, let’s consider the various pros and cons of the Heavy Bowgun. It’s one of the most potent weapons in the game, offering fantastic damage and range in equal parts. It packs a punch with various ammo types, including two unique options (Wyvern and Cluster) that land even heavier hits on a cooldown basis. Depending on the ammo type you choose, the HBG can deal the highest damage of any weapon type in the game.

This power comes at a price, though. The HBG is slow in pretty much every aspect — your mobility is low when your weapon’s drawn, you’re stuck with a sluggish sheath time, and your dodge (while pretty impressive in terms of distance) is slow in execution. You can make up for this lack of speed by equipping Shield mods to help you guard (more on that later), but it can be a pain if you’re trying to mod your weapon for other purposes. You also have to supply your own ammo on hunts.

When playing the HBG, it’s crucial to capitalize on its high damage while taking this slower speed into account. Utilizing skills that increase your damage and is a must, but don’t forget that you actually have to live through fights to take advantage of them.

We’ll get into specific skill recommendations later — for now, let’s look at the best Heavy Bowguns Iceborne has to offer.

Weapons

Best Heavy Bowgun 3

There are a lot of qualities to keep in mind when choosing a Heavy Bowgun. In addition to general weapon features (damage, affinity, decoration slots, etc.), you’ll also want to watch out for your HBG’s available ammo types, special ammo, deviation level, and attachments.

I’ll go into a bit more detail on attachments later, but the main takeaway from all of this is that you want to pay close attention to your weapon’s capabilities before investing resources into it. HBGs are highly customizable, so think about the role you want to play during the hunt and choose your attributes accordingly.

All that said, certain HBGs stand out among the rest. When talking about pure DPS, you can’t go wrong with any of the following:

WeaponDamageAffinityDeviationModsSpecial Ammo
Vor Buster510-20%High5Wyvernsnipe
Safi’s Cannon3755%High5Wyvernsnipe/heart
Demonlord Beastbuster45010%Low5Wyvernsnipe

Using Vor Buster with Spread 3 ammo is widely considered the MHW best Heavy Bowgun for spread and DPS. When paired with the right skills, mods, and weapon augments (not to mention the Fatalis set bonus), you’re guaranteed about 50 damage per shot. Your results may vary if you decide to go with a different ammo type, so be sure to keep an eye on your weapon stats!

If you’re not yet able to get the Fatalis HBG, any of the options in the Safi series will ensure you still deal pretty serious damage. Using the Safi Burstcannon with Spread 3 ammo still offers high DPS despite not being the meta, and it’s got the added benefit of awakened abilities.

If you’re going up against the Fatalis itself, the Demonlord Beastbuster with Sticky 3 ammo won’t do you wrong. It’s still a tough fight, but you can make it a little easier on yourself in the long run!

Attachments

Attachments (also known as mods) are a complicated but crucial element of the Heavy Bowgun. They’re used to further customize your weapon and improve your overall build, and they’re extremely specific — the mods you choose will depend not only on the base stats of your HBG, but on the specific type of ammo you’re using.

What are the best mods for Heavy Bowgun MHW? In truth, it depends on your loadout.

Your mods should serve to improve the strengths of your weapon and help correct the weaknesses. The key to efficient modding is knowing what to prioritize — improving your long-range damage, for example, will end up being pretty useless if your deviation is so high that you can’t reliably hit the monster.

Pay close attention to your weapon’s stats, your ammo types, and the role you want to play in a hunt before modding your HBG. There’s no one-size-fits-all mod, so I can’t provide any general recommendations here — instead, I’ll list a few helpful mods in each of the example builds when we get to those.

Skills

Before we get into that, though, let’s look at the best skills for Heavy Bowgun MHW! As I mentioned before, the best HBG skills are ones that boost your damage and work around your slow movement speed.

Starting out, you can increase your attack power by investing in skills that specifically benefit the ammo type you’re using. ArtilleryNormal ShotsPiercing Shots, and Spread/Power Shots are all good for boosting the ammo type of your choice, making them excellent options for improving your overall DPS. Special Ammo Boost is useful for similar reasons, as it increases the attack power of your special ammo.

Free Elem/Ammo Up increases your HBG’s loading capacity. The increase itself will depend on the size of your original magazine and the type of ammo you’re using — certain ammo types won’t be affected unless you max out the skill. Be sure to double-check your build to make sure you’re getting your boost in the right places!

Focus decreases your special ammo’s cooldown and charge times, meaning that you can swap between your standard attacks and your wyvern attacks much faster.

Evade Extender and Evade Window will also be welcome additions to your build, as they’ll help you better avoid incoming attacks. The Heavy Bowgun is still pretty slow, though, so investing in skills like Health BoostDivine Blessing, and Guard to help you survive inevitable hits is a good idea.

From here, you can fill your slots with any of the affinity-boosting skills I usually recommend to help increase your damage. Here are a few helpful options:

  • Agitator (increases affinity when the monster is enraged)
  • Attack Boost (increases attack power, increases affinity at later levels)
  • Critical Boost (increases attack power on critical hits)
  • Critical Eye (increases affinity)
  • Weakness Exploit (increases affinity when attacking weak spots)

That’s it for our baseline MHW best Heavy Bowgun build! Now that we’re equipped with the basics, let’s look at a few example builds that expand on this foundation.

Best HBG Build: DPS

Best Heavy Bowgun 1

Starting off, we’re going to look at a DPS build that uses Fatalis armor. I promise this will be the only build that relies on so many pieces of Fatalis, but I can’t deny that it’s simply the best Heavy Bowgun armor MHW when it comes to dealing massive amounts of damage.

EquipmentArmor
Vor Buster (Spread 3)Dragonhead β+
Challenger Charm VDragonhide β+
Temporal Mantle+Dragonclaws β+
Rocksteady Mantle+Dragonbarbs α+
Kulve Taroth’s Wrath β+

Since we’re using four pieces of Fatalis armor, we benefit from both aspects of the Fatalis Legend set bonus — Inheritance and Transcendence. Inheritance removes the level caps of all skill secrets, giving us access to the max levels of skills like Agitator and Divine Blessing without the need for other set bonuses or Awakened Abilities. Transcendence has two effects — it boosts health and stamina at the beginning of a fight or after fainting and grants us True Razor Sharp/Spare Shot.

There are some pretty useful skills within the Fatalis pieces themselves. Even without the boots, we get a few points into Critical Eye, Evade Window, and Weakness Exploit. The Kulve Taroth legs also give us Critical Boost.

We’re using the Challenger Charm V to give us a handful of points into Agitator, making our total skill list (before decorations) as follows:

  • Agitator 5
  • Critical Boost 2
  • Critical Eye 3
  • Evade Window 1
  • Stun Resistance 3
  • Weakness Exploit 3

One of the best parts of the Fatalis armor is the number and size of the decoration slots. There are many places to slot in our baseline skills, so feel free to play around with that as your jewels become available! I recommend the following skills to round things out and boost your DPS:

  • Attack Boost
  • Divine Blessing
  • Evade Window
  • Evade Extender
  • Free Elem/Ammo Up
  • Focus
  • Health Boost
  • Mind’s Eye/Ballistics
  • Spread/Power Shots
  • Quick Sheath

Now, because the weapon mods are also an essential part of your build, I’d like to recommend some good options for this set. The Vor Buster has some cripplingly high recoil, so I recommend investing in a few Recoil Suppressors. To boost your overall damage, I also suggest Close Range Up (for boosting your damage when shooting from a shorter range) and Special Scope (to increase your damage at supercritical range).

Best HBG Build: Ice

It’s worth noting that the Heavy Bowgun isn’t the best weapon for dealing element damage, but it’s fun to play around with new approaches. If you’d like to try out an element build but don’t want to sacrifice too much damage, this is the build for you.

EquipmentArmor
Kjárr Assault “Ice” (Freeze)Safi Crested Crown β+
Awakening Charm IIISafi Crested Chest β+
Temporal Mantle+Safi Crested Vambraces β+
Rocksteady Mantle+Safi Crested Belt β+
Safi Crested Boots β+

Our justification for using the Safi’jiiva armor is pretty much the same as it’s always been — it’s got an awesome set bonus! True Dragonvein Awakening gives us a boost to element damage and affinity as long as our weapon is drawn. This pairs well with the Kjárr HBG’s innate Critical Element skill, as it gives us a higher chance of landing critical hits that deal increased ice damage.

The Safi armor gives us a few points into Evade Window and Critical Boost. The Awakening Charm III maxes out Free Elem/Ammo Up for us, bringing our skill list to the following:

  • Blight Resistance 2
  • Critical Boost 3
  • Critical Element
  • Evade Window 3
  • Free Elem/Ammo Up 3

For decorations, we’ll want to slot in a few more skills from our baseline build. Try to max out the affinity skills where you can, as we don’t have a lot of innate affinity to work with. I recommend the following skills:

  • Agitator
  • Critical Eye
  • Divine Blessing
  • Focus
  • Health Boost
  • Ice Attack
  • Resentment

As far as mods are concerned, I recommend the Power Barrel. Since Freeze ammo relies on piercing, this attachment will increase the tick rate and help you deal more damage. The Special Scope is another helpful addition, and you can spend the rest of your available mods on Reload Assists.

Best HBG Build: Wyvernheart

Best Heavy Bowgun 2

Have you ever dreamt of taking down a massive dragon with a machine gun? Have I got the HBG build for you! To get the effect, we’re going to focus on dealing damage with Wyvernheart special ammo. Like other meme builds, it’s designed more for fun and creative gameplay than consistent DPS — consider keeping this one to solo hunts or friend groups, rather than online multiplayer.

EquipmentArmor
Rajang DestroyerSafi Crested Crown β+
Fury Charm VBrachydium Mail β+
Temporal Mantle+Safi Crested Vambraces β+
Rocksteady Mantle+Brachydium Faulds β+
Safi Crested Boots β+

For this set, we’re combining Safi’jiiva and Raging Brachydios armor. Two pieces of Safi will give us the Dragonvein Awakening set bonus, and two pieces of Raging Brachy will provide us with Agitator Secret. If you want to improve on this armor set, you can replace the Brachy pieces with Fatalis — Inheritance will give us the same effect as Agitator Secret with additional skill cap removals and some better decoration slots.

We’re here mostly for the set bonuses, but we still get a few useful skills from the armor pieces in question. The Safi pieces will give us a few points into Critical Boost along with Blight Resistance and Evade Window, and Brachy will nearly max out Agitator even before decorations.

We’ll use the Fury Charm V for Resentment, which brings our skill list to the following:

  • Agitator 5
  • Blight Resistance 1
  • Critical Boost 2
  • Evade Window 1
  • Resentment 5

Since this set relies on doing a lot of damage at once (and using Clutch Claw on cooldowns), there are a few skills you’ll want to prioritize when slotting in decorations:

  • Agitator (max out)
  • Attack Boost
  • Critical Eye
  • Special Ammo Boost
  • Spread/Power Shots
  • Weakness Exploit

For mods, we’ll want to boost our damage as much as possible for those brief but powerful attacks. Equipping the Wyvernheart Mod is a must, and the Special Scope will help you do even more damage at supercritical range. From there, you can fill your attachment slots with Close Range Up to improve your damage further.

The Hunt Begins

That’s it for our Heavy Bowgun build guide — thanks for reading! With this being such a customizable weapon, I’m eager to see how all of you have constructed your sets. Feel free to leave a comment about your favorite way to play the HBG!

Happy hunting!

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