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Fallout 76: Best Heavy Weapons and How to Build Around Them

In Fallout 76, there are a LOT of different weapons for you to base your build around. From assault rifles to shotguns, to sniper rifles, there is no shortage of powerful tools for you to cause some chaos with. One of the most powerful weapon types in Fallout 76 is non-other then heavy weapons. In fact, heavy weapons are so strong that many Fallout 76 meta-builds are centered around using them.

That’s why in today’s article, we’ll be going over and ranking the seven best heavy guns in Fallout 76 and how to create a build revolving around them. Let’s get started!

How to Build Around Heavy Weapons in Fallout 76

Best Heavy Weapons Gunner Build in Fallout 76
Image: Bethesda Game Studios, Bethesda Softworks via HGG

If you are interested in doing a build centered around heavy weapons in Fallout 76, there are a few things you’ll need to have.

First, it’s essential to have the right SPECIAL stats. For a heavy weapons build, it’s recommended that your character possesses 15 strength since most perk cards affecting heavy weapons are governed by this attribute. Additionally, a high endurance is advised to provide you with more health and enhance your ability to tank damage, especially since mobility isn’t your strong suit.

When it comes to perk cards, acquiring the “Heavy Gunner” perk is a definite must. Each rank of this perk increases your damage with heavy weapons. Another highly beneficial perk card is “Lock And Load,” which reduces your reload time with heavy weapons. Both of these perks can be found in the strength category. Lastly, there’s “Gunsmith,” which slows down weapon degradation and allows you to craft more potent weapon mods. You can find this perk under intelligence when leveling up.

If you’re looking for more ways to maximize your heavy gunner build in the late game, allow us to recommend a couple of useful legendary perk cards. “Ammo Factory” is an excellent choice, as it enables you to craft +50% more ammo. This perk proves particularly advantageous if you utilize the Gauss Minigun, considering the high cost of its ammunition. Another noteworthy option is “Electric Absorption,” especially if you intend to utilize power armor alongside this build. This perk occasionally replenishes your fusion core upon being hit, among other benefits.

7 Best Heavy Weapons in Fallout 76, Ranked Good to Best

Note: For this article, we will NOT be including explosive heavy weapons or legacy weapons.

With that cleared up, let’s dive right into it!

Gatling Gun

Gatling Gun
Image: Bethesda Game Studios, Bethesda Softworks via HGG

Let’s start with the first entry on our list, the Gatling Gun. This Civil War era weapon stands out as a truly unique addition not found in any other Fallout game with its old-fashioned, slow-fire rate. Its distinctiveness and availability since launch has made it a widely recognized iconic weapon amongst the Fallout 76 community. Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to come across in Appalachia, making it readily available early on.

In terms of stats, this weapon is decent, though its slow firing rate may leave something to be desired. It can discharge 250 rounds before requiring a reload, a fairly standard capacity for a weapon of this nature. However, given its sluggish firing pace, the 250-round capacity seems somewhat excessive. While the Gatling Gun serves its purpose well in the early stages of the game, I recommend replacing it with a weapon boasting superior stats as soon as you have the opportunity.

One notable advantage of this weapon lies in its practicality when it comes to ammo consumption. Unlike most of the other heavy weapons on this list, it doesn’t devour ammunition at an alarming rate. This makes it an excellent choice for resource-conscious players who prefer a weapon that won’t constantly require crafting additional rounds. If you find yourself low on resources and seek a reliable firearm, the Gatling Gun is a great option to consider.

Pepper Shaker

Pepper Shaker
Image: Bethesda Game Studios, Bethesda Softworks via HGG

Moving on to the next weapon on our list, let’s take a look at the Pepper Shaker. Introduced in the Steel Reign DLC, this tool of mayhem is a truly unique hybrid, functioning as a cross between a heavy weapon and a shotgun. It has all the weight and high stats of a heavy gun, combined with the close-range damage of a shotgun.

In terms of DPS, the Pepper Shaker falls behind a majority of the other heavy weapons available in Fallout 76. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s bad at killing enemies – quite the opposite, in fact. While it doesn’t possess the same stopping power as other weapons, the Pepper Shaker excels at crippling enemy limbs. It’s best used as a secondary weapon in your loadout to cripple your target’s limbs before your switch back to your primary.

While I would normally hesitate to recommend the Pepper Shaker as an end-game weapon for a heavy gunner build, if you’re pursuing a shotgun-focused build, then this weapon becomes an absolute must-have. Its amazing for clearing out large groups of enemies at once. Additionally, the Pepper Shaker offers versatility through the choice of ammunition—shotgun shells, plasma cartridges, or fusion cells—allowing you to increase your damage output according to preference.

.50 Cal Machine Gun

.50 Cal Machine Gun
Image: Bethesda Game Studios, Bethesda Softworks via HGG

The .50 Cal Machine Gun is a another weapon completely unique to Fallout 76 and has been in the game since launch. This automatic weapon is based on machine guns from WWII, and it (unsurprisingly) uses .50-round ammunition.

This is probably the most versatile heavy weapon in Fallout 76, possessing no major downsides and functions with any kind of play style. The DPS is good, with a respectable fire rate and damage. Even better, it does not need to spin up before you can start raining lead on your enemies.

Additionally, the ammo is easy to craft, as .50 caliber rounds require only steel, lead, and gunpowder. You can even craft an Ultracite variant of this weapon. However, this is unsurprisingly more expensive, but it does up the damage on the weapon. If you have the Ammo Factory legendary perk we recommended earlier, then staying fully stocked on ammo should be no problem.

Gatling Plasma

Gatling Plasma - Best Heavy Weapons in Fallout 76
Image: Bethesda Game Studios, Bethesda Softworks via HGG

Moving onto our next spot, we have the Gatling Plasma. This energy-based heavy weapon has been in Fallout 76 since the start and is a rather common sight out in the field. Unsurprising, since it’s a very fun weapon to wield and incredibly useful due to inflicting energy damage.

The Gatling Plasma features good DPS, with a high rate of fire and decent damage per shot, making it a good primary weapon in most encounters. However, the gun does suffer from fairly low accuracy. You’re likely to miss at least a few shots on your target when firing from a medium distance. This limits its usability, but it doesn’t stop it from being strong.

The reload time on this weapon is tolerable for a heavy weapon, but it’s definitely on the slower side. Personally, I don’t think this is a major issue, as the gun comes with a 200-size magazine, reducing the need to reload. Additionally, getting ammo for this gun is fairly simple, as it uses plasma cores instead of plasma cartridges.

Gauss Minigun

Gauss Minigun - Best Heavy Weapons in Fallout 76
Image: Bethesda Game Studios, Bethesda Softworks via HGG

Taking the next spot on this list is the Gauss Minigun, a late-game energy weapon added as a part of the Wastelanders update. While it’s quite good, not a lot of players use it due to how difficult it is to obtain. The only way to acquire the weapon is by crafting it, but the only way to unlock the crafting plans is buying them with gold bullion from the merchant Mortimer.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to afford the crafting plans early on and another player will not be able to gift it to you. Fortunately, when you do eventually get your hands on the Gauss Minigun, you’ll find that it’s very powerful. Its stats are better than the .50 Cal Machine gun in basically every area, and it’s well suited to dealing with every type of enemy in Fallout 76, especially bosses.

The biggest drawback about this weapon is how expensive it is to craft its ammo. One round of its ammo type will cost you one steel. That may not seem like a lot at first, until you realize how quickly this gun chews through ammo, and the expenses will add up over time. This is a great weapon to use, but only if you can afford the high price tag for its ammunition. Ammo Factory becomes a MUST-GET perk if you plan to run this weapon.

Light Machine Gun

Light Machine Gun - Best Heavy Weapons in Fallout 76
Image: Bethesda Game Studios, Bethesda Softworks via HGG

For our second place entry, let’s take a look at the Light Machine Gun (LMG for short). This incredibly powerful WWII-era weapon was often shown off in the marketing of Fallout 76, so it’s a highly recognizable sight. Even more so given that it’s been in the game since release and is one of the most powerful guns.

The DPS on this thing is really, really good. Each shot does a large amount of damage, and when combined with its excellent automatic fire rate, you end up with a heavy weapon that excels at killing everything. Another benefit about this weapon is that it only weighs 8 pounds, about half the weight that most heavy guns in Fallout 76 have, making it a good choice if you want to save on inventory space.

The ammo type this weapon uses is .308 which is caliber commonly used in hunting rifles. As you can imagine, scavenging for it isn’t too difficult in the Appalachian mountains. However, thanks to its high rate of fire, this heavy gun does end up going through ammo quite quickly. I highly recommend you only make this gun your primary weapon if you can afford the ammunition costs that come with it.

Plasma Caster

Plasma Caster - Best Heavy Weapons in Fallout 76
Image: Bethesda Game Studios, Bethesda Softworks via HGG

And finally, taking first place on this list as the best heavy weapon in Fallout 76, we have the Plasma Caster. Added in the Wastelanders update, this semi-automatic energy weapon is easily one of the best weapons in the game. It’s most commonly used in heavy gunner builds, and when you see the stats it won’t be hard to see why.

The Plasma Caster features incredibly high damage per shot. If you have the right perks, you can even one-shot certain enemies with it. However, this high damage is kept in check by its low fire rate, though its overall DPS remains high.

The weapon’s accuracy is less than ideal when firing from the hip, so it’s best utilized while in VATS. If you’re going to use this weapon, I highly recommend you get perk cards that focus on increasing your VATS accuracy. With enough accuracy boosts, you’ll find yourself easily picking off targets from a distance.

The ammo type this gun uses is plasma cartridges, which are fairly resource intensive to craft as tends to be the trend. However, due to the weapon’s relatively slower rate-of-fire, you won’t be running out of ammo as often as you do with other weapons in the game. Notably, you can even utilize ultracite plasma cartridges as ammo if you want to amp up its ridiculous damage output even further!

Join the High Ground

We hope that you found our list of the best heavy weapons in Fallout 76 useful and managed to put together your ideal build!

Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments below and if there’s any changes you would make. And don’t forget to subscribe to our weekly newsletter for more regular content on Fallout 76.

Happy gaming!


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