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

Our picks for the ten best guns in Modern Warfare 3

The meta for the best guns in Modern Warfare 3 has developed considerably since launch, and has evolved significantly since the Feb. 7 rollout of Season 2.

From the get-go, there were a plethora of guns to choose from in the latest Call of Duty because every gun from Modern Warfare 2 was also made available, alongside a host of new weapons. We’re not including those as there are far too many to choose from, and for the most part, the new MW3 guns are stronger anyway.

So if you’re looking to dominate MW3 multiplayer in Season 2, look no further than these 10 guns.


Modern Warfare 3 best guns to use in Season 2

The best weapons in Modern Warfare 3 are as follows:

  1. MCW (assault rifle)
  2. Rival-9 (SMG)
  3. WSP Swarm (SMG)
  4. RAM-7 (assault rifle)
  5. BAS-B (battle rifle)
  6. RAM-9 (SMG)
  7. HRM-9 (SMG)
  8. Holger 556 (assault rifle)
  9. XRK Stalker (sniper rifle)
  10. SVA 545 (assault rifle)

Believe it or not, the MCW is still the best gun in Modern Warfare 3 and has been since launch. 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 in close quarters if needed.

However, the list has been shaken up a little with the introduction of some new guns and balance changes through Season 1 and Season 2, skyrocketing the Rival-9 (the best SMG in Modern Warfare 3) into second place. The WSP Swarm isn’t far behind it, though, and the RAM-7 is still a solid assault rifle despite its significant recoil.

The BAS-B is by far the best battle rifle and the optimal choice if you want to engage in much longer distance firefights, while the RAM-9 and HRM-9 were seasonal additions that have quickly found their place in the meta. The Holger 556 is still very strong, the XRK Stalker sniper rifle is the best choice for any marksmen or quick-scopers, and the SVA 545 excels thanks to its ability to shoot the first two bullets almost simultaneously.

(As an aside, for anyone returning to this list from Season 1, the AMR9 and Riveter have both been dropped in favor of the Rival-9 and RAM-9, and the HRM-9 has been added to round the list out to a solid 10 entries.)

Let’s go through our updated selections for the best guns in Modern Warfare 3 one-by-one.

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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. Rival-9 (SMG)

The Rival 9 SMG rests over a black background in key art for the best guns in MW3 as of season 2.
Image: Sledgehammer Games/Activision via Polygon

The Rival-9 wasn’t considered to be one of the best guns in MW3 on launch, but it has quickly risen to the top thanks to its fast fire rate. It packs a huge punch when you get up close and personal. As the meta has developed, running and gunning has solidified itself as a very strong style of play, particularly in Season 2.

Bearing that in mind — that you won’t often be engaging with enemies beyond a few meters away — you want to manage the recoil to an extent while also maintaining the weapon handling and mobility. We recommend the Rival Vice Assault Grip in the rear grip attachment slot, along with the Rival IGS-800 Barrel to deal with most of the recoil issues. Make sure you also stick the 9mm High Velocity ammunition on to deal the most damage.


3. 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

Next up 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 below, the WSP Swarm 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.


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

The RAM-7 was introduced in Season 1 and quickly found itself as a mainstay in the meta. 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 and only 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. RAM-9 (SMG)

The RAM-9 rests over a black background in key art for the best MW3 guns in season 2.
Image: Sledgehammer Games/Activision via Polygon

The RAM-9 was introduced at the start of Season 2, and is the newest weapon on this list of the best guns in Modern Warfare 3. It’s another SMG with a rapid fire rate, but the recoil can be managed a little better than the Rival-9 above, so this is better suited for slightly longer engagements. The must-use attachments are the ZEHMN35 Compensated Flash Hider muzzle attachment and the HVS 3.4 Pad stock thanks to how they assist with recoil.

Make sure you equip an underbarrel grip of some description too — our recommendation is the SL Skeletal Vertical Grip — and we found a rear grip also does the job, ideally the Retort 90 Grip Tape. The iron sights are usable here, but if you’d rather equip an optical sight for better visibility, any red dot sight will work.

For more explanation on these attachment choices and details on the best class to use with this SMG, check out our dedicated RAM-9 loadout guide.


7. HRM-9 (SMG)

The HRM-9 rests over a black background in key art for the best MW3 guns in season 2.
Image: Sledgehammer Games/Activision via Polygon

The final SMG on the list, the HRM-9 with our build is actually very strong at a slightly further distance than you’d expect most SMGs to be effective. With that in mind, the Sonic Suppressor S muzzle attachment is a godsend as it buffs the bullet velocity, damage range, and it makes you undetectable by radar when firing.

It does mean the recoil control takes a minor hit though, so you want to use other attachments that help bring that back up. Any underbarrel grip geared towards that will do the job — our choice is the VX Pineapple — along with a rear grip and stock attachment. We’d recommend an optical sight here too, though a basic one like the Slimline Pro or Slate Reflector is good enough.

Our full HRM-9 loadout guide has more details on how to best utilize this SMG and the attachments to kit it out with.


8. Holger 556 (assault rifle)

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

Next up, 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 RAM-7. However, if you remember (and loved) 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. 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 took 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. This is a position it’s held through the launch of Season 2.

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.


10. 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.

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