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The best MW3 guns to use ahead of Season 1

Set yourself up for success by finding out all the MW3 best guns and weapons ranked to understand why they’re dominating the multiplayer meta right now.

Best MW3 guns: A soldier wearing black armor and a face mask aiming a weapon, with two weapons in the top right corner and a red line graph icon on the left of the image.

What are the best MW3 guns? Modern Warfare 3 features the largest roster of weapons in Call of Duty to date, with an arsenal of brand-new guns joined by returning weapons from its predecessor. This makes it a tough choice when it comes to what to use in your loadouts as there’s a lot vying for the prestigious position of the best MW3 gun. Well, worry no longer as we’ve put each of the weapons to the test to decide upon the MW3 best guns to use in multiplayer based on our experience and raw weapon stats.

The MW3 meta is constantly shifting due to balance changes and new additions to the MW3 guns list. However, knowing the best Call of Duty MW3 guns and our guide to the best MW3 loadouts helps you stay competitive no matter what shake-ups occur. With how prevalent skill-based matchmaking is, you’ll need every advantage you can get to stay at the top of the scoreboard, something we’ve learned while playing for our MW3 review.

MW3 best guns

The MW3 best guns are:

MW3 best guns: A playing holding and inspecting the BAS=B battle rifle painted gold.

1. BAS-B

Stat Value
Time to kill 315ms
ADS speed 260ms
Bullet velocity 790m/s
Rate of fire 666rpm
Sprint to fire speed 213ms
Effective range 35.6m
Shots to kill 4

The BAS-B battle rifle is absolutely demolishing the competition right now, the only battle rifle to do so. While it’s a very unruly weapon without any attachments, don’t let this deceive you; the BAS-B is undeniably the best MW3 gun once you’ve leveled it up.

What gives the BAS-B the edge is its unmatched damage. Like most battle rifles, the BAS-B trades the stability of an assault rifle for increased damage. However, with the right attachments, you can make the BAS-B incredibly accurate too. It’s also fully-automatic, so you don’t need a dexterous trigger-finger like with marksman rifles.

What does this mean in action? Well, it means you’ve got one of the best time-to-kill (TTK) values in the entire game, clocking in at only 315ms with an effective range of 35.6 meters. That’s right, the BAS-B’s TTK value can even compete against SMGs at close range and assault rifles and marksman rifles at range.

Due to it being a battle rifle, the BAS-B also has greater bullet penetration compared to assault rifles, SMGs, and the like. We’ve found it much more effective for killing enemies behind walls when they inevitably try to hide from the stream of bullets sent down range, securing us a kill we otherwise would have missed out on.

We’ve been having a lot of fun and finding great success in our multiplayer matches with a fully-kitted out BAS-B on the way to unlocking all the Mastery MW3 camos. In fact, it’s one of the first weapons we have Gilded. However, we have a feeling the BAS-B will get nerfed soon as it does feel broken at times; you really shouldn’t be able to beat an SMG or marksman rifle at their effective ranges with a battle rifle. We’re surprised that it survived the first wave of balance changes which nerfed the Holger 556, DG-58, and FR 5.56 unscathed.

Nevertheless, for more on the right attachments to use to take this weapon from the bottom of the pile to one of the best MW3 guns, be sure to check out our MW3 BAS-B loadout guide.

MW3 best guns: A player holding and inspecting the Holger 556 with a green and black camo.

2. Holger 556

Stat Value
Time to kill 359ms
ADS speed 260ms
Bullet velocity 690m/s
Rate of fire 588rpm
Sprint to fire speed 231ms
Effective range 36.8m
Shots to kill 4

The Holger 556 is the best assault rifle in MW3, even beating out the MCW that was on course to be the top choice. While both are in our MW3 best guns list, the Holger 556 does come out on top most of the time. Though the MCW does boast a faster TTK, the 10m range advantage puts the Holger ahead.

What makes the Holger 556 shine is its exceptional effective range that gives it great damage at longer ranges, while also not sacrificing handling too much in return. In other words, you can have a very powerful assault rifle that’s able to beat out the competition at almost any range. Given its slightly slower fire rate, however, you’ll have to make sure your aim is on-point, especially against SMGs. Thankfully, with the right attachments, the weapon kick can be reduced significantly from its base variant.

If you’ve played for more than five minutes, then you’ve no doubt been killed by the Holger 556 at least once, even if you’d had the drop on your opponent. That’s how good (and annoying) the Holger can be, and why it ranks as high as it does in our list of the best MW3 guns to use in multiplayer, even with the recent nerfs to its damage multipliers.

Use our guide to the best MW3 Holger 556 loadout to find out more about what we used to get the gun Gilded in no time.

MW3 best guns: A player reloading the Rival-9 SMG, which has a peach-color camo on it.

3. Rival-9

Stat Value
Time to kill 287ms
ADS speed 190ms
Bullet velocity 450m/s
Rate of fire 909rpm
Sprint to fire speed 93ms
Effective range 10.2m
Shots to kill 5

The Rival-9 is one of the best MW3 guns for its ability to control close-range engagements. While the Striker looked like the clear choice before release due to its versatility, several nerfs saw it fall slightly more in line with the rest of the pack. This has allowed the Rival-9 to flex its absurd close-range damage which, ironically, is almost an inverse of its performance in Modern Warfare (2019). Then known as the CX-9, it boasted a slower RPM but great accuracy, even at range. In MW3, it’s a whole different picture.

With an effective range of just over 10m and a 287ms TTK, the Rival-9 has the second fastest TTK in the game besides the very close-range WSP Swarm (and excluding one-hit weapons like snipers). This blazingly quick TTK doesn’t come at the cost of range either, as you might expect, as the Rival-9 falls right into the middle of the pack compared to other SMGs.

The only drawback to the Rival-9 is that its high 909rpm rate of fire does result in a lot of recoil, though attachments go a very long way in resolving this issue. This does mean that you’ll have to endure the wild recoil for a few weapon levels, though this is generally par for the course when it comes to SMGs outside of the Striker in MW3.

In action, you’ll have a gun that can beat out every other weapon in close range besides the WSP Swarm within five meters. If that doesn’t convince you, put the best MW3 Rival-9 loadout to test for yourself.

MW3 best guns: The player getting a double kill with the DG-58 assault rifle, aiming at the defeated enemy as they fall.

4. DG-58

Stat Value
Time to kill 907ms
ADS speed 240ms
Bullet velocity 720m/s
Rate of fire 210rpm
Sprint to fire speed 178ms
Effective range 35.6m
Shots to kill 4

The DG-58 is undeniably one of the best MW3 guns right now as it technically holds the fastest TTK in the game besides one-hit weapons if you can land a burst headshot.

With three shots being fired per burst, and only two headshots or four body shots required to kill an enemy, that means you only need one burst and potentially an extra shot. Burst-fire weapons aren’t for everyone, but if you can get along with its unique firing pattern and the delay between bursts, then you will drop enemies before they even have time to react.

Due to it being an assault rifle, the DG-58 is also more than capable at medium to long range as well, boasting one of the furthest effective range stats of all assault rifles. Paired with attachments to reduce the recoil kick, the DG-58 is a monster at any range, explaining why its one of the most used weapons in multiplayer.

Although it was certainly needed, the DG-58 was hit by the nerf stick shortly after release, decreasing damage and increasing the burst delay. While it’s still a great weapon deserving of a place among the MW3 best weapons list, it’s not quite as broken as it once was.

MW3 best guns: A player holding the MCW assault rifle in a forested area.

5. MCW

Stat Value
Time to kill 290ms
ADS speed 240ms
Bullet velocity 710m/s
Rate of fire 714rpm
Sprint to fire speed 220ms
Effective range 26.7m
Shots to kill 4

Despite the Holger 556 being the more versatile option, the MCW is still one of the best MW3 guns to pick. Though the MW3 maps are quite large, it’s still Call of Duty – close-range is king. This is where the MCW comes in as it’s got a higher TTK upwards of 27m due to its faster rate of fire. In fact, it’s not far off the Rival-9 when it comes to dropping enemies in record time.

When you take this into multiplayer, you’ve effectively got an SMG with more range and versatility, though slightly slower handling. That’s why our MW3 MCW loadout opts to improve its ranged performance and weapon handling to make it an even more reliable assault rifle and SMG hybrid.

Given it’s based on the classic ACR assault rifle that ruled MW2 (2009), the MCW was always going to be one of the fan-favorite weapons, so we’re glad to see that it’s also one of the best MW3 guns to pick in multiplayer. It’s certainly been one of our favorites and we’ve topped the scoreboard quite consistently simply due to how reliable the MCW is.

MW3 best guns: A player aiming down the iron sights of the Striker SMG on the Favela map.

6. Striker

Stat Value
Time to kill 297ms
ADS speed 230ms
Bullet velocity 540m/s
Rate of fire 645rpm
Sprint to fire speed 110ms
Effective range 9.7m
Shots to kill 4

Another returning weapon from the original MW2, the Striker is an updated version of the fan-favorite UMP 45 that dominated way back when. The Striker might be the starting weapon in the SMG class, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great weapon to use in multiplayer. With negligible recoil, the Striker can dish out damage at further ranges than you’d expect as you’ll be able to land your shots consistently. However, it is an SMG at the end of the day, so don’t expect to beat an assault rifle if you didn’t land the first few shots uncontested.

Given the Striker’s great recoil control, we recommend kitting it out for more versatility, such as adding the Striker Recon Long barrel to bump up its range to take advantage of its accuracy. While mobility will take a slight hit with a longer barrel, the remaining attachments can be used to make up for this. In action, you’ll have a slick and deadly SMG for close-range shootouts and slightly beyond. Check out our MW3 Striker loadout to learn more.

Though we used to recommend upgrading to the Striker 9 immediately after unlocking it, as it was an upgrade in almost every way, the buffs to the Striker’s damage at nearly all ranges has been increased ahead of MW3 Season 1. This makes the standard Striker an even more competitive option in the current meta. 

MW3 best guns: The WSP Swarm in the weapon preview screen.

7. WSP Swarm

Stat Value
Time to kill 230ms
ADS speed 190ms
Bullet velocity 450m/s
Rate of fire 1091rpm
Sprint to fire speed 110ms
Effective range 4.6m
Shots to kill 5

We couldn’t have a list of the best MW3 guns and not include the WSP Swarm. Sure, its 4.6m effective range puts it in competition with shotguns and pistols rather than other SMGs, but the rapid 1091 rate of fire is absolutely devastating when you’re up close and personal with your foe. The WSP Swarm has the fastest TTK of all the weapons in the game besides one-hit weapons, so it’s incredibly satisfying to use in small maps or objective-based MW3 modes like Domination or Hardpoint.

Given the WSP Swarm has such limited range, we recommend kitting it out with range-enhancing attachments and ones to improve overall handling. Likewise, we recommend pairing it with a suppressor and the Dead Silence Field Upgrade so you can sneak behind enemy lines to wipe them out before they even know you’re there. You could also throw some mobility enhancing attachments on to help you close the gap faster. We’ve had a lot of success with the WSP Swarm so long as you play around its almost non-existent range.

MW3 best guns: A player holding the MTZ-556 assault rifle at an angle, aiming at an enemy.

8. MTZ-556

Stat Value
Time to kill 337ms
ADS speed 220ms
Bullet velocity 650m/s
Rate of fire 811rpm
Sprint to fire speed 189ms
Effective range 26.7m
Shots to kill 5

The MTZ-556 assault rifle doesn’t quite beat out the MCW, though it certainly gets close and deserves a place in the MW3 best guns list. Given it’s unlocked before the MCW, it’s a great stand-in while you wait to unlock the mid-level upgrade.

With the same effective range as the MCW but a slightly faster rate of fire, it’s a shame to see that the MTZ-556 actually has a slower TTK even in close range, where you would expect it to have the edge. With that said, the MTZ-556 is still one of the best MW3 guns due to how powerful it is in close to mid-range firefights, especially with the right attachments. In fact, it’s one of the first weapons we’ve unlocked Gilded for, the MW3 equivalent of the prestigious Gold camo.

If you’re looking for an agile assault rifle that can put up more of a fight against the likes of the Rival-9, then the MTZ-556 is a great pick, at least until you’ve unlocked the MCW. We had a blast testing out the new Tactical Stance feature with the MTZ-556 as well since it’s a more aggressive weapon by nature.

MW3 best guns: The Striker 9 in the weapon inspection page.

9. Striker 9

Stat Value
Time to kill 300ms
ADS speed 225ms
Bullet velocity 540m/s
Rate of fire 857rpm
Sprint to fire speed 110ms
Effective range 10.7m
Shots to kill 5

If you thought the starting Striker SMG was good, wait until you see the Striker 9. Almost a straight upgrade over its .45 Auto cousin, the Striker 9 boasts better range with an unnoticeable decrease in TTK due to its 9mm rounds.

This affords the Striker 9 more flexibility than the standard Striker and the rest of the SMG arsenal, especially because of the low recoil. This makes it feel more like a carbine despite having all the benefits of being a submachine gun, including great mobility and hip fire. When we’ve been using the weapon, we’ve found the Striker 9 able to hold its own against other SMGs and even more nimble assault rifles like the MCW and MTZ-556.

With its strong starting stats, we recommend looking to increase the range and handling of the weapon with the best MW3 Striker 9 loadout to give it even more of an edge.

MW3 best guns: The SVA 545 in the weapon preview page.

10. SVA 545

Stat Value
Time to kill 394ms
ADS speed 250ms
Bullet velocity 760m/s
Rate of fire 682rpm
Sprint to fire speed 210ms
Effective range 31.8m
Shots to kill 5

Like the Striker, the SVA 545 is a dependable starting weapon that many players will still use well into the later levels. Though it is outmatched by the Holger 556, the SVA 545 has a respectable 31.8m effective range with a 394ms TTK, putting it in the middle of the pack. There’s also such little recoil, even without attachments. This means you’ll easily be able to take advantage of its strong range stat. Paired with a suppressor like the Shadowstrike, the SVA 545 is great for flanking enemies.

However, what makes this weapon so deadly is its unique firing pattern. It’s not all that obvious, so we don’t blame you if you didn’t realize, but the first two shots of the SVA 545 actually fire faster than the rest. This turns the above-average five shots required to kill into, effectively, three shots. This means the SVA 545 works very well in short bursts rather than sustained fire like the other ARs. Check out our MW3 SVA 545 loadout for a full rundown of what attachments and class setup are best, as we’ve enjoyed using this starter assault rifle much more than we thought we would.

MW3 best guns: The player aiming at a defeated enemy with the Longbow, with the words 'triple kill' in yellow next to the scope.

11. Longbow

Stat Value
Time to kill 16ms
ADS speed 550ms
Bullet velocity 770m/s
Rate of fire 111rpm
Sprint to fire speed 200ms
Effective range 12.7m
Shots to kill 1

Snipers aren’t for everyone, but the Longbow is much easier to use than you would expect given how lightweight it is. Despite how agile it is, you’re not sacrificing one-hit potential with the Longbow either, so you’ll still have a devastating rifle if you’ve got the aim to back it up. Yes, that means the Longbow will beat out any other weapon even at close range, providing you have good positioning and land the one upper-body shot you need to drop your opponent. In fact, the Longbow is a confusing sniper in that it’s more of a close to mid-range rifle due to its limited one-hit range rather than a long-range sniper. Sure, the enemy will hate you for it, but you’ll be rewarded with kills galore.

As for the best MW3 Longbow loadout, we recommend attachments that improve aim down sight speed and sprint to fire speed so that you can hop around the map quickscoping, including removing the stock and reducing the magazine size. If you’re not quite comfortable with a magnification scope, then you can even put one of the many red dot sights on and treat it more like a semi-automatic assault rifle – though you will still need to land an upper body or headshot to win a shootout.

We weren’t expecting the Longbow to be one of our favorite weapons of the bunch as its default performance leaves a lot to be desired and its base stats seem somewhat contradictory. However, once we had a full build at hand, we were winning fights we really should have lost simply due to its agility and one-hit kill potential. Even if snipers aren’t usually your thing, give the Longbow a go and you might just find your next best MW3 gun.

MW3 best guns: The Pulemyot 762 LMG in the weapon preview page.

12. Pulemyot 762

Stat Value
Time to kill 413ms
ADS speed 450ms
Bullet velocity 810m/s
Rate of fire 492rpm
Sprint to fire speed 285ms
Effective range 38.1m
Shots to kill 4

Taking a look at its stats, the Pulemyot 762 LMG doesn’t look like much. It looks quite abysmal, in fact, with a sluggish 450ms ADS speed and 285ms sprint to fire speed, and slow 413ms TTK, putting it behind SMGs and ARs, the most popular weapon types. However, we’re here to tell you that the Pulemyot 762 is secretly one of the best MW3 guns in multiplayer.

What these stats don’t convey quite so well is just how reliable the Pulemyot is. With 100 bullets per box magazine and minimal recoil (despite firing heavy rounds), the Pulemyot 762 is incredible for holding down lanes and objectives. We’ve had success simply unleashing an almost never-ending stream of bullets down range, putting an end to anyone with an assault rifle, battle rifle, marksman rifle, or sniper with ease or forcing them into cover.

Using a standard setup to reduce recoil, including a front grip and barrel makes this gun even more deadly in this role, though it won’t help you compete in the most messy of close-range skirmishes.

Instead, we recommend you make use of the MW3 Aftermarket Parts system. That’s right, the JAK Annihilator Bullpup Kit for the Pulemyot 762 LMG greatly improves its place in the meta and is largely what earns it a place among the best MW3 guns – it’s almost like a different weapon entirely. Although it does decrease range and increase recoil, the impact of these negatives is rather limited in practice and pales in comparison to the benefits this Aftermarket Part brings. With massively increased mobility, handling, and rate of fire, you’re able to have a brutal LMG for mid-range and close-range fights.

We were surprised by how effective this weapon is with this Aftermarket Part and a handful of attachments, so much so that it’s one of our most used weapons right now. We recommend giving it a go and trying out the JAK Annihilator mod as soon as you unlock it, you’ll just have to adapt to the heavier playstyle of an LMG if you’re coming off the back of an SMG spree. It helps that the Pulemyot sounds like a powerful weapon too, making it all the more satisfying to top the leaderboard with an underused weapon – not that you can blame them since you have to wade through 28 levels of average performance to be able to even use the JAK Annihilator mod that makes it one of the best MW3 guns.

MW3 best guns: The WSP-9 SMG in the weapon preview screen.

13. WSP-9

Stat Value
Time to kill 331ms
ADS speed 240ms
Bullet velocity 540m/s
Rate of fire 600rpm
Sprint to fire speed 88ms
Effective range 16.5m
Shots to kill 4

With the slowest TTK out of all the SMGs, you might not think the WSP-9 would have a place among the best MW3 guns, but that’s where you’re wrong. With the fastest sprint to fire speed of any weapon bar pistols, the WSP-9 lets you swiftly react to any incoming fire so you can constantly stay on the move – especially if you’re using a combination of the Gunner Vest or Overkill Vest with the Assault Gloves or Commando Gloves.

That’s not all though, as the WSP-9 is tied with the ARM9 as the SMG with the best range, clocking in at 16.5 meters. Pair this with the great fire rate and recoil control (which, as always, can be improved with attachments) and the WSP-9 is an absolute beast in close to mid-range fights.

We weren’t expecting much from the WSP-9 before giving it a go on our way to unlocking all the Mastery camos, though we’ve now been converted to part of the small but dedicated group of Uzi fans. From our experience shredding with the WSP-9, we recommend attachments to increase range and recoil control to push its effectiveness even further, as well as a suppressor for more sneaky plays.

Best MW3 guns: The player reloading the RAM-7 assault rifle in a coastal environment with a crashed plane burning in the distance.

How MW3 Season 1 will impact the best guns

With the arrival of Season 1, the list of the best MW3 guns will see a significant shake-up. Not only will there be a suite of balance changes, but there are also five new guns and nine new Aftermarket Parts.

In terms of the best MW3 guns, we expect the RAM-7 assault rifle, which is available in Sector A7 of the Season 1 Battle Pass, will be a new meta gun. The bullpup design makes the RAM-7 a lightweight rifle with fast reloads and slick handling, while not sacrificing damage in return.

The HRM-9, an in-season Armory unlock, also has a lot of potential. Based on its design and 9mm round capabilities, it should be a reliable SMG for close to mid-range, akin to the Striker. It also boasts a high rate of fire and great handling, so it could be that the Striker will be overthrown by a new arrival in Season 1.

Perhaps most exciting, however, is the collection of new Aftermarket Parts. While most are cool additions to your weapon, like a new sight or an underbarrel flamethrower, the JAK Ettin Double Barrel Kit for the AMR9 has the most potential. The AMR9 is already a great weapon, even if it isn’t quite worthy of being among the best MW3 guns, but this Aftermarket Part could be just what it needs. Adding a stacked barrel system makes it so the AMR9 has two barrels that fire simultaneously, upping the damage at the cost of accuracy. If it can beat out the Rival-9 at close range while not giving up too much of the AMR9’s natural mid-range efficacy, it could land among the best MW3 guns in Season 1.

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Should you use MW2 guns in MW3?

Unfortunately no, most if not all of the MW2 guns are outclassed by the new additions in MW3. While Sledgehammer stated it would be rebalancing all of the Carry Forward MW2 guns to keep them in line with new options, this hasn’t exactly worked out in practice.

Although the weapon’s stats have largely been scaled according to better fit the increased health in MW3 (which is reflected in the weapon stats seen on Warzone Loadout), the recoil and poor handling hold them back. For those that didn’t play MW2 (2022), it was a much slower game, with heavier feeling weapons that produced more recoil when fired. Sure, this made them feel incredibly impactful, but it now holds them back compared to the largely more accurate and reliable MW3 counterparts.

That’s not to say that all MW2 Carry Forward weapons are at the bottom of the pile, however. If you’re looking for a trip down memory lane, the Vel 46, PDSW 528, and the Bruen MK9 are still strong in MW3 and have seen some use in the meta.

While it’s a shame that we can’t be quite as competitive with our old favorites, such as the classic M4 or the Kastov-74U, perhaps it’s for the better that the MW3 best guns list of full of… MW3 guns. It would feel rather stale to see the same old guns taking the top spots for another year, so a fresh meta gives us the opportunity to try out new weapons without feeling like we’re being sub-optimal. After all, it’s generally the guns that keep the game fresh with each release, even more so than the maps in our opinion.

What is the worst weapon in Modern Warfare 3?

The worst weapon in MW3 is undoubtedly the Sidewinder. This battle rifle not only pales in comparison to the meta BAS-B, it’s worse than every other weapon you could choose.

With a 19.1m effective range, the Sidewinder is tied with the (also weak) MTZ-762 but has a significantly slower TTK. The Sidewinder’s handling is also nothing to write home about. Although there’s not all that much vertical recoil, the visual kick and general clunkiness of the Sidewinder, including its low rate of fire and bullet velocity, make it a pain to use in multiplayer.

We recommend you avoid the Sidewinder at all costs, though if you’re striving to unlock all the MW3 camos then you’ll have no choice. In this case, we recommend kitting it out to control kick and improve handling so that you can at least be a little more reactive and competitive.

For a secondary weapon, the RGL-80 launcher is also a terrible choice in multiplayer. Yes, it’s certainly annoying to be hit by a barrage of grenades from the RGL-80 due to the camera shake but, weirdly, this grenade launcher lacks damage. With the prevalence of the EOD Jacket item, the RGL-80 is rendered almost useless, requiring several slow and awkward shots on target before the target falls. This means that it’s easy enough to run away from the RGL-80 with only a bruise before turning around and simply killing the wielder.

That covers all the best MW3 guns you should be using in MW3 multiplayer, from SMGs to assault rifles, battle rifles, and even a sniper. With these great options, you should have everything you need to dominate in one of the best FPS games on the market – unless, of course, you need an MW3 VPN. Before your next match, use this MW3 Zombies XP farm method to quickly level up your guns so that you’ve got all the customization options you need to shine.