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Best MW3 Rival-9 loadout, build, and full class setup

The best MW3 Rival-9 loadout will tame this top-tier SMG with an aggressive build to turn it into a demon made to cull Call of Duty lobbies on PS5, Xbox and PC.

MW3 best Rival-9 loadout: a side view of the Rival-9 SMG in Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3

What is the best MW3 Rival-9 loadout? If you want to dominate firefights at close range, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 provides a couple of premium options – the Rival-9, the WSP Swarm, and the Striker. However, of the dynamic bunch, it is the Rival-9 that boasts a blazingly fast TTK at the cost of being a bit of a bucking bronco to control. As such, you’ll need to get your hands on the best MW3 Rival-9 loadout to tame the beast.

Boasting the ability to blitz anyone at sub-ten meters in a blistering 287 milliseconds, it’s unsurprising that the MW3 Rival-9 is sitting pretty on our list of MW3 meta weapons. It’s categorically one of the best MW3 guns, if not the best up close – something we found during our Call of Duty MW3 review sessions. So if time is of the essence, whether you’re trying to hunt down MW3 camos or max your MW3 Prestige rank, prepare to dominate lobbies in one of the best FPS games.

MW3 Rival-9 loadout

The best MW3 Rival-9 loadout is:

  • Muzzle: Shadowstrike Suppressor S
  • Barrel: Rival-C Clearshot Barrel
  • Stock: Bruen Flash V4 Stock
  • Rear Grip: Rival Vice Assault Grip
  • Magazine: 40 Round Mag

The Rival-9 is an impressive SMG that has a TTK outstripped only by the WSP Swarm. However, while the Swarm can still nuke you within five meters, the little extra effective range helps win out engagements further out. Though it has plenty of recoil, the best Rival-9 loadout in MW3 looks to put a dampener on it while exacerbating its power and effective range. It’s an exceptionally fun and aggressive weapon that we’ve loved using on the way to unlocking all the Mastery camos.

What you might not realize about the Rival-9 is that it’s actually the CX-9 from Modern Warfare (2019). Even if you’ve played the first reboot in the trilogy, the Rival-9 is almost unrecognisable from its previous incarnation, trading the slower rate of fire and more accurate handling for a blazing fast RPM and weaker recoil control.

Nevertheless, Warzone fans should keep their eyes on the Rival-9 as its rapid TTK and increased range over the WSP Swarm will make it a popular choice when paired with an assault rifle or other long-range weapon. In other words, it’s the perfect secondary weapon for close-quarters, and that’s just as true in the more compact maps of multiplayer. Stay up to date with the Warzone meta to see where the Rival-9 ranks

MW3 best Rival-9 loadout: an overview of the top Rival-9 attachments in Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3

To help keep you off the radar, we’re starting out this loadout with the Shadowstrike Suppressor S. You ultimately want to be silent, yet deadly while using the Rival-9, and a good suppressor is paramount to that playstyle. While there are other options that reduce recoil or improve other stats, we find the simplicity of the Shadowstrike to be its greatest strength. We’re off the map, but we don’t have to suffer any hits to mobility. Instead, we use the remaining attachment slots to rein in the recoil and bump up the ranged effectiveness.

On that note, you’re going to want to attach the Rival-C Clearshot Barrel next. Not only does this improve the effective range of the Rival-9, but it also bolsters the overall recoil control that helps you take advantage of this added range. The Rival-9 doesn’t give you all that many options when it comes to barrels, though it would be hard to beat the Clearshot anyhow. Unfortunately, it does come with some downsides, namely worse hipfire and Tactical Stance spread, movement speed, and sprint to fire speed. With the Rival-9 excelling at close range, this can be a pain, though we’ll be making it for it elsewhere.

Speaking of control, this is where the Rival Vice Assault Grip really shines. Not only does it provide a big bonus to gun kick control, but it will also give you a little more recoil control and firing aim stability, all with effectively no downsides since aiming idle sway doesn’t come into play here. It’s a simple attachment, but the added control is too good to pass up. If you’re looking to take advantage of Tac Stance, then the Rival G-5 Series Grip is another good option, as Tac Stance works wonders with SMGs in general.

Next up we have the Bruen Flash V4 stock. With the pace at which you’re marauding across the MW3 maps, you’re going to need to bump up your ADS speed to match your tempo. This stock is made for mobility, granting a major bonus to your ADS speed, while offering modest gains in the movement and sprint speed departments. This helps make up for the drawbacks of the Rival-C Clearshot Barrel for a nice and balanced Rival-9 loadout that excels at close to mid-range firefights.

Finally, slap on a 40 Round Mag. With a staggering 909 RPM, the Rival-9 burns through bullets very quickly, so adding extra ammo is more than welcome. While some may prefer an even larger magazine, such as the 50 Round Drum, we find we trade off too much agility. The 40 Round Mag lands in the sweet spot where we have just enough ammo to get plenty of kills without reloading, without also slowing everything down and making it harder to get kills in the first place. Nevertheless, you might still prefer the added comfort of a drum, and no doubt that will be the meta in Warzone.

With the best MW3 Rival-9 build now in your hands, you’re going to need a class setup that will let you go on a rampage behind enemy lines, slaloming stealthily from position to position while racking up the kills.

MW3 best Rival-9 loadout: a rundown of the Rival-9 class setup in Modern Warfare 3

MW3 Rival-9 class setup

The best MW3 Rival-9 class setup is:

  • Vest – Overkill Vest
  • Secondary – Rival-9
  • Tactical – Battle Rage, Stun/Flash Grenade
  • Lethal – Frag Grenade/Breacher Drone
  • Gloves – Assault Gloves
  • Boots – Tactical Pads/Stalker Boots
  • Gear – EOD Padding/Ghost T/V Camo

The first and arguably most difficult choice is that of your Vest, as this dictates the other gear options available to you. From our experience, the Overkill Vest works the best, increasing weapon swap speed and letting us reload while running. Most importantly though, it also lets us bring two primary weapons. However, the Gunner Vest is a close second. Also allowing you to carry two primaries, the Gunner Vest grants increased reload speed and the ability to spawn with max ammo. We prefer Overkill as it lets us run with the Assault Gloves over the Commando Gloves, as well as the ability to use Boots, though more on that in a minute.

While you’re going to have a great time in close-range fights with the best MW3 Rival-9 loadout, things can get pretty hairy beyond that. As such, you’re going to need a mid or long-range option that will let you compete across the battlefield. For this, we’d recommend either our best MW3 Longbow loadout, the MW3 BAS-B loadout, or the MW3 Holger 556 loadout, as recommended in our best MW3 loadouts guide. The map you’re playing on should ultimately dictate your choice, while comfort with those weapon types should also play a part. Nevertheless, these give you options for further out when the Rival-9 is outclassed, so don’t forget to take advantage of them.

As for tactical equipment, you’ve got a lot of options. One of our favorites is Battle Rage to temporarily turn yourself into a super soldier. While it’s been nerfed since the early betas, it’s still useful for turning a fight in your favor quickly, which works wonders with a scrappy SMG like the Rival-9. Otherwise, a classic Flash or Stun Grenade are also great since they give you a leg-up when pushing enemies.

In the lethal slot we’re big fans of the Breacher Drone thanks to its ability to both flush out combatants at range and operate as an explosive distraction that you can use to your advantage. It does have a long animation before actually throwing it though, so on smaller maps or more chaotic modes, we often swap to the Frag Grenade so we can stay on the move with our Rival-9 build.

MW3 best Rival-9 loadout: an orange Rival-9 mid-reload in Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3

Next up, get your mitts on the Assault Gloves to make the MW3 Rival-9 loadout that much more agile. These gloves improve accuracy and ADS speed while jump so that you can more easily round a corner and jump. After all, your enemies won’t be expecting someone to be leaping through the air, so they won’t automatically be aiming near your head, letting you get the drop on them.

Then, strap into your Tactical Pads and you’re ready to slide around the arena with increased speed and accuracy while sliding. Paired with the Assault Gloves, we can use almost any type of movement ability, from sliding to jumping, and still be accurate enough at close range. In other words, we’re incredibly slippery and enemies will have a hard time keeping up. We can’t ignore the Stalker Boots, however, a strong meta contender. If you don’t know, the Stalker Boots quieten your footsteps, making it harder for enemies to hear you coming. Since we’re already running the Shadowstrike Suppressor, leaning further into a stealth and flanking playstyle is incredibly beneficial. If you’d rather charge straight in than flank though, the Tactical Pads will be more your speed.

As for gear, we love the EOD Padding to be able to withstand all the grenade and explosive spam that gets thrown our way in every match. With explosions going off left, right, and center, it’s easy to lose your streak to a rogue Frag Grenade. However, the EOD Padding will let you survive the blast to fight on. With that said, we’ve also had a lot of fun with the Ghost T/V Camo which is ideal for sneaking across the map since we’re using the Shadowstrike Suppressor.

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MW3 Rival-9 alternatives

The best Rival-9 alternative right now is the WSP Swarm or the Striker. The WSP Swarm has a faster TTK at point blank, but suffers any range beyond the limited 5m mark. Nevertheless, it captures the same aggressive playstyle as the Rival-9, so you’ll feel right at home.

On the other hand, the Striker is a much more versatile weapon, as our MW3 Striker loadout notes. Although it has a slightly slower 297ms TTK compared to the Rival-9’s 287ms, you’re getting more range and damage-per-round which can make a massive difference if your precision is pinpoint. Additionally, if you find the best MW3 Rival-9 loadout kicks too much for your liking, the Striker is much easier to handle – comfortability is key at the end of the day.

Outside of SMGs, the MW3 MCW loadout is a highly aggressive assault rifle that’s certainly worth checking out. Sure, it’s not quite as strong at point-blank range as the Rival-9, but it does boast more range. Overall, it’s a versatile AR that will serve you well on all of the maps and modes, so you really can’t go wrong. Likewise, the MW3 MTZ-556 loadout is similarly aggressive, though it’s more or less a budget MCW in most scenarios.

How to unlock the Rival-9 in MW3

To unlock the Rival-9 in MW3, you must reach player level 25 and complete the Armory unlock challenge for the weapon, requiring you to complete three daily or bonus challenges.

Annoyingly, this makes the Rival-9 more complicated to unlock than most weapons in the game as it’s not immediately unlocked through the leveling process, instead asking you to engage in the new Armory unlocks system. However, given the strength of the best MW3 Rival-9 loadout, we definitely recommend you prioritize unlocking this SMG as soon as you hit level 25 by manually assigning it as your active Armory challenge.

That’s the best MW3 Rival-9 loadout, build, and class setup you can lock and load for the mighty SMG. If you’re looking to get the biggest competitive advantage possible in-game, then be sure to kit out your setup with some of the best PS5 accessories and best Xbox accessories available. After all, having hair trigger locks on one of the best PS5 controllers or best Xbox controllers can make all the difference in a 1v1. See you out in the field.