A Fundamental Guide to Light Weapons

Light Weapons are the most common weapon type in the came and can be equipped by all dropsuits. They are typically generalist weapons that can be used in a wide array of situations and are the first types of weapons new players will experience. This guide will seek to explain the function of each light weapon, what kind of variants they have, as well as some simply tips and tricks to help you be more successful with them.

Light Weapons go in the [L] slot on your fitting screen, but can also be fit in a [H] (Heavy) slot, but not a [S] (Sidearm) slot.

assaultrifles

Damage Type: Hybrid-Blaster (+10% vs Shields / -10% vs Armor)

Assault Rifles, also known as Plasma Rifles, are Gallente battle rifles characterized by high DPS and short range. They typically have extremely low recoil but fairly high dispersion, making them do very well in close quarters but struggle at longer ranges.

Pros
  • Highest DPS of weapons within its class. (Currently this is inaccurate due to recent changes to the Assault Scrambler Rifle which now has higher DPS than the Assault Rifle-4/12/2015)
  • Low recoil makes them exceptional in close quarters, even when fired from the hip.
Cons
  • Lowest range of weapons within its class.
  • Heavy dispersion makes the weapon difficult to use at longer ranges
Assault Rifle – Basic Type

Fire Mode: Full-Auto
Optics: Iron Sights

The basic Assault Rifle features a moderately high rate of fire and high DPS making it well suited for running and gunning in environments where typical engagements happen within 40 meters. It is likely the easiest rifle to use and a good starting point for new players.

Breach Assault Rifle – Variant

Fire Mode: Full-Auto
Optics: Iron Sights

The Breach Assault Rifle has a lower fire rate and higher bullet damage than the Basic Assault Rifle, leaving it with similar levels of DPS. It does however have a very slightly shorter range, and a few hundred points of damage less in the magazine as compared to the Basic type. However the weapon is extremely stable with very good dispersion making it arguably better than the Basic Type in most situations.

Tactical Assault Rifle – Variant

Fire Mode: Semi-Auto, Single Shot
Optics: Dot Sight

The Tactical Assault Rifle is a single-shot, semi-automatic variant of the Assault Rifle. It’s maximum fire rate is lower than that of the Basic type and has over double the damage per shot, however with proper trigger control it has exceptionally high DPS and can be devastating in the right hands. It also has a 50% more optimal range than the Basic Type, making it extremely useful at medium range.

Burst Assault Rifle – Variant

Fire Mode: Semi-Auto, 3-Shot Burst
Optics: Dot Sight

The Burst Assault Rifle is a 3-shot burst, semi-automatic variant of the Basic Assault Rifle. It has slightly higher range and very good DPS, with steady fire while hipfiring or aiming down the sights. This makes it exceptionally good at shot to mid-range combat. It can also be considered a higher DPS

Important Notes

Effects When Used With the Following Dropsuits
  • Gallente Assault – Reduced PG/CPU Cost & Hipfire Dispersion
  • Other Assault – Reduced PG/CPU Cost
  • Gallente Commando – Increased Damage & Reload Speed
  • Other Commando – Increased Reload Speed
Effects When Used Against the Following Dropsuits
  • Caldari Sentinel – Reduced Damage Against Shields
  • Minmatar Sentinel – Reduced Damage Against Armor
Tips & Tricks
  • The Assault Rifle Sharpshooter skill and the Gallente Assault bonus both greatly decrease the dispersion of the Assault Rifle, making it much easier to run and gun in close quarters combat.

railrifles

Damage Type: Hybrid-Rail (-10% vs Shields / +10% vs Armor)

The Rail Rifle is a Caldari battle rifle characterized by high damage per shot, low rate of fire, and very long range. Upon pulling the trigger, the weapon will charge for a short period of time before firing. If the trigger is released, the gun must be charged again. This encourages sustained fire instead of burst fire, and makes fighting in close quarters difficult due to the charge time.

Pros
  • Longest range of all weapons within its class
  • Very low dispersion
Cons
  • Charge time makes close quarters combat difficult
  • Lowest DPS of all weapons within its class
  • High recoil can make it difficult to keep sights on the target
Rail Rifle – Basic Type

Fire Mode: Charge to Fire, Full-Auto
Optics: Dot Sight

The basic Rail Rifle is fully automatic and sports the longest Optimal and Effective range of all of the battle rifles with a relatively large amount of damage per magazine. It does however have a noticeably long charge time, so users should consider switching to a shorter range sidearm in close quarters situations.

Assault Rail Rifle – Variant

Fire Mode: Charge to Fire, Full-Auto
Optics: Iron Sights

The Assault Rail Rifle features less damage per shot and a higher fire rate than the Basic Type. It has slightly lower range but still maintains its ability to hit targets at long ranges. It does however have very high recoil which can make it very difficult to control when fired from the hip. Additionally it’s charge time is shorter than the Basic Type, making it easier to use at closer ranges. Overall it is an excellent choice for medium to long range engagements.

Important Notes

Effects When Used With the Following Dropsuits
  • Caldari Assault – Reduced PG/CPU Cost & Increased Reload Speed
  • Other Assault – Reduced PG/CPU Cost
  • Caldari Commando – Increased Damage & Reload Speed
  • Other Commando – Increased Reload Speed
Effects When Used Against the Following Dropsuits
  • Gallente Sentinel – Reduced Damage Against Armor
  • Amarr Sentinel – Reduced Damage Against Shields
Tips & Tricks
  • Fluttering the trigger when you know you are going to encounter the enemy in the near future will keep your gun in a partially charged state. This will allow you to quickly begin firing with less charge delay when you have to, allowing the weapon to operate in closer quarters.

combatrifles

Damage Type: Projectile (-15% vs Shields / +15% vs Armor)

The Combat Rifle is a Minmatar battle rifle characterized by very high fire rate, low bullet damage, and medium range. The weapons have mid range DPS, fast reloads, but low damage per magazine. Overall they are flexible weapons that can be used in a wide range of situations but can struggle fighting large groups as they must be reloaded frequently.

Pros
  • Highest rate of fire of all weapons within its class
  • Second fastest reload speed of all weapons within its class
Cons
  • Lowest damage per magazine of all weapons within its class
  • Weapon can be difficult to handle without proper fire control
Combat Rifle – Basic Type

Fire Mode: Semi-Auto, 3-Shot Burst
Optics: Dot Sight

The basic Combat Rifle is a semi-automatic 3-shot burst rifle that can be both effective from the hip and while aiming down the sights, making it highly flexible in many situations and ranges.

Assault Combat Rifle – Variant

Fire Mode: Full-Auto
Optics: Iron Sights

The Assault Combat Rifle is a fully automatic variant that is sometimes known as a “bullet hose” due its extremely high fire rate and ability to saturate a target area very quickly. It’s dispersion can build up quickly making controlled bursts necessary for targets at range.

Important Notes

Effects When Used With the Following Dropsuits
  • Minmatar Assault – Reduced PG/CPU Cost & Increased Magazine Capacity
  • Other Assault – Reduced PG/CPU Cost
  • Minmatar Commando – Increased Damage & Reload Speed
  • Other Commando – Increased Reload Speed
Effects When Used Against the Following Dropsuits
  • Amarr Sentinel – Reduced Damage Against Armor
  • Gallente Sentinel – Reduced Damage Against Armor
Tips & Tricks
  • The Combat Rifle’s primary weakness is its low damage per magazine which can be counteracted with the Minmatar Assault suit’s magazine capacity bonus.
  • Try to find the rhythm with the basic Combat Rifle, mashing the fire button as fast as you can will not yield the highest possible fire rate. Instead find a steady and controlled rhythm to optimize your damage output.

scramblerrifle

Damage Type: Laser (+20% vs Shields / -20% vs Armor)

The Scrambler Rifle is an Amarr battle rifle characterized by high damage per shot, moderate rate of fire, and medium to long range. As the weapon is fired, heat will begin to build up the longer the gun is fired. If the heat reaches critical levels without being allowed to cool, the weapon will overheat and the user will receive feedback damage. While the weapon is overheated, it will cool down at a slower rate, it cannot be fired, and cannot be switched with another weapon.

Pros
  • Potential for very high alpha damage
  • High amounts of damage per magazine
  • Fastest reload speed of weapons within its class
Cons
  • Can be difficult to use due to heat mechanic
  • Heat buildup can make fighting large groups of enemies difficult
  • Risk of killing yourself due to overheat feedback damage
Scrambler Rifle – Basic Type

Fire Mode: Semi-Auto, Charge Shot
Optics: Dot Sight

The basic Scrambler Rifle is a Semi-Automatic rifle with a high rate of heat buildup. The trigger can also be held which causes the weapon to charge up and can be released for a larger amount of damage. This charge shot only consumes one shot in the magazine, but has increased heat cost.

Assault Scrambler Rifle Rifle – Variant

Fire Mode: Full-Auto
Optics: Dot Sight

The Assault Scrambler Rifle features a higher rate of fire with less damage per shot and a slower rate of heat buildup. It does not have the Charge Shot ability of the Basic Type.

Important Notes

Effects When Used With the Following Dropsuits
  • Amarr Assault – Reduced PG/CPU Cost & Rate of Heat Buildup
  • Other Assault – Reduced PG/CPU Cost
  • Amarr Commando – Increased Damage & Reload Speed
  • Other Commando – Increased Reload Speed
Effects When Used Against the Following Dropsuits
  • Caldari Sentinel – Reduced Damage Against Shields
  • Minmatar Sentinel – Reduced Damage Against Shields
Tips & Tricks
  • The Amarr Assault makes Scrambler Rifles far easier to use due to the reduction of heat buildup. In fact a fully leveled Amarr Assault can empty nearly an entire magazine of the Assault Scrambler Rifle without overheating.

shotguns

Damage Type: Hybrid-Blaster (+10% vs Shields / -10% vs Armor)

The Shotgun is a Gallente weapon that fires many projectiles in a wide spread. It sports some of the highest alpha damage in the game but also has the shortest range of all weapons. Like shotguns in most games, the weapon is reloaded one round at a time and can be fired mid-reload if necessary.

Pros
  • Capable of killing most dropsuits in 1-2 shots within optimal range (4-5m)
Cons
  • Extremely short range can make it difficult to get optimal damage
Shotgun – Basic Type

Fire Mode: Semi-Auto
Optics: Iron Sight

The basic Shotgun has high alpha damage, decent reload, and decently large magazine, making it the most commonly used shotgun in the game.

Breach Shotgun – Variant

Fire Mode: Semi-Auto
Optics: Iron Sight

The Breach Shotgun features slightly higher damage than the normal shotgun with slightly higher range and a tighter spread. However it only holds 2 shots per magazine and has significantly longer reload times. While it is a longer range shotgun, these benefits often do no outweigh the downsides and thus the weapon is not commonly used.

Important Notes

Effects When Used With the Following Dropsuits
  • Any Assault – Reduced PG/CPU Cost
  • Gallente Commando – Increased Damage & Reload Speed
  • Other Commando – Increased Reload Speed
Effects When Used Against the Following Dropsuits
  • Caldari Sentinel – Reduced Damage Against Shields
  • Minmatar Sentinel – Reduced Damage Against Armor
Tips & Tricks
  • Since the shotgun is heavily reliant on closing the distance between you and the target, try to use a fast moving suit such as a Scout, or stick to areas where you will be able to engage the enemy at close range consistently.

sniperrifles

Damage Type: Hybrid-Rail (-10% vs Shields / +10% vs Armor)

The Sniper Rifle is a Caldari rail weapon that has extremely long range and high alpha damage with a large bonus for headshot damage. When scoping in, the weapon will sway considerably before settling in to a stable position, this primarily prevents quick-scoping. The amount of zoom in the scope varies depending on the type of sniper rifle being used.

Pros
  • Very high headshot damage allows for very high damage output in the hands of a skilled user
  • Longest Range Anti-Infantry weapon
Cons
  • Low Hipfire accuracy and scope sway make the weapon nearly useless at close range.
Snipe Rifle- Basic Type

Fire Mode: Semi-Auto
Optics: Long Range Scope – Wing Dot

The basic Sniper Rifle has the longest range of all sniper rifles and the highest zoom. Best for long range engagements.

Tactical Sniper Rifle – Variant

Fire Mode: Semi-Auto
Optics: Mid Range Scope – Circle 

The Tactical Sniper Rifle is a shorter range, lower zoom variant of the Basic Type. It has less damage per shot and has a lower headshot multiplier, but a higher fire rate and larger magazine. This version is very useful for snipers who enjoy moving around more and fighting mid to long range.

Charge Sniper Rifle – Variant

Fire Mode: Charge Shot
Optics: Long Range Scope – Wing Dot

The Charge Sniper Rifle must be charged before it can fire, with longer charges dealing more damage. It’s range is between that of the Basic and Tactical types,  a similar zoom to that of the Basic, and a higher headshot multiplier. This variant has the highest alpha damage potential in skilled hands.

Important Notes

Effects When Used With the Following Dropsuits
  • Caldari Assault – Reduced PG/CPU Cost & Increased Reload Speed
  • Other Assault – Reduced PG/CPU Cost
  • Caldari Commando – Increased Damage & Reload Speed
  • Other Commando – Increased Reload Speed
Effects When Used Against the Following Dropsuits
  • Gallente Sentinel – Reduced Damage Against Armor
  • Amarr Sentinel – Reduced Damage Against Shields
Tips & Tricks
  • Since the sniper rifle is extremely difficult to use up close, snipers should consider carrying a strong sidearm such as an SMG or Magsec for self defense.

massdrivers

Damage Type: Explosive (-20% vs Shields / +20% vs Armor)

The Mass Driver is a semi-automatic grenade launcher that fires explosive rounds that affect a wide radius. The rounds are subject to travel time and bullet drop, and while the weapons tend to have fairly low DPS making them ill suited for direct combat, they are excellent suppression and area denial weapons. They are also exceptional at dealing with fast moving targets such as Scouts that can typically avoid normal gunfire due to their high speed.

Pros
  • Large area of effect allows weapon to hit enemies behind cover and provide area denial
  • Weapon has extremely long range and can bombard targets from afar if properly adjusted for bullet drop
Cons
  • Splash damage can often injure/kill friendlies in game modes where friendly fire is engaged
  • Difficult to attack enemies with a height advantage
  • Nearly impossible to use against Sentinels, as Sentinels will resist a large portion of the splash damage
Mass Driver- Basic Type

Fire Mode: Semi-Auto
Optics: Leaf Sight

The basic Mass Driver holds 6 shots, a moderate fire rate, and moderate splash and direct damage. It is a generally well balanced Mass Driver that is useful for a wide range of situations.

Assault Mass Driver – Variant

Fire Mode: Semi-Auto
Optics: Leaf Sight 

The Assault Mass Driver features a larger magazine and a higher fire rate than the Basic Type as well as a significantly larger splash radius. However it also has lowered direct and splash damage, making it more suited for area saturation rather than high damage output. This variant can be difficult to use due to friendly fire to both self and allies, but when used correctly can readily soften up and suppress enemy units in a large area.

Breach Mass Driver – Variant

Fire Mode: Semi-Auto
Optics: Leaf Sight

The Breach Mass Driver deals significantly more direct damage but has a smaller magazine, lower fire rate, less splash damage, and a smaller splash radius as compared to the Basic Type. It can be used to some effect in a close quarters environment, but the higher emphasis on direct hits to deal damage makes this variant the least used Mass Driver.

Important Notes

Effects When Used With the Following Dropsuits
  • Any Assault – Reduced PG/CPU Cost
  • Minmatar Commando – Increased Damage & Reload Speed
  • Other Commando – Increased Reload Speed
Effects When Used Against the Following Dropsuits
  • Any Sentinel – Significantly Reduced Splash Damage
Tips & Tricks
  • The HUD leaf sight is identical to the ADS leaf sight, and aiming down the sights provides no additional benefits, making it pointless.
  • Each tick on the leaf sight represents 10m on level ground. For example, if the target is about 30m away from you, line the target up with the 3rd tick below the center dot.
  • While no Sentinel resists explosive damage, they all resist splash damage, making the Mass Driver largely ineffective against them. Either hit them with a direct shot to do full damage, or switch to a sidearm to deal with them.
  • Reload speed and ammo capacity is very useful for the Mass Driver, consider leveling the Rapid Reload and Ammo capacity skill early on.

laserrifles

Damage Type: Laser (+20% vs Shields / -20% vs Armor)

The Laser Rifle is one of the more unique weapons in the game. It is a beam weapon that does continual damage to the target and has no recoil or dispersion, giving it perfect accuracy when fired from the hip and aiming down the sights. It also has the unique function in that the DPS increases the longer the weapon is fired. This means that the DPS upon first firing is quite low, but will quickly increase to extremely high levels. Additionally, it has a unique range profile in which the weapon does maximum damage between ~55-104m but very little damage up close. In other words, the weapon is only effective at medium to long range, and largely ineffective at short range. Additionally, like the Scrambler Rifle, the Laser Rifle generates heat as it is fired and if allowed to overheat, will hit the user with feedback damage and will be unable to be fired or swapped out with another weapon until it cools down.

Additionally, while most weapons increase the base damage of a weapon when moving up the tiers, the Laser Rifle is slightly different.. Instead the base DPS increases by a small margin each tier, but the rate at which the DPS escalates will increase with tier, giving a higher damage potential than lower tiered variants.

Pros
  • Perfect Accuracy
  • Potential for extremely high DPS at medium-long range
Cons
  • Largely ineffective at close range
  • Feedback damage can potentially kill the user
Laser Rifle- Basic Type

Fire Mode: Beam – Continual Damage
Optics: Dot Sight

Important Notes

Effects When Used With the Following Dropsuits
  • Amarr Assault – Reduced PG/CPU Cost & Decreased Heat Buildup
  • Other Assault – Reduced PG/CPU Cost
  • Amarr Commando – Increased Damage & Reload Speed
  • Other Commando – Increased Reload Speed
Effects When Used Against the Following Dropsuits
  • Minmatar Sentinel – Reduced Damage Against Shields
  • Caldari Sentinel – Reduced Damage Against Shields
Tips & Tricks
  • Since the weapon is nearly useless at close range, consider carrying a strong sidearm such as an SMG or Magsec in case the enemy gets too close to you.
  • Since the weapon’s damage buildup is based on time fired, rather than time on target, consider shooting a nearby wall to get the damage build up, then without releasing the trigger, swing the weapon over to the enemy target to hit them with the heightened levels of DPS. Often the target will not have time to react and take a lethal amount of damage before getting to cover.
  • The Amarr Assault allows this weapon to fire longer before overheating which equates to a higher damage potential, consider this suit when using this weapon to maximize your potential DPS output.

plasmacannons

Damage Type: Hybrid-Blaster (+10% vs Shields / -10% vs Armor)

The Plasma Cannon is a Gallente Anti-Vehicle weapon (100% efficiency against vehicles) that has a short charge before firing a projectile that has travel time and bullet drop, similar to a Mass Driver. The damage per shot is extremely high making it one of the highest alpha-damage weapons in the game, but the magazine holds only one round and must be reloaded constantly. The weapon can be used against infantry and can kill almost any suit in the game with a single shot, however it must be a direct hit as the splash damage is low and has a small radius. The slow projectile speed, bullet drop, charge time, and long reload can make the weapon can be difficult to use, but also very rewarding and powerful in skilled hands.

Pros
  • Extremely high alpha damage
  • Can instantly kill most dropsuits with a direct hit
  • 100% efficiency against vehicles
Cons
  • Extremely small magazine
  • Long reload times
  • Difficult to hit small or fast moving targets such as infantry or aerial vehicles
Plasm Cannon- Basic Type

Fire Mode: Charge to Fire
Optics: Wing Sight

Important Notes

Effects When Used With the Following Dropsuits
  • Any Assault – Reduced PG/CPU Cost
  • Gallente Commando – Increased Damage & Reload Speed
  • Other Commando – Increased Reload Speed
Effects When Used Against the Following Dropsuits
  • Caldari Sentinel – Reduced Damage Against Shields
  • Minmatar Sentinel – Reduced Damage Against Armor
  • Any Sentinel – Significantly Reduced Splash Damage
Tips & Tricks
  • Like most Anti-Vehicle weapons, the Plasma Cannon’s small magazine requires constant reloading. The Commando’s reload speed bonus will not only make the weapon easier to use, but also significantly increase it’s sustained DPS which is extremely helpful when fighting enemy vehicles. The Gallente Commando will also provide additional damage, making the weapon very useful against both infantry and vehicles.
  • Reload speed is everything for the Plasma Cannon, so make the Rapid Reload skill a priority when leveling up skills.
  • Low reserve ammo can also be an issue for the Plasma Cannon, consider leveling up the Ammo carry capacity skill as well.

swarmlaunchers

Damage Type: Explosive (-20% vs Shields / +20% vs Armor)

The Swarm Launcher is a Caldari Anti-Vehicle weapon (100% efficiency against vehicles) that fires homing missiles that track enemy installations and vehicles. Pointing the weapon at an enemy vehicle or installation and holding down the trigger will cause the weapon to start locking onto the target. Once locked on, releasing the trigger will fire a salvo of homing missiles that will hone in on the target. The weapon can only lock onto targets within 175m, but once fired the missiles will be able to fly upwards of 400m. However, the weapon can only be fired after locking onto a hard target, and thus cannot be used against infantry.

Pros
  • Once locked on, missiles will auto track into the target
  • 100% efficiency against vehicles
Cons
  • Small magazine
  • Missiles sometimes collide with obstructions on the way to the target
  • No Anti-Infantry capabilities
Swarm Launcher – Basic Type

Fire Mode: Lock On to Fire
Optics: None

The Swarm Launcher has a magazine of 3 and fires 4 missiles per salvo. Its lock on range is 175m and total flight distance is 400m.

Assault Swarm Launcher – Variant

Fire Mode: Lock On to Fire
Optics: None

The Assault Swarm Launcher is identical to the Basic Type except for it can lock onto two targets at once, splitting the damage output in half. Since there is no effective reason to ever split your DPS like that, this variant is completely pointless.

Important Notes

Effects When Used With the Following Dropsuits
  • Any Assault – Reduced PG/CPU Cost
  • Minmatar Commando – Increased Damage & Reload Speed
  • Other Commando – Increased Reload Speed
Effects When Used Against the Following Dropsuits
  • Cannot be used against dropsuits
Tips & Tricks
  • Despite being a Caldari weapon, the Swarm Launcher has explosive damage, meaning that the Minmatar Commando gets a damage bonus with it. This paired with the reload bonuses of the Commando make it the best choice for using a Swarm Launcher.
  • If you’re struggling with your swarms crashing into the ground or other obstacles, try locking onto your target, then aiming the weapon upwards at a 45 degree angle and then firing. The swarm missiles will always travel a short distance directly out of the launcher before turning and tracking the target, so aiming upwards gives them some additional starting elevation to avoid hitting nearby obstructions.
  • Reload speed can greatly help boost the sustained DPS of this weapon so consider leveling it up earlier on.

 

 

About Pokey Dravon 88 Articles
Pokey Dravon has played DUST 514 since early closed beta and is a founding co-host of the Biomassed podcast and blog. Follow on twitter @PokeyDravon
  • Dust Merc

    good

  • Battleshiplid

    I am really enjoying these guides, will there eventually be one for Dropsuites?

    • Spoilers: Next week’s guides will be “A Fundamental Guide to Dropsuit Bonuses”
      We will have some more in depth guides on specific suits in the future, but we will continue to release more broad, new player friendly guides for a bit here since the game desperately needs that content in an easy to find place.

      Thanks for reading! Feedback and comments keep me motivated so keep it up!

      • Battleshiplid

        Thanks! I’ll look forward to reading it!