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How to get schematics in Modern Warfare 3’s Zombies

A list of schematics and the most reliable source to unlock them

A player drinks a can of Jugger-Nog and faces down a horde of Zombies in MW3 Zombies Image: Sledgehammer Games/Activision
Ryan Gilliam (he/him) has worked at Polygon for nearly seven years. He primarily spends his time writing guides for massively popular games like Diablo 4 & Destiny 2.

Schematics are the most valuable items you can find in Modern Warfare 3’s Zombies mode, as they allow for some permanent progression outside matches.

If you’re lucky enough to find the schematic for your favorite perk, for example, you can spawn into (some) of your matches with a can already in your inventory. This can help you kickstart your match, making it much easier to take on encounters like the Mercenary Convoy, or even brave a match solo.

In this MW3 Schematics Zombies guide, we’ll teach you how to find schematics quickly, how to unlock them permanently, and what all you can craft between matches.

How to get schematics in MW3 Zombies

A player collects a rare schematic for Jugger-Nog in MW3’s Zombies mode Image: Sledgehammer Games/Activision via Polygon

The annoying thing about schematics in Zombies is that they’re that terrible mix of crucial and random — meaning I can’t exactly tell you where to find the schematic for your favorite perk. However, I’ve come across a few schematics in my games, so I can at least point you in the right direction.

Contracts have been my only reliable source of schematics in Zombies, specifically in the Tier 2 difficulty zone (the middle one). These Tier 2 Contracts are more difficult than the Tier 1 ones, but they’re still relatively simple to complete, even in a squad of random players who weren’t communicating at all outside of pings.

According to PC Gamer, you can also grab schematics from Mercenary Loot Caches and Aether Loot Caches, which you can find in outdoor activities like Aether Nests and Strongholds. I wasn’t able to replicate their schematic success in either of those activities, despite hours of testing on my own.

If you’re specifically looking to farm for schematics, Contracts are your best bet. They’re faster and safer than the game’s other activities. And, because they give you so much money, Contracts are also the activities that random squad mates tend to gravitate toward, allowing you to easily farm with a group even if you typically play solo.

How to unlock and use schematics in MW3 Zombies

A player collects the Jugger-Nog Recipe from MW3’s Zombies mode Image: Sledgehammer Games/Activision via Polygon

Once you’ve collected a schematic out in the MW3 Zombies map and placed it in your backpack, you’ll need to extract. If you die with a schematic in your backpack, you will lose it and need to collect it again in a different match. If you successfully exfil with the schematic, however, you’ll permanently unlock the ability to craft that item for your characters.

The strange thing about schematics and crafting in Zombies is that there is a real-world timer associated with these items, and it’s based on their power. For example, the Raw Aetherium Crystal schematic that I have is on an eight hour cooldown. That means that every eight hours in the real world, I can craft a Raw Aetherium Crystal and equip it on one of my characters to instantly Pack-A-Punch a weapon. The Jugger-Nog Can, on the other hand, only has a three hour cooldown period between uses.

Once you craft these items, you’ll need to equip them to your character and load into the match with them.

MW3 schematics list

An image showing schematic crafting for the ray gun in Modern Warfare 3’s Zombies mode Image: Sledgehammer Games/Activision via Polygon

Here are the various different upgrades you can craft from schematics (once you unlock them) in Modern Warfare 3 Zombies:


  • Uncommon Aether Tool
  • Rare Aether Tool
  • Epic Aether Tool
  • Raw Aetherium Crystal
  • Refined Aetherium Crystal


  • Jugger-Nog Can
  • Deadshot Daiquiri Can
  • Death Perception
  • Elemental Pop Can
  • PHD Flopper Can
  • Quick Revive Can
  • Speed Cola Can
  • Stamin-Up Can
  • Tombstone Soda Can

Ammo Mods

  • Brain Rot Ammo Mod
  • Cryo Freeze Ammo Mod
  • Dead Wire Ammo Mod
  • Napalm Burst Ammo Mod
  • Shatter Blast Ammo Mod

Wonder Weapons

  • Ray Gun
  • Wunderwaffe DG-2

For more Modern Warfare 3 guides, see how to switch to Tactical Stance, and check our guides on the best SVA 545 loadout, best Striker loadout, best MCW loadout, and best AMR9 loadout.

If you’re jumping into the campaign, find all of the items and weapons in “Precious Cargo” and “Reactor,” see how to earn the Back in the Field trophy and the A Shot Blocked achievement, or check out our walkthrough for “Deep Cover.”

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