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Red Dead Redemption 2 guide: Guns explained

A deep dive into your arsenal (like what Favored Weapons are)

Red Dead Redemption 2 guide to guns Rockstar Games via Polygon

With over 50 weapons to choose from, Red Dead Redemption 2 gives you a lot of options for causing damage and mayhem. Each weapon serves a purpose and comes in useful in different situations.

But with so many to choose from, lots of stats, and each gun’s own quirks, knowing what weapon to use when (and if it even makes a difference) is a daunting task. This guide is here to break down everything you need to know about weapons (specifically, guns). We’ll review how to read their stats and the basics of guns, then talk about the various types, where to buy or find them, and how to know what gun is right for you.

Over 50 doesn’t mean over 50 guns

So, let’s talk about that “over 50” number.

First, it’s 51. Which we recognize is over 50, but is still worth pointing out.

Second, 21 of those are throwables and various bladed weapons like knives and axes, one is your bow (of which there is only one), and another is just your fists. That brings the number down to a much more manageable 28.

We’re only going to focus on those 28 in this guide.

Gun stats

There are six stats for every gun, but only five we’ll talk about here — we’ll go into more detail on Condition below. They’re all pretty much what you’d expect, but there’re a couple nuances we’ll point out.

Your starting gun’s stats.
Your starting gun’s stats.
Rockstar Games via Polygon
  • Damage. Damage works like you’d expect — more damage is more good — but there are some extra factors here. If you’re using Dead Eye a lot and only landing perfectly placed headshots, Damage basically isn’t a factor at all. If you’re aiming for the body instead, you’ll have to also consider Fire Rate and Reload time (to get closer to a DPS calculation) when you think about Damage.
  • Range. Range refers to locking on to an enemy — effectively, the maximum distance from you an enemy can be that will trigger the game’s Aim Assist mechanic. Even if you don’t use (or don’t think about) Aim Assist, Range will still tell you a little about a gun’s effectiveness at a distance. (The short version is Sidearms have a lot less Range than Longarms.)
  • Fire rate. This one is pretty self-explanatory as well — it’s basically a measure of how often you can shoot your gun. For guns with an ammo capacity of one like a Bolt Action Rifle, this will be low, while for guns like pistols, this will be high. That means you can (kind of) use this stat as a proxy for ammo capacity.
  • Reload. This is how long it takes to put one cartridge back into your gun to replace one you’ve fired. This is another stat tied to ammo capacity — which you can’t actually see without equipping and drawing that weapon. Just know that a low Reload stat means it’s a process that could cost you valuable time during a firefight.
  • Accuracy. Accuracy, as you’d expect, means how often you hit what you’re aiming at. It’s a measure of the gun’s spread. You can see this stat reflected in the size of that gun’s targeting reticule.

Capacity

The big thing you can’t see when looking at a gun’s stats is its capacity. Capacity (or lack thereof) will come up while you’re using Dead Eye, since it determines how many bad guys you can shoot at once. Even when you’re not in Dead Eye, it’s still good to know how many shots you’re working with.

Red Dead Redemption 2 weapon ammo capacity

Type Capacity
Type Capacity
Sidearms
Revolvers 6
Pistols 8 to 10
Sawed-Off Shotgun 2
Repeaters
Carbine Repeater 7
Lancaster Repeater 14
Litchfield Repeater 16
Rifles
Varmint Rifle 14
Springfield Rifle 1
Bolt Action Rifle 5
Sniper Rifles
Rolling Block Rifle 1
Carcano Rifle 6
Shotguns
Double-Barreled Shotgun 2
Pump-Action Shotgun 5
Semi-Auto Shotgun 5
Repeating Shotgun 6
Weapon ammo capacity by type

A note on gun stats

The stats that your weapons have are presented on a 100-point scale. The numbers, though, don’t mean that much. How long does it take to reload this gun? 73. That’s not exactly super helpful.

The short answer is bigger numbers — or more filled-in bars — are better.

The other thing about the stats is that a lot of the weapons, especially similar weapons, have stats that are only fractionally different. This means two things: You’re probably not going to notice a difference between two (similar) guns, and, when comparing two guns, you’re only looking for very small differences.

Improving gun stats

There are four Gunsmiths you can visit in Red Dead Redemption 2 — there are shops in Valentine, Rhodes, Saint Denis and Annesburg. You’ll go to them to pretty up your guns or buy new ones.

More importantly, you can buy new Components for your guns. Some of the modifications you can make are purely cosmetic, but others — barrel length, rifling, sights and scopes — will improve your guns’ stats.

You can see how far a stat can be improved when you compare the filled-in white part of the bar with the gray portion.You can’t improve a gun beyond the gray part.

Favored weapons

As you use a weapon more, its Favorite Weapon Ranking will increase. You can track this by going into your menu and choosing Progress > Compendium > Weapons, then selecting the weapon. There are no stats for you to check here, but weapons that you use a lot — your favorites, you might say — will eventually give you a buff to accuracy, range or damage.

Condition stat and weapon degradation

Over time, your weapons’ condition will degrade, and that will affect their condition — and impact the Damage, Fire Rate, and Reload stats.

Weapons degrade when you fire them or when they’re submerged in water or mud. It’ll take a few hundred shots or several real-world minutes in water or mud to completely degrade a weapon.

Stats will decrease on a dirty weapon.
Stats will decrease on a dirty weapon.
Rockstar Games via Polygon

If a weapon is dirty, click on the right thumbstick while you’ve got the weapon highlighted in your L1/LB wheel. This will take you to a closer examination and cleaning screen. You’ll have several options to ogle your weapon from various angles, but the one you’ll be most concerned with is the Clean option. You’ll need Gun Oil to do this, which you can find by looting everything or buying it in shops. Alternately, you can just pay a Gunsmith to clean a weapon for you.

Items to slow degradation

There are a few items you can buy that will slow down your weapons’ degradation. These stack as you craft or purchase them — the highest slowing you can hit is 80 percent.

  • Wraps. At a Gunsmith, you can add a leather wrap to your repeaters, rifles and shotguns. Wraps slow degradation by 10 percent.
  • Upgraded Holster and Off-Handed Holster. This includes the Upgraded Holster you can buy at a Gunsmith, as well as the holsters you can get from at a Trapper when you complete various Challenges. Holsters slow degradation by 20 percent and off-hand holsters slow it by 10.
  • Raven Claw Talisman. You can craft this Talisman at a Fence after you complete the “Geology for Beginners” stranger mission. This Taliman slows degradation by 20 percent.
  • Beaver Tooth Trinket. You’ll need to hunt and kill the Legendary Beaver to get the tooth needed for this Trinket, then you can craft it at a Fence. It will slow degradation by 10 percent.

A quick note: Once you have purchased or crafted one of the above items, you don’t have to have it equipped to gain the benefits.

Types of guns

Broadly speaking, there are two types of guns in Red Dead Redemption 2: Sidearms and Longarms. Sidearms are your Pistols and Revolvers, while Longarms are your Repeaters and Rifles. Think of them as close-range and long-range, respectively.

Sidearms

Sidearms can be further broken down into Revolvers and Pistols. The big distinction here is that Revolvers deal more damage, but are slower to fire and reload than Pistols.

Longarms

Sidearms are good for up-close fighting, but for anything out a little further. For hunting, you’ll need something a little bit bigger.

Repeaters are good for medium-range fights. They don’t pack the same punch as Rifles, but they fire faster and give you more shots between reloads. Rifles (and Sniper Rifles) deal the most single-shot damage of any weapon — but you’re limited by their reload and fire rate. Repeaters don’t have the same range as rifles, though, so once you get past medium-range, you’ll need to switch over.

Sniper Rifles and Shotguns are more purpose-built for their specific tasks — long-distance shots and blowing big holes in nearby things, respectively.

Finding the best weapon for you

Look: Any gun that lets you put a bullet into the bad guy you’re aiming at and keeps them from putting bullets into you is the right gun. You’ve got a lot of guns to choose from, though, so you’ve got a lot of options for a more nuanced approach.

The first question is to ask yourself is how much do you rely on Dead Eye, or, more broadly, how many headshots you land. If you’re triggering Dead Eye every time you shoot and focusing only on fatal headshots, you’re not going to have to worry much about a gun’s Damage stat. Instead, look for guns with a quick reload and higher capacity — things like Pistols and Repeaters — to let you make sure you get the most out of your Dead Eye.

If you don’t use a lot of Dead Eye, firing from the hip or just dealing whatever damage you can rather than targeted damage, it’s time to worry more about Damage and Fire Rate. Focus on Revolvers and Shotguns so you get the most damage you can out of every shot you land.

All weapons and when you can find them

You won’t have access to every weapon from the beginning of the game. Some are unlocked as you progress through the main story or stranger missions, while others have to be discovered in the world.

Weapons at Gunsmiths and received as part of missions

Let’s start with the one’s you’re given or can buy.

Red Dead Redemption 2 weapon availability

Weapon Availability
Weapon Availability
Revolvers
Cattleman Revolver In inventory from beginning
Double-Action Revolver After "A Strange Kindness" in Chapter 2
Schofield Revolver After "Blessed are the Meek?" in Chapter 2
Pistols
Volcanic Pistol After "Eastward Bound" in Chapter 1
Semi-Automatic Pistol Valentine and Saint Denis after "The Joys of Civilization" in Chapter 4
Mauser Pistol Valentine and Saint Denis after "That's Murfree Country" in Chapter 5
Repeaters
Carbine Repeater Received during "Old Friends" in Chapter 1
Lancaster Repeater Received during "An American Pastoral Scene" in Chapter 2
Litchfield Repeater Received during "Goodbye, Dear Friend" in Chapter 6
Rifles
Varmint Rifle After "Eastward Bound" in Chapter 1
Springfield Rifle After "Eastward Bound" in Chapter 1
Bolt Action Rifle Received during "Preaching Forgiveness as He Went" in Chapter 3
Shotgun
Double-Barreled Shotgun Always available
Sawed-Off Shotgun Received during "Enter Pursued by a Memory" in Chapter 1
Pump-Action Shotgun After "Pouring Forth Oil" in Chapter 2
Semi-Auto Shotgun After "A Fine Night of Debauchery" in Chapter 4
Repeating Shotgun After "Visiting Hours" in Chapter 6
Sniper Rifles
Rolling Block Rifle Received during "The Sheep and the Goats" in Chapter 2
Carcano Rifle After "Goodbye, Dear Friend" in Chapter 6
Weapon availability

“The Noblest of Men, and a Woman”

You can find four sidearms (Revolvers and Pistols) as part of the “The Noblest of Men, and a Woman” stranger mission — this is probably the first stranger mission you pick up during Chapter 2. In this mission, you’re asked to find four gunslingers for Jim “Boy” Calloway’s biography.

These sidarms are: Flaco’s Revolver, Granger’s Revolver, Midnight’s Pistol, and Calloway’s Revolver.

“Duchesses and Other Animals”

The “Duchesses and Other Animals” stranger mission becomes available in Saint Denis after you complete “The Gilded Cage” as part of Chapter 4. Once you complete this stranger mission, you’ll receive Algernon’s Revolver.

Found guns

The remaining guns can be found in the world.

Where to find the Hermit and his Rare Shotgun
Where to find the Hermit and his Rare Shotgun
Rockstar Games via Polygon
  • Rare Shotgun. Just North of Annesburg, at a cabin labeled Manito Glade, you’ll meet a Hermit. If you kill him, you can pick up his Rare Shotgun and a part of a map that will lead you to Otis Miller’s Revolver.
  • Otis Miller’s Revolver. Pieces of two treasure maps will lead you to this Revolver during the Epilogue.
  • Rare Rolling Block Rifle. You can pick this Sniper Rifle off of the corpse of the sniper at the end of “Magicians for Sport” as part of Chapter 3.