One of PC gaming's most iconic guns just got nerfed

CS:GO counter-terrorist aims AWP rifle in hallway
(Image credit: Valve)

In the same way that I assume the sun will rise in the morning, CS:GO players load into matches assuming the AWP, the iconic sniper rifle that has broken hearts and wrought legends for the last 20 years, will be the same 1-shot-kill god gun it always has been. Well it still kind of is today, but the AWP just got seriously nerfed. I hope the sun is OK.

Specifically, the AWP's magazine size has been cut in half, from 10 to 5. Valve announced the news alongside the release of CS:GO's latest patch that also lowers the M4A1-S's effectiveness at range and removes Dust 2 from the current Active Duty map pool.

"The AWP has had its magazine size reduced to five bullets (so make them count!)," the post reads.

"Make them count" indeed—that's a full 50% reduction in ammo at the ready, and it's sure to have a big impact on how many players (and probably some pros) deploy this powerful $4,750 weapon. An AWP in the right hands can completely change the course of a match, and most pro teams field one or more designated AWPers. It's not uncommon for an experienced AWPer to chain together two, three, or four kills in a row, win the round, and use the very same AWP in the next round to do it again. There's a reason it's the most expensive gun in CS:GO's arsenal but, with a slimmer magazine, players will have to consider if the AWP investment is still worth it.

Is your AWP empty? Talk to a doctor about reloading more frequently. (Image credit: Valve)

In most cases? Probably. The AWP is already a risky gun as is. You only have to miss once to give enemies an opening to spray you down. That's still the case with a 5-round mag, but having to reload more often will definitely limit a single player's potential to spam, noscope into small spaces, and potentially shut down a full team of five even if they miss a few shots. CS:GO's community is reacting to the AWP nerf with a mix of panic, confusion, and cautious optimism.

"People will actually reload now," wrote Redditor Sosen.

"Also those who aren't sick AWP players need to be more passive now. Can't just keep peeking forever," added user mcucsgo.

Some commenters also laughed at the fact that just three days after famed French AWPer kennyS returned to the game after an 18-month absence, Valve has curtailed his favorite gun.

AWP Dragon Lore CSGO gun

(Image credit: Valve Software)

It's true that Valve rarely makes dramatic tweaks to CS:GO's gun meta, and when it does issue a change to a core weapon, it tends to stick. The last major change to the AWP was a whopping seven years ago. That 2015 patch caused a big stir with AWPers, who discovered a nerf to scoped-in movement speed meant they could no longer quick-peek angles for instant kills the way they had been for years. The AWP also got a minor nerf to its movement acceleration in February 2020, but that tweak was so small it didn't even make it into the blog post.

Curiously, the 5-round mag change brings the AWP more in line with its counterpart in CS:GO's biggest competitor, Valorant. Riot's version of the AWP rifle, the cutely named Operator ("Op" for short) also has a 5-round mag. Before today, magazine size was one of the main differentiators between these two dominant rifles—in every other way that matters, the guns are basically identical.

Maybe Valve is taking some notes from Riot's tactical shooter, which would only be fair after the League of Legends studio did one big Ctrl+C+V on Counter-Strike's entire deal.

Morgan Park
Staff Writer

Morgan has been writing for PC Gamer since 2018, first as a freelancer and currently as a staff writer. He has also appeared on Polygon, Kotaku, Fanbyte, and PCGamesN. Before freelancing, he spent most of high school and all of college writing at small gaming sites that didn't pay him. He's very happy to have a real job now. Morgan is a beat writer following the latest and greatest shooters and the communities that play them. He also writes general news, reviews, features, the occasional guide, and bad jokes in Slack. Twist his arm, and he'll even write about a boring strategy game. Please don't, though.