A guide to the best guns and gear in The Division's 1.6 update

Optimal PvE builds

Overview: Enemy Armor Damage (EAD) works well, having a fully specced Skill Power (SP) player is great, and native armor stats mean little. Use the following gear splits to spec out your character accordingly.

All High Ends: Damage, utility, flexibility. This is what makes all HE/Exotics the build of 1.6 for any content, be it for PvP, PvE, a specific playstyle, weapon type, skill, and so on. Be sure to use Skulls MC gloves (they make the entire build viable) and Accomplished (rewards from accolades are tripled) capable kneepads for extra XP when completing PvE content. All the other pieces are honestly user choice, but I highly recommend Nimble, a kneepad armor talent, due to its quick healing strength in moving between cover. 

4 Striker/2 HE: Striker always has been great for PvE content, it's just typically overshadowed by competitors. Still, it's in a strong spot right now. Striker stacks into an automatic weapon or even a bolt action sniper and will grant some huge damage. The three-piece works well in PvE too. Use this set if you trust your aim and can maintain above 15% stacks.

4 Tactician/2 HE: If Massive did one thing right this patch, it was making SP builds viable again. Having a fully specced Tactician in your group is pretty damn good right now. This player should be providing the team with Overdose heals constantly, then whatever else the team may need: Pulse, Seekers, Support Station, and so on. Spec mainly into SP, Haste, and EAD as Firearms isn't too important. Rapid isn't a bad option here to even further your healing cooldown (CD), as well as Triage.

4 AlphaBridge/2 HE: AlphaBridge stays a pretty strong set with its new four-piece, having no mainstat (Firearms, Stamina, and Electronics) requirements. This lets a solo player spec deep into Electronics and Stamina and still maintain their damaging talents as while nabbing an extra talent. Be sure to run it for lopsided mainstats first though, not just for the extra talent.

4 Sentry/2 HE: If you enjoy using a shield go for Sentry's Call. The D3-FNC got hit with the nerf bat, so this will allow you to do some decent damage and buff up your teammates while tanking damage and pulling threat for them.

4 Reclaimer/2 HE: I call this set situational when compared to Tactician, which can do the same thing with more flexibility and less SP, but I think Reclaimer has its place. In content where your team stays in one spot (Dragon’s Nest or Falcon Lost) having a 24/7 powerful support station to sit on is great, but otherwise I'd opt for Tactician instead. Make sure to stack Support Station speed and canned food as the regen is crazy strong if you can protect the box.

High Ends/Exotics (All Builds): High Ends and Exotics are still extremely powerful for PvE. Barrett's bulletproof vest, Skulls MC, and Shortbow pads are the best Exotic options. Specialized, Refreshed, Nimble, Accomplished, Rapid, and Savage are the best HE options. Base picks on whether you're typically DPS or SP. Specialized works well on stamina stacking builds, Refreshed grants low SP users extra healing, Nimble allows players fully specced towards toughness or little SP to get a quick health bar back whenever, Accomplished is nearly a must, granting tons of extra XP for caches. Rapid helps shorten the SP users heals and Savage grants a small boost in damage if you don't care for the rest. The other HEs are viable, I just don't believe they're as useful. A two-piece HE combo is better than a two-piece gear set.

PvE example build

See the full image here
4.8-7k Firearms
225-400k+ Toughness
SP is user choice

Optimal PvE weapons and talents

PvE can be cleared by nearly any weapon type, but ARs are still the kings here. Their native EAD bonus is extremely powerful for PvE, they provide a great amount of damage, and all-around versatility. After ARs, just about every weapon type is the same strength for killing mobs as long as they're paired with the right setup.

Aim for Responsive, Destructive, Unforgiving, Competent, Ferocious, Predatory, Coolheaded, Skilled, and Determined for normal weapon talents. Flat damage and skill-based talents are still the most reliable. Keep in mind, the DPS number means nothing and is very inaccurate. 

Some Exotic weapons are powerful in PvE, such as the MDR, Hungry Hog, and Tenebrae. A case can be made for the Caduceus but I'd advise not running it. If you're specced heavy into ELE you're pumping out good healing already, and the heal from the Caddy still isn't that great for the damage sacrifice. Make sure you run Meticulous on the Hungry Hog to hold its bonus, and applying status effects for the MDR, which is pretty spammable for the head.

Optimal PvE skills

Not much has changed since 1.5. Booster is still super powerful and the go-to for every player (besides a fully specced SP player in a group of DPS players running Booster). This allows the SP user to provide huge heals for the DPS players, as well as opening their ability to overheal while they overlap the same heal with booster stats. Defibrillator isn't bad, considering it can be paired with Battle Buddy and provide 30% ADR to both players and heal over time. Support Stations are still great, but require a bit of SP to be useful, so I'd recommend these to the healing users only. 

Seekers are a nice choice for quick damage you can set and forget. Cluster is good for SP players. Fire is good for DPS to reduce their incoming damage. Pulse is good if you're just gliding through the content at hand and want some extra easy damage. Fire Turret isn't horrible if you want some lengthy crowd control (CC) and to draw attention from the mobs. 

Ultimates haven't changed: Recovery for solo players and healer. Everyone else can cycle through Tactical links. Haste applies to these links as well now, which is all the more reason to run haste where you'd like to.

Optimal PvP builds

Overview: EAD is dead, having a healer will make or break a group, and native armor stats mean little. Use the following gear splits to spec out your character accordingly.

4 Banshee/2 HE (DZ Only): I have no clue why this set was buffed damage-wise, but it's the strongest stat-based DPS build in the game. 20% extra damage to Rogues (after dying) and 10% to out of cover damage (OOC) is absolutely disgusting. This will probably help alleviate checkpoint camping now that the non-Rogues are coming out with huge damage increases. I recommend this build to any player who plans on doing the normal AR/SMG split in PvP. This build isn't useful in Last Stand considering the four-piece doesn't work there, three-piece is fine however.

All High Ends: Essentially Banshee with less raw stat, and more utility. Still, it's an extremely good contender in the DZ, and the best all around DPS build in Last Stand for normal AR/SMG PvP. It's a very flexible and fun build that doesn't have any requirements and can translate into anything with ease, such as DZ farming.

4 Tactician/2 HE: SP is pretty damn good now, especially healing wise. Letting three players spec into normal DPS/Stamina or Firearms stacking builds and running into your super heal constantly on a low CD (thanks to haste stacking, Rapid, and Triage) is going to make or break groups. Seekers are a good PvP option for fast/effortless damage, or provide teammates with a beefy pulse.

4 DeadEYE/2 HE: DeadEYE got indirectly buffed with the new PvP damage changes. Since body shots now result in more damage and the SVD marksman rifle is pretty good, DeadEYE has become strong. Stacking Firearms and staying far away works pretty well since you have to use a true sniper scope and really shouldn't let players get close to you. Scope sensitivity is rough with a gamepad, so it's mostly a mouse and keyboard set.

4 AlphaBridge/2 HE: Massive somehow nerfed a set, but didn't completely gut it. Alpha’s new four-piece allows a player to spec heavily into anything but Firearms and still grab the Firearms talents. Don't use this set just for the extra talent, use it for the lack of mainstat requirements and the ability to spec extremely lopsided.

4 Lone Star/2 HE: This build has been hyped around the fact that you can endlessly spam the Cassidy shotgun and keep spraying huge chunks of damage. I personally didn't have an amazing experience with this set. The Cassidy didn't really feel like it could instantly kill players who just spam Nimble for the health right back and I disliked its short range, but it's usable.

4 FireCrest/2 HE: The MDR assault rifle makes this set viable. Technically, FireCrest and Predators Mark were nerfed with the changes to CC and the fact medkits now cleanse, but the MDR is now in a very powerful state. Currently, FireCrest allows you to take full advantage of its Distracted talent. Since you can spec deeper into electronics now, the turret damage is pretty good, but most players will just cleanse and build immunity to it. You'll need to get creative.

4 Striker/2 HE (Console): Normally I'd say Striker simply isn't a PvP set. Players mouse spam and constantly run into each other, around each other, into CC, and hipfire. It's the exact opposite of what Striker wants. Striker’s three-piece is also borderline useless in PvP. The reason I list it is because console and gamepad players' PvP play is a bit different. Generally, they stand still and use auto-aim to put their crosshairs around the chest. I think Striker on an SASG can thrive on gamepad if you have good aim, maintain stacks (15%+), and understand how to use the stacks. If you aren't skilled in doing so, it's a waste of a gear set.

3 Predators/3 Banshee: Not the worst setup ever if you want a bit more damage than the full HE build. Personally, I don't recommend the Predator's Mark and Banshee combo compared to all HE because you're losing free SP from Specialized, overpowered Nimble heal, instant grenades from Shortbow, and free stats from Barrett's. Even so, it can compete with all DPS setups.

High Ends (All Builds): The king of the last patch, Barrett's, saw its indirect nerf in 1.6. With the armor changes, its 10% extra armor may be weaker, but it's still really good. Granting the player extra SP and damage for doing nothing but playing is great. 

Nimble is now extremely powerful and I predict nerfs. Taking cover, then starting a cover to cover move not only grants you ADR from the Evasive Action talent, but gives you a near full or full health bar when you reach your destination. This means a player specced fully into tank or zero skillpower can now get their health back essentially whenever they want. Expect to see players spamming this. 

Shortbow Knees are still top tier considering they provide instant CC on grenades and are currently the best of their kind in Last Stand. Specialized is a good pick into an all HE build, and obviously Skull Gloves are a must. Rapid helps healers get silly short cooldowns, works for DPS and healing builds.

Refreshed gives some extra healing in the mask slot for DPS builds. Rehabilitated lets you heal under status effects, however with medkits cleansing this isn't as useful as before. Another great mask option is Tenacious. Using medkits constantly in PvP and stacking 20% ADR from Critical Save on top of 10% damage from Tenacious can turn a fight around, quickly. Ferro’s is good for Last Stand against fire spammers, but I advise not using this item outside of it. Overall, almost all masks are good options.

I wouldn't touch Savage in PvP as there are blatantly better options, but if you want a small increase in damage output these are the go-to.

PvP example build

See the full image here
4.8-7k Firearms
300k+ Toughness
SP is user choice (healer should have at least 300k)

Optimal PvP weapons and talents

ARs are still the all around king of PvP. They have better headshot scaling, better attachments, range, small bloom, and the M4 family especially has great damage and RPM. SMGs are viable now considering EAD was nerfed and critical hit chance (CHC) got quite the buff. You still don't want to spec into crit, but putting some towards it when you can helps SMGs a ton, particularly with attachments. Go for an MP7, MP5 (ST is great), and AUG. Again, the DPS number means nothing and is very inaccurate.

Snipers are about as useful as they were in 1.5, which is to say they're still only alright. SVD is pretty good with DeadEYE. A fully specced firearms (FA) or critical hit damage (CHD) DeadEYE user will take most players out in three to five shots. The Urban MDR is really good as well, so try to make use of its status effects via FireCrest, fire seekers, and turrets.

Talents are same as last patch: spec towards flat damage! Responsive, Unforgiving, and Competent are top tier choices for automatic weapons. Deadly is alright on an SMG, but I would only take it on AlphaBridge as the extra talent. Predatory is alright if you are a solo player who needs constant health regen while clearing the DZ so you don't get insta-killed by a filthy ganker because you had no heal.

Optimal PvP skills

For Last Stand specific info, see the section below.

As normal, run Booster (or Overdose if you choose) unless you're in a group of DPS and are the healer. In that case always run Overdose for the reasons I talked about above. CC is still great so turrets, seekers, Disruptor, and support stations are all good choices as a secondary. If you have a good bit of SP then Pulse is an option, otherwise you're only looking at around 14% CHC and CHD for a low SP build. Recon pulse works well for PvP—lower CD.

Tactical link is still really strong, and I'd go as far as saying run it solo unless you're a player who plans on just farming and avoiding ganks. Tactical link allows you to basically instant kill players even through a Recovery link, and with the ADR nerfs like Critical Save it's even better. Run Recovery link if you have multiple people and they're quick with it.

Where to slot your weapon attachments

Character talents

Rest in peace our dearest friend All Damage Resistance (ADR), which is still a great stat, but halved in nearly every way and capped, too. You still want to go for the ADR talents because any amount you can get is great, but don't expect the normal hard tanking from things like Critical Save. One is None, Critical Save, Triage, Strike Back, Evasive Action (a Nimble must), On the Move, Battle Buddy (works on Recovery link and Defibrillator heal), and Precision are all good pickups. Other situation specific ones are Tactical Advance (good on Nimble), Tech Support, Steady Hands, Combat Medic (heals shields), Death by Proxy, and Chain Reaction for EDR talents and grenades.

Where to spec your primary stats

Where a player should be speccing their Firearms, Stamina, and Electronics is currently a hot topic. Personally, I believe you can do anything with the mainstats since Stamina scaling was nerfed, Electronics got better, and Firearms has always been poor. 

The typical hit-4800-Firearms-then-dump-into-Stamina build is still a good DPS option. When you have a healer in your group filling your health bar constantly, you want to have a decent pool and there's really no need for you to have crazy strong skills yourself. 4800 Firearms then dumping into Electronics works as well for low CD and useful skills as long as you can deal with being a bit squishy. Obviously, speccing into Electronics for skill power is good if you want powerful skills, but don't put everything into it—don't do that anywhere. Considering Stamina's current scaling, splitting half into it and Electronics is a good option too, especially for solo players. Complete, balanced builds work as well. There's some decent diversity now.

As for Firearms stacking, I'd say only do it on a pure sniping build, and even then it's not crazy good. Firearms has always been bad and still is bad, even if Stamina was hit. Increasing your weapon damage is easier than your toughness via skills, links, aim, build, and using the right weapons. Since ADR is based on what health you have, having a decent pool will make it more powerful when used. Also, since CC is so often spammed in normal PvP scenarios, you will get less time to cleanse and escape (especially with server lag) on a Firearms-based build. I'd say don't go above 6500 on any build besides DeadEYE.

PvE? Stack away if you don't mind being squishy and just want a small bit of extra damage.


Grenades were indirectly nerfed in 1.6 PvP, because we now have more health instead of armor, but they're still useful for their CC. About 50% of the skill required in the PvP clown party is hitting well timed and useful grenades. Shortbow knees make for great instant shock grenades for easy kills and emote use over their crawling body. Be sure to run Chain Reaction if you're a grenade spammer.

Last stand

The goal of Last Stand is holding objectives and using extra modifiers from capturing objectives, so CC becomes even more useful. In the DZ you see a lot of running around in circles but also a lot of running away. But in Last Stand, no one is running away from anything besides their spawn with Seekers in hand. 

Considering this, I'd advise using CC/anti-CC skills and talents to gain an edge in the competition. DPS players will normally run something like a fire turret since they simply drop it and control an area for zero SP, so make sure to have immune stations ready for use in your group. Speaking of groups, you will also run into the ones where all members are running Recon Pulse and no one is bothered to switch so make sure someone in your group is running a Scrambler pulse to cleanse a ton of CHC/CHD opponents may have on you. Recovery links are the most popular since Tactical links are very powerful in Last Stand, giving a mere 10% damage instead of its normal 30%.

All HE will be extremely popular for DPS in Last Stand. It gives a great amount of flat damage, Shortbow knees for CC spam, Nimble for healing, Barretts for extra stat, Specialized for the SP, and Ferros to help against the fire CC spam. It also allows you to use any weapons you want so it's super flexible. Tactician will be very popular as well since it is seeker paradise and handing out constant low CD heals in the chicken dance is very rewarding. DeadEYE on PC will be good since hitting center mass with the SVD is pretty easy and there is a lot of condensed PvP they can safely snipe on. 

As for how things play out, it will basically be like any domination game. Both teams take their respective point, then fight for B. While fighting for B they will rotate through A and C swapping them because one player spawned close and went to grab it himself. The extra modifiers that are stored away in PvE dungeons are very good however. If you see one going up take it upon yourself to go grab it for your team. Your score may suffer, and your teammates may complain, but getting something like double points or extra points for kills can instantly win you a game.

Note that Last Stand uses normalization, so just get the right rolls on gear and the mode will max them out for you.

Overview of The Division 1.6

After 1.5, I'm pretty sure everyone is happy to peel off the AlphaBridge glued to their bodies. In terms of opening the meta up a bit, Massive did that. It's no 1.4, but you actually can make some choices with your gear, rather than sticking to the must-haves. On the other hand, we're still very limited in what we have to pick from. We also still have completely dead sets, skills, talents, and weapons that should have seen some kind of work during PTS, which was awful. It's mainly a choice between Health vs Haste, and stacking EAD for PvE.

My biggest issue with 1.6 is the very small amount of content, with the same Gear Score. Not only are we using the same gear to do essentially the same content, but we have to re-farm some of our gear for the same level just to get the new 1.6 stats, which are a must on many pieces (haste, specifically). I understand Massive is still reworking the game after a year-plus, but the amount of content we've gotten in that timespan is inexcusable.

Exploring a DZ with some complexity and height felt so goddamn refreshing.

Lag, bugs, and performance issues are still present, as always. The horrible PC texture loading issue is still plaguing many players, and heal/medkit delays are awful. Mobs like to skip around and slide, and bullets tend to disappear often.

I'll give Massive credit where it's due. The DZ expansion shows off the strength of the art and environment team—it's fucking great. Exploring a DZ with some complexity and height felt so goddamn refreshing. It's really a solo player's paradise because there are so many places to lose a group. Last Stand is Division PvP, and while it isn't perfect it's still pretty fun. Whether you like PvP or not, jumping in and just shooting things and capturing points is rewarding, and the gear you get at the end of a game is too. PvE players can chip in by killing mobs and stealing the point modifiers. The new Exotic system is nice, the lore is good, and Massive finally added some unique and fun talents. Legendary difficulty will be welcomed by the hardcore players, and the new Incursion is enjoyable.

Hopefully we get a mid-patch update that addresses some of the glaring issues and dead gear, but I said the same for 1.5 and nothing came of it. I'm crossing my fingers that Massive will start releasing solid amounts of content (map expansion, missions, story development, guns, sets, skills) in Year 2 and keep the game alive. I love it at its core, and if Massive learns from their mistakes they can make the kind of game I'll want to play everyday. 

Have fun, and good luck, Agents.

Sean Benedick
Sean is on the newer side of PC gaming culture, but he enjoys just about every game genre there is, often getting wrapped up in a few competitively. In his free time, he is probably obsessing over music or practicing photography. He's easily spent over a thousand dollars on video game cosmetics.