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A guide to Valorant's guns: damage values, recoil patterns, and advice

(Image credit: Riot Games)
Reach Immortal rank with these Valorant guides

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Valorant release date: When will it fully launch?
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Valorant system requirements: Can you run it?
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Valorant beta: How to get in

Like CS:GO, Valorant is about a lot more than shooting, and on top of mind games, it adds special abilities and ultimates. Even so, the team that wins is often the team that got the last headshot.

If you're new to the Counter-Strike style of FPS, the first thing you need to know is that, unless you're a great sniper, you should usually be using an assault rifle. The other weapons are options you have when you can't afford a rifle. (You might want to also check out our general Valorant tips before jumping in.)

If you're a CS:GO player, you've probably noticed that Valorant's guns are obvious analogues of CS:GO's—the Vandal is the AK-47, for instance. But they are definitely not identical. Valorant's SMGs and rifles can be aimed down the sights, for instance, and ADS can have surprising effects, such as changing the firing speed or switching from full-automatic to burst fire.

In this guide, I've pulled all of the important data for each gun out of the Valorant closed beta: magazine capacity, firing rate, damage values, and so on. Along with our resident Counter-Strike player, Evan, I have also done some testing to ensure that the values are accurate, and we've made few suggestions here and there based on scenarios you're likely to encounter.

Health and armor

Every character has 100 health, and players can buy up to 50 armor. Effectively, this means that you need to do 150 damage to kill a pristine enemy.

That's all you really need to know about health and armor to get started, though there is a slight complication, which is that armor doesn't simply act like extra hit points. Instead, some damage gets through the armor with each shot.

Here's what happened when we tested armor penetration using heavy armor (50 points) and the Classic, which does 26 damage per body shot at close range. 

Shot one: 8 damage to health; 17 damage to armor
Shot two: 9 damage to health; 17 damage to armor
Shot three: 11 damage to health; 16 damage to armor
Total damage done: 78 (3x26)
Remaining armor: 0
Remaining health: 72

As you can see, heavy armor absorbs a little over half of the first 50 damage taken. The current wording in Valorant's buy menu is confusing, and I'm not sure why each shot did a different amount of damage (ultimately adding up to the correct number), but in the end, buying 50 armor still means that you can take 150 total damage before dying.

Ranges

Some guns have two sets damage values depending on range, while others have three, and a handful have just one. Complicating things further, one gun's close range might be 30 meters and under, while another's might be 20 meters and under. For example, the Frenzy does 78 headshot damage at its close range (within 20m) and the Classic does 78 headshot damage at its close range (within 30m). In tables, I'll always specify the number of meters I'm talking about.

For reference, here's what 10m and 30m look like in game:

(Image credit: Riot Games)

Weapon quirks

Knife damage: The left click knife attack does 50 damage. The right click knife attack does 75 damage against an enemy who's facing you, and instakills enemies in the back, like it does in Counter-Strike.

Wall penetration: If you see a bullet hole on a wall, your bullet went through it. If you see a lighter closed fracture decal, your bullet didn't penetrate. If you're used to Siege like I am, understanding that it's possible to shoot through the corners of hardwalls takes some getting used to. Some doors, like Haven's "Garage" section, even have armor that can be destroyed, making the surface penetrable.

Suppressors: The Ghost, Spectre, and Phantom all have gray tracers on your screen, but enemies see no tracer at all.

Sidearms

(Image credit: Riot Games)

Basic stats
GunCostMag sizeStandard fireAlt fireWall penetration
ClassicFree12Semi-auto; 6.75 rps3-round spread; 2.2 rpsLow
Shorty 2002Semi-auto; 3.3 rps; 12 pellets per roundNoneLow
Frenzy 40013Full-auto; 10 rpsNoneLow
Ghost 50015Semi-auto; 6.75 rpsNoneMedium
Sheriff 8006Semi-auto; 4 rpsNoneHigh

Sidearm damage values
Gun/rangeHeadBodyLegs
Classic (at 30m)782622
Classic (over 30m)662218
Shorty (at 9m)36x12 pellets12x12 pellets10x12 pellets
Shorty (10-15m) 24x12 pellets3x12 pellets2x12 pellets
Frenzy (at 20m) 782622
Frenzy (over 20m)632117
Ghost (at 30m)1053026
Ghost (over 30m)882521
Sheriff (at 30m)1605547
Sheriff (over 30m)1455043

The Classic, Ghost, and Sheriff are your basic handguns, and the most commonly used—the Classic because it's the free default. The Frenzy and Shorty are the odd ones out of this group: The Frenzy is fully-automatic while the Shorty is a mini-shotgun. I'll put them aside for now to focus on the regular pistols.

Comparing the Classic, Ghost, and Sheriff

Both the Ghost and Sheriff deliver instant headshot kills to unarmored enemies at under 30 meters, though the Sheriff is the only sidearm that can also kill armored enemies with one headshot at the same range.

Moving below the neck, the Classic requires six body shots at close range to deliver over 150 damage, while the Ghost requires five and the Sheriff only takes three. When you factor in each gun's rounds-per-second, the Ghost is the fastest body shot killer:

Time-to-kill, body shots vs full armor at 30m or less
Classic901ms (6 shots at 6.65 rps)
Ghost741ms (5 shots at 6.75 rps)
Sheriff750ms (3 shots at 4 rps)

The Ghost seems to be becoming the eco-round pick for many players, at least those of us who can't be trusted with a heavy revolver. It has the largest magazine of the three (15 compared to nine for the Classic and six for the Sheriff) and the fastest rate-of-fire, making it better at finishing off enemies who are already hurting—at least, that's assuming you miss sometimes, and that more shots means a better chance of connecting at least once. And unlike the Classic, it scores one-hit headshot kills on unarmored enemies at 30 meters or less.

If you're a crack shot, showing off with the Sheriff is obviously an option, but the Ghost costs 300 Creds less.

Classic spread pattern (including alt fire) 

Ghost spread pattern

Sheriff spread pattern

The Shorty and the Frenzy

The Frenzy fires 10 rounds per second and can kill with 4 body shots at close range, though its damage drop off happens at 20 meters instead of 30. Above 20 meters, it takes 5 shots, or half-a-second, to do over 100 damage, and that's if all your shots connect despite the spray. The Shorty requires very close ranges before it's of any use.

 Shorty spread pattern 

Frenzy spread pattern

SMGs

(Image credit: Riot Games)

Basic stats
Gun CostMag sizeStandard fireADSWall penetration
Stinger 1,000 20 Automatic; 18 rps 1.15x zoom; 4-round burst; 4 rps; "spread reduction"Low
Spectre 1,600 30 Automatic; 13.33 rps 1.15x zoom; 12 rps; "slight spread reduction"Medium

SMG damage values
Gun/rangeHeadBodyLegs
Stinger (at 20m)67 27 23
Stinger (over 20m) 62 25 21
Spectre (at 20m) 78 26 22
Spectre (over 20m) 66 22 18

The Spectre has the better headshot damage: Two headshots to kill an armored enemy at 20 meters, and three shots at above 20 meters. The Stinger requires three headshots at both ranges.

The Stinger somewhat makes up for its lower headshot damage by doing a little more body damage and firing faster when you aren't aiming down the sights. When you are in ADS, however, things get weird. The Stinger fires very accurate 4-round bursts down the sights, but can only fire one burst per second. The Spectre, on the other hand, doesn't change much, getting a little slower and a little more accurate.

What I really don't like about the Stinger is that, at over 20 meters, two headshots and one body shot do a total of 149 damage, leaving armored enemies with 1 HP. The stealthier Spectre, on the other hand, will record a kill in the same situation, doing 154 damage.

 Stinger spread pattern

Spectre spread pattern

Rifles

(Image credit: Riot Games)

Basic stats
Gun CostMag sizeStandard fireADS Wall penetration
Bulldog 2,100 24 Automatic; 9.15 rps1.25x zoom; 3 round bursts; 4 rps Medium
Guardian 2,700 12 Semi-auto; 6.5 rps 1.5x zoom; "slight spread reduction" Medium
Phantom 2,900 30 Automatic; 11 rps1.25x zoom; 9.9 rps; "slight spread reduction" Medium
Vandal 2,900 25 Automatic; 9.25 rps 1.25x zoom; 8.32 rps; "slight spread reduction" Medium

Rifle damage values
Gun/range HeadBodyLegs
Bulldog 1163530
Guardian 1956549
Phantom (0-15m)1563933
Phantom (16-30m)1403530
Phantom (31-50m)1243126
Vandal 1563933

If you're a CS:GO player, the Vandal is your AK-47 and the Phantom is your M4. The sleeker Phantom does less damage than the Vandal and is the only one of Valorant's rifles with damage drop-off, but its recoil is easier to control. Here are their spread patterns for comparison:

 Vandal spread pattern

Phantom spread pattern

Advice for beginners

Unless you're an excellent sniper (or want to become one), you should be using assault rifles most of the time. Stick to the Phantom or the Vandal.

An important difference is that the Phantom only does lethal headshot damage against fully armored enemies at 15m or under, whereas the Vandal will always have lethal headshots, even from across the map.

Aside from its lower recoil, the Phantom also makes up for its lower damage with invisible bullet tracers (they appear gray on your screen). It's a small advantage, but it's something.

The Bulldog and Guardian

 The semi-automatic Guardian's lethal headshot can be fun in the right hands—just don't forget that you aren't holding a full-automatic—while the Bulldog, in my experience, is better left on the shelf while you save money for a better rifle.

 Bulldog spread pattern 

Guardian spread pattern 

Sniper rifles

(Image credit: Riot Games)

Basic stats
GunCostMag sizeHip fireScopeWall penetration
Marshal1,1005Semi-auto; 1.5 rps2.5x zoom; 1.2 rps; "slight spread reduction"Medium
Operator4,5005Bolt action; .75 rps2.5x/5x zoom; "significant" spread reductionHigh

Sniper rifle damage values
GunHeadBodyLegs
Marshal20210185
Operator255150127

The sniper rifles do what you expect them to do: kill, but only if you're a great shot. The Operator is Valorant's version of Counter-Strike's AWP, and it works the same way: It kills fully armored enemies at any range with a head or body shot, but not with a leg shot. 

The Marshal, Valiant's version of CS:GO's Scout, kills with a headshot at any range, but requires two body shots or three awkward leg shots to kill armored enemies. What you get in return is a much more accurate shot from the hip.

 Marshal hip/scope fire 

Operator hip/scope fire

Shotguns

(Image credit: Riot Games)

Basic stats
GunCostMag sizeStandard fireAlt fireWall penetration
Bucky9005Semi-auto; 15 pellets; 1.1 rpsSemi-auto air burst (10m min); 1.1 rpsLow
Judge1,5007Automatic; 12 pellets; 3.5 rpsNoneMedium

Shotgun damage values
Gun/rangeHead BodyLegs
Bucky (0-8m)

44x15

22x15

19x15

Bucky (8-12 m)

34x15

17x15

14x15

Bucky (12-50m)

18x15

9x15

8x15

Judge (0-10m)

34x12

17x12

14x12

Judge (10-15 m)

26x12

13x12

11x12

Judge (15-50m)

20x12

10x12

9x12

Like the Heavy machine guns listed below, there isn't much to say about the shotguns right now because, like in CS:GO, they're not used much. That's not to say they're completely useless, and we may discover abilities in Valorant that make them more viable, but for now, we'll just stick to the data, and update our thoughts if we discover any exciting reasons to consider these unloved categories.

Bucky spread

Judge spread

Heavies

(Image credit: Riot Games)

Basic stats
GunCostMag sizeStandard fireADSWall penetration
Ares1,70050Automatic; 10-13 rps (increases while firing)1.25x zoom; "slight spread reduction"High
Odin3,200100Automatic; 12 to 15.6 rps (increases while firing)1.25x zoom; 15.6 rps (instantly); "slight spread reduction"High

Heavy damage values
Gun/rangeHead BodyLegs
Ares (at 30m)723025
Ares (above 30m)672823
Odin (at 30m)953832
Odin (above 30m)773126

Ares spread

Odin spread

Tyler has spent over 1,000 hours playing Rocket League, and slightly fewer nitpicking the PC Gamer style guide. His primary news beat is game stores: Steam, Epic, and whatever launcher squeezes into our taskbars next.