You said in your review that Battlefield Hardline's starting guns are weak, so which ones are the best, then? I want to know how to spend my hard earned drug money. —Brett L.
Well, some of Hardline's starting guns aren't great—there are exceptions, such as the MP5K (which I admit I don't really like)—but some of the unlockable guns are so good that using them makes me feel like a better player. I know, I know, a great player can succeed with any weapon if they know how to use it, but while there's a bit of that lateral decision making (i.e. higher rate of fire or higher damage?), it's hard to look at the leaderboards and argue that certain guns aren't simply better.
Using my own experience and some research from the wonderful Symthic, here are what I believe to be the best guns in Hardline... until they're nerfed.
If you want these guns, you can pretty easily grind money by driving around near-empty Hotwire servers. It's dumb, but it works. Some require special achievements to unlock, though, and that's going to be a much longer journey.
Mechanic: K10 / MPX
The K10 is a little submachine-bastard that's a pain in the ass to face. Its ridiculous 1200 rpm rate of fire and high damage (three bullets to kill within 10 meters) make it brutally effective at close range. Plus, it only takes 2.23 seconds to reload. The downside is a very small magazine, so it can be tough to engage more than two enemies at once.
Bad news if you love it: it's going to be nerfed (opens in new tab). Reducing its damage to 33 is going to put it just shy of a three hit kill with a full health target, but I think it will still be an excellent gun.
graph from Symthic (opens in new tab)
On the criminal side, I prefer the Uzi (weirdly), but I see a lot more P90s out in the wild. The best alternative, however, is the cops' MPX. The P90 fires at a speedy 900 rpm, but takes four hits at close range for a kill. The MPX has a very close rate of fire of 800 rpm, but only takes three hits to kill up to 14 meters, has decent range, and has a shorter reload time than the P90 and MP5K.
Both the P90 and MPX are good (and the MP5K), so to some degree, it's a matter of taste. Do you want to spray with the P90's low damage, high rate of fire, large magazine, and better range, or take more calculated shots with the MPX? Both are viable options, but from looking at this comparison (opens in new tab) and the leaderboards, I feel confident in saying that the MPX has a slight edge.
Back to the K10, here's what it can do when enemies are bunched up:
Operator: M416 / M16A3
The M416 (Criminals) has the edge, but the M16A3 (Police) is a good choice as well. They're very similar, but the M416 fires at a slightly higher RPM in exchange for some of its range. Together, they are the best assault rifles, and the carbines really don't compete, especially not the starting RO933. I've seen some success with it, but look at the leaderboards, and these two are clearly the top guns (with a few K10 users mixed in).
TTK comparison (opens in new tab)
I do like the ACWR carbine, which comes with the Deluxe Edition—it doesn't do much damage, but it controls very well. I wouldn't use it over the M416, though. Here's a comparison (opens in new tab) of the more popular Operator guns, and a lucky little M416/grenade spree below:
Professional: R700 LTR / .300 Knockout
I don't actually have the .300 Knockout, because it's a pain in the ass to unlock, but I'm pretty sure it's the best sniper rifle in Hardline. The Knockout is a one hit kill within 50 meters. What. Hardline's maps make close engagement very common, so that's pretty huge.
But, unlocking it is a hell of a journey, so in the meantime I've been using the R700 LTR (The AWM is very similar (opens in new tab)), which is a two-hit kill for up to 2400 meters. The basic Scout Elite is also a great choice. It dosn't do as much damage, but has better range, and is dangerous as hell with a straight pull—it's possible that'll be nerfed a bit, but I think those calling for it are just fed up with snipers in general. (I'm kind of with them, even though I like sniping.)
Now please enjoy this very lucky shot I made with the R700:
Enforcer: SA58-OSW, probably... what do you like?
I mean that... do you know? It's the class I've experimented with the least. I like the 37 Stakeout, but I can't say I know if it's better than the other shotguns (I haven't unlocked the double barreled shotgun, which I see some success with in the leaderboards). As for the battle rifles, they just seem a bit pointless when compared to the M416, M16A3, and submachineguns. They have very high damage at close range (opens in new tab), but a lot of recoil. That said, they're being buffed (opens in new tab), so that could put them on the map.
I have seen some people successfully using a SA58-OSW as a sort of automatic sniper, which seems to work on maps like The Block. (But you know, screw that map.) I'm going to wager that it's the best Enforcer weapon for now.