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Red Dead Redemption 2 weapons guide: everything you need to know about guns in the Wild West

Wanted (Red) Dead or Alive

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Read Dead Redemption 2 is packed with rifles, pistols and shotguns from the late 19th century, and you’re probably itching to try out every one of them. But before you venture into the wild, you’ll want to know which ones to spend your money on first, how to stop them getting worn out, and which ones you can dual-wield.

We’ve got all that covered and more in this guide, with tips on how to customize your guns and improve your proficiency with any weapon in the game. Here’s everything you need to know about weapons in Red Dead Redemption 2.

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Where do you get guns?

Weapons in Red Dead 2 fall into two categories: ones that you can buy at a store, and rarer guns that you find either off the beaten path or in the main story.

Gunsmiths are all over the place - this is the Wild West, after all - and there you’ll be able to browse a catalogue of every type of weapon and ammo. You can also customize your gun with engravings and upgrades, but we’ll get onto that in a sec.

You’ll find the same weapons on the bodies of enemies. Feel free to swap them out for your current loadout and try them out, because all the weapons you own will be permanently stashed in your horse’s saddlebags, so you can’t lose them.

Lastly, you can find unique weapons in the game world, either carried by formidable foes, hidden away in nooks and crannies or just as a natural part of the story. Stumbling upon them feels brilliant, so we don’t want to give you a blow-by-blow breakdown of where to get each one, but we’ll cover a few in more detail in the ‘best weapons’ section below. 

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How many guns can you carry?

You have three gun slots in your inventory: one for sidearms, one to sling over your back, and one to carry on your shoulder. Part way through the story, you unlock dual-wielding for side arms, so you can carry two of them at a time, bringing the total up to four weapons. 

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What types of weapon combinations work?

Your sidearms are pistols, revolvers, and certain shotguns: when you’re dual-wielding, a mid-range pistol and a point-blank sawed-off shotgun play very nicely together. 

You’ll also want something longer range: versatile rifles and repeaters will be your workhorses throughout the game. You can carry two rifles at a time, and it’s a viable tactic if you’re willing to carry something beefy like a sawed-off shotgun as your sidearm for short-range fights. Choose one true rifle and one shorter-range repeater and you’ll have all bases covered. 

If you want to carry a pistol or revolver rather than a shotgun as your sidearm, we’d recommend taking one rifle and one larger shotgun in the other two slots.

Later on, you’ll get sniper rifles, and we like combo-ing a sniper with a shorter-range repeater rifle, finishing the loadout off with dual-wielding revolvers. Essentially, try to pack something for every situation and you can’t go wrong.

Now, onto the biggie.

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What are the best weapons?

Revolvers: The Schofield Revolver is a great all-rounder. It’s accurate and packs a punch - and you can pick it up early in the game by poking around the doctor’s office in Valentine (go to the back of the building and peek through the window).

Flaco’s Revolver is a good, fancier-looking alternative, although it’s slightly harder to get. You’ll find it as part of the Gunslinger missions, which trigger the first time you visit the second, smaller saloon in Valentine. 

Pistols: On the same Gunslinger quest line you’ll also find the Midnight’s Pistol, which has a lightning-quick fire rate alongside solid damage. The $150 Volcanic Pistol will do a job, too.

Rifles: For something good at both mid and long-range, you can’t go wrong with either the Litchfield or Lancaster Repeaters. They both offer solid damage, fire rate, and accuracy.

If you want a longer-range option, the Springfield Rifle is the one you want. The Bolt-action Rifle is just as good, but it’s nearly double the price.

Snipers: Keep an eye out for the Rare Rolling Back Rifle, which you’ll pick up during the main story. It can’t be beat.

Shotguns: If you can afford it, the Repeating Shotgun is an absolute beast, and reloads fast. For dual-wielding, pick up the Sawed-Off Shotgun too, and if you want something decorative, look out for a cave on the far west side of the map, above and to the left of Big Valley, where you’ll come across the very pretty Rare Shotgun.

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How to customize weapons

Visit any gunsmith to kit out your gun with engravings or to swap out the type of metal it’s made from. We could while away hours perfecting the colour scheme of our favourite pistol.

But customization isn’t simply cosmetic: gunsmiths can root around in a weapon’s innards to increase its range, damage or accuracy. Why not lengthen the barrel of your pistol to make it more versatile, or add a protective wrap to the stock of your rifle to protect it from wear and tear?

Speaking of…

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How to clean your weapons

Weapons get dirty over time, and the filthier they get, the more their stats will drop. Thankfully, keeping them in good shape is easy. You can either head to a gunsmith and get him to wipe them down for a small fee, or you can buy gun oil at stores and do it yourself. Highlight the gun in your weapons wheel and click the right stick to start the cleaning process. 

If you want your weapons to last longer, you could consider buying an upgraded holster at a gunsmith, which will make them degrade slower.

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How to use different types of ammo

If you’ve got the cash, it’s worth investing in some upgraded weapon cartridges, just in case you get into a sticky situation. For every weapon type you can buy different sorts of ammo, such as high velocity cartridges that perform better at range, or express cartridges with better stopping power. Keep a handful in your pocket for tough fights. 

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What about weapons that aren’t guns

They’re here too! Your trusty bow and arrow should never be far from your side - we normally just leave it with our horse and equip it when we know we’re going hunting for deer. 

You’ll also pick up hatchets, throwing knives and tomahawks on your travels. Our favourite is the striking Viking Hatchet, which you can find in the Roanoke Valley, north of Annesburg. On the map, look for where the river curves to the right: just east of that you’ll see two paths meeting, and from there you can go further east to some ruins in the woods.