In December, Activision decided to merge its two most recent Call of Duty titles inside of the popular, free-to-play battle royale, “Warzone.” It did not go well.

Beyond a slew of bugs that allowed players to turn invisible or infinitely heal themselves outside of “Warzone’s” shrinking gas circle, the integration of “Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War’s” weaponry created a number of questions about the effectiveness of attachments (which are unique to “Cold War” guns) and how they stacked up against traditional “Warzone” loadouts based off “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s” guns. Then people discovered the DMR-14.

The semiautomatic rifle became one of the most powerful weapons ever introduced into “Warzone,” and quickly defined the meta. Everyone had to run one because it could kill with as few as two shots, with almost no bullet or damage drop over long distances. And it could spit bullets as fast as players could squeeze the trigger.

The emphasis on the DMR meant few players were scrutinizing the other new weapons. And while some, like the Mac-10 submachine gun and the Diamatti burst pistol, became secondary weapons for DMR users, few were paying attention to “Cold War’s” other possibilities. Now that the DMR has (mercifully) been nerfed and the meta has rebalanced, there are still a lot of questions about what “Cold War” guns are best. We’re here to provide some answers.

“Call of Duty” has a dedicated and rigorous group of creators, like YouTubers JGOD and Xclusive Ace, that devote hours to studying weaponry. Creator Anthony Zachman has taken that work even further. Teaming with a partner, Zachman drops into Plunder matches and tests the damage-dealing potential of various guns and attachments by measuring the disappearing pixels in health and armor bars. Gathering up that data, he publishes it online to TrueGameData.com, a site that allows users to compare different weapons and attachments and view TTK (time to kill) over distance.

To get some elusive answers about “Cold War’s” weapons in “Warzone,” we consulted Zachman about his early “Cold War” weapons findings, and also enlisted former Launcher intern — and current “Warzone” streamer — Hawken Miller to help assemble some solid loadout suggestions based on the new guns.

The choicest post-‘Cold War’ merger ‘Warzone’ weapons

Before we dive in, a quick reminder that the “best” weapon is whatever works best for a player. (At least now that the DMR is nerfed.) Some guns may have better TTK numbers than others, but those figures are contingent upon players hitting their shots. If you’re struggling with a recoil pattern or can’t line up your snipe shots, it doesn’t really matter what a gun’s TTK is. So, experiment and find what’s most comfortable for you.

That said, here are the weapons that have been most prevalent, and largely successful, in the post-DMR nerf meta. The “Cold War” guns are in bold.

Assault Rifles: XM4, FFAR, M4A1, Kilo, CR-56, Grau 5.56

The M4A1 has long been a mainstay of “Warzone” metas, and its surprisingly similar “Cold War” version is likewise suitable for Verdansk. The key differences come in terms of distance, according to Zachman.

The M4 from ‘Modern Warfare’ is better at long range, there’s no question,” Zachman said. “You have a long barrel and you have the commando foregrip. That’s huge for a long range gun. But up close, I don’t know, inside like 50 meters. I’d probably give the edge to the XM4. It has a little better TTK and has better ADS [aim down sight] times too.

The FFAR has been the more intriguing gun, however. A ridiculously fast rate of fire positively deletes players at close range, firing faster (yes, faster) than the Cold War MP5, while dealing damage like a top-tier meta assault rifle. Take a look below how the base weapon with no attachments stacks up to the top Modern Warfare ARs against a fully armored enemy. The FFAR is in orange. The lower on the chart a line falls, the more potent the gun at that distance.

If you haven’t unlocked all the attachments for the FFAR yet, start grinding. You’re going to see it a lot in “Warzone.”

SMGs: Mac-10, MP5 (CW), Bullfrog, MP5 (MW), Fennec

Aside from the DMR, the “Cold War” weapons making the biggest impact are in the SMG class, where they compare very favorably to the top SMGs from “Modern Warfare,” including the MP5, which now has a “Cold War” companion.

Like the M4A1/XM4 comparison, there are a few crucial differences between what would appear to be duplicate weapons, Zachman has found.

“The MP5 from ‘Cold War’ has a little bit less range than the MP5 from ‘Modern Warfare’ and it kills faster,” Zachman said. “So as far as SMGs go, I think if you’re going to be rushing into buildings, the ‘Cold War’ MP5 is probably the way to go. You’re going to be up close anyway, so you don’t really need that little bit of extra range and it’s a very tiny amount anyway.

“But there are some caveats to that, where the ‘Cold War’ MP5 doesn’t have as many hip-fire reducing attachments as the ‘Modern Warfare’ MP5,” he added. “So, if you like hip firing, then the ‘Modern Warfare’ MP5 is probably a better choice, just because you can get the hipfire spread much smaller.”

Most frequent “Warzone” players should be familiar with the Mac-10 by now, but it has definitely cemented a place in the meta despite a recent nerf. An unmatched firing rate, coupled with big-time damage makes it a human eraser up close, but the most surprising thing about that weapon is how well it competes beyond 25 meters. It will be interesting to see if that gets nerfed over time.

The most intriguing SMG, however, may be the Bullfrog. While it looks like a copy of the much maligned PP-19 from “Modern Warfare,” the Bullfrog sports a solid rate of fire and accuracy that should appeal to any player who sometimes struggles to land shots. “There is literally no recoil. It is a laser,” Zachman said.

“People are definitely asleep on the bullfrog right now,” he added. “It’s just as good, if not better than the Mac-10 in a lot of ways, I think. And you know, how much people are using to Mac-10. … It has competitive TTKs even [compared to] the Mac-10. It actually kills way faster than the Mac-10 with headshots and leg shots, which I don’t know if people realize.”

LMGs: Stoner (maybe?), Bruen

The jury appears to be out on the Stoner, with some people thinking it’s too slow and some, like JGOD, suggesting some builds (like those adding the 17.8-inch Calvary Lancer barrel to fight bullet drop) could be viable, if just a cut below the meta. The M60 and RPK have yet to make consistent showings by way of loadouts yet, however.

Tactical rifles: DMR, M-16, AUG

This is the category essentially created by “Cold War” weapons. Early on it was dominated by the DMR and, to a lesser extent, the Type 63. While the DMR remains viable post-nerf, the Type 63 seems to have disappeared, relatively speaking at least.

The DMR’s bullet spread is still well controlled with a series of attachments (see the loadout suggestion below) and the damage is still high enough that consistently accurate fire will bring down foes rapidly — even if it appears slow compared to the gun’s instakill ability in December.

More players are starting to run the M-16 and AUG, two burst rifles that seem vastly superior to the FR 5.56 from “Modern Warfare,” which, how should we put this … stunk. At mid- and close range, the M-16 actually seems to hit accurately and powerfully. Landing two bursts could even be enough to drop a foe. At longer ranges, it’s less likely all three rounds from the burst find their target, however.

The AUG, not to be confused with the fully automatic SMG from “Modern Warfare,” hasn’t gotten much scrutiny yet from Zachman, but some regular “Warzone” players believe in its potential.

Sniper/Marksman rifles: Kar-98K, HDR, AX-50, SP-R208

The “Cold War” rifles really haven’t cracked the meta yet. Whether that’s because everyone was focused on the DMR or because the ADS times on the Pellington and (especially) the Tundra are agonizingly slow, or that bullets drop from the Pellington and M82 like yaks falling off a cliff, or … you get the idea.

Stick with the previous slew of snipers for now.

Shotguns: Gallo SA12, R9-0

It looks like the “Doof-Doof,” AKA the R9-0, has competition. If you’ve been running “Cold War” multiplayer, you’ve probably been killed many times in infuriating fashion by the Gallo, which slams and has just astoundingly exaggerated range for a shotgun. A lot of those characteristics have translated to “Warzone,” particularly the gun’s stopping power. Even if you get jumped from behind, the Gallo has the potency to clap back before your attacker can finish you off.

Shotguns and pistols haven’t made it on to Zachman’s site yet (for reference, he says it takes about 20 hours to gather data for just one gun and its attachments), but anecdotally the Gallo wrecks and is worth further experimenting.

Also, keep an eye on the Street Sweeper, which is starting to make its way into “Warzone” after players have unlocked it with a “Cold War” challenge. The fully automatic shotgun could definitely work its way into the meta if it sports better range than the Origin, the other auto-shotty in “Warzone.”

Pistols: Diamatti

Quite simply, this is the only pistol you need right now and it should be a mainstay of any Ghost loadout. The three-round burst and the lack of delay between them just shame every other pistol build. Take a gander below for the best way we’ve found to kit it out.

Six 'Cold War’-based loadouts

With the help of Hawken Miller, we’ve put together some solid options from which to base your loadouts. Feel free to riff off the options below (remember, “best” means what’s best for you). If you find something you like, leave us a note in the comments.

One final point: Given the frequent buffs and nerfs, and the fact that a number of the “Cold War” attachments don’t seem to work as advertised, it’s likely this info will change in the future. It is certainly not written in stone.

The Runner

Primary: Mac-10 (Agency suppressor, 5.9-inch Task Force barrel, Field Agent foregrip, 53-round fast mag, Raider stock)

Secondary: DMR (Agency suppressor, 16.3-inch Titanium barrel, Field Agent foregrip, 30-round mag, Axial Arms 3x scope)

Lethal: Thermite

Tactical: Stun grenade

Perks: Doubletime, Overkill, Amped

This was pretty much the meta loadout before the DMR nerf but it remains extremely viable, particularly for those who prefer to play on the move. The Mac-10 (surprisingly) has proven itself as a legitimate option even in some midrange firefights and remains extremely melty up close. We’ve seen players running this with laser attachments instead of a stock, but the movement bonus of the Raider should benefit those who love to run and gun.

The DMR isn’t the instakill machine it once was, but it remains accurate and can still pop off a series of deadly shots, particularly with the Titanium barrel attachment. If you want a little more range, you can opt for the Task Force 20.8-inch barrel, which most people seem to think belongs in the DMR’s consensus best build. If you are conscious of your ammo usage, you could also opt for the Airborne Wrap over the 30-round mags.

The Gunner

Primary: FFAR (Agency suppressor, 19.5-inch Task Force barrel, Field Agent foregrip, 50-round fast mag, Raider stock)

Secondary: Kar-98k (Monolithic suppressor, Singuard Custom 27.6-inch barrel, Tac laser, Sniper scope, STVOL Precision Comb stock)

Lethal: Thermite

Tactical: Heartbeat Sensor

Perks: Doubletime, Overkill, Tracker

This is Zachman’s current preferred loadout and it takes advantage of a few broken “Cold War” attachments. For instance, the Raider stock’s main bonus is it allows you to move faster while firing. Turns out, “faster while firing” means “even faster than when you’re not firing.”

The Kar is definitely the preferred sniper rifle of the current meta. If you can land anything close to a head shot it claps with the thunder of Thor’s hammer. I’ve also used a variant of this with the VLK 3x scope and it makes it a little more wieldy for those who aren’t great at getting the crosshairs right on their foe when they aim down the sight.

The Sniper

Primary: HDR (Monolithic suppressor, 26.9-inch HDR Pro barrel, Variable Zoom scope, FTAC Champion stock, Fully Loaded)

Secondary: Diamatti (Agency suppressor, 7.2-inch Task Force barrel, 5mw laser sight, 30-round fast mags, Akimbo)

Lethal: Thermite

Tactical: Stun grenade

Perks: Cold Blooded, Ghost, Amped

It’s never been more viable to run a Ghost/Sniper kit off your first loadout in Verdansk. That’s thanks to the stopping power of the Diamatti, which remains potent even after an early nerf. The Akimbo setup lets you spray six bullets via dual bursts, allowing you to down even fully-plated players in as little as two bursts if you’re in tight. If you don’t like the way those shots are hitting, or rather missing, try swapping out Akimbo for the Airborne Elastic wrap. It’s not as potent in a head-to-head dual, but if you’re playing a little more deliberately it’s still potent and easy to aim accurately.

The HDR is a big rig that can be absolutely beastly in solo matches where players will need a self-revive kit to recover from headshots. On this build, there’s no bullet drop unless you’re aiming across the map and fully loaded will allow you to spend your time stalking your foes from a hillside or rooftop instead of searching for ammo.

If you’re paranoid, you could swap the stun grenade for a heartbeat sensor, but ideally you’ll be distanced from any foot traffic, making the sensor moot. Just be sure to use your ears and don’t hardscope to the point you lose track of your surroundings.

The Meta(ish)

Primary: Mac-10 (Agency suppressor, 5.9-inch Task Force barrel, Field Agent foregrip, 53-round fast mag, Raider stock)

Secondary: Kar-98k (Monolithic suppressor, Singuard Custom 27.6-inch barrel, Tac laser, Sniper scope, STVOL Precision Comb stock)

Lethal: Thermite

Tactical: Stun grenade

Perks: Doubletime, Overkill, Amped

We’ve seen a number of different Mac-10 builds, some using a Muzzle Brake instead of the suppressor, some using the 53-round drum instead of the fast mag, some with lasers or the Ember Sighting Point instead of a stock. There seems to be a lot of flexibility here, so feel free to experiment. Nothing appears to be too mandatory, though you’d do well to try to battle some serious muzzle climb for prolonged sprays and definitely use a larger magazine.

The Kar build is the same as the above. The range won’t match an HDR, but the Kar’s ADS times make it viable in midrange fights, unlike the slower HDR or even the SP-R208, the preference of some players. The Kar also seems to more consistently deal one-shot-and-down damage than the SP-R.

The Aim Assist

Primary: Bruen (Monolithic suppressor, Tac laser, VLK 3x scope, 60-round mag, Fully loaded)

Secondary: Bullfrog (GRU suppressor, 7.4-inch Task Force barrel, Spetsnaz grip, GRU 5mw laser, 65-round mag)

Lethal: Thermite

Tactical: Stun grenade

Perks: E.O.D., Overkill, Spotter

There was a time when the Bruen was the dominant meta gun, but it remains hard hitting, good at range and highly accurate, which is why it finds its way into this loadout here. The Kilo or the Grau may move less, but the Bruen deals more damage, particularly at a distance. The 60-round mag option helps a lot with mobility, but if you’re more of a … let’s call it “volume shooter” … than you may want to consider the XRK Summit 26.8-inch barrel instead. Likewise, if you’re getting this loadout a little later in the game, you may want to make a version without Fully Loaded, with the XRK Summit a good replacement option there as well.

As noted above by Zachman, the Bullfrog does not move. Like, at all. It will take around eight shots to get a kill without a headshot or two in that mix, but with this build, you will land all of those bullets. Slap on the GRU suppressor to stay silent, the 7.4-inch Task Force barrel for a little more range, the Spetsnaz grip and a 5mw laser to improve hipfire and the Bullfrog is comparable to the Mac-10 out to 23 meters or so. Beyond that? That’s what the Bruen is for.

The Ghost

Primary: CR-56 AMAX (Monolithic suppressor, 8.3-inch Intruder barrel, Commando foregrip, 45-round mag, VLK 3x scope)

Secondary: Diamatti (Agency suppressor, 7.2-inch Task Force barrel, 5 mw laser sight, 30-round fast mags, Akimbo)

Lethal: Thermite

Tactical: Stun grenade

Perks: E.O.D., Ghost, Amped

It’s always worth it to have a good AR- or SMG-based Ghost loadout to snag later in the game. That way, if you haven’t already equipped the Ghost perk, you can stay off the late-game radar and, if you’d been running a sniper, you can exchange it for something more suited to the final circle.

The Diamattis (same build as above) can be dropped for an SMG from your previous loadout if you’d like, but the CR-56 Amax is probably the best holdover AR from the pre-“Cold War” era. It hits hard, and this build keeps the recoil mostly vertical, and thus more manageable. You won’t be downing many people from 100 meters out, but again, you’re ideally snagging this when the circle is getting smaller, making long-range engagements less of a concern.

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