Note: This guide has been updated to reflect the latest meta for Season 4, as of June 15.

The incorporation of customizable loadouts — including guns, grenades and perks — in “Call of Duty: Warzone” is one feature that differentiates the game from the many other battle royales in circulation. In the game’s Weapons menu, players can edit their loadouts and fine-tune their chosen guns with attachments. During the game, these loadouts can be accessed via a purchasable loadout drop at a buy station, or in loadout crates that drop from the sky across the map.

But with literally thousands of potential loadout combinations, how do you find the best ones? After spending over 200 hours in the game, here are a few ideas to maximize your kit, starting with some general tips, before identifying some specific loadouts with which we’ve had success. And at the end, we’ve included two crucial tips for building loadouts based on when you’re using them.

Let’s begin with a simple, universal truth. The term “best” is relative. Rather than merely adopting a “best” loadout as recommended by a Google search, you’re better served looking at your own style of play and answering some key questions. While we’ll hit some personal recommendations later — with five, full possible loadouts — for the most part, the game’s balancing will make many options viable. It seems obvious, but one gun someone believes to be “the best” may just not be right for you. There are some guns that aren’t viable in the final circle, but the best gun to carry will simply be the best gun for you. Don’t force yourself to use a gun you don’t like if you’re no good with it.

Perks

Ghost or Overkill?

You’ll quickly find that intel is a huge advantage in Warzone, and most top players will carry heartbeat sensors as their tactical selection and prioritize purchasing UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) at buy stations. Both of which will betray your position. If you want to counter those measures, you’ll want to run Ghost as your second perk, which hides your character from both of those devices. The biggest counterpoint is Overkill, which allows you to carry two primary weapons in your loadout.

The case for Ghost is pretty simple: You can find a second primary weapon either around the map or off a fallen enemy. You can only add perks via your loadout. If it’s me, I’m running Ghost.

The only other worthwhile secondary perk is Hardline, which gives players a 25 percent discount at buy stations on killstreaks, field upgrades and armor plates. That’s nice, but you can up your odds of finding killstreaks in loot boxes by using Kill Chain in your first perk slot. The Season 4 introduction of fire sales (where buy station prices are slashed significantly) as a random in-game event make Hardline even less useful. Overall, while saving money is nice, my logic is simple: The longer you stay alive, the more cash you’ll grab. And the longer no one can see you, the longer you’ll stay alive.

One final note on Ghost: Make sure your teammates are running it as well. If you’re running three abreast and you’re the only one with Ghost, it won’t do you much good since your mates will give away your position on UAVs and heartbeat sensors. If your teammates don’t want to run it, make sure you maintain some distance from them so you can still use it to your advantage.

Double time, E.O.D or Cold-Blooded?

Running Cold-Blooded can help you avoid detection on the ever-popular thermal scope, but you may be better served turning elsewhere depending on your play style.

If you like to play aggressively, Double Time will let you sprint for twice as long and move 30 percent faster when crouched. If you prefer to fight indoors and camp employ a patient style that frustrates opponents, E.O.D. gives you reduced damage from non-killstreak explosives and fire. Say you’re squatting at the top of some stairs and your enemies are trying to ascend, E.O.D. will help protect you from any grenades or C4 (another meta fave) tossed your way.

The recommendation here is to run Cold-Blooded if you plan to stay outside for a majority of the time. It pairs very nicely with Ghost in that regard. If you like to push, Double Time is your perk. Want to sit and watch the circles close? E.O.D.

What about Perk 3?

The third slot leaves the most room for personal style. If you like to push, you’d probably do well with Tracker, which will show foes’ recent footsteps. If you’re more inclined to survey an area and play stealthily, Spotter is probably the play, so you can see enemy equipment, mark it for your teammates and even hack it to use your enemy’s equipment against them. (If you’re playing with a regular squad, Tracker and Spotter complement each other well, if you can coordinate before dropping in.)

If you want something solid across the board, Battle Hardened will help mute effects from tactical grenades. Tune Up will allow you to revive fallen teammates 25 percent faster. However, it’s been my experience that I’m usually either on my own or exposed whenever I’m knocked, making it difficult for a revive in many cases. To that end, you’ll likely get the most consistent value out of Tracker or Spotter. If you do want to run Tune Up, definitely carry a smoke grenade to help obscure your revive attempt. (And also remember: a lot of snipers tend to use thermal scopes.)

More recently, and so far in Season 4, aggressive players have been opting for Amped, which both reduces weapon swap time as well as reload time for launchers. We’ll get to this later, but the RPG is one of the most (over) powerful weapons in the game. If you prefer to run an RPG (or another launcher), Amped is a perfect pairing. Amped is also good if you prefer to engage foes at close range, swapping weapons quickly (particularly from an assault rifle to a submachine gun), which is often a faster and safer alternative to reloading.

Lethal grenades

Mines, thermite or C4?

The meta lethal remains C4. Yes, players are now countering it by placing trophy systems on vehicles. And yes, the rising number of E.O.D. users are making it less useful in a firefight. Sure, it weirdly does less damage against opponents not in vehicles, to the point where it may not even clean up a fallen foe. And on top of that, it seems they’ve nerfed it, from Season 3 when it would blow up vehicles in the next Zip code (an exaggeration, but only a mild one). Still, it remains prevalent both as a counter to roadkill-hungry vehicles and as a complement to aggressive players who want to soften up a room before bursting inside guns blazing.

The main alternative to C4 would be thermite, which can be used offensively or for area denial. It will also stick to surfaces and provide a solid amount of damage. With a growing number of players (infuriatingly) embracing the riot shield, thermite and C4 are an effective counter to players crouched behind their portable protection. (The Molotov works as well, it’s just slower to throw.) To that end, both C4 and thermite should get preference over any other throwable.

Mines are another consideration. If you’re a defensive player that likes to snipe or hole up in a building, mines (either proximity or claymores) are the way to go. They can protect one of your exposed directions while you focus on another with your rifle.

Even if you’re not a particularly defensive player, mine-based loadouts make sense for this reason: Once you snag your loadout, there will be a ton of loot on the ground, making an attractive target for opponents, particularly those that were bought back or return from the Gulag. The loot will obscure the red warnings from the mines, making them harder for foes to spot. You can pick up another piece of lethal equipment from the ground and earn an easy kill protecting your discarded weapons.

If you’re a more offensive player, however, you’re probably looking at C4, thermite, Molotov, Semtex or the frag, in that order.

A quick note about the throwing knife: While it is of limited use as a projectile in Warzone, carrying a throwing knife allows you to melee kill or clean up fallen opponents in one hit. It will also counter anyone trying to perform a finishing move on you. Players using riot shields will also combine them with stun grenades as a way to quick-kill adversaries while they reload after absorbing a salvo of gunfire. I’d stop short of endorsing the knife, but it’s not worthless.

Tactical grenades

The heartbeat sensor or the stun grenade?

When we first wrote this article, there was no case to carry any other piece of equipment than the heartbeat sensor. Now that more players are running the Ghost perk when they pickup their loadouts, it has become less useful, but it remains a vital instrument at least one player in a party should carry. Remember, knowledge is power in a tactical game like this. Knowing where enemies are is the best kind of knowledge.

But once you know where your foe is, a stun grenade can be devastating, slowing their movements and making them an easy kill if they’re not aiming at you. For squads trying to breach a room or rush foes camped upstairs, a combination of flash and stun grenades is a great tactic. Stuns are also as potent out in the open as they are indoors.

A more defensive/sneaky tactic is to carry stim shots. If you get caught in the gas as the circle closes, or if you want to venture beyond its boundaries to surprise an enemy, the stim shot will bring you back to full health and help you survive much longer in the gas. They’re likely not worth carrying in your loadout, but if you’ve got a lot of ground to cover between circles, you may want to keep your eyes peeled for them on the ground.

The other tacticals are far less desirable. The decoy grenades are of limited use. Likewise, the gas grenade isn’t that potent if you’re in an open area. The snapshot grenade can be quite useful to teams looking to push in terms of spotting campers, but if someone’s running a heartbeat sensor you’re probably better off complementing it with a flash or stun grenade.

The smoke grenade has its uses, especially if you’re trying to revive a fallen teammate in the open. But with so many people using thermal scopes, it feels like a bit of a waste.

Primary and secondary weapons

Again, you’ll find that you can quite capably run a large number of weapons in Warzone and thrive. But there seem to be some mods and guns that have been most effective.

More bullets is mo’ better

Players, particularly those with full armor, tend to be a little bit bullet-spongy and reloading can be a killer in a pitched firefight. Whatever gun you run, pack in as many rounds as you can. I tend to prefer ARs with big mags, such as the 60-round M4 magazine or the 100-round Kilo drums. With that many rounds available, you can put down multiple enemies without even reloading, which is a huge advantage. While nearly all LMG variants carry over 60 rounds, you’ll want to load up any SMG you use too, particularly the MP5, MP7 and newly introduced Fennec, which are the three top SMGs for the Season 4 meta. Whatever gun you prefer though, check to see if you can increase your magazine’s capacity; there are attachments which enable you to do so.

Different bullets is even mo’ better

Make sure your two weapons use different bullet types, so you’re not pulling from the same limited ammo pool. That differentiation will allow you to engage successfully at different distances. The Season 4 meta suggests an AR/SMG combo, but the best balance I’ve found seems to be an AR and sniper rifle. Even if you like to be aggressive and pursue close-quarters fights, you’re likely better off modding an AR (maybe using a shorter barrel or no stock). And remember, the “best” combo is the one that best fits your playing style.

Silence is golden

Muting your shots is a huge advantage since it won’t reveal your position on the mini-map. What’s more, using the monolithic silencer also increases your range. It’s a must-add on any sniper or long-range rifle, and a lot of top players even use it on an MP7.

Sniper is super

If you are good with a sniper rifle, you should run a sniper rifle. Why? Because you’re not likely to find a gun anywhere on the map that has the one-shot down/kill potential of a rifle you can add via your loadout.

If this is your route, favor the HDR over the AX-50. HDR rounds have virtually no bullet drop, hit harder and you won’t have to be quite as precise at long ranges. Moreover, the HDR is the more accurate base gun. You can pop shots a little quicker with the AX-50, but that’s really the only advantage.

The choicest weapons

Again, there really is no “best” gun. That said, certain guns seem to work better than others. With that in mind, you’d probably do well to incorporate some combination of the following weapons when building your loadout:

ARs: Grau 5.56, M4A1, RAM-7, Kilo, CR-56, M13, FAL

There are no bad options among the weapons above, but the Grau is the most overpowered weapon in the game right now. It fires fast and, more importantly, there is almost zero recoil if you mod it properly with attachments. Most top players just use it with iron sights and it’s still a laser.

Among the others, the key traits are accuracy, fast-shooting rounds and stopping power. The M4 is the most versatile gun in the game and should be a mainstay of your loadouts as you learn Warzone. The RAM-7 hits harder at the cost of some accuracy and range, but can be configured well as a harder-hitting SMG.

The M13 and Kilo are both fast-firing, accurate and the latter can carry 100-round bullet drums. The CR-56 will hit a little harder and shoot a little slower, but the new Season 4 gun should get used a lot more once players unlock attachments to better trick it out.

The FAL is a semi-automatic rifle that packs a punch. It’s technically slower that its AR peers for that reason, but in reality it can pop shots as fast as you can twitch your finger. If you prefer an SMG type over ARs, you may want to consider carrying an FAL as your distance weapon.

SMGs: MP7, MP5, Fennec

Be sure to upgrade your ammunition to the largest mags you can for all three of these, but particularly the Fennec which defaults to just 25 rounds. You’ll pay a stiffer price if you run out of ammo in a close-quarters gunfight than from the (very) slight decrease in mobility. (Related: The fast-hands perk is a must with the Fennec, too, as the gun is brutally slow to reload.)

You’ll see a lot of these modded with longer barrels and suppressors. If you want to run one of these as your primary weapon before the final circle though, you should probably run the Overkill perk and bring along an AR, marksman or sniper rifle to allow you to fight from a distance too.

LMGs: Bruen, Holger, PKM

If you want to be a run-and-gunner, using an LMG will drive you insane, so just don’t. If you like playing more deliberately, laying traps for stragglers trying to make it into the circle late or weaving through the streets of the downtown district, LMGs are a good option.

The Bruen is the best in class, though you’ll need to unlock it via a challenge or snag a blue print. The PKM can be an absolute laser, even with just iron sights. The Holger, modded with an ultralight barrel, can provide an option a little closer to an AR with it’s robust, standard 60-round magazine. Still, if you prize mobility, go with a non-LMG option.

Marksman: SKS, Kar98k, EBR

This class can be a bit overlooked in Warzone, largely because it uses sniper ammunition, which can deplete quickly considering you can only carry 40 rounds in reserve. Still, these guns have their uses, particularly the Kar, which can drop foes with a single headshot. Newcomers should probably pass on it though.

While the Kar is bolt-action, and thus slower firing, the semi-auto SKS is both hard-hitting (usually around a three-shot kill) and very accurate at distance. The EBR is a little bit of an enigma. Sometimes it hits hard, others it doesn’t, but you can put down a lot of semi-automatic shots with very little movement while aiming down the sights.

Sniper: HDR, AX-50

Both of these are one-shot knocks to the head, but the HDR is more accurate and more powerful. The APX-50 is faster firing, though honestly, you’re not quick-firing either of these rigs. I prefer just making the HDR as lethal as possible, knowing that if I’m going to use it, I’m going to be staying put for a little while.

Handguns: Renetti, .357 Magnum, Desert Eagle

For the most part, handguns are desperation weapons in this game. The only reason they’re even appearing here is for players who want to run Ghost instead of Overkill as their second perk. Even then, you’re likely best off dropping the handgun for an SMG or AR as soon as possible.

Properly modded, with the three-round burst attachment, the Renetti can be a very underrated option. Three bursts can usually drop a foe and you can usually squeeze all three off in under a second.

The Magnum and the “Deagle” are both heavy-hitting weapons. If you’re close enough to use one, two or three shots may be all you need to put down even a well-armored enemy — if your aim is good.

If you’re running the Renetti or Magnum in particular, you should try to unlock the akimbo perk, which allows you to carry a pistol in each hand. You can move very quickly and be very effective in close-quarter blitzes, especially with the snake-shot rounds in the Magnum. Using the latter combo will definitely earn you some ire from players who think snake-shot is too overpowered.

Launchers: RPG, JOKR, PILA

Like pistols, running a launcher will allow you to use Ghost as your second perk, and with so many people using vehicles as a weapon, they’re also great deterrent.

The RPG is one of the most overpowered weapons in the game. Vehicles and foot soldiers alike will fall to a well-placed rocket. The JOKR is a massive platform that will slow you down for sure, but it is also has the potential to give you a team-wipe as a fire and forget weapon. The PILA is a compromise. Best against helicopters (though they can spoof its missiles with flares) its free fire mode makes it effective on ground targets as well. If you do want to run a launcher, you should probably also run Amped as your third perk to decrease reload speeds.

Melee: Riot shield

Look, if you run a riot shield you will make no friends in the game and your foes will curse and mock you. (That may also be an incentive for some.) That said, more and more players have started carrying them since they’re virtually impregnable to bullets and many explosives if you’re crouched. It will also protect your back while you’re using your other weapon. All that said, you’ll have to fully commit your play style to using one if you’re going to make the most of it. If you can do it well, you’ll be tough to beat.

Five great loadout options

Given the general parameters we’ve laid out, below are five full loadouts we think could be a good starting point for your experimenting. Again, these are suggestions, not gospel, so please feel free to tinker and let us know what you find.

The Runner

Primary: MP7 (Monolithic suppressor, FSS recon barrel, PBX Holo 7 sight, ranger foregrip, 60-round magazine)

Secondary: SKS (Monolithic suppressor, 22-inch FSS M59/66 barrel, 4x flip hybrid scope, SKS rifle stock, operator foregrip)

Lethal: Thermite

Tactical: Stun grenade

Perks: Doubletime, Overkill, Amped

What you get here is a light-weight, accurate primary weapon that is punishing at close range and has more distance than you’d expect from an SMG. If you prefer to skew towards a close-quarters approach, you can sub out the scope for a laser, too, which can help hip-firing or aim-down-sight speeds, depending on the version.

The SKS here is versatile. The stock and barrel give it range and stability, while the scope can be converted if foes get too close. It also doesn’t give off a sniper glint at range. The SKS’s fire rate can drop enemies fast and the foregrip will help fight muzzle climb if you’re popping off shots.

The thermite isn’t a hard-and-fast choice, but it is versatile. C4 is another option to help against any harassing vehicles. The stun grenade will freeze enemies for easy MP7 kills, but a heartbeat sensor is also a valid choice.

The Gunner

Primary: M4 (FSS 12.4 Predator barrel, PBX Holo 7 sight, M-16 stock, 60-round mags, ranger foregrip)

Secondary: HDR (Monolithic suppressor, 26.9″ HDR Pro barrel, variable zoom scope, FTAC Champion stock, FMJ)

Lethal: C4

Tactical: Heartbeat sensor

Perks: Cold-Blooded, Overkill, Tracker

You’ll typically see more M4 loadouts with the M16 Grenadier barrel to improve its range, but with a sniper as you’re secondary, you don’t really need that. The Predator gives you a two-for-one bonus in that it also acts as a silencer. This version is definitely better suited for medium/close range, but it will put enemies down fast, and with bullets to spare.

You won’t be running as fast with the massive sniper on your back, but if you can move smartly inside the ring and find good perches (elevated areas, rooftops, high-rise windows) you will be able to one-shot anyone who pops their head out while you’re looking down the scope. And the way the HDR is tricked out, bullet drop is almost zero. With FMJ, even if they take cover in a building you can damage them through the wall.

This is a great option for new players, assuming you’ve unlocked the requisite attachments for both weapons.

The Sniper

Primary: HDR (Monolithic suppressor, 26.9″ HDR Pro barrel, variable zoom scope, FTAC Champion stock, FMJ)

Secondary: Renetti (Mk3 burst-mod barrel, 27-round magazine, monolithic suppressor, 5mW laser, akimbo perk)

Lethal: Proximity mine (outdoor); Claymore (indoor)

Tactical: Stun grenade

Perks: Cold-Blooded, Ghost, Spotter

The lightning bolt that is the HDR is still the star here (same mods as above) but this loadout is for sneakier types that want to stay hidden from UAVs and heartbeat sensors. The Renetti(s) can be dropped for an SMG or AR, but they can be punishing in close combat and also allow you to make some quick getaways. If you don’t have akimbo unlocked yet, consider the lightweight trigger instead to fire faster.

The Meta(ish)

Primary: Grau (Monolithic suppressor, Tempus 26.4-inch Archangel barrel, Tac laser, Commando foregrip, 60-round magazine)

Secondary: RPG

Lethal: Thermite

Tactical: Heartbeat sensor

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

If you want to get technical, the real “meta” loadout for Season 4 is probably a Grau/MP5 or MP7 combo, but that’s what the top players are running. This version has a skill buffer for less adept players that takes advantage of the fact the RPG is extremely powerful even in the hands of a newcomer. Rather than trying to burst in on enemies holed up in a room, soften them up with a few rockets.

This is also a good first loadout to snag as well, opting for an SMG with your second to replace the RPG late in the game.

The Supporter

Primary: Bruen (monolithic suppressor, 18-inch para barrel, Ranger foregrip, 4.0x flip-hybrid scope, skeleton stock)

Secondary: RPG

Lethal: Proximity mines

Tactical: Heartbeat sensor

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

Having a player with these assets can be a big help in a firefight. The Bruen, modded for better movement, can put down a heavy spray of suppressing fire while your teammates move into more advantageous positions and/or close for a kill. If enemies are barricaded inside, the RPG can soften them up, in addition to warding off vehicles. The mines can guard your rear if you and your mates are setting up an ambush somewhere.

Two final tips

First and last loadouts

Survive long enough in a match and you should have at least three chances to snag your loadout. They’ll drop at the close of the first and fifth circles, and you should be able to scrape together enough cash to purchase one at some point too. To that end, you don’t need to have just one optimal loadout for the entire time. And different weapons and perks have more value late in the game.

Consider constructing an early loadout that prioritizes bringing as much firepower into the game as possible with an Overkill perk. This is an especially good option if you can purchase your loadout before the first circle closes since most other players will be limited to whatever they find on the ground. While they’re rocking green or white weapons, you’ve got your favorite pair of guns. When the next loadout drops, snag one of your loadouts with Ghost and pick your favorite weapons back up. The perks from the second loadout will replace those from your first.

Late loadouts should almost always feature Ghost since a late-game UAV can give away your position and make you an easy target. If you’ve been running a sniper or marksman rifle, you should also consider ditching that for an SMG or AR for maximum utility as the circle shrinks.

Emergency loadouts

Consider the scenario: It’s late in the game and you’re either coming back from the Gulag or you’ve been bought back. You’ve got a pistol and a dream. Then you spot your loadout crate. Salvation! But what do you snag?

I like to craft at least one loadout for this situation, making it as versatile as possible in case I don’t get a shot at another loadout or my teammates can’t help resupply me. You’ll carry at least some SMG ammo via your pistol, so I tend to make sure one of my guns is an SMG to make use of that. If it’s early still, I’ll opt for Overkill and either an AR or sniper rifle as my second weapon. For either of those, you should make sure you’re using the fully loaded weapon perk, which grants you full ammo for that gun. Now you don’t need to worry about looting or meeting your teammates for more ammo and can get straight to fighting (or running).

Got your own recommendations? Let’s hear them below.

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