A Guide to Weapon Modding
By xVintoreZ on 2019-11-26
This is a weapon modding guide written by xVintoreZ aimed at helping people of all skill levels mod their guns more effectively in Escape from Tarkov. You can catch my live streams on Twitch every day except Thursdays, at 1PM GMT, usually for 5 to 8 hours.
Escape from Tarkov has one of, if not the most complex, weapon modding systems of any game on the market currently, and to understand modding of guns you need to be familiar with the different statistics provided by different weapon mods.
Different statistics and what they mean
There are two main statistics when it comes to modding weapons in Escape from Tarkov, Ergonomics and Recoil reduction.
Recoil reduction is pretty self explanatory, it reduces the weapons base recoil by a percentage, which will be displayed.
Ergonomics on the other hand is a more complex statistic as it has multiple effects. The primary two effects high ergonomics provide are significantly reduced aim down sight time and massively reduced stamina consumption when holding aim.
Most people should build their weapons for recoil reduction, however , people with significant skill in terms of aim may want to edge towards partial, or even full ergonomics weapons, which allow for fast "snapping" onto targets heads and allow you to hold corners better if the situation calls for it.
Best builds by trader level
I'm going to show and provide a description of the best builds available at each trader level, for the sake of simplicity I will bunch them together.
At level 1 the best primary weapon options are the SKS and Mosin, mainly because of the ammunition they use. Coming in 3rd is the Saiga-9, which is unlocked at level 1 Skier after you complete his first task.
The SKS is the most reliable weapon here, specifically because of the ammo. 7.62x39 PS is one best rounds available all the way up to level 3 traders. It is relatively cheap and you don't have to spend money on magazines as it has an integrated 10 round magazine so you only need to bring a stack of ammo in your pockets or rig and you are good to go.
A slightly more powerful but extremely unreliable weapon option is the Mosin infantry rifle.
The reason for the unreliable is because the only ammo you have available until level 30 is LPS GZH, which is known to bounce off pretty much everything, and even when you hit someone in the chest and it doesn't deflect, it will only do roughly 60-70% of their chest HP unless you get very lucky on a fragmentation roll.
If you get a headshot on an unprotected head, they are dead. But that goes for literally any round in the game other than hitting with a single buckshot for example.
#3 Saiga 9
The most cost effective weapon here by far is the Saiga 9 and whilst using PST ammo from level 1 Mechanic it is actually a pretty viable weapon.
Its main issue is that it's an SMG that is locked to semi auto, but it has a long barrel which makes it pretty stable.
Go for headshots and if that doesn't work and you are still alive, "legging" them is always an option thanks to 9mm's relatively high flesh damage.
At level 2 you start unlocking a decent variety of good mods for most weapons, the main issue however is still ammo selection. The best three weapons to use are the Vepr136, the vepr Hunter and the PP-19.
#1 Vepr 136
The Vepr 136 I show here is a good "high end" weapon build especially for this level.
7.62x39 PS remains one of the best ammo choices and the vepr 136 modded as shown is extremely accurate out to medium ranges and has pretty low recoil.
#2 Vepr Hunter
A great choice at all levels is the Vepr Hunter as its cheap, accurate and can kill in one well placed shot. M80 is also a great ammo choice even once you hit level 40.
Add a PSO scope and you can take people out from hundreds of meters away without them having any idea you even exist.
The PP19 shown here is a well modded cqc weapon. It's the first fully automatic weapon i would recommend using and is just as effective with or without a suppressor.
Again though the best ammo available at this low level is PST GZH which will not perform great on armour over level 2.
With level 3 traders you gain access to a large amount of "end game" gear, however it also opens up availability of some extremely cost effective weapons.
At level 3 Prapor you can now buy the SVDS rifle but more importantly "7N1 sniper" ammo, which is one of the best rounds in the game, all things considered.
Semi automatic, one shot kill potential, straight through most armour. What's not to like? especially when it only costs ~95k
Once you hit level 3 Peacekeeper you unlock the M1A, a semi automatic .308 rifle and one of my personal favourite weapons.
Semi automatic with a 20, 30 or even 50 round mags, much lower recoil than a SA-58 and less recoil than the SVDS too, but slightly less punch.
While slightly more expensive than the Vepr Hunter, the M1A's smallest mag is 20 rounds which is double the maximum capacity of the Hunter.
The M1A is a great "budget" weapon, coming in at roughly 60k, it is one of the most cost effective weapons in the game, especially if you can snag some cheap barter items and trade for the weapon as Peacekeeper has purchase and barter offers for the M1A.
Finnally at level 3 one of the most under-rated weapons in the game, the AK-103.
Now I know what you are thinking "WFT a full auto 7.62 AK on this list, is this dude crazy?" but hear me out.
When modded in the way shown, it provides a pretty high amount of both recoil control and ergonomics.
In addition to that it has a folding stock, which is helpfull if you have blacked out arms and are willing to sacrifice recoil for a much faster ADS time.
I would recommend "tap firing" this weapon at longer ranges as the recoil is still a little too high for fully automatic fire at long range. But at close quarters on full auto with that still potent 7.62x39 PS ammo, you will take people down pretty quick, even quicker if you have access to 7.62x39 BP ammo.
Level 4 (Meta Builds)
Once you max all of the traders, you will have access to almost everything in the game.
Some things are still barter / find in raid only, which you are most likely going to buy from the flea market should you need them.
The builds below are the best "full recoil reduction" builds in the game at the time of writing. Along with the picture of the modded weapon I have included spray patterns. Each pattern was created by dumping 30 round mags as fast as possible. They are ordered standing, crouched and proned, all whilst aiming.
First off we have the cheapest of the three, the Ak-74. Even when fully modded for recoil, it still has roughly 1.5x the recoil of the fully recoil modded M4 but we will get to that later.
The reason this weapon is still viable, is a combination of the cost, availability of high capacity magazines, and of course, Igolnik ammo.
7n39 Igolnik ammo, tied with SNB Sniper ammo, has the second best penetration of any ammo in the game.
Whilst is has 5 raw flesh damage less than m995, it has a massive 62 penetration value, far superior to m995's 53.
This means Igolnik is far better suited for targets wearing level 5 or 6 class armour.
The drawbacks to this weapon are its naturally higher recoil, slower fire rate, Igolnik is "loot only" ammo and usually costs a little more than m995 on the flea market. 5.45 BS ammo however is comparable to m995 and is roughly the same price.
Speaking of the fully recoil modded M4, here it is, with the best ergonomics parts attached too.
First off I do need to mention, this build is seriously expensive, and will cost you roughly 200k, before optics, and not including any mags or parts you will need from the flea market.
It does however have ~33% lower recoil than the AK-74 build shown above, and 150rpm higher fire rate.
M995 is still one of the best ammo choices in the game, especially at this high of a fire rate. The downsides to this build are of course the cost, and the distinct sound a loud modded m4 makes, that "brings all the boys to the yard" so to speak.
Finally my personal favourite of the end game builds, although not always viable for CQC, is the fully recoil modded M1A.
This gun is an absolute monster when modded like this, it has less horizontal recoil than even a fully recoil modded M4, making it superior in terms of accuracy.
Despite being semi-automatic, it can actually fire faster than the AK-74, and with m80 ammo at the least, that is no small fact.
This build is also the most suited to long range sustained fire of the three builds, making it a great choice for large maps such as Woods and Shoreline.
Being able to hit a man sized target at 50 meters spamming the trigger and not controlling the recoil, with an entire magazine is extremely strong.
The downsides to this build are the fact the gun is semi automatic, and pretty large, which makes it a pain in the ass to wield at close range.
To summarize this guide, its pretty clear that the kind of weapons you will / should be using get much more advanced and more expensive, the further you progress into the game. However this doesnt always increase the cost effectiveness of the weapons, for example what I find to be an extremley reliable and cheap weapon to run, is a basic adar, with a mid range optic thrown on.
With use of the flea market you can get an adar for around 20k, and a scope like the elcan spectre, for about the same amount. And with a few cheap ergo mods attached, like the build shown here. You get a pretty decent all round weapon, for around 70k (Even less if you sell back the excess parts from the adar you bought on the flea market).
Whilst this weapon wont be extremely effective close range, it performs amazingly at mid-long range especially when using m995 ammo. Cost effectiveness should almost always be considered, but when you've got millions of rubles at your disposal, its not that big of a deal. I personally do not use the "meta" weapons very often, and tend to go for high ergonomics builds, and / or cost effective builds like the adar shown above.
I hope you all enjoyed my weapon modding guide and hopefully learned a thing or two!
Good luck out there escapers! :D