I’m going to start this guide with a not-so-controversial statement: nuclear war would be a bad thing. Crazy, I know. The destruction of civilization, impact craters dotting the landscape – the aftermath of a nuclear exchange is faithfully represented by the Fallout video game franchise developers in each game, from the Mojave Wasteland of Fallout: New Vegas to the Commonwealth of Fallout 4.
But what happens after bombs stop falling? What happens when the glowing, irradiated dust of nuclear war settles? If Fallout’s representation of a post-apocalyptic world is any indication, the human species will fight to survive by any means necessary but won’t necessarily learn the lessons that history has to offer. Living in the wastelands created by the Great War in 2077 is a harsh existence filled with violence.
If I’ve learned one thing from the Fallout series, it’s that war never changes – and neither does the purpose of its weapons.
Every Fallout game offers players a plethora of weapons to defend themselves. From spears to mini-nuke launchers and everything in between, there are weapon options for every kind of playstyle. Want to do your damage up close and personal? You can equip a deathclaw gauntlet and swipe away. Prefer the safety of choosing a position with the advantage of the high ground? You can find yourself a sniper rifle and perform your best Boone impression. Does vaporizing your enemies into a pile of glowing ash excite you? A Gatling laser will be your best friend.
Because Fallout offers so many different ways to damage your enemies, it can be tough to know all of the options you have available to you. That’s a pain point that this guide aims to help by providing you with essential information about the series’ different weapons, their types, how to repair them (if needed), and how to upgrade them.
By the time you finish reading our Fallout weapons guide, you’ll be a bonafide Fallout weapons expert. Nothing or no one in the wasteland will stand a chance against you. So if you’re ready to learn more about the tools you’ll need to survive the post-Great War America, let’s get started.
Bottom Line Up Front
- The Fallout series contains numerous weapons, both real and fictional, that players can use in battle.
- Weapons in Fallout fall into one of several categories that change in each Fallout game (guns, energy weapons, melee, unarmed, and explosives are common examples).
- Fallout 4 introduced a new classification system: normal, legendary, and unique. Legendary weapons feature random bonuses, while unique weapons have special names and static bonuses.
- Each game offers different weapon lineups along with different gameplay mechanics, such as repairing and modding your weapons.
- Perks like Gun Nut (Fallout 3) and Demolition Expert (Fallout 4) can increase your efficacy with certain weapon types.
Being the first game in the series, the original Fallout has the shortest weapons list by far, featuring 47 total. Weapons are broken down into seven categories in this game: unarmed, melee, small guns, big guns, energy, throwing, and traps. Pulse grenades can deal the most damage in one hit here, with the ability to do up to 150 EMP damage, but there is a unique weapon – the alien blaster – that does more damage per combat turn.
Fallout 1 features four unique weapons. These weapons are some of the most powerful in the game and worth tracking down to add to your arsenal. These are the .223 pistol, the Red Ryder LE BB gun, the turbo plasma rifle, and the aforementioned alien blaster.
The .223 pistol and the alien blaster are truly unique with no other variants, while the Red Ryder LE BB gun and the turbo plasma rifle are variations of other guns in the game.
A good sequel usually doubles down on what made the first game great, and Fallout 2 is no exception. The weapons list (including extended capacity and night sight versions) ballooned to 99, with many additions coming to the unarmed type and rifles subtype. Melee weapons also saw a gameplay change with the introduction of one-handed and two-handed melee weapon subtypes.
Fallout 2 features seven unique weapons, three more than the original Fallout. The coolest of these is the Solar Scorcher, an energy pistol that doesn’t use ammo. Instead, it’s recharged by the sun, so you can fire it as much as you want in the daytime. The only drawback is that it’s useless at night if you don’t have a sufficient charge.
The gauss rifle is arguably the most powerful weapon in the game. However, some Fallout 2 players prefer the smaller size and faster firing rate of the H&K P90c.
Fallout 3 and its expansions expanded the selection of weapons to 137. Of those, a whopping 67 weapons are unique. This includes, for the first time in the Fallout series, custom-built weapons.
Fallout 3 also introduced weapon durability and the ability to repair weapons based on your Repair skill level. To repair a weapon, you must have at least 2 of the weapon you’re trying to repair and an adequate Repair level. The better the condition the weapon is in, the harder it is to repair.
While the game’s list of unique weapons is quite impressive, not all of them are as powerful as the unique weapons of the original Fallout and Fallout 2. That said, Fallout 3 did a good job of spreading the love to different types of weapons. The deathclaw gauntlet immediately comes to mind as a powerful unique, custom-built unarmed weapon.
Two other fan-favorites are the Terrible Shotgun and A3-21’s Plasma Rifle. While both are atop their weapon category in damage, the most powerful weapon in the game is undoubtedly the alien blaster. While technically not unique (there is a unique version with the name Firelance), the alien blaster is capable of one-shotting many enemies. That’s a great thing because there are only 120 alien power cells, the gun’s ammo, in the base game.
Fallout: New Vegas
As the second Fallout game released during the same generation of video games, New Vegas presented a more polished Fallout experience than number 3. It included nearly double the number of Fallout 3’s weapons, coming in at 257. Featuring largely the same gameplay, the weapons had more of an American West feel to them due to the Mojave Wasteland setting.
New Vegas’ unique weapons are some of the coolest in the series. Pistols like the Ranger Sequoia and the Medicine Stick make you feel like you’re a cowboy, while the Fallout series’ trademark sci-element is present in the form of the Holorifle and the devastating Euclid’s C Finder. The most powerful weapon in the Mojave Wasteland is a matter of playstyle preference, but I usually go for the YCS/186 due to its ability to cripple enemies with a direct hit.
Expanding Fallout 3’s limited custom weapon creation list into a more fleshed-out weapon modding system is probably Fallout: New Vegas’ biggest accomplishment, though. Achieving this goal paved the way for Fallout 4’s robust weapon customization tools and a larger narrative of changing the wasteland around you.
Fallout 4 introduced a major change to the weapons system. To the joy of Fallout fans everywhere, the weapon repair system was done away with and expanded the gameplay of Fallout: New Vegas to have a more in-depth modding system to customize weapons. There’s no need to worry about a rundown gun jamming on you in the middle of a firefight in Fallout 4. Instead, you can tinker to your heart’s content by adding grips, sights, and barrels to your weapons, all made from common junk found lying around the Commonwealth.
Weapons can be modified by using a Workbench, many of which can be found in settlements you’ll come across while completing quests. An essential modding component that you’ll need is adhesive, which can be made from tape or vegetable starch.
Fallout 4 also features weapons that do damage over time. This type of weapon includes radiation-producing weapons like the gamma gun and the zeta gun, along with the acid soaker, a poison weapon.
As mentioned before, Fallout 4 introduced a new three-tiered weapon classification system – normal, legendary, and unique. Legendary weapons are modified versions of normal weapons that you’ll find on enemy bodies throughout the Commonwealth. They have special effects like Instigating, which doubles your damage if your enemy is at full health.
Fallout 4 and its DLC content also gave us some of the most fun, unique weapons in a Fallout game yet. The base game had classics like the Cryolater in Vault 111, while the most recent DLC, Nuka-World, came with the Nuka-nuke launcher to cause soda-filled destruction.
Fallout 76 introduced online gameplay into the Fallout series, bringing with it PVP combat and a whole new set of weapons. It also reintroduced weapon durability and needing to repair weapons. To repair weapons in Fallout 76, you should visit a workbench when your weapons are starting to wear down.
The best weapons in Fallout 76 are arguably some of the classics. The gauss rifle is as powerful as ever, and the Gatling gun still makes short work of most enemies. But Fallout 76 also offers creative weapons like the Black Diamond melee weapon and encourages customization through the Homemade Rifle.
The latest event for Fallout 76 is the Invaders from Beyond update, and it introduced three weapons: the alien disintegrator, the electro enforcer, and Zeta’s Revenge, a variation of the alien blaster. The next planned Fallout 76 update is Test Your Metal, but Bethesda has already released the rest of its 2022 roadmap for the online game, revealing that Expeditions: The Pitt is coming out this fall, and Nuka-World on Tour will be released in the winter. Exciting new weapons are sure to be added in each update.
Best Weapons of Each Type
Unarmed – Deathclaw Gauntlet (Fallout 3/Fallout 4/Fallout 76)
A deathclaw is one of the most fearsome-looking beasts travelers of the wastelands can encounter, though not every member of the species is an aggressive monster. That said, wastelanders who have no problem using every available resource of their post-nuclear war environment are in for something different. They can make arguably the strongest unarmed weapon in the series from the hands of the ones they have to fight.
The deathclaw gauntlet is special because it ignores the Damage Resistance of any armor type. If I’m opting to play a close-quarter combat raider-type character, the deathclaw gauntlet is a natural choice to take into battle.
Melee – Kremvh’s Tooth (Fallout 4)
Fallout players who prefer blades to guns and explosives will be happy with Kremvh’s Tooth. This machete works well with a stealthy assassin-type character or as a second option if combat gets close. Striking enemies with Kremvh’s Tooth can result in poison and bleeding damage in addition to its already large damage output.
Not much is known about this weapon, but you can find it in Dunwich Borers. It’s to the northeast of Hub City Auto Wreckers. You’ll find Kremvh’s Tooth at the bottom of the area in a tunnel in another tunnel that’s underwater.
Pistols – That Gun (Fallout: New Vegas)
This quirky little pistol is a nod to Fallout’s weird sense of humor when it comes to weapons. Yes, the gun is called That Gun, and I’m not quite sure why, but it makes a ringing noise once it’s finished reloading. It’s a creative bit of design that adds personality to the small gun.
That Gun isn’t just one for fancy gimmicks, though, as it has one of the highest chances of landing a critical hit. You can get it from Cliff Briscoe in the Dino Bite gift shop in Novac. If you’re playing through New Vegas with a villainous bent, be careful – if you try to steal it from Cliff and fail, you won’t be able to get it at all.
Shotguns – Le Fusil Terribles
This unique shotgun is capable of doing massive damage to enemies who get too close to you. Translated from French, Le Fusil Terribles means “The Terrible Rifle” in English, and for some reason is pluralized. It comes with the Violent legendary weapon effect, which does 25% more damage and damage to limbs but comes at the cost of increased recoil. You can find this powerful weapon in Libertalia, a floating raider encampment just south of Nahant Wharf.
Submachine Guns – Perfect Storm (Fallout 76)
Sometimes it’s easier to be able to hold down a trigger and have a line of bullets come out, especially in a fast-paced battle with something like a deathclaw. Adding fire to the mix would make those bullets even more deadly. That’s exactly what the Perfect Storm in Fallout 76 does.
The Perfect Storm’s power comes from its Tier 4 legendary effect called Incendiary. Fallout 76 players interested in giving the weapon a trial run can get it by completing the Cold Case side quest.
Rifles – Bozar (Fallout 2)
The Bozar assault rifle from Fallout 2 can make a hole in even the toughest of armors or at least do a hefty amount of damage. It’s equipped with a scope for long-distance combat, too, so you can stay safe without sacrificing damage output.
This gun has a case for the most powerful weapon in the entire Fallout series. You can enhance the damage of the Bozar through perks to the point that you can kill Fallout 2’s final boss in a final round of combat. There are other weapons in the game that can match that feat, but not at the Bozar’s cheaper price point.
Heavy Weapons – Big Boy (Fallout 4)
Have you ever looked at a Fat Man and thought, “Hey, I wish this Fat Man would shoot TWO mini-nukes instead of one?” Good thing the Big Boy exists. Even better, it only costs one mini-nuke! Doubling the damage output of a Fat Man gives Big Boy one of the highest damage outputs in the game.
If you have the Nuka-World expansion for Fallout 4, it’s possible to get the effects of both the big boy and the Nuka-nuke launcher. That spells certain destruction for any enemies in your path, but it’s important to note that you’ll have to craft your ammo if you opt to do this.
Energy Weapons – Alien Blaster (Fallout series)
The alien blaster is a staple of the Fallout series by this point, having appeared in nearly every Fallout game to date. It’s one of the many nods to the sci-fi portion of the Fallout universe that is seen in add-ons like Mothership Zeta. This small weapon packs a deceptively mighty punch as it’s able to vaporize many enemies in one shot. However, given how rare the weapon is and how little ammo there is for it, it’s best to save it for the most difficult of combat situations.
Grenades – Baseball Grenade (Fallout 4/Fallout 76)
I didn’t include the baseball grenade for its damage output but for its symbolism as a relic of the old world before the Great War. Fallout is full of cool nods to concepts like what everyday items would be used for in a post-apocalyptic world.
I like how Bethesda took the time to craft a weapon that matches the setting of the game. The Commonwealth is inspired by Boston, a city rich with baseball history and home to the Red Sox. I hope that’s something the developers continue to do in future settings. Maybe if we get a city like New Orleans, we’ll be using instruments as melee weapons.
Traps – Bottlecap Mine (Fallout 3/Fallout: New Vegas/Fallout 4)
Like the baseball grenade above, the bottlecap mine is another twisted post-war weapon that uses an object with pre-war nostalgia. If you’re flush with caps and have come across the bottlecap mine schematics (a necessity in Fallout 3 to make the item), you can craft these mines that do 5 times the damage of normal frag mines.
You can only make one bottlecap mine per schematic, but you can find a bottlecap mine on many workbenches throughout Fallout 3. There are very few of these out in the wild in Fallout: New Vegas, they’re more prevalent in the Commonwealth in random locations Fallout 4.
Fallout 4 introduced the legendary classification for weapons, meaning that weapons with a legendary prefix added to their standard names come with special effects. There are 49 prefixes in Fallout 4 and its DLC add-ons.
Their effects range from doing 50% more damage to ghouls to changing the capacity of a weapon to equal all of the ammo of that type that you’re carrying. A few of the most powerful legendary weapon effects are:
- Irradiated – does an added 50 points of radiation damage
- Bloodied – does more damage the lower your health is
- Kneecapper – 20% chance of crippling your enemy’s leg
- Lucky – double damage for critical hits and a critical meter that fills 15% faster
- Resilient – provides you with extra protection while reloading in the form of +150 Damage Resistance
A full list of all 49 legendary weapon prefixes can be found here.
Fallout 3 featured a smaller list of customer weapons that could be created once you found the corresponding schematic. The following 7 weapons can be from schematics:
- Bottlecap mine
- Nuka grenade
- Dart gun
- Railway rifle
- Deathclaw gauntlet
- Rock-It Launcher
These weapons can also be made or found in other games in the Fallout series. Certain weapons, like the deathclaw gauntlet and the railway rifle, are some of the most powerful weapons of their type. To craft these weapons in Fallout 3, you’ll need materials in the correct amount in addition to the schematic.
Best Weapons Related Perks
Bloody Mess (Fallout 3/Fallout: New Vegas/Fallout 4/Fallout 76)
Fallout’s most infamous perk is exactly what its name suggests. Other than turning every encounter into a sea of red, Bloody Mess also increases your overall damage. Taking this perk and then using V.A.T.S. results in a violent slow-motion film of body parts flying everywhere in pieces.
Gun Nut (Fallout 3/Fallout 4)
As the name suggests, this perk gives you more knowledge about all things guns. In Fallout 3, this means gaining points in your Repair and Small Gun skills. Taking Gun Nut in Fallout 4 allows you to make better weapon mods and defense items.
Blitz (Fallout 4)
This perk makes unarmed and melee fighters more effective in Fallout 4, allowing them to dash up close for hits and then escape to safety. The one catch of this perk is that you must be able to reach the enemy you’re trying to target by walking, so no, you can’t attack that raider shooting at you from three floors up. This perk can help unarmed and melee save some health from having to repeatedly charge into battle to get close enough to damage enemies.
Rifleman (Fallout 4/Fallout 76)
This Fallout 4 and Fallout 76 perk is one that I take for a majority of my characters simply because rifles are so prevalent in the game. This perk increases the damage output of your non-automatic rifles by a varying amount in Fallout 4 and by 10% in Fallout 76. In Fallout 4, you also have a better chance of crippling limbs and bypassing some of your target’s damage resistance.
Question: How do I repair weapons in Fallout: New Vegas?
Answer: You can repair a weapon with either a weapon repair kit or by destroying a copy of the weapon you want to repair. How well you can repair an item is dependent on your Repair skill.
Question: What are ballistics weapons in Fallout 4?
Answer: Ballistics weapons are simply any kind of weapon that shoots a projectile item. This includes the pipe weapons in addition to the more traditional Fallout weapons lineup breakdown of pistols, rifles, shotguns, and heavy weapons.
Question: How do I mod weapons in Fallout 4?
Answer: Modding weapons in Fallout 4 requires a workbench and lots and lots of junk you can use to cobble together a masterpiece. Workbenches can be found in most settlements throughout the Commonwealth, while junk and scrap is simply a matter of picking up items that may not have immediate use in the hope they can be used to construct better weapons.
Fallout Weapons Guide: Conclusion
You should plan on spending a lot of time playing Fallout games if you want to experience all the different kinds of weapons that the series has to offer. The unique setting of Fallout lends itself to some pretty cool and creative items that are different from the weapons you see in a standard first-person shooter or RPG.
With Fallout 76 releasing a steady stream of new content, new weapons and redesigns of older weapons are being added to the Fallout universe regularly. I hope the next single-player mainline Fallout game will continue the tradition of giving us new and exciting toys to play with within an unfamiliar setting.