[Top 10] Fallout 76 Best Heavy Weapons That Wreck Enemies

Heavy. Metal.

So you’ve done it. You’ve built your C.A.M.P., dug out a Shelter, sipped some Company Tea and eaten some Cranberry Cobbler. You’ve oiled and greased your Power Armor and even chambered a few rounds of Ultracite into your Western Spirit. You’re ready to face the perils of the wasteland - but you want to roll a little Heavy.

One note:

Weapons in 76 do have specific “this is heavy,””this is a rifle,” and “this is explosive” tags that the player cannot see. A good Heavy Gun build will use weapons that have a mix of explosive effects while taking advantage of Heavy Gun perks. In two instances on this list, I use the terms interchangeably; if you’re being pedantic, #10 and #2 aren’t ‘heavy,’ but they fit perfectly with Heavy Gun builds that have explosive perks maxed out. It provides an all-around balance that will work out for you in the long run.

Even better, there isn’t “a” Explosive Weapon Build to use - so your heavy gun build? This is the same one you’d want if you were solely focused on missiles. Except you’d never want to be solely focused on missiles because man do they suck in this game…


And Now a Message from Your Author

This article was written before the March 26th, 2024 patch that introduced a new Heavy Gun/Launcher, the Cremator. At current (April 1st), this weapon is unlocked via the Season Challenges, and from what I’ve heard, it is immensely powerful. But, truthfully? I try to be as accurate as I can, and since I haven’t unlocked it and can’t play with it yet, I don’t feel comfortable going off of other people’s opinions to formulate my own.

If (if) it doesn’t get nerfed into oblivion and if (if) what I’m hearing right now is accurate, it may be the most powerful weapon currently in the game. At the very least, I’d consider testing it out yourself.

Fallout 76 is a live-service game. Patches happen, new items are added every few months, and sometimes, that makes lists like these a little out of date. Usually happens after the list gets published, but what do I know? I’m just a content writer with a hunger for radiation. 


Now, Let’s Be Bombastic

Here’s my recommendations - and there’s plenty of room for you to change things around for your own personal quality of life. Sneak is far from needed, and Suppressor/Tenderizer could be switched.

Heavy Guns take up a huge slate of the weapons available in Fallout 76, but like everything else, there aren’t a lot that are worth using. Still, the ones that are can turn you into a walking tank. Like other weapon types, it helps to have the right build.

For the purposes of this list, I want to note that I strongly recommend using Power Armor, and my personal preference is to step out as a full-health perk loadout. Most of these weapons either have a slow fire rate or a brief windup time, so being able to take a few shots while you’re getting ready to unleash hell is important. 

Importantly, you’ll want:

  • STR: Heavy Gunner, Expert Heavy Gunner, Master Heavy Gunner.
  • STR: Bear Arms reduces your heavy weapon weight.
  • PER: Concentrated Fire helps you cripple enemies quickly, while Glow Sight rips up glowing enemies.
  • PER: Grenadier increases the explosive radius of certain weapons and is a must-have.
  • END: Fireproof decreases damage your explosions will do to yourself.
  • CHA: Friendly Fire will let your flamer heal friendly NPCs .
  • INT: Demo Expert increases your explosive damage, while Batteries Included reduces the weight of things like 2mm shells and Fusion Cores.
  • INT: Stabilized is a MAJOR increase to your accuracy AND a debuff on anything you hit.
  • AGI: Enforcer works great with the Peppershaker because it increases the cripple function of your shotguns.
  • LCK: One Gun Army increases your stagger effect (stuns) and limb cripple chance with heavy weapons.

Finally, let’s talk Legendary effects.

Damage in 76 is calculated with a lot of math that we are not going to get into here. However, most things in the game are graded on a sliding scale of sorts, and the end result you get on some weapons are going to mash up pretty closely with each other. That’s really vague, so what do I suggest?

I use a mix of effects on my heavy weapons. I love Armor Piercing, because when you’re facing off against boss-level monsters, you’re automatically throwing away a large chunk of their ability to mitigate damage. Other good choices? I love Zealot on my Ultracite Gauss Minigun because I use it almost exclusively to kill The Scorchbeast Queen and her minions. Aristocrats is another decent choice because it boosts your overall damage as long as you have piles of caps - and late in the game, you’ll have piles of everything.

And never, ever, forget the help that Quad can give you. The less time you spend reloading, the more time you spend killing. Heavy Weapons take time to reload, and that time IS factored into the weapon’s overall “time to kill’ factor (which is an entirely made up player thing that determines how fast, on average, a bad guy dies - not just aggregate DPS).

But what about two shot? Two Shot weapons are calculated as a second projectile fired each round (so 1 bullet = 2 rounds) each with their own accuracy (so both aren’t promised to hit) and the second round is around 25-50% the damage of the first. In an ideal world, that would mean that ballistic two-shot weapons would deal an extra 25% if all other factors were equal.

All other factors are not equal. As of February 2024, multiple tests by multiple Fallout fan personalities have determined that with one glaring exception, Armor Piercing and other effects out-damage TS weapons. HOWEVER…

…TS EXPLOSIVE weapons - such as the Nuka-Launcher, the Overkill, the Broadsider and others - deal more damage because the reduced projectile damage gets compensated by two explosions. It makes sense; a missile doesn’t usually kill you, it’s the detonation that screws up your life. But it’s okay if it gives you a headache.

It’s math. I don’t want to do math either. I want to blow **** up.

With a nuke. A mini one, but still a nuke.


10. Overkill

Technically an explosive weapon, but it’s heavy, the ammo is heavy, the explosions are huge, and while you might argue that a ballistic gatling gun fits the list better - IT’S A MINI NUKE LAUNCHER.

See it in action here!

This gun is fun. Unfortunately, that’s where it ends. We won’t be on this one for long, so here goes. The OK is the only missile launcher on this list because by and large, missiles are slow to fire, slow to land, and do not provide as much damage per second (DPS) as other weapons on this list. 

So, why is it here? Because it’s a two-shot, MIRV-modded named mini-nuke launcher. What that means is for every single mini-nuke you load into this mobile sling-shot you’re getting eight (yes, eight) nukes firing off.

I don’t know about you, but that’s just cool.

HOWEVER. It’s a lot of firepower that can blind other players, lag out large groups, and be a massive griefer weapon. It also has a strangely short effective range, a slow fire rate, and a slow reload time. Mini-nukes are also pretty heavy, so, try to pull this one out when you’re by yourself and trying to make a point.

What we love:

  • It’s a two shot mini-nuke launcher.
  • This is the one entry on this list that’s here because of the Rule of Cool.
  • You can get this one as a rare reward from Mutated Party Packs awarded at the end of Mutated Public Events.


9. Cryolater

As much as I love debuffing enemies, most of the things you run into in your travels will die before they’ll get slowed down. The things that DON’T… well, that’s where debuffs from weapons like this come in handy.

See it in action here!

This is one of three viable ‘support’ style weapons in Fallout 76. Your focus on it isn’t to do damage, but to slow down a Big Bad like the SBQ, Earle, or another boss. There really isn’t a lot to say about this one: the default barrel makes it act like a mid-short range flamethrower, while the crystalized barrel fires a slow projectile with a minor bullet arc.

Both do the same thing: they slow down or completely freeze some enemies. The Cold Shoulder shotgun and the Cryo mod on a Crusader pistol have the same effect.

What we love:

  • 99% of combat in Fallout 76 is about just doing the most damage. While there are legendary effects that can heal teammates on VATs criticals, freezing an enemy is the only real ‘support’ function you can bring to a fight.
  • Ice, ice, baby.
  • The plans are a random spawn, random drop, or random find in the Savage Divide.


8. .50cal Machine Gun/LMG

I heard this described once as an upscaled assault rifle. It’s not wrong.

See it in action here!

These are both player-crafted weapons and you can find them in the wild with regular efficiency. The honest truth is that they’re only this low on the list because the next few entries have secondary effects or very specific uses. LMGs and .50’s both chew through enemies with ease, hae good accuracy, and easy ammo useage.

What we love:

  • They use easy-to-craft ballistic ammo, and if you upgrade them to Prime, the ultracite ammo combines (while taking flux, as a note) produce ridiculous levels of firepower.
  • Good damage, good range, good accuracy, great time-to-kill (TTK) rates.
  • The .50cal Machine Gun plan can be found all over the Savage Divide, with reliable appearances at the Watoga Vendor Bot.
  • The LMG plans are listed as the “MG42” plans and can be found in the wild everywhere from the Savage Divide and eastward.
  • Consider Anti-Armor or Vampire Legendary Effects on these weapons.
  • The camp ally Becket gives a named version of one of these called ‘The Final Word.’ It’s worth doing his questline for it.


7. Pepper Shaker

“Are you jealous/are you salty of my vigor?” - ‘Debts to Pay,’ by JT Music.

See it in action here!

I love this weapon. There’s something about the steady ‘thump thump’ it makes…

Some details here that are important. The PS plans are only awarded during the annual, seasonal, Meat Week event that typically takes place in the summer months (in the real world). There are no other weapons that do what this thing does, so I can’t offer a substitute; you just need to wait for Ghram to come back.

This weapon counts as both a shotgun AND a heavy gun, so if you can find room for the card, slot in ‘enforcer’ under your AGI perks to gain extra cripple chances. If you mod it to use fusion cells or plasma cartridges, you can take advantage of Batteries Included to reduce your ammo weight (if, say, you’re also carrying around a Plasma Caster or a Gauss anything). 

What we love:

  • It’s just a fun gun. Being able to change the type of ammo it uses gives you some variety, and it’s a steady automatic cannon.
  • It doesn’t have great range or spectacular DPS. Still, you can enhance it by taking both heavy gun AND shotgun perks.
  • The key to this thing is cripple effects - it’ll stun, stagger, and slow down nearly every baddie in the game. That keeps you alive, and keeps your allies alive.


6. Gatling Plasma

Every weapon in 76 can be a killer - but this one is more of a puddle-maker.

See it in action here!

It didn’t take a lot of time to take this list from ‘fun at parties’ to ‘here’s a meta-game build,’ I’ll grant you that. While the gatling laser isn’t as strong as the gatling plasma, there’s a reason you’ll see both being used no matter where you go. 

The base damage output on the Gatling Plasma is fierce at worst. If you adjust it with a Prime receiver, you’ve got a hellishly fast heavy gun capable of putting a lot of energy down-range. The downside? Even with the right weapon mods (like the rifled barrel), it loses a lot of accuracy at mid-long range.

What we love:

  • Instead of bullets or cells, the GP uses Plasma Cores. These count as energy rounds for Batteries Included.
  • Energy damage is always calculated differently on a different resistance scale than ballistic damage, and some enemies are naturally weaker to it.
  • The ammo conservation on this weapon is incredible, and is one of (if not the) best in the game. If you have trouble keeping your stockpiles up with more traditional weapons, consider this one.
  • The plans can be found at the Modus Armory Terminal and occasionally in the wild; but since they’re vendor bought with caps, you can get it with relative ease (once the Enclave likes you enough).


5. Foundation’s Vengeance

Do I pretend I’m the T-800 from that scene in Terminator 2 when using this weapon? Yes.
Does that make me a bad person? I hope not.

See it in action here!

Let me get this out of the way: it does less damage than the Gatling Plasma and may not be as powerful as a LMG. That should disqualify it from the top five, and I won’t blame you if you think it does. However, what it does right…

The best part of the FV is how common it is. As one of the major rewards from the public event, “Eviction Notice,” you may find it on player vendors early in the game. The second best part? It has explosive bullets, which increases the general damage and helps you tag multiple targets at once. It’s also got better ranged accuracy than the Gatling Plasma, so you know your shots are going where they’re supposed to go.

What we love:

  • It’s a 5mm minigun, so while it chews through ammo, you’ll get a LOT of it when you craft.
  • It’s very, very common, which means you have an endgame-level weapon effectively as soon as you can find it for sale.
  • The explosive bullets add extra area damage and that is never a bad thing. Take a look at the attached video for a demonstration.


4. Plasma Caster

If “f*** you” was a weapon, this is it.

See it in action here!

They are slow, they are bulky, but they work. The Plasma Caster is the bolt-action rifle of the heavy gun world, and that makes it a powerful little beast. This is not a gun you’ll want to go for first if you’re facing swarms of bad guys, but for smaller groups and long-range kills? I love it.

I also love this one for the daily challenges that task you with “cripple X limbs,” when I’m using a heavy gun build because when you combine this with the Concentrated Fire perk in VATs, you get unparalleled target-at-range cripple ability (although the Peppershaker and Enforcer works better). While weapons like the Pepper Shaker and the Cold Shoulder are the absolute masters of that, a Plasma Caster can take out a leg from dozens of yards away.

PC plans are a little more annoying. You’ll have to buy them with Gold Bullion from Regs in Vault 79 - or Minerva, if you catch her when she has a sale. Still, it’s a beast of a gun capable of dealing significant damage per shot.

One big perk: If you’re playing defense, using this weapon and VATs - especially with the Adrenaline perk card equipped - you’ll effectively turn into a stationary turret that can turn most baddies into piles of nuclear waste before they get too close. 

However, weapon speed is a consideration. This is not an automatic weapon and the accuracy at range is spotty unless you use VATS. It makes it less useful for events like Eviction Notice, Scorched Earth, and Radiation Rumble than it does AWOL Armaments, Safe and Sound, and others.

What we love:

  • I can’t recommend the Anti-Armor Legendary Effect enough for this.
  • You’ll never run out of ammo. Because it kills most bad guys in 2-3 shots total, the game mechanics will drop more than enough for you to avoid a workbench.
  • And just for that reason, go ahead and modify this to Prime as soon as you can.
  • Put a sniper barrel on this. You won’t want to use this as a hip-fire weapon unless you’re close enough to the bad guy to be written up for a HR violation - VATs at range is your friend.


3. Gauss Minigun

The main bad guys of 76 were intended to be the Scorched. This weapon, with Prime and Zealots, is an outstanding counter to even the biggest hordes.

See it in action here!

If you’ve read any of my articles about ‘best weapons’ or ‘best builds,’ you’ll notice that I have Gauss high up there every single time. That doesn’t change with the minigun. Unfortunately, there are a couple of significant drawbacks to it before we get into the meat. 

This weapon takes a couple of seconds to ‘spin up’ before it’ll fire, so you’re not getting an instant ‘click and kill.’ It also chews through ammo - even if you have a clip of 500 rounds, you’re going to blow through it with sustained fire. Gauss ammo is also heavy, even with Batteries Included equipped. Finally, like the other Gauss weapons, you’ll have to buy the plans - you’ll need to have Ally faction with The Crater or find them (at a discount) from Minerva.

Finally, its base damage is slightly less than the Gatling Plasma. However…

What we love:

  • This is a point and shoot weapon. Want to blow up a very specific thing? Aim at it. The minigun general accuracy is positively lovely at any range - including high-flying scorchbeasts that are spamming you from above. 
  • Put on both the Grenadier and Demolition Expert perks. The big draw for Gauss weapons is the default explosive effect they have built in, and the explosion radius is huge compared to any other non-grenade/non-missile weapon. 
  • Ultracite 2mm generates around 270 rounds a craft if you have the Ammo Factory Legendary Perk and Ammosmith normal perk card equipped and maxed. Add Super Duper and you’re putting your flux to work.
  • Because of the ammo cost, I do consider it situational. It just happens that the situation is dealing with scorchbeasts - which it excels at when you use it to swat them out of the sky.


2. Nuka-Launcher/Auto Grenade

Of course I painted it red and white. It’s literally Nuka Cola’s colors!

See it in action here!

You ever have a day when you’re simply done with dealing with somebody’s BS? The Nuka-Launcher embodies that feeling. You’re not just tired of dealing with crap, you’re Over It.

A couple of drawbacks: the Launcher was available in early 2023, but hasn’t come back to the game since (as of February, 2024). But, a two-shot auto grenade launcher or the rare-reward named AGL, the Peacemaker, are both viable options (two shot first). 12mm grenades aren’t hard to make but they are heavy; I generally only carry between 150-200 at a time.

Lastly, this is a griefer weapon. You put down a lot of explosions that can block other people from seeing what’s going on, it kills so fast that other players may not be able to tag the things you’re firing at, and it can just be a headache if used irresponsibly.

But what we love…

  • Combined with Demolition Expert and Grenadier, the sheer damage that this thing puts out…
  • There isn’t a better weapon, at all, to use to take out clusters of enemies at range.
  • It can also be used to circumvent the ‘reflective’ mutation on enemies; explosive damage is not considered direct damage, so it doesn’t get bounced back on you.
  • Even without using the Nuka Launcher itself, a Two-Shot legendary effect on an auto grenade launcher comes close enough.
  • It has a distinctive ‘whistle’ sound when it fires.


1. The Holy Fire

Stop, drop, and roll won’t save you this time - just admit it, you’re toast.

See it in action here!

When you get this weapon, it has some effects on it that you can easily re-roll… and you should. While Vampires, Durable, and Rapid are great, consider trying to roll an Anti Armor effect instead (though if you’re running ‘bloodied,’ I’d leave Vampires on). That’s just a friendly PSA after testing it a while… but what about the drawbacks?

What drawbacks?

No, seriously, WHAT drawbacks? There aren’t any major ones at all! The only thing this weapon does poorly is that it breaks semi-quickly and it’s not a long-range weapon. You have to be at mid (not even short!) range to use it so it doesn’t work against the SBQ or her flying minions until they land.

Oh. You also can’t repaint it for some stupid reason.

What we love:

  • Ammo is everywhere, and fuel isn’t hard to craft it if you need it. Because things die insanely fast, you’re using fewer units of ammo than other weapons - so you may even come out ahead after clearing through a Daily Op or an Expedition.
  • It has a couple of unstated legendary perks that don’t get wiped when you roll against the first three; a +15% damage boost and a +20% fire rate. 
  • You get more damage than a normal flamer by far.
  • You can use it to heal friendly NPCs if you have Friendly Fire equipped.
  • In my experience, it has the fastest time-to-kill rate of any heavy weapon.
  • Point, click, melt. With an Anti Armor effect on, it completely cooks everything you can come across.
  • You can get it from the Beasts of Burden public event… so you can easily find it on player vendors if you look long enough.
  • This is my day-to-day go-to weapon. It works in almost every single situation except for Eviction Notice if you’re trying to down Mutants at range, or when you’re hunting the SBQ


Got your heavy weapon picked? Ready to go to war? Well, war never changes - so take a efw before you head out and read one of these other articles!

Born on the outskirts of the Eldritch Mountains of Appalachia, Josh seeks to bring the magic of the (very) old into the minds of those willing to learn fantasy, magic, and the joy of building worlds.
Gamer Since: 1989
Favorite Genre: RTS
Currently Playing: Fallout 76, Cities Skylines 2
Top 3 Favorite Games:The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dragonborn, Cities: Skylines - After Dark, Total War: Rome II