If you just want to know the best attachment for each weapon and don’t care about the whys and the wherefors, there’s a TL;DR at the end that just puts all of this in list form
Lots of people seemed to find my barrel attachment guide helpful but with the recoil changes in Grim Sky, that guide is now out of date.
So here’s a new one!
First, quick definitions of a couple of terms I’ll use throughout the guide.
Muzzle Climb Otherwise known as vertical recoil. How much the weapon kicks upwards when fired.
Stability Otherwise known as horizontal recoil. How much and how often the weapon kicks to the left and right.
Now, a primer on what each barrel attachment does, since the game is very bad at explaining them.
Muzzle Brake Reduces muzzle climb more than the other barrels, particularly on the first shot, and also re-centers the crosshair faster, resulting in extremely tight 2-3 shot bursts and allowing for less time between bursts. However, it does nothing for stability. The in-game description makes it sound like this attachment only helps with single fire weapons like pistols and DMRs but this is not the case.
Flash Hider The flash hider reduces muzzle climb and improves stability for the first 3 shots. A common misconception about the flash hider is that it removes the white indicators on your opponent’s screen that show which direction you’re firing from and that it hides your bullet trails. Only the suppressor does these things. The flash hider does, however, divert the muzzle flash of your weapon sideways, so that it doesn’t obscure your view of your target. Some people find this feature very useful, others don’t notice muzzle flash enough for it to be a problem. The flash hider is a universally viable barrel attachment. It’s not always the best choice, but it’s never a bad choice. You could put it on every automatic weapon in the game and have no issues at all. Whenever I tested a weapon and there was no clear winner for which attachment was best, the flash hider won by default.
Compensator The compensator has no effect on muzzle climb but increases the stability of your weapon. This results in more vertical kick but a narrower and more predictable recoil pattern. This makes the compensator very useful on weapons that have low muzzle climb and/or poor stability.
Suppressor Suppressors reduce the noise made by your weapon, hide your bullet trails, and removes the indicators on your opponent’s screen that show where you’re firing from, but they also have zero recoil benefits and reduce your weapon’s damage. With the recoil changes made in Grim Sky, the lack of recoil mitigation is less of a deal breaker than it used to be. Is the suppressor a viable weapon attachment now? Yes. Is it better than using a muzzle brake/flash hider/compensator? Not really. The unpredictable recoil and lower damage means that you’ll be scoring fewer hits, while at the same time needing more hits to secure the kill.
Extended Barrel This attachment is borderline useless. For a full explanation of why, see Rogue 9’s YouTube video on the extended barrel. The only weapon this should be used on is Ela’s FO12 shotgun.
After the first guide, I got a lot of messages asking for recommendations for other attachments like grips and sights, so here they are.
Grips The vertical grip reduces recoil, while the angled grip improves aiming speed. The angled grip is very situational and generally shouldn’t be used. Most of the time you will already be aiming when the fight starts (or atleast you should be), making the angled grip useless in the majority of firefights. The vertical grip helps you in every firefight and is the better choice by a distance. I know what you’re thinking, “But Cyni! My favourite pro player uses the angled grip all the time!” Pro players have crazy good recoil control and can afford to go without the benefits of the vertical grip, but even then, most pro players still use the vertical. If you’ve got insane recoil control (maybe you’re a former Counter-Strike Global Elite and you’ve spent years perfecting the art of controlling muzzle climb), you might be okay with the angled grip, but if that’s the case, you probably don’t need this guide anyway. The vertical grip is going to be the better option for 99% of players. The only weapon that the angled grip is the best choice for is the BOSG, as recoil isn’t a factor when the practical rate of fire is that slow. The angled can sometimes be a good idea on Alibi’s Mx4 Storm if you like to play mind games with her. I’ll go into more detail about that later.
Sights This one is largely personal preference. There are plays you can make with a holo or reflex sight that you simply can’t make with an ACOG and vice-versa. If you have a fast playstyle and enjoy being the first man through the door, the ACOG would probably be a poor choice. If you’re a more patient and methodical player, the ACOG will give you a big advantage when holding angles and in medium-long range fights. It’s a common misconception that the ACOG increases recoil. The recoil is the same, but looks and feels stronger because of the magnification of the sight. The only sight that is always a bad choice is the red dot, as it’s inferior to the reflex in every way.
Fookin’ Laser Sights Reduces hipfire spread by 25%. Laser sights shouldn’t generally be used as they can give your position away in multiple ways. Opponents can see the red dot and use it to work out where you are, and the red glare of the sight itself can make it easier to see you when you otherwise would’ve blended into the background. There are some weapons that are worth putting a laser sight on; all shotguns except the BOSG should have one, as shotguns are trash and need all the help they can get to tighten their absurdly wide spreads. Jackal’s PDW9 should also use a laser sight as it makes the hipfire spread so tight that you can use the ACOG for medium-long range fights and then simply hipfire for close range engagements. Maestro’s ALDA also benefits from a laser as its hipfire spread behaves very differently to other weapons in the game. Not only does the spread not get wider when moving or firing, it actually gets tighter the longer you hold the trigger. You should always be using a laser sight on your pistol if you’re using a shield operator. Shield operators rely heavily on hip fire, and so get a lot of benefit from a laser sight, and you don’t need to worry about the laser giving your position away; shields make so much noise that your opponent will hear you before they see you.
Methodology For anyone curious about how I test the weapons, I play a solo t-hunt round on Disarm Bomb/Protect Hostage with each attachment for every weapon. So, for example, I played three rounds of Disarm Bomb with the L85. One using the compensator, one with the flash hider, and one with the muzzle brake. I use Disarm Bomb because it offers almost three times as many targets to practice on as the other attacking T-Hunt modes. I then recommend the best attachment based on recoil predictability, controlability, and how easy it was to land headshots. Some people like to test recoil by just shooting at a wall and looking at the patterns. While you can draw some conclusions from this kind of testing, this method has too many limitations. In a multiplayer game, you’ll be firing at moving targets that are shooting back at you, at variable ranges, while on the move yourself. Mag dumping into a wall isn’t gonna give you much of an idea of how effective the weapon will be in those conditions. It’s shooting range vs live combat.
Results Now that that’s out of the way, here are my recommendations for the optimal barrel attachment for each weapon after about 20 hours of testing.
L85 (Sledge, Thatcher)
Perfectly useable with all three barrels but the L85 has a habit of pulling to the left so use the compensator to keep it stable.
SMG-11 (Sledge, Smoke)
Once you get past the first half dozen rounds, this thing goes crazy, even with the compensator. Use the flash hider and fire in short bursts.
Oh my lord, the AR33 is a laser now. Slap a compensator on this bad boy and thank me later. Even in full auto the muzzle climb is so easy to control.
For reasons I can’t begin to understand, the G36c has been given a stability nerf. You’ll see random kicks to the left and right that weren’t there before. The compensator is the best choice to minimize this. Thankfully the muzzle climb is still low enough that the weapon is very useable with the compensator.
Rejoice, filthy Ash mains! Your favorite crutch weapon is even more overpowered than it was last season! Bring a compensator, and happy rushing!
Like many other weapons, Thermite’s 556xi has had a stability nerf. Use the compensator to counteract this. You’ll have to deal with a little more muzzle climb than you’re used to from this weapon but it’s nothing too wild.
WAY too much first shot kick with the compensator and too unstable with the muzzle brake. Flash hider the clear winner.
417 (Twitch, Lion)
6P41 (Fuze, Finka)
FH wins by default.
Big first shot kick means the compensator is too much hard work. The AK is very accurate in bursts when using the flash hider but be prepared for significant instability beyond the 3rd shot.
AUG A2 (IQ)
The AUG has very good stability with the flash hider, even in full auto, so there’s really no need for the compensator.
552 Commando (IQ)
One of those guns that doesn’t feel great to use no matter what barrel you put on it. A lot of muzzle climb with the comp but very unstable with the flash hider. Use the latter so you can at least be confident that you’re first 3 shots will go where you want them to.
Did you ever think you’d see the day when IQ’s LMG would be her best weapon? Ubi said they were going to buff the LMGs’ recoil and they weren’t kidding. The G8A1 is a medium range monster now. Even with the compensator, there’s barely any muzzle climb to deal with. Still takes an eternity to aim though.
This piece of crap still kicks like an angry fetus. Using the muzzle brake makes it just about useable as long as you don’t hold the trigger for too long.
Not sure if it’s a bug but the MK17 feels like it has less muzzle climb and better stability with the flash hider than with the compensator.
The PARA-308 is still among the most stable weapons in the game, but Ubi have added a slight rightward drift to it. Not enough to warrant a compensator but enough that the flash hider is no longer a waste.
I can scarcely believe it but the M249, once the worst weapon in the game, might actually be good now. Not as stable as the PARA but still very easily controllable. Again, not sure if it’s a bug but the flash hider seems to be better for both stability and muzzle climb on this weapon.
The Type-89 pulls heavily to the right, so much so that even the compensator can’t tame it, so use the flash hider to keep the muzzle down and fire in bursts to maintain stability. Don’t even think of touching the muzzle brake unless you want your recoil pattern to look like a join-the-dots puzzle.
Bearing 9 (Hibana, Echo)
Much like the SMG-11, full auto is out of the question now with this weapon so use a flash hider and burst fire it to play to its strengths.
I will never understand how Jackal isn’t more popular when he’s packing this monster in his loadout. The C7E is a headshot machine with any barrel so you might as well use the compensator since there’s so little muzzle climb anyway.
Again, no point using a barrel that mitigates muzzle climb when there isn’t any.
T-95 LSW (Ying)
Another LMG that’s had a recoil buff. The T-95 had such a huge first shot kick last season that it was borderline unusable with the compensator. Now it’s totally manageable. The initial few shots are a little more accurate with the flash hider but what’s the point of having an 80 round magazine if you can’t pin the trigger once in a while.
The LMG-E is so much fun to use now. As with the T-95, your first 3-4 shots will be slightly closer together with the flash hider but who wants to burst fire when you’ve got 150 rounds to get rid of. Put a compensator on it and make some noise.
The M762 has some rightward drift but the muzzle climb is borderline uncomfortable with the compensator. You don’t lose an awful lot of stability in this case when switching to the flash hider so the tradeoff is definitely worth it.
Mk 14 EBR (Dokkaebi)
The V308 is easy to control with all three barrels so you should go for compensator in case you wanna make use of that 50 round magazine.
Recoil isn’t something you usually have to worry about when Finka’s around but when she’s not juiced up on her Red Bull, the Spear’s muzzle climb is just outside the comfortable range. Use the flash hider to bring it under control.
Just a little too much darn muzzle climb with the compensator. Feels much more comfortable with the flash hider but drifts to the right after a while.
The FMG9 seems to have more muzzle climb now. It also loses stability after the 3rd shot but the effect is less severe if you use the flash hider.
The compensator is the only way to keep this weapon stable beyond the first 3 shots. It seems to have the same muzzle climb and first shot kick as last season, yet somehow feels easier to control.
UMP45 (Castle, Pulse)
I’m starting to see a pattern of weapons that become unstable if you fire more than 3 or 4 rounds at once. The UMP is perfectly stable for the first 3 shots, with no horizontal recoil at all, then starts drifting to the right. It has almost no muzzle climb, so take the compensator to minimize that stability drop off.
MP5 (Doc, Rook)
Really struggling to find a difference between the flash hider and muzzle brake here. Both offer very accurate bursts up to 3 shots and then conistently pull to the right. If in doubt, flash hider.
P90 (Doc, Rook)
The age of the MP5 may be over. We could have a potential meta shift on our hands. The P90 still kicks hard but it kicks straight, with almost zero horizontal recoil, so put a muzzle brake on it to control the muzzle climb. 970rpm, with a 50 round mag and an ACOG; in the hands of someone with excellent recoil control, this thing could be scary.
9x19vsn (Kapkan, Tachanka)
The Russians have been given a much needed buff here. The SMG now has much less muzzle climb. Put a compensator on it to stop it drifting to the right too much.
I have good news and bad news, Jäger mains. The bad news is you’re never getting your ACOG back. The good news is that you’re no longer at the mercy of the 416-c’s random recoil. There’s still a little too much first shot kick for my liking, so take the flash hider over the compensator.
The MP7 doesn’t pull dramatically to the left anymore. Now it just loses stability after the first 3 rounds like many of the other SMGs. Sadly the weapon has too much first shot kick for the compensator to be a viable solution.
9mm C1 (Frost)
The suppressor’s benefits aren’t worth the damage nerf and the extended barrel is so useless that it’s not even worth the tiny risk of the longer barrel sticking out around corners and giving your position away. You’re better off with no barrel attachment at all.
The MPX doesn’t have much muzzle climb but it doesn’t have much horizontal displacement either, so there’s really no need for a compensator. Flash hider it is.
The M12 has so little recoil that it really doesn’t matter which barrel you use, especially when Luison is so broken that you’re only gonna be using this weapon for spawn peeking and runouts anyway. If in doubt, flash hider.
Vector .45 ACP (Mira)
The compensator is now a requirement on the Vector if you want to be able to fire more than 3 shots at once and still stay on target. I was tempted to recommend using a flash hider and sticking to 3-round bursts but with only 21 damage per bullet, the time-to-kill would be too slow unless you land a headshot.
T-5 SMG (Lesion)
The T-5 feels exactly the same as Mute’s MP5k, only with a little less muzzle climb, so my recommendation is the same.
Scorpion EVO 3 A1 (Ela)
Your choice of barrel on the Scorpion depends on the answer to this question: Would you like the Scorpion to be A: Mostly Uncontrollable, or B: Completely Uncontrollable. Most of the weapons lose stability after the first few rounds, the Scorpion is unique in that it doesn’t have any stability to begin with. You’ll see severe kicks to the left and right as early as the 2nd shot, so even burst firing can’t tame this thing. Put a compensator on it so you can at least keep it pointed in the general direction of your target. Spraying and praying isn’t such a bad thing when you’re letting off 1080 rounds per minute.
Not the laser it once was. The K1A has a little more muzzle climb and a bit of rightward drift that the compensator doesn’t seem to help with much. Flash hider feels the most comfortable.
ALDA 5.56 (Maestro)
The ALDA doesn’t seem to have changed much since Para Bellum. Keeping the barrel down is still too much of a struggle with the compensator so you’ll just have to use the flash hider and put up with a little instability.
Mx4 Storm (Alibi)
Compensator/Vertical OR Flash Hider/Angled
I have two recommended setups for the Mx4. The first uses the vertical grip and compensator, which creates the most predictable recoil pattern and should be your go-to setup when playing ranked/competitive. The 2nd setup uses the angle grip and reflex, and is designed to make it easier to fool opponents into thinking Alibi is a decoy. The vertical grip is much more obvious than the angled because it sticks out more and changes Alibi’s hand positioning on the weapon. The angled grip is much harder to see at first glance and doesn’t change Alibi’s hand positioning. Even if your opponent is actively looking for signs that you’re the real Alibi, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to kill them by the time they get close enough to see the grip. However, the loss of the vertical grip means more recoil and too much muzzle climb for the compensator to be viable, which is why the flash hider should be used when using this “meme” setup.
I don’t know why I even bothered testing this one. This machine pistol is locked to two-round bursts, and the muzzle brake is the king of two-round bursts.
Vector 45 ACP
Scorpion EVO 3 A1
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting these results at all. Until now, the compensator was only viable on weapons with very low muzzle climb. While some specific weapons have been buffed, the recoil changes seem to have made muzzle climb easier to control in general. Mute’s MP5k, for example, doesn’t seem to have changed at all in terms of muzzle climb, but now feels perfectly fine with the compensator, where last season the first shot kick was too much. This new feel is probably down to the change in visual recoil. Now that the crosshair is locked to the center of your screen instead of bouncing around the place, there’s less guesswork involved in recoil control when it comes to hand-eye coordination. The compensator was always the best attachment in theory as muzzle climb is much more predictable, and therfore easier to control, than horizontal displacement, but most of the weapons had too much muzzle climb to be used comfortably without the aid of a flash hider or muzzle brake. This is still the case with a few weapons such as the F2 and C8-SFW.
Now I wouldn’t be doing good science if I didn’t acknowledge the limitations of my tests. While T-Hunt is definitely better than shooting at walls for testing a weapon, it’s obviously not as good as actual multiplayer, where the targets move much more unpredictably. However, in multiplayer, most of the time you’ll only get one or two targets to test your weapon on per round. If I tested the weapons like that, we’d probably be into the next season by the time I felt comfortable making recommendations for all the weapons. If I find that one of my recommendations doesn’t hold up under multiplayer conditions, I will update the guide accordingly, so it may be worth checking back occasionally to see if there have been any changes. Also, if I might humblebrag for a moment, while my recoil control is very mediocre by Diamond/Competitive standards, it’s still probably going to be better than most players, particularly players who are new to shooters or new to PC and may not be used to dragging their mouse down to compensate for recoil. If you try one of my recommendations and find yourself struggling to manage the muzzle climb, I’d encourage you to switch to an attachment that better mitigates muzzle climb. For example, if you find that you simply can’t handle 556xi with the compensator, by all means switch to the flash hider, and then the muzzle brake if it’s still too much for you. You’ll have to deal with more instability, but having a straight and predictable recoil pattern isn’t gonna help you if all your bullets are flying over your opponents head. Finally, all this testing was done on PC. Recoil is handled differently on console so I have no idea how well these results will hold up on other platforms.
Above all else, remember that there’s always an element of personal preference in attachment choice (apart from the extended barrel, that piece of crap is objectively useless). If you disagree with any of my results, I’m not about to tell you you’re wrong. Hell, I’d be amazed if you tested all the weapons yourself and chose the same attachments as me for every single weapon. I encourage you to use this guide as a starting point, and make adjustments over time based on your experience and personal preferences.